Saturday, December 1, 2012

Turning Over a Few Leaves

I'm not bragging, I promise.

But we have more leaves than anyone else on our side of the street, around the block and back - and more, I am certain, than any other yard perhaps east of Division.
Of course, leaves are the result of trees, and many of the trees in our yard are a result of us - us and years of plotting and planting around this place - including some very foolish tree choices.  

But the largest culprits are the two age-old cottonwoods in our front yard.
Planted too close to the house 100 years ago, they still produce fervently each year, and their roots seem to be slowing tipping our old house over.

Either that, or those roots are what holds us up. 
But that's another story, back to the leaves.

To our neighbors' chagrin, we don't usually rake our leaves until all of the said leaves have left the trees.   Because of the volume that we know will come, it seems foolish to us to try to keep up with the constant downfall.

So, yes, sometimes the weather catches us by surprise.  And there have been times when we have had to race the oncoming change of seasons.
But in the 25+ years that we've lived here, I can remember only a handful of Falls that blended so seamlessly into Winter, that we were unable to get the leaf debris out of the way of the snowmen.  

Ice Storm in 1996 was one year,
the Winter of 2008-09 another,
and that one year, for certain, when my husband had a heart thing going on and we concentrated on that, and only that.
Regardless, each just have to start.  And you can't think about how much more there is to do, you just have to go at it and
do the best you can.
It's not a totally unpleasant experience.
An outside fire on a cold, gray day helps.  
As does having other sustenance.
On a good day, the sun can be so encouraging.
The leaf clean up really fell to me this year, since my dear one was busy with another project on the property.  It is usually a shared responsibility, but I clearly saw that he was going to be unable to participate this year - due to the other project.
That's okay, each day that the weather cooperates, and I am able to put in a few hours, progress is made. 
And I am cheered on by the spectators.
But there are miles to go before I sleep.
And the holiday season is nipping at my heels.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

I've Got a Thing About Trains

The thing is, there are some places that I like to go and there are a host of places I still need to see.  But at the same time, there is no place my dear husband would rather go, would rather be...than here at home.

It's something we continue to work on.

As hard as I beg; as much as I employ devious plots to get him to travel, my efforts are futile.  The man just doesn't want to leave the farm.  The good news is, he doesn't seem to mind when I do.  Why, someone at dinner tonight asked him what he was going to do while I was gone, and his reply was "All the same stuff, only without her."

So, I don't know how much he'll suffer my absence.  

As far as my preferred method of travel, it's usually the same response when I tell people I plan to ride the train (yes, the train) from Spokane, Washington to Rochester, New York:  "But that's only a 6 hour flight," they say.

Yes, I know.

But since my travels are few and far between (in deference to my lovely husband and our wonderful life here on the farm), I do like to take the long way.  And tonight, in just about 1 1/2 hours, I'll be boarding the Amtrak Empire Builder...with a host of other late-night travelers, leaving Spokane heading east on the train.  I can't wait.

We had a lovely day together; breakfast at Chaps; a Sunday drive on the way home.  After which, we'd both concentrated on our respective projects for the day.  My traveling doesn't really hang over us, although we're both still aware of the fact that I'll be gone for a couple of weeks.

Part of our afternoon together, we dedicated to helping him understand what I hoped to happen in my garden while I was gone.  Insisting that I'm only asking him to do the best that he can do, I did, however, create a small journal of watering schedules.

But after trying to explain the complexities of my drip irrigation I concluded with: If you see it, water it.  


I know, I have no right to be much to tend to.  No wait, he'll be fine.  He knows this place as well as I do.  

So instead of fussing about that, I worked on getting ready for my long train ride.

I've learned how to pack; I know my priorities.

And I always take my own pillow.

So "All Aboard" and I'll see you round the bend.  I'll be in touch.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Bursts of Spring

Everywhere I look

From the tiniest, unrecognizable sprout

To the small forest of peonies...

the ambitious hosta...
 and the nuclear sized leaves of the
ornamental rhubarb,
the garden is letting us know Spring is here!

There are plants waiting for their assigned place,

along with faithful returnees.

 Plants letting us know they're ready for the season... 

And plants that are ready to burst with pride. 

Conifers are pushing out new growth, 

and new friends from last year are
making their appearance together.

It seems as though we were waiting for them, and now they are waiting for us.  

Welcome to Garden Season.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Getting my Junk On

And now, all thoughts turn to junk.
Funky Junk.
I'll be a Vendor, this weekend, at the twice-annual

They've gone urban this year,
and the show will be held in the buildings that house the Spokane Public Market.  

So I've been out junking around.

Dragging stuff home.

Some right pretty things.

Some Have-to-Haves.

And some Must-Be-Mines.

Something for everyone.

Maybe something extra special for you.
 There's plenty of downtown parking,
though you may need to be creative.

Come join us for a funky good time at
Funky Junk.

This weekend, April 14th and 15th.
Downtown Spokane.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

What happens in the Hoop House...

We're out 3 weeks and 4 days since we moved our overwintering plant material into the hoop house, to warm up and show their stuff.

Hello everyone, how's it growing out here.

Today, I watered all the plants with a good
balanced, water-soluble plant food.
Note to readers: If they called it Ordinary-Gro, it likely wouldn't sell.
There really is no miracle involved.

Although, it'd be hard to convince these Peonies
that they weren't feeling it.

And look at this Brunnera, forming a nice bloom for later.

Even the Hosta, notoriously late risers, have agreed to
make an early appearance.

And the ever-faithful Chives, making their return.  These things will grow wherever they're dropped; this one has been in this pot for
longer than I can remember.

Lots of Lady's Mantle, so very easy to grow as well.  And I love how they will let a raindrop rest on them -
it can look like jewels in the early morning.

Meanwhile, I'd moved the Helleborus outside.  They weren't enjoying the heat of the hoop house, since they are cool-weather bloomers.  I'm going to up-pot these soon.
Gearing up for the garden season!

These plants will continue their residence in the hoop house until
April 28th - plenty of growing time left - then will be for sale at the

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Spring Bulbs for Summer Blooms

The spring issue of ReModel Spokane is available in your favorite doctor's office waiting room, on free publication stands and, I even spotted it at STCU in their reading rack.  My article starts on page 23 - and the stunning photography they added to it made me smile out loud.
Unfortunately, my submission is not on their website, but if you think you will stumble across an issue somewhere (I had to give my copy to my Mom), look for this cover photo:

Or, I have copied the text here, below, and you can just imagine the lovely photos of gladiolus, dahlias and canna.  Enjoy it...then head out to find your spring bulbs.  It's about time to plant!

Spring Forward: Plant Now for Summer Blooms
Here in the Inland Northwest, we enjoy four distinct seasons, but only one real gardening season – which will be upon us in no time.  Right now we’re on the cusp of the joyful renewal of the earth – and soon enough, the arrival of color by way of flowers from the bulbs that were planted in the fall.  They’ve enjoyed the insulation of the snow cover and slept as the rest of the winter garden slept and now they are ready to keep their promise to bloom.  

All bulbs add color, form, texture and size to the garden.  The bulbs whose vibrant flowers we are enjoying now will spend their post-bloom time storing food and energy for next year.  Another type of bulb – more tender - prefers to spend the winter slightly more pampered, and only agree to bloom if planted at specific times in the spring for the summer flowers.  

When speaking of bulbs, the term also encompasses corms, tubers and rhizomes – all plants that have an enlarged food storage system, unlike herbaceous ornamentals that do not store food in order to bloom.  

Flowers that grow from bulbs include tulips, lilies and daffodils – and are generally planted in fall for spring bloom.  Corms include crocus, also planted in fall, and gladiolus – which must be planted in the spring for success here in the Inland Northwest.

Dahlias and begonias grow from tubers, which are swollen, fleshy underground stems covered with buds or “eyes”.  And rhizomes include iris and calla lilies, which grow from horizontal stems covered with nodes.

Spring planted bulbs can be the crowing glory of a summer’s garden – coming into full bloom when the rest of the garden may be winding down for the year.  Start with clean, spot free and firm bulbs and get busy as soon as the threat of frost has passed and the ground has warmed.

You’ll be Glad You Grew Glads
Gladiolus is among the easiest of flowers to grow - soaring from 1 to 5 feet tall in a showy rainbow of colors.  They’ll do well in almost any soil, provided the drainage is good, but do best in a soil that has been amended well with organic material such as compost.
A flower this bright and tall prefers full sun, but would tolerate afternoon shade – make certain they are planted in an area that provides good circulation, away from buildings.  When the soil has warmed sufficiently, plant them 4-6” deep and about the same distance apart from one another and water them well to help them establish.  Plant sets of gladioli every two weeks and you’ll have blooms over a longer period of time.  

Dahlias are no question the queen of the late summer garden – arriving in breathtaking shapes and colors.  Some of the different classifications of dahlias include pompom, formal decorative and cactus – from there on even further classified as giant, large, medium –various classes important to the serious dahlia growers.

Don’t  Dally Putting in Dahlias
Dahlias grow best when receiving at least 6 hours of sun per day – and prefer a sandy loam soil, but will grow successfully in almost any type of garden soil with good drainage.
Here in the Inland Northwest, most dahlia growers put their tubers out the third weekend in May – which generally, although not guaranteed, is past the final frost date for our area.

It is important to stake the dahlia at the time of planting, before the tuber is put in the ground.  The large flowering dahlias would do well with plant stakes reaching 5-6’ for best support of their voluminous flowers to come.  Make sure the tuber is placed 4-6” deep, with the eye on the tuber at least 4” from the stake.  The tuber should be set at a slight angle, with the growth buds at the top.

As the dahlia grows, tie the plant loosely to the stake, and disbud the flowers by removing the 2 side buds, leaving the one in the middle to grow stronger and larger.  Keep them evenly watered, deeply, and don’t allow the soil to dry out between waterings.  Fertilize lightly, but stop once the flowers have begun to form, as it may cause more green growth instead of strong flower and root production.

You Can Grow Canna
And if the dahlia is the queen of the late summer garden, it is joined there by the king – that being the canna plant.  To the uninitiated, it is nearly impossible to believe that something so exotic yet so dependable, can grow in our short Inland Northwest summer.

Also a tuber, the canna wants the same conditions as the others – rich soil, good drainage and plenty of sun.  For the canna, the more heat the better.

Grown strictly as an annual in our area, the large banana-like leaves are reason enough to grow canna.  Growing to the size of boat paddles, the waxy leaves come in various shades of greens, blues and even variegated – off setting the bright yellows, oranges, reds and pinks of the tropical flowers that burst from them.

In the fall, it will be like digging for treasure because the tubers will have doubled and tripled in size below the surface.

That is the downside of spring planted, summer blooming bulbs, corms and tubers – they simply cannot survive our Northwest winters and must be dug from the ground in the fall and stored over if you want to use them the following year.

But if you are a gardener that takes what they can get from these easy to grow flowers, grow them for whatever pleasure you receive.  For however much work you decide to put into any type of gardening, the rewards are plentiful.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Barn Marche

How can you not love this:  Yesterday, I was poking around
My Favorite Find - which is a new enterprise by
Farm Chicks originator Serena Thompson.
And I see a little shoppe listed, named Sweet Kaity.

It turns out, it is a little Etsy shoppe.  When I follow the link, 
I spot these rockin' new old stock ice cream cups:

And I think, yowsa yowsa, those would look so swell
in my red barn kitchen.

And by red barn kitchen, I mean my fun kitchen in the barn, where we entertain and watch Gonzaga Basketball (Go Zags).  The kitchen I am (shamelessly) showing off, right now.

Anyway, these little red ice cream cups are old, but new, and she has them listed for a really reasonable price.  So I wander in, pay with PayPal and it is an easy squeezy transaction.  By day's end, I'd received shipping notification that my new little "find" was on its way.

Turns out that little Etsy gal is in my own hometown (as is Farm Chicks) (I know, I'm a lucky lucky girl).  And this morning, the package was delivered to my back porch.
Where I tore it open (really nice mailing presentation, Sweet Kaity) and
couldn't wait to get them out to the barn.

Aren't they grand!

So, this is what I have to say today:
1.  If I had a small Etsy shoppe, or an antique store or antique funky chicky event happening (anywhere in the country) - I'd sure as heck list with My Favorite Find.  

'Cause I know I'm going to be spending time there, likely shopping,
and, if my pocketbook allows, planning travel to some of those other
rockin' events listed.


2.  You should see my barn sometime.