Monday, September 5, 2011

Hot, dry and all those darn weeds!

Its been a long 3 months almost since i've posted an update to my blog.  After a wonderful start to spring and a warm summer in June, I thought I had the beginnings of beautiful flowerbeds that I would enjoy sitting on patio staring out all summer long.  But Mother Nature and inexperience proved to be my downfall.   I laid the last of my lasagna garden in mid-March in the hopes that a cool wet spring and early summer would break down the newspaper and cardboard.  Unfortunately, this didn't happen, as spring turned into a very hot and dry summer, no earthworms to break down the paper and no rich black soil to take its place. 

It seemed the only plants surviving this summer where the roses, my new wisteria and a small lantana that I had thrown off to the side as an afterthought.  Even trying to water daily was an absurdity against the 110 average days of July and August.

So here's my biggest learnings.....
  1. Water, water, water - even during water restrictions and late nights at work - find an alternate.  I'm liking the idea of the plant nanny and several bottles of wine.  
  2. Make your lasagna garden in the fall!  That way you have at least 6 months of leaves, rain, snow and ice to break down your paper, et al.  
  3. When the plant label states 'shade loving' its gotta stay covered!  DUH!  (red impatients...i'm so sorry!)
  4. Nip those weeds in the bud - literally!  Otherwise, you'll pay your teenage nephew to pull for 2 hours to get them all out!  (he did a great job too - well worth the $$) 

Plants that did well - 
  • Roses - mainly President Kennedy and Miss Oklahoma...go figure.  
  • Red budded Salvia - fills out great and will definitely be a filler next year.
  • Lantana - pink that I planted in the ground - filled out - but eventually succumed to drought.
  • Lantana - yellow/red mix that I threw off to the side in the shade...hum - seems to be very green right now - but no blooms.
  • Wisteria - still looks good
  • Blackberry bush - started vining and was really green - had little berries.  I tried one before they were ripe - probably about a week too early, then much to my surprise - little birds ate all the good berries within the next week.  
  • Hostas - were beautiful in the shade...until the August
  • Coleus - still going strong under the patio
  • Black Pepper plant - never changed appearance throughout the summer
  1. Plants that failed....probably mostly by my own hand
  • Impatients...ugh - I love these little plants - but give them a 1/2 a day of sunshine and 110 heat and their outa here.
  • Hibiscus....some days your were pretty - some days you weren't....don't think i'll try you again next year.
  • Mr. Lincoln rose....never grew, never bloomed - nothing..I feel like its April 1865 allover again!
  • Variegated Wiegela...planted from a starter and just went no where.  
  • Astilbe - probably my favorite in the flowerbeds, beside the roses - but your flower buds were a little sad and dull in color.
  • Boxwoods - your boring, yet still alive.
  • Petunias and Geranium hanging baskets - you were so beautiful through most of July - but the heat was our downfall - so sorry - will definitely try again next year!
  • Last but not least....Tomato plant - grew tall within the cage - but not one single fruit did you bare.
Despite the horrible tempatures this summer and lack of rain (I believe we had one shower all summer....August 14th).....I was able to enjoy the patio most of the summer, from the view of my porch swing.  This morning it was a brisk 65 degrees and as i'm writing this update at 10:45 pm - its a nice 75.  No breeze, just crickets and the sound of my cat, Lola clawing at the window - to get out here with me!  I didn't take any pictures of the flowers / plants that didn't make it - just too sad.  But I have decided my patio lacks color....and I'll add pics later on in the week as the transformation happens. 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Good Mornin from the Patio

Can't believe its been 2 months since I posted.  In the meantime, the flowerbeds have filled in some - it looks like the stars of the garden are the roses, and why shouldn't they be!  its a windy day today - and its going to be toasty...upper 90s.  This mornin though, its cool and high 70s.
 View from the porch swing!
 My little nephew Joey helped me put up some of this bunting...and I put up the rest - what a chore - but I think it looks great....added corbels on the sides of my post and later today - moving my flagpole to the back.  I love my patio!  I think more than my house...hahah.
 My little hosta shade garden under the Bradford Pear tree....tucked safely in the corner of the garden.....only what to do with this hideous birdbath...think i'll seal it and paint it yellow!
 My Peace and Love rosebush!  Gaining ground on the Red monster beside it!
 The beautiful Red rose bush that has grown in to a monster and I love every inch of it.  Wish I could remember the name.
 Blackberries are getting there - I tried one - but it wasn't ripe enough. 
 My beautiful Coleus - Kong Coleus on the left bottom - love this plant!
 Sweet Rose of Sharon rosebush (sweet rose of sharon, abide with me! - one of my Big Ma's favorite songs!)
 Good mornin' Mr. President!  I love this beautiful JFK rose bush!  Started from virtually nothing, planted back in March and its filling out nicely.  Can't say the same for President Lincoln....i'm hoping its just lying dormant this year!

 My mom came down for Mother's Day and here she is trimming my rose bushes for me!
 A balloon flyover about two weeks ago - when it was just a cool calm mornin!
Me and mom made salsa when she was was so yummy!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Here come the Hostas!

In just a matter of days, my Hostas that I felt were lost last year have made a remarkable entrance into the garden......
 I finished 6' of's after cardboard, newspaper, borders, and grass clippings.  Still to come, peat moss and mulch.  Only about 8' left of small section and i'm officially done.....for the time being...I have an idea for the east side of the house!
 This is the first bloom of the spring on my "Peace and Love' rosebush....lovely pink and yellow blooms.
 This is the Astilbe I bought at a sweet little nursery in Erie, KS and planted it last died off and never grew.  Its really going strong now and I love it - so little flower legend states that if you give someone an Astilbe it shows dedication and patience.  How fitting, it seems that I picked this flower as a momento from one of my many trips to Labette Co, KS to solve the mystery of my ggg grandmother, Eliza Ann Clay Millet Nafus. 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

March On....

Quick seedling update - my cucumbers, dahlias, climbers and some assylum has really taken off...but everything I planted in newspaper pots were germination.  These were for the most part tomatoes and annuals.  I think the biggest issue was not enough soil in the pots...i'll try them again - but make them a little smaller, or try first with grow lights.

Last weekend, I had a house full of teenagers to celebrate my nephew Ben's birthday.  We had alot of fun, the kids were great and helped in the yard.  Ben and Kamber took down the greenhouse....pulled up the instructions on youtube and then Ben folded it like a taco!

 Then Alex installed 32" feet of border for the final extension of flowerbeds in my backyard.
 Here's a pic of the family, sisters and kids chatting it up on the patio, before Becky, Jojo and Kamber headed back to Oklahoma....wish Jacob could have been here too!
This weekend, I transplanted my climbers and cucs into my 3-tiered plant stand.  I soaked the coconut husk liner and added my combo of potting soil and humus manure mix.  Also transplanted all the petunias, snapdragons and coleus.  I decided on using the packaged moss instead of the liners, I like the way it looks much better, but seems more expensive.  I finished two hanging baskets, and used just under two bags of floral moss....($2.00 per bag).  I hung them on my arbor to soak up some sun!
 Transplanted my basil and parsley too to free up some planter space.
 This was a happy sign to see - my hostas coming up - they died off last summer, and I thought all hope was lost - but all three are coming up near the arbor.

 I bought two Boston Ferns at Krogers this weekend - they are doing great, I want to hang them from my patio beams, but it was too windy this weekend.  I stuck one in a planter I bought at Mckinney Trade Days and the other on my table.  Also, at MTDs, I picked up this really cute little black distressed wooden box for $5.00.  Thought it would be great to put my seed packets in and also my flower cards. 
 It will hold tons of packets!
 Bought this canopy swing this weekend too - I had been looking at cedar swings, but didn't want to worry about hanging it from the beams...and this one was 1/2 the price.  I really enjoyed it this weekend, took a little nap, while listening to my Ipod!  It just needs a little color...its a little dull.
Also planted a knockout rose bush....that makes 8 rose bushes I have so far...will give you a picture update on those next time....but sad to say, my Mr. Lincoln, doesn't seem to be holding up too well - no new leaves....can't say the same for my JFK's a sneak peek!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Seedlings Eruptus!

Along with the seedlings I planted in the newspaper pots - I did a 72" cell of Jiffy....set those to seed in the jiffy pot on Sunday February 13th...and by Thursday, February 17, I had sprouts...see below.  Finally on Sunday - the climbing cardinals and cucumbers had about a 4" leggy sprout that I had to transplant to bigger pots.  These worked well, my alyssum, snapdragons and coleus and onions are also starting to sprout. 

Any suggestions on how to get strong stalks, please feel free to advise!  Wish I had more luck with my 52 little seedling pots that I put up.  I think I didn't either water enough, or put enough soil in the pots.  I have moved them all from the dark spare bedroom to my window in my bedroom - hoping that a little water and sunlight will surely do the far only one tiny sprout out of all 52....and I hope that will make it - I have a ton of impatients that i'm trying to seed.  If they don't work i'm going to go back to the jiffy pots....I bought a pack of morning glory seeds and plan on starting those this weekend. 

On other news, we had a small tunderstorm here today in Mckinney, high winds, supposedly we had hail, but I didn't see any signs of that.  Went to check rain gauges and two of the three are busted......but on as a side note....I went and plunged the spicot on the rain barrell and had a steady stream of fresh rain water in it - yippee! 

Also, just so you know how novice of a gardener I am.....last November (Thanksgiving Day, to be exact - my dad and sweet nephews gathered up all my pots of various plants and moved them to the garage for me, as we prepared for our first frost.  I left the plants in the garage for almost a month....right before Christmas, I had this great idea to get a pop-up greenhouse and put my garage plants in there.  I googled and found that a great heat source is Christmas lights.....even better.  I set up my greenhouse - moved little tables and benches into it - set up my plants; water them really well and ran an outdoor extension cord and a string of Christmas lights to the greenhouse.  A few days went by, non-freezing nothing to worry about - full sun during the day....then sometime first of January - we were hearing about our first snow of the season.  I turned on my was a cute sight...and watched the snow come's what the greenhouse looked like amidst the snow....
How cute is that!!!  Well guess what...the lights I bought....umh, rope Christmas lights...Energy Efficient.....NO HEAT!  can you say plant killer!!! I killed my beautiful lantana that I purchased in June in Pratt, KS on a trip to see my great uncle.  Also gone, my lovely boston fern, my cheap Pentas (that I didn't like anyway), a really nice purple passion flower I bought in Sulphur, OK, cute little ivys, my shamrock plant (which I know isn't really gone) and my sweet potato vines, coral bells...ugh.....I have alot to learn.
Last Sunday, I opened up the greenhouse and much to my surprise - not all hope was little ivy was still hanging on - go figure, I can't!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Big Ma

Today our grandma, Nellie Faye Mallonee Watkins would have turned 92 years old.  We lost her in May of 2007 to cancer.  She raised 5 boys, buried one baby girl and had an unwavering faith in God.  I was lucky enough to get one of her Bibles....amongst the scriptures she would write down, were recipes and little notes from her sisters about patterns.  She loved to crochet, sew and visit with family.  She and grandpa always made a big garden on the north side of their house...and she was a big canner.  She'd often say 'go down in the cellar and get a jar of this or that'...when we were younger.
Here's a pretty picture of her amongst her roses, possibly sometime in the 70s..(hence the glasses).   Also, a snippet of the video we played in her honor at her funeral.  I miss her.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

In Search of Eliza Ann.....

In 2007 I began a journey into family history.  One of the biggest mysteries I encountered is that of my great great great grandmother, Eliza Ann Clay Millet Nafus.   Eliza Ann was born sometime after August 1850...less than a year after her parents, John & Sarah and older sister Elizabeth boarded a ship called the Patrick Henry and set sail for the US from Liverpool, England.  The Patrick Henry arrived in New York on December 5, 1849.  John, Sarah and Elizabeth were 3 of 353 passengers aboard the ship.  Making up the ship's manifest were over 248 Irish, who left Ireland during the potato famine, 4 children were born on the voyage and three infants perished.

The Clays arrived in New York, and by 1860 they had made their way to Buchanan County, Iowa.  They were now a family of 8...John, Sarah, Elizabeth, my Eliza Ann, Henry, William and twins Alice and Albert...just infants.  In 1868, Eliza Ann married Elmer Millet and became an instant mother to his three small children after he lost his first wife in 1865.  Elmer and Eliza Ann had four children of their own, including my great great grandma, Nellie Millet.  Sometime in 1875, Elmer, Eliza Ann and the 7 children moved to Montgomery County, Kansas.  The 1875 census is the last time Eliza Ann, Elmer and children are all together.  By 1878, Eliza has married Daniel 'Merris' Nafus and had another son, Cornelius, born in November of 1878.  In the 1880 cenus, Eliza, Daniel, Cornielus and children Sadie and Jenny from her marriage to Elmer are living in Labette Co, Kansas.  Missing amongst them are Elmer's children by his first marriage and Eliza and Elmer's two children, Nellie and son Lewis.  All these children are living with other families in Labette and Montgomery Co, Kansas.  Eliza and Daniel had another son, Daniel in 1882.  Its here after 1882, there is no record of the Nafus's until 1900 and Eliza Ann is no longer living.  I suspect she died sometime soon after 1882, because in an autobiography of Labette Co, pioneer, Jabez Zink he states that Sadie Millet (born in 1876) came to live with them at the age of 6.

Here's the only known picture we have of Eliza Ann Clay Millet Nafus....perhaps she's boarding that water barge, along the Neosho river somewhere in Labette County, Kansas.  She certainly looks older than a woman in her 30s with 6 children and 3 step children, 2 marriages.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A Lampost, a rain barrel and one mad kitty!

This week my parents came down from Oklahoma to celebrate my twin nephews 14th birthday.  We had a great time while they were here, mom made a family favorite - Pork chops with tomato rice soup - it was delicious....each bite felt like home!

On Friday, before mom and dad went home, dad installed my rain barrel....he said he could remember as a kid, the Mallonees (my great grandparents) with barrels under their eaves catching rainwater.  I bought mine from master gardener. Beth Mortenson...of after she spoke at the Mckinney 'rain harvest' seminar back in January.
Daddy was also kind enough to install my lampost in my east flower bed.  Charlie came over and helped him, while me, mom and Lisa went to Mckinney Trade Days.  Here they are mixing cement - I had to make two extra trips to Home Depot for more bags of quick set, who knew one lampost would take 180 lbs of cement to set!
Here's the lampost....while the cement is setting.....this is mom and dad posing just before they head back to Oklahoma....
On Saturday,  I finished the flowerbed, set the lampost and planted my two rose bushes that I bought.  A Mr. Lincoln and a John F Kennedy honor of Presidents day.  After the last frost, i'll plant my First Ladies' Snapdragons and this east flowerbed will be an honorary Presidential garden....haha.

My cats love to come outside with me....but Lola, my tortie has the heart of a hunter and wanders around the beds, lounges and stretches on the patio then without notice...she's over the fence and in the neighbors's the proof......
She did that everytime she was out this weekend, so all day Sunday - she had to stay in and it didn't sit too well.....she climbed up the windows, clawed at the door....she was one mad kitty!
 It was a great weekend, despite Lola running off - here's how the east Presidential garden transpired....outlined with border....

 Next got ugly with some cardboard...(pizza boxes work great)
 Then a lovely layer of newspaper, shredded bills, paper, etc.....cypress mulch, peat and repeat!
Then finally a layer of the good presentable mulch and it turns out something like this....

Can't wait to transplant my seedlings and other lovelies in the EPG!