Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Gardening and Hoping

I realized a few weeks ago that this summer is the first summer since we bought our house (in 2004) that I am not pregnant nor do I have an infant to care for. I'm amazed at how much I can do when I'm 1) gardening for ONE not TWO and 2) my kids can both walk on their own and even enjoy occupying themselves in the yard while I'm pulling weeds.

Here is a picture of our front yard - I never cared for lawn statuary, but when my mother-in-law gave me the little girl statue after my daughter was born I just loved it and it has been in the front garden ever since. The garden was professionally landscaped when we moved in but the landscapers (I think) oversold the prior owners on plants. There were three hydrangeas, cat mint, russian sage, a ton of vinca, day lilies, sedum and a Canadian hemlock. That's a lot of stuff for as small a space as this garden has, so over the last few years we have tried to divide and move what we have so that it doesn't look quite so crowded and overgrown by mid-summer. We also tried to add some color variety by putting in some flowering perennials as well as bulbs such as lilies, irises, daffodils and crocus.

In case you were wondering we are planning to trim those monster yews in the back there. They have really started to encroach on the rest of the garden, plus I don't care for the way they were pruned to be rectangular. Once the new growth stops in a few weeks we are going to cut them back about 1 1/2' and down about the same amount and see what happens. I'd like to let them grow back in a more natural shape too.

Last year I planted three different clematis plants in our back yard in an effort to camoflage the faded, old wood fence. I've never grown clematis before so I'm thrilled to see that all three plants come back with a vengence this year. Each plant is a different variety and I can't wait to see what color flowers the other two plants will have. I've been faithfully training them to climb up the fence and it seems to be working. Hopefully within a season or two the three plants will cover a large part of fencing - what to do when the fence needs to be re-stained or the pickets replaced, well, I don't know. Guess I'll worry about that later :-)

Fruits and veggies - we decided to just plant tomatoes this year. We have a five in the ground and put two in this contraption:

It's called a "topsy-turvey" and it actually holds the tomato plant upside down! In this shot you can see that the tiny tomato plant is starting to curve upward towards the sun.

It's amazing - the plant starts to do that within a few days of being planted. The upside of this method is 1) you don't have to stake the tomatoes and 2) you don't have to worry about rabbits or other critters eating your tomatoes. Last year we had one little guy that would pick a tomato, take a bite or two out of it and then kindly leave it for us to find on the deck the next morning. I think he was taunting us.

We also put in three raspberry bushes in April. This is what they looked like a few weeks ago:

It looks like a dead stick in the ground, doesn't it? But we kept the faith and most recently this is what it looked like:

I have heard we may actually get fruit the first season, so I'm excited about that. My daughter loves picking fresh raspberries from our neighbor's plants, so it will be nice to possibly have our own this year.

We have two "tophat" blueberry bushes in the front yard but they are looking pretty sad. Last year one of the plants gave us a whopping three berries. Yes, three berries. So my husband, my daughter and I each got one but we kept a sense of humor about it and hoped this year would be better.

But, I don't think so. As you can see just about all the flowers have been nibbled off the plant which means we won't be getting ANY berries this season... I think I may have to move these guys to another spot for next season.

The strawberry plants! I planted three of them last summer and was able to get a handful of berries since the rabbits took their share too. This year the plants have really settled in and are LOVING their spot in the front garden. The plants are huge and sending out shoots, so I'm a little worried they are going to spread all over the place, but I'm wait and see before moving them. With a little luck we may be eating some fresh fruit salad this summer...

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