Monday, December 28, 2015

Water Bubble

Hi there! Hope you had a wonderful Christmas!

We've had days and days of rain. I think the final count was 7-10" last week. While letting the dog out Friday afternoon, I noticed a large circular swell in our backyard. When I stepped on it, the darned thing jiggled like a waterbed. I had no idea what was going on. The DH suspected that the water running off the steep slope in our backyard was just too much for that area to handle, resulting in trapped water under the sod.


I posted a video on my Facebook page which garnered all sorts of comments from busted water pipe to sinkhole. Geez! When we woke up Saturday morning, two more had formed. Against my better judgment, and armed with information from You Tube, the DH took a pick axe to the areas, releasing the water and having way too much fun jumping around on them. The areas are flat now even though the ground is still soggy, and we are expecting more rain this week. Ugh!



The winter storm system that has been moving through is no joke. I won't get into a debate about climate change, but something is not right. Water bubbles shouldn't just pop up in your backyard. What do you think?

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Progress

I've wanted to replace this hillside flower bed with a tree for months now but the task seemed so daunting that it was placed permanently on the back burner. Then to my pleasant surprise, the DH spent a few hours last weekend helping me dig out the overgrown flowers and border. Here is my new blank slate:

 
 
If you squint just right, you can see trees on either side. The trees have already lost their leaves so it looks a little drab, but the idea is to have a line of trees uninterrupted.
 
Still thinking I would love a saucer magnolia in this area, but am open to an eastern redbud or flowering pear. Oh the possibilities!

Before (during spring):

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

El Niño Humor

So I've been dying to post this image from Pinterest for weeks but had been waiting for consistently cooler weather:

 
But since it looks like that's not going to happen this winter (thanks El Niño), I figured I'd post it anyway for a good laugh. 

Friday, November 20, 2015

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors But Oversized, Misplaced Sheds Make...

...me very annoyed.

When my neighbor told me her husband was thinking about getting a shed I thought cool, extra storage is always great. I didn't expect to come home one day from work and find this monstrosity up under my fence, ruining my side view.



The DH and I know this is not permitted because the variance in our neighborhood is three feet (i.e. there has to be three feet of clearance from any existing structures including a fence). Clearly, this is not. But for now we're going to try and be neighbors and not file a complaint. But my God this is going to take some getting used to.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Is It Fall Yet?

The weather's just been ick lately. For a few days in October, we had crisp, sunny days in the southeast. However, we've transitioned into a purgatory state of mugginess and rain with temperatures all across the spectrum. What has this meant for gardening? Not a whole lot. For me anyway. Who wants to be outside?

In spite of this, my bell pepper bushes are still producing at a rate faster than I can consume or give away, and there's that stray pumpkin vine in my compost. Keeping my fingers crossed I'll be able to harvest a few.





Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Orange You Glad You're Not a Pumpkin?!?

http://3cfmhg21atqf2isl5j2ps82c.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/PumpkinPorchMeme2.jpg
 
Here's a funny story for ya...sometime in August, with visions of pumpkin-lined steps leading up to my front porch, the kids and I planted two flats of pumpkin seeds. None germinated. However, a stray seed ended up in my compost, and voila, a few months later I have a thriving pumpkin vine.

 

 I doubt the pumpkins will be large enough to decorate with before the season is over so I still won't have the pumpkin-lined steps. Still, this made for a great laugh. Ain't life grand?

Friday, October 9, 2015

My Fall Porch

I'm a little late this year but I finally got it done. Welcome Fall!



Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Ever Blooming Christmas Cactus

My colleague has a Christmas cactus that blooms all year long. We have a large window that floods the office with sunlight, which as you may know, works against a Christmas cactus blooming out of season. So its our little mystery.

Anyway, I thought I'd share these delicious blooms with you.



Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Fall Prep

I haven't been up to a whole lot these last few weeks, other than some yard maintenance. And by yard maintenance, I mean vigorously pulling Mexican heather from my rain garden. Those babies have a tendency to take over! And they're obscuring shorter, more attractive plants like my Cahaba lilies and ginger lilies.

After removing 90% of the Mexican Heather

We've had a dry summer which has damaged the woodland ferns in the rain garden. Lucky me! I also plan to dig those out as soon as I'm done with the Mexican heather. Hopefully that will enable my canna lilies to progress as it seems their growth has been stunted the last few years.

Totally Overgrown!

On the hillside, I am going to replace a small island filled with irises and daylilies with another fruit tree. I have my eye on a dwarf pear tree that will fit the space perfectly.

Its a long to-do list with very little time. Hopefully I can get most of this done before we have another cold snap which forces me into hibernation.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Spider Lilly Surprise

The last few weeks have been really hectic, hence my absence. I finally had a minute to slow down over the last few days and take a walk around the backyard. I was really excited to find that the spider lily bulbs I planted last fall were now blooming.

 
They are clustered in several areas of the yard in various stages of their life, but these two clusters along house were the prettiest. So happy I didn't miss them.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Can You identify This Flying Insect?

The other night while letting the dog out, I noticed this flying insect around my jasmine bush. It was most interesting. It flapped its wings much like a hummingbird moth, but that's where the similarities ended. Can you help me identify it?




Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Scrap Wood Scarecrow

With two little ones, August has been a really busy month for us, hence my lack of posts. But I'm back with a super cool project!

I've seen these scrap wood scarecrows all over the Internet and balked at the $40+ price tags. I had some free time yesterday, put the pieces together and coerced sweet-talked the DH into fastening them together for me.

Inspiration:

http://itsastampthing-vicki.blogspot.com/2013/09/splitcoast-color-challenge-guest.html
My stash:
 
Framework:


 Back Support:

 Front:

The screws are counter-sinked and the screw holes will be filled before painting. I may leave the top as is. I like the jagged line.

 
Now I just need to find some more free time to paint it and display it in the yard in time for Fall.

 
 


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Pleasant Surprises


Yesterday while swinging with the kids, I noticed a brown spot in one of my young, maple trees. Upon closer inspection however, I discovered it was an abandoned bird's nest. I can't believe we had birdies and didn't know as nest watching is one of the kids and my favorite garden hobbies.



I've always thought my backyard trees were too young (think low to the ground) to be sanctuaries for nesting mamas but turns out that's not the case. After all, I've had several nests in hanging plants on the front porch and just this spring, in one of my front hedges. So next spring, I'll expand my nest search and see where else they set up.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Preserving Fuit the Lazy Way

I've written before about my awesome peach harvest this summer. We ate a bunch, gave tons away and still had peaches for miles. What I decided to do with the overripe ones was slice and core them and freeze them for smoothies. Delish!


The peaches on the tree are long gone but I still have about five quart-size Ziploc bags full of sliced peaches ready for dessert.

Here is my smoothie recipe that I use for my single-serve blender:

  • Half fill the cup with milk. We use whole milk, but if you want a skinnier option, feel free to use reduced fat.
  • Add frozen fruit. In addition to the peaches, I use strawberries, blueberries, banana, whatever is on hand. The riper the better as this eliminates the need for sugar.
  • Blend.

That's it. Can't get any easier, healthier or lazier than that.

Enjoy!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Force-ripening Green Tomatoes

When I overheard a co-worker saying you can force green tomatoes off the vine to ripen in the sun, I thought this would be a cool experiment to try with the kids. We found our sunniest window, a south-facing one, lined the sill with paper towel and patiently waited. To our pleasant surprise, after just a few days, the tomatoes started turning red.


I did a little research on this and turns out heat is the main proponent required to ripen green tomatoes, not sunlight. This blogger mentioned sunlight inviting rot and toughening the skin. The rotting on my tomatoes was more of a sunburn at the very top, which I always slice off anyway. Further, the texture of the skin seems normal. However, next time, I am encouraged to try his brown paper bag and banana method.

How do you force-ripen tomatoes?

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Afternoon Snack

Even though it seems my tomato vines are infected with a fungus, I've had and continue to have a very good harvest. One of my new favorite snacks is cherry tomatoes marinated in lemon juice, salt and pepper. Delish!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Mockingbird's Nest

Every year I have a mama mockingbird who makes her nest in one of my privet hedges. Usually she reuses the same nest and lays three eggs but this year the nest is a little bit higher...and larger and there are four eggs!

 
Isn't it beautiful! Read about some of my other garden babies here.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Its so hot...

...that I saw a fire hydrant chasing a pack of dogs! That's a joke I read in some local rag yesterday. Yup, that pretty much sums up how I feel about going outside to garden right now, though Saturday looks promising if the rain holds off.

 


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Revamped Plant Stand

As a practical joke, a colleague left an old, rusted plant stand in my office when my department requisitioned an end table.


I didn't really see much humor in this, but I did see lots of potential for a refinished plant stand for my patio. My six-year old and I peeled away the cracked vinyl over the course of a week. She loved using a pair of pliers which are normally off limits and took to the task like a plant to water. (See the relationship there? he he) After some cleanup and several layers of black spray paint, it looks as good as new.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Hand-feeding Koi

Today I watched a gardener hand feed his koi fish. It was the most incredible sight! The fish heard him call, approached, ate, then swam away. See for yourself:



 
What can your pet do?


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Upcycling McDonald's Mik Jugs

Not too long ago the kids and I picked up Happy Meals for dinner. As I was peeling off the labels from the milk jugs to toss them in the recycling bin, I noticed simple instructions to upcycle the jugs into bird feeders. Yes please! It took a few weeks to actually get around to it, but the finished product is too cool.

Start with a clean jug.

  
Drill a medium-sized hole for feeding and two smaller holes for the perch. Make sure they line up. We used a straw per the instructions, but a bamboo skewer would also work.
 

 
Drill a hole in the lid for the hanger. I used wire because this is what I had on hand, but you can use rope too. (In a pinch, I've also used dental floss and it held up quite well.)
 

Fill with food and hang.


Super cute right?





Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Everything's Just Peachy

Ever have something in your garden that you've fought with for years? I have several of those, one of which is a peach tree I planted in honor of my daughter.

Growing up with the sub-tropics, it was common to have fruit trees in your yard. And they required very little maintenance. Generally, you planted it, left it alone, and after a few years, you were rewarded with fruit. Not the case in SE Alabama. Fruit trees, specifically stone fruit trees are difficult at best. They require constant attention as they are subjected to any number of diseases and pests. I have waited year after year for my peach tree to set fruit, only to be sorely disappointed.

Imagine my surprise last weekend when I finally got around to spraying, that I noticed it was loaded. Actually my first reaction when I spotted the sea of yellow from a distance was, "It's only May! What's wrong with it already?" As I approached, what I thought were discolored leaves were actually baby peaches. Score!

 
 
There are quite a few on the ground already, which I'm hoping is due to birds picking at them. But nothing could dull my excitement. For me, this is the holy grail of gardening...hard work paying off! the DH suggested pruning them for large peaches but I don't have the heart to do it.
 
In other gardening news, my Asiatic lilies are blooming. YAY! Aren't they gorgeous?
 
 

Happy Gardening!