Tag Archives: House and Garden

The Fish are Nervous.

The Fish are Nervous.

It looks like we had a predator. Kyle, one of the big koi, is missing, and I don’t know how many of the baby shubunkins. The remaining fish are hiding under the pond palace, and just to give them a little more protection, I put the koi castle back in. (Those are horrible names, now that I’m looking at them.) Poor fishies. It’s not a surprise, seeing that we have plenty of raccoons and fish-eating birds, but it doesn’t make it less of a bummer.

No Gardening Today (Maybe)

No Gardening Today (Maybe)

I’ve fallen behind on housework because the garden has been taking up so much of my time. Right now, though, I’m at a point where what’s left is mostly aesthetics. You know, spreading more mulch, training vines as they grow up their trellises, and so on. I spent many, many hours this weekend pulling up the forty gazillion oak trees that sprouted in the garden, so I’m stiff and sore, anyway. Now, most weeds, like the oak and maple seedlings that so love this sandy soil, can be pulled up and done with. However, we have a few that spread by root runner. You can kind of keep up with the quackgrass, crabgrass, and some other miscellaneous weeds, but we have a kind of sorrel that is out of control. I found out the hard way that if you pull up all the sorrel you can see, you get even more because each tiny shred of rootlet sends out a new runner with dozens of sprouts in a matter of days. It was time for the Roundup. (Sorry, Gayle. It had to be done. . .) The problem, though, is that it’s all in between the plants I want to keep, and it’s very windy down here. Back in Bloomfield, with a much smaller piece of land and more manageable weed populations, I’d just take a paintbrush and paint it on. Here, I’d be doing that every day until December. So take a gander at my cool new invention:

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It’s one of those industrial spray bottles from Costco, and a 20-ounce soda bottle with the bottom cut off. The top opening is exactly the right size, and snaps onto the tip of the sprayer. I was able to spray single weeds at a time without Roundup blowing through the air onto other plants. Gosh darn it, I’m so clever!

Today, though, it’s kitchen cleanup, vacuuming, and maybe even some ironing. I might squeeze in an errand, but we shall see. Mmmmmm. . .but first, let’s open up all the windows in the house!

It’s a Lovely Day

It’s a Lovely Day

And just as soon as I feel like getting showered and dressed, I’m going out in it.

My tooth was hurting again, so the dentist filed down the crown a bit, and I scheduled a trip to the oral surgeon yesterday. His take is that it was just pressure from the crown hitting my bottom teeth before the other teeth did, so I’m taking Advil three times a day for a week to see if having it shorter helps. It does feel a lot better since it got shortened, so we’ll see.

So I had time to drive around after that, and I hit my old favorite garden centers. I came home with very few things. However, I do have some alyssum and sweet potato vine to add to the front and more peach colored verbena for the back. I have to get the Fragrant Cloud rose back into the ground with the amended soil, and do some more mulching in the back. After the back is done, I’ll focus on the big bed in front and the foundation plantings.

Our contractor expects to start work on the siding in a couple of weeks. Maybe I can get one of his guys to help the kids with the fort. . .heh. For now, they need to clean their rooms. And Audrey needs to hang up her new dresses. We went shopping on Thursday so she could have something special to wear for her graduation dance. OMG she looks so grown-up in them!! (Filene’s had them for under $30 each, so we got three. They’re not super fancy, so she’ll be able to wear them for other occasions.) My baby is starting High School. I have a whole summer to freak out about it.

It Still Beats the Alternative.

It Still Beats the Alternative.

I’ve been busybusybusy working in the garden. It’s shaping up beautifully. About 15-20 more bags of mulch are needed for the back, but the weeding, pruning, and planting are done (except for maintenance, of course. We have English Ivy and Euonymus and Japanese Holly, so I’ll be yanking up root runners forever.) I have moved so many shrubs, it’s not funny. The fish are already swimming excitedly to the surface of the pond when I come out – “Look!! It’s FOOD LADY!!!!” Gotta replant the aquatic plants and do some pond vacuuming this weekend, then it should be nothing but food and chemicals and filter rinsing, none of them particularly hard jobs.

My mom gave me four rose plants that are vigorous and fragrant (to combat the dog poop smell from the neighbors’ houses) (well, also because she loves roses and wants me to have some, too) and three of them were quite happy to go into the ground. Fragrant Cloud, though, began drooping almost immediately. I watered, I had filled the hole with the happy rose stuff mom gave me, but it looked like it was on death’s door. I figured I couldn’t make it worse, so I dug it back up and plopped it in a pot of water. Well. Less than 24 hours later, even the buds are standing up straight. Persnickety plant. I’m going to hit a garden center to get some soil amendments and replant it with some Soil Moist crystals, too.

So, anyway, that all relates to the title of this post because I’ve been very sore and stiff from all this garden work. That’s not a surprise, because I haven’t been using these muscles to this extent in ages. What is surprising, though, is how much harder it suddenly is to get up from the ground! Whether I’m kneeling, sitting, or crouching, getting upright is now a process instead of something I do without much thought. It doesn’t hurt, it’s just that it takes more of an effort to get a response from the muscles and change my balance as I get up. It happens in stages rather than in one smooth motion.

So, it’s not just gray hairs and wrinkles and hot flashes. Just another one of those things you kind of sort of know is coming with age that nevertheless takes you by surprise. I’m not bothered or upset about it, just observing it as part of the process. Because I’m not old, you know. Just getting older. And that is definitely better than not getting older.

Planning For Summer

Planning For Summer

Carolyn has found a couple of computer classes she wants to take. Right around the corner at the college. Piece o’cake. Audrey, on the other hand, would be better served by art classes, but she’s in an odd spot. She’s too old for kids’ classes, too young for adult classes, and most of the teen classes are for crafts – not her speed. So I did find a few places that offer fine arts – drawing, oil painting, etc., for teen level. . .40 minutes away in Monmouth County. We’ll have to see, have to keep looking. *sigh*

In the meantime, I have more shrubs to move and plants to plant, and when the contractor starts the exterior work on the house, we’ll have to ask him to rent a slightly larger dumpster than he had planned. We have much clutter and debris that would look better in the trash than around the house. Oh, and did I mention we have a frog living in the pond? Hubby said it would eat some of our smaller fish, but I’m OK with that. We have more fish than we know what to do with.

Springhill Gardens, one of the few mail order plant sources I’ll use, sent me replacements for the ferns that didn’t come up before. I had a different idea of where to plant them while I was waiting, so it was kind of good that the first batch was a dud. We also went out and bought two arbors to frame the slate patio, and I’m trying to germinate some Grandpa Ott’s morning glories and some moonflowers to climb up both of them. The moonflowers are much pickier than morning glories.

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I wanted to have some other angles, but they all show too many works in progress. Oh, well.

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This area is filling in nicely, too. I can hardly wait until the rhododendrons to either side of the azaleas catch up. It’ll be stunning.

Windows!!!

Windows!!!

My old windows are being taken out right now. The dog is going nuts. I’m discovering that I need to dust around the windows and wash the sills more often. Heh. I’m going to go out now and finish putting new plants in. Woohoo!

I need to get more mulch. This time, though, I’m not getting a giant pile of woodchips. I’m going to get a few bags of cedar mulch at Lowe’s, and spread it all before I go out and get more. Things will look partially done, but at least we’ll be able to park in the driveway.

More Plaaaaants!

More Plaaaaants!

I went to visit Mom yesterday. She had gotten some lovely rosebushes for us as a gift (they’ll get their own bed in the front yard) so I headed down to visit her and pick them up. There is also a wonderful garden center near her in Cherry Hill on Kresson Road called McNaughton’s Nursery. They have the most beautiful selection of pots, lovely well-cared for plants, and the prices are among the best I’ve seen. Mom thinks they’re expensive, but she doesn’t have the basis for comparison that I do. I picked up a few more things to plant in back. After lunch, I went into her shade garden and dug up several varieties of hostas, ferns, nettle, and wild hyacinth.

It took me a while to get my treasures home because I stopped at the Wegman’s in Moorestown on the way back (Tuesday is grocery shopping day, might as well do it on the same trip!) but as soon as I’d finished dinner I planted the things I’d dug up. A plant is a lot more traumatized when it’s dug up than when it’s still in its pot but in a new place. Except for hostas. Nothing can traumatize a hosta. Dig ’em up, cut the roots with a big sharp knife, plop ’em into some random hole, and they come up like nothing happened. Anywho, I finished this in the dark, about 8:30, so the potted plants will go in the ground today. Then I’ll take more pictures.

I have to keep busy, because the glass guys are supposed to come today and replace all the window panes. These are double-pane, nondivided, and the ones we have are almost opaque because the seals were compromised so many years ago. After all the work I’m doing in the back, it’ll be nice to finally be able to see it from the kitchen. Oh happy day!

Yes, I’m Sitting Around Doing Nothing.

Yes, I’m Sitting Around Doing Nothing.

The kids were home for a week. Today they went back to school. The weather is nasty, I’m waiting for a phone call from the bank. Got some laundry going, almost done with the dishwasher, but I’m still in my nightgown in front of the computer. It’s quiet, I still have plenty of time to do stuff, and none of the cats has gotten sick or brought in any presents. Mmmmm.

I’ve been busy all week, and did a lot of things in the garden. Oh, wait, glimpsiness of sunshine! Have some pictures!

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We’re going to have some work done on the house, so I was moving things away from the outside. One of those things is the pile of wood that will eventually become a fort for the kids. Yucky looking. So I killed two birds with one stone and moved plants away from the foundation to the base of the tree. They’re small now, but by the end of the summer not only will they make a nice visual vignette, but they’ll disguise the fort (or pile of wood, depending on how dedicated we are.) Hiding our neighbor’s shed is another matter entirely.

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We also started up the waterfall on Sunday, after much cleanup of leaves and debris. I repotted the aquatic plants, and hubby had the misfortune of having to get into the pond and place them on the bubbler in the center. The sedum and lilies in the front were moved from the foundation, as well. They nicely cover the awkward space between the patio and the raised end of the pond.

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From the slate patio you can see a little of the new plantings. I’m working on weaving the ivy onto the rest of the chain link fence. The way it’s growing, there should be a real difference by the end of summer. To the left of the pond in this picture, I’ll be moving more slate to make a smaller patio/seating area. The backyard isn’t huge, but by the time I’m done it’ll be a lovely place to sit around or wander through the individual “garden rooms”.

I think I’ll start a new category for these pictures and posts. There should be a lot of changes around here this year.