Friday, April 18, 2014

Beginning the Garden

It starts with the mulch.
We had seven cubic yards of hardwood mulch delivered to the vacant lot right by our fence, and we will be defining the beds and walkways with this stuff, which stinks like terrible car deodorizer.
As soon as it was delivered we hopped in the van and picked up two of the four troughs, hereafter referred to as tubs.
 Our local Soddy Daisy store had three, so we returned and got the third one, then dropped it off at our backyard and then went to another Tractor Supply in Dunlap, down the mountain from our old house, to get the fourth one. We were on a mission! Since we were in the area we did go back to the old house to check on it, and make sure all will go well at the closing. Coincidentally while we were driving I got a text that confirmed our closing date had been moved up from May 9th to April 25th, only one week from today! Great news, and I couldn't be happier.
The tub placement is going to be surrounding the patio, so we can enjoying the plants and get to them with the hose easily. They will be raised, leveled, holes drilled for drainage, and surrounded by mulch, so this is the before picture. 
At the old house I had some plants dumped out of their pots so I could retrieve the pots when we moved, and a few of those plants survived the heavy frost and snow, even without their containers, so I rescued them and repotted them again. Then I checked on the emerging hosta down at the bottom of the driveway and was not surprised when a gentle tug brought them up out of the ground, all their roots eaten away. 

 Those nasty moles ate away everything but the crown, so if I left them there, they would eat that too and I decided to get them to a safe place in my new garden. The leaves are up, so I do believe new roots will form and I will have my beloved hosta again. I made a quick nursery bed in a little swimming pool, and placed it in the darkest corner of the yard, which has very little shade. I will blog their progress, or their demise, but I do have hope, having been through this so many times before at that property. I will not miss the moles at all.
Dave has plans to paint the tubs and I will leave the color scheme to  him. We had plans to raise these to waist level, but then changed our minds. At this point the 8' long, 3' wide tubs are about 24" high, and with the supports we plan, they will be about 4-8" higher, and I can easily sit next to them on my garden bench and reach past the center of the beds. 
I have ten more ceramic pots that will be included in the design, just waiting along the west side of the house. And those green and red plastic pots will be filled too. My plan for this side of the house which is the most viewed by the neighborhood, is variegated Euonymous, Knockout roses, and Miscanthus grasses.
 My neighbor, Diane, has a breathtaking garden surrounding her house with pansies, tulips, iris galore, and daylilies. I love that she has hosta on the westside in the bright hot sun. It gives me hope. Love her Japanese maple too, and I covet a similar specimen or two for my garden.
And I met another neighbor who turned me onto a garden center in Ooltewah, which is just what the old gardener in me needed. O boy!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

How Much Does a Garden Cost?

 I swiped this aerial view of our house from Google maps, taken before they built the house next door, or put in our fence. That curved lot to the left is still vacant, and because of an all night rain, has standing water in parts of it. It's not all that low, it just is such dense clay that it takes a while to drain; like... days.
This picture shows what kind of space we have to work with to start the new garden. It's large for the neighborhood, but small compared to the five acres we had in Palmer. Thankful that I am, it will be a project that will cost a bit more either in labor or delivery and we are deciding about which part we want to spend the bucks.
I am not interested in doing the labor, being 66 and just getting over throwing out my back bringing in our couch. But Dave who is a mere 59 may want the challenge. He is still deciding. Keep in mind that part of the argument I made in getting him to move was LESS WORK. Was that a lie? Hmmm.
 We've both thought it and said it out loud, "This may be our last garden" and that thought has kept the flame burning brightly. And doing it once, and right is also in our thoughts. So what are we willing to spend  invest to make a garden we enjoy having and working in?
The local Tractor Supply place has three of the four cattle troughs we want, at $229 each. And they have the big round 'pond' for $305. We went there yesterday and were going to buy whatever we could load into the van, but Dave forgot his wallet and I left my purse at home. To say we are in garden-dreaming mode is pretty accurate. Duh. Nevertheless, on the way home, empty handed, we stopped at the mulch yard, the one we would pay to have mulch delivered, not the freebie one we used for all the mulch we got at our old house. For 5 cubic yards of hardwood mulch (a mere pittance) it is $22 a yard, plus $60 delivery fee. They also have the most luscious mushroom compost to fill the troughs, for $33 a cubic yard and we'd need about 6 yards of that.

The sums continue to add up, and gulp, to a large price. That is not counting the plants either. However, we close on the old house at the end of April and will get a big check, which obviously will pay off the loan with a bit leftover for play money. So what's the argument? It's what we want/need to make this place the home we worked to have.


The garden at our country house took just six years to build, so I assume since we are doing much less here, it should happen in less time. Not to mention all the places I bought plants from are just down the street!

 Must get more hosta!
Don't let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Starting a New Garden


This is the listing photo of our back yard at our new house. The grass pictured here is sorta green, but since it is Bermuda Grass, today it is still pretty brown and dormant even tho my neighbor's bluegrass is lush and green. Grrrrr. I think grass is a waste of time and space. Give me mulch anyday.
But I digress.
Under this sod is complete clay, mixed with rock and building debris. Ask me how I know.
Anyway, I want to create a new garden here, quickly and efficiently with minimum cost. And I don't want to dig.
With those parameters in mind, I did some foto research on Pinterest and came up with this solution.
It's a cattle watering tank. No digging, no building, minimal bending over, and it's an instant flower pot. But it isn't pretty. So at first I thought we would attach some white plastic trellis to the sides, but no.
And then I saw this photo:
which made me feel better, so I shared this idea with Dave and he liked it and thought about painting them, since he is such a fiend fan of paint.
With a bit more investigating I found this example:
 and this:

and felt that this was the way to go for our new garden. Luckily we have a fenced yard, so this wacko idea won't impact the orderliness of our neighborhood.
We found these cattle troughs in several sizes at our local Tractor Supply store, and counted up the cost and thought about it over a few days. It ends up being both expensive and economical and less back breaking than other ideas I have imagined. I am thinking of getting the 8 foot long by 32" wide by 24" high version, and hope to raise them on concrete blocks to another 8-10", as seen in this last photo. I want four to start. The only issue is how to get them home. The store doesn't deliver, and we don't have our trailer anymore, or the trailer hitch, so I am leaving that problem to Dave to solve. He promises it is no biggie.
Then we hope to have soil/mulch delivered and in a hurry, since it is already so warm and soon it will be HOT. I don't like the idea of working in the hot weather.
And the rest of my plan? We have no trees yet for shade, so trees will be included in these tank-gardens.
Just for the record, I did bring a few hosta from the old house, which were in pots, and dug up one or two other plants that had to come too. No one will notice since there are so many of the same already in bloom there. I filled in the holes. Really.
But wait, that's not all.
We already miss having fish, so when we saw this tank at Tractor Supply, we knew we had to add this to the yard. Insta-pond! Dave will be in charge of this, he promises. I'll do the plants and get the fish and he says he'll keep it clean. We know about this treatment:

So knowing that this day would come where I am garden obsessed, I have contacted the next person on my Make Me a Quilt list and she is amenable to waiting a bit while I get this garden started. In the meantime during the winter, I made a couple of bonus quilts which I will post here, in the coming days.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Make Me a Quilt : Melanie

Hand dyed cottons, fused, hand embroidered, machine quilted. 19x32"
 I usually cut away whatever is underneath the top layer before I finally fuse the shape. Not this time. I would still be cutting tiny bits away if I did. There is so much going on in this piece, that I thought 'just layer it!' Each leaf is two layers, the green and underneath the white. So you can imagine why I would not want to snip out the bottom layer. 
To make this design, I made lots of flowers and lots of leaves and then tried to assemble them in a natural looking cluster, adding stems and buds.
All the photos of nasturtiums show the busy-ness of the blooms peeking out from the leaves.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Design Process

 For my collaboration with Melanie, we decided that I would do a floral, specifically Nasturtiums, which I love and have always wanted to paint, or draw, or make into a quilt. It's just the perfect time to do this, since I am feverish with garden desire, and not a speck of garden yet to plant. I wanted to do something 'designed' rather than improvisational, so I spent some time in research.
I have lots of my own photos of my nasturtiums, and of course Pinterest is jam-packed with gorgeous images, which I studied and sketched.

Sometimes I like to alter a photo to eliminate the detail to get right at the essence of the object. I used my fave photo program Picasa to take a look at the shapes of the leaves and flower.
 Then I spent some time just drawing, erasing and redrawing the shapes I liked. Lots of details, which I would try to distill into just the essentials.
I have a bunch of reference books too, so I dragged those out and looked at how others have tackled the same flower. Love the design-y aspect of these ideas.

 And then I quit for the day and let my brain work on the ideas overnight. First thing this morning I grabbed my coffee, and bounded up to the studio. With pencil in hand I drew my nasturtium, erased, refined and redrew it four times, in different positions. I think I've got it now. The urge, which is so strong, to include every last detail of the real blossom is one I have to resist.
Less, less and less, or simplify, simplify, simplify.
And then the leaves? That was much easier. I cut a leaf shape, and cut it into wedges and that will make the veins, which are so typical of nasturtium leaves.
So now I will make a bunch of flowers and leaves and find a lovely way to assemble them into a composition. The next fun part!