Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

Gardens Gone Wild!

Sunday, October 5th, 2008


Gardens Gone Wild!

Originally uploaded by Kate O’

Our garden has gone almost all summer without maintenance (darn my
pesky thyroid), and it really shows. We haven’t been too concerned
about it, figuring my health us more important than a perfectly
manicured front yard, and anyway perfectly manicured was never our
style, so it’s been sort of a Darwinian exercise in garden tough love.
But next Saturday our house will be on the neighborhood homes tour, so
it was high time to give the garden a quick cleanup.

Karsten’s up on an extension ladder cleaning the top windows (he won’t
let me take a picture of him, though), so I tried to muster the
stamina to do the yard work myself, but I only got as far as weeding
(LOTS of weeding, actually), pruning, and trimming the established
plants, and loosely digging around to position the new plants.
Tomorrow, if my energy is right for it, I may do some mulching. But
just at this moment, I think the rest of the planting is up to
Karsten, and all I have any energy left for is, well, posting this
here picture. Enjoy. :)

The fieldstone effect

Saturday, February 9th, 2008

Detail of front walkway at gate
Detail of front walkway at gate,
originally uploaded by Kate O’.

One of the interesting things about getting deep into any major project, like renovating a house and yard, is that new metaphors sometimes emerge throughout the process. For me, one of the best new metaphors to come out of the work we’ve been doing in the front yard is the idea of replacing the paved sidewalk around the house with a fieldstone walkway: the paved sidewalk, not only visually incongruent with such an old and charming house, encourages brisk walking, whereas the fieldstone walkway with all its inconsistencies in level and varied surfaces nearly forces the walker to slow down and look around at the garden and the house.

It’s not uncommon for Karsten or me to make references now to the “fieldstone” effect in our lives, of something having a welcoming slowing-down effect. I really love that about this house, and I’m also happy that Karsten and I can both appreciate what that does for our quality of life.

See? As much work and expense as this house has been, it’s actually rewarding us in unexpected and deeply meaningful ways. I wouldn’t trade a moment or a penny of what we’ve invested in it.

Yowch!

Monday, July 30th, 2007

My body is aching from all that gardening on Saturday. Yes, two days later.
Yes, I am a whiner and a wimp.

The amazing resurrecting lilies!

Saturday, July 28th, 2007

I didn’t think I was in the mood to do it, but I did it. I got outside right after breakfast (which, by the way, was a waffle with diced mango and kiwi along with my absolute favorite coffee, Bongo Java Kaldi’s Dog — but I digress) and got my gardening stuff all set up.

The resurrection lilies have finally emerged! 7/28/07And then went squeeing back inside to tell Karsten that the resurrection lilies had finally emerged. They grow incredibly fast — they’re already over two feet high — but I didn’t even notice them emerging before this morning.

You may recall that these are a gift from my dad. A while before he died, they were in bloom in my parents back yard and my mom cut some and put them in a vase for him to admire from his bed. I complimented him on his beautiful flowers when I came to see him that day, and he told me that he wanted me to dig some up to remember him by.

So I did. The day he died, after the day had quieted down a bit, I went out back to where the bulbs were planted. It was early November in the Chicago area and the ground was pretty hard but the digging felt good and cathartic, and eventually I managed to dug up three good bulbs. I put them in a plastic bag in my parents’ refrigerator to bring home with me a few days later. It was cold when I got back to Nashville, so I worried about putting them right into the ground, which meant that they stayed in our refrigerator until the next spring, when one day I happened to notice a little bit of green emerging from the bulbs right inside the baggie in the fridge.

So I got outside and placed them in a line of three and planted a semicircle of daylilies around them to accent them. And they continued to sprout leaves, which died back as they’re supposed to, but no flowers ever emerged that summer.

I was a little worried they weren’t very healthy after their difficult transition, but this past spring the leaves came up again and I got hopeful that they’d actually flower this year.

And there they are, beautiful as can be.

Detail of resurrection lily, 7/28/07 Detail of resurrection lily, 7/28/07 Detail of resurrection lily, 7/28/07

I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to have these flowers. I really can’t tell you; there are no adequate words. But perhaps you can imagine.

Detail of resurrection lily, 7/28/07

I did get my other gardening done, too, by the way — planting, weeding, transplanting, mulching, watering, oh my! — and took a bunch of pictures, which produced some of the better results I’ve gotten with this newish camera. Here’s one of the new dianthus firewitch plants, all up close and personal:

Detail of firewitch dianthus, 7/28/07

And then I wanted to sit back and admire it all, but first Karsten thought I should show you all how dirty I got and how “cute” (I say “dorky”) I look in my shade hat.

After a long day of gardening, 7/28/07

And here’s a view of the garden through the new fence:

Front yard garden, 7/28/07

I can’t think of a subject stupid enough

Thursday, April 26th, 2007

I backed out of the backyard into the alley this morning — naturally, we’re parking out back these days — and was detoured when I got to the end of the alley by Morgan Park Place construction blocking my normal route out to I-65. So I didn’t drive by the front of our house, as I like to do each morning.

Ten minutes later, I got a call from Karsten asking if I’d driven by the front of the house this morning. Strange that he should ask, I thought. No, why?

Well, apparently, someone nicked seven boxwoods from our front yard garden.

Let me just repeat that. Some clever burglar determined it worth his or her while to yank boxwood shrubs out of our garden. Small ones! I mean, have you seen our garden? I’m definitely not claiming it’s the most splendorous garden in all of the South or anything, but it’s got some pretty nice plants in it. The underwhelming hedge we’ve been attempting to grow with a bunch of young boxwood plants is pretty much the least appealing thing in the yard. And this wasn’t just a random act of boredom — someone took the time to grab seven of these things.

Now of course after explaining all of that, I’ll admit that I’m now dreading the disappearance of nicer plants in the garden — they’re sure to be the next to go.

Karsten and I have been told by folks who’ve lived in the neighborhood for a while that plant thefts used to be more common when some vendors at the Farmer’s Market used to buy plants from folks off the street to resell them, no questions asked. We’ve heard that this practice has been discontinued, so I have no idea what the boxwood thief is planning to do with the young shrubs. By ripping them out of the ground as he or she apparently did, the thief probably shocked them enough that they won’t do well when replanted (especially since pretty much all vegetation is still in recovery mode from the Great Easter Freeze), so if the idea was to plant the boxwoods, it’s not likely to be a happy outcome. Maybe I’m mean-spirited, but somehow that makes me feel a little better.

Also worth noting is that, a few weeks ago, someone apparently stole a young but still pretty large tree from the front yard of the house next door (which is for sale — the missing tree was noticed about an hour before they were having an open house). Earlier that day, I’d seen a guy riding by on a bike carrying a shovel. Not to say that’s related, but it could be. Apparently it wouldn’t be the first plant theft in the neighborhood involving a getaway bike, believe it or not.

We were already planning to install a period-appropriate iron hoop-and-spear fence, but all this makes me want to get right on it. (We already have enough motivation because of the bird feeders that keep getting stolen.) Karsten’s calling the guy today to see when we could get started.