Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Roses are Blooming

I love the first summer at a new place; everything that blooms is a surprise. I have several rose bushes blooming right now but unfortunately do not know what they are. Some are slightly aromatic and some are beautiful pink and red hues. I love the large bushes on the property line (see picture) that I never water. I spent today cutting flowers and buds to dry for later unknown crafts. Because I want to have very aromatic roses for distilling I also bought several new ones this year. They include a Kasinlik, Golden Celebration and Mr. Lincoln. I am using my chicken manure to fertilize these so that next summer they will reward me with enough blossoms to distill.
Cindy Jones

Friday, June 13, 2008

House progress!

Whew! So far this summer has been really really busy for me. My full-time job has been exceptionally hectic, plus we've been trying to get our house built. I'm sorry I haven't been posting regularly to my own blogs and this one. But I am so excited to finally see the walls of our house coming up! That's our daughter, Gabby in the kitchen window. The walls are 10' high on the ground floor. Since it's a small house, this will give it the feeling of being more spacious than it really is. Plus, it might help keep it cooler in the summer. Today they raised the interior walls and hoisted the trusses up for the loft bedroom floor. This weekend maybe we'll get the rest of the walls raised and next will come the roof. Gary and I have had a pretty good mind-picture of the house since the beginning, but the kids have had a harder time imagining what it will look like. Now that the walls are in place at least Gab is getting excited and more willing to help out. Garrison hasn't seen it yet, since he's on a summer trip to his grandparents house. But I'll be he'll be excited when he sees it, too. My oldest son, Zack, is on a road trip with his new trucking job, and I'm sure he'll be happy when he comes in, too.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Tina one, Weeds zero - for today.

We've had a couple of beautiful days here. Mild temperatures, low humidity, and a nice breeze. These were about the first really perfect days we've had for a while, with cool and wet being the typical forecast in May. So, like any self respecting gardener, I set about reclaiming the gardens. They aren't all under control, but it is a darned sight better than it was. There really should be some "before" pictures, but honestly that would have been to embarrassing. To begin, let's start out with my $1 wheel barrow that I found at the barn sale down the road last week. Don't ask me why (or even how) I've been working on all the different areas here without one. It was ridiculous. So that would explain why I swerved into the farm lane and tossed this baby into the back of the car. It reminds me so much of my first car. Looks like crap, but does a fine job. The fact that it's already been WELL broken in means that I won't have to feel bad about scratching it with a shovel, or leaving it out overnight when it might get a little rust.
The row of Grosso lavender is getting ready to bloom. You can see here the thousands of spikes starting to form. It's time to stock up on some ribbons for wands, and this year we'll have plenty to sell in bunches at market. Maybe enough to distill, too. Just a few short days ago it was hard to tell where the field ended and the row of lavender began. Is it just me? Or do all gardeners suffer anxiety attacks when their gardens are looking invaded? Just looking at that crisp row makes me feel so much better! The Bergarten Sage in the foreground is just barely blooming this year, spending all of her energy on putting out those lush leaves. That's fine with me. The leaves are the part we use anyway.
At the far end of the lavender row we have a lush Lemon Thyme, some Mountain Mint, and Tarragon. They form the corner of the berry patch (protected by the lattice panels). Inside are lots of blueberry plants and some very healthy elderberry bushes. The blueberries aren't doing anything except growing yet. Same with the elderberries. I'm hoping that the warmer temps and the mulch will give them a little shove in the direction of blossoms. If not, there's always next year. However, 2 of the blueberries that I had considered nibbled to death by the rabbits or groundhogs have decided to start growing again. That was a pleasant surprise. Those varmints chewed them off right down to the ground. An elderberry facing another direction is already in bloom, but the leaves are yellow - possibly too close to a white pine? This is her third year. Last year there was just one umbel. The frothy elder "blow" is such a pretty thing. It's hard to decide whether to harvest the flowers or wait for the berries (and fight the birds for them). The birds are incredible this year too! Yesterday I saw an Oriole, brilliant orange swooping over the pines. The Gold Finches are everywhere, and a hummingbird sipped at the chive blossoms. Bluebirds? Yeah, we've got 'em.

In the middle of the yard is a little oasis of Chamomile. Just last week I picked off every single bloom for the still, and you can see that didn't give them a moment's pause. They just put out more flowers. They need another picking, but we're talking hours here. It is no small feat to pluck that many flowers. It is akin to picking the violets for syrup, except that the violets snap away from stem more quickly. Chamomile requires a small pinch to keep the stemmage to a minimum. It's such a cheerful little spot. I love to sit in the grass next to the patch, and watch the sun go down over the flowers while picking.
Out by the front door is the Valerian. It is in full bloom now, and the scent is amazing. Off to the left is an old-fashioned, late-blooming lilac bush. The day the lilacs stopped perfuming the entrance, the Valerian went into bloom, giving us a non-stop, breath-taking welcome to the outdoors every time we step outside.
Soon we'll be greeted with Bog Sage and Bergamot, but nothing will again come close to the fragrance outside the door for the rest of the year. It's hard to believe after seeing all the seed pods (and picking those that were reachable), but so far the Moonflower hasn't shown up.
Every year is a surprise. It never fails. Even if nothing new comes up, there are always plants that were forgotten somehow, and as they show up it's a little gift to brighten my day.
For instance, out in the front garden there is a Munstead Lavender that is starting to bloom. Next to it is a smaller version that came up on its own last year. It has a couple of little spikes this year. This is the first time I've ever had a lavender mom and baby. That was one of those great surprises!