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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Everything Is Coming Up

I started thinking about my blog post today, while sitting in this spot this morning. I was out on the front porch in the sunshine, sipping my coffee. Steve had just left to go drive the Old Fart Party Bus for a while, and the dogs were keeping me company. I looked around the front porch and decided to take a few pictures.  Thing are GROWING!

Here it is from the other end, 
and you can see my pretty flowers from Steve
 last week are still going strong.

I received a little pot of ivy a couple years ago, and kept transferring it into bigger and bigger pots. I started winding it around and around circular fashion on a trellis. I think it's going on it's third year. During the winter I keep it up in a bathroom window facing south. In the summer I bring it down to the front porch. This little white table is for the grandkids to sit and eat at, and the ivy kind of gets in the way of their plates. I really don't have any other place to put it where I can get such beautiful sunshine.

This interesting little planter is full of something you wouldn't expect here in Wisconsin. These are orange trees! Yes real orange trees!!!  My mom's new husband grows oranges in their yard in Florida. He sent us a box full of them at Christmas. Amazingly sweet and wonderful, better than anything you could ever find in the store. Lyle said if you save the seeds, and stick them in dirt, they will sprout because they are not some crazy hybrid like store bought oranges. These are the real thing.

I have no idea what I'm going to do with them as they get larger. Maybe I can donate them to the school or something for a Horticulture class? It would be interesting to see them raised into full grown trees and bear fruit. I don't know anything about raising oranges, but I bet the students would like to learn?

After my coffee, I wandered out the back door and down the steps. My goofy little teacup planter is doing well with my jade plant in it. It really sets off the bright red patio table, and I think it's kind of funky. The overhang of the upstairs porch protects it from heavy rain, but I do have to remember to water it.

Speaking of watering, I like to water all of my plants with rainwater, rather than the city water full of chemicals. I have two rain barrels, one by the back door and one off the back of the garage.

This year I am trying something new with the rain barrel by the garage. I added a long length of foam soaker hose to the barrel spigot. I ran the soaker hose down the length of my tomato cages, looped around three of Steve's raspberry plants, and back up the backside of the tomato cages. By opening the spigot just a tiny bit, the water slowly drains out through the hose and soaks into the ground, underneath the grass clipping mulch. We will see if it helps keep the plants moist or if I do need to continue caring for them with a watering can every other day.

Here's my pretty row of 13 tomato plants, I have 4 Early Girl, 4 Champion, and 4 Better Boy. The last one is a grape tomato bush. I keep the cages firmly attached to the side of the garage so the weight of the tomatoes does not tip the cages over later on in the season.

I learned from my good friend Juanita, who has a amazing Green Thumb, to use grass clippings from the lawnmower as mulch around my tomato plants. The grass clippings are full of nitrogen, and as long as there are no chemicals on the grass, it makes a very good mulch to help hold in the moisture, and control weed growth.

Here are Steve's three new raspberry bushes. I don't know if the mulch works for them the same way it works for tomatoes, but we will see. We are protecting them with tomato cages for now, to keep errant balls being chased by doggies from snapping them off at the stems. In a few years I am sure they will be rigid wood stalks and we won't need to baby them so much.

This next thing drives me 

The big tree in our backyard (as well as all of the neighbors trees around us) are Soft Maples. All in all, they are beautiful trees that give us plenty of shade and we like that.....    What we don't like are these crazy helicopter seed pods that come twirling down every Spring, and last about two weeks. When the breeze blows it's like a rainstorm of little helicopters!!!!  

And did I say, they make a MESS???

They stick up all over the lawn like little dead butterflies with their wings in the air. The green seed pods turn brown and then they look very messy and dirty. Some do manage to sprout and we spend time going around plucking little maple trees out of the middle of our lawn and our flower beds.

That doesn't seem so bad, does it? Well it really irritates me in the flower beds because I like setting off my rich deep burgundy, fuchsia, green coleus plants by spreading black mulch around them. All these crazy helicopter pods look like dirty brown crunched up leaves that never got cleaned up from the year before. See what I mean?

PS, note that I added a green soaker hose along the inside edge of the cement scalloped edging. I'm going to try using a timer on the hose to water these plants when we are gone for more than a few days at a time. It seems like a good solution to keep the plants watered alongside the house. This side faces South and the good dirt dries out really fast and is not very deep before there is solid clay. So the good soil needs to be watered sometimes every day during hot weather. I think I will set the little timer to water early in the morning and later in the evening to keep them alive. Otherwise when we are home, I water them with a watering can with the rain water from the barrel.

This lovely old gnarly lilac is at the end of its blossoming season. I don't know how old it is, but boy oh boy it sure is a lovely bush planted by someone long ago. There are some new sprouts growing up around the bottom, so I think if the top keeps dying off, I will let the young sprouts grow up and try to replace it in the coming years. We did that with the lilac on the other side of the house and it sure shaped up nicely now.

Let's walk up around the front of the house. I took a picture this morning of the front but it was blurry so I came back around this evening and took one as the sun was setting. I love the angle of the golden sun in the springtime as it sets. Everything is so fresh and green, and not faded out after a long hot summer.

The birdbath is up in the front flower bed this year, and I have hostas growing in a row behind it. The center one was also a gift from my green thumb friend Juanita. I call it the Hofstrom Hosta. Soon the little rows of white and red impatiens will grow up into a lovely border along the scalloped edging. We have already seen birds using the bird bath and I've scooped feathers out a few times so I know it's being used. Again, I try to only fill this with water from the rain barrel and not the city water faucet. I want to spread some black mulch here too, but not until the helicopters are done. I have ten big bags waiting on a trailer in the garage.

Last year I strung some white cotton rug warp string in a zigzag fashion on little tiny white nails, I put all along the edges of this window on the south side of the front porch. My beautiful clematis blooms adorn this whole side of the porch. It makes a wonderful backdrop seen from the inside and screens off some of the bright bold sunshine coming in from the south. This year the clematis is growing like crazy and has already gone higher than last year. Soon it will fill in with full thick leaves and big purple velvety blossoms.

Underneath the clematis, all around its base, are delicate little Lily of the Valleys. I think of my Grandma Kafehl's house whenever I see them. She had two full beds of them along with her daylilies in the front of her home around the big trees. They grow so well in the shade. I wish they would last all summer, but they seem to die off and just leave the green foliage behind.

When I was a child, growing up in Cedarburg, we had a whole row of these bushes along the side of our backyard facing Country Aire Drive. They were called Bridals Wreath. I remember grabbing the ends of the branches and shaking vigorously, making a rainfall of little tiny white blossoms all over the place. How frustrating that must have been for my mother to look out and see all of her blossoms gone from her bushes!

She also told me a story of where I came into the house one day with my little sand pail, full of little green marbles. Here they were all the round heads off all of her peonies bushes! I had plucked them all off and brought them into the house!!  I'm sure she was so dismayed to not have blossoms that year, after waiting all winter for the peonies plants to grow tall and begin to sprout the round marbles.  I sure must have been a little stinker??  Sorry, Mom!

Round the corner of the front porch I have my littlest flower bed patch that faces the north side. I started some little ferns here two years ago. They struggled last year and really didn't do too well. This year they are just amazingly full and lush!

I think I have a winner with the location that I put them in now. Also on this side of the house I have some extra hosta plants that like the shade.

On this side I also put a very delicate clematis, that has white blooms with thin strands of burgundy. It is also growing up quite well this year and I had zigzagged some string on this window frame too. Hopefully we will have blooming clematis on both sides of the front porch creating lovely screens of green and blooms to look at when we sit inside. I can't wait to see the first blooms opening up on the delicate vines.

The two cement planters I bought a couple weeks ago are doing quite well with some geraniums, spikes, and vinca vines. I love the red, white and blue theme in the front with all of the flowers and the flag overhead.

In one of my other blogs I talked about the ugly telephone pole in the backyard. The clematis I added here is with white blossoms and is starting to take off and creep up the pole. It's a couple feet tall now and I hope it just keeps on going and soon covers the complete wooden texture of the pole. I have a few strings tied around to help but the little twisty grabbers on the clematis are starting to attach themselves into the wood. Grow little flowers, grow and cover up that ugly pole.

The flower bed in the back corner has taken off. All of the transplanted hostas are doing well and growing along the edge. The Korean lilac is in full bloom and the little cactus garden in the corner is doing well in the bright sunshine.  I want to spread some black mulch back here too, but not until the helicopters are done falling. 

My tiny new white lilac bush that I got for Mother's Day is actually blooming! Can you imagine that? It has two blooms on it even though the stalks are only about 1 foot high. I hope that shows that it's a good fighter and will grow and prosper and become a good bush in that corner.

All along the back fence, the flower garden is filling up with perennials that I have planted over the last four years. We always thought the full flower garden was within our property line, but after we had the survey done we realize the property line now goes right through the middle of that flower bed. With the gate that we put in on the back corner, we can easily get around to this side of the fence and pull weeds and trim back and enjoy the flowers too. We have wonderful neighbors and it's not an issue to actually have the entire length of half of our flower bed into their yard. Lol!

I have a great big bush of bleeding heart blossoming. I wish these lasted all summer long. I love their delicate rows of little hearts. I remember my mom having a beautiful bleeding heart bush by our house in Cedarburg near the back door. Every year it would grow larger and larger with lots of rows of these beautiful little pink hearts.

I stopped at a rummage sale last year and bought a couple bunches of these bearded iris plants. I planted them last year and they took off quite well. This year they're even more prolific and this is the first bloom of the season. How beautiful in the evening sunlight.

This goofy plant was in with the irises when I bought them. I don't know what it's called but the leaves are totally different and it is growing up some kind of spikey blossom. Does anyone know what it is called?

This is where we put the last bush that we bought on the back side of the fence so it will grow up 5ft tall and be a backdrop on the corner by the flag. It looks like it is growing well with new growth and all of the rain we've been having lately it's gotten plenty of water. It is called a Sem Ash Leaf False Spirea. It looks like little ferns or feathers and will bloom with white puffs of fluff.

I planted some more of my coleus this morning into some pots to put around in various places in the yard. I carefully nurse these coleus plants over the winter have kept the same strain going since the late 1980s. They were given to me by my friend Connie, and I keep breaking them off and rooting new plants and starting over with as many pots as I can manage to coax through the dreary winter.

And in the last little corner of our yard, we added one tall skinny Cedar arborvitae. I have always liked these trees and they attract a lot of bugs, which in turn attract a lot of birds. I had a whole row of cedars in my backyard of my house on Maple Street in Green Bay. I would get beautiful little yellow finches flitting in and out of the dark green branches. I hang thistle seed feeders out and that helps attract them to the cedar trees. We have a lot of nesting birds in the other arborvitae hedges around the dining room bay window. It adds a lot of visual interest when we sit at the table to eat in the evening. I hope the new bush will attract them as well. 

So that was a little walk around my yard today, to see what's growing, see what we planted, and see how it's all coming together. Although it was fun to go away camping for 5 days, I am really glad that we are back home. I wanted to see how things were taking off in my yard and it looks like Everything Is Coming Up!!!


  1. Wow! you've been busy and it shows that you take pride in your home. Nice Pictures.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

  2. Your garden looks lovely Karen. The skinny little plant is a Lupin, they grow wild here on Vancouver Island.


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