Saturday, May 28, 2011

In My Rain Soaked Garden

Well, its Rose Festival time here in Portland and as is normal we are getting rain.  Its not constant but it is wetting the ground good.  The odd thing that is happening this year is the roses are not even open yet and normally they are gorgeous by now.  Can't blame them a bit, its been cold, wet and gray all spring and they probably decided to pull the covers over their little flower buds a little tighter and sleep in like the rest of us when it's like this.

Yesterday I grabbed some shots of the garden after an early morning shower and wanted to share them with you.  Come on, lets take a walk around my yard.

Never had these growing on Whiskey barrels ever until this past summer.  What a bounty of fungus!

With morning moisture the mushrooms are so happy.
If I let the rain stop me I'll never get all my containers planted up.
Pink Peonia with her ants being very busy.
Native Fringe Flower and Mourning Widow Geranium loving the moist coolness.
Potatoes are thriving and I don't have to water them yet.
Florence Fennel and Chard are just fine too.

Calycanthus 'Micheal Lindsay' gleams in the early morning sunlight

The giant Douglas Firs kept the Golden Sweet Bay dry.

Staghorn Sumac with her beautiful stems blushing in the early morning light.

Blue Dutch Iris almost seem to be filled with teardrops here.

My favorite lavender picotee Bearded Iris dressed with raindrop pearls and looking stunning.

Blooms begin to appear every day now on different plants.

Its a good thing to visit the garden every day.  You might find a flower blooming that you thought you lost.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Weedy Wednesday

Well if you have followed me for a while you know I don't think like most people...or maybe a little off to the side from how most people think.  So with that said I came up with my own version of a series of Wednesday's special posts.  We are not going to have any wordless around here.  I won't stand for it.  I like words too much.   So what each Wednesday we are having Weedy Wednesday instead.

Weeds in the perennial beds...oh but it makes it look like a prairie!

We all have weeds, but weeds versus garden plants, what makes the difference?  For me it is more of a "what I can put up with" sort of thing than anything else.  I actually like many weeds.  After all they are plants.  Some of them have a rich history, some are edible and some are actually kind of pretty.  And personally I think as gardeners, we get too fussy about our plant collections and even snobbish and miss out on things because of it.

Plant brat, Rosa gallica 'Versicolor'

Sometimes that snobbery reaches around and bites us in the fanny when a plant we think we are so smart planting gets away from us and takes over our garden.  Case in point; I have plants I thought were so cool to have in my garden that I have discovered aren't really so cool after all and consider to be bigger weeds than a lot of common weeds that reside in my garden naturally.  Such is, Rosa gallica 'Versicolor' for me.  She is an absolute brat!

Brat thicket before I got after her.

She has this rather thuggish, not-so-lovely habit of sending out underground runners that pop up everywhere and of course by everywhere I mean in the middle of a clump of favorite perennials or next to a shrub where I specifically only wanted my crocus to be.  Someone told me once, "Oh just dig out what you don't want." Well, that my dear, is easier said than done as one must perform horticultural surgery to extract her completely from such situations which means digging her and the other plant up and if she can't be pulled out cleanly she will have to be cut out and roots severed.  So instead I tried killing it off last fall with stump and vine killer painted onto the freshly cut off stems.

It worked really well or so I thought until I looked around this spring and found she was a sneaky little rose and had managed to get further out of bounds than I thought.  I can hear her sniggering at me as I write this.  I may as well relax about it for now and get the benefit of her blooms this spring.  Who knows, maybe I'll find a good spot to let her run wild.  Now that would be nice.

Copyright © 2011 by Patty Hicks
All rights reserved. No part of this blog may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including printing, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without written permission from the author, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review. All reviews must include author's name and a link back to this blog.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

For the Love of a Green Truck

Several years ago my husband decided to sell his Corvette.  It had been sitting in the garage, he rarely drove it and didn't seem to have the desire to restore it, so it seemed best.  He put in the ad and one day I came home to find a green truck parked in our driveway and my husband in the garage talking to a man who was looking to buy the car.  He was hoping to pay for it part in cash and part in trade for that pretty green truck in our driveway.  Now I have to say I fell in love with the truck the first time I saw it, even before I knew it was going to be ours.  But what I didn't know was this truck would be the best truck ever!

She ain't perfect but she's a gem.
The guys stood around flapping their gums, swapping car stories and time came to finalize the deal.  That was when my husband hollered at me to come out to the driveway, he wanted to show me the truck.  I appreciate that he likes to do this and normally there is some talk of the pros and cons between us.  I tried hard not to crack a wide grin as he told me how it was a good make so it was going to be reliable and tough with good tires.  I wasn't about to show him my hand either.  He lifted the hood and showed me the engine, like I would understand what I was looking at.  I have to love him for his forgetfulness as to my expertise on such things.  He got in and started her up and that was when he showed me something that almost made me faint with had hydraulic dump box on the back!! I wanted to squeal like a school girl!  Seriously, he had to ask???  Of course I wanted that truck, I wanted it before I knew it had a dump box...but now I HAD to have it!

Compost haulers extraordinaire my hubby and my sweet green truck
I don't know how I didn't just slap my heart on my sleeve right then and there and shout "Well take it!", but instead I calmly said "Well, whatever you think Honey.  I really like the color and the dump box would be nice for hauling compost I suppose."  It was seriously the best acting job I have ever done.

After the deal was struck and the man left I exploded with joy, running to my husband, tossing my arms around his neck and giving him a big smooch. I swear he is the most fortunate guy I have ever know when it comes to things falling into his lap like this.  I guess that makes me a pretty lucky gal too and if I ever forget how blessed I am, I have a sweet green truck in the driveway to remind me.  Oh and let it be known that if my husband ever decides he wants to sell "my" truck, he best be giving me first dibs or I'm calling a lawyer.  Ain't nobody gonna sell my truck!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Devil Dancing At My Gate

This morning as I walked out my front door I discovered someone had stolen an entire flat of tomatoes from off our front porch.  That hurt...I can't say it any other way.  To be honest, gardening for the past three years has been discouraging and though I try hard to not let it get me down, things like this don't help as you can well imagine.

Japanese Trifle tomatoes that were stolen May 14/15, 2011

I am challenged by the need to forgive the thief as is required in my faith and yes I need to forgive them.  I need to pray for them and not to look at this as a personal offense...but its hard when I feel the pain of it.  I put a lot of work into those plants, nurturing and protecting them and, because of my personal investment, I feel the violation that one experiences when a strange breaks in and takes what is not theirs.  Dog gone it!  It took a lot to get those puny little tomatoes that big!

It is at times like this I sense the devil is dancing at the gate of my garden trying to discourage me. I'm weary of the sound of his taunting.  I am just being honest.  I don't understand why these things seem to be happening more than they used to but they are. The one thing I do know is that God takes what the devil intends for evil and uses it for good and because of this I trust there will be good come out of this somehow.

More than likely this good God is going to perform is something He is working in me though who knows, maybe those tomatoes will bring that thief to his knees in repentance.  This truly is my number one hope for them as I remember how desperate my own life was before I trusted Christ as my savior.  It's not my job to save the thief, its not my job to judge them, though I know what they did was wrong.   And it's not my job to seek vengeance...that's clearly God's business and He's a lot better at it than I could ever hope to be.  So I set my heart to forgive as I have been forgiven and to pray for the thief, whoever they cheek is turned.  After all, who am I, this one who has literally broken every command in the book, to pass judgement upon a thief who has only stolen my tomatoes.  I pray God will have mercy on them as well.

Romans 12:19 - 21
"Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine I will repay," says the Lord.  But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."

I used to be the snarling watchdog at the fence when people would steal flowers or plants from my garden, always out to get them, but I have come to understand that there is no good fruit in that and it mad me an angry person with higher blood pressure.  Instead I have learned it is far better for me to pray for those who offend me by their selfish, destructive actions.  I try to live at peace with all men, bless those who curse me and remember always, that except for God's grace and the shed blood of Jesus, that could very well have been me stealing those plants from someone's porch.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Food Gardens, Part 1

Food is a great common denominator among men.  No matter who you are you have to eat.  This makes food gardening something than spans cultures and generations beautifully.  Where and how we grow our food is defined by the climate we live in, the space we have available and the horticultural practices of our culture.

In my neighborhood there are so many varied cultures that I get a world view of gardening without having to go very far.  You can also see families working in gardens together now, which in part is due to the real need for them to do so and because of the health benefits.  I for one am very happy to see this return to home food production.  Its a great place for kids to learn and parents to invest in their children.  But not everyone has a place to grow food.  Today there are many options beginning to open up for people who need somewhere to grow food.

The Baker Garden is wall to wall edibles with a sprinkle of pretty flowers, chickens and ducks

My friends the Bakers who have space are sharing their yard with the participants of a local food bank that serves the working poor.  People who participate in the food bank are encouraged to help in this garden as a part of their required payback hours which help keep costs for the food bank down so more can go into food and services for the families.  Besides the wall to wall garden the Bakers have chickens and ducks which help with pest control, eat weeds not fit for composting and provide fertilizer for the garden so the garden is becoming self sustaining as it helps feed the gardeners.

Signs of children in the garden...a very good thing.

Speaking of families its not just parents or grandparents tending to the food garden, the kiddos are right along side, sowing seeds and tending the garden too.  The Baker kids are all in the garden with mom and dad and find it quite the adventure.  There is something very sweet about this passing along of  gardening skills from one generation to another.

Currents are becoming more popular again in gardens but many people aren't familiar with them

A great benefit to gardening with others in a garden like the Baker's is that a person gets introduced to wonderful unusual vegetables and fruits they might never have tried growing otherwise but have probably seen in the stores or maybe eaten.  There is a lot of advise at the Baker Garden on how to grow and use it all and even pot lucks where its all about sampling the fruits of their labors.

Cardoon, and Artichoke are stunning beauties that people are still learning about.

Variegated Land Cress and French Tarragon, a portion of my little investment in the Baker garden

Sharing plants is another beautiful thing that happens when we garden together.  I don't really know if there is such a thing as solitary gardening or if there is, I'll probably never practice it because I love to share what I grow and every gardener I know does too.  There has to be something in the soil...what's up with that?

The community garden at Senn's Dairy Park, bamboo stake trellising

Another great resource are community gardens and they are popping up everywhere. These are good sized plots that are normally divided up into smaller personal plots which are then rented out to folks for one year. 

Gorgeous leafy greens in fabulous colors that made my mouth was hard to resist snitching them but I was good.

Many apartment dwellers and even some people who have gardens but need more space are growing on use these types of sites.  There are a diverse group of people in the community gardens I've seen in my city and I find it so inspiring to see how others garden as its such a far cry from the boring row gardening we had at home when I was growing up.

Chives, Dandelion and veggies running to flower in vacated plots made this look more like a meadow than a garden.

One sad thing about community gardens is that people start out with really good intentions and sometimes don't use the space to their advantage, sowing their crops but as the weather gets nice or life gets in the way they don't make it back to take care of what they began and their plot will run to weeds which can then spread to other gardens on the site.   Most often it is from neglect unfortunately and not some illness or other life circumstance.  And it seems such a waste to me as there are waiting lists for plots in almost every community garden in town.

Garden box made with composite decking for those of us who can't bend over so good.

There are also raised box plots for those gardeners with physical challenges. I happen to really like the garden boxes myself because the older I get the further away the ground seems to be.  When I was visiting this garden, a fellow from a neighboring plot was turning the soil in all four of the garden boxes for whomever was going to garden there this year.  That's another beautiful thing, shared labor.  I have heard stories of plot holders who became ill and their neighboring gardeners coming to their aid tending and harvesting and delivering the vegetables to them in their time of need.  Now that us just the coolest thing!

Whenever we garden in community settings there is another harvest experienced as new friendships are forged, recipes, plants and wisdom are shared and we learn more about how to love and care for our neighbors.  Now that is a harvest that will last a lifetime.

Over the next few weeks I hope to introduce you to some other food gardens and small farms that serve to educate and feed the people in my community.

Copyright © 2011 by Patty Hicks

All rights reserved. No part of this blog may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including printing, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without written permission from the author, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review. All reviews must include author's name and a link back to this blog.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Blooms d' Coors

For those who were unaware, Blogger has been down in "read only" format for nearly two days.  I'm glad they finally fixed it because I was dying to share with you a couple of things this week...and of course my timing was such that I couldn't until now. So now that we are up and running again lets get to it!

Bloom d' Coors

I love metal and when I saw some metal flowers in a craft book I had to try making some.  Because I didn't have the exact punch they used in the book I had to think of something that would work...and a 3" scalloped circle punch worked perfectly!  The circle has 25 scallops, an odd number is what I needed here and the size was easy to handle too.  I love it when things come together easily like this project did.

Flowers in Metal Instrux
Wash out a beverage can and cut away the top and bottom.  Next cut the remaining middle portion into two pieces.  The metal will be a little awkward to handle while cutting so mind the sharp edges.  You can't be in a hurry when working with this stuff or you may risk a nasty gash from those edges.

Find the center of the circle and score a smaller center circle.
25 scallopes cut between every 2 and 3 alternately for petals
My favorite scissors for this are Tonic scissors by Tim Holtz.  They are fabulous for cutting thin metal and stay sharp!
Alcohol ink is applied while the flower is still flat and then the center embellishment

I recommend coloring the front and back of the metal to produce a more finished looking piece and to help hide the beer logo...unless you are into redneck flowers.  ;-)  If you don't want to stain your fingernails where latex gloves for this part.

Yup...its really a beer can.

While its still flat take a push pin and punch the holes for that wire you see there and be sure to have foam beneath it when you punch so the pin goes deep enough to make the hole the right size.
To curl the petals and leaves you just wrap them around a wood dowel or paint brush.
Mind your fingers with the metal edges.

The leaves are made from metal designed for embossing and a texture tool.

 The next step is to roll the metal leaves onto the stem...and yes it really is as easy as it sounds.
Use a dab of glue at the tip where you start rolling to secure them or a glue dot if you like.

Finally to attach the flower to the stick I just used wire laced through the two holes I punched beneath that fancy embellished center and cinched it up tight with a dab of "3 and 1" glue.
There you have that will never fade.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Spring is Springin'

Lord help me, I think I’m gonna have to squeal like a schoolgirl I’m so happy!  Spring is springin’ finally!!!  I can tell because the seeds say it all and I am never more excited about any garden chore results than with the emergence of my little baby plants.  Spring is springin’….

In our sunny kitchen window
Hope springs forth quickly with cucumber

In my vegetable garden
Stirring up hope with carrot babies
At the front porch
Lettuce be hopeful

Out front on the walkway
Ain't nothin in the world like homegrown tomatoes

So if you need to beat the doldrums of lingering cold weather try sowing some seeds of your own and maybe, just maybe, Spring will spring up at your home too.