aspenhill's blog

Posted on Mar 12, 2017 7:56 PM

When the weather has been too rainy or too cold to get outside in the gardens lately, I've been amusing myself by rearranging some indoor spaces.

Working on the project to eliminate hardcopy paperwork made me realize that the office area in the turret of the master bedroom needed some rethinking. I was using the enamel top table that my great grandmother used to make her bread, at least that is how my dad remembered it, but it was only 24" x 41" - not much room for spreading out with the computer, scanner, and speakers on it. Also, Mike and I kept jockeying our laptops back and forth because there wasn't enough room for both of them at the same time. I thought our original kitchen table that has been stored away in the basement for years would probably work. Mike poo-pooed the idea, saying that it would be too big, but I measured and convinced him and Lowell to carry it upstairs. This table is 41" x 65", so I had to move out some things to make it fit. The smaller table was up against the wall, but I have this bigger table in the middle. The dresser drawers hold office supplies and I was able to fit the reading chair back in, but not the matching ottoman. I'm pleased with the arrangement and Mike reluctantly admitted that he likes it as well.

This is what it looks like now
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And the view of the pond from where I sit
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Open turret ceiling
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I'm also spending more time sitting at the dining table in the conservatory and noticed that there wasn't much height to the plant arrangements along the left wall. With $s from a retirement Amazon gift card, I ordered two simple 30" tall plant stands and a tiered 45" tall plant stand. After a few hours of pleasant rearranging the day they arrived, I think it is a bit more visually appealing.

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Turtle Garden Cleanup
Posted on Mar 10, 2017 3:34 PM

With two sunny days and spring like temperatures but knowing a ten day wintery forecast is coming our way, I got myself outside to tackle winter cleanup in the turtle garden Wednesday and Thursday while the weather was warm.

What a mess. Last year some kind of grassy weed overtook the whole area. I don't know exactly which weed it is, all I know is it is hard to pull up and even harder to rake out the fall leaves that are stuck in it. Lots of briars in there too. I just didn't have the time to keep up the maintenance on it last season. I'm making progress though. I must have spent at least 10 hours raking and hauling leaves off to the compost area.

There is another whole section of leaves that aren't in the weed infested area that I plan to suck up and shred with the Cyclone leaf vacuum. Then I'll double shred by dumping them out on the grass below the pond dam and mowing over them with the lawn tractor. The Cyclone leaf vacuum shreds as it is sucking up the leaves, but not as fine as a second shred with the lawn tractor. I'll spread them as mulch over the naturalized fern area between the turtle and the creek.

A big tree fell in one of the recent wind storms, so that needed to be cleaned up too. Mike cut it up with the chain saw, and then I loaded the top branches into the dump truck. Mike dumped them in the burn pile and hauled the trunk sections up to the log pile.

River and Riley spent both days outside with me. Riley stayed by my side but River was constantly running everywhere. The turtle garden is below the pond dam so I can't see the water, but that is where River was often running off to. I could tell because every so often the pair of Canadian geese that are nesting there would raise holy heck. A few minutes later River would come racing down the dam looking very pleased with himself Rolling on the floor laughing

I was surprised that I was physically able to spend that many hours at it - probably 7 to 8 hours each day. My body was tired, but not as achy as I thought it would be Thumbs up

This is what it looked like before I started. I don't know how well it depicts the magnitude of the grass like weeds, but it does show the size of the downed tree. Still a lot of work to do, but it will likely be a few weeks before the weather cooperates enough for me to get back out there.

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Seeds are Sprouting!
Posted on Mar 6, 2017 2:44 PM

I haven't made it out to the gardens in a few days. It has been sunny but cold. I COULD get out there, and I have gone out to keep up with my early morning walks, but after that I fear I am too wimpy to tough it out. I've kept busy with a few indoor projects though and yesterday my family threw me a retirement celebration. Even low key with just family is still a crowd. I am truly blessed with the family that I have. Had a few close friends come too. Twenty five adults, thirteen kids. Riley made himself scarce, but River was in the middle of everything having a grand ol' time. Mike's sister Bonnie and my sister Julie did a great job putting it all together and a good time was had by all. The kids weren't phased by the weather and went out to hike the trails, skip rocks in the pond, and take turns on the ATVs. I think at one point they had a soccer game going. There was a big food spread and surprise surprise, I ate way too much. I don't know who was more tuckered out at the end of the day, me or River Big Grin

Today is a bit milder, but I opted to work on the laundry room project. I'll probably post about that later, but now I'm done with what I wanted to do in there today and headed down to the basement to check on my seeds. Lots of germination in the week since I sowed them!!!

On the left, some germination on the Globe Amaranth 'Qis Lilac' and on the right, the Datura 'Triple Yellow' and 'Blackberry Currant Swirl' are looking great

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Left to right, no germination yet on the pink Globe Amaranth from Jill, but lookie lookie some germination starting on the tall purple Globe Amaranth from ArleneB! Some germination on the Spanish Lavender and quite a bit on the Lavender Stock
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On the left, almost 100% germination on the hollyhocks 'Chater's Violet' and 'Spring Celebrities Lemon' and at the bottom 100% germination on the 3 corkscrew vine seeds. On the right, almost 100% germination on the hyacinth bean vine
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On the left, lots of germination on the hollyhocks noid double purple, but on the right, none yet on the hollyhocks 'Russian Yellow'
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I thought I should start thinking about up potting the hyacinth bean vine and corkscrew vine seedlings, so I headed outside to where I have my stash of nursery pots. I was rummaging around trying to find 3" - 4" square pots, and saw a promising stack which was juuuuuussstttt slightly out of reach. A little maneuvering and voila - success. As I was unextricating myself, stack in hand, the pots from the middle to the bottom of the stack dropped off. Lickety split River grabbed them up and ran off with them, totally unheeding my calls to bring them back. As a matter of fact, he was very pleased with himself playing keep a way.

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He had them strung out all over the place, but I was able to salvage all but one Hilarious!
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An Indoor Day
Posted on Mar 3, 2017 10:35 AM

Yesterday the temperature dropped and the winds were really gusting, compelling me to spend the day indoors. I spent numerous hours working on the project where I'm trying to scan documents and create Quicken transactions or other softcopy detailing for my hardcopy records. My goal is to eliminate all paper, pretty lofty considering that I've saved EVERYTHING - financial records, health records, home inventory records, gardening records, all manner of manuals, project ideas, and so on.... Just like in the garden, I'll try to pick one area at a time and tackle it in chunks. First chunk is the elimination of hardcopy financial information for these few months of 2017 and the previous year 2016. I figure that I'll work chronologically backwards with the financial records. I made good progress yesterday, but it wasn't nearly as fun as being in the gardens. Bleh...

I woke up to snow on the ground this morning and feel the same lack of motivation to get outside, but I know I'll feel good about it if I do. This is the first day of my now week long retirement that I haven't been running full speed at something. I need to motivate or else this will turn into a day of laziness luxury. One gardening note - some of the hollyhock seeds that were sown at the beginning of the week are already germinating!

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Plant Labels
Posted on Mar 1, 2017 2:16 PM

I tackled the front steps beds today. Again, as in the last few days, I'm clearing out the accumulated fall leaves, cutting back dead foliage and stems, and digging out weeds. The weeds are far ahead of the perennials, wonder why that is? Anyway, it is so uplifting to see new growth emerging from the perennials - spring is coming!

One of the biggest irritants and disappointments is my plant labeling. I was on the fence for years about labeling. On one hand I thought it would detract from the overall aesthetics of the gardens, but on the other hand my plant collector obsession just wanted to be able to tell at a glance the cultivar of any given plant. It is getting harder and harder to remember, especially when I started accumulating numerous different cultivars of hellebores, epimediums, toad lilies, lungworts, astilbes, japanese anemones, lilies, daffodils, ferns, etc.... I finally bit the bullet two seasons ago and bought hunter green metal plant tags and used my laser printer to print out specifics on clear Avery labels. I was pleasantly surprised that I actually liked the aesthetics. However, between people and dogs trampling them and the raking and leaf blowing, those metal labels have been smashed and strewn all over the place. Today I saw at least two dozen that were ruined and uprooted in the front steps beds alone Thumbs down

My gardening friends and Lucketts neighbors David and Pat (greenthumb99 and ecnalg) liked the hunter green color of my plant labels (vs white or zinc) but came up with an idea that is working much better for them - vinyl mini blinds. They came to visit on Monday and brought a sample. The vinyl slats are flexible and they have a vertical vs horizontal profile. I could immediately see how much better this should work. David gave me the info for ordering: Home Depot BLV1 Bali Essentials 1" Vinyl, Width 32", Height 84", 5184 Hunter Green. Cutting each slat into 8" pieces makes four labels per slat. If the exposed label is 2 1/2" - 3" that leaves a good 5" to anchor in the ground. I wasted no time in placing an online order. I hope I can salvage at least some of the labeling info and I can't wait to give this new idea a try Crossing Fingers!

Riley and River were as tuckered out as I was after a hard day of yardening
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