Tuesday, January 29, 2008

My hoophouse

I was reading about Rose using a swimming pool covers for her hoop house, and I thought I should share the saga of my hoop house with the world.

My hoop house is made of 100% recycled materials, ( except for the cover). It started as........you won't believe this.... 2 discarded trampolines. The trampolines are actually 4 arcs each, which, when put together, form a circle.

The Master put 2 sections of arcs together to make a half circle. He cut the legs off, and inserted them in the ends of the half circle to give it some height. He did this 4 times.

The ribs are PVC, the really cheap kind that is used for sprinkler systems. All the pieces are held together with lengths of top rail from a chain link fence. We used 4 pieces of this, and bolted it all together with carriage bolts. A 2"x 6" board all along on either side of the bottom gives it more rigidity, and provides a place to anchor your covering.

Worth our time to put it together. Very reasonable to build, and it will last forever, I think. At least it will outlast me.

This is great for protecting plants in winter, but it is best as a shade house in summer. We lose more plants in summer heat than we do to winter freezes.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Hoe, hoe, hoe!

I got this new hoe. It is called a 'scuffle hoe', I think. Or maybe it is a 'stirrup' hoe. Whatever, it is wonderful!

It is just great for those little weeds that grow in patches and have shallow roots, like dollar weed. I hate that stuff. I scuffled a whole big flowerbed this afternoon with it, and it took about 10 minutes. I would have been on my hands and knees for hours before.

Also, I got a new shovel. It is a short handled shovel, just perfect for me. It came in handy for moving the red 'Sevilliana' rose that I have been threatening to move for 3 years. It was growning under a pecan tree, and just did not get enough sun to be pretty
She really does look like this picture, and she does it all year long. She will have about 3 weeks in winter (like now), when she won't be blooming, but the rest of the year, she will be in full swing. This is a marvelous rose, and a shame that more people don't know about it.
My friend Janet has 'Sevilliana' growing just like this picture, in front of a wood fence. It is gorgeous.
This rose is very easily rooted, too.
I got my rose moved, and a rock rose (Pavonia) moved as well. AND about 15 of those PITBackside primrose jasmine bushes dug out and thrown away! I have one that is about 15' square! It only blooms once a year, and I don't have enough room to be wasting it on something that takes up so much room and gives up so little beauty.
Around here, it better bloom. If it doesn't bloom, it better have beautiful foliage.
I planted some bulbs, lilies, and some seeds. Mustard for the kitchen, lettuce to replenish what we are using at a record rate, radishes because I love them, and a few carrots. I plant carrots because I feel guilty if I don't. Carrots are healthy, and I should be growing them, or so it seems. I have a hard time growing them, as our soil is that old black gumbo clay. But still, I have to try. Silly, I know.
I threw out poppy seeds too. California poppies that I couldn't resist at WalMart. I know it is probably late, but that is o.k. They might bloom. I would bet on it.
The only thing about that scuffle hoe is that I sliced off parts of some of my caladiums that I put in last year. They are just as pretty and healthy as they can be. I am looking forward to seeing them again, come warm weather. Caladiums are something that I have learned cannot be rushed. I have tried planting them earlier in pots, but it makes no difference. They need it warm, NIGHT and DAY, for caladiums to be pretty. Like zinnia; they like it hot!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

A Present...

I got a present. Isn't she pretty?
This little fairy was a gift from my Darling Husband. Sometimes he surprises me.
Now I need to get the fairy garden looking nice for her. When it warms up, I will do that.
Next Sunday it is supposed to be 71 degrees. But it is going to be cold and rainy between now and then.
For the time being, I will keep her on the desk beside me so I can look at her.


....beats me everytime.

I love to edit and crop pictures there, because it is sooooooo easy. But for the life of me, I cannot figure out how to export them to a flash drive. I don't think there is any way to do it.

I figured out that I could drag them into a new folder on my desktop, and I did get that folder into the flash drive. But it will only open on MY computer, because it is a SHORTCUT! LOLOLOL, I am so dense sometimes!

I finally burned them to a CD, but I really like the flash drive better.

Does anybody have any ideas about this?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Something to look forward to.....

I have this pot. It is very large, about 30" across at the widest part. It is about 2' tall, and it is a strawberry pot with 8 thingies to plant in. (Click on the picture on the right for a much better look at it.)

It is very pretty in the heat of summer with portulaca in it, but I am trying to decide whether to put snapdragons (short ones) or use a mix of viola, snaps, calendulas, and dianthus. I need to hurry and decide, as I can plant these plants now, and they will be fine in the pot until about April.

I don't put strawberries in it because they don't last the whole year here. They get ugly, but they will come back when the time and conditions are right. In the meantime, I want something pretty, so I do flowers instead. Those strawberries can be ugly in the ground.

Friday, January 18, 2008


It is cold here.

O.K. it is down to 35 degrees. The wind is terribly persistant, and cold, and it has rained and rained. The cold here, even if it is not AS cold as where you are, is bone numbing, miserable, AWFUL!

I HATE cold. My dogs HATE cold, and my Darling HATES it more than any of us hate it.

We are spoiled by habitual mild winters. Cool, not cold. Seldom more than a day of cold, then it will get back up into the 60's or 70's. Seventy is cool.

I have a new book to read. Light reading, this. "Alice in Wonderland"

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Yup, that's me.

I went to town today, to purchase a new regulator and some new hose for my Darling's cutting torch.

I stopped at the Dollar Store, and they had some kind of neat garden stuff. Gloves, Cotton, better for keeping my hands warm than my leather gloves. I purchased 2 pair. A Tip basket...a large square 'basket' made of plastic, although it is not woven, and is only plastic, with plastic handles of the same material. It is good tho, about 24" square, and 18" deep. Just the right size to be able to handle when it is full of weeds and clippings. I purchased 3 of them. Seeds, seeds, more seeds. Daffodil bulbs- I passed on the bulbs, and bought some poppy seeds, like I had good sense, and like I needed them.

A big box of water soluble fertilizer, for when it is time to feed my poor starving plants. I will dump one of the big packets that is inside the box into one of the rain barrels. It rained all last night, all the barrels are full. Then the whole barrel will be ready to use. I keep SEVERAL rain barrels around here. I bought 2 big boxes....never can have too much plant food......

They had knee pads, but I have never been fond of knee pads. What I did like was the nice kneeling pads. I purchased 3 of them. I can never find one when I need it. I ran across 3 in the back yard this afternoon when I was putting my stuff away.

Then I went on to Hobby Lobby. Lots of gardening stuff there. Nothing on sale tho, except some children's books and some knitting yarn. I bought 5 of the yarn, and a copy of 'Alice in Wonderland'. When I was looking at them, I realized that I have never read it; so I purchased a copy for me to read. How can one be a well rounded person, if she has never read the Classics?

THEN......of course, you knew it! I couldn't help it, I had to stop at the very last nursery on my way out of town. I purchased 2 very nice 6-packs of violas. Very healthy, blooming like crazy. Dear, as well.

A Good Thing that 'town' is 35 miles one way. I don't go very often lately.

It's about that time again...

By this time next week, I should have all my roses whacked back. It is a bit early, but I don't want to chance not getting it done. I left some last year, and they were not attractive all year. Not attractive at all!

I have a lot of roses. Once upon a time I had over 60, most of which were Hybrid Teas, but thankfully, they have (most of them) died. I do still have 2 of the RED roses planted along the back fence that were planted 10 years ago. One is 'Fame' the other 'Chrysler Imperial'. I will leave them to come to a natural demise, then replace them with something. Maybe a rose, probably not.

When I cut the roses this year, I am going to take a few cuttings to begin with, and get that out of the way. Then I am bringing out the chainsaw. I cut them all to just above-knee height, and load all the cut canes on the truck to go to the brush site. Then I can come in with my nice sharp secateurs (fancy word for pruning shears, LOL. I love that word.) and trim the rest of the 'Ds'. Cut the dinky, diseased, deformed, and dead. leave the best 5-7 canes, and pull all the leaves. Be sure you cut cleanly just above an outward facing bud or node. Clean up all the debris under the bushes; REMOVE IT! This stuff can harbor virii and diseases that can/will attack your roses. Do not feed until March, when we are not in much danger for a frost.

You all know this isn't all of it, but that is the basic program for here. In a couple of weeks, new beautiful foliage will appear, and the race for Sping will be on! I love Spring!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day

Blooms are hard to find this time of year. One thing I found is this bulbine. I have 2 patches of this yellow. It also comes in orange, but the yellow is far more elegant. One patch is open, and ugly now from frost, but this one sets under a large duranta and kind of grows in grassy weeds that run amuck there. I think that, and the fact that it is on the south side of the house helps.
Blooming in my yard today is this bank of shrimp plant, gone berserk. I have contemplated going after it with a weed eater, but when blooms are hard to find in the garden, this is kind of nice to have. Click on this picture to make it bigger.

WOW! A new lesson!

I just found out that if you double click on the pictures on my blog, you can see them bigger and better.

I knew I could click on pictures in other blogs (like Chicken Fat), but I thought it was something that he did that caused it, and I knew I could never do that. By accident, I found out that it is somehow done on my blog too.


The Rain Garden

This is the site of our new Master Gardener/4-H project. As you can see, it has rained, and that pleased us no end, as it showed how our rain garden is going to work.

We entered into a partnership with the Jackson County 4-H kids to do a Native Plant Garden at first. Then I went and took the Rain Water Harvester Specialist training in September, and the rain garden came to be. After watching the water from the downspouts on the building, I knew we had to do something about the water there, before we did anything in this garden. There is a sidewalk all along 3 sides of this garden, and a concrete curb outside that, so piping the water to the storm drain was out of the question. And besides that, RAINWATER IS VALUABLE!!! Let us endeavor to keep it out of our storm drains, thus depleting the soil of valuable nutrients and taking pollutants to the rivers and streams.

What happens in the rain garden is this: Water will be channeled into the reservoir from the downspouts. We are going to use a dry creek bed effect to get the water from Point A to Point B. Water will collect in this reservoir, and will seep into the ground here. As it does, it will be filtered, leaving the nutrients where we need them. We will not be spraying things in this garden, so hopefully, we won't have pollutants to deal with.

We are going to have a unique bench, constructed of rough cedar, along with a cedar fence (low fence), and cedar post arbors and trellis. IF we have room, we are going to have a little bridge over the 'creek'.

This whole area will be planted in native plants, even the reservoir. It is not a pond. We are going to use buffalo grass along the sidewalk edge to keep our dam from eroding.

I just cannot wait to see this finished. Our target date for finishing is February 17, 2007. We can do it.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Back to blossoms...

My thumb is better. I can type some without hurting myself.

Back to what is blooming. Make that what WAS blooming.

One very nice plant is this Black Eyed Susan vine, also called a Clock vine here.

The flowers start blooming dark yellow, then fade to cream color. It will bloom from late Summer to frost.

This thing drops seeds too, but I never find any seed pods that have
seeds in them. I think the fairies must get them all.

This is one of my favorites, Bulbine.
This is the yellow, which I prefer, but
it also comes in orange. In Florida, they
call it Bulbinella. We are not so imaginative.

This is a hardy plant that will multiply
like crazy if it is happy where it is living.

And look at this. This is a Firecracker Fern.
I don't know what to compare it to, but it
is a nice unusual plant. It comes with a yellow bloom as well, but it is never as pretty as the red.

One very nice little plant is this, called Brazillian Buttons.

I got it at a Master Gardener plant sale, and it has made itself at home in my garden. It blooms from early spring to frost, and it does spread, via seeds, I think. I don't see great large colonies of it anywhere. This one is not easy to get seeds from either.

I have a couple of other things, like Christmas cactus, shrimps, and aloe vera blooming. Those things will carry on and on and on.....

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

I have a boo-boo

I am hanging around, but I hurt my poor thumb, and I am having a hard time typing. I ripped it at the cuticle, half way down the thumbnail, and it hurts like the dickens.

So I am reading what all everybody else has to say.

I will be well soon. If I quit hitting it on stuff.....

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Seed Catalogs!

I am covered up with seed catalogs! I received 14 in the mail on Thursday! Lots of good reading material...

So, maybe it would seem strange that I would be touting another seed catalog. But I am.


This is a seed company for gourmet varieties, and the best part is that they offer 'sample' seed packets for only 35cents. I certainly can't use a whole packet of eggplant seeds, but I can use a 'sample' packet.

Plus they have varieties that you will not find anywhere else.

I printed out their little catalog, so I have it to peruse along with the big ones.


Friday, January 4, 2008

Hooray! the camera is working...

You notice I didn't say 'fixed'? It might be a temporary thing.....
I missed a few flowers when I made my list, but I got most of them.
These were all blooming on New Year's Day.

Everything looks terrible now, after 2 nights of freezing temps. Some things will rebound, and put on new foliage and bloom again, but most will take a nice little nap now. Some things did not freeze at all, and are out there blooming now. This is one of them.

This is yellow cestrum. It gets quite tall, about 7-8', and puts on these blooms at the end of the branch. It did not freeze at all last year, and I am watching to see what it does this year.
This is asclepsis, Butterfly weed. The red is called "Silky Red", I don't know the variety of the yellow one. Butterfly weed is a good name. The orange, which we have also, is native. This is the host plant for the Monarch butterfly.

We found this little guy out in the front, and carefully protected him from freezing.

This is one of my favorites. It is called 'angelonia', and the cold won't hurt the plant, but makes the flowers look ugly. Then, with a little mild weather, it will start to bloom again.

This one, (below) is called 'flame acanthus', I think. It may be a red trumpet, but I will research that with my friend Jerry, as that is where I got it. In the meantine, isn't it purty?

THIS beauty is called Turk's Cap, or Christmas Bells. It will bloom nicely until the end of spring, or until hot weather gets here.

One charming attribute of most of these flowers is that they are all so easy to propagate. This is one that will grow about anywhere. Just stick it in the ground- It will grow!

This one is breath taking, it is so beautiful! I am really taken with blue flowers anyway, and this one is BLUE! The picture looks lavender, but it is really blue! It is called a Blue Sky Vine, and is pretty aggressive, but I don't care. It could cover up my house, that would be o.k.

I love that it blooms so late. January 1 is pretty late!

I have several more. I will put them in my next post.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

I think I'm ready...

The first day of this new year has been very productive, in a kind of backward way.

We spent the afternoon getting ready for our first cold weather of the season. We have had some cool mornings, but we are expecting a hard freeze tonight and tomorrow night. National weather says a low of 31, the newspaper says maybe down to 25. Too cold for me.

That is what I meant about being productive in a backward way. I spent the afternoon moving pots of plant material to the greenhouses, and covering what could not be moved. It doesn't 'feel' right, somehow. It seems that we should be setting them out in the sun.....

We have a huge schefflera, s. actinophylla, that fills a pot measuring 102 gallons. It has to be covered, as it is too big to put into the greenhouse. It took 2 cloud covers to cover it, and 2 people to do it.

When I had things covered and protected the way I wanted, I cut the Angel's Trumpets back by more than half. They will be damaged, regardless of how much you cover them. The best thing is to go ahead and cut them back, stick the cuttings and pray that the ones in the ground come back next year. It is kind of silly to lose all those precious cuttings. I have a huge lot of them to stick...yellow, pink, dreamscicle, purply, white, and the shredded hankie. They are super easy to root, too.

That done, I went and cut back all the pink firespikes, and some of the red ones. They are hardier than the Brugmansia, but I sure don't want to lose that pink one.

Tomorrow is going to be cold, and I am such a sissy. I hate cold weather. I am going to spend my day in the greenhouse, which will be pretty warm, sticking those cuttings and getting pots ready to start seeds for spring. If it is a real good day, I will stay there all day, and clean out the greenhouse.

I took pictures today, of what is still blooming in the garden. Lantana (white and lavender) firespikes, flame acanthus, clock vine, s. coccinea, angelonia (lavender and purple), bulbine (yellow), shrimp plant (common), Brazillian buttons, dianthus, and the most fabulous blue sky vine! I am having problems with my dock, it doesn't seem to want to download the pictures, but I will work on it in the morning so I can post those pictures.

Not everything will be gone tomorrow, but most will. I almost wish the butterfly vine was in danger of being frostbitten, but no. That thing is getting out of hand. I need to take a firm stand with it.

Happy, Happy!

Happy New Year, Everybody!

I have the cabbage rolls in the oven, and blackeyed peas ready to re-heat. Cornbread will go in to bake as soon as the cabbage rolls come out.

Not expecting company, that is a good thing today.

Son Patrick called to 'wake' me at midnight.

I fooled him, I was awake and watching the ballroom dance competition on PBS. I wonder what keeps those women from having a chronic crick in their necks?

I am mulling over resolutions. I have a lot of things in my life that I would like to change for the better. I am mulling over how to get it done.

I hope this bright, fresh New Year will bring health and happiness to all.