Monday, August 24, 2009

Ah, looks like another pretty day!!

We had two beautiful days over the weekend, at last!!! Was sunny, moderate temperatures and a nice breeze and today looks like it will be super also.
On Friday night as Jim and I were walking around the yard we were suddenly enveloped in a cloud of Monarch butterflies. All Summer I have been moaning about the lack of bees and butterflies and here they were. Now as we watched the flew into the trees and proceeded to settle in for the night. This is the first time either of has seen a sight like this and both ran for the house and our cameras. Next morning they were gone on their way, leaving us with a beautiful memory. On Saturday our lone Hummingbird was joined by about 6 others. I enjoy watching their antics and listening to them peep and chatter. I spent some time snapping pictures, nothing spectacular but fun.

The bees are also back, here they are enjoying the obedient flowers. He would start are the bottom and work his way up the stalk. These are my pink shrub roses, they start out the solid pink and then as they mature they develop a white border. This bush has been covered with roses since early in the season, amazingly prolific. This is one of my hollyhocks, looks like tissue paper, as time goes on they seem to interact and the colors change , this one being a blush color with the slightly darker center.

So, now it is Monday and I am off to the store. Jim fixed my clutch over the weekend and we spent yesterday mowing most of the yard. With two of us mowing it was great, by myself it takes several days to get it all mowed. I only have a couple of hours left to do down one side.

Have a wonderful week my friends and thank you for stopping by.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Roses, Roses, Roses

I love roses, all kinds, all colors. I decided several years ago that I would only buy fragrant ones, that would help me narrow down the selection. It is amazing the variety of roses available. Now that we are in a new growing zone my choices have narrowed even more. I mentioned before that over last winter most of the ones I had in the yard were killed. This was sad, but also a learning experience. Our area is on the cusp of zone 4 and 5 which I knew, was told by local nurseries that zone 5 was fine. In trying to support local business I bought several that were quite pricey only to have them die. This Spring before I started buying I did some more checking. Was very surprised to find when I started reading the tags closely that places like Home Depot in Albert Lea were selling zone 5 roses. This store is north of me, so I was unhappy to see that they were selling plants as perennials that really would not have that great a chance to survive. I mentioned it several times to the people at the customer service desk with less then spectacular results. Now I am only purchasing ones labeled zone 4.
The first rose is called Fragrant Cloud, and ok, it is a zone 5,lol. I planted it close to the house and am hoping it will have enough protection and come back. This is one of those roses that the scent fills the yard. The blooms are beautiful but only last a short time. The second one is called Maria Stern and is a sub zero rose. The scent is not real "rosy" but nice. The blooms last for days and is a joy in the garden. This is a shrub rose and one of the few that came back, it's roots are closer to a wild rose and so much hardier. It also has a wonderful fragrance and has been covered with blooms almost constantly. I also have a beautiful light pink shrub rose and have added a white one. The plants are full and the roses grown in clusters, they grow quickly and get quite large. I hope to have rose gardens in many sections of the yard, so the air will be perfumed with more then the farmer's "natural" fertilizer.

I have the yard pretty much planned out so will be busy for many years bringing those ideas to reality. I was telling Jim it is like having our own park, so when all is done we will be able to stroll through the woods and gardens. I have paths planned and just found plans for a wonderful arbor with a bench. I envision a variety of gardens and paths with benches, places to sit and enjoy nature. We have so many beautiful trees and once we clear out the downed ones and the damaged ones it will be beautiful. I also want to plant more flowering trees so that in the Spring we will have wonderful color after the long winter months. Ah, so many plans, I have a feeling I will never truly be done with it all. Another decision I have made is to move the vegetable garden and to enlarge it. I know that for sure the strawberries need more room. All in all a non ending learning experience. This is not a bad thing, I firmly believe that it is so important to continue to learn and expand our horizons.

Hope you enjoy the pictures and I will post more as things progress. Best to you.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Flowers, weeds who is winning??

So many of my flowers have come back, which is a good thing. The downside is that so have the weeds. I was out in vegetable garden last night and just shocked at all the weeds that had popped up in just a few days. Now, if I could only cross the weeds with the things I want we could have giant, indestructible plants. My garden has it's highs and lows, some things have done very well. The cool temperatures and lots of rain have stunted other things. It had been predicted that we would be in the high 80's , low 90's this week. Yesterday it got to 71 and not much higher today so far. For me that is fine, although wearing long pants and flannel shirts in July and August is a little strange. The plants need the higher temperatures to thrive, my sunflowers have just opened within the last couple of weeks.

Things are strange all around, we will not have an apple harvest this year. There were lots of blooms on the trees, but no bees to pollinate and then high winds that stripped the blossoms from the trees. I do not see more then a dozen apples on all three trees. I am finally seeing some bees, but no more then a few each day. The same is true for the butterflies and humming birds. Within the last week I have finally seen one lone hummingbird where in the past there were 8 or 10. I am looking into how one goes about having a small hive of bees so I will have better luck with crops nest year. I did buy some lady bugs this spring and released them, hopefully they will reproduce and thrive. I see them now and then so know that a few are around.
Here is a picture taken several weeks ago of my new addition to the family. I read that chickens will help with the fly population and other insects, so found a hatchery online and ordered some little peepers. Most of them will lay brown eggs the others will lay colored eggs, cool. There are Black Australorp, Buff Orpington, gold Star and Silver Laced Wyandotte. The ones that lay the colored eggs are called Americana. Jim has worked for the last several weekends to build them a coop. He has closed off the end of one stall, putting 3 kinds of wire and framing it in for strength. He also built a very nice nesting box for them. This weekend he was to finish the coop so I could move them out of the basement. Unfortunately, he had to stay at work as they had several pieces of equipment fail. So I have been trying to get the rest of the wire up and secured. These guys are far to large to be in cages. Wish me luck, that chicken wire has a life of it's own, I have scratches all over in spite of wearing gloves. Will post pictures when done so you can see the girls in all their glory.
I hope every one is having a wonderful summer, amazing to think it is almost over.