Tag Archives: gardening

FINAL LANDING PAD

           I am so happy that we have finally moved into our very last house. My days of packing and unpacking are done!
As there’s lots of work to do in a previously owned house, there’s lots of work to do around a new house. Most of the work, for me at least, is outside.
I’ve always loved adding flowers to the perimeter of all houses in which we’ve lived. Past houses included creating new beds, sometimes significant, complete with a bench or two and a path through the garden. I’m afraid I’m way over the new bed syndrome. In fact, I’m not even terribly enthusiastic about adding the flowers, vines and such to my perimeters. It’s hard work!
Impatients

          Two houses ago, I discovered perennials. I used to plant mostly annuals. Not anymore. For this house, I’ve planted several annuals for that immediate wow effect. Fortunately, I now live in South Carolina where winters are mostly mild. I expect some of my annuals will come back, e.g., Lantana. One year in Tennessee, where we lived twice for a total of 31 years, my Impatients along a fence border came back. I’ve planted Impatients on the shady side of this house. However, I’m not holding my breath they will come back. After all, the first two years we lived here were unusually cold ones. So, perennials have become my new BFF.
gazing ball

I’ve bought about a half dozen ready to plant perennials such as coneflowers. I love coneflowers. This year, there seems to be a wider variety of new colors. Not only are there the traditional white and pink coneflowers, but there’s yellow and orange that add a lot of wow to any garden.
Now that I have some color in my perimeter garden, I’m relying on buying perennials from catalog nurseries who have, in recent years, expanded to the Internet. I am an avid internet shopper.
Like gardening, I used to be a regular mall shopper. I loved going to the mall. It didn’t matter that I would return home empty handed. I liked looking. Not anymore. It’s too time-consuming, and now, I’d rather get my walking time in walking our dog with my husband. So, the Internet has been a BFF for a long time. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’m one of the original avid Internet customers.
One of my favorite catalog/internet nurseries is Spring Hill located in Ohio. I’ve bought from them for probably twenty years and four previous houses. Their prices are reasonable, the variety is significant, the plants hardy and, if some of them don’t make it, they will replace them the next planting season. I bought about a dozen plants this spring and lost only three. I’ll order more plants in the fall. In the meantime, I can’t wait for my hard copy of their catalog. I love looking through the hard copy as I plan what I will order and plant next.
Once I am satisfied that I have filled my gardens with ample flowers and vines, the next target is early spring planting, e.g., daffodils, tulips and such. I was under the impression that those cold weather bulb plants wouldn’t do well in SC. However, the landscaper who mulched and created a beautiful stone edging for my gardens told me they love South Carolina weather. I hope he’s right. I’ll make sure by asking the question of nursery owners. I love spring bulb flowers, so, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that two fall seasons from now, I’ll plant spring bulbs.
My last two homes, I bought worm castings from a company called Worms Way. Castings, when spread in the flower beds, become live brown worms which are the very best way to aerate your gardens. Plus their waste creates wonderful compost. Castings are inexpensive and natural. Worms Way evidently went out of business, but good ole, dependable Amazon had several suppliers. So early spring, I bought castings and spread them throughout the gardens. As I dug holes for my first few annuals, I also dug up a big juicy worm. I was thrilled to see the little guy or gal. I knew I had lots more who were deep in the ground aerating away.
I also bought a compost bin from Amazon. I tried composting several years ago but wasn’t successful. This time, I also bought a thousand red composting wiggler worms from Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm. They came packed in a box and secured from crawling around in a green bag. Once my compost bin was put together and set up over the right spot behind a few bushes, I followed the instructions to loosen the soil about 18” X 18.” I then opened the bag dumped in the worms, and the traveling material then covered them with wet newspaper. They will rehydrate and become visibly active as they begin to break down the grass clippings, pine needles, egg shells, banana peels and a few other worm-tasty goodies. I’m looking forward to the worms producing nutrient-enriched compost I will feed my flowers. There’s an added value my compost bin and the wigglers will provide. Because I’ve never been a vegetable gardener, I can dump my dog’s waste into the bin as well. The wigglers will do their job of breaking the waste down into compost.
Not only am I a lover of beautiful flowers, but I also love what is called yard art.

yard art
I recall the first gazing ball I placed in a garden in the backyard of our first house. The red gazing ball sat atop a concrete column. My next door neighbors had never seen a gazing ball. In fact, the female neighbor asked me if I was trying to call home, ala ET fashion. I regret leaving my last red gazing ball atop a wrought iron ball stand for the people who bought our last house. Red gazing balls are hard to find. However, a trip to one of my favorite brick and mortar stores, Hobby Lobby, sent me home with a short stand and a multi-colored blue/pink ball. It’s pretty where it currently sits.

yard art 2
I have other yard art in my gardens such as shepherd hooks with hanging plants, bird baths with sun generated fountains, and melodious wind chimes. My gardens are looking good. I even ordered a second wind spinner like the one I already owned. It’s sitting in the garden I share with a next door neighbor and has the utility box in the middle. I do love wind spinners. This one I have is my favorite. It reminds me of the tall ships of yesteryear.

wind spinner 2
Finishing off my outdoors is my love for birds. I love feeding the birds.
When we began visiting the lot our house sits on; I noted there weren’t too many birds in the area. Surrounded by trees, we chose to back up to one of the two lakes versus the wooded perimeter. I wasn’t confident that I would attract a lot of birds right off the bat. I suspected that I would be able to attract a pair of bluebirds since I did see several. Thus, one of the first things I did was set up my bluebird house. One pair built a nest around the middle of March. I watched the parents build the nest, feed their babies and carry out the small white sacks of poop. Years ago when I began attracting bluebirds, I read they will not nest in a used nest, even their own. I was about to open the box and pull out the nest when I noticed they were back in the box. They had their second nestlings. I lost track of when they began nesting the second time when I noticed that the male was sitting on one of my shepherd hooks with nesting material in his mouth. I walked far enough away to note that he was building a nest in another birdhouse. I thought, hmm, I wonder if there’s a reason they didn’t return to the same box. When I opened the box and put my hand in the nest, I felt an unhatched egg. This time, I pulled the entire nest out of the box. Within a day the pair began building their nest in the original box. I’m told that in South Carolina, bluebirds will nest up to four times each season. I’ll have to keep an eye on the box since I would love to encourage a fourth nest.
Bluebird numbers have declined over the last few decades due to competition with sparrows and Starlings. I’m happy to help the population build to a healthy population again. I’ll keep these birds coming back to my yard all year long too by continuing to feed them mealworms.

blue bird house
We have a Wild Birds Unlimited down the street. They sell live mealworms that are packed in oatmeal. Stored in my refrigerator, I can feed the bluebirds these live worms. I also bought a bag of dried mealworms. In the past, I haven’t had much luck with bluebirds eating the dried variety. However, this pair seem to love both. The dried worms are less expensive and easier to store.
I do also have a nice variety of other species that include: cardinals, sparrows, purple finches and the cutest little birds I can’t identify. This little bird makes a squeaky sound much like the squeaky sound of a dog’s squeaky toy. One of the couples nested in a box hanging from one side of a double shepherd hook. I need to take a photo of them and ask the people at Wild Birds Unlimited if they can help me to identify this sweet bird.  Backing up to a lake is fun for bird viewing as well.  It’s a new lake, however, we already have a few Egrets, two Blue Herons and a small Green Heron who visit frequently.  Oh, did I mention, we also have our very own alligator?
alligator on bank

In the past, I’ve been fortunate to attract hummingbirds. I did not expect that I would attract these little acrobats this year. However, I put out a feeder in April.

hummer2

To my surprise, two little gymnasts showed up almost immediately. They must have been waiting for me to come along.
I’m well on my way to finishing planting so I can have years of enjoying my flowers spread and bloom with little more needed from me than to feed them, compost around them and provide sufficient drinks of water. I’m looking forward to my low-maintenance yard in the not too distant future; one that’s alive with color, butterflies, hummingbirds and the songs of birds along with chimes singing to a soft breeze. All will soothe my soul as I sit on my upper deck or lower patio reading or falling to sleep.

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Filed under Maribeth Shanley, writing

Time Is Flying By by Linda Lindsly

Garden Rock Wall

Garden Rock Wall

Time is flying by these days. where has April gone?  Joe and I cleaned out the garage and the attic trying to get junk out of the house to sell at our yard sale.  The yard sale, by the way ,was a success.  Now we just need to gather more things and stuff and have another one !  In the meantime I have a lot of gardening to do in my yard like getting weeds out before they overtake everything .  Longing to plant some annuals but not sure if we’ll have another frost in May .  So I postpone the idea and in the meantime I  move rocks ,dig out weeds and repair my rock wall behind the garden .  Repairing the wall is a big deal. I have to go and buy cement and get a few more rocks.  Then, I have to load them up in the wheel barrel, push  to the area that needs repairing  (which is all the way back in the garden) ,pull out the cement mixer  and lift the heavy bags of cement into the mixer and stack the rocks and fill with cement to hold it all together .  I’m tired just writing about it ! Oh, but when it is finished, it’s spectacular. My cats love to walk the wall and sometimes take a nap on it. They also sit up on the wall and hunt their prey from above.  The song “Summertime”, you know, where the Livin’ is easy , is anything but.  So right now I’m just going to relax for a while and enjoy all the spring blooms and plan to do the work later.

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Filed under writing

Beauty in Your Own Back Yard

My first published book – Night and Day, by Second Wind Publishing – is set in Blooming Prairie, Minnesota and Copenhagen, Denmark with a brief interlude on Prince Edward Island, Canada. My tagline, “It’s midnight in Minnesota and Daybreak in Denmark”, speaks to the fact that Jensen and Anders connect via the internet, each from their own far-flung corner of the world.

My work-in-progress, Wild Rose of Scotland, is set at St. Conan’s Kirk on Loch Awe. The first book in the series, Blue Belle of Scotland, takes place in Tobermory, a picturesque old village whose rainbow-colored storefronts are reflected in the waters off the Isle of Mull.

Sherrie with Alphasmart at Tobermory

Here I am, writing on my AlphaSmart, in the lovely village of Tobermory, Scotland.

For a writer / innkeeper / restaurateur / pastor’s wife whose life is too busy and complicated to plan another vacation anytime in the foreseeable future, “traveling” to or revisiting these exotic locales in my mind is like taking a mini-vacation. Hopefully, my readers will also enjoy visiting the quaint spots that provide a backdrop to the adventures of Jensen and Anders and any other of my characters who are lucky enough to find their homes in such beautiful places.

But we all can’t live in Colorado. Nor can we go on vacation all the time. The trilogy of books I’m currently getting ready for publication – Stormy Weather, Waterlily, and Merry-Go-Round – are all set in Osage, Iowa, just 11 miles from where I live. The stage for these books is set with cornfields, cabbage patches, and contented cows grazing in pastures. The secondary characters are small town… well… characters. And it’s not one bit boring. To the contrary, writing about my hometown has been very enlightening.

Looking at my very ordinary world through the eyes of my characters has shed a whole new light on what was once deemed plain. These people see things in my world that I never would have noticed. With their help, I’ve discovered a whole new meaning to the phrase, Beauty in Your Own Backyard. It’s amazing, the things I see when looking through the rose-colored glasses of the three Jones sisters.

So, wherever it is you find yourself, take a look around. Whether you’re reading – or writing – a book set in Windermere, England, Apple Valley, Minnesota, Moonstone Beach, or Weedpatch, California, there are beautiful sights to behold no matter where you go in the world – a simple wildflower, a spectacular sunset, the moon glinting off a lake (or maybe even a mud puddle).

I took this photo in Scotland. Isn't it funny how you notice things when you're on vacation that you never take the time to really "see" when you're at home?

I took this photo in Scotland. Isn't it funny how you notice things when you're on vacation that you never take the time to really "see" when you're at home?

And next time you’re lucky enough to be able to take a vacation to some lovely new location, by all means, take your camera, your moleskin journal, your steno pad, or your Alphasmart. Take photos, record each memory, soak in every ounce of scenic beauty that you can.

All I’m suggesting is that when you come home, keep your camera out. Try looking at your own, everyday world through the eyes of someone who’s seeing those same, familiar haunts for the very first time. Take notice of the extraordinary, and you’ll discover all kinds of unique beauty – right in your own backyard.

When I got home from Scotland, I realized I had the same flowers blooming right in my own garden. That's when I resolved to start seeing the beauty in my own backyard instead of waiting for another vacation to enjoy the scenic sights around me.

When I got home from Scotland, I realized I had the same flowers blooming right in my own garden. That's when I resolved to start seeing the beauty in my own backyard instead of waiting for another vacation to enjoy the scenic sights around me.

Learning to see the Cinderella side of your soot and ashes world, to appreciate the sights you take for granted, will make you a better writer, a better mother, a better lover, a better everything under the sun.

Sherrie Hansen

Night and Day

http://www.SecondWindPublishing.com

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Filed under books, fiction, life, Sherrie Hansen, writing