Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Finishing What I Start

My English Garden is finished!  It took days longer than I anticipated, which makes the feeling of satisfaction at its completion so much sweeter.  I started this garden in the fall of 2010, laying it out and planting 36 David Austin roses.  Until now, the garden has never been totally finished ... now it has edging, and no weeds and a good layer of mulch ... finished!

I got out early yesterday morning, to take advantage of what was promising to be a beautiful, sunny, warm day.  The weatherguy's prediction was right on target ... it was gorgeous weather for working outside!

Look at that sky!  (part of my personal preparation for the work day was a thorough application of sunblock ... I sunburn really easily.)


In this photo, you can see that my truck is full of mulch, two cubic yards.  If you're counting, this is load #3 for the property so far this year.)


My process went the same as it did on previous days ... pull weeds, prune roses, lay landscape fabric, spread mulch.  Here are a couple of photos to remind you of where I left off last week:

Weeds, weeds, weeds!


Getting there.


After an long day's work yesterday, here is the After!

The new mulch will blend in with the rest after it's been rained on a time or two.


Most of the roses are so small, because this is all that was left alive on them after our unusually cold winter.


See that bench?  I moved it to this spot from another place on the property.  (Got it years ago, cheap, on Craig's List.)  I designed this garden to have a bench there, so I have a place to sit and enjoy the roses, and this one fits there perfectly.



Two yards of mulch fills the back of my truck.  After finishing the mulching in this garden yesterday afternoon, I had used about two-thirds of this latest load.

I absolutely adore my truck!


Shoveling mulch, pushing the wheelbarrow, bending and lifting and scooping and spreading mulch on the garden beds ... done correctly, this is great exercise.  This morning, my shoulders and upper arms are sore, and my thighs and butt are killing me.  (It's an extra added benefit to be sore in all the spots that need some improvement.)

After I spread the last wheelbarrow full of mulch, and I put my tools away, I took a few minutes to sit and appreciate my accomplishment, then I went off to take care of other things.  This morning, I will be back outside again ... working in the miniature garden that I built last year along the fence behind the greenhouse.  Maybe I can get the rest of the mulch out of my truck before it rains in the afternoon.  Wish me luck.

See you outside!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Way To Go, Winnie!

Please allow me to introduce to you the newest Therapy Dogs, Inc., certified member of Blue Grey Therapy Dogs ... our adorable little Ms. Winnie Pearl!

Notice that her tiny little tag says, "I am a Therapy Dog."


She passed the initial Therapy Dog test easily ... getting along with other dogs, allowing strangers to pet and hold her, walking nicely on a leash and taking commands.  She and I had then had to pass three observations in real-life situations on the weekends after the test:  one was at Petco, one was at a rehabilitation hospital, and one was at an Autism Awareness Day fair.  Winnie wagged her tail and begged for pets, even giving kisses to some of the strangers that she met.



I was so excited when her registration and tag came in the mail the other day.  All she needed was a vest to complete her working ensemble.  The regular therapy dog vests are all WAY too big for her (even in the Extra Small size).  It took me a little while of trial and error to modify an existing tiny dog harness pattern, and I think it turned out really cute.  Pink camo fits Winnie's personality, and it should attract attention and can help start conversations.



Now that Winnie is official, she and I can begin our visits ... which will mostly be reading days with children at the local library, along with special events (like the Autism Fair we attended two weeks ago).  Today, she and I will be working the afternoon shift at the Greyhounds Rock booth at Fredericksburg Brewfest.  She won't be there as a therapy dog, but she will still work her adorable Chihuahua magic to help me separate the fair-goers from some of their money, with merchandise sales and donations ... all in the name of a good cause.

I adore this little dog!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

If Looks Could Kill

Ruby uses the dining room window as her spot from which to view the world.  (She is up there doing that right now, as a matter of fact.)  She perches with her back feet on the church pew below the window, her elbows on the windowsill, and she looks for bunnies and groundhogs and all other types of intruders.  

For the past few days, Maggie has been enjoying the same windowsill for afternoon sunbathing.  

I was fortunate to be sitting here with my iPad, so I could capture what happened yesterday while Maggie was snoozing in the sun and Ruby charged up there, thinking that she heard something in 'her' yard.

Maggie:  What do you think you're doing?  This is MY window now.

Ruby:  We can share.  I think there's a groundhog out there.



Ruby:  (snuffle, snuffle, snuffle)

Maggie:  (looks disgusted)



Ruby:  back to guard duty.

Maggie:  Stupid dog.



Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Quality Control Team

It rained all day yesterday.  Instead of doing what I had planned for the day (which would have involved hauling furniture in an open pick up truck), or working outside in the garden, I sat at the sewing machine for a little while and put together a slipcover for this ottoman that's been living in my stash.



You can see that it meets with Alice and Dorothy's exacting standards for quality and comfort.

I was going to paint the legs, but now I've decided not to.  Whoever buys this at the Lucketts Spring Market can paint them, or leave them the way they are.

(Note to self:  Gotta remember to wash and iron the cover before I take it to the market, in case folks are allergic.)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Still Plugging Away ...

Two more days of work are behind me, as I rid the English Garden of weeds, lay landscape fabric, and put down a proper layer of mulch.  Progress came so easily for the first three days, and it has slowed considerably now.  Yesterday, I was working by myself and it was really warm, and there's no shade here to provide relief.  I got a little bit accomplished in the two hours that I worked, but not as much as I had hoped.

This is what the bed looked like when I quit for the day on Sunday.


This is a reminder of where I left off on Saturday.


Today, Monday, the temperature was in the 70s, the sky was cloudy, and there was a nice breeze blowing from the west.  It was perfect weather to make some serious progress ... but it was not to be.  I pulled some more weeds, pruned more roses, laid more landscape fabric, and ran out of mulch.  This is how it stands as of today.



Normally, I would just run to the mulch place and get some more.  Couldn't do that today, because I need my truck to be empty and clean on Tuesday (and maybe Wednesday, too) for something else.  Oh, well, I am determined to get this garden finished as soon as I can ... not going to let all the delays and interruptions dampen my resolve.  I keep telling myself that little progress is better than nothing.

More updates to come ... stay tuned.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Making Progress

Yesterday was Day #3 of working to reclaim my English Garden by the barn.  Great progress was made!





During Day #1 and #2, I was working by myself.  Day #3 was special because I had some help ... my sweet husband.  He pulled weeds and spread mulch, while I pulled weeds and laid landscape fabric.  We make a great team.



This shows our progress as we quit work for the day.  The center bed was completed on Day #1, and the outer left-hand bed on Days #2 and #3.



I will start working on the outer right-hand bed later this morning.



This photo is a pretty good example of the Before and the After.



For now, I prefer to focus on the lovely After.

The roses are so small because this is all the live wood that was left after I pruned off the parts that were killed by our unusually cold winter.  


Have I showed you my bottle trees before?  (there are two of them, though I only photographed one.)  I bought the metal tree part at a garden show years ago.  I originally had them full of blue wine bottles, but that was too heavy for the frame.  To reduce the weight, I changed them to 'flowers' with blue wine bottles surrounded by green beer bottles.



If the remaining bed in this garden progresses like the others, I have two more days of work ahead of me.  It is so rewarding to see what the garden looks like now, and to realize that it represents the first time that this three-year-old garden has ever been truly clear of weeds and prepped for the coming season.  I know that some weeds will certainly reemerge, and I am going to try to get on a routine of dealing with them on a regular basis while they are small.

Happy Sunday, Everyone.  I plan to spend mine enjoying the sunshine, working in the garden.  

Friday, April 11, 2014

Bittersweet

Earlier this week, I received what is probably my last order of roses from Vintage Gardens.  Old rose enthusiasts know Vintage as the source of so many rare and  wonderful roses ... including many of the roses that I treasure in my own garden.  Vintage is in the final stages of closing its operations, which began in 1983.  

The box that I received contained two roses.



This one is 'Frances Ashton' (1937), a dark pink, single Hybrid Tea that I have wanted for a long, long time.



This one is a climber, 'W. Freeland Kendrick' (1920) ... new to me, and I am excited to see what it will do in the garden.



These little baby own-root roses, in their band-sized pots, will be big roses by the end of the season.

I get sad when I think of not having Vintage and their wonderful roses available for sale.  They are not closed yet, though.  There are still some great selections left in their inventory ... give them a look and see if there are any that you are tempted to order for your garden.

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