Friday, July 27, 2012

Front step pots refresh

Well, I must say it sure is nice to spend a few days at home. Back in our earlier years, my husband and I (quite happy to have summers off for lots of fun) would schedule trips back to back like you wouldn't believe.

We don't do that so much anymore, since it's so much freaking work with two kids...: ) So, having two trips about six days apart kicked our butts a bit and I've been a bit of a sloth, just enjoying being home.

Plus, we've gotten rain.....several days in a row. Now, that's just amazing. So nice to have to stay inside because of rain. *giggling with glee here*

I recently did a little update to our pots on the front step. I always enjoy my front pots combination, but I've not seemed to make good choices about hardy plants that can withstand the heat and a bit of neglect when we go on vacation (note to self.....get dog sitters to water plants....).

My pots--of which I lacked to take a picture--were comprised of petunias, cordyline (a purple, spiky foliage plant), chocolate cosmos, sweet potato vine 'Blackie' and euphorbia 'Breathless Blush.'

Okay. Well, the petunias, pictured above, petered out. The chocolate cosmos was all right, but not very full. The euphorbia was anemic. I think possibly because it got eaten by deer....but the hammer has fallen for the Breathless Blush. This is the second time I have used it and been underwhelmed.

Luckily, midsummer is a great time to buy annuals! I took myself and our kids off to Lowe's and found a few things. Once we arrived home, I pulled out the cosmos and the petunias. I also cut back the euphorbia to see if it would rebound a bit.

We purchased two red mandevillas for $1 apiece. Boo ya. I also bought some red and white zinnias for $5 a pot.

If you've never planted mandevilla, it is just nonstop with blooms. It is a tropical plant that grows as a perennial in much warmer zones. In May, it's typically very expensive. So I was quite pleased to find them at a bargain. 

Because of where the cordyline and sweet potato vine were in the pots, I planted the plants and switched the containers to the opposite side.

The final result??

I am loving the zinnias and mandevilla with the burgundy plants. Zinnias might be my favorite plant ever.

I wanted to keep the sweet potato vine and cordyline since I want to add some pink, white and maroon pansies in the fall, plus some white/pink cabbages and kales. The kales with then take us into the winter season with greenery and pinecones. I'm seeing a future post here entitled "One Year of a Plant Pot."

Are your plant pots looking tired?? Give them a little refresh!


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Back in the saddle? I am again, writing another "back in town" post. I think I've been on this computer less in the last three weeks than I have been since my sister and I had this really cool thing called WebTV. It really was was just verrrrrrrry slooooooooooooooowww.

We spent last weekend in beautiful Pentwater, MI and had a lovely time. I'll share some more pics with you in the next week or so, but here's a few to whet your whistle.

I'll check ya later. Or....since I'm in the middle of the third installment of Fifty Shades (which may be the real reason I'm neglecting my computer.....?), I'll just say......laters.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

What my kids do to entertain themselves.....

We've been experiencing a heat wave as of have many others around the nation. Luckily, we have gotten a bit of rain in the last few weeks, so as we've appreciated the rain, we've been spending time playing we do a bit more on super hot days. As we go through our days with various outdoor--and indoor--activities, here are a few pics of some of my kids' entertainment.

Building forts in our family room. Since we have a couch with a chaise, it's a perfect spot to make a few tunnels.

Take out all of the baskets and you have a little tunnel to crawl through. If you're small enough to fit. Or your stuffed animals can live there. Must have fake candles to read books, too.

The view from the other cubby. You can see Sweetie's toes here.

Unfortunately, we've had to put the temporary kibosh on this. It sometimes causes altercations. Usually attributed to bossiness by the older one.

But they sure do like it.....

How are your kids keeping entertained on these long, hot days??

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

What's in bloom

Well, we continue the unusual growing season around here. It has been amazing to me that some of the plants are doing exactly what they should....and then there are the plants that are in "fast forward" mode, blooming about 3-4 weeks early. It's hard to remember that they have been growing since February, so I guess to them, they're right on time. 

My tall phlox and black-eyed Susans are about to bloom....which is so strange, since it's just  July 1st. I've been pinching back my mums to try to hold them off. I also gave the blue mist shrub a bit of a haircut, so we'll see what it does.

Here is what is in bloom right now!

Coreopsis...I can't remember what variety, but I love the coloration in the center and the shape of the petals.

Right behind the coreopsis is phlox....'David's Lavender.' Love the phlox!!

Hibiscus....'Lord Baltimore.' I love this, it's a little joke for my neighbors, since it has to do with our street name.

Daisy....'Crazy Daisy.' Not my favorite variety, but a nice enough low-growing variety.

My daylily 'Mary Todd' is just finishing up....

Hope you're getting rain wherever you are! I'm praying for storms here. : )


Monday, July 16, 2012

My new gardening friend

I have a new little gardening tool. It's called EasyBloom. I was gifted this by my brother for Christmas one was a very thoughtful gift, I must say.

The EasyBloom has the ability to monitor the light that an area receives, monitor the amount of moisture the soil near a plant receives and give recommendations on what plants would be suitable.

It was fairly easy to assemble. It's pretty has a watertight area for batteries and a few buttons to control it.

Once you register your device, it takes you to a program where you can learn more about your results and findings.

I decided to try it out in an area of my garden that I was not sure would qualify as part sun or shade (it's the northeast corner of our house). I was curious to see what it would tell me about the sunlight and what plants it would recommend...

To monitor, you have to leave it out for at least 24 hours. The first time I tried it, I forgot to push the button to start it. Duh.

So, after the second time, I brought it back inside and plugged it in with the USB cord. It was pretty cool! It gives you graphs for different elements....

You can also click on plant recommendations. I take these with a grain of salt, since they are not region-specific....but it's interesting to see what they recommend.

My take? It's pretty neat for checking out what's really going on in your garden. It also works for houseplants, which could be really helpful when trying to figure the light requirements for houseplants. That can be challenging, trying to measure light coming through windows in different places in your home.

I think I'm going to enjoy playing a bit with my new gardening buddy.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

What's up?

Well, we have returned from our annual family beach bonanza. I missed my blog and reading blogs...we had verrrrry spotty wi-fi at the beach house, so it was both a welcome and not-so-welcome break from the internet. Sometimes it's good to step away a bit. : )

We had a nice time...unfortunately, I did an abysmal job at taking photos. I've really been trying to do a better job of documenting some of our family adventures and my camera never seemed to be near me when the opportunity presented itself.

We've got laundrying, bills and grocery store on the agenda today. My garden needs some attention and deadheading.

Hope you are having a wonderful weekend....I'm looking forward to catching up!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Self-sowers....You Can Grow That!

Are you a thrifty gardener? Like to garden on the cheap? Like surprises?

For this month's edition of You Can Grow That!, I have decided to share my favorite self-sowing plants. Because I am all of the above!

My favorite self-sower is cosmos. I can't even remember what the original variety was that I bought. The ones that come back every year are either white or purple. I love these plants for cutting in the house.

Also another popular choice....sunflower. My kids love these since they grow so tall.

With those two plants, I take the little seedlings in the spring and move them around to where I want them. One benefit of these volunteers is that they begin growing as soon as the soil warms up and they are usually bigger earlier in the season than plants that I sowed from seed myself or transplants.

These snapdragons sow themselves around my raised veggie garden. They pop up in the strangest places! One thing I love about the snaps is that they are a little cold hardy, so they bloom late into the fall.

And for some surprises.....I've been pleasantly surprised to have some volunteer tomato seedlings. All of the tomatoes pictured below just started growing in the garden this spring. They are already setting fruit, way ahead of my transplants.

I've also been pleased to find a little seedling of black-eyed susan in my veggie garden. I have this plant in the front of the house, so it's neat to see that the seed traveled all the way to the backyard. I'm letting this one grow bigger and then I will pot it up and plant it somewhere else in the yard.

And then....there are the seeds you don't want. : ) My caryopteris spread TONS of seedlings around last fall. I've been pulling them up and scratching them out. So.....note to self: put some Preen around this plant next spring!

What self-sowers do you plant in your garden?

Sunday, July 1, 2012

A splash of color

In the last few seasons, I've noticed colored metal pieces for the garden. Shepherd's hooks, tomato cages and the such. I really like them! Unless you have a super serious gardening aesthetic, why not infuse a splash of color beyond the blossoms?

I decided to paint some of our tomato cages and stakes. I chose electric blue. The paint I used is an enamel spray paint. I think the enamel will hold up a little better than regular latex paint.

I painted a tomato cage and several stakes.

My son chose fire engine red...he did his tomato cage and a few stakes also.

Here is how they are looking in the garden....I have one trellis in the back there that has not gotten the paint treatment. Maybe next year?

I love this blue!

And the red ones.

It definitely adds a kick to the garden. What color would you choose?

Party Time......
Time Travel Thursday at The Brambleberry Cottage
Fridays Unfolded at Stuff and Nonsense
Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage
Show and Share Day at Just a Girl
Simply Creations Link Party at Simple Home Life
Addicts (not so) Anonymous Addicted to Decorating
Sunday Showcase Party at Under the Table and Dreaming
Project Parade at The DIY Showoff
Creative Bloggers' Party and Hop at Homemaker on a Dime
Tip-Toe Thru Tuesday at Crayon Freckles
Pinspirational Thursday at The Artsy Girl Connection
Make the Scene Monday at Alderberry Hill
Sunday Salvation at Sassafras Salvation
Tuesday Talent Show at Chef n Training
Flaunt Your Flowers  at Tootsie Time
What I Wore/What's Up Wednesday at Rae Gun Ramblings
Sunday Roundup at A Rosie Sweet Home
Overflowing with Creativity at It's Overflowing
Manic Monday at Silo Hill Farm
Mannequin Monday at Artsy Girl Connection