April Garden Update

Well, I still haven’t finished that gallery wall. March was just not my month. I did get seeds started though, I have a post started about what I planted and when. That should be coming up soon!

February was the snowiest month on record for our area of Wisconsin. March followed with cold and rain. My beds sat under water quite a bit during late winter/early spring. Last week we had several inches snow/sleet/ice that squashed a lot of the bulbs and iris starting to wake up. A couple of days ago, we received to inches of rain. It’s been gloomy and depressing here.

That being said, I am pretty happy with what survived. There are few iris that I’m a bit worried about, but so far they are hanging in there. Most have a handful of nice increases. I am most excited to say that as of right now, my grandmother’s peony survived, as did her iris, which sat under water a good portion of the winter.

Bulbs are coming up and plans are being finalized for bed improvement and expansion! This year it’s all about getting more planting space and better drainage!

Below is a quick look at how things are looking as of today!

 

And yes, I have totally gone off the rails for my new year’s resolution of posting each Sunday. Be prepared for some random, rapid-fire posts coming your way! I plan to get back on track and keep on working!

2019 Garden Plans

Last week, I wrote about my dreams for my 2019 garden. In my mind they are pretty grand. Because Todd said he would help me with the hardscaping and remodeling of the garden…my imagination took off with big ideas. Now that we’ve talked more, and I’ve gotten my head out of the clouds, I feel like my plans are maybe not super exciting, but within in reach.

So…some of the basic plans:

  • Create a “holding bed” with good soil and good drainage while better permanent beds are made
  • Paint my existing shed, add better shelves inside
  • Move plants from the “Big Bed” to holding bed, and dismantle “Big Bed”
  • Replace the Big Bed with space/pad for new shed (coming in 2020?) and two new 8×8 square beds flanking each side
  • Replace existing raised beds with better quality materials, refreshed soil, and good drainage
  • Add two large 8×15 spaces with landscape timbers and mulch as pads for my grow bags
  • Add large row for cut flowers in front of the garden
  • The most expensive but the most important addition will be the privacy fence. It will probably the big project of the year
  • Pour cement for new patio slab (this is all Todd)
  • Extend and clean up the rock area along the backside of the house

All of these plans concern our backyard, I have some thoughts on the front of the house, but I haven’t really put any on paper, yet. Our biggest constraint is budget. This little house has been quite the ‘fixer upper’ and we are still working on the inside. Not to mention, this year we hope to replace the doors and windows, and get the fireplace working again. It leaves very little money to throw into the yard. Fortunately, most of our work will be rearranging. I have to remind myself, we are going into our 4th Summer here, and all great gardens take time. I’ve also focused this year’s garden plan to mostly the large backyard garden. I hope to eventually add a lot more beds along the fence lines, but will wait for the fence to be built.  I am sure there will be plenty of amendments to the plan and some final measurements need to be made too. Below is my basic plan for the year, some of last year’s map, and my garden sign hope to add at the front!

Aside from the practical and basic layout, I’ve been thinking about the aesthetics too. Todd and I sat down and tried to figure out what my garden style is. I have no idea how to pin it down…except for tons of pins on Pinterest! Above all, I like gardens that look like they’ve existed a long time. Old gardens are the best. Some are kind of wild, nothing overly shiny and new which is perfect. I like structure and neat lines, but nothing sterile or overly-suburban-cookie-cutter-landscaped. I love color and texture too with bright flowers and soft grasses.

I am of the belief that you should decorate with things you love, no matter if the styles conflict…so long as you like it and don’t cram a million things in, most things will balance out. I feel the same way about gardens.

Here are a handful of my favorite inspiration photos. All of these images and the links to their content and credit can be found on my shamefully huge Farm & Garden Pinterest board. 

2019 Garden Dreams

Todd and I got Netflix this week (yes, we are behind the times, way behind). I have been watching British gardening shows non-stop. My productivity is non-existent. My friend, Steph, got me started watching any Monty Don show. Considering how gloomy and cold it is in January, in Wisconsin, the garden shows have been wonderful. So much green. So much life.

Seeing the other gardens has really sparked my imagination. It’s also given me a little, much-needed, break from my genealogy research.

My 2019 garden dreams begin with a complete remodel of my established garden beds, which are really just old beds that I’ve stuck my plants into.

I have had two winters of really horrible flooding in my flower beds. This flooding doesn’t happen in the Spring or Summer, but this past year many of my precious iris have sat under frozen puddles for many weeks. Last spring, I lost nearly half of my varieties. It’s not a very old garden, but I have collected quite a few rare, and personally special plants that need safe homes. The beds have had little love other than me stuffing my new and old finds into every available space.

The plan is to level, build up, and to add drainage and space to my beds. One of our biggest purchases and projects will be adding a privacy fence. We plan on adding a few more beds a lot more hardscaping. Todd is all about hardscaping.  More importantly, we plan on making it feel like a proper garden with some sort of plan. After all is said and done, we hope to have a several beds worthy of the heritage flowers I have already collected and plan to collect.

Next week, I will share with you our plans for the garden and some inspiration images. I can’t share the plans this week because while we planned on adding a few beds this year, a complete redo was just decided last night. If you need to get your spouse on board with a garden upgrade, just watch some Monty Don together! What are your 2019 garden dreams?

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Above: the old large bed and make-shift new beds in Spring of 2016, our first year at the house. Below: last summer’s garden.

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My First Heritage Flower Extraction

One year ago, this week, Todd and I took a 39 hour trip to Omaha and back. The reason: Heritage Flower Extraction.

In 2012, my Grandma and Grandpa Petersen’s house was sold. My grandfather built the classic 1950’s ranch house. My mother, uncle, and aunt were raised there; and all seven grand-kids spent countless hours there.

In 2015, I first started thinking about “heritage gardens” and collecting flowers from family homes. Grandma Pete’s garden was first on my list, because I had the most clear memories of it. I sent out a letter with photos and stories to the new owners, and a request. With their permission, I would love some splits from her garden. They answered, YES!

In 2017, the house was up for sale again.

Between winters, buying a home, and life…collecting sat on the back burner, until I found out the house was for sale again. The Omaha market can be fast, so I panicked. Maybe the new owners wouldn’t be as generous. So, a hasty 2nd request was made and permission given, again. The house was empty, so it didn’t matter when we went. I wanted to get it done fast.

So, on the longest day of 2017 (literally), I worked 9-6 and closed the store, came home, and Todd suggested we leave ASAP. I cleaned the cat litter, packed a small bag, and off we went. I had already packed the car with a tarp, buckets, soil, shovels, and pots.

We made it past Des Moines, and decided to stop. For a few hours, very uncomfortably, we slept in the car at a rest stop. We arrived in Omaha as the sun was coming up and just in time to meet Dad, my sister, and the kids at Hy-Vee for breakfast. It wasn’t even 9 am and the temps were rising close to 90 degrees. If we were going to get flowers, the time was now. So, off we went. Me still in my work clothes, which was at the time, a garden center. It kind of made me look official, like I was a landscaper (or at least that’s how I want to justify wearing that shirt for so many hours).

It had been many years since I had been to the house. It wasn’t in great shape (Grandpa was probably rolling in his grave). But, we pulled into the back drive and I went to work. I was respectful. I took only splits and pieces. I retreived daylilies, hostas, clippings of the climbing rose, and lilacs, chunks of peony, and iris. I also collected some of the large rocks that had been collected by the family over the years.

I worked fast, because I definitely felt weird being there and digging up stuff. It was a very surreal feeling being there. Finally, with the back of the car full, I insisted Todd lift the cement urn/planter into the last remaining spot. I’m a lucky gal. He did it without too much questioning. It had been there forever, and came from their house before. I couldn’t pass up the chance.

My final act was to open the back storm door and listen to it close one last time. It’s a strange thing to miss, but the sound is the sound of my childhood, and something strangely comforting.  That’s when I lost it. I held my emotions back through the plant collection, but the damn door got to me. I knew it was the last time I’d hear it, and the last time I’d be in that yard, where I spent so much of my childhood.

The deed was done, now we had to figure out what to do with the plants for a few hours while we did the quick Omaha tour. At Dad’s apartment, I sat in the parking space quickly potting up and watering my prizes. Then, we took a shopping cart and an elevator ride to the third floor and some AC. There we took a short nap and looked at photos. Then, we ate lunch with Dad at The Barleycorn, toured Memorial Park’s rose garden, and drove through Dad’s childhood neighborhood to scope out my other grandparents’ house.

Next up, watching my niece’s swim lesson, Thai food for dinner with the family, loading up the car, and heading out again. We arrived in Omaha as the sun was coming up, and left as it was setting. We also made a stop on the way out to pick up a bunch of Runzas (so I could share their glory with Wisconsin).

We stopped once more, just on the other side of Des Moines for a rest stop nap, then drove through Minnesota as the sun was coming up. It was still early when we finally pulled into our drive, our car loaded with some very special plants. After a much needed shower and nap, I began cleaning and adding the flowers to my garden.

Of the plants I brought home, only a handful survived the stress of the drive, and our really crappy winter. The losses: all the lilacs, all the roses, and almost all of the peonies. The iris came through like champs after spending a month in an inch of ice. I don’t know if you can kill daylilies or hostas? The remaining piece of peony has been moved to a better spot and is growing in a fortress of caging for protection.

The collection, today:

I will be excited when they all finally bloom and spread. My plan is to share pieces with all the Petersens that want a piece of Grandma Pete’s garden.

This concludes my first “heritage flower extraction.” I expect many more. And soon, I will share with you more about Grandma and Grandpa Pete’s house and their lives.

A Garden Post!

It’s mid-June now! My iris blooms are done, we’ve had three tree stumps removed, and I’m just now ready to share what’s happening in my garden.

Typically, Central Wisconsin plants out veggie plants on Memorial Day weekend. It’s been a warm Spring though, and I planted out May 19th. We went from 30+ inches of snow in April to 90 degree temps in May.

I lost a lot of varieties of Iris and pretty much all of my roses. I’m not too worried though! The most important plants (my collected heirlooms) survived. I will post in-depth about my perennials, especially those I’ve collected from family.

Our yard is a work in progress, just like the entire house. It’s needed a lot of attention, and will take years to get right!

A few photos from our first few months at the house:

We have a lot of plans for the yard…but we’re still working on the inside, so I’ve just been stashing plants where I can for now.

This year the garden is going strong, despite losing a lot this Spring, and my first attempt at growing tomatoes and peppers in bags! So far, the grow bags are already more successful than my last 3 years of tomato growing attempts. Almost all of them have little green tomatoes set on them.

I grow almost all heirloom varieties, mostly because I love the crazy options, ability to save seeds, and some of the stories that come with them. I do grow two hybrids, and for a special reason. Jet Star and Celebrity were both favorites of my Grandma Petersen. She bought me some Jet Star for my garden during her last summer (and I still have the little tag for it). It’s a way to honor her in my garden every year. Plus, Jet Star and Celebrity are just good tomatoes, anyway.

Here’s a little a taste of whats happening in my yard this year, right now:

 

I have a lot more to come and later this week, I am going to attempt my first post that really focuses on what I want this blog to be about. Stay tuned!