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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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!

My First Perennial Salvage

 The “Elvira Ditch Lilies” is how this salvage is affectionately known. Early last spring, Todd and I were driving down Highway 51, through Plover. The street was in the process of being widened. The construction meant the last of the original Plover buildings were no longer standing, as well as a number of private properties. As we drove along, I noticed a patch of what I thought were Iris popping out of a disturbed bed along the construction zone. They were, of course, not Iris but the shoots of Day Lilies springing to life. I knew they were in the path of destruction and without  any idea of what color or variety they were decided to save them. The next day, Todd and I pulled into a parking lot near the construction zone. Armed with a bucket of dirt and a spade, I went to work digging out a few clumps. They were insanely stubborn, refusing to be pried from their gravely bed. Triumphantly, I got in the truck with my bucket of rescues and went about my day.

Before I decided to dig up these plants, I knew I needed to a little research into the land they were growing on. I didn’t want to dig up somebody’s bed of flowers without permission. As I suspected, they land was a tract owned by the DOT for the widening road. I don’t think the DOT really cares about them  or the fact that I dug a few up. Sure enough, within a week or so the entire bed of flowers had been bulldozed over and lost to history. The bucket of starts sat in that bucket all spring waiting for a new permanent home.

The permanent home the lilies were looking for, is my in my large garden bed. At the time when they were collected, we were in the process of closing on our first home. I planted the lilies in the garden bed, and to my surprise, they bloomed! A few tall, orange trumpets sprang up out of the rescued clump. The lilies are nothing exciting. They are just the standard, old-fashioned orange lily. In fact, our house came with a whole bed of those big old orange lilies.

Despite their seemingly unexciting variety, the lilies are special. They are my first ‘salvage’ and their original home is now partially street, sidewalk, and an extended parking lot. It also gave me an excuse to look up who may have planted them. What was this tract of land before it was DOT? What is it’s history? It turns out, it has kind of a nice little history, and one that makes me happy to have the lilies from that land.

Follow this link to the my post about the land, and just why they are called the “Elvira Ditch Lilies…