My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Soil & Toil & Flora & Fauna :-)

Wonder of wonder and miracle of miracles - BW was offered Friday off, a huge surprise - and accepted it, which wasn't! :-) We've been wanting to get our backyard herb garden planted, and knew we had a very narrow window of opportunity before several days of significant rain moved in. So Friday morning BW spent two hours prepping the bed with a pickax and some amended soil, and then we spent most of the rest of the day visiting three different greenhouses to buy some drip irrigation supplies, fencing, and plants.

Bright and early yesterday morning, we started designing and planting it (sometimes in the rain that came earlier than forecast), and by lunchtime we had this little herb and flower garden under our kitchen nook windows...

Willow wants you to know that she and her sisters "helped." :-)

We bought a really pretty solar-lit, painted glass birdbath on sale last fall, and it was supposed to go beneath the middle awning window and be the centerpiece of our herb garden. Alas, its metal stand has a defect that makes it too wobbly to trust, so BW plans to take it to an automotive repair shop to see if they can repair the flaw. *sigh* Meanwhile... we planted red and purple columbine, lavender, marigolds, thyme, rosemary, spearmint, cilantro, three varieties of basil, and two varieties of peppers. The "Yorkshire Scroll" fencing came from Home Depot and the recycled rubber stepping "stones" from Gardener's Supply (sorry they got so muddy during our planting frenzy, you'll see on the web site how pretty they are when they're clean!)... 

Unhappy Update, 5/24: After 24 hours of 40mph sustained winds and gusts of 60 since the middle of Wednesday night, our new herb and flower garden, not even a week old, is a near total loss. Even some of the sturdy little marigolds were broken and wind-blasted, and the columbine, herbs and pepper plants never stood a chance. It's very frustrating because it's in the one area that should have been protected from our usual N/NW winds, and therefore the one place we can enjoy flowers! But this time the wind came from the E/SE instead. Our potted flowers didn't fare much better, since those winds - which had not been predicted - came up suddenly in the middle of the night. I know I shouldn't complain - at least it wasn't a tornado! - but to see all that time and effort and money and prettiness go down the drain after only four days of enjoyment is a bit hard to take without feeling pissed off. In somewhat happier news, BW was able to fix the birdbath (I'd brought the glass bowl indoors the evening before the wind blew so badly, so at least it wasn't smashed to smithereens!), and though they were violently blown around, I think most of our other plantings made it through (can't say the same about our mulch, though!) And at least we haven't planted the front flowerbed yet - but I think we'd better go with boulders and tree stumps, the only things that can stand up to Wyoming's #@$% winds!

We've also been planting flowers in our flower pots during the past couple of weeks, so while I was in the back yard with my camera I decided to photograph some on the patio to share with you. But Tess thought the photo would be much more interesting if she walked through it as I took it (one of her methods of "helping," the others being to sniff and lick everything you're working with, and/or to sit on it and demand lovin's. Also to lick your face suddenly while you're working at dog-tongue level)...

There's no rest for the wicked, especially when racing the weather. The rains had stopped for a few hours, but were clearly intending to start in again just as soon as they felt like it, so after a quick lunch break we took turns mowing and trimming the back yard. I'd just mowed it on Wednesday, but it's clear that it's going to need it twice a week, especially this time of year when it grows so fast, because that yard is too beastly hard to mow with the reel mower when the fescue gets so long and thick. This time it was much easier, especially with BW at home to share in the fun! :-)

We were delighted when our Greenspire Linden finally leafed out last week, after stubbornly (but perhaps wisely) clenching his little bud fists since late March!

We had another brief break in the weather last evening, when we even got to see the sun for the first time all day. So we took the dogs for a walk around the neighborhood and I took my camera along, because on a walk the day before I'd spied this beautiful Purple Leaf Sand Cherry in bloom down the street. There are several in our neighborhood, but this one is huge and by far the most beautiful. I reduced my many photos of it down to three (based largely on their lovely backgrounds of "blossom bokeh!"), but then could cull no further. But maybe you can narrow these down to a single favorite...

Willow, who'd promised her fan club a photo (to make up for her "bad hair day" refusal to be photographed for this SkyWatch post), found that a day filled with "helping" in the garden, watching Mom and Dad mow, and then going for a walk and having to wait while Mom took 14,593 photos of some smelly branches, just too exhausting for words...


Today is rainy and windy and cozy, and we'll be spending much of it in the garage, sorting through and pricing more stuff for our huge upcoming yard sale in three weeks. But after that, it's BW's famous homemade vegan pizza and a movie! :-) Here's hoping your weekend is being a perfect mix of productive and relaxing! 


  1. Congrats on getting the herb garden planted. I used to grow armloads of basil in Wisconsin but can't seem to get even a kitchen's worth here — not enough sun, maybe, or not enough heat. My parsley and other herbs do well, though. Tomatoes are the same as the basil. The sand cherries are so pretty — I wouldn't be able to choose just one shot either.

    Poor Willow. Smelling flowers is exhausting work.

    1. Thanks! It feels great to have that done - wish we'd left room for kale, but we'll do that next year. I never had any luck growing basil in Big Horn, not in pots nor in our garden! Don't know why. I'm hoping to have much better luck here, since it'll get eastern and souther sun. I keep reading that basil is so easy to grow that I'm starting to get a complex about it!

      Willow thanks you for empathizing with how fatiguing her responsibilities are. :-)

    2. I used to feel that way about summer squash. Everyone else would be joking about secretly leaving bagfuls of surplus squash on their neighbor's porch in the dark, but I could never grow any squash. I had to content myself with taking handouts from friends, and giving away armloads of basil and tomatoes.

    3. Sounds like a great trade to me! :-)

  2. That's great that BW got off on Friday! We did yard work pretty much all weekend, too, although I don't have much to show yet. I love your herb & flower garden! What a perfect place for it, too.

    Mike has had to mow the lawn twice a week lately, too. With all the rain we've gotten it's growing so fast. We have nothing but storms coming the next few days so it'll need to be mowed again soon!

    Our sand cherry plant has been blooming & I've had no luck getting decent pictures of the blossoms yet. It's just too windy. I'll have to try again later today when the winds calm down. You got some beautiful captures of them!

    Oh, Willow, Emma can certainly relate! It's been an exhausting week for her, as well. You look like you could use a nice belly rub! Just look at that adorable furry belly. My goodness! <3

    1. I know, we were shocked and elated all day over that! We needed that day so badly! You always have such a lovely yard, your hard work will show soon and we'll all get to enjoy it (I'm obviously expecting blog photos). :-)

      You know what's funny? Every time I went to take a photo of that sand cherry, the wind would blow and the branches would be waving and bobbing. As soon as I'd put the camera down, it would go dead still again! It was cracking BW up but driving me nuts! I'm glad they turned out fairly focused, but some are blurrier than they would have been otherwise. As soon as we resumed our walk, I had to take off my windbreaker because it was so warm and windless! Go figure. Anyway, I'm glad you like my crazed kinetic cherry branches! :-)

      Emma has an excuse, she just got back from a 3000 mile road trip! Willow's just a goob. :-) But a goob with a an adorably fuzzy rubbable belly indeed!

  3. How wonderful. Playing in the garden is one of the most restful things I know. Yes, it is hard work (sometimes very hard) but it soothes my soul. An additional bonus is that by the time things fruit and or flower the blood, sweat and tears are a distant memory.
    Our cats help me too. Jewel likes to dig up the bulbs I have just planted and snort the fertiliser I have put in each hole (crack cocaine for cats).

    1. PS: I love all of the blossom photos. I looked, I decided on a favourite, I looked again and changed my mind. I used to be indecisive and now I am not so sure...

    2. LOL, about two hours into our digging and planting, BW and I started talking smack about all the people like you we know who find gardening "restful" and "soothing to the soul" and "therapeutic" and wondered why we hadn't invited the whole lot of you over to get yourself a good dose of soothing, restful therapy while we sat inside out of the rain and wind and drank tea and watched you. ;-D

      Normally we do enjoy planting a garden, but just 2-3" under the amended soil it's icky clay, and when it's wet (which it was) it's like trying to dig and move wet cement. Nasty. Plus we had no knee pads, and since it was wet and muddy we had to squat like yogis the entire time - only we're not and never have been yogis. We were aching and tired and wet and muddy from head to toe, but very pleased with the results at the end! (I try not to think about how everything we planted is an annual in this part of the world, and we'll get to do it all over again next spring!)

      Oh, Jewel sounds like a great little gardening assistant!! LOL!

      I know, I did the same thing with the cherry blossom pictures till I finally figured out why choosing a favorite is impossible for me. I prefer the first one's background, the second one's rich colors, and the third one's flowers and composition (I shot that one looking down one of the branches). So how am I supposed to choose? Can't. Glad I'm not alone in my indecisiveness (and lol at your wit, there!) :-)

  4. Love your herb/flower garden! Very well-planned. Columbine are one of our favorites, too. Aren't sand cherries beautiful? You should get one or two ;-). Willow is such a photo xoxoxo

    1. Thanks, Spud! Only it just occurred to me this morning (for reasons veiled in mystery) that we meant to get some parsley to plant! I think we forgot because I don't recall seeing any, except for the flat variety and we wanted curly. There's still room for it, so maybe I'll see if I can find some when I'm out and about later this week. I use a lot of it in our hummus!

      And I agree, columbine is a worthy favorite, sand cherries (especially this purple leaf variety) are beautiful (we'll see about getting one, we do have a couple of shrubs that didn't make it and need replacing), and Willow is a total babe. :-)

  5. Oh, what a lovely flower bed! And those blossoms are gorgeous.

    1. Thank you! Your blossoms were prettier, but they're all lovely. And I'm glad I photographed our newly-planted flowerbed when I did, because we've had horrible winds that managed to snap one of the more heavily-flowered stems of the purple columbine clean off! Despite all the protection the house gave. >:-( Still, I wouldn't trade our windy weather with Oklahoma's!! Awful.

  6. Very soothing to come home to such a sweet bunch of posies. Hope they bring you much happiness throughout the season.

    1. Thank you, it really is - in fact, it's amazing how much that little garden has transformed the look of the backyard. The whole area looks so much prettier now!

  7. You covered so much material here! I'll start with my condolences on your pretty herb garden. It really was lovely and I'm sorry you lost so much of it. Did more recover than you had thought? I hope so! Three kinds of basil sounds like the perfect makings for Italian food and Pesto - yum!! I LOVE the recycled rubber stepping stone and am hoping that they didn't blow away. It's good your birdbath was put away for safe keeping.

    I love the photo of Willow. Now, Willow, your mom didn't take 14,593 photos!! It just felt that way!! But I'm sure you've every right to feel exhausted!!

    I had a favorite on the cherry plants - the last one. I liked it best because I think the flowers showed up best and also because the plant goes across the photo rather than up and down - very artistic!

    I'm glad you had BW help with the backyard and then had the movie and Pizza - sounds wonderful. Do you think you'll still be mowing in Oct? Since I won't be able to go to the gym while I'm there, that would be a good workout!!

    1. Thanks for your condolences. I'm happy to report that the cilantro made a full recovery. The lavender, though they both suffered several broken stems (which were brought inside and enjoyed in a vase), still seem vigorous. The thyme and rosemary were unscathed, and the marigolds are looking rough, but I think they'll make it. The columbine - let's not even talk about them. The peppers are a total loss, and the spearmint is hanging in there. The African basil looks great, but we lost two of the Italian basil, and most of the rest of them don't look good. I don't know if it was the wind, too much rain, the clay soil (it's amended, but it's still mostly clay) or the hail, but they look yukky. I have never been able to grow good basil - not in pots, not in our organic garden, yet it's supposed to be one of the easiest herbs to grow and I'm Italian for cryin' out loud! Growing basil should be in my DNA!

      Nope, the rubber stepping stones are pretty heavy and there's no concern about them blowing away. We got three more for the front flower bed, but have been reluctant to plant anything there yet, given our wild weather!

      Willow has exactly zero right to be exhausted, but she thanks you for your show of support and solidarity. LOL

      I have to say, that third one may be my favorite too, though I couldn't not include the other two. You're right about the flowers showing up better in that one, too!

      Not sure if we'll still be mowing in October - could be mowing, could be shoveling! Only Mother Nature knows for sure. But if our yard still has a mowing left in it when you get here, we'll save it for you. :-)


Will Blog For Comments. :-)

Thanks for taking the time to leave yours!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...



  • THE HUMANE GARDENER ~ Nancy Lawson
  • THE WORLD WITHOUT US ~ Alan Weisman

There is still strong in our society the belief
that animals and the natural world have value
only insofar as they can be converted into revenue.
That nature is a commodity.
And that the American dream is one of unlimited consumption.
There are many of us, on the other hand,
who believe that animals and the natural world
have value by virtue of being alive.
That Nature is a community to which we belong
and to which we owe our lives.
And that the deeper American dream is one of unlimited compassion.

~John Robbins, "The Food Revolution"

free counters