Garden Watch, 2018

So… lot of gardening going on lately, to the detriment of the bank account, but for the benefit of muscles and souls; so it’s a good tradeoff. Besides, what else is money for? Oh, the mortgage,  right.

So here’s what we’re going to do- I’ll be posting updates on the gardens, to record them as they grow in; and on the specific tomato plants, to track their progress and because I have 3 varieties I’ve never tried before this year. And because I make the calls around this here blog, so yall just enjoy a week by week tracking of tomatoes until you resolve to never come back, m’kay?

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So, if you recall, this is the garden about a week after planting April 7th-ish

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And here it is April 29th. And we picked up some of the sidewalk chalk and the racket finally!

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Sweet 100 cherry tomato April 15th

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Sweet 100 on April 29th

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New one to me… HM 1823. We’ll see.

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Mine eyes have never seen a more beautiful tomato plant… it’s called Bobcat… I really need to get a cage, but it’s awfully nice and stocky. Not pictured is the other new tomato called Sungold- it’s a cherry too.

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Good fences make good and non-visible neighbors. And we did it ourself! Oh the pride… the PRIDE!

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Francis Dubriel Rose- lovely and fragrant… awfully disease resistant so far. What? It’s gotta be constant with the zippy comments? I do what I want.

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Dinnerplate Dahlia bulbs coming up… these are called Thomas Edison. Turns out he was a bit of a douchebag, but that isn’t the flowers’ fault

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My husband and I love gardening together so much, looks like our pitchforks got married too! He’s wearing a simple bottle cap band, whereas she’s in a lovely impaled penny

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The new garden on the other side of the deck. Can you believe we agonized for months on the new house color… and then ended up picking a color that was an exact match to the AC unit?

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And the cats. The calico does have a tail… she’s just embarrassed and sitting on it due to the competition she faces on the daily round the other two

Spring

A blog you say? I have one, do I?

The Tile:

So spring has sprung and what that means is that I’m less apt to sit here on the weekends and more likely to be found gardening or cleaning. (It’s a “yay” response to that statement. I know that seems unlikely, but it’s true.) A few weeks ago I hand scrubbed 40 square feet of white subway tile from a stepladder on my counter.

I’d always hated that tile. It runs from our stove all the way to the 12’/ 16’/ “I should really measure this one day” ceiling. And it sounds like I shouldn’t have hated it. It, in fact, sounds right up my alley. But oh how it wasn’t. The people who flipped our house (aka Those Jackasses) did a pisspoor job on everything. Painting. Floors. Exterior Painting. Installing Cabinets. Wired in fire alarms that were wired wrong so THEY were a fire hazard. Jesus don’t get me started on the incorrectly installed french door that’s molding or the bathrooms that are going to have to be a complete tear out. So the Jackasses installed this huge counter to ceiling swatch of subway tile in the kitchen, and thanks to the open concept of our house there it was, staring me in the face every time I sat on the couch, ate dinner, cooked dinner, or peed with the bathroom door open when no one else was home.

And what was the problem with the tile? Well, as I mentioned it’s really hard to reach. Which explains why they never properly scrubbed the grout off. There was a mattifying haze of it left all over the top 4 feet. And just a badly cleaned job on the areas that were reachable. My husband and I had installed tile at our last house. We knew how to do it correctly. This was not.

And I CLEANED it before, don’t get me wrong. The thing got half assed wiped down a few times in the 2 years we’ve been here, we’re not monsters. But one recent random Saturday I just grabbed a bucket and a scrub pad and I LAID into those tiles. It honestly took hard scrubbing EVERY damn tile, all the way to the ceiling. And almost working by feel- you can feel the tile turn from gritty to smooth. I grabbed a butter knife for some excessively gritty corners. And I have NO idea how long it took to do. An hour? Two? Shorter than the two years I’d been hating it though.

And what do you know, I like that tile now. It no longer is a testament/monument to “you live in someone else’s house/ they did this” and made it ours. I felt that same feeling at the last house too- it took touching and changing literally every surface before it felt “us.” This is the same, just a dauntingly bigger place, and the beginning started out hugely pregnant and then dealing with an infant so we had no choice but to let it lie for a while. But now? We’re on a roll.

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SOOO carefully cropped to not show dirty counters…

And that has been what these past weeks have felt like. We’ve reorganized our bedroom. I cleaned out and organized my closet. We’ve gardened and gardened and gardened. We’ve put up a fence.

And now, there the tile sits, way up there. Gleaming. And I smile at it, because it is mine.

The Garden:

And… that felt like the end of the blog post actually. Bt the gardening… I just want to say we’ve gotten the side garden/ Japanese maple garden rocking these days. The husband and I got each other Japanese maples for our 14 year anniversary this week- brings the total to 8. We’re close to running out of space in the perfect high dappled shade of the pecan trees over there- but if conditions allowed the entire yard would be Japanese maples.

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We hang out here a lot talking about how nice it is. Might be why the neighbors sold there house and moved. It’s better looking in real life.  *bare patch in the front left is a Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow shrub that we cut to the ground when we transplanted it in the fall. It’s coming back. (Yes, that actually is it’s name)

A few weeks ago we dug up the entirety of this awkward triangle section of yard between the carport slab and house and made a garden of it- antique rose, white mistflower shrub, dinner plate dahlias, pineapple sage, coreopsis transplanted from the wildflower area, rosemary, a different colored may night salvia (not the standard pink or two shades of purple. This one’s fuchsia with flower stalks twice their normal size)…

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Put up or shut up about the May Night Salvia, I know, I know.

native monarda, spirea, a Mexican Olive Tree, Mexican Mint Marigolds (aka Texas Tarragon aka not related to any plant in it’s common names…), and bronze fennel (my FAVORITE ornamental herb). The husband has a gift for rocks, so there is a cool stone border and a nice walkway through it. It’s a very “us” garden… what predominates is it better not have any of the standard garden center bedding plants we see around here. We like the unusual or old fashioned, or at least unusual for TEXAS (sure other regions do NOT consider pineapple sage or may night salvia unusual… I get it. They make the cut ’round these here parts though).

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Did I oversell it? Because I feel like I oversold it…

But having worked in a garden center for a while, I HATE all the plants that are on the market for no reason other than that they’ll flower in six packs. Plants should do well in the GARDEN not on the shelf… I am very anti-standard plant offerings- if there was some kind of a walkout or march, or plant hat to crochet I totally would- this is an issue that speaks to me, dig? What I’m saying is if you EVER find a petunia or salvia greggii in my garden it’s because I’m DEAD and the next wife has no idea what she’s doing, the whore.

In the backyard this weekend the husband planted a new pomegranate tree, the needle palm we’ve had in a pot for years, and a vitex tree. They were big pots. They were HUGE holes. The toddler fell in one and almost couldn’t get out, if that conveys the concept… And I dug up a three foot by twelve foot section of the yard to put in tomatoes. I don’t think writing that out quite conveys the hours and hours we spent yesterday fighting the hard ground to accomplish those tasks… it was way more difficult than it sounds, promise.

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Is that a 6′ T post driven into the middle of that 4′ tomato cage? You bet your ass it is. Sweet 100 cherry tomato is a BEAST. The T post still won’t be enough… grow my pretty, GROW!

Weirdly the section I dug up for tomatoes was super sandy (still rock hard? Not sure how that works, but it was). I feel like maybe it was the floor for some old pigeon coop that had been torn down or a sand floored shed. There are a couple of cut off to ground level cedar posts close by to give credence to that theory. And I unearthed a 70s astroturf doormat while digging. WEIRD to think there we were, mowing over a welcome mat buried 2 inches down this whole time. But again, it’s the same feeling: we’re slowly making it ours through blood, sweat, tears and the occasional demolished lower back. And FINALLY we can see the shape of the garden coming together… we’re well on our way.

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Picture of front porch pots for no reason related to narrative whatsoever. Mint, Italian Parsley, and a tuberous begonia

Linked up with Samantha @ Fake Fabulous HERE!

“You know, Flowers and…”

My husband and I love gardening- we like existing outside, as much as we can- and we like doing it in a nicely landscaped place. And I have dabbled enough in landscape design to be all annoying about it. I like a French Cottage style- not as chaotic as English Cottage, but still emphasizing an abundance of flowers while also incorporating veggies and herbs right in the same spaces. Also, all organic, and stuff. So.

Back in the day I used to work in a garden center and thus became a bit of a plant snob- I want the unusual, the hard to grow, the unknown, the ones with cool historical stories. Honestly, a landscape of New Gold Lantana, Salvia greggii, Knockout roses, and crepe myrtles might as well be beige walls as far as I’m concerned. (So Bourgeoisie! I’d have never made it through the Reign of Terror with that kind of attitude, let me tell you- Robespierre would have definitely seen to that. Ho, ho!) But also people- please don’t fall for the trap: most commercial growers and big box stores grow plants that look good in POTS so you’ll buy them- for a rockin landscape you want plants that do best in the GROUND- they should almost always be just green and unassuming looking in pots for sale. So.

Our house had been abandoned for 20 years before we moved in- and the people who flipped it as an income property ran out of money and bad ideas and installed next to no landscaping. They did put 8 shrubs in, actually. They were Yaupon Hollies. And if the latin name of Ilex vomitoria ‘Nana’ doesn’t just perfectly sum them up, I don’t know what would. We ripped them out. So… we get, finely, to my point here.

Slowly… ever so painstakingly slowly- we’ve been landscaping. The front yard has sod and new shrubs. (anyone care what kind?) They’re dwarf myrtles, Myrtus communis compacta. Sweet myrtle is a plant that dates back to ancient times, with the first recording of it in written history in 50 AD. White flowers. Purple berries (edible, yes. Palatable? eh.) It’s considered an herb, and I use it extensively in cut flower arrangements. Supposedly it was one of the plants Adam was allowed to take out of the garden on Eden (how’d that work? Some kind of severance package, maybe?). We also have a side garden in and establishing. We’ve planted poppies and larkspur seeds in the 70′ bed between our new driveway and our neighbors. So, even with a now 10 month old we have done some really big projects. Oh- and we took out the trash trees in the back: Cedar Elms and an Arizona Ash (Boo! Hiss! Who plants those awful things?! It’s dead now.) And my husband and some contractor (cough cough, Dad, cough cough) installed a new fence. Okay! Jeez, this is taking together all too long to get to the point of… “Hey, wanna see the few flowers we’ve got over here right now? There aren’t that many because we haven’t landscaped the backyard yet, but we eked out what we could this year.”

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Francis Dubriel Rose. We get a rose for each of the girl’s when they’re born. Mary’s middle name is Francis (How Catholic are we, amiright?! Not very, actually.) so this one seemed like a good choice. Turns out it gets 8′ tall. Gulp. Maybe should have done a bit more research. It’s from 1894 and named for a rose breeder in Lyon, France who started out his career as a tailor. (My plant snobitude- it is DWARFED by my level of rose snobbery. lovelovelove me some antique roses. Hearts.) Hey and look! Turns out the jerks who sold us the house didn’t even sand the exterior before they painted! Haha…yeah. Don’t do that.

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My Nutmeg scented geranium- love those leaves! Flowers are small but very cute and both are cute in cut flower arrangements. Hey and look! You can see that the jerks we bought the house from built the deck using nails instead of screws! haha… yeah. Don’t do that.

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Chocolate Sunflowers… now that’s one to file away for future use! Grow, sunflowers, GROW!

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Coreopsis from a wildflower mix the neighbor gave us to add to the driveway bed.

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John Fannick Phlox named after… some guy in San Antonio. Owned a plant nursery. They can’t all be interesting stories.

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Weed grass heads from the bamboo forest/ghetto in the back corner. The seed heads do look nice in flower arrangements, though. And that’s all I got… except for this last one, that is.

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Happy Saturday. (“Don’t say Cat-urday, don’t say Cat-urday…”)