Archive for March, 2011


Why are there always repercussions to our actions?  Why are there ripples in the pond after a stone’s throw?  When we decided to redo our rose garden and eliminate the grass in our miniscule side garden, the thought fleetingly crossed my mind that our neighbor hardly had reason to continue to have lawn on his property.  It was a very fleeting thought!  But upon completion of our rose garden renovation, he promptly hired the man that was helping us to create flagstone pathways through our yard to install concrete on his side of the property line.  Okay, I feel guilty if a twig falls from a tree 2 blocks away.  And I feel responsible that our neighbor has essentially paved over a small portion of his property.  Apparently, he was thinking of parking a vehicle on the new concrete.  (That could be a potential eyesore.)  It totally leads to run-off rather than absorption of rainwater.  However, the run-off leads to my property and the closest portion isn’t paved.  Okay, so I may have partially made up for the increased carbon footprint that my decision caused.    I’m feeling a little better.

What did we get done this week?  Not as much as I had hoped.  Mitch was sick on Sunday.  He actually missed work on Tuesday.  It was rainy Sunday afternoon.  Mitch didn’t want me working when he didn’t feel like it, so we took the day off.  I finished an entire book.  Okay, it was easy reading.  A mystery.  There were a dozen other things I could have been doing.  Considering it had taken me three months to finish the previous book I was working on, having an entire day off was an amazing luxury.  Now, however, we are faced with probably the last whole weekend for the next 3 months.  That timeline, of course, puts us past the tour deadline.  We do have a longer period of daylight in the evening.  Any way you slice it, this is THE weekend to get the major projects done.  After this, it is all my husband’s efforts and small additions.  Can I get enough done in 2 days?  Do I even have a visual concept of what I want to accomplish?  I don’t really know.  What I do know is after I complete the major adjustments, I need to give myself enough warm days to see what my garden will become.  After that I’ll just have to add in annual color (kind of like cosmetics) to beef up the whole thing.  That’s doable. Once the bones are in place, I can adapt from there.  Wish me luck.

It’s also the weekend for the Chris Botti concerts.  I went to high school with him.  (Confession: I actually had a crush on him.  What was it about me and shy, soft-spoken, sometimes gay, men?)  Anyway, he’s back to perform this weekend.  Whatever I do in the garden, I’m going to be enjoying his music come Saturday night.

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      I love kale.  Especially dinosaur kale-the kale with a thousand names.  It is also called: Tuscan Kale, Black Kale, Italian Kale, Nero Tescano Kale, and Lacinato Kale.  Its leaves are beautifully dimpled and gorgeously blue-green. When I saute it, the color changes to a most enchanting emerald green.  It is so beautiful!  And so delicious. I like to saute it in olive oil with garlic.  Then I finish it off with Kirin rice wine and a little bit of sea salt.  Yum.  That’s what we had for dinner along with pork loin in a creamy-mustard sauce.  Very delicious.

      I so enjoy it when customers at my business select the same plants that I love.  Today, people purchased an abundance of yellow double primroses. I’d like to think it was my display idea.  However, I was trying to sell fertilizer and what I sold was primroses.  I guess a sale is a sale.  I’d pick the primroses over the fertilizer myself!

      What’s on my to do list for the weekend?  I’m hoping to plant groundcover and finish 1 enlarged bed and 2 reworked beds.  I need to have a planning meeting with my “consultants”.  That happens Thursday evening.  Hopefully, I’ll get lots of good ideas. I also have to fit a bike ride in as well.  Oh, and we’re signed up to attend Equinox in the Eola Amity Hills.  It could be a full weekend.  And I wonder why I have a hard time getting up in the morning.  Here I’m blaming it on daylight savings time, but maybe it’s just my schedule!  By the way, what is a normal schedule?

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Less is more

      Amazingly, my husband decided to remove a plant that I disliked but had thrived in its location.  Now he is ready to get rid of the leaking fountain that hasn’t run water in 2 years.   What happened?  I’m usually the one that races ahead with pruners or shovel in hand, gleefully eliminating those plants that don’t curry my favor.  And yet, I am also the one that has moved and babied a particular sweet violet for 3 years.  It finally spread and was blooming and my husband stomped on it during the renovation of our rose bed.  I can’t complain too much because he has worked so hard and the violet is still alive.  I’m simply noting that the tables have turned. 

     Mitch agreed to hire someone to complete the walkways around our garden.  Perhaps he is feeling his age.  It is much better to have a young, strong person to do the physical work.  The trade-off is that they never do it the way you would.  What we’re hoping for is acceptable results quickly.  We’ll see.  Right now it is halfway done.  Again, we’ll see.  There is so much more to do.  I am hoping that at the end of June, we can breathe a sigh of relief and enjoy the garden the rest of the summer!

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      Okay, everyone that has read this blog knows that my garden has been selected, potentially, to be on the June Albany Master Gardeners tour.  Oh the stress!  A long-time customer (and former design client) was out at the nursery and told me that she was on the tour.  I was so excited for her.  She also confided that she was very stressed about it.  What a relief!  I thought I was the only one that was stressed.  So good to know that I am in good company! 

      One of the advantages of growing up in the family I did is that I have very creative mentors and examples to follow.  My dad is a very creative landscape designer.  My brother is a very talented landscape architect.  Even my sister, who is not formally trained, is always a source of the newest and most creative.  The flip side is that everyone has an opinion about my landscape.  My job is to sort them out and meld them to my vision and my husband’s sensibilities.  I used to discount my husband’s opinions about our landscape, but that was wrong.  My husband has an artistic sentiment and has really good imput, really.  So I have learned to rely on him.  After all, it is “our” yard, and it should represent us.  Back to the family.  Everyone has an opinion.  On the other hand, I have an amazing access to free, quality advice.  Because they love me, I have at least 3 consultants.  Most people would pay hundreds of dollars for that.  The difference is that I am a trained and qualified designer.  Whose voice and artistic vision do I give credit to?  I have discovered that no matter what the suggestion, I need to reconcile it to my vision.  My brother is very Italianesque in his design.  My sister is along those lines.  My dad is very much repetition based.  I am very cottage garden based.  And my husband…he hates to throw any plant away.  However, after this weekend, I think I might be able to convince him.

      We have been trying to get ready for the official tour and interview for the Master Gardener tour.  We had a lot of work to complete before the ladies came to visit.  There will still be a lot to do after.  Do you realized how dirty, how really filthy, your outdoor living space can become?  Mitch has power-washed the fence. I have scrubbed the vinyl fence.  Whoever said low-maintenance in regard to a vinyl fence should be shot.  Scrubbing, power-washing, etc.  Ugh!  It’s a lot of work.  And then there were the patios.  The concrete is amazingly algae filled.  My husband, the incurable romantic that he is, power-washed around this heart-shaped dog water bowl we have.  So now our patio has 2 heart-shaped patterns and one that says “Mitch loves Brenda”. How could anyone complain about that? 

      Anyway, we got a lot done this weekend.  We planted everything I brought home minus 3.  They did not have a place to be planted until something else is removed.  Mitch single-handledly transplanted an oakleaf Hydrangea.  There had been debate as to where it should be transplanted.  However, since Mitch and my desire met with my Dad’s secondary suggestion, I still consider it a win.  Mitch strong-armed the fern that several people had said should go.  It almost broke him, but 3 segments of the fern are in the back end of his Jeep.  They await my dad, my sister and the nursery.  Our yard looks a lot cleaner than it did last week.  I am feeling a little more confident.  The new rose garden is planted.  It is hard to say what impact this will have.  We had a successful rose garden just a few months ago.  Granted, it was planted too close to the sidewalk and my husband regularly got hung up on the rose bushes.  Now it is redesigned.  I like it a lot.  We actually got one more rose in.  However, whether it looks like an improvement is all in the eyes of my visitors.  I just hope I pass muster. 

      More details on the remake of our rose garden.  I made sure to replant my favorites.  Peace and Ingrid Bergman were varieties that had to be accomodated.  Although I am mixed, I chose to keep Double Delight in the line-up.  It helped that I did not have to move the rose.  We went with  other favorites and suggested varieties for our zone.

      Gardening in the rain is not fun!  Perhaps my wet weather gear needs a revisiting.  Okay, definitely it needs a revisting.  I hate to work with my rain jacket on.  Actually, I hate to work with gloves on.  This weekend only proved it to be true.  I purchased 2 pairs of gloves and hardly used either one.  After the gardening, my hands were a mess.  So I will wear the gloves and get used to them.  I am fervently awaiting days with no rain, so I can work unimpeded of bulky layers of immovable plastic.

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What a wonderful day in the garden. It was quite a pleasant temperature and I dressed right. Two layers was sufficient. At my house, it only sprinkled briefly. Mitch and I were quite busy, finishing some tasks that should have been done in the fall and others that were perfectly timed. We enjoyed Oolong tea while pondering the rearrangement of our Rose garden. Regarding the tea, we became quite enamored witht the whole tea ritual when we visited the Chinese Gardens in Portland. It was around this time 2 or 3 years ago. We purchased the tea and a steeping cup. We later filled in with serving cups, one of which has gone missing, and a tea pot. I’m sure the neighborhood thought we were nuts, sitting in white plastic chairs near our garage sipping tea. Oh well, I imagine everyone knows we are crazy by now.
Tomorrow we finish raking the leaves in the back yard, scrub the vinyl fence, and prepare a new bed for planting.
Spring is in the air. At least it felt that way today.

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