Sunday, June 22, 2008

An Old Dog Learns Some New Tricks

I'm participating in Cloudscome's Garden Tour today and while I fully intend to inundate you with a number of garden shots (gardeners can be very tedious this way, can't they), I also want to make a note, mostly for myself, of some of the new things I've tried this year. I don't know about you, but I'm always thinking "Hmm, I need to remember this - this is a great idea" and then promptly forgetting about it.

First up: window box lettuce. Window boxes have always been a sort of bete noire for me: I love them, and I love having them bursting with bloom in front of the window, but in every house I've ever lived in (and I've moved around a fair bit) they have been near impossible to access decently. This house is no exception, and seeing as how it's the first house I've ever owned I feel compelled to change my relationship with the window boxes. The window boxes in this house are pretty high off the ground and one of them is so inaccessible that I've actually left it, just to spite itself (mature, aren't I). The other one, once the new windows were installed, is easier to get at, so, instead of planting something that I could deadhead and cosset continually, I planted lettuce and spring onions. I can't think why I didn't do it before. Now we just slide open the window, remove the screen, and pluck. Nice for impromptu sandwich preparation.

Next, I'm growing some of the celery plants in these terracotta drain tiles. And they are already 5" taller than their unprotected compatriots. I don't know if they will be blanched at all (I doubt it) but it will be interesting to see what colour they end up.

And here we have a drinking fountain for bees, butterflies, and other small, winged insects. No more tragedies of drowning in the birdbath for me. I lost 4 Mason bees in the spring this way and it was very sad.

You just fill a container with small rocks and some water, and if anyone loses their footing, they will have something to crawl onto. There is enough evaporation each day that mosquitoes won't be an issue.

Mulching. I bought a bale of straw and so far I've mulched the artichokes (pictured), the blueberries, marionberries, and raspberries, and all the tomato plants scattered about the garden. I haven't had to water as much and the weeds are down. Plus, Toffee has a lovely place to lie and preen. He even blends in with it. For some reason this convulses the kids, but then again, they think ANYTHING that cat does is hysterical. He can sneeze, or lift a leg, and they all shriek with simultaneous laughter and adoration.

Some new beds. I just finished this one yesterday - that's why it looks rather sparse. I took cardboard and newspaper, laid it on the ground (weed/grass block), and covered it with many many bags of soil, manure, and topsoil. This one is walled from seashore rocks we picked up on holiday last week (see here). Some people bring back postcards and tans, I bring back rocks. You can't tell from this photo, but most the rocks
are miracles of texture, colour, and mixtures. Some have bands of white, some are marbled green, some are red with granular white crystals, some have black and white blotches, some sparkle, some glisten, and all are incredible when wet (not a claim I can make, sadly).
This new bed is going to house our Butterfly Garden, which Max wants because he loves butterflies. We bought a new buddleia, ever-so-charmingly named Harlequin (varigated leaves). We also have some Jupiter's Beard, crocosmia, roses, and a lot of balloon flowers, just in case the anise swallowtails have picky eating habits.

This bed exists solely to showcase (well, one day it will) the two perennial fuchsias. One is named Alba and the other is called Genii (I think). A little artistic license in some driftwood and seashells and green rocks from last summer when I only collected green rocks.

I don't know if it was just a good year or if it had anything to do with all the kelp meal and fish fertilizer I heaped on them, but the strawberries are particularly sweet. Last night we dipped a few. And wonder of wonders but not a single word was uttered as they were eaten. Not even from FDPG. Now, that is a miracle.

Here is the vegetable patch from one end.

Some pansies. These overwintered - and have been blooming non-stop all spring.

Some alliums.

The Mason bee house, some lysimachia, balloon flowers, roses, some raspberries and a peach tree, all jammed into one walled area. Oh, almost forgot to mention the fig, tucked in at the right there.

Blueberries. I planted them only 5 weeks ago but one plant already looks loaded.

And finally, the lozenge bed from a different angle. You can't see the reason for its name at this angle but you can see the mock orange, the coriopsis, the centaurea, and the California poppies, among other things.

So that's my tour here at Greenridge. Enjoy your Sunday. I'm off to plant some huckleberries now.


writer2b said...

I'm wanting to write down every one of these ideas! Window box lettuce... The drown-proof bath... Everything!

My mother-in-law offered me some larger rocks to edge my flower garden, and I'm hoping they arrive soon. My border looks pretty tumbledown. Your pictures inspire me.

sheila said...

Oh, I envy you your rock source. Our budget doesn't extend to purchasing slate but I'd love to have a slate slab path. One day!

Cloudscome said...

You are giving us so many great ideas! I want to start some lettuce in a window box too, and other favorite herbs. And I love the idea of bringing rocks back from the sea! I always come home with a pocket full of pebbles. (easier to carry!)

Becky said...

That's a very attractive dish for your little drinking fountain. Is it china? I don't know that I'd expect anything less from you :)

Your garden is looking beautiful. The Wet Coast *does* have its advantages, though we have been wetter than usual here. Could just use a bit more warmth to go with it, though. Youngest child was just asking about celery, and I told him our season isn't long enough. Will have to show him your picture, and maybe we'll attempt it next year.

sheila said...

Thanks for the chance to do a garden tour, Cloudscome. I enjoyed it way more than I expected to. It's intriguing viewing one's garden with a view to a tour.

Yes, Becky, that IS china: Sally Ann china! Just call me Posh! (har har) I saw it the other day and was captivated by how beautiful it was. I always feel a little teary inside after I've been to 2nd hand stores, and seen all the formerly treasured possessions languishing for $1.49. That's what this dish cost. Plus, the beach rocks look better when wet, so it serves a dual purpose.

LOUISE said...

I like your great ideas. I don't bother growing lettuce because of the slugs but this window box method may keep them out. I also love the idea of using different types of containers for holding plants too. Is that bowl you are using for the bath an antique! We are inundated with mosguitoes in our garden, I have lost count of how many bites I have had already this year. I am mulching some of my beds, the watering really does get tiresome. My dad brings back rocks from his travels. I often pop down to our beach on my bike to gather up a carrier bag of seaweed for the compost heap! I have lots of strawberries, I think it must be a good year for them. I can tell your fingers are very green, your vegetable patch looks full of produce, more than can be said about mine this year! x