Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Try, Try, and Try Again- Don't Do as I Do!

Do you have spots in your yard where grass doesn't grow well? A spot that stays a bit soggy in the winter?  We have such a spot next to the driveway near the garage. My desire to have a sitting space in this part of the yard led us to decide to put in a rustic flagstone patio. Step one- dig out the area to give room for the flagstones to be level with the surrounding yard. We also put down a weed barrier, pinned down with some long nails.  

Step two- have the flagstones ready to place... sort of a dry fit.

Step three- sand to level the area and give the stones a base for nestling in.

Step four- place the uneven natural stones in a pattern to form the patio.

Hmm, too much space between the stones, move them closer.

Step back and access the work.

Step five- brush more sand over the stones to fill the gaps. 

More sand, the stones were so irregularly shaped, it wasn't easy to get the tops even enough as to not have a trip factor.

Step six- my plan was to plant mosses in the cracks- make it a little green. Some moss was purchased and some was harvested in other spots in my garden.

After watering the mosses well, we called it done....until it wasn't. We had a big rainstorm and the run-off from the driveway washed out a lot of the sand. 

Wash, rinse, repeat....time to pull all stones out, put the sand in a holding area and try again.

I tried to pull the seams closer, making the spaces smaller. 

Decided to mulch between the seams, mulch being heavier than the sand.

I did save some of the mosses and replanted them.

I liked how it looked. Lots of heavy work, moving those flagstones on and off the patio area...multiple times. Aughhh

Then it rained again. Time to change course. See all the sand that washed out again? 

We used a product that will harden and form a stronger surface, Gator Dust. Did we follow all the instructions on how to do a patio? No. It started as a flagstone area that would have the stones set into the soil like you would place a pathway, cutting one stone in at a time. Our plans changed a number of times over the course of a couple months as we regrouped -- I just wanted a spot to set a chair and enjoy this part of the garden. I didn't want it perfect and uniform- just wanted a hard surface without trip factors and no stones that rocked loose when stepped upon. 

We left it as is. The stones don't move, most of the tops of the stones are even with the ones next to them and the cracks are still filled. Then we got a puppy.... who liked to pull all mosses out of the cracks. Rotten dog.

Onward to the next project. Many of you remember the dry creek bed we put in summer of 2016,  if not you can read about it here.  Well, we had a lot of these baked potato sized rocks leftover. I did another hardscape project with some and now it was time to use more. Poor planning left these rocks at the bottom of the yard. They are piled up behind a garden at the 445 feet above sea level spot in the new lot. The place I wanted to use them is up by the front door...about 468 feet above sea level. I do not have a level lot. 
So, I filled my little red wagon with enough rocks to cover the bottom and proceeded to pull the now very heavy wagon up the hill. I made this trip six times. 

The spot to fill is along the sidewalk. This is a spot where the older dog runs out the front door and stops to do his business. Nothing was growing, so it was time to do something else. Our first plan was just mulch, a semi-level spot so we didn't have too much wash out. What we do have though is a puppy. She liked my mosses, and now she has learned the fine art of digging. The mulched area was an ideal spot to use those big moose-like paws and dig. I covered the area with the potato rocks around the few stepping stones placed earlier to make getting  to the yard earlier. I think it looked pretty good. 

See the evil little dog watching me from the shade of the Magnolia tree? She likes to watch and see what I am doing in the garden, what she can undo.

I no sooner went in and she started digging again. She thinks those potato sized rocks are a good size to play with. Oh please let her grow out of this phase. I have since added twice as many rocks to this spot. She is digging less. She is now a little over a year old and getting better every day. She is an 80 lb. 15 month old German Shepherd pup. Liebling.

More projects to share soon. I feel as though much of this gardening year was redoing something Liebling had torn up. 

©Copyright 2017 Janet. All rights reserved. Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford. words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Hi Again, It's Me

As the temperatures get closer to overnight frosts in the Upstate of South Carolina, I thought I would share some of my fall blooms. Many are volunteers in the woods along the driveway. Others, as this Cyclamen are planted little jewels that pop up at a time where your eye looks for some color in the garden.

Cyclamen hederifolium

I let this little cutie reseed in various parts of the garden. If it isn't in a good spot, I have no qualms about 'weeding' it out. Who doesn't like a nice little yellow bloom?

Hypericum hypericoides

Another fall color in my garden is a bit of a mystery. I bought a flowering crab-apple a number of years ago, variety 'Golden Hornet'. Spring blooms- white with pink sepals- check. Green leaves- check. Yellow fruit- um, no. As this season has progressed the fruit is turning deeper and deeper red. I guess in the big scheme of life it doesn't really matter, I am glad it is producing fruit, just a little confusing.

Malus 'Golden Hornet'

Another volunteer in the woods is a tiny purple/lavender bloom. I have a thick stand of it near my well 'rock'. It is known as panicled-leaf tick-trefoil, its seeds stick to animals and people, they are the little triangular seeds- you've seen them. You probably had to pick them off your socks and pant legs.

Desmodium paniculatum var. paniculatum

Another planted beauty comes from my friend Julie Adolf, of Garden Delights. A white toad lily with a kiss of lavender on the tips of its petals and a yellow spot in the throat. Fall bloomers are so nice to have in the garden, sadly the bunnies also love them.

Tricyrtis latifolia

Putting on a good show this year is my black leafed Crape Myrtle. It took a few years for it to really shine. The beautiful dark leaves and this pure red bloom are a nice combination.

Black Diamond Crimson Red

A few fun native blooms popping up in the fall include this Sida, said to be edible (though I would not recommend anyone eating anything unless you know for sure what it is and it is safe). Some of my reading says this is a shrub, though in my yard it is a small woody forb.  A common name is Wire-weed. Doesn't sound appetizing does it?

More yellows in the fall include various Goldenrods and Goldenasters. The pollinators love these!

And finally, a repeat bloomer from early spring, the lovely "Lemon Pledge" fragranced bloom of the Magnolia. I love every stage of this bloom, from tight bud, ready to pop- to the seed pod of a spent bloom with its bright red seeds emerging from the pod. If you are in a zone that can handle Magnolias- plant one- you won't be sorry.

Magnolia grandiflora 'Little Gem'

©Copyright 2017 Janet. All rights reserved. Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford. words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Winter Walk-Off 2017, Spoiler Alert -- There are Snakes

Hard to believe it is that time again, time for the Winter Walk-Off, a blog meme sponsored by my friend Les at A Tidewater Gardener. The rules are the same as last year, and all previous years-- Powered under your own two feet, explore your area and photograph it. No photos of your own garden. Post your walk and link back to Les' blog. His post is here, so you can read the fine details. Participants have a chance to win one of two prizes. I can attest to the fact that the prizes are pretty nice. 

So on with our walk. Last year, well really a year ago Thanksgiving, we started walking. I mentioned my daily steps last year in my Walk-Off post.  Last year my daily goal was 11,000 steps a day. I increased my goal to 12,500 sometime this winter. A daily walk, regardless of the weather, is good for you. I am so glad we walk, though there are days where I am not as motivated as others. 

Our neighborhood street, heavy traffic

 As we walked today, I noticed how early all the trees are budding and some are blooming. This is the time of year where I like seeing the pears. The white blooms are pretty, but what a weedy, thorny, invasive, weak-wooded tree.

The Houstonia sp., Quaker Ladies or Little Bluets, are blooming now. We have a couple different varieties. H. caerulea and H. pusilla are the most common.

Such sweet little blooms

As I said, we walk, the 'we' being my husband and I with our dogs. This past October we got a new puppy, my husband is walking her in this photo. Liebling is a German Shepherd. She will be 6 months old on Thursday. To see more puppy pictures, check out my Flickr link on the sidebar.

Here she is with our older dog, Skyler. He is thirteen years old and still active. Today we walked to our neighborhood gazebo- a longer walk than what we have done since getting Liebling, about 4 miles round trip. 

More early bloomers are the vines native to our area, Carolina Jessamine, Gelsemium sempervirens. It usually blooms a month or so later.  

Another tree blooming is the Winged Elm, Ulmus alata. Rather a scruffy tree, but with the 'winged' appendages it is quite sculptural.  

I hadn't planned on taking photos for this post today until I encountered this little guy--
The warm weather has the frogs singing and the snakes emerging. This is the first snake of the season for us. All photos for this post were taken with my cell phone!

Brown Snake
Kind of scary looking right? Not really. He is tiny. Brown Snakes are not large snakes but good to have in the garden. With all the voles we have in our garden, I welcome each and every snake! To read more about the Brown Snake, this website has some great information- Savannah River Ecology Laboratory. After our photo shoot I moved him off the road so he won't have a mishap with a passing car.

See, not that big!
Hope you enjoyed our little stroll. Go over to A Tidewater Gardener to see where Les walked and the others who are joining the Winter Walk-Off 2017.

©Copyright 2017 Janet. All rights reserved. Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford. words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.