Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sunday's Thought

After two weeks of two funerals, one unexpected with the man being too young and the other one for a woman who lived a full life to the age of 101, I've learned one thing, or maybe I should say I've been reminded of one thing.

In the Christian life, just as in anyone else's, things are not always perfect and don't always go your way.  Your life is no different than anyone else's except that you have Christ as your Savior. You go through trials, temptations, loss, the whole nine yards and then some more sometimes.

What one of the greatest gifts from God to me as a Christian, that I have come to understand in my later years of life is a "peace that passes all understanding."

"And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." -Philippians 4:7 [ESV Study Bible]

Whenever a loss, struggle or some negative issue has come up in my life, I've noticed this peaceful quiet within myself.  This isn't to say, I don't cry or grieve at a loss or struggle with a problem but it is to say that a peace which does "pass all understanding" is there to get me through it all.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Budgeting and Planning 2

The idea behind budgeting and planning is that since money may not be available to do a complete makeover for your yard or gardens, you plan what you'd like your yard or gardens to be when finish and work towards it over the next few years.  Basically, you garden in planned sections.  By planning and budgeting, you can save yourself headaches. unnecessary labor, and expenses.

Curb Appeal: In my last post, I mentioned curb appeal but I need to a few more considerations before moving on to another topic.

"Grape Hyacinth in the Midst"
During the planning process where you decide which area of your garden to begin work first, you need to consider the requirements of your Homeowners Association. Are there requirements for maintaining your yard and gardens a specific way?  For me, there's not much required, except, maintain grass at a certain level, no weeds, any statues, birdbaths, birdhouses and the like, get prior approval before putting them in.

Remember this area not only improves the look of your home to your neighbors, but it can improve the value of your home.  And, I always love coming home and seeing a beautiful yard.

Container Gardening: This has become one of my favorite aspects of gardening too.  I started container gardening because I have a dog which loves to get into stuff.  And, I found many unique annuals and perennials which if I had planted them in the garden, they might not survive!!

I took a 10' X 10' area of my backyard and created a Container Garden.  It quickly became an area of creativity for me which I developed a passion.

In my next post I will write more about Container Gardening.  Have you done any Container Gardening?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sunday's Thought

"Red and Purple Tulips"

[66:1] Shout for joy to God, all the earth;
[2] sing the glory of his name;
give to him glorious praise!
[3] Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
So great is your power that your enemies come cringing to you.
[4] All the earth worships you
and sings praises to you;
they sing praises to your name.” Selah
Psalm 66:1-4 [ESV Study Bible]

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Planning and Budgeting

Since I love to garden, when I moved into my single family house, I quickly learned that I had a huge chore ahead to make the property look great.  

I spent quite a bit of time drawing out my plans on graph paper, re-designing, re-writing and re-drawing.  Since I am not the wealthiest man on the planet and there are other things I need to do, such as eat so I can write this blog, I divided my garden plans into sections for planting and budgeting purposes.

"Shasta Daisy"
Wildlife Gardening:  Since I love this type of gardening, I set this as my first priority.  I spent time putting my details into the plans and got several people to help me to build it.  Using a piece of property 60 feet wide and 15 feet deep, I put in a dry stream bed for drainage and built up the other areas for planting.  In this area, I used native plants, a birdbath and several bird houses.  

Curb Appeal 101: Every home needs curb appeal.  The gardens are often what gets a buyers attention and can either make or break the beauty of your home.  

I began this project carefully.  I didn't want to spend a lot of money on this at first, because other areas of the property were more important to me.  However, knowing the truth of the first paragraph in this section, I budgeted some money for a few plants like "May Night and Snow Cap Salvias" as well as some annuals like petunias and marigolds.  Keeping the grass cut and edged while adding these plants improved the curb appeal quite abit. 

It's really a simple process.   Dream.  Draw and Design.  Budget. Plan.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Planning Your Garden

When I bought my house, the yard was full of weeds with very little landscaping  done.  One area looked great but the rest was in dire need of attention.  I loved it.  This meant that I would not be tearing out someone else's work to do my own.  And, not that I object to that but if it had been a professionally landscaped yard, I would not have done it.

I moved into the house in late June.  In this area, that's too late to start working or creating a garden unless you have plenty of free time to keep on top of the watering and other maintenance.   The weather here in Virginia can get really hot and humid.  Since I am one of these who has to get outside in the warm weather, I planted a few annuals to spruce up the property.

"Black-Eyed Susans"
I quickly discovered my first summer that lawn mowing was a huge task and I needed to cut it back.  Since I had created a wildlife garden at my previous house, that was the plan here.

During the later part of the summer and into the fall, I began planning the gardens in my yard. Using graph paper, I tried to draw my plans to scale.  I included all the permanent structures on the property such as the house, air conditioning unit, the deck and a rutted area where an old swing set used to be.

Then I drew out my dream gardens. a wildlife garden in the back of the yard, raised beds around the house and deck, a container garden where the swing set was, a hummingbird garden and a makeover for curb appeal in the front yard.  Included in the drawing were plants and where I wanted them to go.

The next step of planning was determining what kind of plants I wanted and where should they go.  I decided native plants would be used as much as possible but especially in the wildlife garden.  Whenever I found some unique plants, they would be planted in the the container garden (more on in another post).  

The final stage was to plan how I could accomplish the dream gardens.  Can I afford to spend thousands of dollars now?  Or should I do it over a period of a few years or so.

Budget and time were the two main factors influencing my decision to create the gardens in sections.  I didn't have the money to create all at once nor the time either. The wildlife garden would be where I started, followed by the container garden.  Further, this allowed me to spread the work over a few years adding to my fun of creating a garden for the next few years.

How do you plan your gardens?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Sunday's Thought - Mother's Day

As I thought about what to write today, I have mixed emotions with those thoughts.  My mother passed away in February 2011, so many thoughts of her are going through my mind.

The most important thought is to be sure to:

[12] “Honor your father and your mother, that your days
may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. -Exodus 20:12 [ESV Study Bible]

"Tulips for Mom"
I have always understood this Scripture to remain love and respect your parents.  You may not agree with them, but you must love, respect and honor them.  After all, they brought you into this world and have loved you from the first second of your life.

You've probably heard this said from someone along the way, if not directly from your mother, but it's something I highly recommend.   Take the time NOW to be with your mother.  Go visit her.  Call her. Do something with her. Send flowers.  Send a card for no reason at all.  I might add "before it's too late!"  And, I don't mean this to be a doomsday thing or negative or trite, but it is one of the most important things you can do with your mother.  Take time.

Before my mother became ill, which eventually lead to a stroke and her passing away, we spent countless hours gardening, laughing (many times at something so silly!), having pizza, and countless other things.  On my wedding day, she was so proud and happy.  These are memories of her I won't forget.   And, I am very thankful I spent the time creating the memories because in her stroke, she got to where she didn't know me and I wasn't always the most welcomed guest to her hospital room.  Difficult as it was, stressful too, I remembered the memories of Mom.

Her death in 2011 wasn't any easier than it was for anyone else.  I had not only lost a Mother, but a dear friend.  Memories of life with her, are so valuable and play over and over in my mind.  Days like today are difficult because I miss her.  I wish she could be here when they honor the Mother's at church this morning.  She can't.  But, I have great memories of the many times she was and the influence she had on me.

I didn't go out in life to create memories of mom for the day she passes or so that I would feel less guilty after her death.  I honored my mother with time.  Respect and love!!

I would appreciate reading about your Mother's Day experiences.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Sunday's Thought


Blessed are You, Lord God of Israel, our 
Father, forever and ever.
Yours, O Lord, is the greatness,
The power and the glory,
The victory and the majesty;
For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours;
Yours is the kingdom, O Lord,
And You are exalted as head over all
 -1  Chronicles 29:10-11

Friday, May 4, 2012

Friday's Foto

Starsisters Dahlia
I started buying some of my annuals for this year's planting.  I used to plant almost a 100 or more, literally, or at least it felt like it.   Over the past few year's, I've changed many of those to perennials, particularly native plants with a bent towards wildflowers.  Saves money, time and work.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Photographs from Landing on Cloudy Water

I am welcoming a guest blogger to share with you today.  Emily Brisse is a writer, teacher, traveler, and lover of all-things-outdoors. The natural world is where she most often seeks inspiration, and she writes about and photographs what she finds there at Landing on Cloudy Water.

The following photographs were taken at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.
"Sun on Snow Petals"
"She Blossomed Early"

"For You"
"Dandelion Wine"


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Unique Use of Tools In the Garden

"Spring's Yellow Crocuses"
One of the challenges in Spring, and sometimes throughout the Summer season too, is weeding.  It's not my favorite chore, but I kind of like doing it because of the final outcome.  Once you are finished, the area is really beautiful and your garden has a finished look to it.

While reading one of my gardening magazines several years ago, I forget exactly which one but it was probably my favorite Garden Gate,, I read a tip from a reader about weeding that I use frequently.  

Get a pair of needle nose pliers. Open the pliers at the base of the weed's root (or as far down as you can easily get) and squeeze gently. Now, pull ever so slowly to bring the weed out.  Don't yank!  Most of the time, this will bring the weed, roots and all out.  Obviously, this works better when the ground is wet from a recent rain. It takes a few more minutes than just pulling the weed out, but it usually gets rid of that weed.  

One final step:  If you borrowed your husbands needle nose pliers to do this job, be sure to put them back to keep him happy.  OOPS!!  Also, clean off the dirt.

Do you have any tips for gardening using tools you might not normally use in the garden or you'd use for other tasks around the house?