Native Garden Project Finished- Woohoo!!

I had a date this morning – with 40 bags of Grade A cedar mulch.  Fortunately I didn’t have to tackle it alone.  My husband opened and poured while I raked and spread.

Just to recap………

This is what we started with about 6 weeks ago.

This is what we started with about 6 weeks ago.

Next came a back wrenching day with the sod cutter that gave us this….

After setting border

After setting border

Then the native plants were in place and the soaker hose laid down….

The trial run was a success.  Even, drippy moisture.

The trial run was a success. Even, drippy moisture.

And today- ta da!!!- mulch!!

The plants are young and it was almost impossible to get the 3" depth the landscaper suggested.  And we should have evened up the surface a little more.

The plants are young and it was almost impossible to get the 3″ depth the landscaper suggested. And we should have evened up the surface a little more.

Here are a couple of closeups….

Goldenrod

Goldenrod

Ozark Bluestar

Ozark Bluestar

Here is the complete list of natives we planted: purple muhly grass, prairie rose, hibiscus, penstemon, goldenrod, coneflower, blue sage, joe pye, bergamot, beautyberry, false indigo, Ozark bluestar and prairie blazing star.  And of course, an Eastern redbud tree.  I don’t expect any blooms this year, but everything is still healthy after being in the ground almost two weeks.

So…..on to the next project.  No rest of the wicked.  Since we still had a LITTLE energy left after laying the mulch, we cleaned the old mulch and inches of spilled birdseed out of the old beds next to the patio and spread mulch on them.  Oh, did I mention that we only used 29 of the 40 bags.  There was no way we could have used them all – and I cut down the number from the 50 the landscaper told me to buy.  Then around to the front yard where I planted this is my grandmother’s old washpot.

I lovethe tall Spike in the middle.  Behind it is aspargus ferns, Black Dragon for contrast, impatients and Moneywort.

I love the tall Spike in the middle. Behind it is aspargus ferns, Black Dragon for contrast, impatients and Moneywort.

My husband cut the seat out of this old chair in the large bed in the front.  I zip-tied a basket with coconut husk liner, but ran out of potting soil.  I’m not sure what I’m going to plant in it.  There’s  not much to choose from for shade plants.

IMG_1070

This should be really nice with plants “growing” out of the seat.

Speaking of potting soil, I’ve never really found one I like that will hold moisture.  I found this at Organics OKC.  Pricey, but hopefully worth it.

IMG_1073

Lots of good stuff in it. Should have for $18 a bag.

I’m off to email my native plant images to Habitat Hero in Colorado.  Although Oklahoma doesn’t have a local chapter, they are interested in native gardens everywhere.  Susan J. Tweit is one of the founders.  She’s been my inspiration.

So,what else is on the list….vacuum, clean bathrooms (ugh), laundry, fresh sheets on the bed, work on baby quilt….refill tea glass, lay down, turn on Netflix, watch episode of Foyle’s War.  Yeah, I like that list better :).

Simple blessings to all!

 

 

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The Natives Make Me Restless

Forty-five native Oklahoma plants were delivered yesterday! Forty-five!!!!  Guess I lost my head a little. Now to get them in the ground. Feeling just a little overwhelmed and restless to get out there in this gorgeous weather.  It’s an absolutely wonderful day out there – light breeze (okay, so its windy, but after all, this is spring in Oklahoma) sunshine, perfect temps.

Wild bergamot, goldenrod, and friends

Wild bergamot, goldenrod, and friends

Climbing Prairie Rose, Hibiscus, Muhly Grass

Climbing Prairie Rose, Hibiscus, Muhly Grass

Didn’t realize the Prairie Rose was the climbing variety.  Will have to re-think a location for it.  I guess I will have to wait until the irises bloom and wither, then remove some of them and plant the rose to climb up the post of the pergola.  The challenge will be keeping them alive in their plastic pots for a while.

Can’t wait to see the new bed finished.  Got the False Indigo planted last night before it got too dark to see what I was doing.

Okay, back to work.  Have a simple kind of day!

 

Nature Around Us

“We can grow closer to a place and the life that inhabits it, by deciding to do so.  To paraphrase an old song: If you can’t be with the land you love, love the land you’re with.”

Richard Louv, The Nature Principle

It’s a cold sunny morning and I’m home because my office has closed due to slick and hazardous driving conditions.  Yee – haa! A three day weekend – I’ll take it, thank you very much.

I’ve been reading Richard Louv’s The Nature Prinicple, and while I’ve skimmed past a lot of the scientific studies – the first seven chapters – it has finally struck a cord.  He encourages those of us in urban settings to learn to observe nature around us. So many people think – and I’ll confess I’ve long been one of them- that natural beauty can only be found at the end of a long drive to the wilderness or a nature preserve.  For us, that would be anywhere from 10 to 16 hours in the car to our beloved New Mexico or Colorado mountains.  But, Louv says, there is wildlife all around us in our URBAN dwelling places, that by merely being more observant of what bird, plant and animal species dwell in close proximity, we might be surprised at what we find.

This is what greeted me when I opened my kitchen curtain this morning.  Lovely little bird tracks in the snow.

adjusted tracks

And this is what greeted the birds.

adjusted feeder

You can see where one little sparrow tried to find the bird feed under the 2″ of snow in the feeder.  Must be good stewards of the nature around us, so I cleaned out the snow while our cat kept vigil at the back door.  She SO wanted out to play with the birds.

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I’m so glad we bought the mesh-bottomed feeders. Most of the snow just fell through the holes as I stirred it.  Only the largest pieces are left, but the sun will melt those soon enough.  And this is the sound that greeted my ears when I went out.

I even heard a woodpecker hard at work in a nearby tree.  This is my reward.  Birds lining up on the fence to take a run at the feeder, a bright red cardinal on one feeder and a bluejay on the other.

       Blue JayIMG_0231

The good life doesn’t get much simpler than this.

Time to Start Planning that Garden!

Just when I’m about to cave in under the gloomy gray skies, the leafless brown dryness of the landscape and the cold air, a small promise of spring opens its sleepy eyes.  It’s that time of year – time to start planning for the vege patch! 

Last year my husband and I spent several weekends in back breaking work building three raised garden beds.  He hammered and sawed while I hauled load after load of garden soil from the local supplier.  (Sidenote from the Voice of Experience: when approaching a downhill 4-way stop with a new pickup fully loaded with soil, apply pressure to the brake pedal well in advance of the normal time.  A fully loaded brand new pickup will roll well into the intersection before coming to a complete stop if extra time is not allowed for the function.  You may not be as fortunate as I was in this situation in that there were no other cars around!) Okay, back to the subject.  🙂   After building the beds, I spent several more hours sifting the compost pile I had been lovingly adding to all winter.  It was actually very therapeutic and I’m looking forward to it this year.    Mix it all together and viola!  Lots of lettuce – lots and lots and lots of lettuce, way too much swiss chard, but then not enough okra or purple hull peas. 

I will take the lessons learned from last year and redirect my efforts for another season.  I will plant not near as much lettuce; swiss chard is completely out; add some spinach; move the onions to a different bed; try cilantro this year; only 3 tomato plants instead of 6; try growing the squash on supports where it will hopefully climb instead of taking over every inch of space in its path; an entire 8′ foot bed for okra and a split bed of cowpeas and black beans; peppers in two whiskey barrel planters; no sweet potatoes this year. 

So, I have just ordered my seeds from Baker Creek  Heirloom Seeds in Missouri.  As much as I believe in buying from local sources, there is only one heirloom seed source here I have found and the selection is very small.  You’d think in a city this size…..how many times have I said that about a whole host of things?  I will try them for my black bean seeds.  I started to order them online but the shipping was literally 3 times as much as the seed itself and I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.  So, my black bean seeds may not be organic – oh, well.

I ordered a garden planner from the Food Co-op this month.  Its supposed to have a lot of good information and space to record information year to year.  I really need to start doing this if I am going to be successful in this venture. 

This is also the time of year that the old yearning returns – the yearning for a more spacious living environment (in the outdoor sense).  The yearning to be out in nature.  I guess it comes from being cooped up for going on 3 months now.  I want a buffer of some land between me and the neighbors, I want to raise some chickens (or do I?  they’re awfully messy), I want to work only part-time and actually have the time to decide about raising chickens – in other words, I want a simpler life.  I want to get away from the city and the traffic and the noise.  So, I guess that’s what planning my garden represents to me.  The chance to get outdoors more, even if it is only the backyard. 

Which brings to mind another project: this year we MUST MUST MUST build a cover over the patio.  Our backyard is on the west side of the house.  We cut down two hugely overgrown intrusive trees last year to make way for the garden, but the price we paid was extreme heat beating down on our patio and into our kitchen.  My husband has a plan for the covering, but it is just a matter of getting up the energy to do it.  Hopefully, the first warm weekend come April will be the inspiration we need! 

In the meantime, I’ll keep dreaming of getting my hands into that compost pile and the fresh food to come!

Keep it simple.

Bye Bye Geese – Hello Spring

 

Took this image off the internet.  This is how my tree looks full of white fluffy stuff.

Took this image off the internet. This is how my tree looks full of white fluffy stuff.

Well, its official.  Spring has arrived in Oklahoma.  It will be 88 today – yes, warm for March – BUT the wind will be sweeping down the plains in all its fury.  25-40 mph predicted for today. 

Sign of spring #2 – our Bradford pear tree is in bloom.  A beautiful sight.  I attempted to take a picture of a blossom cluster before breakfast this morning to share with you BUT the wind was sweeping down the plain and the stupid branch would not sit still.  I tried to hold it with my hand, but then got a nice shot of my hand in the image and I was too hungry and running too late to keep trying. So I snatched off the Internet.  I REALLY have to figure out this new alarm clock.  Some mornings I can push the snooze 3 or 4 times.  Mornings like today it only goes off twice and then I fall back asleep waiting for number 3 and before I know it, its 6:30!   That is just wrong!  A person should be able to depend on being able to get another 27 minutes of sleep in those precious 9 minute intervals without fail!  By the way, who’s idea was it to make the between snooze interval NINE minutes?!?  How about an even 10!  Okay, I’m rambling now.

Sign of spring #3.  While letting the dog out to potty – for the THIRD time since we went to bed last night – a huge flock of Canadian geese sang me a farewell song as they headed straight north.  For some reason, the honking song of flying geese is one of my favorite sounds in nature (along with singing crickets and chirping birds – but buzzing cicadas drive me nuts!)  Anyway, I don’t know why, but the goose-in-flight thing has always brought me comfort.  I know this will sound silly to some and make perfect sense to others, but once when I was really praying hard about something in the car on the way to work, this huge flock of geese flew overhead honking their heads off.  It was like God was saying, “I’m here.  I hear you.  I’m in control.  You can trust me.”  So now every time I see and hear a flock of geese, I smile and remember that God is in control and no matter what comes our way, He will provide for our needs.  This morning’s viewing was a “Good morning!” from above and a reminder that nature has its cycles, that everything is right on schedule and that no matter how bad the financial news or no matter how upsetting it is to read that Monsanto controls our food supply, God is in control and if I trust Him, he will lead us up the path we’re supposed to be on. 

Keep the faith and keep life simple.