Gardening Baby Steps

I started writing this post last Monday. Now six days later, on Sunday, I’m composing this first sentence. I got only so far as to think of a title for the post. I’ll be inside most of today as the ‘good weather’ of the past week has finally reversed (as so often happens during springtime on the Great Plains). As I look out my home office window, the trees and lawns wax verdant. My mail box flower garden sports a single red Dahlia bloom while the Gazanias sleep in.

Sunday morning view out my home office window (looking southeast down Fawn Valley)

My front yard drama I’ll cover in a separate post that will become a review, possibly scathing, of a local lawn and landscape company. But I will not mar this post with dark brooding thoughts.

Over the past few days, I’ve planted a Dahlia, four Gazanias and sixteen moss roses (also known as Portaluca). I bought a bag of mulch but I had so many moss roses I’m not sure I can squeeze in the mulch between all these plants. All of this in half my flower garden on the south side of my mail box. The north side is still dominated by my two robust day lily plants. I had two on the south side but that bed was damaged sometime in the last year or two and I’ve lost one of the day lilies and the remaining one is small and stressed. At the end of this year, I’ll probably completely redo this flower bed, put in new soil and find some different perennials, leaving some space for annuals to switch out next year.

Click on photo of the Gazania to see my Flowers and Herbs photo album, updated frequently with new photos.
Continue reading “Gardening Baby Steps”

Lunch Walk Sponsored by Spring Flowers

May has been like April was supposed to be – full of showers.  And all that rain is preventing me from taking refreshing lunch time walks (otherwise, I end up walking in circles in the bottom of the parking garage where there’s no signal, no sunshine and no spring flowers).  Thursday saw a break in the clouds (sort of) and I walked east a couple of blocks to visit the Kauffman Memorial Gardens.  I took several photos and didn’t get much walking done for 5-10 minutes.  More like a stroll through the park (click on photo to see the rest of the album).

Lunch Walk Sponsored by Spring Flowers
Busy Bee at the Kauffman Memorial Gardens (click photo for rest of album)

Hope you have a great weekend!

Places to Avoid Walking During My Lunch Break

This year for Mother’s Day my kids bought me a Fitbit Flex. I got it setup late last week and have gradually increased my walking, both at home during the evenings and at work over part of my lunch hour.

Flush creek as seen while walking at lunch on Mon 5/12/2014Monday I headed out of my building and eventually ended up along the banks of Brush Creek (sometimes referred to as Flush Creek), which flows east along the south side of the Country Club Plaza.  As you can see from the photo above, I will most likely NOT be retracing my steps on this route in the near future.

Continue reading “Places to Avoid Walking During My Lunch Break”

Revamping Our Mailbox Flowerbed

I am the first to admit that I do not have a green thumb.  Nearly every plant I’ve ever been given as a gift, unless it’s a cactus, has died.  This makes no sense, since I grew up in a farming community and helped my parents maintain a vegetable garden as a child.  Plants and I just don’t get along.

Four years ago, I decided ten years of neglect to the flowerbed hiding under our mailbox was enough.

What a mess! Ten years of accumulated neglect. (May 2009)

I enlisted Rachelle’s assistance (she’ll tell you I drafted her) in removing the weeds and ground covering shrubs.

Rachelle wrestling the shrub.

Eventually, we got down to dirt.  We visited a local nursery, where I bought four pots of already blooming day lilies.  Rachelle dug the holes and got them transplanted to the flowerbed.  We mulched it and I kept my fingers crossed.

Two years later, on Rachelle’s birthday, the day lilies were having a celebration.

Day Lilies Blooming on Rachelle’s Birthday (June 2011)

Three months later, Terry and I decided to have the driveway torn out and completely replaced.   During the winters, it became nearly impossible to shovel it:

Driveway Before Tear-Out (Aug 2011)

During the tear-out, the southern portion of the mailbox flower bed was damaged, hurting one of the day lily bunches.

Driveway Destruction (Aug 2011)

Last year, thanks to the drought, I didn’t do much of anything with landscaping or with our yard.  The grass seed we planted (and which thrived during the Spring of 2012), died and my front yard looked awful.  This year, we replanted grass seed again, over a larger portion of the front and side yards and thankfully we’ve gotten plenty of rain.

Terry tore out the remaining landscape timbers a couple of months ago. We hauled that off to the dump during the city’s annual spring cleaning initiative. My dad provided some used landscaping bricks he wanted to remove from his backyard.

Earlier this week, we were at Home Depot and I saw an orange lily I thought would look great with the almost-ready-to-bloom day lilies.  We bought two of them and planted them Wednesday evening:

Day Lilies BloomingAs you can see from the photo above, I installed the landscaping bricks along the front of the mailbox at the same time.

Yesterday, Terry and I visited a local nursery and picked up two large pots of cone flowers and three flats of moss roses to add to the flowerbed.  I spent an hour or two digging a shallow trench for the landscaping bricks and got them installed before the sun set.

making progeess under the mailboxThis afternoon, Terry dug two large holes to plant the cone flowers and I plugged a few of the moss roses around the front of the bed.

Done Digging
All that’s left is mulch. (click image to view rest of album)

Now, all I can do is pray that they’ll continue to thrive, despite my history with plants.

Pleasant Evening Stroll with Apollo and Spring Flowers

For the first time in nearly a month, Apollo and I took a pleasant evening stroll around our neighborhood.  I didn’t get much exercise, as I became easily distracted by all the beautiful blooming spring flowers and trees.  The temperature stayed in the 70s and the sky remained cloudless as the sun dipped toward the western horizon.

Flowers with Apollo
Flowers with Apollo (click for rest of album)

The forecast for the next couple of days, however, predicts more rain, so Apollo and I may not get out and about until later this week.

Terry and I also visited our local Home Depot to purchase a replacement day lilly (for the one lost to the driveway re-construction a year or so ago) and a couple of new flowers to add to the bed around the mailbox. As soon as the day lillies bloom, I’ll snap some photos and share them here.

Windy Earth Day Walk

Windy and cloudy
Windy and cloudy

I waited until almost noon before taking Apollo on our weekly extra long Sunday walk.  Since I woke up in the middle of the night to watch some of the meteor shower, I slept a couple of hours past when I normally wake up.  With a brisk north wind blowing in clouds, I also delayed the walk in the vain hope the temperature would rise. I wiled away the morning recording the first two races of the F1 2012 season to DVD and reading a couple of books.  I wrote a couple of short blog posts as well.  Once Terry woke up, I left with Apollo, leaning into the stiff northwest wind.  I needed to reinforce Apollo’s training, so I placed the pinch collar on him.  I could immediately tell the difference.  Apollo did not want to pull me along, since he inflicted the pinch on himself when he did.

When we reached Nina Street, I noticed a different type of blooming flower growing along a fence.  I took a picture, even though the wind ruffled the blooms continuously:

Purple flowers

Apollo and I continued northwest towards the highway and West Mary Street.  I planned an hour long walk, meaning I would continue until a half hour had elapsed and then turn around and retrace my steps.

Apollo says Hi!
Apollo says Hi!

We didn’t wait long for the signal to change and were on our way west after safely traversing the highway.  I saw a couple of other walkers on the other side of the street, but so far no other dogs.  Apollo didn’t seem very interested in the grass or light posts or fire hydrants, perhaps because he didn’t like tugging on the leash and causing the collar to pinch him.

Bittersweet and MaryWe walked past the first apartment complex, where the American flag flapped stiffly in the wind (see first photo above).  We continued past the second under-construction apartment complex and approached the relatively new Lansing Elementary School.  Just as we were passing the school, I heard and saw lower flying jet aircraft just to the north of our position.  These planes were flying under the clouds, and circling around in formation.  I immediately realized they were military aircraft, probably rehearsing for a flyover of the Kansas Speedway and the NASCAR race to take place this afternoon.  I tried repeatedly to snap photos of them with my cell phone as I continued walking towards my chosen turnaround point:  Bittersweet Street.

We crossed Mary Street, mostly to give Apollo new sights and smells to investigate.  A man and his dog, which seemed to be a smaller younger version of Apollo, continued west on Mary Street, but not without the two dogs trying desperately to meet each other.  I finally got Apollo headed east, although he whined about not meeting a new dog friend for a few seconds.  I continued my efforts to photograph the jets, finally catching them as we neared the highway.

Miltary AircraftI learned (later) via friends on Facebook, that these were A10 Warthogs and they did, in fact, flyover the Kansas Speedway.

Apollo and I safely crossed the highway and returned home.  We walked for an hour, despite the wind and the Warthogs.

Spring Sprung, Grass Grew, Trees Bloomed

Apple Blossoms
Apple Blossoms

I left my husband a voice-mail as I left work, asking him to sharpen the mower blade so I could  spend the evening trimming the verge. The front and side yards, I hoped, would be dry enough to mow. The backyard presented thick, lush, tall grass that would take longer to conquer.  As I pulled into the driveway, I saw the mower waiting for me, but as I surveyed the side yard, I realized he had already mowed most of it.  Since the garage door gaped open, I entered through the garage and sought my elusive mate.  Apollo met me on the landing and I found Terry in the kitchen, slicing up the fresh green beans we picked up at the grocery store a few days ago.  I scolded him for mowing, but he insisted he needed the exercise.

We spent the next hour or so crafting a wonderful dinner of home-made chicken friend steak, white gravy and fresh green beans sauteed with some bacon, white onion, garlic and chicken stock.  Tasted divine, but left the kitchen a complete disaster.

We relaxed for a few minutes.  Then I changed into some work clothes and went outside to see if I could get the mower started.  Terry worried it had vapor locked or worse that the plug had fouled, since he couldn’t get it restarted after stopping it to talk to a neighbor.  He instructed me not to prime it before attempting to pull start it.  I tried four or five times without success when he joined me and told me to try priming it.  I primed it and he pulled the rope.  Of course the mower started up for him.

I finished the side yard in about fifteen minutes.  I unlocked the side gate to the back yard and eased the mower through, making sure Apollo didn’t sneak by me and escape to traumatize our neighbors.  Terry kept working on the hot tub, vacuuming it clean, in anticipation of our need to soak later in the evening.  I slowly pushed the mower through the incredibly thick grass up the slight hill to the top of the backyard (the north end) and crept along the privacy fence.  Thirty minutes later I had finished a bit more than half of the back yard, just as the sun set in the west.

Blurry Apple Blossoms
Blurry Apple Blossoms

As I returned through the gate with the now idle mower, I saw the last glimmers of sunlight illuminating the blossoms on our apple tree.  I pulled my cell phone out of my jeans pocket and snapped a few photos, but without the benefit of my reading glasses, I had no idea that the close-ups of the apple blossoms I took would come out blurry.  Oh well, at least the first shot I took (above at the top of this post) came out very well.  I continued on to the garage and put the mower back in it’s neat little area (then I  cleared for last weekend). Terry soon followed and we closed the garage for the night.

I watched an episode of Jeopardy (a couple of days old) in which the $1,000 clue for the Jeopardy round category of ‘Animals in Children’s Books’ referenced Rottweilers.  Here’s the clue:

The title pooch of “Good Dog, Carl” is this breed named for a German place

I knew the answer immediately of course.  None of the contestants guessed correctly, though.

By the time I finished watching one episode of Jeopardy, the clock displayed half past eight o’clock, and ticked inexorably on toward nine, the hour at which my mental faculties reduce themselves to the level of a pumpkin.  I winced my way down the stairs to the laundry room to change into my bathing suit.  I grimaced my way back up the stairs and slipped into the extremely hot water of our outdoor hot tub for a soothing soak.  Terry joined me and I tried to show him some of the constellations currently visible directly overhead.  I could only positively identify three or four, due to some lingering stratus clouds and light pollution.  The moon appeared nearly half-full and Venus and Jupiter still dominated the western sky.  I had remembered to take a few photos with my camera on a tripod earlier, but at that time the clouds had been thicker.  Had I waited just a bit longer, I would have had clearer skies for a better shot.  I’ll post this weeks’ Venus and Jupiter photographs tomorrow morning in my weekly wrap-up of my astronomy observations.