Monday, May 20, 2013

Garden Snapshot: Gopher Control Accomplished!

An overall shot! After 2 full days of work I finally have the "little garden" gopher-resitstant!!

I added in another raised bed...this time with aviary wire underneath so that the gophers can't invade. There is a smattering of herbs, along with strawberries and cucumbers in the middle!

I also added the same aviary wire on top of the entire middle section. In lieu of planting in the ground, I added these terra cotta planter and cocoa shell mulch over the wire.

I still haven't finished this back the gophers can still attack. Some have gotten in the back raised bed. Yikes! I decided to leave it for now and cross my finger that they don't get to my tomatoes and peas!!

New Alpine strawberries. I harvested this little guy and he was delicious!

 I can't help but love my nasturtiums. I no longer have any left in the ground...they are obviously a gophers favorite treat. They are now relinquished to pots.

They have been off to a bit of a rocky start...but the green beans have started climbing!

My new blackberry plant came with fruit! Now I just have to wait patiently to harvest the juicy berries.

Is this an orchid? is a geranium! 
I am head over heels with geraniums/pelargoniums and can't get enough. This one smell like mint (acutally kind of like Vicks Vapor Rub).

I'm exhausted and a bit sore from the garden overhaul this weekend...but I'm glad that it's done. My parents are in town and helped out tons in helping me get it all finished. I'm so glad that they are here to share the results with me. It's so lovely and peaceful in the garden now.


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Before the Storm

 This evening after a lovely & sunny day, the thunder started rolling in over the mountains. The lighting outside was unreal and I decided to pop out and take some shots of the flowers (that are still left) in the garden.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Garden Muse

When asked to write about my garden mentor or muse...I was a bit stumped at first. Of course, I have some advisors that I can turn to in a pinch but I didn't really grow up learning about how to care for plants or a garden.

This lady changed it all.

Her name is Alys Fowler and her brilliant show "The Edible Garden" had me captivated. Have you seen it??

This is one of 6 episodes. I devoured them all. Back to back. It really made me excited to get out and put my hands in the dirt.

Since then (Jan. or Feb. of this past year), I have been striving to create a garden space of my own. 

Alys sparked the fire but Pinterest has helped fill my imagination. In the past few months, I've trolled and trolled for lovely images of other folks gardens, courtyards and patios. 

It's funny, when you don't really have any gardening experience or any specific person to turn's really hard to know where to start. For this, I turned to the awesome BBC series, "How to be a Gardener" with Alan Titchmarsh.

Now that I am having to re-invision my space (because of those pesky gophers), I'm leaning on Pinterest for ideas of how to create a beautiful space that will work for me, without being destined for ruin.

First of all, instead of mainly dirt, I will need to switch to mainly gravel and/or a bark mulch. Before I was planning much more of an English Garden feel.

I love how this is lush and mainly in raised beds. There is gravel covering all of the exposed areas. I also love the large decorative urns.

I am still determined to grow I will need to plant them in gopher baskets or pots.

On Pinterest? Follow me or my gardening board for more inspiration.

I also heavily rely on the blog-o-sphere for tutorials and advice. In the beginning of my research, I devoured back articles on You Grow Girl, Mr. Brown Thumb and Gardenista.

Apparently, it takes an online village to mentor & inspire a gardener. Without knowing any of them, they have meant more to me than they'll ever know.

This post was written in response to the prompt "Write about your garden mentor or muse", part of the Grow Write Guild on You Grow Girl.  It is the fourth prompt in the series.

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Carnage & Starting Over

These past few weeks have been trying. Very trying.
The gophers (it has been confirmed) are attacking with a vengeance. They've pulled down into their holes almost every single gorgeous, blooming nasturtium that I planted. My beloved nasturtiums.

This area used to house my blooming nasturtiums. After taking these pictures...even more of the plants are gone.

In an effort to deter the gophers, I dug a trench and laid hardware cloth against the fence where they were entering. Did it work?

I am now re-drawing and re-planning the garden. I basically have to pull everything out...replant what isn't damaged in gopher baskets. I may add some additional raised beds as well, so long as they have hardware cloth underneath them. 

In better news, my near dying passionfruit vine has blooms! I've realized that the vine was probably munched by gophers. It's wasn't my fault!
I still will probably need to sacrifice her, but for now, I will enjoy the gorgeous blooms.

My gardening ideas have drastically changed over the past few weeks as my dreams of my "little garden" have crashed. I have been knocked down but am getting up and learning from this experience. I am re-focusing my attention and re-invisioning my dreams of this space.
I will report back soon!


Monday, April 22, 2013

Garden Snapshot | 4.22.2013

It's been warm & sunny here in Pasadena, CA now for months. I started gardening the first week of January. It's the first time that I've had my own garden and I've already learned a ton.

I've been documenting my progress since February and it's is so fun to see the progression & changes in the garden over the past few months.

My first garden snapshot was bleak compared to what the space looks like now but all I can see is the huge amount work still left to do.

Standing here, under one of the huge trees that shades the lawn, I can see my entire "little garden." It's in the space behind our garage and I've been cultivating it as a place to grow all of the flowers and vegetables that need lots of glorious sunshine (it's the sunniest spot on our property).

A lovely image...yes? But I see war. I'm currently battling gophers (or moles) that have been creating dirt mounds and holes. That have been eating and killing the vines along the fence that I've been trying to grow for privacy. I love critters...but geez guys, give me a break! Don't you know I'm new at this.

I see lots of questions. Should I be trimming off all of the runners on my strawberry plants? or do I want to keep some so that I can have new baby plants? Will they ever flower or just keep shooting off new runners? Why did the snap peas not sprout? Where should I plant all of these tomatoes?

I see worry. Will the gophers ruin everything? Am I pruning these tomatoes correctly? Am I watering enough?

 The nasturtiums are still my beloved. They've started blooming and are getting big! I can't believe how easy they were to plant and how well they're growing despite my ignorance. And the colors. Gorgeous reds, corals, oranges and yellows. 

My other claim to gardening success so far has been my cut & come again lettuce. It looks a bit shabby here...but it was just harvested last Friday (the second harvest). With any luck, we'll get another harvest very soon. 

Speaking of harvests...I look forward to harvesting these bad boys soon. I know that I should have pinched off the blooms to encourage growth but I couldn't bring myself to do it. Oh well. I plan on thoroughly enjoying my 5 homegrown blueberries.

This past weekend, we made a trip to the local ikea, and to OSH to transform our patio into a lounge. Ever since moving our outdoor dining table to the garden, this space has been sad & bare. 

No more! We spent all weekend hanging out, reading, chatting & having these cocktails around the fire pit. Pure weekend bliss.

And finally, my herb garden (rosemary, pineapple mint, spearmint, lavender, peppermint, thyme) is filling out nicely...although I think it may need some basil. You can never have too much...right?

This post was written in response to the prompt "Describe your garden right now", part of the Grow Write Guild onYou Grow Girl. It is the third prompt in the series.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

In My Dreams

Besides lacking time due to travel these past few weeks (sorry to be absent), the topic of fantasy gardening was something of a challenge just to think about much less write about. After careful reflection, it has actually helped to reveal certain characteristics about myself.

I've always loved being in gardens. I've always loved flowers. I've always loved the idea and the romance of gardening. Of cultivating gorgeous flowers & delicious edibles. I've always loved seeds packets and nurseries.

All of these things are the visual components of gardens & gardening. What each plants looks like, how the space looks and feels. How I will look tending the garden (in a gorgeous straw hat, wearing Birkenstocks and an apron made of vintage ticking).

Of course, in reality, you need so much more than the desire for an end result. I've learned that it's a process. That it's trial and error. That things will die (they already have). The difference now is that I'm taking the time to garden, to learn from my mistakes and from what nature throws my way. To not give up.

The big realization that I had is that the garden in my dreams is actually my garden. The one that is in my back yard. I go to sleep thinking of what to add next or how to solve my gopher problem (which has just struck while I was away). What pots & furniture to add to make the patio look more livable and how to add come character to the front rose beds that we inherited with the house. I really don't dream much beyond the space that I have. 

Part of me wishes that the whole backyard wasn't in full shade due to 2 huge trees smack dab in the middle of the lawn. But those trees also provide a place to hang our hammock and a large refuge from the sun during even the hottest of summer days. I'd love more space for vegetables or flowers but I'm coping with what I have and am not dreaming beyond it. 

One day, I'd love to have more land, a glass house and a detached studio to work from. I'd love to create an outdoor paradise that is calming and beautiful. I love the way that vines look so I'm certain that they will cover everything that they can. They will be trellised on walls, wrapping up poles and covering arbors. There will be beds full of fragrant plants and edibles galore. I hope to have children and teach them about the earth so that they will always respect all that it gives us.

For now, that is the life and garden of my hopes for the future, for myself and my family but without a physical space to associate it with I can only grasps to concepts. It's still very abstract.

The garden in my my fantasies is what I've been given. It's the first place that I've lived in my adult life that has had any dirt. It's what I can visualize in my mind. It's concrete. I strive to make it as beautiful as possible and to learn from it so that I can grow as a gardener.

This post was written in response to the prompt "Describe your fantasy garden", part of the Grow Write Guild on You Grow Girl. It is the second prompt in the series.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Garden Snapshot | It's Spring!

The big accomplishment that I've made within the past week or so is that I built a bean trellis! The little seeds have yet to pop up out of the ground and I can't wait.

Also, the manure/compost that I've been using must have had spores in it...because little mushrooms keep popping up in my strawberry plants. They're so cute.

The quince is starting to flower! It's lush pink blooms are so lovely.

A few of the nasturtiums have really taken off. They are so much bigger now. They're still my favorite "from seed" plant so far this year. 

I've been busy with work & meetings over the past week but I was glad to be able to spend a little time out in the garden today. I planted some more sedum ground cover...I just love the stuff! The spanish blue sedum that I planted in-between the stone path has almost filled together already.

It's now officially spring! Oh happy day:)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A Rose-Certificate

It is quite a novel idea to get a kid a gift certificate to a heritage rose nursery.  Most kids probably wouldn't be very enthused.

I was the opposite. I absolutely loved it.

My Aunt Donna knew me well. Growing up, she was like a grandmother to me, since my actual grandmother (her and my dad's mom, Charlotte) had past away before I was born. Her and I shared many of the same passions and I was always fascinated by what she was up to.

I'm not exactly certain which birthday the rose-certificate was for but my guess would be that I was in the "tween" years of my life. I cherished the experience of going to The Antique Rose Emporium and picking out "the perfect bush".  

To this day, I am giddy anywhere that there is an overwhelming amount of visual stimuli; I linger for hours in fabric stores, nurseries, yarn shops and the like. It was no different that day. I probably made my parents stroll around for ages before deciding.

Do I remember the name or variety of the rose that I ended up choosing?  No.

What I do remember are the medium ballet pink blossoms that smelled incredibly fragrant but not saccharine sweet. The standard terra cotta pot that it was planted in--the joy of seeing it's first bloom each spring.

I will not claim any more ownership of this plant as I will of the cats that we adopted around the same time in my life. They all belong to my mother, because it is from her care and nurture that they have lived such happy lives. 

I don't have as good of a track record (for plants--my cat is a very spoiled and happy member of the family). I have an enormous interest and love for plants, but I lack the knowledge of how to properly care for them. And until recently, I haven't really cared to learn. Convinced that I had a "black thumb," I would actually just neglect the plants out of laziness and therefore they would die. **To my credit, the Texas heat did not help.**

It seems that fate has made me come back full circle and I now have a dozen or so rose bushes at our Pasadena, CA home that I must care for. They were not a choice that I made but entrusted to me since they have been around the property for many years. My gentle pruning and care of these bushes is what first re-sparked my interest and boosted my confidence in my ability to garden.  


How serendipitous then, that my last conversation with my Aunt Donna before her passing early this year was mostly spent chatting about all of my roses.

This essay was written for the Grow Write Guild, from the prompt, Write about your first plant. The roses in the image above are the first blooms from my bushes this spring. Follow me on Instagram @baileyamon.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

I Blame the Birds.

I do...I blame them for making my tiny baby plants their breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Not only are my seedlings their meals...the seeds are as well. After watching my new favorite show, I was inspired to sow some cut and come again baby lettuce. What did I find the next morning? All of the soil that I carefully planted had been foraged through. Oh well...I'm definitely learning my lesson and taking each one in stride. The lettuce has been re-sewn and has been covered with berry baskets.

The only true success I've had so far has been with my nasturtiums. I think they might be my forever favorite since they're my first. Do you know what they are? I didn't.


They're also edible and apparently for me, easy to grow. We'll see how they do as the season progresses. 

I've found out that the birds like them too. So as soon as a baby seedling pops out of the ground, I have to cover it with a cloche (which I use a water bottle cut in half) to keep them safe.

It's a bit trashy looking and not up to my personal garden aesthetic (in an ideal world they all be beautiful vintage glass). Alas, they work and really...that's all that matters.

I love how fast they grow! This one has only been above ground for a few days! I have some now that have 4 leaves!! I consider that quite the accomplishment for my black thumb.

It was a crazy weekend last weekend and so far a very hectic week. My parents are out in Pasadena to visit so there's been plenty to do.
I've not really made much progress in my little garden beyond continually covering seedlings as they pop up but I did acquire some new plants from the Pasadena City College Flea Market last weekend that need to be planted. I also got some nifty new (old) pots there as well (among other things for Antiquaria).