Our Garden Plot Comes Home

wpid-img_20150912_141352563_hdr.jpgFirst year of new backyard garden gives our family veggies, flowers, joy,  and humble pride.  My 10 year old son announced a few days ago, “We have the biggest and most beautiful garden in our neighborhood!” Next he said, “I want to sweep the stones and weed.”  Really.  My “working in the garden is boring,” son volunteers to work in our garden?

When our garden plot was in Howard County Conservancy Community garden, we produced more veggies.  Now that our garden plot is at home,  more inspiration grows.   A salad or veggie stir fry for dinner – pick some grape tomatoes, kale, zucchini and peppers.  Science project ideas – check on those kitchen scraps added to compost yesterday.  A break from stress and high tech stuff – pull some weeds, empty rain barrel water into a watering can and sprinkle the dry ground. Stillness – watch the rain soak the garden and revive its thirsty roots.  Welcome home our garden plot!

Fall plantings include:  beets, spinach, lettuce, an assortment of kale and two blueberry bushes in pots on our deck.

Outdoor Work and Play

wpid-img_20150525_144745266_hdr.jpg Several hot and dry days over the long Memorial Day weekend gave us a chance for outdoor work and play together. We finally stained our new deck. My 10 year old son was thrilled to paint with us. His constant chattering about his thoughts, feelings, school, Minecraft and best techniques to paint, made the work fun. I smiled when he told me his cure for his sore throat. He said, “Mama, my throat does not hurt anymore. I guess I just needed to ‘talk it off’, get it? Like ‘walk it off’.” He certainly did.wpid-img_20150526_163558458.jpg

Tuesday, my husband and I picked up our son from school and we all went to Patapsco State Park.  We walked/jogged on the Grist Mill Trail.  My son had to get close to the water, to feel it on his feet and make it splash with rocks and sticks.  My husband joined my son in stone skipping.  I never knew my husband could get a stone to hop on the water 4 times in one throw. My son begged to swim across the creek and climb a huge rock. It was bold for him to put his whole body into a murky creek filled with unknown critters.

When we explore and work in the outdoors together we discover more about nature, but even more about each other.

Steppables

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A photo of our front yard at start of growing season.  My goal is no weed or grass spots and no brown mulch, only green steppable plants. There are five different ground covers growing – Stonecrop at front right, Alban Reptans, blue flowers at back right, Vinca around the tree, Wooly Thyme behind the tree and Sedum to left of Wooly.  There are Alban transplants growing between stones (can’t see in this photo).  More stepping stones will be added to the left.  I remain hopeful that one day  we will be able to walk across a living green carpet.  My bare feet are ready!

Lilac Wonder Tulip

lilac wonder2The Lilac Wonder tulips were in bloom for about two weeks in our garden plot.  They lasted long enough for a Mother’s Day appearance. These tulips remind me of a mom’s power. There is a bright ruffled circle formed from all the random yellow splotches on each pink petal. Order created from chaos.  God’s design. A peaceful home forms as a mom prays and loves each stress splotched life into the center of God’s grace.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Tulip tip: Do not cut the leaves, let them yellow. Yellow leaves on tulips are a sign that the bulbs have stored enough energy and are now ready to go dormant until next spring. If the leaves are cut off before they go yellow, the bulbs will not get enough energy and may not produce a large flower or survive a winter. 

Arbor Day 2015 – Celebrate and Plant a Tree

Spring 2015 Eastern Red Bud
Eastern Redbud planted October 2014

Last year, my husband planted this Eastern Redbud tree in our backyard to celebrate my birthday.  This is our first Spring to watch it bloom.  Redbud trees have small rosy-pink flowers that outline its bare branches like strings of lights. The flowers follow the curve of the tree limbs giving these trees a light and airy quality. They add an elegant and subtle beauty among the bigger “cotton candy” shaped Spring blooming trees.

The Eastern Redbud are native to Eastern United States and Canada. They can be found tucked among larger trees  in neighborhoods, along roadways and in the woods.

One day my son and I played “look for the Redbud trees” while driving home from school.   Planting a tree is fun and opens our eyes to nature around us.

Hidden Spring Beauty

Bright sun, vibrant color and sweet scents surround me. I walk in Spring beginnings. The white and pink flowering trees are splendid. I stop and gaze below me. There is another beauty here with a dance that reveals the secret rhythms of light and wind. It softens the sun’s sharp edges. It shelters.  It is not a brief burst of Spring color. It will grow through summer.  I stand inside the hidden beauty of a Spring Shadow.

Spring shadows
Spring shadows

A New Garden Plot

This fall we transformed a 12 foot by 20 foot soil patch in the backyard of our townhouse into a new garden plot.  Most of the day, one side of the plot is in shade and the other is in sunlight. We wanted a natural and clean looking flower and kitchen garden, but did not know where to begin so we consulted a landscape designer from Sun Nurseries. She inspired us to make these changes…stone path, drainage system, new plants and two raised beds.   My husband built two beautiful cedar structures to contain our kitchen garden. What a great milestone birthday present!

new plot

My husband is putting a wire mesh on bottom of one raised bed. This will prevent moles and other ground digging critters from tunneling through our kitchen gardens. There is a lot of work to do, but we persevere with thoughts of watching our new garden come to life in Spring.

Garden Additions
Plants:
Schip Cherry Laurel
Autumn Fern
Japanese Painted Fern
Astilbe Sprite (Pink)
Bleeding Heart
Brass Buttons (ground cover)

Bulbs:
Chionodoxa Blue Giant (Glory of the Snow)
Tulips (Lilac Wonder)

In another spot about 15 feet away from the flower and kitchen garden we planted two new trees:
Eastern Redbud
Semi-Dwarf Peach

Help for Our Lemon Tree

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Our lemon tree is covered with fragrant white blossoms and tiny lemons.

In October, we brought the tree indoors to our west facing kitchen slider window, but it needed more light.  The leaves began to turn yellow.  We did not want a repeat of last year’s winter of bare branches so we added light, fertilizer, drainage, humidity and mobility.  Some tiny lemons are holding on and the leaves are getting greener.  Our interventions are working so far.

A grow light hangs above the tree shining light for 12 hours a day. Now our kitchen has a Florida glow to warm the cold mornings and evenings. Lemon trees are sun loving. The best indoor place for a lemon tree is a south facing window that lets in sunlight all day unlike our window that lets in only afternoon sunlight.    The tree is set on a pile of river rocks inside a wheel based stand to allow drainage, humidity and easy turning.  It is rolled around so all the leaves get natural sunlight, too.  We feed our tree Jack’s Classic Citrus FeEd (recommended by gardeners at Sun Nursery) during its weekly watering.  Lemon trees do not like soggy roots.

Our family study the plant daily.  We all look for tiny lemons and wish for a winter watching lemons grow.

lemon2