Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Getting 'er done!

Last week, I showed you the back side of the barn

On Friday ... everything changed!  First of all, at 8 am, nine guys hopped out of a truck and two minutes later they were scrambling up on the roof!

And by 10:30 ....... everyone was packed up and on their way to their next project.  After handing me a bid for the next project.  ;)

These guys were super friendly, polite, neat and clean.  And I am totally thrilled with their workmanship and work ethic.

We are a little poorer but I am happy with the prospect of a gigantic sewing/knitting area in the future.  And Honey is happy to work in there without getting wet!  But until then .... we have a timber frame barn that will last several generations more.

So here it is done .........

Next on the agenda ...... taking care of this!

Really????  And I call myself a gardener???  This is a shady area though it is getting more sun since the demise of the willow tree last summer.  There are a few lilies but mostly hostas.  It provides a nice view for those relaxing in the corn-zebo.

And another photo ..... just to publicly bring shame on the farmer!

I am totally frustrated with the number of scrub trees that show up year after year.  I feel we spend a lot of time every spring digging out cottonwood, elm, mulberry and maple saplings out of our yard. 

And trust me .... they weren't there in August last year!!!!!

Saturday morning .... we dug into this mess!  I dug up unwanted flowers.  I divided a few hostas and moved a few lilies.

And I pulled weeds and weeds and more weeds.

We rearranged "garden art".  We tore down the old trellis.  Honey mulched and I planted containers.

All the while, Tinker was in her supervisory position. 

And in the end, we have this.

Here is another view ............

It needs a bit of color on the side of the barn.  Not sure what .... so I will search until I find the right piece.  A great piece of metal advertising art would be good. 

That big heavy stately mass of metal is a corn nubber.  It has a pedal, like my spinning wheel, that turns the wheel and cuts ear corn into 3" pieces.  I love it!  I think it is a fabulous piece of art in the garden.  It has been in three different gardens ........ but this will be its last.  We have had it for 18-19 years ...... and we are getting too old to move that monster around!!!

But my dear Honey still got the job done..... with little to no help from the wimp!  ;)

To add some color to the area .... I planted lots of Ambassador Rose wax begonias around the base of the corn nubber and in small patches.

Can you see them?????

Yea ... the plugs are tiny but they will quickly grow and cover the stones that the corn nubber sits on.

Phase one of our weekend is in the books!  More pictures and gardens to come.

Now to get these things in bloom!!!!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The must-haves in the cutting garden ... Part One

Benary's Giant Zinnias

Now that David Letterman has retired, I am free to do Miss Eff's Top Ten list!

Yep ....I am going to tell you my picks for the top ten flowers you must have in your cutting garden.  Now -- I realize this is only my opinion.  But it is my blog, so it is the opinion that matters here.  ;)

A good cutting garden will have a mix of perennials and annuals but is always heavy on annuals.  Annuals just keep on giving .... blooming throughout the season.  The more you cut ... the more they bloom.  I also like to toss in some bulbs, corms, and tubers to start the season early and stretch it out as late as possible.

So let's see how my Top Ten Flower Choices compares to your selections.

1) Zinnias ..... Without a doubt, the flower that is the easiest to grow.  Zinnias only ask for one thing .... Sunshine and a little room.  If you over-crowd your zinnias, they become more susceptible to powdery mildew.  My favorite variety is Benary's Giant Zinnias.  They grow up 4' tall and have blossoms that can reach 5" across.

And the colors!!!!!!!!!!!!   How can a simple flower like a zinnia make us so very happy!

2) Snapdragons.....  We all played with the blossoms of snapdragons as a child and made the flower "roar".
There are lots of varieties ... some are trailing, some are very short but the best for cutting gardens is a variety named "Rocket".  It is tall ... almost 24-30" tall.  And by cutting them long ... and leaving just two leaves on the bottom ...... you will continue to have stately tall stems all season.

Rocket snapdragons ... in rose shades

3) Lisianthus.

No .. they are not a rose.  And sometimes, they aren't the easiest to grow.  But when they do .... just stand back in awe.

You should buy lisianthus as a plant ... they are difficult to grow from seed for the average home gardener.  The key is that the plant should never become pot bound.  If the roots are wrapping around the bottom of the pot, most likely the flower will never bloom.

Lisianthus is also confusing to buy as there as single lisianthus... which look more like a tulip.  Double lisianthus which is what is pictured below.  Along with border plants (short ones) and cutting plants (tall).

So you want to make sure what you are buying.  Varieties to look for include Echo, Cinderella and the ABC-series.

These usually start blooming mid-July for me (in Iowa) but they are the last flowers to leave the garden.  They often are still blooming .... slowly .... at Thanksgiving.

Cinderella yellow

4. Black-Eyed Susans or Rudbeckia.

Indian Summer Rudbeckia

What a wonderful sunny flower in the garden!  There are so many colors and configurations but I have to admit that Indian Summer is my favorite.  I love that the center reminds me of a Hershey kiss!  And that is the perfect time to cut rudbeckia.  Never a cut a rudbeckia that has a "hairy" chocolate kiss!!  These are sometimes known as Gloriosa Daisy.

Their smaller size makes them a perfect replacement for sunflowers in mixed bouquets. 

Perennial rudbeckia is a staple in many of our perennial beds but the blossoms are not as showy, the stems are shorter and the vase life does not make it a great cut flower.

And finally, for today ............

Amazon Rose Magic Dianthus

5) Dianthus.  Now if you look up dianthus, you will see all sorts of sizes and shapes.  For cutting, the best varieties come from the Sweet William family. The picture above is the Amazon series in a color called Rose Magic.  Such a beautiful mix of colors on one stem.

They are a long lasting flower ... best cut when only a few of the blossoms are open.  They are not as prolific as some of the other flowers .... but I will get 3 to 4 cuttings per season.  But the first flush of blossoms are always the best!


I will share my other 5 picks for your cutting garden in a couple of days.  You may be wondering why I am telling you all of this.  After all, my income is based on having you cut the flowers that I have grown.  Let me tell you why.

I. Can't. Take. It.

I need to see flowers!!!!!  And all I have in my garden are sown seed, planted plugs and buds that aren't opening!!!

If I have to tell all my secrets to see flowers ..... I will.

Well, maybe ..............

Don't ask about that night in September in 1975.


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A cold and rainy update...........

I am soooo excited!

Tomorrow or Friday, we get a new roof on this!

Charcoal gray textured standing seam metal roof with new fascia and matching gray gutters. 

Did you know that gutters can be made in almost any color???

It's why I have red gutters on the house. 

They will look awesome when all the pieces of the puzzle get put together.  Until then .............well, you know. 

Back to the barn ........

The new roof is essential.

First .... it is leaking.  And that is never a good thing for any building.  Thirty years ago, Honey tore down a post and beam constructed barn, hauled the pieces home and reconfigured it here.  It is built of 100+  year old timbers ..... nice sturdy beams and supports ....wood that we will never see again.  And for then reason alone ... it is our obligation to save it for the future.

Theoretically,  it is a 3-1/2 car garage.

That holds one car, two garden tractors, a new tiller, an old tiller, a snowblower, a snow blade, a push mower, a small tiller, an edger, various weed eaters and 15 billion plastic jugs for you to use to take flowers home.  And almost that many "future" projects.

And past projects. 

And projects that will never ever happen in anyone's lifetime ...... let alone mine.

Yes, Houston ......... we do have a problem.

Secondly ... my office/library/sewing room is exploding. 

Like .... one wrong step .... and you could be covered in 100% merino wool felt.  Or 1980's vintage sewing patterns. 

Or future projects.

And past projects.

Oh --- we have been over that already!!! 


So .......... another future project ........ after the siding on the house, the laundry room and the kitchen!!!! ........ is to convert one bays of the barn to a giant sewing/knitting/embroidery/quilting/spinning area for me.

And then Honey might be able to re-claim the kitchen table!!!!

But first the barn needs a new roof.

Until that future project comes up on the to-do list ....... I will just be happy to have another piece of the puzzle called our life at Miss Eff's in place.

Pictures will follow ........... as soon as I get the bed behind the barn cleaned up, mulched and planted.

Really????  I'm showing you a picture of our weeds and scrub trees???

I must say ..... Miss Eff is no Martha Stewart!!!