ravensgarden: (snakeflowerR)
[personal profile] ravensgarden
I have tried to post this thing for two days. LJ is just not cooperating!

April first it was sprinkling in the morning, so I went out and tossed some dichondra seeds on the north side of the storm shelter to see what they will do. None of the storm shelter daffodils have bloomed yet but some of them have a really odd shaped bud.

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That same shape bud is also coming up around the shale garden where Tahiti daffodils are planted, so it might indicate a double variety.

I got my fall Brent and Becky’s bulbs catalog today. That is a dangerous book for me. I WANT EVERYTHING!

April second I moved the repotted tarragon onto the porch. The rest I left out in the weather. I went south to Conway to lowes with the intent of getting a load of cinderblocks to build my raised veggie beds. The best laid plans…

I walked into the garden center and looked at the trees and bushes. I was looking for low growing junipers that are green with yellow tips, but did not find anything like that. What I did find was ONE weeping pussy willow left, and all the saucer magnolias reduced in price. I grabbed both and did not have room for cinder blocks. Oh well, the weeping pussy willow generated a lot of attention when I went inside. Most wanted to know what it was.

I really need to get that burn pile taken care of so I can plant all these trees!

April fourth the rain was not supposed to stay all day, but it did. The front just circulated round and round the state like the hands of a clock instead of moving out, so I grabbed the dichondra seed and tossed them on the south and west side of the storm shelter. I am hoping they germinate and the birds leave them alone. It will rain again after two dry days. The temps are supposed to be closer to the normal 70s at that time. Of course that means possible tornados, so I plan on working on the storm shelter pathway in the next two days.

April sixth. Yesterday was gorgeous, but my face kept me inside. Noaa has moved the possible tornado activity out to Tuesday night into Wednesday, but my face and the birds said it is coming faster than that. Or something with a pressure change is. My eyeballs feel like they are going to pop out of my head when that happens. Today my face and the birds have both eased up.

I was out early having coffee, and could not resist working on the “yard”. The piles of twigs, small stones and sunflower seed hulls are just too big, they are not going to wash down the hill so I grabbed the broom, a dust pan and a five gallon bucket and started sweeping them up and carrying them by the bucket full to dump on the burn pile. If the gravel busts up into dirt, so be it. If not, my neighbor put this burn pile on top of the road, so the gravel can stay there. I noticed something curious as we were burning in December and January. The rocks that are in the burn piles so far have all turned bright red. If that continues I will pick it up and concentrate it somewhere as a focal point. Bright red natural gravel is GREAT!

It was a couple of hours of rather intense work, but the “yard” area looks really good swept clean. Those areas that I cleared are two relatively flat areas that are going to be container garden areas.

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Last year I put tomatoes in pots on the patio that will be a future room. This year I plan on putting the basil and herb pots in the area in between the shale garden and the storm shelter path, and the big tomato pots will go on the other side of the shale garden, a bit down the slope from the little BBQ seating area I have set up. It will at least give those areas some visual interest, instead of surface of the moon BLECH.

My intent today was to work on the storm shelter pathway, but you know, that is just not fun! The natural rock patio IS FUN.

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And I worked on that until my legs gave out. I needed to move the stacked rocks pile because I knew there was an original in the ground rock underneath it and I had to connect it to the edge that I formed last time I worked on the patio. I stood the rocks up best I could around the penis bench, and various other places to I could see all of them as I am working on the patio.

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The nature placed rock had about two inches of dirt, leaf mold and sunflower seed hulls on top of it that I swept off.

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It is a pretty rock. I like the rocks with “bumps” on them. Makes them interesting. There was a smaller rock buried deeper close to it that I dug up to change its level. I placed a couple of rocks to connect the edge, and put some of the dirt I dug up in between them. I really do think dirt to set them is the way to go.

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I had previously located several rocks out around the property that I wanted to bring up to use on the patio, but could not find my crowbar until today. I keep forgetting that I keep it in the trunk of my car because I have never used a crow bar out of my car. Don’t know why I keep putting it back in there. Anyway, I walked around prying up rocks out of the dirt around the place, and stood the ones that were too big to carry up so I can see them, and carried the smaller ones back up the hill to the patio area.

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I broke one of them tossing it up the hill. :( I will have to take my garden cart around to pick some of this stuff up to get it to the patio area. One huge PRETTY flat rock was so heavy I barely got it stood on its side and leaned against a cedar. There was a blue tailed skink underneath that refused to go away. Poor guy.

Since I had the crow bar out, I started liberating some of the rock from the slag heap at the base of the white oak. Or red oak, until the leaves come out, I can’t remember which oak is which out back.

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At any rate, there is a LOT of really good dirt in that pile that will be perfect to sweep in between the stones of the rock patio. I stood the rocks from that pile up around the cast iron bird feeder.

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I know there is one more flat rock in that pile of dirt, because its edge is under the rock table top. I think the rest is dirt.

The temps are up in the seventies so I ripped the plastic off the side of the house that was a temp greenhouse, and threw the plastic away. I rearranged the patio junk some, and took my 20 lbs of store bought “river rock” (round stones) and put them in the newly liberated from its winter protection Texas green sage pot.

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I handpicked that rock from a bin at the landscaping place and I love the colors on all of them. They are 10 cents a pound, so I paid two dollars for all of the rock “mulch” in that pot. I intend to go back and get more.

Late in the day I seeded more herbs into the egg cartons that I made a few days ago. I don’t like the combo of egg carton and the seedling mix I purchased. I don’t like the seedling mix at all; it is more bark and sticks than peat. It does not absorb water readily, so the tiny bit of soil that ends up in the egg cubicles floats out before absorbing the water. I have to drizzle water for about an hour before I can plant. Still, they were free. We will see if they transplant ok. Oh, and the weeping cherry bloomed, and it is white!

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I was expecting pink, but am glad it is white. Also bloomed out is the tenth hyacinth on the south side of the storm shelter and it is what I “think of” when someone says “pink” hyacinth, a pale pink.

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The rest are PURPLE and hot pink, and one white per side.

April 7. Yeah, no storm shelter pathway today. I went out at daybreak to crawl up into the shed to get to my good ceramic pots for the container herb garden, and just, caught a wind. I got my ceramic pots and moved all the pots to an area of the shelving that I can reach easily, then I rearranged a lot of the shed, to put stuff I do not need back in the corner shelves with the left over insulation stuck back there too. It freed up a LOT of room in there. I may actually be able to reach the studs to put the big hooks up to hold the lumber up off the floor. That would give me a useable shed again!

I did not get out to the storm shelter path today, for various reasons, but did manage to get the petunias hung on the front porch.

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Within minutes a hummingbird hit at them.

One of the piles of flat rocks that I wanted to get from the other side of the spring has yellow jackets living in it. I will have to wait until winter to get those; they are largely underground and jumbled at the base of an oak tree.

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I have been disappointed at the failure to thrive with my tomato seedlings. I don’t know what it is, it isn’t damping off, they turn spindly just under the first set of leaves, then slowly disintegrate from the top down. I had reseeded Black Sea Man two days ago and as the failure progresses I reseeded Jaune Flamme, Mortgage Lifter, Cherokee Purple, Pink Brandywine, Mamie Brown’s Pink, Lemon Drop, Ananas Noire, Mexico Midget, and Hogsheart paste this afternoon. I moved them out of direct sunlight (not much today anyway, it is overcast) onto the front porch bench in case it is the weather that is causing it. I also noticed gnats flying around the seed pots and as soon as the wasps go to bed for the night, I will spray them with soapy water in case that is the problem. It is only the tomatoes that have been affected; the peppers are all going gangbusters.

Monday, April 8. Not all the weird budded daffodils on the storm shelter are doubles. I took three pictures. One last night,

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a second one this morning, and this one at noon.

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It is the only double or ruffled so far. The others with a similar bud opened just like the Wye mountain daffodils.

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The weeping cherry blooms have turned pink!

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I have never had a cherry tree before, so don’t know if that is normal or not. I will have to watch it to see if they get darker over time.

The wind is horrendous today and pollen and dirt from a neighbor plowing a field across the road. Each time I went outside I choked up. I did manage to get out in small bits in the afternoon after the plowing stopped. I watered in my azaleas and rosemary that I planted earlier in the month. I moved some more of the herb pots outside, and rearranged them, and potted the geranium that I bought to go in the big mama pot into a smaller ceramic pot and put it next to the porch gate.

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It looks good there.

I also realized that I am going to have to repot the English daisies into three different pots. After a few weeks each crown has grown so much that they are crowded in the five gallon pot.

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I also tried the pot in the pink sleeve pot that I intended to put it in. Nope, the standard plastic pots that I plant in have a ridge around the top that makes it too big to fit down inside those sleeve pots. I have the same problem with my strait Mexican terra cotta pot, but I have a pink plastic pot that is shorter to fit down inside that one, but don’t have deep pots to go down inside those neon sleeves. In GA I used shallow pots that “hang” on the edge of the sleeve pots but they are only 8 inches deep, and are not deep enough for daisy roots. I picked up the weeping cherry in its greenhouse pot and sat it down inside that sleeve pot and it fits with only the black edge showing. PERFECT, once I get those trees planted.

While I was out on the concrete patio, a wood bee tried its best to chase me off. He or she is guarding the patio area. I got a few pictures.

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April 9. OY! I hurt. I came in six hours ago, took a shower, ate and I still can’t move much. But, I made progress outside. The single yellow trumpet with white perianth is not like the Wye mountain daffs, it has a little short trumpet instead of a long one. YAY for variety!

I have been watching the weather for a week now, as this storm system has the potential for tornadoes. It has been hard to predict because of the capping of the atmosphere is keeping the rain chances low. If that cap stays in place until after the front moves through until after the temperatures drop behind the front then the tornadoes will not form. As of today they have predicted the cap will disintegrate just ahead of the front, allowing tornadoes to form in the unstable superheated air. So, with that new information I resolved to get out and put at least three new pavers leveled on the storm shelter pathway to give myself a little more stable walkway to get to the storm shelter dragging two hysterical dogs with me. One who’s will to NOT walk is very powerful.

Last night several daffodils bloomed on the south side of the storm shelter hill. More should bloom tonight. On both sides of the hill. I was walking the dogs down by the spring this morning at daybreak and saw a really interesting tree across the spring. Turns out it was the light that made the knots at its base so interesting. Later when the sun was up I took a camera out to take a picture of the tree and it was just a really big tree.

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I did manage to find two easy ways to cross the spring other than the main crossing that leads to the yellow jacket rocks.

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While I was cruising around on the other side of the spring I found several areas of overgrown Japanese honeysuckle that I can reach to cut it off at the roots.

There are several copses of small trees that I need to thin out or get rid of once I find out what they are. The leaves are just starting to come out, and it may be next year before I can clear out around the big boulders on the bank that I fell in love with originally when I first saw this property. Those “trees” (none over five feet tall) are all over this property and could be wahoo, native plumb, privet or some other little scrubby stuff.

I have been worried about my dogwoods. Or the ones that are left. Most are leafing out, but the two largest, the one by the mouth of the spring and the one that is out by the natural rock patio. Those two have very few signs of coming out. I was concerned when I saw that last one with big sap stains on its trunk this morning.

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I looked around and found the same thing on one of the dogwoods out beyond the raised garden bed area. None of the others had sap stains. I waited until I was done this afternoon and looked up sap stains on dogwoods and found that it only happens to damaged or pruned trees. The tree by the patio has rings of woodpecker holes around it.

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I suppose I should be happy that running sap means the tree is still alive. I pulled down one of the branches to see if there was something going on that I just could not see, but it is dead and dry. Only two of the branches on that tree by the patio have leaves. Only two limbs of the large dogwood by the spring have leaves as well. The rest are just dead looking. I need to plant my dogwood seeds.

I finally got out to place and level patio stones on the storm shelter pathway. My goal I set myself was three stones. But I know me. Once I get my rhythm I don’t quit until I fall. I was hoping that would happen today and it did.

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It has been dark and overcast all day, and the high was forecast to be 72. The sun came out unexpectedly and by the time I quit it was 82 degrees, I was dehydrated, sunburned and really really tired. I got the next eight stones of the pathway up the storm shelter hill set, when I realized that the pathway to the natural stone pathway was going to have to branch off somewhere in that area, so I expanded it to the full two paver width so I could figure out where the pathway had to go.

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As I worked I picked up the concrete blocks and put them around the large table rock that I need to move.

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I once moved that rock by myself, and now I cannot budge the “heavy” end. I tried to lever, to prop up with blocks, to shift, to twist… to no avail, I was not able to move it at all.

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I think it might be “hung up” on one of the rocks it is stacked on. As I was running out of energy I decided to leave moving the table top rock for another day, and concentrated on getting to a logical stopping point on the pathway.

Laying the stones is not the taxing part, it is leveling each stone on a slope so that there are no edges sticking out that can trip in the dark, and are firmly set so they don’t rock when I walk on them. It is a lot of work spent bent over in the sun, leveling the rocky soil and setting then resetting each stone. Fortunately, when two stones are set firmly next to each other, they stabilize each other.

I placed one paver beside the newly planted azalea that was as close as I wanted the path to be to it, so I could judge where the pavers needed to be to meet the natural stone patio.

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I leveled one stone next to the big rock I uncovered the day before, and leveled it to connect the two areas. I thought that the path branch could come off of anywhere, but realized when I laid the pavers out “on trial” that they had to come off the same “dog leg” of the shelter path.

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If not then every double paver of the branched path would have to also be offset, and that was just too much complication. I prefer simple, so I made the adjustments and laid a double row of branch path pavers to the stone patio.

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When I got those in I set a few more stones in the patio to connect the two better.

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There are still some adjustments to be made, and I was able to spot several of them from the windows later in the day after I quit for the day. I could hardly move my legs when I came in at three, and had to drink a big glass of water and some pedialite just to start sweating. Always a bad sign in 80 plus sun when you don’t sweat. I really wanted to lay the last stone(s) to completely connect the pathway to the patio, but I just did not have the energy in the afternoon. The wasps and the bees were swarming badly in the overheated air, so I will do them later. I also want to get at trying to move and position that table top rock. It frustrates me that I cannot seem to move it at all. I wore through the fingers of my leather work gloves. Time for a new pair. They rarely last more than a year anyway, I go through a pair of fabric and rubber garden gloves and a pair of leather “work” gloves (I use them when I am working with rock and concrete in the garden, but generally “save” them for construction) each year, so I am not really surprised.

I fixed some uneven rocks in the patio and filled a few holes with dirt, to prep for planting moss in some of the holes. One day this patio is going to be spectacular!

I had to move the totem pole tree out of the way of the branch path, and struggled to do so. It would not push or pull, and had to lift it and twist to move it out of the way, and decided to leave it propped on the penis bench for now.

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It is midnight and I still ache all over. I think I am going to divide April into three entries. Once upon a time when I was actively working on my gardens in GA I posted every week in ravensgarden just to keep the size and picture level down. I may get there again, but for now every two weeks is too long an entry, with too many pictures, so 10 days it is. I need to find my tax docs and take them to get my taxes done, but if I don’t, I will work on the “yard” tomorrow instead.

That is kind of the way I do everything. I have intentions, and a to do list, but pretty much work on whatever captures my fancy while outside, as long as I am doing SOMETHING. It all needs to be done.

April 10. Ugg! It is 80 degrees at 9am, and pollen is flying through the air dodging wasps and bees. Each time I walk outside I have to wash my face and eyes to keep them from “reacting” to all that pollen. There is spring green everywhere on the trees, and of course the bright red of white oaks leafing out. It is pretty. I cut a few branches of some of the smaller “scrubby” trees around the property to try to ID them. I need to seriously thin out, but want to leave some of everything, so I need to ID. So far I have ID’d wahoo if it has a red spring flower (it is birch if not), hickory, elm or beach or basswood (don’t think it is that last one, but we will see) and buckey in the small area in front of the house. I know I have sumac out there as well, but it is either all dead from the drought or comes out later in the year. Lots of sticks in the ground. I cut some of the Japanese honeysuckle off at the ground that is growing on some of the trees out there. I have a lot of that to do. I took the garbage to the bin this morning and noted that the struggling white oak with the honeysuckle that I took pictures of for UofA extension is leafing out. I am going to have to take a bigger set of clippers down there to cut the masses of vines at the ground and try to cut some of it out of that poor tree!

But not today. I made it outside until 3pm yesterday. The front that is bringing the bad weather is stalled right on the Arkansas/Oklahoma border, and it is sucking all the cloud cover to it. It is sunny, humid and HOT. I fixed a few level issues on the paver pathway,

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and set five more stones in the patio to finish off the edge against the paver pathway.

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I had to go out in the woods to get one of those stones, because it was PERFECT for the space.

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I also moved the concrete bench off the patio. I still need to move it away from that azalea, but did not feel like leveling it somewhere else.

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The wasps are CRAZY today! When I was “done” I tried to get in the door, and there was one wasp that would not leave the door, even after I slammed the screen door on her to scare her off.

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She did not go, and kept flying at my head. I went around the house and went in the back door. I need to remember to put cans of wasp spray outside so I can get in my house. The wasps today are swarming like they did in the fall when they were mating. Good afternoon to stay inside I suppose.

By 1pm, the sky was completely clouded and the birds and squirrels descended on the feeders. Later in the afternoon the wasps were swarming worse on the front porch and around the shed. I bombed the shed last week and have been in and out of it all week, with no wasps seen, so I think they were trying to find a safe place from the weather. About 15 came out of the door when I sprayed it down. Took one can of wasp spray. I sprayed almost two more cans on the front porch. I had seen them coming and going out of the little wren house mounted on the front porch. Thirty or forty came out of those areas, and for a couple of hours after I sprayed the front porch, more wasps came out of the woods to “investigate” so I think there may have been the start of a nest in that bird house, or somewhere on the front porch. I need to spray the house better from the sides just to make sure anything in there is dead. The wasps did not stop coming to the front porch until full dark.

When the front finally moved a supercell developed that spawned a very large tornado that kept forming and reforming all the way across the state. It touched down to the south west of us, and then to the north of us, doing a lot of damage as it did. I headed to the shelter when this area was put on “tornado emergency” (because a twister touched down and was heading toward “us” meaning the town 9 miles north) and stayed put until the tornado moved out of the area. It missed me, there was not even rain while it was going by. After it moved out however we got some very severe thunderstorms. My poor flowers were beaten down, or eliminated all together. No cherry blossoms at all any more. :(

Time to finish up this entry.
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