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In the beginning we raked and planted side by side. We got dirty, made a mess, planted beautiful things. Then Imogene’s husband would come out in his necktie and sweep up after us.
It was always a really good day.
More recently, Imogene couldn’t do much heavy work, so she pulled weeds (with a vengeance) from a lawn chair that I moved around.
The last few times we planted, she held the plant tags and watched from the window, too frail to navigate her own back stairs.
Then in late February, at the age of 97, my oldest friend passed away.
It was time, as they say. Still I am sad that we will not celebrate Spring in her garden this year. But it helps that Imogene is everywhere in mine.
Gardeners go on–
In the plants they share like the blue woodland phlox in the top photo. Imogene dug a clump from her garden for mine almost 30 years ago. Because of the cool weather, it is having a splendid year.
In the designs they inspire like this path I built with my own two hands after the brick knot garden that Imogene built with her own two hands became a problem for the mower guy and she told me I would be doing her a big favor if I carted all the hand-made brick away.
In the knowledge and encouragement they pass on to younger gardeners which may be why I’m finally able to sit down and write about the loss of my dear friend. Husband Bill and I just spent a very hard but satisfying Saturday afternoon helping co-blogger Melissa limb up trees in her garden.
The best gardens are never solo projects—Imogene would be proud.
Sleet and ice in my Apex garden this weekend–which made it a great time to stay inside and dream of summer tomatoes.
For almost 30 summers now, I have grown my tomato plants from seed. There are 3 reasons for doing this–
1) It’s really fun to grow and nurture baby plants. My little sister and I spend many phone calls talking about what sprouted that day.
2) Seeds make lots of plants so I can share tomatoes with my family, friends, and their children. Giving away tomato plants is sort of my thing–
3) Garden centers have 3, 5, maybe 7 tomato varieties. Seed companies have dozens and dozens including some tomatoes I can’t live without.
I always try to get my seed order in early, before the end of January. Catalogs are very seductive, so it helps to have a few rules.
Look at “Days to maturity”. Some tomatoes ripen early, others take up to 80 days. I order at least one early, two mid-season, and one late maturing tomato variety so all my tomatoes won’t come in at one time.
Look for lots of letters behind the name. VFN (etc, etc) indicates lots of disease resistance–a must at my house where full sun is at a premium. Yes, I would love to grow old-fashioned heirlooms but even my sister who has wonderful soil and sun for tomato growing doesn’t have much luck with these older plants.
Finally, Cherry Tomatoes are super easy. My favorite is Sweet Chelsea. What about you?
So I have been a home owner for 6 years…isn’t that crazy how time flies. And since I bought this home, the number 1 thing I said I needed to do is stain my deck.
You see my deck is amazing – just an atrocious red color. Plus, I added an addition a couple of years ago that didn’t match. Oh, I tried to ignore it…but you can see in the picture…it was like Clifford, the Big Red Dog:
So I put my mind to it. Here is how I stained my deck – 1,4oo square feet of it.
Nine Steps to Staining Your Deck:
- Create a plan – with the handy dandy advice from my dad.
- The Plan- wash deck, dry deck, stain deck – seems simple enough–oh no.
- Spray and scrub your deck – 2 reasons to clean your deck before staining – 1- you need to remove the mold and mildew, 2 – the dirt must be removed so the stain will adhere to the deck surface. You can powercwash or you can find several deck washes at Lowes/Home Depot – you will need a little sprayer and a scrub brush. SUPER Important.
- Dry deck for 48 hours at least
- Enlist help – I asked my family if they would come help – I called it a deck staining party…and provided lunch, snacks and festive beverages. Plus, co-blogger Chris, watched my dog. They graciously helped. Help is important…doing it by myself would have been miserable.
- Buy all staining materials – I bought a couple of rollers with extensions, a mini roller, several paint pans, gloves, 2 large brushes and a small one, oh and the stain.
- Pick the right kind of stain – my big red deck wasn’t going to be covered with a semi-transparent stain, so I had to go with a solid. Not what I would have picked, but I refused to sand down the whole deck. I labored over the color – I picked a blue, grey. I figured since I couldn’t go natural, why try. It felt so permanent. In the end, it was fine, beautiful actually.
- Get to work – the four of us stained for 4 hours straight…start at the top and work your way down…in case of spillage. Then my dad came over to finish the next day for a few hours.
- Let dry and touch up as needed.
That’s it. A new and improved deck….that zen-like experience in my backyard oasis is complete.
First, a disclaimer: My rustic potting table doesn’t always look this tidy. When I’m very busy in the garden, it tends to become a catch-all. Good thing it’s tucked away on a side porch. Still, twice a year I give it a good sweep and dust.
Finally, here’s a recycled tray of potting soil and perlite ready for some of the many cuttings I make this time of year. My daddy rooted all his geraniums in perlite. It lightens the potting mix making it easier for plants to grow roots.
Later today, I’m going to stick some lovely coleus cuttings my pal Susan gave me from her garden. Look for more about that in my next post.
So what’s on your potting table?
Fall is perfect–perfect for gardening that is. It’s cool temps allow you to work outside without breaking too much of a sweat. Recently, the slow rain quenches the thirst of any plants you put in the ground.
This weather inspired me to get out and garden. The summer really bummed me out. I thought I had lost that loving feeling for gardening. Nope. It is still there. And after an entire weekend in the mud….yeah, it has come back with a vengence.
Top priority for me…prune and move. Let’s explore moving first. Now that I have be gardening for 3 years now, I have finally gotten some established beds. But they need some maintaince. Recently, I moved several plants. They grew and looked out of place.
Three things to consider when deciding to move your plants:
- Plants need room. I find that I plant way to close to a fence or house or backdrop. When you plant grows this becomes overwhelmingly apparent. If your shrub is too close, it is time to move it–foward at least.
- Be prepared to water. Just like that spinning or Zumba class, when you are tired and thirsty, well that is probably how your plant feels. Exhausted from the move and water soothes that trauma. Don’t water to much though…everything in moderation
- Embrace your anxiety about it. I was so nervous to move my plants. Just look at these pics:
These plants looks miserable, right? It will be alright and it is perfectly natural to be nervous about doing something for the first time. Leaves may fall off, but they will come back in spring. Don’t let that prevent you from moving though…gardens are supposed to evolve.
So Get Out and Garden!