Monday, February 25, 2013

Creekside Landscape...the creek is a risin'

Last year, my project of the year was this creek.. ( I, always, assume that readers do not follow the blog so if I am repetitive that is why)   I live on 15 acres that is shaped like a rectangle. The driveway to our house is almost a quarter mile long.  The west side of the rectangle (long side) is the property line that is divided by a creek.  Meaning I have miles of creek along the property.  As I landscape, I, always, do non-creekside.  This means that on one side of the driveway is a creek and on the other is a cemetery  which is screened.  Because I intend to clear out the underbrush so that you will be able to walk the creekside from end to end.  

When I moved here I was made aware that a creek was on the property, there is, also, a swamp that I have yet to see...(if you knew me, you would find the fact that I have never ventured toward it amazing).   One day while, walking my driveway I was a reflection through a dense underbrush....Investigating I found that the creek was very, very close to the my excitement, I opted to clear it out.  This took months....In a little bit I'll show you those pictures.  

This is a picture of the driveway and the creek after I cleared .  In the background beyond the tree you see the underbrush.  That is what I had to clear to get to this part of the creek.

When we have hard spring rains, I get very excited.  During most of the year the creek is rather shallow, with the exception of one spot that is over 10 feet deep.  Often, it does not move.  When you drive past it you can tell the creek is there, but you have to look.

Here is what it normally, looks like...

While driving by you can tell it's there, but you have to be looking.....

However, this is what it looks like this morning...

If you want to see more about how this got cleared and landscaped...I'll post the link below.
 Like a raging river...I love to see it like this....

Meanwhile, I wanted to show some flowers that are about to bloom or are blooming...I have learned a new appreciation for camellias, they look like roses...except they bloom when its late fall and winter and don't require near the care....I am going to invest in these more often.
It looks like a beautiful rose doesn't it?
Tulip trees are blossoming

Tulips are emerging

Encore Azaleas true to their name

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Building a large rose garden from Scratch.

I suspect that most people who visit this blog, only stop once in a while as I do.  So they may not realize that most of the blog, in past months. is about designing, building, and planting a huge rose garden.  So I decided to add a page dedicated to the progress of it.  That way you can see pictures as I move along.  I am a beginner...(well, I have been gardening for one year) so I do not know how it will end up, but if it was anything last year, I think it will be more flowers than I have ever seen in front of me.  To the point where I am unsure what to expect.  However, the page is under the Home Page...under Building a Huge Rose Garden Pictorial so you can "see" it's progress from end to end...and hopefully...a good result

Below are the two mock ups of what I expect to see.  There are over 100 plants and over 70 rose bushes in this garden section.  It is in the back yard surrounding the pool.  The property is 15 acres but I made this my "personal garden" as I am usually one of the few that visit it, and the area I view the most.....

Friday, February 22, 2013

Who needs a gym, when you have a garden?

I, kind of, fell into gardening.  In 2011, I had gained weight due to illness and the subsequent treatment.  About 25 lbs.  I got married in late 2011 and went on honeymoon to North Carolina to a cabin in Bryson City.  We visited the Smokey Mountain State Park

It was October and it rained colored leaves....we hiked the nature trails and zip lines.  The area is absolutely breathtaking.

I'll never forget one water fall, it was probably 7/10 miles upward.  It was called the Juney Whank.  I was huffing and puffing walking this and the old people ...and I mean old...were beating me.  So I told my new husband when we get back from our honeymoon I am going to start working out again.

It was incredible
Another waterfall that was bigger and not quite so steep.

When I got back from honeymoon, we started walking.  We live on 15 acres and our driveway is approx. 1/4 mile long.  So daily we walked.  There was a lot of trash and debris on the property, because it used to be an illegal dump site.   Everytime I walked past the debris, I grimaced at the eye sores.  So I asked my husband to help me remove it for my Christmas present.   That is where it all began.  After clearing the debris I noticed, WOW...what a diamond in the rough....the property was gorgeous.  It had huge magnolias and oaks.  It even has a creek on it that runs the whole length of the rectangular shaped property..  Well, that is when I started gardening.    I lost the 25 lbs as a result of last year's gardening.   Leave it to me to grow a ton of flowers and lose a lot of weight after the wedding.  Needless to say, we are going back to Smokey Mountains and this time...I will OWN the Juney Wank.

This morning I woke up to screaming muscles.  I spent 10 hours yesterday doing one small section of the backyard.  I still can't get over how long it took.  My hamstrings (muscles under your butt), triceps (muscles on the back of the upper arms) and even my fingers (you know what those are) were just dying.  

This is the section I was working on...behind the pool chairs.

About a month ago I cleared out a lot of underbrush.

In my defense, I did plant 17 plants yesterday.  Yes, I bought an auger  but the auger is (six one way, half dozen the other).  It's very heavy and does not do well with roots.
So I planted six Big Daddy Hydrangeas and 10 mums.  The seventeenth plant was a rose tree I moved from the front field to the back rose garden.   Digging that much and fighting through roots was a chore.  Not to mention the hours of cleaning the area before planting.  We do have a gym in the barn, but gardening is so much more entertaining and less like a chore.  A lot of avid gardens I have seen are relatively thin.  It's a rarity to see someone with a large garden that I would categorize as overweight.  

 This is my using the landscaper program to see what the effect will look.  This isn't a true rendition.  Azaleas, mums, and camellias will bloom in the spring, then the crepe myrtle and hydrangeas in the growing season but I just wanted an idea.

I was actually pleased it was raining today.. but (sighs) it has stopped now....ever notice when you get ready to do physical labor your body starts whining?

Monday, February 18, 2013

DIY Irrigation for Dummy Beginner's

I know the term  "irrigation system" is much so that you feel that it is not an option for you...but I am hear to tell you...if I can do it, you can do it.   There are different types of irrigation systems.  Most people think of sprinkler systems where the men come in huge trucks full of equipment, spitting out jargon that we don't understand...measuring, digging, and at the end you get a big bill for a million dollars.  Well, that may very well be the case...but (even though I am a beginner) I do have experience on irrigation and there are other options.

Last year, I spent hours and hours Daily watering my plants.  It was my very first attempt at gardening.  The property is 15 acres and I wanted to see flowers everywhere....problem was it's VERY HOT here and if I wanted them to live, let alone bloom, they needed water and lots of it.....I will confess I do not know if I overwatered, but I don't think so.   By the fall, I was burnt out from all the watering and this year I was NOT going to do it again.  I kinda stumbled upon irrigating....and man, it was worth it...I want to point a few concepts about..

  1. It's not as expensive as you think
  2. It's not as complicated as you think
  3. It is front end work but when you consider all the hours and hours you save on watering plants and the fact that you have beautiful flowers vs dead's worth it.

Above is the online design program I was using.  I made the mistake yesterday of not logging in and I had to redo this....I haven't finished playing with it to know whether or not it is going to give me what I want but I was sooooo PROUD that I managed to lay it out.  This is a free design program on Orbit.  The link is below.

You can download a pdf to read about it, and if you click Get Started it takes you to the online program....SIGN IN...don't make the mistake I made yesterday.  

I am opting to use Orbit over Mister Landscaper because it's wayyyy cheaper.  I bought this box of sprinkler heads and accessories online for $15.  If these were Mister Landscaper..this would have cost me a whole lot more.   I am not downing Mister Landscaper and will use them again, but the kits are the way to do with them.  I think the starter kit cost $ they aren't bad, just expensive if you buy by the piece.

I , also, bought this timer, but this (I think) is for valves....glad I have a husband who knows what that means..but there are timers that hook directly to hoses.

To save time on watering I grouped plants together in one area, vs scattered all over the property....smarter move.  I am also planting ornamental trees and shrubs (ie azaleas, oleander, camellias) that do not require the time and attention that roses demand.  This is the huge rose garden that I am irrigating.  There are approximately 70 roses bushes just don't see them yet.

I borrowed this from my husband.  It's a measurer. (probably not the real name but that is what I call it or a wheel measurer thingy)  I  measured the area and put it into the program...I was so excited that the numbers "tied"  If you work on the program, you will know what I mean.  Meaning when I put in a rectangle at a certain feet, by the time I got to the last side it was already the right distance.
 Now I want to show you what I did last year...that I stumbled upon.  The very first plants I planted were Encore Azaleas.  Meaning the VERY FIRST plants I planted...ever.

Encore Azaleas

I went later on to plant sticks in the ground....I was very disappointed when I ordered Endless Summer Hydrangeas and  I got sticks......I learned different as the year progressed.
I was persusing in Lowes and stumbled upon this

Now if you have a small bed...I, highly recommend this a lot...I am not downing the system whatsoever, but on a larger scale I think Orbit may be more economical.  But this is what I opted to use on the front bed. I,also, made it a bed with border and mulch.  Not only were the result unbelievable, I didn't have to worry about it at all.  Everything was automatic.

Wow...I was so surprised at the results..I planted more plants in them  like periwinkle and mexican heather but it looked like this until November.  This is with the Mister Landscaper system.  I had sprinkler heads on the azaleas  heathers, etc and drip for the hydrangeas ...all on the same hose.

Those sticks sure did surprise me.

Now, the nitty gritty....First, get a water timer....they are awesome!!!

This is the mister landscaper hose.  You essentially run a hose through the bed and poke holes in it for drip hoses and sprinkler heads.

You see a hose one valve and the irrigation hose on the other.

Some things had drip lines...

Some things had sprinkler really isn't hard....I swear... but my point is that they got water automatically no matter how busy I get....
So that gives you the rough of it....I'll let you know how the design program goes..but my point is....irrigating isn't as bad as it sounds and welllllll worth the effort.  

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Journal Entry-Freeze and outdoor container plants

Last night was a 30 degree freeze..I have more azaleas, camellias, etc that I can't count them.  They were off the ground in girdles and I opted to put them in the ground.  I watered them well yesterday because I heard that water insulates...This morning the soil was so frozen solid, it even cracked like a windshield.  I didn't know if watering would hurt or help them but I waited till the ice thawed and watered them.  I think they will be okay...time will tell.

Azaleas seemed droopy

Soil was moist when thawed 

Why hello!.....this made my morning better...a crocus had bloomed

The azaleas looked burned

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Stocked Up

Well, I think I have all the plants in the world to keep me busy for months....


Other side..will be a freeze tonight

Cold frame..I honestly couldn't tell all I have ....

Firesale at the nursery....lots of camellias and azaleas


They are in cradles I guess...with the freeze tonight..and them off the ground..I wonder if it makes them more susceptible to freeze..I will wrap the bottoms tonight.

They are off the ground 
Back powerwashed and mowed

Rose garden

Weeping willow

Huge junipers to screen the barn