Spring gardening

Tammy’s cottage garden of yesteryear

Part of the beauty of Tammy’s garden is like stumbling on a wee bit of rural England or maybe journeying back a century or two into simpler times. Another factor is how she captures the look with her camera. Look at these ancient looking vignettes containing  cottage garden plants like yarrow, coneflower, snapdragons, foxglove, lobelia and stock. Little birdhouses appear here and there.

Old enamel pan on a wooden stand is centered in the garden bed

A simple old enamel pan on a wooden stand is centered in the garden bed

Tammy’s ancient rusty wagon is filled with Mecardonia ‘Gold Dust’, Violet alyssum, and Euphorbia ‘Diamond Frost.’  In this photo below, the clay pots just glow and the handles of the garden forks echo the handle of the wagon.

Tammy's ancient rusty wagon

Tammy’s ancient rusty wagon

Against this weathered grey fence below, coneflowers and meadow sage hide a galvanized chicken feeder hung on a simple hook. Details in the background below are intriguing!  Thanks, Tammy!

A weathered fence is a backdrop for another vignette.

A weathered fence is a backdrop for another vignette.

Categories: Blue in the Garden, Creative Containers, Garden Art, Garden Junk, Garden Vignette, Get Galvanized, Recycling, Rusty Rust, Spring gardening | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Gardening without Pain

What a man needs in gardening is a cast-iron back, with a hinge in it. ~Charles Dudley Warner

Spring is here! Many of us are getting back into the garden after a winter of ,…shall I say hibernation??  Since our backs don’t have hinges, we need to take a few precautions, before getting into the strenuous jobs in the garden. Whether it’s simply wearing gloves and protective eyewear or strengthening and stretching muscles, a few tips will hopefully help you protect yourself from garden gremlins.

Keeping fit and warming up
Yoga is a great way of exercising and strengthening your muscles and preventing injury when gardening. “Just few simple poses, says Carolyn Masuda, a yoga teacher in Fullerton, CA, “will tone the legs, stomach, back, the whole body.”

She stoops to conquer
Cheryl, of Oakhurst is sadder but wiser, after a month-long bout with back strain and is determined not to let it happen again. She believes it was from digging, a common cause of injury in the garden, and now calls her new rose area the ‘Garden of Pain’!

She now stoops using her legs instead of her back when digging and also makes a conscious effect to dig with her right foot instead of the left, she says, which helps her back. To lift rocks, like many of us do here in the foothills, she uses a dolly, and then rolls it to where she needs the rocks to go.

*See this entertaining, and informative video, courtesy of The Horse Tail Trails Team, for ways to dig without hurting your back!

Gardening is a matter of your enthusiasm holding up until your back gets used to it. ~Author Unknown

Raking, without aching
The best rakes are wide
Wear a sturdy pair of gloves when you rake
Keep your back straight and don’t stoop
Rake when wind is calm and when the leaves are dry

One ‘back challenged’ gardener, Marcie, uses a small tarp, about four feet by six feet. On the short end, she ties a rope through the grommets so after raking leaves onto the tarp, she can drag the tarp to the compost pile, instead of bending down. What a neat idea!

Another great video from Irene at The Horse Tail Trails Team.

In poison oak areas, keep your feet
One sad gardener, who shall remain nameless, was clipping the poison oak whips growing up around her oak trees and sat on the damp ground to make the job easier. She discovered to her dismay that the nastiness of poison oak can soak through clothing and ended up with an awfully uncomfortable rash.

One tip for preventing contact with poison oak is to apply any oil-based lotion to your arms, wrists and ankles, which prevents any further poison oak oil from reaching the skin. Logical, no?

On Facebook, I asked the question, “Any gardening injuries?” and Clare from Curbstone Valley Farm says:
“I gave myself a black eye. I lost my footing on a slope due to our soft loose soils, and went head first down the slope. I landed on the edge of a shovel blade, which gave me a beaut of a black eye, and a small cut near my eyelid. I felt like such a clutz! Gardening on steep slopes can be challenging to say the least!”

My friend Cheryl did the classic…stepped on hoe and it wacked her in the head.

Tracy offered this, “My Mom got bitten on the finger by a spider when she didn’t shake her garden gloves out before putting them on.”

Amanda says, “No injury stories but I’ve been spooked a time or two….the last time was when I found a foot sticking out from behind a piece of wood….turned out to be an opossum that fell & got himself stuck between the board & brick wall.

Baby Northern Pacific Rattlesnake Crotalus oreganus oreganus

Baby Northern Pacific Rattlesnake, Crotalus oreganus oreganus

I think stress can be injurious, Amanda! I know there are snakes on my property and I try not to let it worry me, believing that they hear me coming, way before I see them. However, the grandkiddies reported seeing this baby rattlesnake on the retaining wall, (the sprig of rosemary shows how small it was, about the size of a Ritz cracker) outside our front door.

Snakus rubberus, so I stay aware

Snakus rubberus, set out on my sidewalks so I stay aware. Works!

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I paled I’m sure as I had just been up and down that bank weeding and planting.

Last Fall, I saw two, one 4 foot long gopher snake, which startled me, but I left him alone to do his work., and a tiny, but surprising long garter snake on the patio. I put out these rubber snakes to remind me that I’m not alone out here. (My friends hate these!)

One last tip:

Euphorbia amygdaloides 'Purpurea'

Euphorbia amygdaloides 'Purpurea' Beware of its sap!

When clipping and pruning any plant with white, milky sap (Euphorbia, especially), assume that it is an irritant and wear eye protection, avoiding any contact with your skin. There is an alarming story behind this tip which involves two visits to a hospital!

Euphorbia myrsinites Myrtle spurge

Euphorbia myrsinites, Myrtle spurge has irritating sap to some.

Again, I won’t say who, but will add that during that particular weekend, our unfortunate guests awoke to an empty house because we’d left in the middle of the night to go to emergency. They had to lock the door behind them when they left.

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So, get back into the garden and stay safe.  be sure to post your new garden projects at Flea Market Gardening on Facebook.  ~~ Sue

Categories: Gardening, Spring gardening | Tags: , , , , | 10 Comments

A culinary herb basket

Chives, Italian parsley, purple sage, dill and thyme

Chives, Italian parsley, purple sage, dill and thyme fit in the basket

For a Flea Market gardener, finding a large woven basket can be useful as a kitchen garden in a small garden or where deer abound. Sometimes having a basket of herbs close by the kitchen door, will discourage deer who tend to keep their distance. To make the basket last as long as possible fit a piece of heavy black plastic, with some drainage holes cut, inside before adding soil.

Chives are cut, then grow and cut again until the flowers are allowed to bloom, also edible!

Chives are cut, then grow and cut again until the flowers are allowed to bloom, also edible!

Thyme, chives, parsley and sage are the most used herbs in my cooking, just the right amount for this basket. These colorful and pungent chive flowers found themselves in a salad, surprising my guests a bit. I particularly like to grow chives and Italian parsley because they come back each year in my Zone 7 garden.

Since this basket has been sturdy enough to leave outside for several years, when I move it, I’m careful to hold it from the bottom. I know it will eventually wear out, so I’m looking for replacements and keep these sturdy baskets on my mental list when going to thrift shops and Flea Markets.

Roasted Herb Potatoes Cut red or white potatoes in 6-8 wedges each. Mix 1 T olive oil for every three potatoes with a mixture of chopped rosemary, chives, thyme, parsley and sage. Add potatoes and toss. Spread on a baking sheet and roast at 425 for 30-40 minutes. I stand the potatoes on their skins, or mix them halfway through.

Categories: Edibles, Gardening, How to: Easy projects, Spring gardening | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

Monika’s colorful desert garden

Monika’s Clauberg’s Nevada desert garden near Las Vegas was nearly destroyed when a water pipe broke, flooding and washing away her landscaping. She says, “Here it is the beginning of April and some things are coming back. Desert plants are most thankful for the littlest drink. We had to put big urns in the upper right hand corner,… the root system from a huge bush could not be totally removed. I am happy to report, things are filling in nicely.”

Monika Clauberg in her award winning derst garden near Las Vegas

Monika Clauberg in her award winning derst garden near Las Vegas

Here Monika points toward a small Verdin nest in the tree. Verdin are tiny, active songbirds, grey with yellow faces who live in the arid southwestern United States and northern Mexico.

Desert Dandilions and purple desert asters

Desert Dandilions and purple desert asters

In her garden she has a variety of heat loving plants, like Mojave and Firecracker penstemon, desert dandelions, desert asters and bottle brush. In Spring, pyracantha, stunning Apache plume, bright beavertail cactus and soft pink Mexican primrose bloom.

Mojave Penstamon

Mojave Penstamon

A stunning bottle brush reaches for the sky

A stunning bottle brush reaches for the sky.

Blooming Beavertail cactus

Blooming Beavertail cactus

Penstamon

Tall drought tolerant Penstamon edges the walk

Pyracantha blooms white in Spring

Pyracantha blooms white in Spring

Monika, says, “Now I will brag a bit. I won 2nd price in the whole Las Vegas Valley for creative desert garden, made by owner. It was even a video in Europe, showing how we deal with the water shortage, and how one can have a green garden in the Mojave Desert.”

Monika Clauberg in her patio garden

Monika Clauberg in her patio garden

Right now replacing a thirsty lawn is a big trend in home landscaping and Monika proves that you can have a beautiful garden even in extreme drought conditions. This Spring she’ll be sitting pretty at her garden table with blooms all around her and her garden sign says it all…  ~~ Sue

Live for Today

Categories: Gardening, Spring gardening, Uncategorized, Winter projects | Tags: , , | 7 Comments

Why does my coffee get cold?

I only set my cup down for a minute.

Miniature daffodil, a little too contrasty

Miniature daffodil, photos a little too contrasty

Seeing that the morning light was diffused, and remembering my ‘too contrasty’ photos of the miniature daffodils I took yesterday, I walked out into the day and set my steaming cup on the arm of the bench by the front door. Climbing the hill I was annoyed that the sun had again come from behind its cloud, but got into position to catch the tiny flowers when the time was right.

Daffodils...too sunny

Daffodils...too sunny

As I waited I reached over to nip off the seed heads on the foothill penstamon, already showing some reddish green new growth. Ooh, there is a new seedling nestled under the parent plant! I’m so happy to see that, knowing that there will be more of the iridescent lavender-blue later this spring.

I nip off the penstamon twigs with their seed pods attached, moving from one plant to another of the three.

Softer light on daffodils

Softer light on daffodils

Oops! The light is softening….over to the daffodils now; remember to put the camera on close-up, and there! Got this group! Now over to the other cluster, the really small ones just opening. Drat! Here comes the sun again. Moving back to the penstamons, I sit down in the bright light and gently tear the patches of grass and weeds growing underneath each plant. These wild penstamons have very brittle stems and it’s easy to knock a branch off the plant if you’re not careful.

Okay, sun’s behind the cloud again, I can get the last shot I wanted. Thinking “I hope I got a good focus on those daffodils…..”

Great! I gather the seedy penstamon twigs to look over for seeds when I go in, and spot my coffee cup on the bench as I go by. “Ah, not too cold”, I think as I head in to the microwave.

Indirect light shows more detail on the tiny flower

Indirect light shows more detail on the tiny flower

Categories: Spring gardening | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

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