Category Archives: Gardens

The View from My Window

View from my living room window.

This is the view from my window this morning. It is raining, so this is a day for indoor undertakings. I have laundry going. It is a light rain, so I am not worried about the extra water it adds for the sump pump. This also makes it blogging time.

The view out the living room window shows the top of the ancient azalea which is currently in peak bloom. At the far top of the photo are our burning bushes. We originally purchased six that were 10 inches high. The originals are now taller than me, a scant 5″4″. The oldest bushes are over 6 feet tall. All the other burning bushes in the line are offspring of the originals. They sprout in various places around our property. When they reach transplantable size, my husband moves them to the line of burning bushes along the edge of the road. This provides us a nice green screen from the passing cars and trucks in the warm months and once the leaves fall, they still act as a snow fence during the winter.

There is a new addition this year. We are in the process of fencing in our vegetable garden. If you look closely, you may see that the fence has three sides. We haven’t put up the fourth yet because we want to take the rototiller in one more time to mix in some new topsoil. Then we will install the last section. We are also going to have a gate. That is so shorties like me don’t have to hop over the fence!

We have had wild rabbits for years. They nibbled a few sprouts here and there but there was enough food for all of us. Last year the number of bunnies increased and some of them are huge. They did so much damage to the garden that we hardly had enough of several different types of vegetables to harvest. They especially liked the green beans. I replanted multiple times, but the tops got chewed off and we only had beans a few times. The sugar snap peas were a joke. Not surprisingly, bunnies love them. We only got a handful. So, this year, a fence it is! I also have to deal with crows eating the seeds I plant. Usually, replanting them once will take care of this. Since we will have the fence this year, I may hang some old CD’s or pie tins from the top wires and hope for the best.

I can tell you one thing. I have renewed respect for those who make their living as farmers. Putting up a little fence sounds so simple. Pound in some stakes, put up rolled fencing. Ha! It’s not cheap either. First you have to figure out which length of stakes you need and then how many. Same with the fencing. How high? What gauge? What spacing for the holes? Ok, you’re done with that. The rest is easy, right? Again, ha! You must measure and decide where to pound the stakes, so they are evenly spaced. And don’t forget to account for a gate. If you are off by two inches, you won’t have enough fence. Did you know you have to bury rabbit fencing, so they won’t dig under it? I didn’t. That means digging a trench for the fence and filling it in once the fence is up. Hanging the fence on the post will be easy now, I thought. Well, it still takes two people. One to hold the roll of fencing and keep it stretched tight. If you let it sag, it looks terrible and again, you won’t have enough fencing unless you bought extra. And those pesky little tabs on the stakes that are made to hold the wire? A lot of them are full of dried paint from the factory and you have to open them up with the flat blade of a screwdriver. Finally, we prevailed, hot, sweaty, and covered in dirt!

We are hoping for a good year in the vegetable garden. My husband took the Master Gardener course from the County Extension Office last year. We tested our soil and found that we were deficient in almost everything. Hubby has added nutrients, some topsoil, mulched leaves, and tilled them in. Time will tell how successful we were.

You can see in the photo that the near, right-hand side of the garden is grassy. That is where our asparagus patch is, so we can’t get the tiller in. I try to weed it in the spring, but it is hard to keep up with. Once we let the asparagus go for the season, it grows into beautiful, lacey fronds that outgrow any weeds. The garden is not exactly square anymore because the asparagus keeps moving farther out into the yard. I’m not quite sure what to do about this. If I dig it up and replant it back in the garden, I almost certainly will lose that portion of the asparagus crop for a year or two.

And so, on this rainy day I am happy to stay inside and work on other things. I am going for another cup of coffee, but I will leave you with this close up shot of our magnificent old azalea.

Our old azalea. Isn’t it glorious?

Spring Blooms at Sanctuary Acres

Dogwood tree in full bloom.

With the advent of some warmer weather, plants are really starting to take off around here. Finally! From my Facebook memories, I can see that the plants and trees are nearly a month behind where they normally are. But growth proceeds and I know it is only a matter of time before I will be complaining that it is too hot.

The dogwood in our front yard is at its peak right now. The picture of it in full bloom in front of the house is one of the things that drew me to this place when I was looking for a new home 19 years ago. The animals that have come and gone over the years have been hard on the place, but a home of such age, built in 1830, is up to the task. Lots of living goes on here.

Blueberry blossoms

This is one of the bushes from my blueberry patch. This particular one is in its third year. I am hoping for more than the handful of berries that it produced last year. Most of those were consumed one by one as we walked past on our way to or from the vegetable garden. None the less, they were appreciated. We have five blueberry bushes of varying ages, all young. A couple bushes did not thrive, and we replaced them rather than wait and hope for them to recover.

Redbud trees

Our redbud trees are also at peak bloom right now. They were such small sticks when we got them from the County Extension Office that we planted all five of them in a clump to wait and see which would survive. They all did. And they grew so beautifully that we left them in that original clump. These trees reseed so prolifically that we find them everywhere. We let the one that sprouted in my rose bed grow for a couple years and then gave it to our neighbor. We have a few others that we will transplant around our home.

Traditional lilac

Our old-fashioned lilac is blooming now. My husband transplanted it here as a shoot from one of his grandmother’s lilacs. It is getting old and doesn’t produce as many blooms as it once did. It is time to cut off the main trunk and let some of the newer ones take over. Then we will be awash in that lovely lilac scent once again. We also have a Miss Kim lilac and many Royal Lilacs. They bloom later in the season, so check back then.

White violets

We have violets growing throughout our yard. There is a patch under the huge pine tree near the house that grows densely with white flowers. We also have many of the purple violets and very rarely some that are white with the purple centers. When we hike at a nearby state park, I’ve seen a few with yellow blooms. I’m not sure exactly how they proliferate. They have transplanted themselves to my rose bed. For a time, I let them go. I enjoyed their delicate flowers and having color so early in the year. Now, I have begun weeding them out of the rose bed because they are taking over and encroaching on the roots of my roses. I tend to like plants that decide to grow in unusual place, but these have gotten out of control.

Azaelea bush

This bush was supposed to be an azalea but seems like it is crossed with a rhododendron. It is a nice little bush that always flowers but never seems to get any bigger. It doesn’t require pruning, just occasional weeding. It knows its place.

Viburnum bush

I passed one of these bushes on one of my many trips to the library years ago. I didn’t know what it was, but it smelled so heavenly that I had to have one. I researched until I discovered what it was and got my very own viburnum. It is an attractive shrub, not overly showy to look at, but it has other merits. I cut flowerheads from it every couple day and put them in a vase in the house where I can catch a whiff of the scent every time I walk past.

Bleeding hearts

The bleeding hearts we have are not the flashy domesticated ones. We have the good old woodland type. They grow under the very old, very large rhododendron near the side door and also under a pine tree near the woodworking shop. I enjoy the delicate lacey leaves and dusky pink flowers. They are one of the few flowers that can survive the battle with the bishop’s weed that was here when I moved in. I have been trying to eradicate it ever since. I suspect the previous owner spent their time in residence trying to eradicate the bishop’s weed too.

Trillium growing amongst the myrtle and trout lily.

Last, but not least is the majestic trillium. At one time it was endangered, so I am honored by its presence. I leave it alone since it is a fussy plant, and it graces us reliably with blooms year after year.

This is just the beginning of the growing and blooming season here, so click to follow along with the blog or sign up to receive emails. Not only will you see flowers and gardens, but also stories about our dogs and cats and general daily life here at Sanctuary Acres. Blessing to you.

Spring at Sanctuary Acres

Elizabeth Magnolia

Hi Friends! It is spring here, sort of, so time to share a few pictures of what is currently in bloom around our yard. Warmer weather is slow in coming to northeast Ohio this year. It has been much cooler than normal with a few days of warm weather thrown in. Enough to confuse the plants and set them back in their growth. My Facebook memories shows plants in full bloom at this time last year that haven’t even begun to make an appearance this year. But they will!

The most recent addition to our flowerbeds is the Elizabeth magnolia. My husband has been wanting a magnolia for some time and found this variety he had been looking for when we were out searching for a plum tree! We never did find the Toka plum tree that we were looking for, but we did find this magnolia which went into a bed in the walled garden last week and is currently flowering as seen in the photos.

The new Elizabeth magnolia is putting on a show!

We found another type of plum tree that will do the job. We already had a Superior plum tree that we put in last year. We discovered that you need two types of plum trees for successful pollination and fruiting, preferably two different types of Japanese plums. They should be of different varieties, not the same variety. Who knew? Probably lots of people but I was not one of them. The plum trees must flower at the same time so they can cross pollinate. We already had American plums, which are more of a bush, but we were not sure if they would do the job. So, I expect bushels of plums this fall! Ha! Not really, but it would be nice if we got a couple small plums this year to see what they taste like.

We also found a small cherry tree that is self-pollinating. It bears sour cherries that are good for pies and jellies. We… ok, my husband…it would take me an hour to dig a hole big enough, planted it behind the house in the area where our plums and blueberry bushes also reside. We have one other fruit bearing cherry tree behind the garage. It was here long before I bought this house. It has sustained a lot of damage over the past few years from other trees falling on it. We hope to find one of its young offspring to cultivate. It has the type of cherries that are yellow with a red blush and very tasty.

Service berries starting to bloom.

We also have service berries that are starting to bloom. They are planted along the road. We bought them as six inch sticks from the County Extension agent a number of years ago. The goal is prune them after fruiting season this year. The yield was lower last summer and most of the berries are so high up in the trees that only the birds can reach them. You have to pay close attention to get to the fruit before the birds. The berries are a coveted item. I have had birds sit in the top of the tree squawking and carrying on as I stand below picking berries and tossing them into my colander. A colander is my preferred container when I pick berries of any sort. Mine has a flat bottom that sits on the ground while I use both arms to reach the higher branches. And I can transport it directly to the sink for rinsing and sorting the fruit.

Hellebore flowers

We have other things besides fruit trees in flower now too. This hellebore was given to us by my mother-in-law last summer. It was a sprout from a large plant she had. They don’t like to be moved, so we are pleased that it is blooming in its first spring here. Another name for this plant is the Lenten Rose because it blooms so early in the season. They will even bloom with snow hanging on the leaves. Don’t be confused by the leaves in the bottom of this photo. Some stray pachysandra got transplanted with it.

Daffodils blooming in a raised bed.

And of course, we have the obligatory daffodils. I moved these to one of the raised beds surrounding the patio two years ago. They did not bloom the first year but are in fine form now. I wanted some early bloomers for us to enjoy on the few days we have that are warm enough to sit on the patio. I do enjoy looking at them while I am doing the early spring cleanup jobs in the patio gardens. Normally, I bring lots of daffodils indoors to enjoy in the spring. I have foregone that this year because we have an 11 month old kitten who knows no bounds. I will have to figure out a kitten proof set up before peony season arrives because I refuse to have a year without the scent of peonies in my house! It will be a tall order. The house plant and its ceramic pot that I had on the mantel bit the dust. Jasper kitten can reach the mantel via the desk that sits underneath. I am the human, I can outsmart him, right? The jury’s still out on that one. Time will tell.

Shelby by the hyacinth.
Baxter taking his turn by the hyacinth.

I didn’t feel this post would be complete without a picture of dogs, so here are Shelby and Baxter posing in front of the hyacinth at my brother’s house. They went along to celebrate my niece’s fifth birthday. We can rely on these two to be well behaved. When it was time to leave, we had to go find Shelby. She was having a nap in a corner of the sunroom where we had been sitting earlier.

Spring is just starting here and there will be more pictures of flowers, trees, and vegetables to come. And it is a certainty there will be pictures of dogs. Join us and follow along. You can sign up to receive updates at the top of the page!

Self Seeding Plants

CosmosCosmos

Walking around the yard last month, I realized there are a number of plants growing that I didn’t plant. They are added blessings or gifts of nature, if you will. The cosmos all self-seeded from plants that my daughter gave us last year. My favorite is the dark pinkish orange that grew up in the crack between two sandstones. You can see its bare roots, but it is growing tall, nonetheless.

Morning glories

Morning glories

The morning glories reseed themselves prolifically every year and have done so since I first moved into this house. In fact, I didn’t even plant the first ones. They just magically appeared.

Cosmos

Cosmos

This glorious stand of cosmos also self-seeded.

Cleome

Cleomes

The cleomes have been coming up on their own each spring for several years now. I did plant three of them about five years ago. That next year I weeded out dozens of baby cleomes that sprouted all over my rose bed. Now we seem to get just the right amount and I am thankful for the pop of color they add to the fall garden.

Moon flower

Moon flower

We have a couple moon flower progeny that survive from plants we put in years ago. We get less each year. They seem to have trouble sprouting through the mulch and ground cover.

It is fun to see where these self- sowing plants will emerge in the spring. They often come up in unexpected places. Places where I would never plant them myself but that I later decide is just right. In between flagstones on the patio or coming out vertically between retaining wall stones of a flower bed. Occasionally, I transplant young sprouts to a more prime location. Other times Mother Nature does know best and I let them be.

A Vision of Beauty

Gladioli
Gladioli

This is the time of year that I’m happy I dig up 80 gladioli bulbs each fall, give or take a few. In our Zone 5, if you don’t dig them up, they may survive the winter or they may not. It depends on how cold it gets each year. I don’t want to take a chance on losing that many bulbs.

I started out with only about 20 bulbs that I purchased from a local discount store, some years ago. They have multiplied to the amount I have now and seem to stay around 80 for the past few years. Maybe I am just too lazy to dig up the small ones when I have so many others already.

The pink and white ones with the dark pink throats shown above, are my favorite. Note that my favorite glad changes, depending on which one is currently blooming.

Some gladioli photos from previous years showed up on my Facebook memories today. I wonder where I planted the dark burgundy and the deep scarlet ones. I haven’t seen them yet this year. They will bloom one day soon and it will be a nice surprise to see an old friend again.

It seems that the yellow glads are the first to bloom, then the pink ones, followed by the darker ones. I have no idea why, but this seems to always be the case.

Gladioli
Glads in multiple colors.

The gladioli are a bit of work but the rewards are worth it. Not only are they a vision of beauty, the butterflies and hummingbirds love them too. I sat in the garden and watched a hummingbird flit from flower to flower just tonight.

Butterflies
Monarch and swallowtail, shown here on butterfly bush.

One of my favorite parts of August is the butterflies!

A Summer Garden Dinner

Garden plate
Garden Plate

Late summer suppers are wonderful!

My meal this evening consisted of the following. The main entree was a fried green tomato sandwich with pine nut hummus and Lacey baby Swiss cheese on Asiago peppercorn bread from the bakery. My sides were all fried veggies from our garden. Some okra, a Japanese eggplant, and the obligatory zucchini. I did add a wedge of freshly sliced tomato too.

We go above and beyond on getting our daily allotted servings of vegetables in the summer. I haven’t bought vegetables from the grocery store in weeks. And we’ve been giving friends and family some of the excess which makes us popular.

We haven’t resorted to sneaking vegetables into strangers cars yet, but I can’t say I haven’t considered it!

New Friends

Mourning Dove

We have a couple new residents here at Sanctuary Acres. At least for the time being. We have two young mourning doves hanging around in the patio area. There is a small pear tree in one of our raised beds that has a bird’s nest in the top. There are so many leaves around the nest that we never got a good look at the resident bird although we did hear nestlings chirping at one point and noticed an adult coming back to feed its young.

It must have been a mourning dove. Occasionally we see an adult, but usually it’s two slightly smaller birds that must have been born this year. They don’t show much fear of us or the dogs, having grown up with their nest so near us. They grew up watching us sit on the patio, so we are nothing of concern to them.

A young mourning dove listening to me talk.

I am able to get within a few feet of the young birds. Often when I enter the patio garden the doves are there. One time they were sitting on the brick walkway sunning themselves when I came along. They moved to keep around 3 or 4 feet in front of me, but never flew away or seemed too concerned. I can stand there and talk to them and they listen to my voice, cocking their heads from side to side as if they find the conversation very interesting. I have come upon the a number of times and taken the opportunity to socialize with them.

Claire watching our two young dove friends.

The doves spend some time in the pine trees that surround the patio. They sometimes fly down to the patio as if they want to hang out with us. They have even come to the patio when I am sitting out with the dogs. The dogs do show some interest in the doves. If the doves stay still, then the dogs leave them alone. The doves will fly up into the trees if one of the dogs runs near them and barks, but they will come back later.

I am working on teaching the dogs not to chase the doves when they move around. It is going pretty well. I tell the dogs, these are our doves. If they move towards the doves, I tell the dogs “no no.” This is working well. Claire is our most active dog and likes to watch them. She likes to watch every thing. Even she usually leaves the birds alone at my request. They provide fine entertainment.

I worry that I am not doing the birds any favors by acclimating them to humans and dogs. I hope they stay around here where they are safe. We certainly are enjoying having them around. I had forgotten how much I enjoy watching birds. I recently learned that mourning doves usually mate for life. And that their diet consists of seeds, which they eat from the ground or from a tray style bird feeder. They are too big and heavy for other types of feeders.

I don’t know how long we will have are little friends, but we are making the most of the time they are here.

What Lengths Will You Go to for Your Dogs?

Fence
Dog proofed!

We are trying to grow a yew hedge at the entrance to our walled garden. Every time the dogs run past on their way into or out of the house, the boys (3 of them) stop to pee on the yews. And one of the girls runs right over the shrubs, too caught up in the joy of life to notice.

The yews had a branch knocked off and were getting brown tips from all the abuse they were suffering. So, we installed a temporary fence around them. Until the dogs are retrained, or the yews grow bigger, whichever comes first! I also tied a few strips of bright cloth to the fence, anticipating that some of the dogs won’t notice it at first.

And just for good measure, I will share with you pictures of a few of my favorite plants in the garden this evening.

Hollyhock
My favorite hollyhock

Hollyhock
More hollyhocks

Sunpatiens
Sunpatiens

Verbena
Verbena

Garden Views

Rhododendron and Siberian Irises
Rhododendron and Siberian Irises

I thought I would use this post to show you some of what I have been working on that is keeping me so busy I haven’t had time for regular posts lately. Gardening, of course!

Another bed of Siberian irises

The perennial beds all require weeding. And then there are plants to be split and moved to other flowerbeds or even new ones to start.

Sunblaze Rose

And the roses are plants that have needs all their own. They need regular fertilizing, treating for pests and diseases and frequent pruning.

Sunblaze Rose with multiple blooms
Climbing Rose, America
Red Knockout Rose
Red Knockout Roses and Pink Drift Rose
Foxglove (Digitalis)

The foxglove, I started from seed. As finicky as they were to get started, they don’t require much upkeep now. And they reseed!

There is also much to do that I haven’t seen the pay off for yet. This week I planted 80 gladiolus bulbs and several dahlia tubers. These are all ones that I dug up last fall and wintered over in the basement. I planted seedlings that I started on the enclosed porch last month. And there were seeds and seedlings to get started in the vegetable garden too.

I’m no where caught up and don’t expect to be again until the first frost. Plants have the ability to grow faster than I can keep up with them. Even so, I vow to do better at keeping up with regular blogging!