June 7, 2009

My Weekend Garden - When Hard Work Pays Off

It's been just about a month since I last got to participate in Harriet's fun Virtual Weekend Garden Tour - Mother Nature wasn't cooperating, but the last couple of weeks she's taken pity on me and given me some decent - though hot - weather to really get out and get some stuff done. So there are a zillion pictures in this post - hopefully you'll stick around to the end! :)

Last weekend when I started tackling the grape vines, I kept getting hit with raindrops, but it was warm and humid, and it wasn't supposed to last, so I continued on. This is what the sky looked like as I made my way to the Back 40 to deal with the grape vines back there:
Halfway done with trimming the grape vines and this is how the sky looked:
And when I was all done (and hot and sweaty since the quick rain followed by the sun made it real humid), this is what the sky looked like:
I posted this picture earlier this week of part of the Back 40 - it was hilarious how some people were speculating on the 'circle' being different things - I think my favorite was DiPaola Momma's comment about it looking like an alien launching pad - that totally cracked me up!
When we bought this house in 2003, there was an above ground pool that was in sad need of major maintenance. Can you say gross with algae filled green murky water? Uh, no thanks! Since Princess Nagger was only 6 months old at the time, we didn't want the hassle or liability (not to mention our homeowner's insurance guy said if we got rid of it we could save a bundle).

So we gave it to our friends for their house since she was a pool fiend and all they had to do was come dismantle it and take it away. Since it had sand under the pool, and it was out in the open away from trees, we used it as the perfect spot for our humongous burn pile. In fact, hubby and a friend of ours initiated what became known as 'The Burn Circle' by dragging a shed that used to house stinky goats from the previous owners and burning it:
It's fun to compare the two pictures above - notice the blank canvas in the second picture, compared to what's there now... I added a greenhouse in the back corner, hubby planted a row of poplar's along the property line (so in the summertime we don't have to look at all the cars next door for our neighbor's welding business in the back). I also added 4 sections of split rail fence and planted scads of baby grape vines - out of 50 vines planted, only 10 survived - 8 in the Back 40, 2 in the front. Seems the birds, the deer, the rabbits and the neighbor dogs all enjoyed snacking on baby grape vines. But those last 10 are doing well, and I have more varieties on order to add.

I sort of let the grape vines that survived grow a little wild, limiting the trimming of them to make sure I didn't cut what I wasn't supposed to cut (you know, so they'd actually produce grapes).
They looked more like grape bushes instead of vines, so I tackled them and did some drastic trimming...Princess Nagger was lamenting as the pile'o'vines grew that I was cutting all the grapes off. Sure, we'll not have as many grapes this year from these vines, but the ones we'll have will be big and juicy...and next year we'll have a ton of grapes to make wine...and maybe some jam. ;)

After:
Now they look more 'vineyard-style' vs. rampant bushes. :) I also have a myriad of other unique things planted, one of them being a Paw Paw tree - apparently it's the only 'tropical' tree that is native to North America, so they're supposed to grow really well. I bought 5 of them, and unfortunately only 1 survived the winter, so I have 3 more on order - when the flowers bloom on this one, I might have to try my hand at hand pollinating it to see if it'll grow fruit. Otherwise, I'll have to wait until the other ones grow and bloom to get some Paw Paw fruit. They're supposed to taste like a cross between a mango and a banana, so I'll let you know how they turn out:
I also planted a Fruit Cocktail tree - it will bear nectarines, peaches, plums, and apricots all from the same tree. It's doing great, in spite of being overshadowed on the back side by the old apple tree. Hubby cut some of the branches off the apple tree to give the Fruit Cocktail tree more light, so it should do just fine. I didn't prune it at all this past fall or spring, I wasn't sure where to cut to make sure I didn't accidentally get rid of any of the varieties of fruit this is supposed to bear. There's actually one fruit growing on it right now - next year is the year it should produce, but I'm excited to see what kind this one fruit is:
I also planted a 5-on-1 Apple Tree on the side of the house (where my beautiful dogwood used to be before the house painters killed it...*sniff!*) The apple varieties are: Red Delicious, Yellow Delicious, Dark Red Jonathan, Yates and Winesap. Last year it got attacked by bug varmints, so I had to cut off some of it's baby branches, then I didn't want to prune it because I was facing the same dilemma of how and where to do so to make sure I don't eliminate one of the 5 varieties of apples it will produce. So of course it looks a bit gangly this year, but I'll be able to successfully prune it in the fall and see how many apples I'll get off it next year:
Along the front edge of the driveway I planted a row of Purple Leaf Plum Hedges - these will do double duty...they'll actually grow into hedge formation and produce edible cherries! It's been a work in progress, the plants I've gotten have either been dead on arrival or died shortly after planting from the stress.
Luckily I got them from Direct Gardening - they have a one year guarantee of replacement no matter how the plant dies...and they've been great about replacing replacements, so I have been able to replace all six a couple of times - I just replaced 2 that were dead on arrival (but I planted them anyway, in the hopes that they were just in deep dormant state when I got them in the late fall). I'll have to put some blue tubes on them for the summer, just so they'll thrive and get nice and strong before winter. One of them appears to be top heavy, so I haven't figured out the magic trick to get it to stay upright yet. I might put a blue tube on that one for one more year just to make it stand up straight! You can see the newest one planted in the foreground - the one that looks like a stick. ;)

This is how they're supposed to look when they're full grown:
Here's hoping I'll have some success with those! :)

I have three rose bushes that are growing wild this year - I didn't get a chance to cut them back in the fall, Mother Nature kept sending us warmish weather and I didn't want to kill them...add to that a warmer-than-normal winter, and frost advisories in May, it's been a pretty wacky year. Luckily, in spite of them looking like wild bushes this year, they're blooming some beauty to enjoy:
I planted a row of dwarf cherry trees along the back side of the driveway, then created a small flower bed between the cherry trees and boxwoods by planting blue festuca, Peacock Plumbago, Houttuynia, pineapple thyme, and black columbine. I'm keeping the blue tubes on the cherry trees one more year even though they should have been taken off this year, but I want to protect them a little longer from the idiot neighbor pit bull that takes great pleasure peeing on them...grrrr! We'll be painting the barn to match the house this summer, and I really need to get a load of mulch to make my flower beds really look 'finished'.
Every one of the cherry trees has cherries this year - so exciting!
And finally, the moment you've all been waiting for...the update on the stream! Remember this from Memorial Day weekend:
And how hubby picked up these this week during his week off work:
Well, here we go...

In progress, added some rocks to the bottom of the stream and let it settle some more:
And then we started adding the flagstone on either side:

Then we dug up the grass on either side, used the landscaping timbers as edging, and I planted plants and mulched everything:
Of course, all of that was done in between random thunderstorms, so it was muddy and messy - and when we hosed off the flagstone after we put them in place, the pond got all mucky. But this weekend, things have started to clear up nicely:
Travis inspected the flagstone and seemed to be fine with his stream changing a bit:

So there you have it! What I've been up to the past two weeks, which has greatly limited my online time. Hovering hubby will be back to work tomorrow for 4 days (he took this next Friday off, too), so hopefully that means I'll have some time to actually relax and do some blog-hopping and commenting...at least the withdrawals from being offline haven't been too bad, since I've been working my butt off out in the yard! :)




11 Random Sassy Comments:

Yaya said...

Holy cow! It's just amazing! Good work!

I can't believe you even have grape vines! Just like a winery!

Hit 40 said...

You put more work into your yard than I. Wow. I will have to have Darsden come see this.

Sweet Serendipity said...

Wow, gorgeous photos. So fresh and green. Love the flagstone. Nice work!

carma said...

A 5 on 1 apple tree - no way!! That is awesome...I must admit that I am feeling very lame after reading blogs and seeing everyone's gardening and landscape photos. I have spent next to no time in the yard! BTW, not sure if you saw the award for you on my 6 Things post.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

Opus #6 said...

Wowee wow wow! I LOVE gardening. The results pay off forever!

Jennifer said...

I am in complete and utter awe of your garden/yard/park! ;-) It is so inspiring! In fact, I think I may have the guts to re-pot my plant! LOL!

Lizzie said...

holy moly macaroni girl! that is a ton of work!! it looks wonderful, thank you so much for taking us all on this beautiful journey around your yard :)

Stacie said...

Wow you did a lot of work! On top of that I learned new things. I never knew there was a fruit cocktail tree that bared fruit like that. The pond is gorgeous!! Stopping by from Harriet's Comment Challenge!

Stacie said...

First, I hope you are selling that energy - because I've got some things to do at my house that I have yet to attempt.

Secondly, your yard looks amazing! I've love to have that yard. Your hardwork has really paid off.

How adorable is your puppy! Too sweet.

Lastly, I've got something for you on my blog. Be sure to stop by. :D

Casey said...

I still don't get how you can have five types of apple on one tree, that just seems weird. Cool weird. And the fire shot was awesome. You've got a beautiful place there!

Flying Giggles and Lollipops said...

Absolutely beautiful! I wish I had the property like that to work with! Wow, looks like a paradise. I can imagine sitting back there eating a nice dinner and enjoying a glass of wine while the kids play...thanks for sharing!