Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Billings garden

Hello Sisters,
There is a garden here in Billings too.  Inspired by Amy Grandpre of the Yellowstone County Extension who did a presentation at the Library last year, I built a small square foot garden (4 X 4).  Hardly anything grew in the clayey soil even though I amended it with a lot of stuff (can't remember what but there were several heavy bags).

This year I amended with compost and peat moss. Anyone need some peat moss? I still have half the bag left.
And I got some good plants from the Big Sky Nursery in Laurel, recommended by a patron at the Library (the real reason Reference Librarians know stuff - people tell us).  Here's what the square foot garden looks like today:
Square Foot garden - mostly peppers, tomatoes, herbs.
As usual, I had the beginning of a plan but when  I went to Billings Hardware and found they were practically giving away herbs, all planning ceased.  How can one resist lavender and cilantro and two pots of oregano?  All right - that was an error.  I had so many herb plants that I didn't notice two were the same.  And then I must have planted  some by the pine stump last year because I found some flourishing there while I was planting.  That is typical.  I have left a legacy of herbs in the yards of every house in which I have lived - and I've lived in a lot.
Look at these peppers!

I like this picture because it shows our patio and outdoor computer center.  

I can keep an eye on Elliot and do my work at the same time.  He wanders and I have to call him back occasionally.  The bell on his collar is very handy for finding him.  

Sometimes, even though I can hear the bell, he is still difficult to find.

Friday, June 17, 2011

2011 Raffle Quilt is quilted

Hi there Jeni and Mary,
Raffle quilt detail.  It's all florals.
The Sister's Choice Raffle Quilt for this year is assembled and waiting for the quilter to finish the binding.   This is a preliminary photo of it hanging from Deb's garage door.  She had to hang it sideways and it was windy (It's North Dakota for Pete's sake) so it has a little wiggle in it from the wind.  I will get another picture when it is completed..
This is what happens when you hang a quilt on your garage door
when it is windy.
It is done in scrappy floral fabrics with brick red borders.  Here is the entire quilt so you have an idea of the colors.  Can you see where the detail is?  

Requests for tickets ($1.00 for one and $5.00 for 5) will be taken by Nancy.  Maybe this is YOUR year!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

More Gardening or Milkweed, Monarchs and Mom's Iris

Hiding the stump in the backyard where Jon 'trimmed' the Buckthorn. 
Dear Mary and Jeni,   I went to Sunnyside Gardens and had a wonderful hour looking at all the plants and pots.
I went to Sunnyside and couldn't resist.
I was looking for Oxalis and found the burgundy one with the yellow flowers that I had at the farm last year.   Then I found the yellow planter and then I found a whole bunch of other burgundy and yellow plants to go in it.
A purple birdbath and a yellow planter.
 I have also been hunting up Monarch eggs on Jon's milkweed patch.  So far I have found 7 eggs and 6 first instar caterpillars.   They are being cared for by Jon at his apartment.  I wonder how E is with that.  Bugs are not her favorite things.
Jon's Milkweed
 Here is a closeup of one of the tiny caterpillars and the white dot on the right side is an egg.  At actual size the egg is the size of a dot from a sharp pencil.
Caterpillar and egg for Monarch Butterfly
Two caterpillars.  The one hanging on the side of the container
is working at shedding his first skin.  He is growing and it is
getting tight in there.  They hang when they are doing that.
Now I am pleased to give you a few of Mom's Iris as a contrast to the bugs.
This on smells great!  Sort of like grape jam.
This one has no scent at all.
Just a little scent for this one.
These belong to the people at 4429, but I love Siberian Iris so I adopted them.

This purple one with the white stripes is my favorite!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


The gigantic Spirea
It has been made clear to me that my brother and I have very different views of what looks good in a garden.  I love the natural look.  I don't want to see plants shaped into boring lumps.  My brother Jon on the other hand does not like to see plants flopping all over.  Recently he decided the garlic chives along my parents front walk were becoming a little to free with their leaves.   He thought they needed some shaping and firming to keep them from touching the lovely natural design of the cement sidewalk.  So he gave them a crew cut.  There are 8 garlic chive plants along the sidewalk.  View the results:
Garlic Chives with a haircut
I have to admit I was speechless.  A crew cut for chives!  He didn't even save any for cooking.  (I am not sure he knows they are food.)   He did explain to me that he would stop clipping them as soon as they started to send up flower stalks.  Evidently he is OK with flowering plants getting in the way of wandering feet.

He has been trying to trim (his version) the beautiful Spirea which sits at the corner of the house for years.  (See first picture)   He had been told not to upon pain of death.  Up until this year he kept away from it.  Then, this year, Mother Nature conspired with him and sent many feet of snow.  That snow had to go somewhere.  We couldn't have it in the driveway or the sidewalk now could we?  And there was the Spirea sitting there right in the way.
Lots of snow this year....Note the Spirea under the tallest pile.
When the snow was piled upon the Spirea it pushed all the stems out into the driveway.  Now I admit we couldn't have those branches scratching up the side of the car.   Of course not.  Jon got to trim them down.   What a good job he did too.  See the little stems sticking out of the snow.
Spirea, trimmed for the driveway.
Now I have to say he doesn't always just hack off the plants.   Sometimes he ties them up and then hacks them off.   
Sometimes he merely ropes them up.  
Solomon's Seal
I am not even going to go into the affair of the lilac bush.  At least it is still alive.  I still get upset about that and it was years ago.  I need to let that go.  It wasn't Jon's fault anyway.  That was my father.  He told the man who mows the lawn to 'trim' it.  When Dad used to 'trim' them himself they never grew back.  We lost a few ornamental shrubs that way.

Hopefully the Chives will be able to store enough energy from their decimated leaves to allow them to bloom this year.  I have high hopes, because the plants usually respond to stress by working extra hard to reproduce.  It isn't as if we were low on Garlic Chives. They have self seeded all over.