Plants that are survivors!!

Too survive in my garden is a challenge.  We have harsh winter, hot dry summers and plants have to be survivors... Here are a three of my favorites...

First are these rugged, aggressive lilies which grow anywhere and choke out all weeds.  Often called "Ditch Lilies" or "Roadside Lilies" because if they fell off a truck they grew wherever they landed.  They are a bit aggressive for a perennial bed but dazzling when given their own stage and their handsome foliage is a bonus...

Aggressive plants can be great assets if you take great care on where you plant them..

Next is this yellow rose... the Harison's Rose. sometimes called the yellow rose of Texas, the pioneer rose, or the Oregon trail rose.  It is often found by derelict farms.  The people have died, the house has collapsed and the rose survives with no care..... It is extremely difficult to get going as it does not root from a stem cutting and even if you get a root cutting it is still iffy. But once it's established, it is there forever.

I have a huge bush at the back of the property and have been nursing this baby along by the house for three years and I think it is going to make it.

You will see it listed in most mail-order catalogs but it most likely says "out of stock" and if you do order it you will most likely receive a "crop failure" notice at the time of delivery.

Once it is established it needs LOTS of room and can be killed with kindness.

It is my conviction the most underused and undervalued perennial in America are the perennial geraniums or Cranesbill geraniums.  The thrive in shade, part shade and full sun.  They can tolerate wet soil or dry soil.  They come from tiny 12" plants with lacey leaves up to  24" plants with large handsome leaves.  They are available in many colors of whites, pinks, purples and blues.  Here they are in my garden as ground cover in full shade and are just budding up to bloom but I would grow them just for their foliage..  They get no water and no care and happily choke out the weeds.

And here they are in part of the garden that was abandoned.  Most else has died but they thrive. Many have beautifully scented leaves.  There is a nursery in the UK that specialized in only these hardy geraniums and sells over 200 varieties.

As I was walking around taking pictures I found this old copper rooster I did many years ago... Both his head and tail feathers are long gone and he is listing badly.  I put drastic restoration for him on my summer list.  When I tore down the  potting center there was an old roll of tarnished copper.... perfect!!!


New potting area and the alliums win!!!

Remember this beloved potting center that was collapsing and I disassembled.?  It was nice to have a spot for all my gardening needs but as you see it had long outlived it usefulness.

Today I finished replacing it with some old fencing, an old head board and lots of lath.  No potting bench but I did hide this picnic bench along the back and it will have to serve as a station to store or fill pots and keep hand tools.  I planted a species clematis with blue bells  on the inside to grow up into the headboard...  Cost $0
When I abandoned the larger garden and let it go wild, I promised myself I would be disciplined and limit myself to this area for flowers and I have been quite good.  Except for the peony garden in back and the small area by my little porch.... I have kept to this.  It is about 15' x 30' and is all perennials so it is never all in bloom.  The daffodils and brunnera and hellebores have just finished and the peonies, sweet Cecily, alliums,  and doronicum are starting.   The alliums used to be inside the stone wall but insisted on seeding on the outside.  I used to dig them up and move them back inside but they only thrived outside the wall.  They win!!!
The tall fenced area you see in the background is my tiny veggie garden and the fence keeps the deer and rabbits out.  It won't be long until we have peas and beans.


When all else fails just put a needle in

Besides the fact I have serious stitcher's block and can't get into this piece, I feel I really need to finish it before I can clear my mind and move forward again....It has been laying around much too long and I need to finish it or abandon it.
 The foreground tree was the problem when I set it aside two years ago and it still is.  But sometimes I just need to put thread in a needle and start anywhere.  I did that the last couple days doing a lot of unnoticeable stitching on the trees in the background.  Then I put it in the computer and did some fiddling.  The problem was the area  (outlined in pink)above the   tree was all the same colors and the tree still wasn't large enough and still undefined.  It needs to really dominate that space and balance the cottage offset on the other side.
Once I added a much brighter green it was better.  Then moving the top of the tree into fence helped define it....  Now I can get moving again.  The ribbon leaves on the trees go slowly.  The foreground will go more quickly because it will be lots of lace and silk flowers... hopefully.
And we are getting tails feathers.....


Hummingbird wars and a tale of a little wren...

When we went to Quinn's resort last summer we ate in a long glassed-in porch.  The whole length was hummingbird feeders every few feet and each had 6-12 hummers feeding. When I put a feeder out there is always a dominant male who drives others away and this is common behavior so I knew the people at Quinn's knew something I needed to know.  So I went on Google and found this article  with advice on dealing with hummingbird wars.

Now according to hummingbird expert Bob Sargent, the way to attract more hummingbirds is to put out more feeders.  And rather than separate them  they should be clustered together.  When the birds all feed in a central area at numerous feeders, a dominant bird cannot hog a feeder. According Sargent   “The feeding and fighting sounds of many hummers at feeders will attract more and more hummers into your feeding area.”

Bob and Martha Sargent  maintain as many as 75 feeders in roughly a 30’ x 30’ area.  He suggests clustering feeders in close proximity to each other and using as many feeders as you can afford and maintain.  So this year I now have 4 feeders close together and will be adding 3 more when they arrive from Amazon this week.  I will keep you posted on the results.

Now the tale of my little wren.   Last year I had my first wren nest here and I fell in love.  The wren is the Sophie Tucker of birds..  This tiny bird throws back it head and belts out an incredible song.  So I was prepared.  I had cleaned out the old wren house and added a new one.  Lately we saw nesting activity at both houses and a wren was building a nest in the swallow house.  I am thinking that I have three nesting wrens..

Well maybe not!!!  It seems that it is the duty of the male wren to build the nest.  BUT it is not only his duty to build one nest, he must build several nests and the female only chooses one to lay her eggs.  I think this is rather much to put on the more little guy.  After building all those nests it is a wonder he still has enough energy to perform his manly duties...


Spring on the Farm....

I hadn't really planned on new chicks thinking I'd just buy some new layers later in the summer.  But when I was at the farm store the other day they had a batch of Austrlorps... my very favorite breed..  So now they are in my laundry room chirping away...Now I have to figure out how I will keep them separated from the older hens until the chicks get larger.

I have done very little stitching... In fact haven't even wanted to stitch..  I spent so much time stitching while sitting with mother last winter that I mostly want to MOVE about.  And it has been a gloriously gorgeous spring with lots of sunshine..  I have been repairing stuff, planting and moving other stuff.    You can see a new bird house in this photo of an old apple tree... and I've been painting wicker furniture and metal outdoor stuff... a long overdue task.. and adding more birdhouses..
 But I have gotten a good start on my May CQJP ( the color is horrid in this photo)  more folded ribbons...
And I did the tree much larger and lower on this cottage piece which I really an urge to finish.
There will be a lace bench and a lace gate and will use some of the lovely colorful laces I recently received from Nikki Lee.  I have several enamel birds I bought in Omaha that will go here.

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