Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A slower pace

The first couple of times I drove past this barn I reminded myself that I was working and stayed on task.  The road past the barn took me to the growing fields for work where we have hundreds of acres of trees.  I was in the area to meet with our tree grower to tour the fields and take pictures for marketing materials for the nursery.  

However, it really wouldn't hurt to just lean out the car window and take a few pictures while driving by.  Then, I saw the tire swing hanging below a giant Catalpa.  Suddenly the pace slowed with a reminder of the swing my mom's parents had in their yard in Harwood, Missouri.  Every now and then, we would make the trip to Harwood for a visit and family picnic.  Old tin cans would be lined up on a fence and so we could practice target shooting.  We would scare the younger cousins in the outhouse.  And, we would take turns swinging.  

On one of our visits we took a trip to the nearby Schell-Osage Conservation Area.  As we sat on a ledge overlooking the land, Grandpa told us about the Indians, plants and birds of the area.  Maybe that's why I love native plants so much.  

Compass Plant is flowering in the fields by the red barn with the tire swing.  Native to much of the United States, Silphium laciniatum was used by the early travelers across the plains.  With the leaves and flowers generally on the north and south side of the stalk, it was easier to tell the direction they were traveling in.
Hanging out the car window taking pictures didn't seem the best way to capture this moment and memory.  Next thing you know, my car is pulled over to the side of the gravel road and I'm taking pictures and enjoying a slower pace.  


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Our first fruit and vegetable garden

All excited about her success at college growing corn for an experiment in a plant science class, my daughter decided we should have a fruit and vegetable garden this summer.  Off to our favorite Grass Pad my daughter and I went to buy our plants and seeds.  As we stood there looking at all the plants and packages of seeds, I wished that I had paid attention to my grandparent's vegetable gardens.  

Thinking back on their house where they lived for close to 70 years in the northeast part of Kansas City, I remembered that Grandpa kept records of what he planted, when he planted and tracked the daily temperature and rainfall.  And, he relied on The Farmer's Almanac for help.  But, as a child, I really didn't care about what cucumbers he grew, I just loved the pickles Grandma made with the harvest.  Bread and Butter pickles were the best.  They always grew green beans and I got to snap the beans for Sunday supper.

For our garden, we got off to a slow start.  Here it was Memorial Day weekend and we were at the store selecting our plants and seeds.  We chose a package of Ferry Morse sugar enhanced sweet corn because the package claimed it was guaranteed to grow.  And, it is growing! 

And, so is the Burpee Hybrid Muskmelon.  It's growing all over the garden... 

I'm not sure what a muskmelon tastes like; it's something my daughter had to have.  Soon, though, we will have one ready to sample.  

Our tomato plants are also coming along.  Years ago I grew a tomato plant only because a friend gave me a plant and said I had to.  At that time, I didn't even like the taste of a fresh tomato.  The only thing I remember from that experience is that you really have to get them staked.  Unfortunately, my daughter has yet to learn that lesson for her garden.  This is a Jet Star tomato.  She chose it because the picture on the tag showed lots of bright red tomatoes.  

The ornamental pepper has done well.  Probably because it is in a container on the front porch.  The peppers we planted in the garden were promptly eaten.  We have yet to figure out what to do about all the critters in the garden.  We tried fencing.  But we didn't know there was a mole close by just waiting.  The raised trail went under the fence and right to the sweet potatoes. The sweet potatoes were the first plants to disappear.  The green beans and peppers were next.  That was when the rabbits found a way through the fence. Red pepper sprinkled around the plants seems to do the best job of keeping the pests away. 

It looks like this is the first of many fruit and vegetable gardens in the my future.  My husband is excited about building a garden this fall complete with raised beds. In his mind it will be very utilitarian.  In my mind it will have a fence with an arbor at the entrance.  In the middle of the connecting paths there will be a large container with flowers and pretty herbs.  We'll see what compromises take place in the construction of our next garden. 

For now, I'm just glad my daughter came home from college wanting to plant a garden.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Here comes the bride - the construction phase of a garden for weddings

Linda, a dear friend, has dreams of a bride and groom getting married under the pergola in her garden some day.  Not only a site for weddings, the garden just east of Kansas City will be a place for social and church gatherings and be open, from time to time, for garden tours.

But, first, the construction phase.

A pile of sand and a cement mixer are signs that there is some serious construction going on here.  

The bricks are being made on site using this form.  Because a specific color is desired for some of the bricks, this time consuming process is preferred over buying ones at a local brickyard.  

Lines and stacks of bricks are ready to be installed in one of the remaining paths being constructed in the garden.  The design of the garden was modified when Linda discovered that the planned pathways don't work for some of the shortcuts she takes. 

Paths and gates are designed to be wide enough for wheelchairs.

Right now this fountain is a favorite swimming hole of the two resident dogs.  Built with ledges to hold water garden plants, next year this water feature will be full of plants.  The dogs will have to be content with swimming in another water garden constructed just for them on the edge of the garden.  

Here's a place where Linda can sit and watch the dogs swim, read a book, reflect on the day, pray, and plan out the next phase of the garden.  

With some plants in place and many more to come, Linda's plan is to mainly use native shrubs and perennials in the garden.  It's a tough site that is wide open to the elements.  There is pasture on the south and east sides of the garden and her earth contact home is on the north.  The large windows of the house overlook the garden.  She has found that many plants that grow successfully in most parts of Kansas City have a tough time here.  

What would you plant in this garden?