Thursday, September 8, 2011

Irene was nice to Garden Consultant HQ last week

As you are all aware, Tropical Storm Irene came a knockin' the other weekend. I won't lie and say that I wasn't wringing my hands over her. The weather geeks made it sound like she was the real deal...and for some people she was. We had minimal damage here at our place...we just lost a couple of big limbs in the back yard. We had a bunch of leaf litter and little branches all over the ground. It only took us one day to clean up after her...and it almost looked like nothing even happened here.

One decent sized limb out of the last of the junky red maples in the back yard. Eric really wanted to take that tree down but decided not to because he wasn't going to do the shed this season. That junky tree does provide us a lot of privacy from the deck off of the neighbor behind us.

The top of a sassafrass tree fell down into the back forty. There are a couple of limbs that got all broken and twisted up in another red maple back there. They haven't fallen, but I think I'm going to take the loppers to them with a ladder.

Lake Larson made it through the storm completely unscathed. I was really worried about this because of potential power loss. We only lost power for about 8 hours. Once again, we were lucky because there were hundreds of thousands of Rhode Islanders who didn't have power for days on end. Why power outages are bad for water gardens is the waterfalls which supply oxygen to the fish shut down. The fish can actually smother to death without waterfalls or air stones aerating the water. Thank goodness, that was a non issue. Eric has been toying with the idea of putting the waterfalls on solar panels on the garage roof. I think I may make a push for that, not only for the savings on the power bill but also so the waterfalls and wet pets aren't completely reliant on National Grid.

Probably the worst of the damage we sustained...our neighbor lost a good sized dead limb out of his oak and it squashed part of Agility Land's fence. Oh well...we straightened it out the best we could. It still does the job of keeping Lars from saying hi to the neighbor and his little boy.

Again, we were lucky. We saw this on our ride back from the marina to check on Eric's boat and to grab his power inverter. That puts things into perspective doesn't it.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wordless water garden Wednesday

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Big Brother is watching!

I will every once in a while go on Google Maps or Live Maps and stalk clients gardens just for the heck of it. I think it's fun to see what season the satellite was over head or to see if the photo was snapped before or after the landscape was installed. I checked out one of my favorite projects in Portsmouth and I wasn't ready for what I saw...

See that red jeep in the driveway?? That's mine. See those two figures with the shadows in the garden in the backyard...that's me having a consultation with Kelly, my client. How freaky (and a little disturbing) is that!!

You never know when Big Brother is watching...

(oh and FYI, this was early spring and after the installation! LOL)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Window Box Wednesday

I do love creating this window box every season and then changing it out. I actually did put pansies in it early this spring. I think I was so over the glum and snowy winter we had here in New England and really felt the need to have some spring where I could see it. Our couch is on the other side of the window and I (and Lars) perch there a lot.

When we first moved into the house, the light exposure was way different than what is there now. I could plant full sun annuals and have them do well...but now? Not so much. Because of the large oak that is growing on the opposite side of the walkway and the house corner to the left of the box sits due south, this area is now solidly part sun/shade. The gardens in front of the house under the box have changed too and are still in a state of flux. Over the seasons the window box has had more and more shady annuals, starting with impatiens and coleus. Now's it's primary shady annuals with the same impatiens, large leave begonias (who are getting eaten by the impatiens,) Tri-color sweet potato vine and the two full sun annuals who are holding their own - eucalyptus and the diamond frost Euphorbia in the center of the box. I think this is a winning match for right now and I'll stick with it. I'll probably do some minor changes like in placement of the annuals and the colors for years to come...but if it ain't broke, don't fix it. I think more people in gardening need to follow that mantra! :)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Bluesday Tuesday

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Monday, August 15, 2011

Oh yeah...about that grass.

Grass seed really likes 4+ inches of rain in little over week. This area was nothing but dust not too long ago. Now, it looks like Ireland back there. The turf gods apparently approve of agility land.

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Since it's soggy today -

The only gripe I have about my new iphone is it doesn't seem to take good pics of the water lilies. It takes fantastic photos overall but for some reason it washes out the colors of the lilies. The lilies yield has been respectable. We've had numerous yellow ones (which is what is featured above) and peach ones. I have to say, the peach are my favorite! I need to get some pics of them soon. There is a white and baby pink lily out there which we've had very few flowers on. I wonder if the fish are messing with the root system like they have with some of the other lilies that have passed on.

I am very pleased at seeing inches of rain fall again in August. As of right now, we've had 3.8" of rain which the gardens and lawns have been drinking up. We put down grass seed in agility land last week right before the rains started...and we have grass back there...lots of it.

This was last Wednesday and you can see the hint of green which came to our surprise. Over the weekend, it continued to shoot up and now it's approaching lush. I'll have to take photos in a couple of days to show the progress. Granted it's not wicked sunny back there...but you can grow grass seed in the summer if you have the right amount of water and temperatures that aren't blistering. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

There is a lot of stuff I didn't talk about this season!

As with any garden, things are in flux all year round. Here, we (well...Eric) did some hardscape stuff which we've been toying with since we moved in here 7 years ago. True to his nickname at work - The Larsonist - Eric scored a ton of pavers and stone which was destined to the grinder at a gravel yard. Here was our crappy asphalt walkway before:

And this is what I came home to one night after work: 

 as you can see...this would most definitely qualify as an "Oh Crap" project! LOL It was fun trying to figure out with Eric how the walkway was going to work with a mix of materials. He had grabbed a bunch of Unilock pavers in tan and these beyond wonderful, large tan/gray/pink stones. Luckily the colors worked well with the pavers and the bluestone caps he had for the stairs. We decided to make the stones the featured part of the walkway and used the pavers as a border, more or less. Luckily as well, the old walkway's width worked beautifully with what we thought up:

The finished product ended up being stunning if I don't say so myself! I am so blessed I have a husband who can "do stuff."

Love it!!!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Considering it's something more than the spring crush...

That's kept me from posting on my blog on a regular basis. I've been grappling with a feeling I haven't been quite able to put my finger on this spring and summer. But I think these past two weeks I've identified what I haven't been wanting to admit. I'm suffering from burnout. There, I said it. This post isn't going to be about gardens and's going to be more cathartic of where I am in my place on this planet.

This spring and summer I have been running around like a complete lunatic and there were beyond numerous weeks where I wasn't home at night. Between meetings, the spring work load, nursery and landscape association stuff,  agility classes several times a week, me teaching dog training classes, and then working or dog showing weekends...I have no candle left because I burned it up months ago. I've made promises to clients I can't keep without killing myself this year in order to cinch projects. I haven't done newsletters for clients for two quarters now, and there's this general apathy that looms over me. That was the feeling I couldn't describe...the overall "Meh" feeling about my business, work, and my own gardens. Most of what I was doing felt like it was "one more freakin' thing I have to worry about." Then there was the anxiety I was feeling over what was supposed to be a fun hobby with Lars...we weren't progressing fast enough at the agility shows and we started to backslide in fact. It become something that wasn't fun anymore and there was one glaring moment in a class where I had an epiphany that ultimately lead me to putting my finger on what this post is about.

What it boils down to is "I do too much." and I am exhausted by it. 

Agility Land complete with newly sprouted grass!
It was about 5 years ago where I felt like I felt overwhelmed by life. Sure, I have felt times where my life is spinning out of control...but those were usually short lived for a couple of weeks. But this is the first time I've felt burned out. I stepped away from all of the agility classes I had been taking. I didn't realize how important it was for me to not have to go someplace every night. Eric and I have been working on in area in the waste land that is the foam finger that is a couple of weeks shy of officially becoming my own "agility land." I can train and practice at home now when I feel like it without an hour drive each way. I actually made this week in the office meeting free for the most part and it's made a big difference for my psyche. I've taken the time to work in my own yard a little bit at night and it feels really nice to have leisurely evenings.

I need to be way more honest with myself about what I feasibly can and what I can't do. I need to look at why am I doing things in my life both work and personally and who am I really doing this for. There's an inventory that needs to be taken and I have a feeling I need to really cut things that aren't working for me or my self care. I think being centered and content needs to win out over "look what I have accomplished." I need to simplify my life and start enjoying all of the aspects of it again.

The big guys, Chunk and Rorschach, snooping for munchies.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Arising from the spring crush again

Happy 4th of July everyone!!! I found this handy app that allows me to post to my blogs with my phone. I think may make it easier for me to update things more frequently.

This spring has been pretty normal weather wise and the gardens here are loving life. I have been commenting to Eric this is the year everything looks really robust. I'm willing to bet it's because of our shift to more organic methods like mulching with compost and using exclusively organic fertilizers. I'm sold on the benefits and the results.

I haven't really done anything new gardens around the yard other than extending a bed near the pond. I think I have a few holes in various beds but they won't be a big deal to fix. I am gathering some inspiration on perimeter plantings along the fence and what will become agility land soon. I probably will start moving on those this fall. So stay tuned!

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Friday, April 1, 2011

April Fools Indeed Mother Nature

Conflicting messages abound this spring!!! Mother Nature said last night "Winter's not over!" as the huge snowflakes fell from the sky. I will say, I am 100% officially over Winter 2011. I'm really, really hoping that was her last snowy hurrah. The snow wasn't that big of a inch or so of slop fell from the sky. It was pretty much gone by morning. I even think the rain is over today which will be nice.

Someone else in my in my yard who refuses to let go of winter (but this is okay in my book.)

The Jelena Witch Hazel is still blooming for almost 6 weeks!!! She's never bloomed this long before. Normally 4 weeks is how long she grants us her beauty. The blooms are starting to get tired looking now and I suspect they'll drop in about a week. If it stays cold, we'll see...maybe she'll go 7 - 8 weeks in flower!

But, like me, there are a lot of things in the garden and in my plant world that says..."Come on Spring!!" The fig below has started to fire out some serious growth these past couple of weeks. It may actually balance itself out soon.

The Crocus popped their heads about the soil in the last two days. I welcome them and their violet/blue blooms. I only have a couple of clusters around the Lake. I need to plant more just so I can really feel like spring is coming this time of year.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Last week, I glanced at the big picture window in the living room and noticed the passion flower was peeking over the curtain rod. And here I thought it was just in suspended animation. That's cool. I was looking at it from the couch Sunday and notice it had a bud...double cool. This morning I wanted to see if the bud was getting ready to flower...and what do I see??

3 spent blooms!!! Really? I would have loved to know that was going on just mere inches from where I sit/knit/watch TV. UGH! But, at least I know now and there are a ton of buds snaking up this one vine. I don't think I'm going to pollinate any of them this time around. I need to get in touch with Logee's and find out where we went awry with the epic passion fruit fail from this fall. I'm psyched though I have some really neat, tropical flowers kicking around to get me through the last, lagging cold days of the winter that refuses to die.

Other breaking news at Garden Consultant HQ is....check this out:

These things had better taste really good after waiting since the beginning of December. I'm just saying...

Friday, March 25, 2011

Signs of life...

Yesterday, we woke up to about .5" of snow on the ground and intermittent flurries through out the day. Thankfully, it melted by late morning and the stuff that fell later in the day never stood a chance on the ground. Cruel joke, Mother Nature....just cruel. :( The weather looks very promising though these next seven days of sunshine and temps in the 40's and low 50's. Definitely a far cry from last year this time of year with the pouring rain that lead to the office and basement flooding.

Tuesday and today I've been popping out off and on and taking stock of what's happening outside. This pic below is a welcome sight for winter weary eyes. These guys are facing on my south wall and a) they are probably an early season daff and b) this wall is warmer than the others so things progress faster than others.

Sedum 'Matrona' getting her "brussell sprout" look on. Note to fertilizer for her or my other sedums this year. They grew like hell and then flopped over mid June. If they do it again, they're getting pinched and hard.

I love emerging Lady Mantle leaves...they are adorable!

My dusty rose/orange lilies are popping up against that south wall. I'm waging a full out war against red lily leaf beetle this year and I'll have Eric get on top of that soon. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the evil little bug, here's a great link for educating yourself on them: The good news is, URI has been releasing a parasitic wasp in different areas of Rhode Island to combat these little nasties. Dr. Cassagrande who is involved with their study is very optimistic the wasps will be successful in controlling red lily leaf beetle.

All of the other hostas are sleeping still but this one - Hosta 'Aureo-marginata.' This variety is one of the first to emerge in the spring. It's a gorgeous yellow and green variegated leaf with a vase like growing habit. Very, very striking in the shade garden.

I'm getting psyched for this growing season...let's hope that Mother Nature wants to play nice this year.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Hey....wait a minute...

Dare I say...I see a hint of red on my perma-green cherry tomatoes??

O. M. G.

I haven't detected any change of color on the yellow cherries yet. And, that is fine because they did start flowering later than that left corner red cherry. I am happy to report that the slacker red cherry tomato plant on the right corner is now happily blooming (and setting fruit) it's little head off. Patience does indeed pay off.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Aerogarden update - early March

It's been about 3 to 4 months since I've started up the tomatoes and the flower 3 pod aerogardens. I've been using an oscillating fan to create enough of a breeze to pollinate the tomato plants. It has been working really well and I have a TON of little cherry tomatoes coming. I'm not sure if I am super anxious because of the suspense of having cherry tomatoes I grew in winter. feels like it is taking forever for them to ripen. I'm almost tempted to pick them and then ripen them on the windowsill like you do with greenies from outside. Must be patient....gardening teaches patience. I'm not following the wise words I constantly tell my clients. :/

Anyway, below are the red cherries on the far left:

Here are my yellow cherries in the middle. The fruit seem smaller than the reds and I am totally chalking that up to difference in cultivars:

The red cherry tomato on the far right hasn't produced any fruit at all...some flowers, but nothing that has gone on to fruit. I think it could be the lights from the 3 pod AG which shut off a lot later than the 7 pod. I wonder if that red guy isn't getting the darkness the other two are. Several weeks ago, I did move the 3 pod closer to my desk and further away from the big AG. I'm curious to see if that 2 foot distance will make a difference.

As I suspected, the house plants I brought downstairs to share the lighting wealth the AG's throw out are happy as clams. I did end up bringing the yellow Moth Orchid down here too because it was suffering from bud blast upstairs. Bud Blast is when buds will start to mature, turn yellow, and then fall off. One of the main causes of bud blast is major swings in temperature. Opening and closing the sliding glass door when it's frigid out and this orchid was the closest to the door. Since it has come down to the basement...I haven't lost any more buds.

As you can see here, the streptocarpus is loving life while leeching off of the extra light:

I've actually had a really nice display of Stock from the 3 pod AG. I just deadheaded it before I snapped the pic here. Now I have some white coming through which is a pleasant surprise. The oscillating fan does move their fragrance around the office and I have moments of where I feel like I'm at the flower show again. :) The petuntias are totally thriving and I'm hoping to see some flowers soon. I did end up pinching it back some after I took these pics because it was starting to get taller than the Stock. I'm sure I did set it back some from pinching off some of the buds. I started to change over the nutrients to support more flowering two weeks ago. Hopefully, I can push things along. The Zinnia I stuck in there is slowly growing but has a bud coming. It's literally 2" tall and looks kind of dumb next to it's neighbors. They got much, much taller in the 7 pod last summer. Whatever. These things are like one huge science experiment...and I find them fascinating.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Flashback Friday

Guess this gardening thing I do was really meant to be afterall. :)

No wonder why weeding is my least favorite of all gardening jobs - I've been picking weeds for the last 36 - 37 years.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Wet Pets Emerge!

These orange blobbish shapes gliding slowly under the ice were a welcome sight this morning. Lake Larson has finally lost it's blanket of snow on the shallow side and I can see what's going on in there. The deeper side, the ice is opaque and I can't see anyone who may be still snoozing under there. But, it's a big sigh of relief when Chunk, Rorschach, and their smaller buddies are looking at you from under their glass ceiling. Welcome back guys, I know you probably felt like those Chilean miners this winter under multiple feet of snow. It won't be long now, I promise. :)

I posted this on my personal facebook page last night. One of my Flower Show neighbors offered to snap a pic of me in my booth before the doors opened up on Sunday. I want to give a shout out to Paula from Simply Paula - for being kind enough to capture me in my little Garden Consultant world last week.

It's actually not a bad photo considering we were on our final stretch of four days! I was expecting me to look like a horrible driver license pic. Thanks again Paula! :)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Spring's knocking on the door

LOL...well, I'll give myself a big ol' F for my attempt at Project 365. Life got in the way and so goes my good intentions. Oh well. :)

Eventhough I haven't had much opportunity to post...stuff has been carrying on as usual. The RI Spring and Flower Show came and went last week. This was the sixth year for me in Booth 313 and it was a pleasure to be there again. I got the chance to see clients who have found me over the years there and to meet people who may join my ranks of clients/friends. I changed the layout of the booth a little bit this year and I really like the little changes I made. I got a lot of wonderful feedback on my work and the booth itself which is always good to hear.

The witch hazel 'Jelena' was a little bit early this season and missed the mark of her flower show week appearance. She was about 5 days early and I think she's as eager for spring to start up as we all are. Jelena is finally getting a little height on her and I can see her better over the picket fence from the kitchen window.

The snow is virtually gone this week after all of the rain we had last Friday and yesterday. I was wandering around picking fallen debris and branches from the back yard this morning. I've got some stuff to do this spring for a clean up but it won't be that bad. I think if it's nice this weekend, I may start a little sooner than I normally do. The itch to get my hands dirty is strong this year.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Lake Larson takes FIRST PLACE!!

I have been waiting to enter Lake Larson in the RI Nursery and Landscape Association's Excellence Award pretty much when Eric built it. This was the year that it looked like it was really ready. I guess the judges agreed with me. ;)

I dedicate this award to Eric's back and the numerous surgeries it's suffered. :)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

January Orchid Paradox - Day 14

When it's 11 degrees out this evening with a wind chill of doesn't seem right. It seems really, really right!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Feathered friends - Day 13

Bird Central was the place to be yesterday...I've got 2 suet cages, two feeder with black sunflower seeds, and the thistle tube feeder up this year. One suet cage is over on the fence but the hole in Lake Larson from the air stone. We get a nice mix of's the downy woodpecker who comes a lot and a sparrow of some sort (I can't tell from the pic.) We were in the hot tub this morning and the downy showed up. He made a couple of loud calls and then a bunch of birds came to feed. It was sort of he was the sentry and gave everyone else the okay to come and dine.