July 16, 2017:
Hola! Where does the time go, Geez Louise! Half summer is already gone, and I am first now updating this from last December, tsk tsk. Bad Jan! So, been busy puttering around the yard, as always, and paying more attention than I probably should be to politics. The kitchen "remodel" is on hold due to budgetary constraints, but I hope to have that remedied before the end of the year. And I have yet to paint the guest room - it's only been 3 years now since I moved in to this version of Maison Newton, I'm not lazy or anything, nope... LOL! Take care and have a great rest of the summer. Jan

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day Means Gardening in SE Wisconsin

Happy Memorial Day everyone!

Warmer weather has arrived, at least, for now.  LOL!  The approach of Memorial Day weekend triggers massive mobs of plant-crazed Wisconsinites invading every garden center in the state.  We all have our favorites, but when stock gets low we're not picky, we'll go anywhere, even to Illinois - gasp!

My two favorite garden centers are Luxembourg Gardens in Franklin, which is run by a master gardener and her husband, and Milager's in Racine, a multi-generation family-run business.  In my opinion, these two centers have the best stock, bar none.

So, on Saturday May 23rd, my buddy Barb picked me up bright and early and we beat the crowds to Luxembourg Gardens.  She had made a previous run and this trip was on the hunt for spreading petunias and some interesting colorful annuals.  Luxembourg grows their own stock in green houses on their land, and they offer plants I've never seen anywhere else and can't even pronounce the names.  All I know is - the stock is hardy, well-grown, and suited to our variable Wisconsin climate.

$89.90 cents later for me (I don't know how much Barb spent), we were outta there, and just in time.  When we'd pulled in there were plenty of parking spaces.  When we left about an hour later cars were circling the parking areas trying to find a spot!  Talk about good timing, whew!

My theme for the front stoop this year centers around my bright red mailbox.  I LOVE IT!  Not sure what my neighbors think (if they hate it they've been polite enough to keep that to themselves), but it makes my house the only easily identifiable one on the block without having to strain your eyes to read the house numbers!  And it added a necessary jolt of color to my otherwise very neutral-colored house.

So, this year I was going for red.  The idea struck me one day a few weeks ago when I was shopping at Pick 'n Save and there was a large display outside one of the entrances of hanging pots of petunias and geraniums in all kinds of colors.  Oh, look at those, wouldn't they be pretty, I said to myself.  Self answered back, oh yes, that is a great idea!  I ended up lugging home a HUGE hanging planter filled with red geraniums; it was a steal at $12.99.  (Hmmmm, maybe that's the day the sciatica problems started??? See below...)

Anyway, the decision to go with red geraniums this year rather than some other kind of red flowers was made: (1) they're easy to grow and care for and will tolerate the western sun beating down upon them during the long summer afternoons and (2) they're inexpensive and (3) I'm familiar with them (translation: I'm too lazy to learn how to take care of any other kind of red flowering plant).

My initial plan was to hang the hanging pot of geraniums on my largest black iron plant-hanging pole thingy to add an additional bit of color out front, and flank the front door with my white Chippendale-style planters filled with red geraniums and asparagus ferns.  But the hanging plant I'd picked up at the Pick 'n Save was large, heavy (especially when watered), and my black iron plant-hanging thingy was not strong enough to stand up straight; it kept leaning this way or that way with the weight of the planter on it.  I tried various ideas to try and get it to stand straight, but I gave up in the end, and decided I would hang some kind of light decorative object from the plant-hanging thingy instead.

So at Luxembourg Gardens I purchased three healthy red geraniums (in hindsight, I should have bought four) and two asparagus ferns - very large ones!  What was I thinking... well, I was seduced by their lush beauty, what can I say? The plan was to put the ferns in with the geraniums, as last summer the ferns loved the heat and the sun on the front stoop and they grew and grew and grew!

Luxembourg Garden geraniums (3); green pepper plants (4), and
an heirloom tomato variety (4).  The peppers and tomatoes
will be planted alongside my driveway stoop, where there is plenty
of sunshine and shelter from the house and concrete stoop
if the nights dip down below 50 F.
Can you believe there are only 2 ferns in that box?  You
can also see a peek of the white and green vining
plant and the pink and white petunias.
I also planned to put some pink and white petunias with some green and white vine plants in two white hanging planters along the back fence.  Earlier this year I also bought two Chippendale style planter holders and two large planters to fit inside (they match the pair I have on my front stoop); my intent was to begin to add nice planters around my large and barren expanse of concrete patio. I wanted to buy something exotic and wild-looking for them.

So, after I got home and was looking over my lovely plant purchases, guess what -- I somehow forgot to buy plants for the patio pair of planters.  I realized I didn't have enough plants to do what I wanted to do!  Oh for Pete's sake!

I had to figure out what to do.  I didn't want to wait to plant until I could get more stock!  A walk to the Pick 'n Save to check over their stock of plants was out of the question, as my sciatica has been acting up something fierce for nearly 3 weeks now; fortunately the past few days it's gotten less and less painful, it is easing up.  The key is to keep moving, no matter how damn painful!  I've done walks and special exercises in an attempt to loosen up the spasming piriformis muscle that is causing the problems, but the mile round trip on foot to the Pick 'n Save -- that wasn't happening on Saturday after spending an hour stomping around the gravel pathways at Luxembourg Gardens!

So, in the end, I planted up the geraniums and added the white and green vine plants in each front porch planter (I cannot remember the name of the white and green vine plants and I can't find the tag, it's somewhere on my messy kitchen counter).  It took awhile, as I was limping around like Chester from the old Gunsmoke t.v. show (anyone remember Deputy Chester???), back and forth from front of the house to the back of the house to load up small buckets of potting soil, back and forth from front of the house to the back of the house to lug the plants to the front, etc. etc.  Each step painful.  Bending over the planters and kneeling on the concrete stoop - excruciating.  After an hour that seemed more like four, I had both planters finished and gave them a good watering with some Miracle Gro added.  Then I collapsed on the sofa, exhausted, and tried to find a good position to rest my aching left butt, hip and calf.  I promptly fell asleep... four hours!

Here's my front stoop with the pretties added, and a red/white/blue star-spangled decoration for the front door in honor of Memorial Day:
I really need to have something done about that front
sidewalk.  And I really need to turn the black metal
plant-hanging thing around to face the sidewalk.
Sorry about my reflection.  I cannot seem to take a
photo like this without getting myself in it somehow or other!
The little birdhouse is a dollar store buy a few days ago that I
spray-painted the same red as my mailbox!

A close-up of the green and white vine plant.  It's going to look
fabulous cascading over the sides of the planter boxes!
So, the plan -- for now -- is to plant the hanging planters for the back fence only with the white and pink petunias, and put the pair of uber-large asparagus ferns in the new white patio planting boxes.  They're large enough to anchor each planter.  Well, I'll see how I feel tomorrow.  I have to go to the dentist -- two fillings are on the horizon (OMG) and coming back home I need to stop at the Pick 'n Save.  If this sciatica is as good tomorrow as it is today (I've been sitting here typing now for quite some time and no pain radiating up and down my left leg like a race-car track) I may check out their plant selection...