Hello! It feels like I haven't blogged in a really long time. I've been away from my computer for days. We had a nice Easter, as I hope you did as well, but the following week was pretty challenging as the Bear recovered from his surgery. We went back to the hospital for follow-up appointments and he worked from home a bit, but mostly needed to rest and get better. I was trying to juggle a lot of different things on my own. We both slept poorly at night because he was uncomfortable and keeping me awake. He's doing much better this week and has returned to work and we're both sleeping better, so things are looking up. Thank you for your kind words and get-well wishes, they mean a lot to both of us.
This weekend, we tackled some outdoor jobs, which was actually very invigorating. He felt well enough to work for a couple of hours and I was just so glad to be outdoors and getting stuff done. All the perennials are blooming now and it's just lovely to be outside. This time of year is definitely one to savor; the temperatures are usually perfect and the sun isn't too terribly strong yet. In a few weeks, yard work will be a brutal endeavor, but not just yet. I spent an hour or so on Saturday morning weeding the front yard and pulling out volunteer shoots of Russian sage, which pop up all over the yard. Sunday was for the backyard and all four of us worked on getting things ready for the growing season. It's all finished now and I'm really excited to see what unfolds.
I planted my annuals, finally. I was itching for weeks to do this, but I held back. I might have done it a bit too early as it is, since the forecast is calling for lows in the upper thirties by the end of this week, but as long as the temperature stays above freezing, I think it will be okay. Anyway, I've really refined my annuals game over the past few years, after planting too much in the past, and now I'm down to just my half-barrel and this small Talavera planter, and I feel hopeful that I can have good annuals all summer long.
Last year, I planted beautiful lavender-and-yellow violas in the Talavera pot but they couldn't handle much sun and they died by early June. This year, I deliberately chose plants that want long periods of direct sun. I really love this planter and I want something to survive in it! I chose two small celosia plants, a pink and an orange. Celosia thrives with 6 or more hours of full sun, and I'm only hoping that New Mexico-strength sun has been accounted for. It's a small, lightweight pot, so I can always move it into shade if it seems like they've had enough.
In the barrel, I planted five geraniums. I have had geraniums in the barrel for years, but I've always added other plants, such as lobelia or verbena, for color and design, but I don't think I'll bother with anything but geraniums anymore. I ended up pulling four out of six verbenas last year because they were too crowded. The back of the barrel is in partial shade so things don't grow as well there. So just geraniums now. I planted them closer to the front of the barrel to give them more sun exposure. I know they'll do well here and I'm glad I resisted the temptation to fill up the barrel with other things that will only look nice for a little while. It's a terrible feeling to throw away plants, isn't it? All that water wasted. I tried to go with a theme with my flowers this year, sticking with pinks and oranges. I thought it would be nice with the new house paint. The barrel has two fuchsia geraniums on the left, a peachy-pink in the middle and two orange ones at the right. I was thinking about kind of a wave through the colors, which works in my head, but we'll see.
Less beautifully, we planted our vegetable containers too. I don't remember exactly what is in which container at the moment, but they include two kinds of tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini and yellow squash. They'll live here on the west wall of the yard, near the chicken coop, where they'll get good but not terribly intense sun.
Other things are planted in the side yard, along the house. We have two kinds of grapes back here and they're doing really well. We also have an outrageous amount of tarragon back here that I'm always looking for ways to use. Annual-wise, we plant tomatoes and herbs over here. We have a large planter with basil, chives and thyme this year. We try different herbs every year, but there is always basil.
This post is mostly about the back yard but I am so excited about this Spanish lavender we planted in the front about eighteen months ago. We planted an English lavender at the same time, to replace a big, old one which had died. Neither new lavender did much in their first spring, last year, but this year the Spanish has bloomed so nicely! The new English has buds (as does the other old one we still have) so I think it will flower soon too. The front yard smells better and better every time I go outside!
Back to the back...I bought a new patio umbrella this spring. It's from Target and I took advantage of a big patio sale with an extra discount coupon code. Our old umbrella was in sorry shape and I really wanted a bigger one anyway, so it was a good time to grab a new one while they were cheaper. I chose a neutral color to blend with the house and let the flower colors stand out. It's just lovely. We've eaten lunch out there almost every day for the past couple of weeks. I also sprung for a concrete base for the umbrella. I've never had one before; I always took the old umbrella down and put it away on the porch to keep it from blowing away. It turns out you don't have to do that if you have a base! Duh. I don't know why I never thought of buying one but it makes a big difference.
And check this out - the new umbrella tilts! I know, this is probably really old "technology" but the old one didn't have this feature and I was constantly moving the umbrella around and sticking it back into the table at different angles to block the sun. But not anymore, now that I've leapt so proudly into the um...twentieth century.
Look what I found while I was gardening! We're not sure where the nest is, but we all marveled at the idea of a baby robin who was small enough to hatch from that little hole. And we all agreed that baby birds and teeny eggs are some of the nicest things about springtime.
I just wanted to say hello and welcome to new readers and followers! I've noticed several new commenters lately and I am really glad you're here. I hope you'll enjoy following along with our homey adventures.
I've had some questions about the Winter Project Link Party lately and I thought I'd address them here; the party will resume in October, provided there is interest among my readers. I will ask about interest toward the end of summer, probably in August, just to see whether people wish to participate again. It only takes a few to have a nice link party. I hope that if you're interested now, you'll keep my party in mind come the fall. I'd love to have you!