Category Archives: Cutting Garden

The Garden {June 2016}

The Garden {June 2016}

The month of May always leaves me spinning.

Every spring I tell myself, “brace yourself girl” but it still manages knocks me down.  I won’t bore you with the endless details, instead I will tell you that I survived (as I have a habit of doing) and now we will move on to the important stuff…the garden.

The Garden {June 2016}The garden now has a proper arch.  Isn’t it beautiful?  It needs a rose of course, but it makes me ridiculously happy every time I walk under it.  The Garden {June 2016}

I find as the years go by, that the garden takes on a life of it’s own.  I make my plans, and it makes it’s own plans…and somehow it all works out beautifully.  The garden decided to grow a cluster of sunflowers near the place I planted them last year, and they are already nice and big.  I’ll be swimming in sunflowers from June to October at this rate.The Garden {June 2016}

June came on hard with a full week of 100 degree plus temperatures.  My darling sweet peas (which were just starting to take off) are not fans of the heat.  I’m gathering small bouquets while I can but these hot temperatures will finish them off before too long.The Garden {June 2016}

The Garden {June 2016}

I am determined to grow better sweet peas next year.  This is the one area of the garden that I’ve been disappointed with.  Even when I get a decent crop, the stems are too short and the blooms are small.  I’m brainstorming and planning even now, hoping that next year I will be able to grow proper sweet peas.  Don’t get me wrong…small sweet peas are better than no sweet peas…but I know I can do better.The Garden {June 2016}

The back half of the garden is looking lovely! Not a lot of flowers at this point but everything is looking healthy and on the verge of blooming.The Garden {June 2016}

My zinnias are covered in buds and stretching up nice and tall.The Garden {June 2016}I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to see two rows of healthy, happy zinnias.  After last year’s disappointing and frustrating zinnia experience, I was really ready for a year of beautiful zinnias.  Thanks to Johnny’s Seeds it looks like I’ll be getting just that…

The Garden {June 2016}

 

This little Billy Ball might not look like much to you my friend, but to me it is epic.  The result of three summers of trying, and failing to grown Billy Balls.  A whole row of beautiful Billy Ball plants!  The first year I attempted to grown them, I simply sowed them directly into my raised beds, and not a single seed germinated.  The second season, I started them in February, in some egg cartons I had saved.  The egg cartons proved to be too small and shallow.  The seeds germinated but they never took off.  Not enough soil to get their roots established, so the shriveled up and died.  This year I took no chances…growing trays were bought, good seed starting soil was purchased, and for two months I babysat those seedlings.  I carefully transplanted them at the beginning of April and they have continued to grow and thrive.The Garden {June 2016}The funny thing is, I told my Billy Ball tale of woe to my friend Kelley (who is co-owner and operator of a local flower farm, Kelley Farms), and she laughed and said, “April, what on earth did you do to your Billy Balls?!  All we do is press the seeds into the dirt with our index finger and they grow!”  So there you have it… next year I think I’m going to try the Kelley Farm method.

My Bachelor Buttons are on the verge of blooming.

The Garden {June 2016}

So excited about the basil I planted this year!  It has the prettiest dark purple stems and tips, it’s going to look stunning in bouquets.The Garden {June 2016}

All the sage I planted (to use as filler in my bouquets) is looking lovely as well.  Herbs and flowers are my favorite combo. The Garden {June 2016}

In the back half of the garden I planted two new rows of sunflowers, and a few of them are starting to bloom.  I bought one package of single stem sunflowers to mix in with the other varieties.  Normally, I wouldn’t bother growing single stem flowers, but I liked the pale yellow color and they were on sale.  I wasn’t sure what to expect from them, but it looks like they aren’t going to grow to the towering heights that sunflowers normally achieve.
The Garden {June 2016}

The Garden {June 2016}

 

This is the Yarrow I planted.  It’s the first year I’ve grown it in the garden.  The foliage has a unique and feathery texture.  My goal was to have more flowers in the garden that would be good for drying.  Billy Balls and Yarrow dry nicely.  I had hoped to also grow Chamomile as well, but it doesn’t look like I’ll get around to it this year.

The Garden {June 2016}

She likes to follow me around and point out all the ladybugs she finds.
The Garden {June 2016}

The Garden {June 2016}

The garden also decided to plant Cosmos in random places.   The Garden {June 2016}They’re mixed in with the sweet peas, and scattered all around the edges of the garden.  The sweet peas have even begun to use the Cosmos as a trellis to grow on.

The Garden {June 2016}

The dahlia’s are covered with buds but the Earwigs are starting to nibble on the petals.  I need to remedy that very soon.The Garden {June 2016}

The roses are blooming again too.The Garden {June 2016}

Despite the fact that I’m a lousy vegetable gardener, we actually have edible things growing in the garden this year.  The tomato plant (given to us by a friend) is covered in little green tomatoes, and our row of carrots continue to grow.  The little girls love the carrots and tomatoes.  In fact they bicker and squabble over who gets to pick the ripe tomatoes and who will get to pull the first ripe carrot (how do you know when a carrot is ready to pull?).The Garden {June 2016}

When I take pictures of the garden I never feel like I do it justice.  There’s really no way to capture all the nooks and crannies, the smells, the way the flowers and the foliage look throughout the day.  There’s just no substitute for wandering around the garden.The Garden {June 2016}

The Garden {June 2016}

And that’s all from the cutting garden.  Next time there will be lots actual flowers to show off :) The Garden {June 2016}

I hope you’ll come back soon.  Now that we’ve settled into a summer groove there should be more posts appearing.  As always, thanks for visiting!

PS- If you’re ever curious about what’s happening with us during long blogging gaps, you can follow along on Instagram (which I’m much better about updating)

In the Garden {April 2016}

In the Garden {April 2016}

In the Garden {April 2016} | InAnOrchard

This week all other plans were laid aside.  Every moment I could spare was spent in the garden, planting, weeding, marking rows, and tidying up.  Last weekend’s rain provided the help I needed to get the last of this summer’s planting done.  The giant weeds were pulled out, the rows carefully marked, and hundreds of flower seeds were planted.
In the Garden {April 2016} | InAnOrchard

The boxes are looking beautiful right now.  My English Roses are in full bloom, and I have jars of them sitting all over the house.In the Garden {April 2016} | InAnOrchard

In the Garden {April 2016} | InAnOrchard

The blooms are much bigger this year and definitely more plentiful.
In the Garden {April 2016} | InAnOrchard

My one disappointment this spring is the slowly growing sweet peas.  Last spring my roses and sweet peas were blooming at the same time and they made a stunning pair!  This year I think they will be totally out of sink.
In the Garden {April 2016} | InAnOrchard

I plead with them each morning, “Come on darlings, grow a little faster, show me your colors.”  They pay me no mind.In the Garden {April 2016} | InAnOrchard

My gardening companionIn the Garden {April 2016} | InAnOrchard

She is always hunting for ladybugs and worms.In the Garden {April 2016} | InAnOrchard

This January Miss E and I scattered poppy seeds in the Dahlia and Rose beds.  I wanted some color during the months when the beds look so sparse, plus it helps keep the weeds out of the raised beds.  They are just now starting to bloom.  I love the color and texture of the foliage as much as I love the poppies themselves.In the Garden {April 2016} | InAnOrchard

A few vegetables have made their way into the garden this year.  Miss E was keen on having some edible things growing and I obliged her (but not without a little selfish hesitation).  She planted a row of heirloom “rainbow carrots” on the very edge of the flower patch.  She checks each and everyday to see if they have sprouted.  We also have two happy tomato plants that were gifted from a sweet neighbor.
In the Garden {April 2016} | InAnOrchard

My little garden imp abandoned me for a ride on the four-wheeler with her daddy.
In the Garden {April 2016} | InAnOrchard

 

The dahlias are starting to fill out and a few even had some tiny buds on them!  The sunflowers and cosmos from last year’s garden have re-seeded and I love the random look the garden is beginning to take on; like it has a whimsical personality of it’s own.

In the Garden {April 2016} | InAnOrchard

I have a few more Yarrow starts that I need to tuck in somewhere once they are big enough, and I have another packet of Bachelor Buttons to plant in a few weeks.  Trying to space the planting out a bit.

In the Garden {April 2016} | InAnOrchard

In the Garden {April 2016} | InAnOrchard

The 2016 season is off to a lovely start, with many more delights to come.  I hope you’ll visit again

~April

Garden Plans 2016

Garden Plans | In An Orchard

It’s that time of year again.  I’m acting cool and subdued but on the inside I’m jumping up and down, squealing and yelling, “Flowers!  All the flowers!”.  Here in California we are experiencing another mild winter and early spring, which means flower garden plans and planting are already in full swing.
Garden Plans | In An Orchard

My order of summer flower seeds arrived from Johnny’s Selected Seeds a few weeks ago.  I have them sorted in to groups of seeds that can be directly sown into the soil, and those that need to be started and then transplanted.  Fortunately there aren’t a lot of seeds in the later category.

I’m mixing things up a little this year.  In the past I’ve purchased a lot of variety packets, were you get a dozen or so flower varieties in one packet.  It’s sort of like a surprise grab bag; you know you’re getting sunflowers, you just don’t know exactly what kind, and how many of each variety will be in a single seed packet.  I’m finding as time goes on, that I’m getting more picky and controlling about what I have growing in my garden.  For example, last year I planted Johnny’s Sunflower Collection, and while they grew beautifully and produced hundreds of blooms, there were just too many brown and variegated sunflowers for my taste, and not enough of the Teddy Bear sunflowers.

Garden Plans | In An Ochard

The same went for my zinnia varieties. I ended up with too many light pink and yellow zinnias.  This year I decided to leave nothing up to chance and only purchase the exact colors and varieties I wanted.
Garden Plans | In An Orchard

For my Zinnias I’m only planting three different colors of the Benary’s Giants ( L to R- Giant Orange, Salmon Rose, and Giant Lime) Johnny's Select Seeds{images via Johnny’s Selected Seeds}

 

For my Sunflowers I chose 4 varieties (L to R- Red Hedge, Giant Sungold, Premier Light Yellow, and Soraya)
Johnny's Select Seeds{images via Johnny’s Selected Seeds}

My Bachelor Buttons are returning once again.  I love these little flowers.  I bought two packages of Blue Bachelor buttons so I could plant them in two rounds.  I’ve found that Bachelor Buttons take off and bloom so fast, which is really nice!  But if you don’t space out your planting you’ll run out of Bachelor Buttons before the summer is even half done, and you don’t want to run out of those happy blue flowers!

Garden Plans | In An Orchard

Bachelor Buttons are not “cut and come again” flowers; meaning you get one flush of flowers and that’s it.  You get A LOT of blooms, but once they’re done you can’t clip them back and get a second harvest.
Garden Plans | In An Orchard

New to the cutting flower garden this year are Billy Balls.  Love these sweet little guys with their bright mustard color and round shape.  They’re also ideal because they dry so beautifully which means you can keep them for ages!

Johnny's Select Seed's                                                  {image via Johnny’s selected seeds}

The one trick to the Billy Balls is they can’t be directly sown into the soil.  You need to start them ahead of time in seed starting boxes, preferably with the clear plastic lid which creates a miniature greenhouse for your babies.   These are my Billy Ball babies…still very, very tiny.

Garden Plans | In An Ochard

I also decide to try growing Yarrow this year.  This is another flower that dries nicely and comes in such pretty colors!  These also have to be started and then transplanted in 6 to 8 weeks.  I’m getting a late start on these, which might be a problem…only time will tell.

Johnny' Select Seeds                                                {image via Johnny’s Selected Seeds}

I’m also growing Gomphrena.  My friends Sharon, and Kelley had such good success growing these in their garden last year that I just had to try them!  I wanted the all-white seed packet but Johnny’s only had the mixed seed packets left by the time I was ready to order.

Johnny's Select Seed                                                   {image via Johnny’s Selected Seeds}

This year I decide to stick with just the Double Click Cosmos.  Normally I plant both double click and the Versailles variety, but I fell so in love with the double clicks last year, I decided to forgo the common Cosmos, so I’d have more room for these beauties…

Johnny's Select SeedsJohnny's Select Seeds                                                   {images via Johnny’s Selected Seeds}

The Dahlias will also be back.  I can’t even imagine a cutting garden without Dahlias.  Last summer I was kicking myself for waiting too long to purchase new Dahlia tubers for the garden.  I promised I wouldn’t make that mistake again this year so I ordered 6 new varieties in January (I bought mine from Swan Island but I’ve also ordered them from Eden Brothers in the past).  They should be shipped soon and planted in the next few weeks.  I’m so excited about all the new colors that are going to be in the garden this year!Garden Plans | In An Orchard

I thought I might take a minute to answer a few questions I’m frequently asked about my garden-

1. Where do I buy my seeds? I purchase all my seeds from Johnny’s Selected seeds, and I do so for a number of reasons.  One, I’ve had such consistently beautiful and bountiful yields from their seeds.  Whereas with other seed companies (like Burpee), planting feels like more of a gamble. Sometimes you get a packet of amazing seeds and sometimes you get a dud, and that is so disappointing! Second, they have an entire category just for cutting flowers, and that takes all the guess work out of picking flower seeds.  Anything listed in the Cut Flower category are flowers that have long stems and a good vase life.  I also like the way Johnny’s labels their seed packets with nice detailed instructions.  They make sure to identify which seeds need to be started and transplanted, and which seeds can be sown directly into the ground.  

2. What flowers do I recommend for a beginner?  My list of easy to grow, sow directly into the ground, cutting flowers looks like this:  

Cutting Sunflowers- don’t buy just any kind of sunflowers!  Make sure they are for cutting otherwise they will wilt the second you pick them.  I prefer the branching varieties.  Usually cutting sunflowers are labeled as “single stem” or “branching”.  Single stem sunflowers are lovely but you only get one flower per stem.  Branching sunflowers will give you dozens of flowers per stem.  My one warning about cutting sunflowers is they get huge!  So make sure you plant them in a spot where they can spread out and get big.

Cosmos- Cosmos are hearty plants, with the most whimsical delicate looking flowers.  They come in lots of unique shapes like the double ruffled and the sea shell varieties.  If you buy the common single petaled Cosmos and start them from seed, they can sometimes be very slow bloomers.  I spent two summers babying and coaxing my Cosmos only to realize they just needed more time. The double click and sea shell varieties don’t seem to have that problem.

Zinnias-  I usually plant only the Benary Giant varieties but the State Fair are lovely too.  They have smaller blooms.  These flowers can handle the heat, and are the quintessential summer flower.  The more you pick Zinnias the more you will get, which is why it pays to be a generous gardener.

Bachelor Buttons- (also known as Cornflowers) are an easy, carefree flower to grow.  Again, you want to get the cutting variety, otherwise they won’t have nice long stems.  They are fast growers too!

Dahlias- Dahlias look big and impressive and it seems like they should be fussy but they aren’t.  They are delightful!  If you plant Dahlia tubers in the spring you’ll have gorgeous blooms all summer long.  The more you pick the more they produce.  They do get really tall and bushy, and have a tendency to topple over if you don’t support them with twine and poles, or a large tomato cage.   The best thing about Dahlias is they come back year after year (just like a bulb).

If you are interested in having a small cutting garden this year it’s certainly not too late!  Here in California where our winters and springs are mild, you can start planting your seeds the first week of April (although I’ve been known to be impatient and plant as soon as the end of March with no ill effects).  If you are looking for more information about cutting flowers Floret Farms is an amazing source of information and inspiration!

In the Garden {October}

In the Garden {October} | Inanorchard

I really didn’t intend to do another garden post this year.  Usually September marks the end of my garden’s growing season.  The long hot summer takes it’s toll on all the plants, the flowers go to seed, powdery mildew sets in, my diligence with pest control tapers off, until it becomes abundantly clear that the garden has given it’s all. In the Garden {October} | Inanorchard

But not this year.  This little garden just keeps on giving. The cosmos that spent the entire summer looking like nothing more than huge green bushes, have suddenly burst with color.  They have taken over the garden patch.  I love their wild, carefree look.  I love how delicate their petals look at sundown.In the Garden {October} | Inanorchard

They have even crept into the pumpkin patch.  The girls and I bring in armloads of them.  Last Saturday we drove the length of our road dropping bouquets off with all our friends and neighbors.In the Garden {October} | Inanorchard

The raised boxes got a good tidying up last weekend.  All the remaining zinnias were pulled and the unruly English roses were pruned back.  My lavender and lamb’s ear got cut way back.  In the Garden {October} | Inanorchard

The dahlias are just loving this cooler weather.  The blooms have gotten smaller but the colors are amazing.In the Garden {October} | Inanorchard

The more we pick the more buds spring up.In the Garden {October} | Inanorchard

In the Garden | Inanorchard

These are the colors that are dominate in the garden right now.  In the Garden {October} | Inanorchard

Miss E loves the amaranth and she will often leave jars full of them throughout the house. In the Garden {October} | Inanorchard

All summer the amaranth was a washed out pink and the leaves were a bright spring green.  This last month they have turned a deep, striking fuchsia color.   The vein patterns in the leaves are suddenly so distinct, and the very tips of the leaves are edged in a soft pink color.  Amazing what cool nights and a few bursts of rain can do for a garden.In the Garden {October} | Inanorchard

These dahlias are another flower that have been transformed by the cooler temperatures.  The once bright pink petals have turned to a deep (at times almost black) color.  It looks so striking next to all the other flowers.In the Garden {October} | Inanorchard

The rows of sunflowers, amaranth, and orange cosmos that I pulled out at the end of August have reseeded themselves.  They are mingling together in the prettiest, most random way.  I’ve never had so many flower options so late in the season.  It really has been fun to watch the garden transform and take on a personality of it’s own.  The birds are loving this small haven.  I’m not much of a bird watcher, but I can’t help but feel fond of all the sparrows, swallows, and finches that seem to be as pleased with my garden as I am.In the Garden {October} | Inanorchard

In the Garden {October} | Inanorchard

There are still pumpkins to be found out in the patch.  They are hiding; tucked away under giant leaves.
In the Garden {October} | Inanorchard

The last of the pumpkin crop I get to keep!  So I’ve piled them up on all the porches and steps. They look so cheerful sitting there.  I’m hoping to harvest some seeds from the remainder of the pumpkins, just trying to cut down our pumpkin seed costs for next year’s patch.

Perhaps this will be the final garden post of the year but who knows?  If the first hard frost holds off, we might have flowers for a while yet!
In the Garden {October} | Inanorchard

August In the Garden

 

August in the Garden | Inanorchard

 

August in the Garden | Inanorchard

 

August in the Garden | Inanorchard

 

August in the Garden | Inanorchard

 

August in the Garden | Inanorchard

 

August in the Garden | Inanorchard

 

August in the Garden | Inanorchard

 

August in the Garden | Inanorchard

 

August in the Garden | Inanorchard

 

August in the Garden | Inanorchard

 

August in the Garden | Inanorchard

 

August in the Garden | Inanorchard

 

August in the Garden | Inanorchard

 

August in the Garden | Inanorchard

 

There is something hauntingly beautiful about a late summer flower garden.  Everything is overgrown, the leaves have lost their bright green freshness and faded to a rich dark green.  The once tidy rows mingle together in the happiest of ways, the sunflowers dip and bend their heavy heads.   Petals fall and scatter in the dark dirt, and the last of the evening light looks golden and hazy just before sun dips behind the horizon.  A sea of giant pumpkin leaves bend in the breeze.  Miss P hunts for pumpkins that are hiding in our over-grown jungle of a pumpkin patch.  My garden reminds me that there is beauty in every season of life.

 

This week in the Garden {July}

 

July Garden | Inanorchard

I’ll be honest; July didn’t start out well for the garden.  The last week of June we got hit with a real hot streak.  Day after day of 100+ degree weather was hitting the garden hard.  Up until the end of June, I had been watering by hand and it just wasn’t cutting it.  The grass around the raised beds was looking parched and crispy, the flowers were doing okay but not great. They weren’t thriving like I had hoped, I was getting flowers but everything looked stressed, and a bit sad.

And the zinnias…oh the zinnias were looking so very pitiful.  They were being nibbled away at each night, and a dozen or more plants had turned a sickly yellow color.  On the sick plants the leaves were curled and brown at the edges, and what few blooms it would produce would be malformed. There were very few buds on the zinnias that looked relatively health, and all the plants looked slightly stunted.  In a fit of frustration I almost pulled them all out one morning.  Once the frustration wore off, stubbornness kicked in and I decided to tackled the problem one step at a time.  First step: deal with whatever critter where eating them each night.  Snail bate and pest powder were applied the following day.  Next step: remove unhealthy plants completely.  If it was a disease that was affecting the zinnias I didn’t want to risk it spreading to healthy plants.  I pulled out quite a few plants and heavily pruned back any that were partially affected. Final step: fertilization, I scattered bone meal at the base of the zinnias, and sprinkled some Triple 15 around the roots.

July In the garden | Inanorchard

I’m so glad I didn’t give up on them because they are looking so healthy and big now!  They are lush and green, growing by the day, and covered with buds!July Garden | Inanorchard

The biggest boost the garden got was a better watering system.  Justin hooked up an oscillating sprinkler and set it on a timer.  The garden is watered early in the morning for a specific amount of time.  I was a little concerned about how the over-head watering would affecting the quality of the blooms, or that the roses and dahlias would start to mildew or bruise.  So far, everything seems to love the new watering system and I am loving having extra time in the morning!

The one area in the garden that I’m most disappointed with is my dahlias.  I didn’t take the time this past spring to order a really nice selection of dahlia tubers from reputable sellers.  I had a few left from last summer that have done well (mostly my white dinner plate dahlias).  I purchase one Cafe Au Latte dahlia from Eden’s Brothers and it’s lovely, but the rest are just cheap tubers I picked up locally and they haven’t done well.  There’s always next year though, and I have all fall and winter to decide what I’m going to plant next spring.

July Garden | Inanorchard

Ah, but the sunflowers!  They are magnificent this year! Two rows of mixed sunflowers in all shapes, sizes, and colors.  I bring them in by the armload and they last a full week in a vase, even a little longer if I keep the water changed.

July Garden | Inanorchard

I can’t get enough of these dark chocolate sunflowers.

July Garden | Inanorchard

Here’s a good sampling of all the varieties I have this year.  I also scattered some Teddy Bear sunflowers in but so far none have bloomed.  No worries though, I just planted 65 Teddy Bear sunflowers on the edge of the pumpkin patch and almost all of them have sprouted, so we should be swimming in them this fall!July Garden | Inanorchard

I picked up a vintage coffee can a few weeks ago while I was antiquing with Stephanie.  I love the way the garden flowers look in my “new” coffee tin.  I just need about a dozen more…

July Garden | Inanorchard

 

This row of cosmos I didn’t get planted until late April (it’s about three weeks behind the rest of the garden), so they don’t have any buds on them yet, but hopefully soon.  After last summer’s giant cosmos fail, I’m a little concerned I’ll end up with more flowerless cosmos bushes.

July Garden | Inanorchard

The orange and double click cosmos I planted early in the spring are covered with buds, which does my heart good!

July Garden | Inanorchard

This is the way Miss P came out to help me in the garden this morning.  Her big brother J helped her get dressed this morning.July in the Garden | Inanorchard

The Amaranthus is still looking gorgeous.  I harvested the first flush of flowers and now a second bloom is coming on.  If you want to grow a unique, richly colored, incredibly hardy plant, amaranthus is your best bet.  This is the “Love-lies-bleeding” variety but it also comes in a gorgeous bright green color as well.  It looks fabulous drooping down the side of a vase.

July in the Garden | Inanorchard

And our pumpkins! They are doing fantastic!  I couldn’t be more pleased.  I took these photos just one week ago and they have all doubled in size, maybe even more.  No blossoms yet but they are looking quite happy and healthy so far.

July Garden | Inanorchard

 

July Garden | Inanorchard

Last but not least; the garden in review-

March

The Cutting Garden | Inanorchard

April

In the garden | InanorchardMay

May in the Garden | Inanorchard

June

The Garden | Inanorchard

July

July in the Garden | Inanorchard

 

Thanks for once again indulging me with one of my lengthy garden posts

Next month we should have lots more flowers and some pumpkin blooms!

Have a wonderful week my friends,  April

 

This Week in the Garden {June}

The Garden | Inanorchard

Most mornings begin with watering the garden in our pajamas.  The girls and I take the basket and the clippers to gather the day’s blooms.  Sometimes there are only a few flowers floating around in the bottom of the basket and some mornings it overflows.

The Garden | Inanorchard

She pulls down all the Mason jars and small pitchers and begins carefully arranging her harvest.

The Garden | Inanorchard

The jars are then placed all around the house.  It’s a good way to start the day….

The Garden | Inanorchard

The garden is experiencing a little bit of a lull.  The sweet peas are gone for the year (they lasted clear into June! which is a personal record for my garden).  The roses have all bloomed, although it’s only a matter of time before we’ll get another round of roses.

The Garden | Inanorchard

All the rest of the summer flowers are just starting to bloom.  A few sunflowers here and there.  The occassional cosmos, and a solitary zinnia.

The Garden | Inanorchard

 

The Garden | Inanorchard

 

The Garden | Inanorchard

 

The Garden | Inanorchard

More than any of the other children she is my constant compainion in the garden.  Watering, digging her toes in the mud, squealing when she finds a ladybug…she loves it all.

The Garden | Inanorchard

The Bachelor Buttons are doing wonderfully again this year!

The Garden | Inanorchard

 

The Garden | Inanorchard

 

In the Garden | Inanorchard

We’ve started to get just enough flowers to pass on to friends and family.  Soon there will be more than enough to go around!

The Garden | Inanorchard

 

The Garden | Inanorchard

Ah!  But this week something very exciting happened in the garden!  We’ve expanded once again; this time to include a pumpkin patch!

The Garden | Inanorchard

Justin tilled the front patch and borrowed a neighbor’s tractor to lay black plastic and drip hoses.  Hopefully this coming week we will be able to plant the pumpkin seeds!  I have 8 varieties of heirloom pumpkin seeds that I purchased from Johnny’s Seeds (including a pink variety!).

The Garden | Inanorchard

Early this spring I was trying to come up with a summer project that the boys might be interested in tackling.  Something we could do at home, that would give them a task to focus on during the summer, and help them to earn some money.  I pitched the idea of a pumpkin patch and they loved the idea.  I purchased the seeds (which they will reimburse me for out of their pumpkin patch profits), and while I’ll be pretty involved this year, I’m expecting them to do most of the manual labor.  They’ve been told the work will be hard and hot but right now excitment is trumping all other feelings :)  I’m easily the most excited about the pumpkin patch!  All those gorgeous pumpkins growing right in my front yard!

The Garden | Inanorchard

Here’s the progress for the garden so far~

{March}The Cutting Garden | Inanorchard

{April}
In the garden | Inanorchard

{May}

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

{June}The Garden | Inanorchard

This Week in the Garden

In the Garden | Inanorchard

First, let’s talk sweet peas.  It’s been three years since I’ve had sweet peas growing in my garden and I missed them.  They are climbing and blooming beautifully right now.

In the Garden | Inanorchard

Miss E and I bring them into the house a handful at a time.  Every time is see them sitting in my kitchen window sill it makes me smile.

My plan to have two harvests of sweet peas is working perfectly so far.  The seeds I sowed in the fall are tall and have lots of flowers, and the seeds I started indoors in February have been transplanted and are just starting to climb the trellis.  I think as long as the heat doesn’t become to oppressive, the second flush of sweet peas should do great.

In the Garden | Inanorchard

A few weeks ago Justin had 10 yards of compost brought in to amend our very sandy soil.  The kiddos helped me remove last year’s dirt from the beds and add compost to each box.

In the Garden | Inanorchard

In the Garden | Inanorchard

Miss P never passes up and opportunity to get good and filthy.  Have you ever seen such a ragamuffin!?

In the Garden | Inanorchard

Justin got the tiller up and running for me.  I spread compost over a 15 x 15 foot square and he tilled it into the patch.  I marked off rows and got all the summer seeds planted!  Now that my beds are filled with roses, dahlias, and bulbs; I don’t really have room for my summer seeds in the beds.  So the cutting garden has grown.

In the Garden | Inanorchard

The seeds I started in peat pots have been transplanted as well.  I did have a few disappointments this season.  My larkspur and Nigella seeds didn’t germinate at all.  So disappointing!  But I’m not giving up on them yet.  I really think I can get them to grow, if I get them sown in the fall instead of early spring.  It’s all a learning process, and fortunately a packet of seeds isn’t too costly of a mistake.

In the Garden | Inanorchard

All my English roses have been transplanted into their new home and they are thriving happily.  I think they know that they’re the stars of the garden ;)

After I transplanted them, and built water rings around them, the whole crew came out to see them get their first watering with the brand new watering wand.  What can I can I say, we live an exciting life.  In the Garden | Inanorchard

 

In the Garden | Inanorchard

In the Garden | Inanorchard

The sweet peas and English roses love each other.

In the Garden | Inanorchard

 

So here’s the progress so far in this year’s garden-

The cutting garden in February
The Cutting Garden | Inanorchard

 

The cutting garden in AprilIn the garden | Inanorchard

 

The next month will show big changes as the dahlia’s and summer seeds start to grow.  It’s going to be a fun year in the garden!

This Week in the Garden

We are entering year number two for the cutting garden, and this year’s garden is going to be stunning!  At least that’s the way I have pictured it in my head, over and over, all winter long :)

The Cutting Garden | Inanorchard

Justin made my flower boxes for me last spring, just in time to plant dahlias, and summer cutting flowers.  Unfortunately, it was already too late in the season for spring cutting flowers, bulbs, or rose bushes.  While I completely enjoyed my summer flowers, I was looking forward to getting an early start on the cutting garden, by having a crop of spring flowers that would transition into summertime.  This fall I was able to plant 50 daffodil bulbs and 4 varieties of sweet peas.  All 50 bulbs have come up and I’ve been able to bring small bundles of daffs and snapdragons in the house!  The sad news is only 2 of my 4 varieties of sweet peas germinated.  SO disappointing!  I held back 4 packages of sweet peas and started them a couple of weeks ago in peat pots.  I have them tucked away in a nice place on the back porch.  If they germinate and transplant well I could end up with 6 varieties of sweet peas and two harvests!  But you know the old saying “Don’t count your seedlings before they sprout…”

The Cutting Garden | Inanorchard

The weather has be gorgeous.  We have beautiful spring-times here in the valley but this spring has outdone it’s self.  This week I took the opportunity to turn over the beds and amend the soil.  The soil in my beds is a little too sandy, so it needed some compost and garden soil added to it, along with a some fertilizer.

The Cutting Garden | Inanorchard

Naturally I had my gardening assistant with me.  She likes dirt.  The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.The Cutting Garden | Inanorchard

 

The Cutting Garden | Inanorchard

I realized too late that I had purchased two seed varieties that should have been sown in the fall along with the sweet peas.  Apparently Larkspur and Nigella like to be tucked in the ground through the winter, at least in climates that have mild winters (like the winters we have here in California).  I got them in the ground as soon as I realized my mistake.  I’m hoping that the month of cold nights will be enough to get them started.

The Cutting Garden | Inanorchard

Here’s a glimpse at my “spring-time bed”.  I’ve dedicated this bed to spring flowers.  I’ll be able to use it again mid summer to sow a second harvest of sunflowers and zinnias (if all things go according to plan!)

The Cutting Garden | Inanorchard

 

These beautiful English ladies will be joining the garden this spring and I am absolutely giddy about it.  Giddy I tell you!  I’ve been in love with David Austin roses for as long as I can remember.  They are the quintessential English cabbage rose.  They are so old-fashioned, dreamy and romantic looking.  I know it’s just my personal bias but I think hybrid tea roses looks so sterile and boring next to these beauties.  If you’d like to spend an hour of pure happiness just stop by the David Austin website and feast your eyes on rose heaven!  The website also has a link to nurseries throughout the U.S that sell their roses.  I got my at The Greenery in Turlock, CA.  These gals will stay put in their pots until the first week of April, when they will move to their permanent home in the cutting garden.  I plan on planting herbs around them.  There are quite a few herbs that make wonderful greenery in flower arrangements (but more on that later).

The Cutting Garden | Inanorchard

And this is the cutting garden as of this moment.  Spring bulbs shooting up, sweet peas just beginning to vine, Nigella and Larkspur freshly planted, and the beds being turned over and the soil being amended.  This is shot you will see a lot this summer.  I thought it would be fun to document the garden’s changes by taking this same picture throughout the season and posting it here on my blog.  I hope you don’t mind, but the blog will, now and again, function as my personal garden journal.  This is the most convenient place to record the successes and failings of the garden.  It really is such a learning process but I’m loving every step of the way!

The Cutting Garden | Inanorchard

The summer lineup has been chosen (mostly, there might be a few last minute additions).  I’ve got the seeds sorted into groups.  One of the key elements of flower gardening is figuring out which seeds need to be started and transplanted, and which should be sown directly into the soil.

The Cutting Garden | Inanorchard

I’ve been reading Sarah Raven’s “Grow Your Own Cut Flowers” book and learning so much about cut flowers.

Anyway, if you’re interested, here is a list of the summer flowers that I’ve chosen for the 2015 season (click on the links if you’d like to see a photo of the flower and read up on it):

Bachelor Buttons (these did wonderfully in last year’s garden and I’m putting in twice as many in this year)

Billy Balls (or Sun Balls) these are really popular flowers right now, and I couldn’t resist trying to plant some.  These need to be started and then transplanted after the last frost.  I’m very curious to see if these will grow in my zone.

Hare’s Ear- this is a beautiful “filler greenery” that I have often purchased from local floral shops.  The texture and yellow-green color of this plant is stunning in floral arrangements.  This seed is a gamble, but I’m hoping it pays off in a big way (I’ll keep you updated).

Cosmos- these are so easy to grow!  Usually.  Last year they gave me fits and refused to bloom, but normally they are delightful to have in the garden.  I’m hoping the improvements I made to the soil will solve my cosmos woes this time around.  I purchased several varieties; “double click” mixture,  “sea shell” cosmos, and the standard “Sensation mix”

Sunflowers- naturally.  No cutting garden would really be complete without cutting sunflowers.  I got four packs of Renee’s Garden sunflowers.

Zinnias- I purchased Johnny’s Giant Benary’s mix

Amaranthus (Love lies bleeding)- this is gorgeous flower that grows like a weed and looks so beautiful draping down the sides of a floral arrangement

Of course the Dahlias will be returning in all their summery glory!

This year all my flower seeds have either come from Johnny’s Seeds or Renee’s Garden.

And that’s it for now!  Hope you liked the little tour of the spring garden and the summer line up!  ~April

Tea Parties, Mud Puddles, and Spring

Tea Parties, Puddles, and Spring

These little ladies went to their first real tea party at a tea house.  It was the only thing Miss E talked about the week leading up to the tea party.  ”Is today the day we go to have tea Momma?”  Tea Parties, Mud Puddles, and Spring

Finally the day did arrive.  Miss E wore her new dress and tights proudly.  It was raining that day which might have put a damper on the whole trip, but really it only made it more special and memorable.  We were seated in the sun-room at the tea house and the rain pattered on the roof and windows.  We were cozy inside with our warm tea and delicious food.Inanorchard

InAnOrchard

The tiny stirring spoons were a big hit with the little girls!  Being able to add your own sugar and cream to a real cup of tea was a rare treat.

InAnOrchard

Did I mention that the food was amazing?  It was.  There wasn’t a thing set before us that wasn’t absolutely delicious.  The name of the tea house is Columbia Kate’s and if you are ever in the foothills near Sonora/Columbia CA, you must stop in and have tea!  Do not leave without trying the macaroons.  That’s an order!

InAnOrchard

After tea we set out to explore the town and the shops

Even little girls who go to tea and wear fancy dresses can’t resist a good mud puddle…

InAnOrchard

We wandered through Historic Columbia (a small mining town in the foothills that has been preserved), we bought candy at Nelson’s Candy store, visited the antique stores, and ended the day with a good cup of coffee and a scone for the road.

InAnOrchard

 

InAnOrchard

Back at home, the fresh rain made for the perfect opportunity to give the cutting garden a good cleaning.

InAnOrchard

I turned over the beds, weeded, and admired the daffodils and sweet peas that were coming up.  I also finalized and ordered all my seeds for the summer (but more on that later)

InAnOrchard

Does your bed look like this on Mondays?  Mine always does.

InAnOrchard

The house became Valentine’s Day central this past week as the kids worked hard making cards and gifts for their classmates and teachers

InAnOrchard

These were the Valentines the boys and Miss E made to give out at their class parties.  I should mention that the children all have very small class sizes, otherwise we would have picked much simpler projects!

InAnOrchard

 

InAnOrchard

I know that right now much of the country is covered in snow and ice, but here in our little corner of the world, it’s spring… and it is breath-taking.

InAnOrchard

We spent a Sunday afternoon walking around in the almond blossoms.  I wanted to get a sweet picture of the kids in the orchard.  In my head I imagined a scene with smiling children huddled together under a bower of blossoms…

InAnOrchard

It never turns out that way.  Besides funny is way more memorable right?!

InAnOrchard

 

Thank you for stopping by and visiting this space, for saying hello, your presence here brings a smile to my face!   Gratefully yours, April