My G loves astronomy so we frequently check the Sky Watching calendars to see what interesting things might be seen in our own backyard. We hosted a Super Moon Lunar Eclipse party back in the fall, and it was such a blast we decided to make it a habit. Happily, on the first weekend of our summer break, Mars would be at it’s closest rotation to the earth and visible to the naked eye. We decided to throw a big Mars Viewing Party with lots of food, a telescope, and bubbles and glow sticks for the kids. We invited friends, neighbors, family and all total about 72 people dined on our back lawn that night. Justin spent his evenings that week planning and prepping the menu. We dined on brisket, and pulled pork sandwiches, kettle chips, Sweet Basil Salad, watermelon, my Mother-in-laws amazing baked beans, and every family brought a plate of cookies to share for dessert. As the night descended and I stood on the porch looking out at all the faces talking and laugh, children chasing each other across the lawn with bubbles and glow sticks; I couldn’t help but think what a beautiful group of people we have surrounding our little family. Little girls dangling their feet off the back porch, the warm hugs, the women who stood with me in my kitchen and laughed as we ushered food in and out of the kitchen…what a gift, what a precious gift.
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.
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.
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.
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.
My zinnias are covered in buds and stretching up nice and tall.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…
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 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.
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.
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 also decided to plant Cosmos in random places. 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.
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?).
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.
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)