Saturday, June 30, 2007

Lake Wawasee

A perfect summer day -- Saturday on Lake Wawasee in Syracuse -- with friends Gary & Annette, and Kelly. Lake Wawasee is the largest natural lake in Indiana. Many boaters tie up at the sandbar, where the water is only about three feet deep, and sit back and enjoy the day.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Lakeside Ducks

Baby ducks added to the enjoyment of Friday night's dinner at the Lakeside restaurant at Simonton Lake in Elkhart. I didn't eat the bread from my broiled grouper sandwich, so I tore it into small pieces and threw it to the ducks.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Phase II

Lula (center) retired today from NIPSCO. We (Brook left, Kelly right, many other people all around) helped celebrate her retirement at Elkhart Hacienda. Now, she has the rest of her life to enjoy!

Critter Damage

We have a new ground hog. He likes the zucchini, hollyhocks and brussel sprouts. He must feed sometime while I'm at work because at 7am this morning the plants were okay. At 8pm tonight, they were chewed. Grrrrrrrrr...

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

What a Difference Some Stain Makes

Saturday morning, while still in Lafayette, I went to a designer's inventory liquidation sale with my mother and sister. I found two Adirondack chairs, with ottomans, for an unbelievable price.

They appear to be cedar, and after a quick coat of Behr cedar stain, they're absolutely beautiful. The left photo is the "before" and the right is the "after."

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Morning Glories

An interesting view, from the bottom up,
as the morning glories continue to vine up the new trellis.

Yellow Coneflower

After being nearly totally consumed by the rabbits (or groundhog?), the new yellow coneflower is on the rebound.

This was a gift from Jan of California during her last visit to Indiana. I have many purple coneflowers, but this is the only yellow one. I'm hoping it will spread in the coming years to help fill in the area between the veggie garden and the shed.

Curb Appeal

I've spent most of my gardening energies in the back yard so the front yard really doesn't have a lot of curb appeal.

These beautiful lilies, although badly in need of dividing, add a nice burst of color out in front of the house this time of year.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Jackmanii Clematis

The first clematis bloom, from the plants next to the fireplace, appeared this morning. I found a good photo reference for pruning these back next spring.

Here's a photo showing what these can grow up to be
within a few years.

Honey Bees in Garden

I haven't seen honey bees around for quite some time. Tonight there were a few of them collecting the pollen out of the spirea in front of the shed.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Summer of Fun Activities - June 22 - 24

In my quest to enjoy this summer outdoors, I've come up with a list of "summer of fun" activities, including many free or low-cost events throughout the South Bend - Elkhart area.

Cheryl and I met up with friends Kelly and Lula at Fridays by the Fountain where we enjoyed lunch at The Vine while we listened to Irish music by Kennedy's Kitchen.

On Friday evening I participated in the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life in Lafayette with many members of my family. Cousin Tammy organized the team and has a great recap of the ACS event on her blog.

My father passed away from cancer in 1991. Both of his parents, my maternal grandmother, and my father-in-law also died of cancer.

Here, Uncle Rick, dad's younger brother, walks in the survivor's lap. He had lung cancer about a year ago. After a long and very difficult recovery, we are all very grateful to have him back in good heath.

On Saturday, I stopped by the Heritage Square Art Fair. The original plan was to visit Cheryl and hang out at her place on the lake, but the weather did not cooperate.
While at Heritage Square, I shopped at the new Martin's Supermarket which is very nice. They have a wonderful seafood department so I bought some walleye and corn on the cob for Sunday dinner.

Saturday evening, Bruce and I went to the Elkhart Jazz Festival where we met up with friends Mardy and Terry.

Sunday was spent around the house. I cleaned out the small water garden and bird bath; added some fencing to the bottom of the arbor for the clematis' to grab onto; repaired some leaky hoses; Bruce replaced the rollers on the bottom of the patio screen door; and together we watched the hummingbirds, woodpeckers, finches and lightning bugs.
All in all, it was a great "summer of fun" weekend.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Can't Wait to Make Zucchini Bread

The zucchini is getting absolutely huge! Here's my favorite recipe for Zucchini Bread.

1 zucchini peeled and grated (2 cups)
1 cup dark brown sugar
3 eggs
1 cup oil
Mix these ingredients in one bowl.

In a separate bowl, mix together the following:
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
dash salt
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup raisins

Mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients. Grease and flour two loaf pans.

Bake at 325 degrees for one hour.

For a real treat, after the loaves bake and cool, top with cream cheese icing.

Patio Strawberries

The patio strawberries are getting pretty big. These were transplanted from former neighbor Judy's garden after she moved. I went shopping for a strawberry pot, but the garden center wanted $47. That seemed a bit expensive so I kept shopping. The trusty Rural King store had the same pot for $25.

Before planting, I cut a 3/4" diameter PVC pipe 17" long (2" higher than the pot) and had hubby Bruce drill small holes all over it. I put a PVC cap on the bottom end and then put the dirt raound it and planted the plants in the holes and on top. Now, I can water down the PVC pipe and all of the plants get wet. If you don't do it this way, when you try to water the individual plants, in their individual holes, the dirt washes out.

Now, even better is to fill the PVC pipe with tiny gravel. That way the water makes it to the top of the pipe while you're watering. As soon as we clean the aquarium, I'm going to use that old gravel in the pipe and put new gravel in with the fish.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Happy Dog

Spike (also known as Skippy to our friends in Evansville) enjoyed an afternoon in the tall grass while I worked from the patio office. He looks pretty good for a dog that's nearly 15.


Looks like the Virginia Creeper is starting to invade our wood pile. We have these vine all over the woods and it makes it very hard to rake up the leaves in the spring. For the first two years we lived here, we had these vines all over our trees. We spent quite a bit of time last fall and this spring trying to rid the woods of it. But, it's still haunting us.

Screen for Dummies

Why do I have a big dragonfly in the middle of my patio screen door? Because last summer I walked right into the screen. Didn't even see it. Left a nose print. So, I found this up at Rural King (sort of like a Tractor Supply store) and it has two pieces -- one for the outside and one for the inside of the screen and both have magnets on the back. I placed it right at my eye level so I'm sure to see the screen now.


I was standing in the garden this evening, talking to neighbor Kay (master gardener with many beautiful gardens), and we saw this giant bumble bee sucking all the goodies out of the lavender. He was very happ-bee!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Cutest Shed in the World

When we bought the kit to make the shed, hubby Bruce couldn't figure out why I ordered it with two windows. He was thinking this was going to be a place to store the tractor. I was thinking it was going to be a place I could hang window boxes.


This is a new addition to the garden for 2007. They call it a False Sunflower.

Lonley Columbine

There's one lonley purple columbine still blooming amongst the daisys.

Yellow and Purple -- My Favorite Combination

It almost looks like the yellow lilies have spouted out of the lavender. Actually they're a couple of feet apart.

What 29-Cents Will Get You

This is the first year I've planted Morning Glories. Former neighbor, Judy, used to buy a couple of packets of seeds each year and by the middle of the summer, the fence around her patio was covered with beautiful purple Morning Glories. Since she's moved, it's up to me to keep the purple going in the neighborhood. Can't wait until they start blooming!

Doing Its Job -- Sort Of

It's called Bee Balm, NOT Wasp Balm.

Look What the Storm Left Behind

When I left for work this morning, it was pouring down rain. According to the trusty frog rain gauge, we received a full inch. As sis-in-law, Gretchen, said, "The plants aren't fooled by the sprinkler; they know real rain when they get it."

The tomatoes and green peppers are showing strong signs of growth. No jalapenos yet, but they really shot up today. I still have a few jars of them left from last year's garden.

I pulled the last of the radishes today. Now I need to decide whether I should plant
more seeds or just wait until cooler weather comes around.

The green beans are coming along nicely. I haven't removed the protective Solo cups yet, although the plants are just a bit taller than the lip of the cups now.

The cauliflower hasn't started forming yet, but the leaves are HUGE.

The flowering cabbage is looking nice an
d purple. It's more for decoration than anything.

And, finally, the first clematis bloom! I planted four of them below the arbor, but the hostas I planted next to them aren't doing a good enough job of shading, so three aren't growing very quickly.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Lightning Bugs

Wow... I forgot all about lightning bugs. Just before 10pm I looked out the patio door and saw hundreds of lightning bugs in the backyard. I snapped about 50 photos trying to capture one of them lit up. It's not as easy as you might think since digital cameras have a bit of a delay.

Can't Wait for the Zinnias

Next to deep purple wave petunias, zinnias are my favorite annuals. This photo was taken in the veggie garden last July. I had a 10' strip of zinnias between the garden and the shed.

I'm so anxious to see this year's zinnias start to bloom.

LOL Frog


(Translation: I'm in your garden, protecting the plants from bugs.)

I read a story this weekend about LOLCATS (laughing out loud cats) and then spent some time cracking up laughing at the funny photos and captions on the leading LOLCATS website

LOLCATS is basically about giving human thoughts to animals and the captions are spoken/written semi-phonetically, in the way you'd expect an animal to speak/spell.

LOLCATS are so cute, they'll make your head explode.

Mini Rose Escaped the "Institution"

Grandma-in-law, Iris, received this beautiful miniature rose as a gift last year. As she does with all plants she receives, she gave it to me to plant in the garden after it served its purpose of brightening up her room at the Institution (nursing home).

In addition to this one, I also have three other mini rose bushes; two yellow and one white, courtesy of Iris.

Nicco Blue Hydrangea

The Nicco Blue Hydrangea is finally blooming. Its one bloom is mostly white now, but you can see a hint of blue. I'll apply some acidic fertilizer this weekend to help it along. This hydrangea was in a less sunny part of the yard for the past two years and it never bloomed. I moved it early this spring and, other then needing quite a bit of water each day, after enduring the afternoon sun, it's doing great.

For some reason, every time I look at this Nicco Blue Hydrangea, the song "Crystal Blue Persuasion" goes through my head. Probably because the song's title has the same number of syllables and sort of rhymes with Nicco Blue Hydrangea.

Sunday, June 17, 2007


This is a photo of my peonies from June of 2006. They did not bloom at all this year. I'm going to have to move them because the asters have gotten so large this year they shaded the peonies.

Garden Tour June 17 2007

Since it's nice and sunny today (and 92 degrees), the solar-powered bird bath is in action.

In front of the bird bath you can see the tops of the radishes. I pulled up the first radishes yesterday and they tasted wonderful. You can also see the tops of the spicy salad mix. We had a salad using that last week -- probably one of the best salad dishes I've ever had -- Bruce's sister, Gretchen, found the recipe on Epicurious. I got the spicy salad mix seeds at Bennett's in Lafayette the weekend I went bike riding with my brother, Mike and niece, Caitlin.

In the whiskey barrel, the Basil is growing quite nicely. Gretchen used some of this for the pesto pasta she made us while here in early June. I really enjoyed the dish, while Bruce found it to be too "green" for his tastes.

The only reason the barrel is there, in the garden, is to hide the tree stump. I slammed the barrel down over the stump, (helped that the bottom of the barrel was rotted), and filled it with Miracle Grow potting soil and it makes a nice place for the herbs to grow and get plenty of sunshine.

The asparagus is about 4' high. This is year two for these plants so, hopefully, next year, we can begin harvesting. I can't stand asparagus, but Bruce loves it.

In front, and to the left of the asparagas are the strawberries. These have been in the garden for three years now. They are the June-bearing variety so we expect to continue harvesting them for a few more weeks. I started with two plants and now have many more. They're quite the tasty addition to my Honey Nut Cheerios.

To the right of the asparagas are the green beans and sunflowers. I lost all of the original green beans to the ground hog. The second batch is planted inside clear Solo cups without bottoms. I'm hoping that will give the plants a chance to grow, without interference from the wildlife, until they're ready to start climbing up the trellis.

The sunflowers will make nice a back-of-garden border and the birds will love them.

The zucchini have recovered from the ground hog attack. I had three fairly large plants and after he was finished snacking, they were just little green sticks. Bruce found me a couple of replacements at Martin's Pet & Garden Center in Elkhart. This place has been in business for over 80 years. I'm guessing the reason they haven't been put out of business is because of the WONDERFUL people they have working there (compared to the big box retailers' garden centers who don't give a hoot if their employees know anything about gardening.)

Behind the shed, I have several hostas in the shady area; some sunflowers including a new orange Mexican variety that Gretchen provided; purple balloon flowers, morning glories and tons of zinnias. I *never* thin my zinnias as directed on the seed packet. They are so much prettier when growing in bulk. I can't wait to see them in bloom later this summer.

This time of June is all about the lilies.

The Asiatic lilies
are transplants I brought over from our farm house. The orange daylilies came with the house, although this is the first year they've bloomed. In April we took on the major project of clearing the woods to the east of our house. We ended up with a burn pile of wood and leaves that was about 20' long x 8' high. I think clearing the woods let in enough sunshine to prompt the daylilies to bloom. I did bring over a few Stargazer lilies from the old house and I'm hoping this is the year they finally bloom. I love their fragrance.

In the shady area behind our house, the Astilbe is in full bloom.

And, the ferns are larger than ever. I'm trying to talk Bruce into putting in a hot tub where the ferns are now. You can see the little fireman fountain peaking out from the ferns. He belonged to Bruce's dad who worked in the fire industry most of his career.

The hostas around the tree in the middle of the back yard are huge and in bloom right now. Bruce's grandmother is continually amazed by how large these hostas grow. They were also moved here from the farm house. I went back the spring after we moved from there and dug up quite a few plants and transported them in five gallon buckets. Since that place was just a rental, I couldn't see leaving all of my plants there since the next renter probably wouldn't care about them the way I did.

The last stop on today's garden tour is the back of the patio where you can see the hummingbird feeder next to the wave petunias.

My favorite garden center, Bill Vite's Greenhouse, was out of the deep purple petunias when I decided to replace the fake pansies (that I had in the planter boxes on the patio for the past two years) with real flowers. So, I settled for these pinkish-purple petunias. I gave them a shot of Miracle Grow a couple of weeks ago and they really shot up. We've had quite a few hummingbirds stop by to visit. I hope to get a photo of them soon, but so far, I haven't been quick or quiet enough to catch them feeding.

Thank you for joining us for today's garden tour. Now, please join us on the patio for a refreshing glass of iced tea.