I love going on photo shoots. Last Tuesday, my friend Sandi and I were taking photos around Loretto and Lawrenceburg. In particular, we were seeking some native Tennessee plants to photograph for a web site we’re working on.
Seasonal white and pink dogwoods and redbuds are in their final stages of blooming here. They are iconic for this area. Forsythia (a bush with bright yellow flowers) starts out the spring, then the Bradford pears (an ornamental pear tree with white blossoms) and shortly after they start, the dogwood trees (with either white or pink flowers) and redbud trees (with bright pink flowers).
Sandi first took me to a property in Loretto that her brother-in-law and sister-in-law just bought. It’s such a breathtaking property formerly owned by another friend of ours. I couldn’t get over the two beautiful ponds that surround the property. The backdrop was a cover crop of wheatgrass gently blowing in the wind. We got some good photos of their tulip tree (Magnolia liliiflora), dogwood and redbud trees that were blooming.
When we finished, we headed toward Lawrenceburg to photograph some greenhouse plants at the Lawrence County Extension office.
On our way, Sandi asked me if I’d been to Davy Crocket’s house or Crocket Park. I told her I had not, so she decided to take me on a little detour.
Davy Crocket’s home is a modest one-room log cabin. Inside the home, there’s photos and display case of the tools used during that period.
Crocket Park is beautiful. In my opinion, it rivals some of the parks in California. There’s walking paths, 2 campgrounds, pool, lake, cabins and a restaurant that overlooks the lake. You feel like you’re in another world when you go there. I was impressed how well maintained it is. Sandi and her husband like to go camping there. She says it doesn’t feel like you’re close to home at all.
While we were there, we had lunch at the park’s restaurant and took a short walk along Shoal Creek.
It turned or to be a beautiful day. I’m glad Sandi took the time out to show me these little gems.
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Eric decided that today was his Sunday to goof off. Here’s what he built.
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My friend laughed when I told her I got my husband a greenhouse hose trolly for our anniversary. I have definitely become more practical since moving here, so it was interesting, after giving him his gift, he said, “I need to give you a water hydrant as your gift.” I said, “Oh! Was I being too practical?” He said, “No. It’s just that we need it.”
Eric got me the garden wagon I’d been eying. It’s come in handy this week for transplanting. Practical gifts aren’t really that bad. At least it’s not a vacuum.
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The days are getting longer here and everything is coming to life. April 10 was our one year wedding anniversary and it just so happens, it turned out to be the perfect sunny day; perfect for working in the garden.
Our herb garden has been an evolving project. Last year we removed an existing children’s play yard and redefined the space for herbs. We planted boxwoods, chives, curry plants, garlic, lavender, rosemary, sage, thyme and two varieties of basil (sweet basil and purple basil). In containers we planted parsley and oregano. The only things that survived our winter were the boxwoods, chives, garlic, sage and thyme.
Preparing the garden is well worth the effort. The past 3 weeks we’ve been cleaning out the beds, adding compost, and cleaning up the path to prepare it for mulch. Putting down newspaper and filling in the path with mulch was a nice aesthetic improvement. Now, let’s hope it does what it’s intended and controls some of the weeds!
There’s just about every herb you can imagine planted in our greenhouse. My sister-in-law said we should plant flowers with our herbs. Through our master gardener class, we were happy to learn some new herbs and discover that most herbs have beautiful flowers: Bee balm, borage, cat mint, chamomile, chives, echinacea, feverfew, geranium, hyssop, lavender, marigold, nasturtium and Russian sage. The herb flowers are just as edible as the plants and make nice garnishes.
Growing seeds in the greenhouse has been a learning experience for me. I haven’t grown from seeds since I was a child. I separated some basil, parsley and marigold seedlings. The next morning I was happy to see them all standing upright.
Starting seeds has been a great way to save money, but seeing them grow has been just as rewarding. I love going into the greenhouse and seeing the seedlings peaking their heads up. Not only have we planted herbs and vegetables, we also planted flowers: 4 0′clock, canna, columbine, floxglove, hollyhock, lupine, pansy and Shasta daisy.
It’s almost time to move some of the transplants to our herb garden. I will wait a little longer to move the basil and lavender which tend to like the soil a little warmer.
Tomatoes grew nicely in the greenhouse last year free from disease and relatively free from bugs. We moved some of our tomatoes and eggplant transplants into a bed in the greenhouse. We will try eggplant and cauliflower there too and see how they do since last year they were overriden with bugs in our garden.
We’ve applied a new approach to our garden. Our CSA friends, Eric and Cher advised us to prepare the garden and let it sit before planting. It sat for about 2 months before we planted; no activity and no water equals no weeds.
Next month we will add the drip irrigation to both the greenhouse and garden. This will also control the weeds. We are still doing a little at a time, but we are evolving more and more each year. We are happy with our progress and feel we’re still learning every step of the way.
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My sister-in-law invited me to go to the Cheekwood Garden plant sale this weekend. Unfortunately, when we got to the plant sale there were no plants left. Fortunately, that left us time to walk the gardens and have a scrumptious lunch at the Pineapple Room.
The Cheekwood Garden is known for their Japanese, herbs, perennials and wildflowers, as well as a woodland sculpture trail and nature sanctuary. It was my first time there. All the bulbs were in bloom. It was absolutely beautiful.
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It’s not a bad thing to have a lot of seeds. Not having a system to organize them all makes it impossible; you either forget what you have or you can’t find what you need.
I found two plastic storage bins (6.25″ x 11.5″) and 4″ x 6″ index cards. I used Post-it-Notes tabs on each of the index cards to divide the vegetables, herbs and flowers. It’s nothing glamorous, but it sure fits the need.
The first bin holds all the vegetables, herbs and flowers. The second bin holds our bulky items like peas, corn, beans, and pumpkin seeds.
We can actually find our seeds now. Much better than a shopping bag! It will also store well in the refrigerator during the winter.
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This year we’re putting up a permanent garden fence instead of the ugly netting and t-posts we had up last year. Last week we put up the posts and cemented them in. It’s going to be nice once it’s completed. It will have four gates; one on each side. We’re building the fence to keep the dogs out, but will also make it aesthetically pleasing; It will be one of the focal points of our yard. Eric wants to build different arbors on each of the three entrances to give the garden some personality. The entrance to the greenhouse will remain plain so we will have room to replace the greenhouse plastic when the time comes. Eventually, we’ll add a path to the garden from the house.
Earlier this week, Eric came to me and said he had a “brain fart” (which in my mind means he forgot something or is having a senior moment). He continues to tell me he wants to use timbers from around the farm to build the fence rails. I had a good laugh, but thought it was a great idea. It would certainly make our fence more meaningful.
Our neighbor allows us to harvest some of his down trees, so the next day, we brought in some of those timbers. After turning off the electric fence and disconnecting the barbed wire, we used the tractor with a chain hooked up to the bucket to drag them over. Next, we used the tractor and loaded them into the truck. We brought them back to the barn where Eric is set up to make the planks. It’s going to take a lot more timbers, so hopefully we’ll find enough of them. We need about 74 planks to complete the fence. That’s a lot of planks!
So far, we’ve installed 8 planks (photo above). It’s going to look great when it’s complete. Eric says each plank is painstaking hard to make as it puts a lot of strain on the body when holding the chain saw to cut them. Cutting 2 planks uses 1 tanks of gas. We are hoping to complete these and have the fence finished by the end of April.
We are happy to be making progress. The mulch came in yesterday and will cover the herb garden and the perimeter of the vegetable garden. Not too long and we will start enjoying Spring. The weather is mostly beautiful right now.
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