A View of My Garden in a Mirror 2010

Monday, October 31, 2011

Those naughty plants gone wild!

I inadvertently conducted a not so scientific experiment this last summer. I neglected my plants while working on a few hard scape projects and found out which plants behaved while I wasn't looking and which ones had a party!

The ring leader of the messy situation is a toss up between the Trumpet Vine and the Lady Banks rose vine. OK, so with "vine" in the name I should have known they were troublemakers. De' Nile is not just a river in Egypt, it is also running through my back yard!

Several years ago when I first started gardening a friend insinuated that my yard wasn't "lush". Gasp! Since she was an incredible gardener that I admired,  I took her clue and "lush" became the new goal. Where to start? Wine bottles as edging? Hey, I have seen that and it looks pretty cool! But I think what she meant was I needed to add more greenery and shrubs.  Does hoarding apply to shoving too many plants into a flower bed? I knew better. I took classes and studied all the topics to become the perfect gardener. Then I proceeded to go back to my old habits of planting for what looked good "now" and not "when they reach the label size". (Note, slap self.)

I planned on moving the plants each season as needed so I could enjoy "lushness" now! Back to the vines..... 
The trumpet vine managed to work it's way up through a portion of yard that is probably 20' wide and over the neighbors fence. As soon as the leaves fall off I will be doing some major cutting and pulling. It really is lush and green and if you don't get too close you would never notice that it is smothering all the well behaved plants.

Then there is the rose vine, Lady Banks. It has arching stems the little birds love to land on and bounce up and down. It is kind of cute from a distance so I let it be for the summer. However, with a closer look at the base, it too has taken over some of the more well behaved plants.

Another culprit is the Euphorbia 'Fireglow'. One of my friends mentioned that it could become a bit invasive when I first picked it up and plopped it in my cart. But at the time I thought it looked so yummy that I didn't care if it took over my whole garden. Hmmm, I guess I do care. I don't like it anymore and I want it gone! It doesn't clump like most well behaved Euphorbia's, this one is all over the place and scraggly looking.  Reminder to self: "overcome the initial euphor(b)ia of plant shopping and listen to your friends!" I will next time!

A mug shot of the Euphorbia 'Fireglow' that I borrowed from the internet.

The hard scaping is still in progress rain or shine.  I will give an update when it is finished! Did you know that if you take your glove off when you are working with wet concrete and then rub it back and forth on the concrete real quick to smooth it out, that eventually your fingers will start to burn and turn black? Yes, that is what will happen! Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb! 

Tammy from Casa Mariposa , I would love to hear how your garden mosaic is coming along so we can compare war stories!

Here is a picture from Peaches world. She is obsessed with her own reflection so we got her a mirror! Notice the tongue prints!

Happy Halloween!

Monday, September 19, 2011

So I've been a little busy.....

Usually every summer I take on some type of project in our garden. However, this year it turned into many projects that all started with renting a sod cutter. I have been wanting to cut back on the grass areas in our yard for years and when my husband finally agreed, well, we went a little hog wild with the sod cutter that we rented for 2 hours. And once the sod was cut, the vacant areas screamed for a project. Now we are going into fall and so far I am at the tail end of several projects and have a feeling they will go into next summer.

Since they are not finished this is a sneak peek so I at least have something to post!
No this is not our patio, but it all started with this picture of a brick patio we saw in Mexico. I have always wanted to do this in our own backyard. As you will see below, the patio I am in the progress of installing is hardly anything like this other than they both have bricks.

I forgot to do the real before pictures. These are after most of the projects started, in the beginning stage.

 This location is where I wanted to put the brick patio. At the time of this picture we just had this wall of the house painted and planted the new flower bed.  If you notice to the right is a big tree stump where we had to take down another tree.

 So first things first, we spray painted a big circle and rented a sod cutter.

We had to get our money's worth out of the sod cutter rental so we took this area along side the deck out too. And see all the gravel pathway? I never liked that gravel so it became the base for my new patio which means I needed to come up with a new pathway...another project!

And somehow this pond ended up in the back of the pickup on a trip to Home Depot. Talk about an impulse buy! Most people buy a stick of gum on the way out of the check stand. We bought a pond! And another "project!"

This is where I started to get off track from the original patio plan. When I realized it would take me all summer to dig up the tree roots to make a base for the patio I decided to go up instead. And then I found some interesting shaped pavers and fell in love with concrete stain.

Somehow it has evolved into this. A giant sun pattern. I found some Mexican pebble stones that I plan on using in the gaps of the bricks and blocks. And I will eventually be putting in a stone mosaic in the center. I have been inspired by the stone mosaic work from Jeffrey Bale and hope to do something that is a fraction as cool as his work.

This is the current stage of the pond. I still have lots of work to do with plants, ground cover, etc.

This is part of the new pathway area which is actually about finished but I will save the pictures for later.

Another picture of the pathway area in progress.

This is a picture of our pitbull Peaches in a pink tutu in case you have never seen a pitbull in a pink tutu.

 And this is the new fencing we put in this spring to keep the pitbull with the pink tutu out of the flowerbeds along with her little obsessive compulsive sidekick Dinga.

To liven up this wall (like neon yellow wasn't enough) I painted some shutters purple and added Mexican tiles. I also added the metal and clay pot window planters. I will be planting some easy to care for succulents to these in the future.

So now I have documentation of where my spring, summer and fall of 2011 has gone, in between starting a new business (more about that later). I am far from done. I still have to finish the patio, the pond, the pathway and the side of the deck area. And then light it all up so it can be enjoyed at night too. As you can see, this is why I haven't posted much lately and will probably not post for awhile after this. But I really do enjoy sharing when I have the chance so when I have an area done I will give an update. Thanks for not giving up on me!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I've lost that blogging feeling......

Holy Jumping Up and Down Martha! I haven't posted since the middle of April! But I realized that had to change when I saw several people outside my house taking pictures of an attention grabbing (to put it mildly) plant. I have been swamped with so many things that I can't even begin to explain them all. I will share a few this summer as they progress. Anyway....back to the plant that is getting all the attention in my neighborhood. Take a look a this doozy! I feel like I should throw a blanket over it when little kids walk by!

 This plant is called a Dracunculus vulgaris. If I was still a kid my Mom would be washing my mouth out with soap right now! I planted two of these bulbs last fall and didn't expect them to survive since most the time the "exotic" plants seem to be all $$ and no show. I do believe I got my money's worth with this one (and then some!) Very interesting....do you think I should move it to the back yard for next year??? Yikes! It's embarrassing!

 Here is another shot in case you didn't capture the gravity of this plant from the first picture.

Well then, so I can end on a less vulgar note, here are some pictures of the snap dragons that I was amazed and pleased to see come back this year in abundance! I believe they are the rocket mix variety.

Cheers to the imminent arrival of summer!!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

#10 of 10 Things I Love in No Particular Order

Last but certainly not least....MY HUSBAND KEITH!

My apologies for taking so long to post. The last few months have been filled with an extraordinary amount of activities and new developments in our lives. I had planned on posting this for valentines day. Oops! Better late than never....here are a few of the many reasons I adore my husband.

He Roots for the Underdog (literally).

After adopting our rescue pit bull Peaches over two years ago we were suddenly made aware of the prejudice that follows this breed. I admit that I had a bias toward pit bulls before becoming educated. Luckily for Peaches we only saw a cute sweet dog when we adopted her and didn't stereotype her. She hit the doggy lottery that day! If you want to read more click on

Keith's Website about how certain breed of dogs become "demonized"

He Gives Back 
What I mean by this is he gives his time and money to causes that he is passionate about. He volunteers at the local animal shelter. And after researching how many pit bulls are in shelters as well as euthanized every year he has worked with a non-profit in our area Pet Adoption Network to donate money for pit bulls to be altered who belong to low income families that can't afford the procedure themselves. We hope this will help even a tiny bit to keep the number of pit bulls down in the local animal shelters. In addition an altered dog is typically a better behaved dog which will help the image of pit bulls as well.
 A sleeping dog is a good dog too!

He can be a goofball (I say that with endearment)
Yes, we all need a goofball in our lives. Someone that brings the child out at times and he is certainly that in my life! He loves roller coasters and other such adventures that I gladly watch with both feet on the ground. So I guess you could say when it comes to activities that are "adrenaline" related, I live vicariously through him! The poor guy, after several rides from the front row of a roller coaster he used his camera to make a video that turned out great! I felt like I was on the ride with him when he showed it to me. Unfortunately he lost it in a file transfer after our vacation. Most people are screaming as they ride on a roller coaster. Not Keith, he was making a video! 

He is supportive
OK, so he thinks I spend too much time gardening and not enough time doting on him and well, he is probably right on that one. Oh no! Did I actually put that in print!? I am in trouble now! He is still supportive about the volunteer hours that I contribute for my Master Gardening program and also the many hours I spend in the garden. And when he is sitting back enjoying the view with a glass of wine in his hand I like to think that he is thinks it is all worth it. And when he wants to do things like this..........
I never say no! He took a helicopter ride and landed on a glacier! I waited on the ground for him to return.

He takes care of the grass!
A garden with dead grass just isn't the same. I love that he fertilizes, grooms, re-seeds and thoroughly cares about the grassy area of our yard so I don't have to worry about it and can focus on the important things like flowers!
Look at that grass! It's green! If I had to take care of it then it would be brown!

He is the Poop Master!
This may not sound like it, but this is a term of endearment for my precious husband. The Poop Master! Which for those who haven't figured it out he handles the horrible nasty chore of picking up after our furry kids. What a guy!!!!!!!    

He trusts my judgment...most of the time!
When I bring something home like this..........
and say it will be perfect in our back yard. He trust's my judgment. Or maybe I should say he humors me and doesn't have my head examined :) What is this thing anyway? I found it when Gottschalks was closing and everything had to go. It was sitting in the men's section. I guess it was supposed to make men want to buy more shirts or something. Go figure!

Happy Belated Valentine's Day Honey!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

#9 of 10 Things I Love in No Particular Order


We don't have cable TV. We can view a few television channels with an antenna but we rarely watch them. It isn't because of the expense. It is because we don't want to be tempted to spend a lot of time watching television as our lives go by. We read the newspaper for our news and watch movies when we feel like a little entertainment on the screen. I admit that before I married Keith 7 years ago I used to watch television every evening like most Americans. I would be able to discuss the latest sitcom with the best of them. Now at times I do feel a bit out of the loop when someone starts talking about a particular episode of a popular TV show and I sit there with a blank look on my face. I have no idea what they are talking about. But it is also so amazing what I can get accomplished since I have stopped watching television.

In the summer evenings I will be out in the garden, or out riding my bike with the dogs, or some other outdoor activity. In the winter I like to read, work on crafts, take an online class and lately working on this blog. I can honestly say I don't miss watching television.

I have found one odd side affect of not watching television. Television is where you learn to pronounce words! If a new politician, entertainer or product comes on the scene we will read about it in the paper. However, the paper doesn't give the proper pronunciation.  I will pronounce it in my head the way I think it should sound so after awhile I think the pronunciation in my head is correct. Then I blurt it out wrong to someone who does watch television and if I'm lucky they will correct me. If I'm not so lucky I will go on using this pronunciation until someone, like my sister does correct me. I have tried to get in the habit of asking people who watch television how to pronounce something if I think I might use it in conversation more than once. Anyway, I will stop rambling. I just thought this was a weird phenomenon that others might not realize if they do watch TV. So if you ever hear me pronounce something wrong please correct me! I will be very grateful for the information!

Back to Movies.......

I do love to watch movies. We have a mail order subscription service to get our movie fix. We rent main stream movies, obscure Foreign movies, documentaries and other little known offbeat movies.  And yes, we can also order an occasional television series when we hear good reviews. We once watched all 5 seasons of Six Feet Under over the course of a year with no commercials. It was fantastic!

Do you realize how hard it is to narrow down a list of favorite movies? It took me forever and I know I missed so many. But here goes.

Chicago: I love a good musical and this one is just so much fun.

The Pursuit of Happyness: I don't think I have ever rooted for someone in a movie as much as I did for Will Smith in this one. It will definitely makes you  stop and think about the homeless and the bad luck or social issues that brought them to where they are now. It is an eye opener.

Bridges of Madison County: This is not your typical romance but Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood do such a fantastic job that it works. I love just  any movie with Meryl Streep. She is such a wonderful actress.

Mamma Mia! : This movie did not do well with the critics but who cares. It's fun and the music is great and again Meryl Streep is wonderful!

Hachi: A Dog's Tale: I knew I was in trouble when the video store attendant said, "This movie makes Old Yeller look like a comedy"! Eeek. He was right. It was a real tear jerker but a great movie for dog lovers.

Man of the Year: Robin Williams is so funny. This political satire comedy is a hoot!

Documentaries: We enjoy a good documentary and here are a few:

The David Attenborough version is the best!

Foreign Movies: One great feature of mail order movie subscriptions is the availability to great foreign movies that may be hard to get otherwise. Here are a few we thought were exceptional.

Miscellaneous: Here are a few other movies and mini-series I can't say that I loved because the content is so heartbreaking and sad. But I think they are excellent and worth mentioning:

I would love to hear your favorite movies too 
so I can add them to our list! Please share!

Friday, January 21, 2011

#8 of 10 Things I Love in No Particular Order


There was a bit of a delay since my last post. I was side tracked looking at photo's from past vacations. I found it very hard to narrow it down to just a few. With the digital age of photography we no longer have to worry about developing film so we just keep clicking away! I am not sure if this is a bad thing or a good thing. Sometimes its overwhelming having so many pictures! But it is fun to have all the memories of great times.

Anyway.....back to traveling...

Who doesn't love to travel? Of course it is not always easy to get away when there are other priorities, like work, gardening, etc. But I love it when we have the opportunity. I definitely gain inspiration from gardens and architecture in far away places. Well, sort of far. Mexico is about the longest journey and also our favorite place to travel. Here are some highlights.

I love this!
I want to do this some day in part of my back yard. 
What a great idea. And it doesn't look terribly difficult. 
Famous last words. 

 Look at this one real close. Can you guess what this is on the left? It looks like a fountain right? Nope! It's a urinal in the Men's restroom at a restaurant outside of Puerta Vallarta, Mexico! At least I hope so since my husband has been peeing in it every time we go there. And no, I didn't take this picture. He tried to get me to go in and look at it and when I refused he took a picture so I could see it. What a guy! I won't be stealing this decorating idea but if I did for some reason have to put a urinal in my house I would make it look like a fountain too!  
It is so much better than white porcelain!

This is a little village at the end of the bus route going south from Puerta Vallarta. It is rustic but absolutely beautiful. It is called Boca de Tamatlan.

 This one is for Grace and her tarp of the month club. 
They even have tarps in the middle of paradise!  
This is the same palapa that you can see in the picture above. 
Of course when you are in the palapa you have no idea there is a tarp on the roof and you don't care!

And this is one of the reasons we love to go to this little town. There are dogs roaming the streets that are oh so grateful when you give them a little food. This poor dog name Sorr'e had an infected ear a few months before so we returned to see how she was doing. Luckily a Veterinarian from PV had visited the street dogs and gave her antibiotics so she was fine by the time we returned. She even let me scratch her behind the ears! She was a sweetie.

 This unique hairless dog was named Elephante'.  I can see why!

Look at those feet! Isn't that cute??

We love to try interesting places to eat when we are vacationing. The majority of the time it is not this upscale. But while I am sitting at the table drooling and waiting to eat Keith is snapping pictures of the presentation. 
It looks almost too good to eat! I hope the cook used some kind of utensil to make that "swoosh". It almost looks like a finger. Eewwww! I ate it anyway!

Here I am again, sitting there waiting to eat again while Keith is taking a picture of the beautiful presentation! This one really is too pretty to eat!
After we get home I feel inspired and may try to put a little presentation into our meals. Of course it doesn't last long and I usually go back to slopping it on the plate again. Maybe I should just get some colorful decorative plates instead?

 This just cracked me up! It is good they have power since a lot of places in the world don't even have electricity. But I would hate to be the one to have to figure this out if there was a problem! Eeek!

This made me snicker. Someone has a sense of humor! 

 The vegetation in Mexico is absolutely gorgeous!

The bougainvillea grows wild like a weed here. I am so jealous! Every spring I give in and buy another bougainvillea and fantasize that it will grow up and over our patio. It is just a fantasy and as soon as the temperature goes below 40 degrees. Ffffffft, another dead plant. You would think I would learn but I can't seem to give up on that fantasy! One year I tried bringing it inside the house to winter over. The shock was too much for it and it never recovered. 
I confess that I will probably buy another one in the spring so I can keep up the fantasy!

 More amazing vegetation colors.

 It is so unusual and beautiful it looks plastic! But it's real!

I love this pony tail palm in a simple pot on top of a log.

I love the vibrant colors. They add so much.

 The next time I see an old chiminea at a garage sale I'm going to buy it, paint it a bright color and stick a plant in it! I love this!

Agave! The plant that turns into tequila! We visited a tequila factory for a tour. The word "factory" is a stretch. It conjures up the image of a big manufacturing plant with nasty smoke coming out the top. But this was definitely a different image. It was a quaint brick building out in the middle of the countryside. And this perky tour guide showed us how tequila was made from agave. I admit, I thought the whole process of sticking the agave plant in the ground and waiting for it to ferment was a bit, well, icky! But I guess if you drink enough tequila you really don't care! I am not a tequila drinker but I did try a sip of the chocolate tequila and it was yummy!

The ambiance in the restaurants are just wonderful. If you want to get away and forget everything this is the place to be!

I love the festive colors.

OK, the waiter was cute but it was his guacamole that I was eyeballing!
I really wasn't on this vacation alone. 
Keith is just the one who is always taking the pictures.

If anyone knows what this cute little animal is let me know. 
It ventured inside the restaurant and we gave it table scraps. 
Hey, kind of like home except it is usually a dog.

Here is a picture of Keith so I can prove I wasn't alone!

And what is one of the greatest things about vacationing? 
Enjoying the amazing sunsets! 
Here are a few.



The very last sunset of our trip.
This is from the window of our airplane on the way home.
Keith took this shot while I was napping. 
I'm glad he woke me up to see it. 
What a perfect end to a great vacation.