Digging In

Insight into garden design, photography and growing life.

July 16, 2009

Something's out there

The dog's got a new fascination. Something (I hope, I hope not a rat) is in his backyard. It's still 95 degrees outside at 10:45, and he's on the hunt, in the dark. Maybe it's the same mystery guest who knocked down our garbage can and pulled three trash bags into the street.

July 15, 2009

Must have plants

Need to make a list of my must-haves. Since I have lots more space, I hope to squeeze in plants I always wanted to incorporate into my garden but could never find the room.

Gotta Have Plants
Mexican Bush Sage
a Redbud tree
more ornamental grasses
shrubbery (hollies & maybe boxwoods)

Also wanna have-its
a swing (for big and little people)
a fun/dramatic fountain
a really great garden gate (actually two, one tall exterior and one short interior)

These lists have the potential to get really long. Better stop now.

Keeping busy

Nothing too exciting to report. Just keeping busy with the kiddos at VBS, chasing after the boy and waiting on servicemen to fix things at the house. The construction next door is in full swing. They're almost done framing the neighbor's house; wasn't it just a slab on Monday? 

A very helpful landscaper was out yesterday to fix a broken sprinkler head. It was a construction causality; probably the first of many. I'm now becoming very aware of how much light is going to be blocked by the new house. It's on our north side, where we did enjoy an unobstructed view, if only for a short time. But we knew it was coming. I predict we'll have a warmer and more shaded micro-climate between the houses. Hmmm, maybe this is where I can plant my camellia (currently pot-bound at a good friend's home)? Hubby wants a fence there, pronto. But that will just get damage by construction too.

Since I don't have anything in bloom here, I'm sharing eye-catching colors from the past. From my old garden and garden travels.

July 14, 2009

Inspiration is everywhere

Those smart cookies at DesireToInspire inspired me to blog my passion. Not only do I have the opportunity to design my exterior view, but I have option to design my interior spaces too. New house, new possibilities. I'm trying to talk my hubby into going for a "dark chocolate" office. He's more comfortable with cafe au lait.  It's just paint, right? 

Since I'm in my office typing away, I'm daydreaming (at night) about dark brown walls and what the view out my front window should be . . . . gotta accentuate the positives. No houses obstructing the view down the street, lots of eastern light (more intense than you'd think) and decent builder's landscaping plants, which are not yet established. That means I can move them. Musical plants starting this fall.

Wild America

We hadn't been in the new house for 48 hours before we met the locals. By that, I mean rabbits. I was warned we would have rabbits before we moved here. But they were not warned about us (meaning the dog). Our golden mix was delighted to find a bunny nest and was chasing the freaked-out little cuties around the backyard. Luckily, I was able to get to them before much damage was done. So I spent the next few days tending to the adorable furballs. Keeping them out of harm's way. Happily, the left the nest box on their own, and I haven't seen them since. Sorry I don't have any pictures to post. They were super cute, but I didn't want to stress them any more than necessary.

Shortly after the rabbits were handled, we had new guests. Bees. On our first Monday morning at the house, construction workers started grading the empty lot next door. After one pass with the skid steer, the work abruptly stopped. Then I saw the most interesting site, cottonwood tuffs or dirt flying through the air and organizing in my front yard. What?!? No, wait, it's a bee swarm! And they're swarming before my front door. Now they are heading into the water shut-off box in my front flowerbed! Are you kidding me? This is crazy. 

So it seems the construction disrupted a bees' nest in the ground next door. Now those sweet (thankfully) honeybees set up shop in a box in my flowerbed. I'm all for bees. Great pollinators in need of all the help they can get. I just didn't want to host them so close to (inches from) home. 

Well, we finally found an available bee keeper to remove the majority of our honeybees. Dr. Dean Hansen, a large and small animal vet for 32 years, was great. He came over late on a Friday night, donned his full beekeeper's whites, and got to work. Since it was dark, all the bees would be in their new "hive." Dr. Dean then used a crowbar and a painter's scrapper to remove as much of the comb as possible. He put the comb and two handfulls of honeybees (approximately 5,000) into coolers in the back of his pickup. He hoped to integrate them into another half-hive box had had going on his property. Like many beekeepers I discovered, Dr. Dean is quite a generous and interesting person. 

After he was done removing what he could and the bees once again calmed down, Dr. Dean showed us a portion of the honeycomb he removed. The honey was the lightest I'd ever seen, and so sweet. Can't get any fresher either. So we've already enjoyed our first (and probably last) honey harvest at the house. 

I do have a few worker bees remaining in the box. But I'll let them stay. It's not likely they will make it through the winter, but they aren't bothering anyone. Wonder what will show up next?

A fresh start, new homestead

We moved in to the new house at the end of May. It wasn't too hot yet, but the Texas summer came in quickly. Now it's 100 (plus one or two degrees) everyday. Now is the time to dream of leafy shade trees and a splashing waterfall fountain. I'm just starting to sketch out ideas now. No dirt will move until late fall, after the heat leaves for good. 

My first order of business is to establish and draw our my landscape plan. Anything we do is going to cost money and require a lot of work. I hope to only do things once. Digging was a lot easier when your yard was half the size and there were no irrigation lines to consider. 

We've already decided to move the fence-line up toward the front of the house, possibly putting a kitchen garden (potager) in this reclaimed private space. Then the herbs and veggies will be near the kitchen and grill.

I want to create a good foundation and strong structural elements in this new new landscape. Visions of garden rooms, evergreens and cedar structures are floating around in my mind. Of course I have to remind myself to accommodate playareas, dogs and kiddos too.  Fantasy will be replaced by practicality and function.

Blank slate

Welcome to my first post on the Olivia Garden blog. I have high hopes of maintaining this blog and filling it with anecdotes, pictures and lessons learned from my garden-related experiences. "Blank slate" not only applies to the start of this blog, but to the start of my new garden. Both spaces are wide open, offer loads of potential and carry the burden of labor. 

I recently left my first garden, which wasn't easy. Our family relocated to a bigger house and bigger lot with the idea of more room to grow - both in family and horticulture. We loved our first home and garden. I felt totally free to experiment and play with design inside and out. My husband and I got our hands dirty, as the majority of the work was DIY. We've learned a lot, and I have learned the value in hiring helping hands. With the combination of tighter work schedules and a toddler, I'm applying the Murtaugh List (I'm too old for this stuff) to doing all the heavy lifting and digging. 

So stay tuned to see what unfolds.