Finally some garden success

The cold weather has been playing havoc with my attempt at spring bulbs, the chocolate vine died of black spot, and the honeysuckle has leaf blight. Gardening isn’t as easy as I originally thought.

But then there a lovely little vignettes like this:

It’s the glory of the snow bulbs finally making their appearance (a month or two late), with some columbine I bought recently in the background.

Ah, spring.

My not-so-green thumb

Disaster has struck the Old Glory garden: our chocolate vine has an advanced case of black spot.

Our poor sad chocolate vine

When I say advanced, I mean practically every leaf shows signs of it. Given that one of the things you’re supposed to do with a black spotted plant is to remove any infected leaves, I think the chocolate vine is a goner. I’ll have to rip it out and plant something else  to cover the trellis.

Black spot living up to its name

I’m bummed because I never got to see it flower; last year it bloomed while we were staying elsewhere during our renovations. Actually, I really wanted to smell the flowers, since it gets its name from the dark chocolatey scent of its blossoms.

In other gardening news, I’m having mixed results from the bulbs I planted last fall.   I had carefully selected a variety of plants that would work with our levels of sun exposure, wouldn’t kill Otto, and would flower between March and June. I had visions of this:

Evidently I planted them a bit too soon and our Nov/Dec were a bit too warm, so several of the bulbs sprouted leaves starting in, oh, December. On the bright side it gave us year-round greenery at least.

The Mr. Fokker anemones have looked like this since Christmas:

And here are what the wood anemones sprouted months ago:

In a complete reversal, it’s been unusually cold for the past month or so, which means all of the things which should be getting ready to flower in March are just barely beginning to show signs of life.

But, the dog’s tooth violets are coming along right on time, thankfully, looking like this:

And I’m not sure what these are, probably some sort of allium

At least the japanese apricot tree is still going strong

And the lime tree that lives in the living room looks like it might actually produce some limes!

A baby lime?

3 years of home ownership

Grimbil as a new home owner, 3 years ago

January marks our 3-year anniversary of owning Old Glory. We’ve come a long way. We’ve knocked down every wall except the external walls, and even some of those went under the hammer. So let’s look at our original plan when we bought the house versus what we’ve actually done:

  • Extension out the back (off the living room)  Done!
  • Knock down all the internal walls on the ground floor to make an open plan kitchen / dining room/ living room Done!
  • New kitchen Done!
  • New bathroom, including knocking down the wall between the water closet and the bath Done!
  • Knock down the wall between the two tiny bedrooms to make one nice bedroom Done!
  • Facelift for the closets Done!
  • Makeover the foyer, getting rid of the ugly glass between it and the living room, and converting the outside storage area to a closet for the foyer.  Done!
  • Move all the meters outside — we were able to move the gas meter outside but not the electric
  • Move the boiler to the kitchen — it’s in the foyer, but it works well there
  • New floors (with underfloor heating!) Done!
  • New paint in all the rooms, maybe exposed brick on the wall with the stairs.  — no exposed brick, but the new paint is Done!
  • Facelift for the incredibly cheap looking staircase Done!
  • Facelift for the facade — we got rid of the plastic below the kitchen windows, but we still want to render and paint the brick
  • New fences in the back garden (both for cosmetic and dog-proofing reasons) Done!
  • Replacing the crazy paving in the back garden with grass Done!
  • Landscape the front garden — that’s  the last big project for 2013
  • Move the loft/attic access to somewhere safer than the top of the stairs (wtf were they thinking?) — We didn’t move it far but do have a much safer hatch and ladder that are easy to access
  • Rewire the electrics Done!
  • Cat5 cable everywhere! And a networking closet somewhere Done! And with even better Cat 6 cable
  • Do something about the water quality in the bathroom (green stains in the sink? ew) — Not neccessary
  • Additional insulation in the loft and the walls — we still plan to add insulation in the loft, but not in the walls
  • Solar power — maybe after the insulation
  • Convert the loft to either a master suite or a man-cave (this one isn’t a definite yet) — this one is definitely not happening. We need the loft for storage more than we need more bedrooms.

Not bad!


Attack of the zombie tomato

A few days ago i noticed a zombie tomato on one of our plants.

Alas we have tomato blight. So on a coworker’s recommendation I picked all of the fruit from that plant and am leaving it in a sunny spot to ripen. 11 pounds of fruit to be exact.
I’ll also be ripping out the plant and spraying our other tomato plant with anti- blight spray. Next year we will have to grow our tomatoes in pots since the other flower bed had blight last year.

Anyone have any good green tomato recipes?

The Old Glory Garden 2012

20120619-104258.jpgOur garden this year

Last summer we ripped out the paving in the backyard and installed grass and flowerbeds. By “we” I mean the landscaping company Grey to Green. Due to our procrastination, we didn’t have flowerbeds to play with until July of last year, so this year it’s been nice to get a better sense of year-round gardening. We’ve added some new plants to the mix and some of our favorites from last year are really taking off.

Honeysuckle, tomatoes, and cosmos taking off this year

In an effort to get some spring color, I planted allium bulbs. They look cool even after their petals have dropped and as a bonus, they are supposed to be good to grow near tomatoes. I planted some crocus and fritillary bulbs as well, but they didn’t survive a certain hound’s renewed interest in digging up the garden.

Allium with…


…and without petals

Spring color was also added by some aquilegia, aka Granny’s Bonnet. I’d definitely like to get more of that for next year. We’ll see if it self-seeds this summer.

Granny’s bonnet

A co-worker gave us some dahlia tubers which are coming up nicely. I have no idea what type of dahlias they are, so I’m looking forward to seeing what the flowers look like later this summer. Pics to come once we have flowers.

And to fill in some space we added some nice bright yellow snapdragons.
We are trying our hands at growing runner beans, in particular the scarlet emperor variety. They are twining nicely around the bean netting we put up, and already have the first few bright red flowers. We tried spinach again, but after going strong for the first few weeks, we had a hot spell and it just fried. Maybe we’ll try one more time when it’s cooler.


Our scarlet emperor beans living up to their name

And from last year we still have shasta daisies, echinacea, strawberries, lavender, rosemary, thyme, mint, crocosmia, tomatoes, parsley, basil, chili pepper, cosmos, honeysuckle, chocolate vine, and our Japanese apricot tree.


In full bloom

Here is one last shot of the apricot tree in full bloom. It’s still a pretty small tree; imagine how much color it will add when fully grown!



Next up is the chocolate vine, which will probably be covered in cream coloured blossoms during our renovations.


2 years of home ownership

January marked our second year of owning our own home.  Our first year was all about major change, whereas Year 2 was more about tweaking. Here are the highlights:

  • Had the back yard completely redone, including new fence and new deck
  • Grimbil took up wood working as a hobby and turned the old boiler closet into a linen closet. Result!
  • He also framed out the garage, so that he can build the wood shop of his dreams.
  • Kicked off the process of replacing the ratty old furniture by buying a snazzy new couch
  • Finally installed our pendant lights in the kitchen. That means the kitchen is done!

Year 3 will be another big year for change: we are finalizing plans to completely redo the upstairs. More to come!