Friday, May 25, 2012

Lilacs, Grapes and Gophers!

We have planted lilacs in our yard in years past, and cherished the period of time they bloomed. When we bought our new place we had no idea of the blooming display we would have! There are more than fifteen bushes/trees and they have been here a long time. They are in need of pruning and we will do that in the Fall. We have been told to cut them back one third, fertilize and stand back as they grow lush for next years spring season. They seem pretty great this year so it will be especially rewarding to watch them become stronger with the needed care.

I have stood next to our lilacs and buried my face in each bush.  Some have a very heady fragrance while others have a softer scent.

We have picked armloads of bouquets from these bushes and on this Memorial Day weekend they are being used to celebrate the memories of those we have loved but have passed away.

The blooms are fading quickly but some remain long enough to be enjoyed for this occasion.

When we sold our farm we came to grips with leaving our ten grape plants. Five Muscat and Five Jupiter plants. Much to our delight the new owners didn't want them, and offered to let us take them!  We did! In one day they were dug up and replanted.  They were in their dormant stage and we wondered if they would make the move?

They did survive, and each plant is putting out leaves at a rapid pace.  If we get a few grapes this year we will be happy.  The soil here at the new place seems to be better for the plants.  We chose to plant the grapes along our driveway and in a few weeks there will be a new fence to the left of my husband. The fence will be a topic for another day.  :)

Gopher Tale.....

I hope this doesn't disturb anyone because it is a great victory!  Gophers abound out there in our large grassy area. We are on the hunt with traps! The traps kill them instantly, and that is the way it is. Gophers dig, dig, dig. One gopher can make a mess of a lawn so quickly, and make the ground uneven. Our "lawn" is the future pasture for the goats and they don't need holes to step in.  A mole does the same thing but it is a smaller hole. Nonetheless...they are both a nuisance.
The gopher my husband is holding up so proudly is an old gopher.  He is quite large, and he will be the subject of "man to man" comparisons this summer.

Have a nice Memorial Day weekend!  We have plans that will keep us home and continuing to settle in.  What are you doing?  Any gopher tales from your yard?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

New vistas

Camas Lily
(Camassia quamash)
Moving even a short distance has taken us down new roads and we see new vistas.  All of these pictures were taken within a few feet of the road. The flowers mingle together in the natural setting and create a car stopping, camera grabbing moment!

Camas Lily bulb was eaten by the Lewis and Clark Expedition, 1804-1806.
It grows and thrives in wetlands. 

Hawthorn Tree
There are a thousand varieties of Hawthorn tree.  They are a member of the rose family and grow wild in the Northwest.  The limbs sport a lengthy thorn and they are not easy to hold without getting pricked. Birds are drawn to the trees for nest making because of their lush canopy.

Hawthorn Tree

We have two Hawthorn trees at the end of our driveway: a large pink  tree and a small white tree.
Most likely they grew on their own and were not planted by a person. 

White Bells

Catesby Trillium (T. catesbaei)

.Trillium's are commonly found in our area, in a woodland setting, but this one is completely new-to-me.  It has a very different flower.  It is smaller and more compact than the common variety.  

This is the view from the car as we drove away from the area.  It is a very wet piece of land and laden with  deciduous trees.  I wonder about the history of the property?  I know just the person to ask and I will do that soon!

What new roads or vistas are waiting for you to see?  

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Out to the garden......

Out to the garden means out to the one and only raised garden for this year!  Our "To Do" list is too long to add more raised gardens at this time!  After all we live in a garden valley and produce is available in abundance without more than a miles drive to find it.  Next year we will add more raised gardens when we have more time.

The raised bed sits East and West.  It receives direct afternoon sun from the West.  Perfect for this kind of growing.

Deciding what to grow wasn't difficult but we needed to consider the small space carefully. 
Plant and seed list: 
1. 4 Roma tomato plants
2. Blue Lake Beans(Bush)
3. Beets
4. Carrots
5. Lettuce(3 varieties)
   a. Romaine
   b. Red Tip Leaf
   c. Arugula
6. Lemon cucumbers
7. Basil

LilliAnne found some beautiful buttercup flowers and she planted them! Stems and all! :)

Papa's Helper! 
 It is most common to plant a raised garden of this size (6x9) in a square foot design.  We decided to not do this and plant in rows.  Next season we will look further into the reasoning behind square foot gardening and probably plant in rows again. :)

Our raised garden was planted in minutes.  After all there is no tilling, no rocks, and the space is filled with wonderful soil made especially for vegetables.

We stood back and were pleased with the little garden! 

 One week later.......this is the result of sunshine and rain.

The only seeds that have not germinated are the basil and lemon cucumbers.  The lovely warm days we are having will change that quickly!  Basil has to have warm, warm weather or it won't take off.
Now, on to last years geraniums! We have spread them out in front of the garage to get direct sunshine and by July 4th we should have full blooming plants.  I like holding over the geraniums but the blooming is much later than buying them new each year.  It is worth the wait and bother of keeping them inside all winter. I did not pinch the plants back like I should have, but it looks like they will be fine.  I'll show them again when they are blooming and you can see what I mean.  :)
Happy gardening!  

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

New Kitchen

Once we took possession of our house things happened very quickly, and almost before I could get the "before" pictures.  The kitchen had seen its day and needed a complete remodel.  In a matter of minutes the kitchen cabinets were torn out, and the space was cleared.  What you see above are the old cabinets ready to go out the door.  They were made of  walnut and quite dark.
The kitchen is very small at 9 feet in length. It is a galley kitchen and we needed to fit in a range, refrigerator and dishwasher.  The refrigerator needed to be cabinet depth instead of the standard deeper size they usually come in.  We chose an 18 cubic ft. Samsung french door refrigerator. The range is an LG and it has a glass top with front controls. It also has a beautiful blue interior. There is a smaller oven below the large oven.  It's going to take some reading to figure out how everything works on this range!  It's like getting a new camera!  

Since the kitchen is small we decided to raise the upper cabinets to the maximum height possible. There is an air intake over the refrigerator cabinet that had to be considered and left exposed.  The cabinets are high enough to require a stool to reach into them.  I have decided to store things rarely used up there, but still need when cooking a family meal.

The dishwasher is a Kenmore Elite.  It is the quietest dishwasher we could find, and after using it several times we have found it truly quiet!

The  counter tops are quartz.  This natural stone is easy to keep and they don't require polishing or resurfacing. They are also not porous.  The kitchen sink is stainless steel and it is mounted under the counter top.  The back splash is  a warm tone tile and easy to wipe down.

The cabinets are made of maple with no color added to the finish.  The cabinets were built by Toni Egli from Ye Old Cabinet Shop in Canby, Oregon.  Toni has done an amazing job in our kitchen and detailed it to perfection.  We couldn't be more pleased!

Even though this kitchen is small it is sufficient for our downsized lifestyle.  It serves us well and is a breeze to clean-up!

One quick word about the appliances.  They are all computerized...every single one!  This is a concern in times of power outages.  We decided early on to put a power surge protector at the main box to our house. It is better than insurance to protect the investment of new appliances and a less costly expense than replacing the appliances after a couple of power surges.