A Modern Garden

Two months after sharing our first post about our Garden of Dreams, it has become a reality.  But as is often the case with best-laid plans, the final incarnation is much different than the original proposal.

Yes, it is true: we got carried away!  We got so caught up in the excitement of having our very own, slow home garden this summer, that we neglected to realize that our initial plan of 10’x10’ raised planter beds was waaaay too ambitious for citiots like ourselves.  In addition to it being too large and requiring serious fencing, it was too far from our water supply and would have required massive amounts of bending.  So we went back to the drawing board and our wonderful neighbor Jeanne, who is collaborating with us on this venture, came up with an alternate plan.  She found Western Red Cedar tool-free assembly elevated garden beds made by Gronomics and we purchased two from our local garden store along with a simple gardening book that explained how to prepare the planting beds. 

 

A garden in a Box

 

 

Read and Seed

 

We initially planned on placing the beds, which measure 34” x 48” each, in front of our shed, but after waiting patiently and unsuccessfully for days and days and days AND days for the sun to make an appearance so that we could ascertain if the location was indeed sunny enough, we decided to plant them in our driveway, where we were sure that six hours of daily sun would not be a problem.

 

Sun-where?

 

So this past weekend, in between the thunder, lightening and soaking rain, we assembled the beds and planted the garden.

Our intern: Zippy

 

Simple Assembly: A Family Affair

 

The finished product

 

  Thanks to Jeanne’s diligence and research, we filled the beds with a mixture composed of:

1/3 Vermiculite

1/3 Peat Moss

1/3 Compost mixing three kinds including organic compost, a compost/humus mix and compost Jeanne had accumulated last year.

How to make your garden grow

 

For Peat Sake

 

We began by spreading a tarp and combined the mixture for each bed separately so that it would be more manageable.  Then our youngest son shoveled it into the beds where we continued to mix it and water it so that it was well blended and moist.

three kinds of compost

 

Blending the ingredients

 

Raking it in

 

the perfect blend

 

the good earth

 

hands on work

 

 

We planted one bed with plants including two kinds of lettuce, two kinds of mint, arugula, spinach, jalapeno peppers, red peppers and thyme and the second bed with seeds for carrots, cucumbers and radishes along with several kinds of beet plants.  We are planning on filling in with other herb plants this coming weekend and are still discussing how best to house tomato plants.

Separating the arugula

 

Almost done

 

put to bed

 

great greens

 

ready to grow

 

 

our dream team

 

 


 For now, both beds are covered with bird netting to discourage the deer, possibly the only animals that can reach the comfortable height of 32 inches.

 

 

Net worth

 

Just born but sure to grow to love our garden

 

There is something so wonderfully rewarding about getting your hands dirty and planting food to harvest that we all, including our youngest, were swept up in the excitement.  We were so thrilled with our initial planting, we ran back to the farm store for more plants!

And this is just the beginning.  If we are successful with these two raised beds this season, we will plant the larger raised beds we had originally planned, next year and use these two raised beds for herbs.  And there I go again, getting ahead of myself, but it is almost impossible not to.

The simple pleasure of this modern take on ancient agrarian farming has really inspired us and the possibilities are endless. With our Garden of Dreams taking shape, can Alpacas be far behind?

our future??

 

So, as you begin your holiday weekend, think about building your own Garden of Dreams, however small.  The results will be magical!

 And here is the proof: Our first radish sprouts popped up yesterday, just three days after planting the seeds.

A sprout even the green giant would be proud of

 

 

 

Make a Wish and....

With much anticipation and little fanfare, Irwin & I packed a bag or two, grabbed Charlie and headed for the hills last week to spend some much needed time in the country.  This is what we live for and we celebrate our good fortune every day that we are able to spend in our home surrounded by nature.

Of course, the first thing I did upon arrival was walk the property and check on our seasonal guests.  I was so excited to see the nest that had been built Memorial Day and had eggs hatched on the longest day of the year now housed a robust brood of six babies that were preparing to depart, leaving us as “Empty Nesters” once again.  The added pleasure of finding that a beautiful pair of cardinals had built a precious nest of birch bark in our beloved lilac bush almost sent me over the top.

Five of six of our latest brood

 

Our cardinal

 

the cardinal nest made with birch bark

 

From the beginning our house has attracted wildlife, a topic I have addressed in previous posts and am constantly in awe of.  Irwin and I often joke about how we have willed the arrival of our feathered and furry friends and perhaps we have.

It could be argued that our purchase of a painting of a large black dog, initiated the arrival of Charlie, our big black dog and the sketches of birds nests along with the glass eggs in nests displayed in our home have heralded the abundance of nests on our property.

the painting that heralded charlies arrival

 

The "man" Himself

 

sketches of nests

 

 

glass eggs in nests

 

One could further agree that a sketch of a raccoon, the only valuable gift left by the previous owner of our house, was single-handedly responsible for last summer’s Raccoon-Fest, and finally, the placement of the wooden bunny in our “Wish Basket” which to our utter shock and amazement, brought bunnies to our property.

our raccoon sketch

 

 

Our raccoon-Fest

 

 

our "wish basket"

 

our bunny

 

We believe that the universe will give you what you ask for if you put it out there so our wish basket is always on display in the den.  We keep the wooden bunny and Charlies broken collar in it at all times as a reminder of the enormous wishes we have been granted.

Now I’m not saying that we always get exactly what we wish for, I did NOT ask for a woodchuck, especially after last summer’s raccoon-fest and our sealing up all the openings under the porch, but nevertheless, Woody, as we’ve come to call him, not only resides on our patio in a gargantuan cave he has built, but has an extended family of baby woodchucks living under our porch.

Woody

 

woody's home

 

I’ve also put several small winning lottery tickets and handfuls of dollar bills in the basket and have yet to win Mega-Millions or Powerball but there is always the possibility.

So why not make a wish or two? Who’s to say how messages are communicated in the universe or how things are heard in the heavens?  What is important is that we put our message out because…you never know.

We just added our latest wish in the basket….I’ll keep you posted!

 

our latest wish is in the basket

 

Capture the Flag...And Memories Too!

Last year, right before Memorial Day, I wrote a post about our flag tradition.  Well, with the Fourth of July practically upon us, I thought it would be a good idea to re-share this lovely tradition with all of you.

Our Annual Flag

As we all know, summer is fleeting.  Even as we are preparing to begin the celebrations of the season, back to school items and early fall fashions are hitting the shelves and windows of our favorite stores.  While this has been going on for quite a long time, it seems that it worsens every year.  Irwin and I always joke about it, saying that it is difficult to find summer items in mid-July because stores are filled with Halloween items and sleds, which by the way, is not very far from the truth.

As more of our goods became imports and delivery times increased, retailers had to make earlier commitments to goods and ….well, you know the rest, we are about two and a half steps away from Christmas in July-literally.

So, while that ephemeral summertime window is open, we should take every opportunity to savor the sweet smells and vivid colors of the season, and do all that we can to capture this season’s memories so that they can be enjoyed throughout this year and for years to come.

colors of the season

 

 

A happy fellow in yellow

 

Coleus Foliage

 

Vivid in Violet

 

Our flag tradition allows us to do just that.  It began three years ago when:

our flag, which we had hung from our porch in the country, was ruined in a storm and Irwin and I were unable to find a good quality replacement in time for our upcoming Fourth of July celebration with friends. In a quest to create last minute, patriotic décor, Irwin grabbed a handful of small, cut out, color copies of a beautiful American flag, which we kept in a jar in the kitchen and placed them in planters all over the porch.  He then hung one flag on one of the posts as well.  Our celebration was a success and even after the holiday ended, and the other paper flags were put away, the flag on the post remained.  Irwin suggested that we leave it up there until the following July 4th, as a tribute to our country and as a reminder of the wonderful celebration we had.”

The flag remained there until the following July 4th, when we took it down, noted the names of the guests from the previous year on the back and placed it, once again, in the glass jar on our kitchen shelf.  We replaced it with a new flag that already had the current year’s guests’ names on it. And the tradition continued.

 

 

our Captured Flags

 

 

This year, we will replace the flag, once again and save the current flag along with its memories for years to come.

 

 

 

Memories in a jar

 

 

While Irwin and I have been trying to capture summertime in a jar since we were little kids by collecting fireflies & caterpillars, our “Capturing of the Flag” is far more humane and longer lasting.

 

So, while you are preparing for your family celebration this weekend, consider including our version of “Capture the Flag” in your festivities.  With best wishes for a happy and safe Fourth of July from our family to yours!

 

 

our newest family members

 

 

The Sweet Smell of...Roses

I can’t help myself.  When springtime explodes in the country and we are on the cusp of summer my heart literally skips a beat.  When hummingbirds visit while I have my morning coffee on the porch and fireflies light up the night time sky like fireworks, I am in heaven because I know that this is the season when we become more than transient guests in our own home.  This season, however fleeting, is the one that literally forces us to stop whatever we are doing and smell the roses.

While Irwin and I try to get away for at least one night a week during the year and spend part of the winter holidays in the country with the family, it is not quite the same as the late spring and summer when we afford ourselves the luxury of spending considerable blocks of time in our rural retreat.

And…what better way to welcome us for the season than to be greeted upon arrival on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend by a sweet little bird finally building the nest I had been pining for since the start of spring; the nest that has been there every spring/summer since we bought the house, the nest I was so disappointed not to see on Mother’s Day.

 

The perfect building project began on Friday-moved in on Sunday

 

It is part of my ritual.  When I arrive at the house, I walk around and examine the changes in our plantings and check on our seasonal guests including the Robin’s nest in the gutter and the other in our beloved Dogwood.  Imagine my utter surprise and sheer glee when I saw the first specks of mud on the porch roof. At that moment I exhaled, knowing that all was right in our little piece of the universe.

We all know that is so easy to get caught up in the complexity of daily living and lose sight of the time we need to spend enjoying the beauty we are surrounded by.  But acknowledging it and doing something about it are two incredibly different things.  Just the other day, I had that very discussion on Twitter with two good Twitter friends, @tandemantiques and @jonathanlegate.  We all acknowledged the fact that because summer is fleeting, we must take time to “smell the roses”, a priority that we often overlook.  I said that I needed to enjoy EVERY moment of this precious season and take it one day at a time.  Hilary (@andemantiques) agreed adding “It's true - I know that I sometimes squander my now because I'm focused/worried about down the road”, something we are all guilty of and Jonathan added: I’m “always thinking of the future but taking time to enjoy the present while respecting the past.”   A truly beautiful statement that says it all and is something we should all allow ourselves to do.

So, here is to summer and the beauty it reveals to us everyday.  Let’s all make a commitment now to stop and enjoy "the sweet smell of... roses” this season before it is just a memory.

Some of "the roses" we have stopped to smell this season so far: Enjoy!

Superb Spirea

 

 

colossal Catnip

 

Color-fusion

 

 

relaxing Goldfinches

 

A statuesque Iris

 

 Breathtaking Day Lilies

 

A humble bumble bee

 

The beauty of another sunset

 

The Golden glow of evening's approach

 

 

The warmth of a tea light

 

Only nature's song can be heard

 

the dance of the flames

 

Waxed beauty

 

 

Our mentor Charlie, who inspires us everyday & reminds us of how sweet the roses can be!

 

 

 

IRWIN FELD DESIGN COPYRIGHT 2009 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED  Contact Blog Owner