Hello Nature lovers!
Are you ready for a week of my backyard in it's entirety?
Once upon a time Michael and I were Newlyweds. Four years ago we packed a wedding's worth of toasters, sheets, glasses, and Target giftcards into our friend Scott's truck and moved into our 600 sq. foot apartment.
Just the two of us, and baby Olive.
We named it our nest, and honestly, it wasn't much different than our nest, now.
And even though the backyard-farming itch had been tickling away at me since I was a little girl, I first felt it strongly, here.
We had created this little home, and I wanted it to be everything I grew up loving. So right away business was in order, and on one 6 X 5 concrete patio, facing North, with a huge building blocking the view, I planted my garden.
Since then we've bought our home and I've spent the last 3 Summers with my hands in the soil.
The first two years I focused on light landscaping, we put in a couple trees, and I tended to my vegetable and herb garden.
This year I started my first flower garden, in hopes of bringing more color, birds, butterflies, and opportunities to practice my photography around the yard.
If you'd like to look back into the gardening archive, you can see what types of flowers all of these are.
So here are my little lovely flowers, my first year of flower gardening.
They make spending time outside every single day a little bit sweeter.
I am always in complete awe of the sunflowers.
I got two kinds that didn't require staking, and planted away.
They were my fastest growers. By the first 2 weeks they'd already started to sprout, and by the first day of Summer I was already filling vases full of clipped flowers to bring inside.
Please make sure you are soaking these in water as soon as you bring them inside. Sunflowers are known for bringing in the ants.
But don't worry, they also bring in lots of beautiful birds, who in turn eat your mosquitoes, and little pests along the way.
I've had a couple questions about how to keep pests at bay. Honestly, I believe in the most natural approach possible. I don't discount chemicals completely, but will always turn to the natural alternatives, first.
Try attracting predators, or spraying with soapy or red pepper + water sprays.
Honestly, at this point though, you might have to wave your white flag in defeat. It's late in the season, and the ants are in full force. If you treat problems very early on, they won't escalate to the point where natural remedies don't work.
I check my garden, head to toe, every single day. If I catch problems early on, I can quickly and efficiently deal with them as they come along. I can't stress spending time in your garden, enough. There is always work to be done, if you want to earn that green thumb.
I'll talk more about taking care of pests, later in the week.
PS. The ants in the bowl? I never have the heart to drown them. I just shake them loose into the water, then pour the bowl out in the yard. Thanks to my Dad, I inherited his inability to harm any living creature. It annoys my Mom, in the same way that I annoy my husband with it.
I guess it's hard for me to see the difference between the ant, the butterfly, and myself in this picture. The three of us are just hanging out, enjoying these flowers.
A lot of you have been asking what became of my garden, after our treacherous rains that we have been having.
Because of the hurricanes in the South, Oklahoma is getting hit hard with the storm traveling towards us. We have had a lot of beautiful lightning shows, cool evenings, and lazy days, but our gardens have also suffered. My veggie garden will wait for another day, because today I am going to show you what a weeks worth of Summer thunderstorms can do to a flower garden.
The pictures above were all from my garden, before last week.
These are from this week:
My dahlias have all turned brown and are officially grounded. They no longer stand on their own, and won't any time soon. You know why? Because this is right where they used to be:
You're probably asking yourself who Charlotte is. Let me give you a visual.
Yikes, right? Guys....I haven't seen spiders like that since Michael and I were hiking in the Sierra Madre Mountain range. Do you know where we were? In a tropical JUNGLE.
Do you know what this means? It means that thanks to a few mistakes I made, and a few bad weeks of weather that Mother Nature gave us, I ended up re-producing a jungle-like environment in my backyard.
I sat on the phone one night with my Mom for 30 minutes going on and on about how I couldn't believe that I didn't think to raise my flower bed when I knew that corner flooded, until finally she said:
Aura. Calm down. It's just a garden.
Okay. She's right. In Spring '11 I will lay out my new plan for the flower garden, post new tips for avoiding a jungle, and show you my new draw-ups of the yard.
For now I'll give you guys a couple tips on how to start a flower garden of your own.
Flower Gardening Made Easy is a type of website you need to be looking for, if you're wanting information online. There are tons of them out there, if you just search for flower gardening online.
The wildflowers that did best out of my seeds were the ones that grow locally, in Oklahoma. Make sure you're taking regional weather into account when you're planting. Figure out which gardening zone you're in, and go from there. Don't try to grow flowers that need cool temperatures, shade, and moist soil in a sunny spot in warmer climates.
Take into account what each flower attracts. One big heartbreak for me is not being able to grow any wisteria, clematis, jasmine, or other flowering vines around the house. Michael is allergic to bees, so we need to keep the patio bee-free.
But on a positive note, certain flowers will attract birds that eat your pests right up for dinner.
&. Don't make the same mistakes I did. My mistakes for 2010:
-Planting herbs underneath the sunflowers. The flowers are so tall that the herbs no longer get sun.
-Planting my sunflowers in a spot that floods. Their roots are shallow, and if the ground is wet, they TIP. I have tied every single sunflower I have to the fence with twine. Ankle deep in mud, with Charlotte 6 inches from my leg. The dahlias I'm willing to let go, since she built her web where they used to be.
-Planting too many things in a small area. My flower garden is crowded, and adds to that "jungle" feel I created. Hence Charlotte, a ton of mosquitoes, and dead herbs.
Besides those few little blunders, I didn't do too bad my first year.
But next year I've got some big plans. And already, I'm itching for Spring '11, and starting fresh again. I hope some of you backyard-farmers who have only worked with the edible crops will venture into the world of flower gardening.
Next up will be a post about my Veggies.
Happy gardening, friends.
PS. I'm terribly behind on replying to comments. I've had right under 16,000 visitors to the blog the last two days, and the comments have been flooding in. If you were waiting for an answer to anything in my St. Augustine post, I replied to you guys earlier in the night.