Friday, April 29, 2011

Sugar Magnolias - Nature Composed

Tuesday morning, as I drank my hot tea, I logged into Facebook to see who was posting their "status"... to see what friends and family were up to.  I read a few interesting statuses, and then I came to my daughter's status.  Her's had a link to her blog -- a blog devoted to her business, Sugar Magnolias - Nature Composed.  I'd known she was updating her website, but I did not know she was using it as a blog.

I clicked on the link she provided, and was treated to some beautiful photos of trees and flowers blooming in the April gardens in the Charlottesville, VA area.  I was particularly impressed with her use of cinder blocks as "mini gardens" for her pansies and succulents.  A very attractive way to make a border, I thought.
Link to the blog here:  Nature Composed

I have to admit, I have reached the age where my daughter is teaching me things... not things I'd once known and forgotten, not things I wish I'd never known....interesting things.  For instance, I'm pretty certain I'd never in my life stopped to consider the preying mantis...other than to admire the creature when I found one on my window.  But Jenn has a nice photo of a preying mantis nest.  In that tiny thing, apparently, there are 100-200 future preying mantises, soon to be performing beneficial work in her gardens.
Preying Mantis Nest, Courtesy of Jenn

She started her business three years ago (I think she did three weddings the first year, and  now has weddings double booked on weekends during the popular wedding months).  This year she is taking the business out of her "home" and into a rented space.  It's a big step -- a LOT of work, but very exciting.  The space she is renting is actually still under construction, but should be complete very soon.  I'm anxious to make the three hour drive over there to see it, as soon as she is ready for visitors.

Back here, at the old farmhouse, our rehabilitation continues.  We decided Monday, that four of the corner piers really needed to be replaced.  The old brick piers were no longer mortared together, and the bricks were barely remaining erect to support the house.  So, Tuesday, arriving with a truck loaded with bags of cement, Wendell set about digging the holes and pouring the footers for the new piers....  When he left Tuesday, we had three corners poured. When he returns next week, he'll do the final corner.  From there, we expect to do some more jacking of the house to achieve level and then the long awaited pour of the cement slurry.  It will then be on to the business of joists, plumbing, electrical, and flooring.  I'm hoping we'll have it closed in by the summer, though our agreement with this contractor, is that he works us into his schedule of other jobs.
Open Corners, Pouring Footers
Open Corner, Footer Poured
Old Bricks from Original Piers
Judy, working, taking a conference call,
while checking out the open corners
Sooooo, while the footers are curing, and the farmhouse sits, without corners, we are focusing on the planting of seedlings, started in the make-shift greenhouse.  The gardens are slowly filling up with tiny little seedlings, and rows of seeds are being planted in between.  The weeds are definitely the most vigorous crop we have so far, but I am quite pleased with the asparagus, which is now up to my waist, the peas, which should be flowering any day, and the spinach that I am enjoying daily in my salads.

Every morning, my first break from my paying job, is to take a walk around the property, noting the changes in all of the freshly planted trees, flowers, vegetables, bushes, etc. I find it exciting to see the new growth, the first buds, the first leaves, etc.  Yesterday, during one of our "inspection" walks, Joe pointed out what I had missed in my early morning walk.  We have tiny peaches on our peach trees.  Excited by that discovery, I headed over to check out the apple trees.  Sure enough, two tiny apples on the Granny Smith tree.
Baby Aspargus Growing Tall
Azaleas -- tiny white one just bloomed
Baby Peaches -- Ugly leaf curl
Planted gardens
Putting in the labeled stakes
Of course, with the excitement of the new growth, comes the disappointment when we discover a failure.  Our six blue spruce do NOT look like they will make the first year in their Virgina location.  Not sure what the problem is, but they all look bad.  Two of the peach trees are suffering from leaf curl, so we will need to treat them, so it doesn't occur again next year... And today we noticed we have a chubby green caterpillar that is feasting on the leaves of the plum, apple, pear and cherry trees.... we caught one of them in the act on the plum tree.

Yesterday, while much of the southeast was being demolished by tornadoes, we were lucky to only have torrential downpours with lots of lightning.  Though, the intent is NOT to leave them open, we got to see how the freshly dug trenches handled the water.  We have not yet managed to get the time to install the pipes that will work to funnel the water to the ponds when we have these heavy rains.  I had to laugh when, with the thunder pounding and the lightning cracking, I looked out the window from the dry refuge of the garage apartment to see Joe, soaking wet, working on the trenches with a shovel -- correcting some flow problems.  By the time the rain stopped, he had everything flowing well and what would have been standing water a week ago, was essentially dry.  (I was helpful, snapping pictures through the window.)
Through the Screen
Little bit damp?
Little bit muddy?
Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It's Off to Work We Go...
Pond Full
Today, was a crazy day.  I had to sing and play for a sister of a friend's funeral.  I was to be at church to rehearse with the choir at 10 AM.  I was to meet a realtor at the Pond House at noon -- I am shopping for a new realtor, since the house has had NO showings in the nine months I had it listed with the first realtor.  So, I headed over to the Pond House EARLY this morning,  I planned to get the lawn mowed, and the house vacuumed, and then head to church.  All was going very well.  I was right on time.  Had the lawn mowed, had the house once-overed, and was cleaned up, dressed and heading out the door to church, when I looked out the back door to the screened in back deck.  There I saw several wasp corpses on the floor, and decided I should pick those up.  It would only take a minute.

Out I went, with paper towel, and quickly picked up the corpses.  I went to throw them in the trash in the kitchen, but discovered, to my GREAT alarm, that I had locked myself out of the house.  No problem, I'd use the spare key, which we have carefully hidden for such occasions.... oh, yeah, I remembered, the key went missing a couple of months ago and we never replaced it.  Great... I was locked out of the house, the car was in the locked garage, (I had two spare keys in the car -- fat lot of good that was going to do me right about then).  And of course, my cell phone was in the locked house, with my keys.  Lovely.

I walked briskly to my neighbor's house, and rang their doorbell.  Ed answered the door and I asked if I could use their phone -- confided that I'd locked myself out.  Sure, he was happy to let me use the phone... but first they had to FIND IT!  LOL, the big hunt for the phone, was successful, and I called Joe.  He promised to get another spare key and meet me at the Pond House. I made it to the 10 AM rehearsal at 10:50 AM!  Suffice to say, I did not rehearse at all.  Thankfully, I knew all of the hymns we were gong to sing, and the funeral went very smoothly. 

I got back to the Pond House, to meet the potential new realtors at 12:20PM...only 20 minutes late, but thankfully, Joe had already given them the tour.  The next two hours were spent interviewing them, learning about their marketing/selling strategy, and their recommendations for "staging."   We will interview other realtors, and make our decision within a week.

Meanwhile, the wind was picking up and we were all anxious to get home before the big storm arrived... it was promised for late afternoon in our area. Joe and I made a quick run for groceries and then it was back to the old farmhouse to brace for the storm.... that never came here.  I could not be happier.  I am really tired of this crazy weather.

Tomorrow is supposed to be calm, cooler, and pleasant.  I imagine a lot more seedlings will find their way into the gardens, and more seeds will be direct sown.  And now, on my morning walks, I will be looking to see whether I can find a preying mantis nest.... I know we get the preying mantises, but it would be cool to find their nest.

Racing Clouds
Interesting Sky
Mmmmmm Strawberries


mixednut555 said...

Lovely post, lovely pictures. Thanks for sharing. Stay safe!

aswesow said...

I'm a little envious of all the green...but we will catch up fast here! You can keep the rain for a couple more months...thanks! That's an inspiring studio your daughter is working from!

Feral Female said...

What lovely azalea! We too are up to our rumps in mud and water. Hope things dry out for you!

Niels said...

wow, again what an exciting life, I'm also on facebook ! perhaps we should be friends there as well, overall greetings from sunny California :)

Sharon said...

Your gardens stuff is really doing it's thing! I so envy your asparagus! Things seem to be progressing with the farmhouse! I wish things moved around here like they do at your place!