Sunday, January 30, 2011

Talk about having your work cut out for you!!

We recently met with Lowell Brauser, the owner of Loch Ness Pools in Oklahoma City. He's one of the people we spoke with at the OKC Home and Garden Show and we were really impressed with what he had to say about backyards and pools. He expressed his desire to be sure a pool is really integrated into a backyard...I believe he said something like "making it look like it had been there forever." You guys know what he's talking about, right? Some pools look like they were stuck in the middle of the yard with a few feet of decking around them. Well, those were not installed by Loch Ness...Lowell is a guy who knows his trees, plants, and landscaping!

Anywho...back to our story...Lowell came out to our home and checked out the yard where we want to install a pool. This is what he saw:

I know...disturbing, isn't it?

All those pretty pictures we post come from what we eloquently call "the back-back yard." It's just beyond that little picket fence. That's where we've invested our time building beds, planting blackberries and fruit trees, and creating a veggie garden. I've never showed you this part of the yard, but it is high time we are honest with each other, isn't it? Let's hear it for keepin' it real!

The section of yard you see in the pictures has always been home to our male dog. He is a stud dog with typical stud dog issues...he likes to mark his territory, dig holes, and chew trees...but we love him so we keep him around. ;-) He'll soon be moving to a newly fenced area just off our "pool yard!" Oh, and the broken trampoline? Well, there's a funny story about that which involves a sound "I told you so!" to sweet Homestead Man...maybe I'll tell you that story someday. Not sure if we'll replace it, but it is most certainly a goner.

Lowell showed us some amazing pictures and laid out all the options his company offers in landscaping and pool installation. During our consultation we laid out a plan that just amazes me...with a retaining wall, dyed and stamped concrete, a beautiful pool, and a waterfall! I'll keep you up to date with the process as we move forward, and I know we'll all be amazed by Loch Ness Pool's work. If they can transform this yard, they can make any yard beautiful, right?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Oklahoma City Home and Garden Show

This weekend our little quartet loaded up and headed to the city...Oklahoma City, that is! We are hoping to add a large water feature to our garden this year in the form of a swimming pool with a small waterfall and desperately needed to gather ideas and information from area pool companies. As usual, the H&G show is full of more garden inspiration than anyone could possibly implement in one year, so my head has been spinning ever since...but let me give you a few highlights. I'm going to save the pool info for another day (or days), but here are a few other sights to share!

Looking around at all the featured plants, it occurred to me that I LOVE weeping trees...of all shapes and sizes! The problem is that I don't have even ONE weeping anything on this acre or out at our land! We'll have to remedy that this year. Any suggestions on weeping trees that perform really well here in Oklahoma?

Secondly, I'd love to add some shade structure in our big backyard. We have a very small back porch, but really no other shade at all. I really liked this little structure. I'm thinking something like this would suit me much better than a fancy schmancy gazebo. I believe they put an acid wash on the tin to make it look like that. Perfect!

I always love fountains, but really prefer things that look a bit more natural. This fountain was so beautiful! Don't know if we'll ever add anything like this to our yard, but if we were going to put in a fountain, this is my model!

We also caught up with some old friends who've opened their own plant farm! Years ago we were in a wonderful Bible Study group with Steve and Ruth Owens when they purchased some land and had plans to open their own greenhouses...well, guess what...they did just that! Bustani Plant Farm is up in Stillwater and has some unique garden specimens...check them out sometime this spring!

I also spied the Oklahoma Gardening booth, but didn't take a picture. :( I almost walked up and introduced myself as "One Acre Homestead," but I'm pretty sure whomever was working the booth would have thought I was a crazy woman. LOL! Anywho, the booth was rockin', so hopefully we'll have a lot more traffic and subscriptions in the coming months!

One thing I didn't realize (but should have) is that they have GREAT deals on trees and shrubs at the year we'll be taking the truck, that's for sure!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Winter Gardening

Isn't it funny how temperature is somewhat relative? Today our high was 51 degrees and oddly, it felt wonderful outside! Homestead Man and I headed out in hoodies and layered long sleeve shirts, but before we were done we had both shed all but the last shirt and shoved the sleeves up past our elbows. Now, in the summertime, I'd step out to a 51 degree evening and say, "Brrrr...I'd better run back inside and grab a sweatshirt!"

Anyway, back to the gardening bit. I originally was heading straight for the coop to let the hens out then to beeline right back into the warm house, but along the way I noticed that I could still feel my fact, the sun felt pretty amazing. I thought I'd hook the garden hose up and water the trees real quickly. Then I remembered that I'd meant to slowly but surely begin shoveling the straw from the hen house around my fruit trees to give them a boost for spring. After cleaning out half of the coop, I thought of the pile of rock we'd rescued from a demolition site in our hometown so I popped my head in the back door & "invited" Homestead Man to come out and help me move the boulders to the backyard to create a new flowerbed around the backside of the kiddos' sandbox. While we were shuffling rocks about, my youngest joined us outside and pulled up some of last summers' dried up sunflowers and added them to the burn pile and the hens were busy at work stirring compost and cleaning up the last of the tomatoes that had fallen. Whew! Before I knew it, one thing had led to another and we'd accomplished quite a bit of winter gardening!

Just goes to show what can happen when you take advantage of one nice January day, doesn't it?

I love to visit the backyard in the winter and imagine what it will look like this year. When we moved into this house, the "yard" was just trees, absolutely nothing. Each year the trees grow, the bushes thicken, and we add more garden beds. It's so much fun to see the plants mature and to hope that this will be the year of the bumper crop of blackberries, or that the blueberries will make it past June this time. Every year we learn and adjust as the yard turns into our own little Eden. Here's a pic of our veggie garden last May:

I can't wait to see what it will look like this summer! I know every little bit that we get done on these nice winter days will help make this growing season that much better! So, tell me...what kind of winter gardening have you been doing? I'd love to hear tips about how to make the best of our off-season!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Is it Spring Yet?!?

I see you there...sketching out garden plans for spring, gazing longingly through seed catalogs, carefully recording planting dates. I know I am not alone! My dear neighbor sent a message saying that Atwoods had their seed potatoes in, which sent me into a gardening frenzy.

No, it can't be time to put in potatoes, what about other early spring crops! Maybe I should be out there wrestling with the jungle of dead tomato vines RIGHT NOW!! (Okay, I know I'm not the only one with ginormous dead okra stalks standing tall next to trellises of gnarled tomato I? Fess up, people!)

Then, I went to Wal-Mart and saw this:

I's enough to send you right over the edge, right?

I'm not good at doing this winter thing. I prefer the promise of a new garden and the smell of freshly turned dirt, the summer harvest and canning season, the late summer tomatoes and okra. Christmas keeps me occupied for a bit, but then I'm ready to jump right back into the garden.

Well, the good news is that spring will be here before we know it. The seed catalogs are pouring in and there's plenty of sketching paper nearby. The dates you see above are from my iGarden app on the iPhone, but I've yet to check these against the lunar recommendations for planting. Anywho...they do give me hope that planting time is closer than it seems and I suppose that's all I need to make it through the next cold week!