Thursday, June 30, 2011

One hundred posts later...Thank you!

As I was typing (what was to be a Wordless Wednesday post) I realized it was also my 100th post here at Polka Dot Galoshes! 
Wow, what a fun adventure I am on and I am enjoying every second of it! 
I wanted to take this moment to dedicate this post to all my beautiful blog friends. I love your friendships and support, for all the comments and visits, advice and tips, the laughs and the sympathies...
I love writing for you and sharing my findings with you, I love reading your blogs and learning from you, having my eyes opened to something new or sharing a laugh when things don't always go right. What ever it is that pulls us together, the love of gardening, photography, writing or what ever it is that we share...
I am so grateful to you ALL!!


Thanks again for your loyal support, I hope to keep delivering a blog you enjoy and that you keep coming back to. Today I am thinking of you all while loving the blooms on this Sunshine filled day and all their delightfully happy summer scents!

Much love and Hugs...
Cheers Julia xx

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Backyard updates...It's a jungle out there!

Unruly, Crazy, rambunctious, out-of-control are just some of the words that would describe my kids...hehe! But also my over-watered, over-grown garden! Sure I love the country look, in fact I LOVE the wild and free flowing, but really I think things may be getting a little out of hand. I'm afraid I may lose a child, not to mention a plant or two behind the ever-growing mountain of weeds and mutant plants!

My front unruly problem child! See the plant poking up middle/top, that is a box hedge trying to catch some sun, it stands 10ft tall...yikes! Got some serious hedging to do in here.

But really it is no wonder, with all the out of town trips I have been on lately and all the rain, rain and more rain, the garden has become somewhat, gulp...neglected! Yes, I now currently own the house on the block that looks like renters live there...Shame! Shame! I am waiting on a letter from the HOA to see if someone still lives here or for an abandonded car to end up on the front lawn.

On a walk around my gardens today with an Arborist from Evergreen Treecare. I discovered it to be more serious than I first thought...
I know there is a Rhododendron in there somewhere? Under this beautiful, mutant size bleeding heart there is a small healthy Rhody, it appears to have been gobbled whole! Not sure what will have to go?

Also, how do you lose a tree? Last year I planted an Italian Cypress either side of my pussy-willow tree with plenty of room (so I thought) All 5ft of it is now hidden on the right, you can't even see it under the branches!

Someone spot the Hydrangea? Between the lilac shooters that are on steroids, the rose bush and the ground cover that's gone wild, my poor Hy has gone into hy-ding....

OK, then you have my garden appropriately named...Weed lovers walk ;) This is my side garden path that has just gone to the weeds, I have a serious days work out here just pulling dandelions alone...

Then there is this, the weed of all "taller than me" dandelion! Standing 5.5ft tall, yikes how long has it been since I was out here last? I'm almost proud of how big and healthy this is though, the soil has got to be doing something right! Not sure if I want to pull this one, or wait and see how big it gets?

But yet my Wisteria is being well behaved and hasn't eaten my house yet, I even managed to kill one this year! I know I hear the gasps of shock...You killed a Wisteria? I have no idea how that happened, the most indestructible plant on the planet!

So that is the latest news from my garden....Out Of Control! But oh all the fun to be had, its a good thing I LOVE GARDENING, pulling weeds, mulching, pruning etc...Will update shortly with another Backyard Update, one of the pretty type, the "after" post! I also want to post all the great tips I learnt from Brian the Arborist about tree-care...stay tuned!

Also, how do you keep your garden orderly? Are you out there pulling weeds every-day/week or do you have some great tips for keeping weeds at bay and plants under-control?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Choosing the right fertilizer for the job?

I'll be the first to admit that I am an indecisive procrastinator, great combination hey! If there are to many choices then it can wait, its time to find something else that needs my immediate attention...ah yes, the weeds they need pulling, I'm good at that! Hence why I love to "potter" around in my garden so much! The feeling of still doing something without really doing anything, its great!

So as you can guess when it comes to fertilizer for my garden, I am completely lost! Overwhelmed to the point of not even doing it, yep that's where I am poor plants! The wall of choice is dizzying, honestly I am so confused by all the varieties....liquid, granular, slow-release, rose, perennial (what, will it hurt non-perennials?) organic, foliar and the list goes on. Not to mention throw some random numbers on the side of the box (lost again) and the promise to myself this year to go organic...its enough to make me run screaming from the garden department!

Agh...what, I know its trying to tell me something?

I just want to know what to feed my yellowing lawn and my plants that aren't as vibrant as they should be, in the most organic way if possible...HELP!

I am on a mission! Mission....stay and face the fertilizer!
It has to be done or my plants are really going to suffer. In the past we have used a gardening service who did all of this for us (I know cheating!) more recently I have used organic products like kelp-food and coffee grounds, but I really didn't see much change! Maybe I am doing it wrong? The thought of over fertilizing and burning my plants does scare me, I do lean on the side of caution, maybe they are not getting enough? We have had a very wet year, maybe the nutrients in the soil is being washed away to often? My goal this year was to change and be organic only, but not at the risk of losing my plants, I have accepted that this will be a process and a learning process at that. Now to figure out what my plants need....and to just DO IT!!

First, what is in fertilizer and what are all those numbers really trying to tell me? While on an hour long online hunt for some answers, I came across gazillions of articles all with their own facts and research, however none where as well written and as easy to follow as this brilliant article at the You must check it out and really it is all you need to read, my job is done...hehe!!

The post is full of great info on how to choose the right fertilizer for the right job, what they consist of, even a great table listing all the varieties and what you would use them for. Really this is a very thorough post, thank you Weekend Gardener!

Here is an excerpt that I will refer to often...
N = Nitrogen: Encourages plants to produce dark green leaves. This is the chief staple in the diet of most plants. Yellowing leaves means the plant isn't getting enough nitrogen from sources in the soil. But it only takes a little nitrogen to do the job, and if your goal is to set fruit or vegetables, you don't want to use excesses of nitrogen because you will only get overgrown plants and little to no fruit.

Nitrogen can leach quickly from the soil requiring frequent reapplication. Nitrogen applied in the nitrate form is usually inorganic, fast acting, but can leach quickly into surface and ground water. Nitrogen applied as ammonium is from organic sources (blood meal) and IBDU (isobutylidene diurea - a synthetic organic fertilizer) and is released more slowly and lasts longer in the soil.

P = Phosphorous: Stimulates root growth. All plants need it to get their root foundation off to a healthy and vigorous start so they can support all the growth on top, but root crops and bulbs especially need phosphorous to do well. Phosphorous and potassium don't move readily through the soil and should be applied near plant roots to do the most good.

K = Potassium: Is critical to the continuing health of all plants, especially during the second half of the life cycle in fruit and vegetables when the plants are setting flowers and bearing fruit. Potassium is often expressed as potash or water soluble potash. Potassium and phosphorous don't move readily through the soil and should be applied near plant roots to do the most good.

So please wish me luck! What I have learned, is that my yellowing lawn could really use a good dose of nitrogen so the first number is what I need the most of. I'm off to buy some Alfalfa meal to spread around my lawn and garden beds! Excited to give this organic, nitrogen rich fertilizer a try.  

Some other useful websites.... - Avoiding Fertilizer Burn - Applying Fertilizer

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wordless Wednesday...Cheeky Celebrations

Do you ever look at flowers and imagine something else? Call it an overactive imagination.
Like fireworks exploding in loud bursts of color, celebrating the Spring that is now finally here...

 Sometimes, when they think I have my back turned, I even catch a glimpse of their plant cheekiness, 
I swear its poking its tongue out at me....


Monday, June 13, 2011

Succulent wreaths at the Seaside

Living wall art seems to be quite the rage at the moment. I would love to learn how to achieve it on a large scale. The thought of covering an unsightly fence or brick wall with juicy, vivid succulents just seems so irresistible. And what a perfect alternative for a garden when there is no yard to plant lushness. Not to mention they really are quite a show stopper. I thought for now, I will just start out small and try my hand at a living wreath, (which can actually double as al center piece too...bonus!)

While on vacation on the Oregon coast last week, (Yes, I have hundreds of pics and mostly from gardens and local nurseries, ok a few of the family playing at the beach too, but one of my fave vaca pleasures is to check out the local gardens) So while on my "me-time" I came across a gorgeous little flower store called "The natural nook" loved it! Actually spent way to much time in there, sorry boys! But I did come across this beautiful inspiration....

I would have bought one of these stunners on the spot and marked it up as a "very impractical souvenir" so photos will have to suffice. I am particularly fond of the one on the bottom right, the succulents in all shades of green with pops of purple, its just stunning! The two upper ones are actually herb wreaths, again what great creativity and a beautiful idea for a gift. I would love to make one of these herb wreaths as a center piece for my out door dinning area, place a big hurricane candle in the middle and take a pinch of basil to add to a freshly made bowl of pasta...oh happy days! I just need a warm summer breeze and a glass of wine to complete that perfect picture.

Thanks for the inspiration and eye candy I can not wait to try this as one of my summer projects.

Here is a wonderful step by step tutorial from How fun!!

Have you ever tried making one of these, been given one as a gift or like me its been on your "maybe one-day" list? I'd love to hear your experiences, also where you would put it. I'll post an update this summer when I attempt this, wish me luck!!

Here are a few more happy snaps of their back-alley nursery, what a happy little nook...loved it!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Wordless Wednesday...Natures rock-garden

Exploring Tide-pools, the oceans garden, where nature grows the weird and the wonderful. For the next week while vacationing on the Oregon coast this is my garden and my backyard playground...Pure serenity!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sunshine sings & pots are planted

The sun is shinning! Hence lack of blogging, I've been out enjoying the long lost vitamin D! Its amazing how good it feels and how productive I can be! One thing I have learnt about living in the "rainiest place on earth" is to truly make the most of the beautiful sun filled days, no sitting around on days like these, there's sun to be soaked up. How better to make the most of these gorgeous sunny days than visiting a few local nurseries!
Aster, Geranuims and dwarf vine pelagonium all in shades of purples and whites...ahh happy pot! (notice the bird seed (see previous post) all over the patio, I guess 10lbs takes a while for the birds to get through) This is one of my favorite pots, last year it held a beautiful lemon scented dwarf cypress rest in peace poor cypress!

Can't resist some new Spanish lavender, I buy 2 new ones every year, they kind of grow like an annual for! I have killed more lavender than I can remember. But I am determined to make it work! Here are the two latest little candidates. Although, in the ceramic pot is my one and only potted success from three years ago, its still going strong, just wish I knew what I was doing differently to make this one work? Am in need of some new pots, my ceramic ones from last year cracked over the freezing winter. This year I will buy glazed, just not sure what yet...exciting to have a new pot quest!

One of my favorite plants that I grow every year (and which really are annuals) the classic white geranium. Love these plants! I cover my patio, table center pieces, hanging baskets and for 33c each how can I not go crazy with the buying. They have thrived every year on my full sun patio.

My fancy potting bench ie, the back step, where all my potting adventures take place. I am hoping this is the year I will finally build my potting bench made from salvaged crates. I have a great plan for it that I will be sure to blog about. But until then I will continue to enjoy my back step.

Still to pot, a strawberry plant which was another steal at 50c and the last white geranium, I think I have run out of pots...agh! Also, need advice on the strawberry, part of me wants to just plant it in the perennial garden as its a wonderful ground cover. Has anyone grown strawberry this way? Would love to hear your experiences.

Last but not least, my happy little nursery helper! What a trooper putting up with mommies many hours of drooling over plants. I love that my two boys are both gaining a love of gardening and the outdoors.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Wordless Wednesday...Springtime Puddles

Sure all this rain is making for a green luscious garden, but gosh its making for one stir-crazy gardener! 
Seriously I'm going loopy from lack of sunshine! 
After spending the first day of June jumping in puddles with my boys, seriously we were as happy as pigs in mud! I wanted to pass along a giggle and some down-right cuteness for a rainy-Seattle, 
Galoshes wearing kinda day....

Galoshes make rainy-day puddles all the more fun!
What's the early June weather like in your neck of the woods?
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