Sunday, August 31, 2008

Happy Birthday, Inga!

Other parents will understand when I say how difficult it is to believe that this sweet little crybaby is now a beautiful mature adult who owns her own home and is such an avid gardener.

Inga is second of my four children, and since she happens to be the one who keeps me updated on the progress in her yard, she’s the one who gets the special recognition in this blog today. I don’t want to neglect my other three kids, so when they send pictures of their gardens (or whatever), you’ll get to see them, too.

To give you some perspective on her garden in relationship to her home, here is a wintery picture of Inga in her doorway. The house was a “mail order” home from Sears & Roebuck in the 30s. She has worked miracles with the space.

In Hawai`i, we don’t need to worry much about gardening based on a snow season. In some ways, I miss the thrill that comes from watching for the first little sign of spring. On the other hand, I get the same excitement when one of my “lava-grown” plants does send out new leaves.

Vicariously, Inga’s winter garden pictures help my occasional yen for real seasons. I will show her natural creative bent as the autumn months signal the end of a summer growing season.

Her sense of humor is always present.

Finally, the snow takes over. Even as that white stuff starts to cover the ground, there is a certain beauty in a snow-covered cherry.

There are remembrances of tea in the garden, where she could admire her labors.

The birds have gone South for the winter, while humans hang around for jobs, and dreaming of spring blooms.

We are never too old to find fun in the snow. It’s too bad Mr. Snowman can’t last all year.

Throughout the winter, Inga continues to garden in her hand-built greenhouse.

By the time spring arrives, Inga has prepared her brightly colored containers that will provide brilliant spring color to her garden.

Inga doesn’t do all the work herself. She has Quimby, her Corgi, to help out. I’m not sure if he helps as much as he thinks, but he’s good company.

Of course, another of her helpers (Baxter) prefers to take it easy and simply watch the action.

Or maybe he prefers the winter?

I never would have believed grapes this lush could grow in Idaho!

When water is more easily available than here in my part of Hawai`i, it’s possible to create a sweet pond in a small corner. I remember Inga telling me how she had to tear out a lot of old trash to create this serenity.

What a major visual change has taken place by the beginning of summer!

In June 2004, Inga’s tiny garden was selected to be one of several in the Idaho Botanical Garden Tour.

It’s easy to see why the tour brochure described Inga’s garden the way it does. The person who wrote up the brochure calls it a "Storybook Cottage." Then the brief write-up says:

"This teeny, tiny garden and cottage will have you looking under leaves for fairies and leprechauns. At just 450 square feet, the house is a wonder by itself. It was purchased through a catalogue company in the 1930’s. The faux stone siding was a breakthrough at the time and the cottage was used to demonstrate the ease and thrift of applying the new building material. The miniature greenhouse, white picket fence, tiny stone paths, and exuberant plant pallet come together to create a charming garden you won’t want to miss."

The next few pictures give a glimpse of what the visitors might have seen.

Anyone walking down this street will enjoy the benefit of Inga’s hobby.

Inga will eat and give away much of her produce, then probably make something out of what is left to tide her over the winter months again. Pictures of her herbs were in a recent post, and her compost pile will be in a future post.

No more crybaby here!!


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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Hawai`i Ocean View Estates Garden Club

On June 28, 2008, the Hawai`i Ocean View Estates (HOVE), or known by many of us here as “The View,” started another garden club. Years ago, Ocean View had a garden club, but gradually people got busy with other things. We meet at 1:00 pm on the fourth Saturday of each month. On alternating months, we plan to visit home gardens. The August 23 meeting was hosted by Carole Baker and her daughter, Heather.

“Wow!” is the only word I have for what they’ve done with their two acres. Carole’s space is full of color, critters, and imagination.

The welcome sign above greets visitors pulling into the driveway. The first clue about the fun you have in store are several dozen birdhouses. Here is just a sampling of this incredible village for birds.

At the entry is a pond that Carole calls her “mosquito control.” The guppies and algae eaters help to take care of the mosquito larvae, and the moving water gives a soothing sound as you stroll through their entry. There is a beautiful stand of horsetail reed.

The ground is covered with gravel for ease of walking around, and a creative path is our guide into the backyard area.

Many of Carole’s plants were “I don’t know” plants, the kind many of us acquire. In our desire to have something – anything – growing, we take cuttings that friends give us, stick them in the ground and hope they grow.

So, rather than worry about the names of many of her plants, I focused on the creative critters and yard sculptures. Here are a few of my favorites.

I brought home some of the seeds of this lovely lilac shade of cosmos. I love all her cats. She ordered them from online, but they were all black, so she painted them in bright seductive colors.

Scattered around the yard are more critters.

Lady bugs are a welcome addition to any garden.

Garden sculptures add to the three dimensional effect and add interest to the plants.

The back fence helps to define the space, and it provides a wall for more garden art.

At one end of this fence, Carole has transitioned to a chicken wire fence covered with plants, which effectively hides her water tank.

Even the shed has a bit of whimsy.

Hazel and Charles, recent arrivals to “The View,” admire the mistletoe vine.

Velvet and I each took a cutting from this, but no one seems sure what it is. (Note: Heather sent me an email and said it is a "dauphine violet.")

Oh, yes! There are plants as well as sculptures and critters in this garden space. There is a thick jade vine growing up over an arch.

A typical piece of fantasy is this artificial flower with a full yellow bougainvillea.

There are little patches of Johnny Jump-ups scattered about.

Carole’s husband was enamored with bonsai, which I also learned how to make in Japan. I’m inspired to start again.

I am impressed with this miniaturization of an enormous spreading banyan tree into bonsai.

After an hour of cruising around Carole’s garden, the garden club members gather before heading home with bags of seeds and cuttings.

I thought this secluded swing in the shade was a good idea, a perfect place to relax after a day’s work in the yard.

There is no doubt we were all welcome to this fantasyland.

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