The Second Time Around

Last year, I had these visions of vines covering the chain link fence around the tennis court. They would soften the harsh lines, add greenery and charm. Reading through a catalog, I came across hardy kiwi vines and knew they’d be perfect. Leafy vines with flowers and fruit, what could go wrong?

Sometimes plant orders go out at different times, and our kiwis arrived as we were leaving for a trip. Too much time on the deck resulted in only one of the three vines making it through the summer. So at Christmastime when I was ordering the MR’s satsuma tree (for indoors), I ordered two female kiwi vines to go with the male that appears to have made it through the winter.

They arrived a few weeks ago when we were headed to California, and we left them inside away from possible winter storms. Reading up on the planting info from the nursery, they said as long as the ground wasn’t frozen when we planted our vines, they should be fine. The ground was pretty soggy but definitely not frozen when Cocoa and I got to work.

I added some worm castings that I’ve been saving up this winter and replaced the dead plants with new healthy versions. Cocoa did her best to tamp down the soil around them. This is why she’s usually banned from the garden.

I had a lot of castings leftover, so I made a circuit through the orchard to scatter some around the fruit trees. The plums and plucot are in bloom and the pears are budded out. Let’s hope for a good harvest this fall.

The MR says the bees are our doing their part. I do love picking fruit from our little orchard. The MR has been talking about adding a more permanent fence around the trees. I’m glad that they are finally getting big enouch to withstand deer damage. We just have to hope our pear trees get a little friendlier with one another. They’re supposed to cross-pollinate, but they haven’t been on speaking terms for the last few years.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, the company we’d contracted with for the new propane tank took pity on us and installed it last Friday a few weeks earlier than promised.

New Propane Tank

Now I can fry food, heat the kettle, and dry as many clothes as my heart desires. The new tank is about twice as big as the old one, so we’ll have a little more peace of mind when the power goes out.

Are you getting your garden ready for planting? What’s in bloom at your house?



It Doesn’t Look Like Much

I had this vision, this plan, this wonderful idea. We’d cover the tennis court in vines, and I’d no longer feel guilty for never using it.

Not only would we cover all that chain-link fence in vines, we’d make them edible, so they’d be beautiful and beneficial. That’s where kiwis come in. I get all these seed catalogs in the mail and read about fabulous fruit trees and berries that will make my heart sing.

Raintree Nursery boasted a variety of kiwi vines. They grow in Russia, our little valley is a little more hospitable than Siberia. We should be good. Now these are not the fuzzy kiwis you buy at the grocery store; these are what they’ve coined “kiwi berries”. They’re smaller, and you don’t have to peel them. If you believe everything you read, they’re going to be the next big thing at all the farmer’s markets.

I’m not that gullible, but they did sound intriguing, and they could cover a lot of fence. Of course, you do need a boy and a girl, and I decided to add another variety of female just to mix things up. My idea was to cover the fence facing the house.

The MR, always logical, pointed out that the soil was bad, with the retaining wall the vines are quite far from the fence, there’s no irrigation, and the last thing we planted there died. With the recent fence issues, animals eating my onions and ripping up carrots, I decided maybe there’s room in the garden after all.

So here’s the start of my kiwi empire: one male…

And two females.

I’m hopiing the male revives after his time on the deck, otherwise we’re in trouble. But in happier news just look at the honeysuckle. It’s been awhile, but it’s finally taking off.

By the end of summer, the fence will be covered in vines, and the sweet scent of honeysuckle will fill the air as I weed my little garden.

Until then, I’ll leave you with a little found beauty. Remember when the MR had the guy come and rip out all most of the blackberries last fall? Well, around all the dead brambles, foxgloves have begun to sprout up, and you know how I feel about foxgloves.

Wildflowers make me smile.

What makes you smile?



Window Film Revisited

You know how you wait, and wait, and wait for photos from a professional to arrive, so you can upload a post on your new window films? Wait—I guess that’s just me.

Well, I waited for over two weeks, and then when I couldn’t wait anymore, I posted to my blog about the new window films with less than stellar pictures; because after all, they’d hired a professional who had promised to share his photos with me.  And then, a few short hours after I posted, the fellow sent me his wonderful pictures.

It’s fun to see your home from a different perspective. So even though it’s been done before, let’s take another look at window films.

The team did a great job of thoroughly cleaning the windows before applying the film.

Cleaning Windows



Then the film was carefully rolled into place.

Rolling on the film


All the edges were smoothed down.

Working on upper window


Have I mentioned that we have a lot of windows? I’m just glad I didn’t have to climb that scaffolding.

Scaffolding and workers


In this photo, you can just see scaffolding and ladders set up inside. house and yard


You get such a different view when you move down the slope to the tennis court.

House and tennis court

Look closely at the windows and you can see the color variation between the ones that already have film and those that are in the process.

house and dry grass


I don’t think these have anything to do with window films, but I like how Ben from Marketeering was captivated by Mt. Rainier, just like me.Mt RainierAnd take a look at the lovely reflection of the landscape on the master suite’s windows. It’s our one small patch of green.

Master window reflection

The MR found a bird’s nest in the top of the poodle pine. When he’s out on the little bench reading, an angry bird tick-tick-ticks at him. Perhaps he’s too close to home.

Thank you Ben for sharing your pictures with us. It’s always fun to see your home through someone else’s eyes.

And now I’ll leave you with a teaser for later this week:  Are your socks rolled like sushi?

Taming the Wild

We love a manicured lawn with beautiful flowers and trees, ornamental plantings and a well-tended vegetable garden off to the side. When you have 1/3 of an acre, this is totally doable, relaxing, a hobby.

With over 20 acres, the idea of a pristine lawn becomes laughable. Most of our property is forested and very steep. Just keeping the wild at bay is a huge task.

Our plan for the moment is to maintain the planters around the front door, and the beds around the east side of the deck and the driveway. The Mister will mow the lawn by the helicopter pad and the meadow below the house.

In order to make this a little easier, the Mister got a new toy. It was delivered on Monday, and he wasn’t home more than five minutes before he took it out for a spin.

Mowing next to the helicopter pad.

While this small patch of lawn was fairly easy to keep up with a regular mower, he was able to cover this area much more quickly with his new toy.

As you can see some of the area is too steep for a riding mower. My Sweet, Handsome Man says he has a weed eater and he’s not afraid to use it. We’ve also talked about planting a slope of lavender–beautiful, easy to maintain, and the added bonus of sweet-scented dreams.

After mowing this small patch of lawn, it was time to take on the meadow. Getting the riding lawn mower down to it was a challenge. The route from the garage side of the house is quire steep. It’s where the girls went sledding this winter.

On the opposite side, the tennis court sits between the driveway and the meadow. So the Mister blazed this trail to get where he wanted to go.

Yes, that’s a mountain of blackberries below the tennis court. We are going to be eating lots of cobbler this summer.

And then he was off to the meadow.

The Mister is the farthest black dot, Bogart is the other one. He tries to be in as many photo as possible.

A few hours later, it looked more like this.

Some spots will require a weed eater to keep trimmed up, or maybe we’ll add some more retention walls and even out the slope. For now I’m excited that it’s mown.

While the planters around the entry are looking nice, everything else is a hot mess. Many of the bushes along the driveway have died. We’re giving them a chance, but it’s May I don’t think they’ll make it.

At least the barberry and candytuft are filling in nicely.

We’ll have to pull the dead bushes and keep the blackberries from overtaking this area and add some annuals. I just got some seeds from a friend. This could be the perfect spot for some zinnias.

Next to the master deck, the Mister transplanted a golden chain from our old house. It’s been fun to discover all the tulips and daffodils that have returned this spring, but weeds have totally taken over this area. I may end up growing my broccoli from the FFA plant sale here, since we don’t have a place for my garden just yet.

Another pleasant surprise has been the camelia hedge. It was quite overgrown and required heavy pruning, but next year I can imagine it covered in blooms. For now, I’ll enjoy these lovely blossoms.

I’ve had a vegetable garden for longer than I’ve had children. I remember Sweet Miss sitting on the floor eating freshly picked peas, while I made dinner. It’s something I miss having this spring. We’ve talked about putting in a garden in the flat area next to the tennis courts. It gets full sun and would be protected on at least one side from deer and other critters.

Maybe next year. For now, the tomato plants I bought are going into pots on the deck. They should love all that reflected sun as long as I can keep them watered.

We also brought the blueberry and currant bushes from our old house. They are on the hill above the tennis court and look like they’re going to be overrun with weeds.

I’d like to see the area above the retention walls turned into a seating area or planting beds. We could plant creeping jenny on the edge of the wall to soften all that gray concrete. And how fun to sit and drink something nice and cold as you watch a battle on the court.

Speaking of tennis; we don’t really play tennis. If we’re going to be eating all those blackberries and cobbler I was talking about, we probably should. On the other hand, both the girls have played volleyball competitively for years. The Mister with his long arms and legs has a killer hit.

We’re looking into how to convert our tennis court into a volleyball court. Not for always; just for sometimes. Because who knows, maybe I’ll turn into an amazing tennis player. Someone suggested putting together a ladies’ tennis club; now that sounds like fun.

Writing it all down, the to-do list never ends, and we’re not even trying to add to what’s already cleared. We plan to leave most of the property as is.

One of the strange things about this house, is the lack of paths. The former owners had a beautiful home, a tennis court, and all this property with no easy way to get from one to the other. The staircase off the deck leads to the mechanical room not to the tennis courts or a cozy outdoor bonfire area.

Things are going to change; but right now, I’m going to enjoy what I have. A freshly mown meadow, some lovely plants flanking my front door, the promise of blueberries, blackberries and currants this summer, and my Mister smiling as he rides around on his new toy.