Forsythia of ’17

Forsythia blossoms

If you’ve been following the blog for awhile, you’ll know that every year I measure the progress of spring by our forsythia.

Five years ago when we first moved to the farm, we had a huge bunch of blooms at the beginning of April. Every year since then, I’ve snapped a picture on April 2 to gauge how this year compares. This year, I somehow missed that. Oops.

After two years of beautiful blossoms, though, our forsythia floundered. In 2014, 2015 and 2016–the last three years–blossoms have been few and far between.

But this year, they’re back.

Blooming forsythia bushes

It’s a huge improvement over the last few years.

Forsythia through the years

I’m so glad that the forsythia is flourishing again. Even better, there are some extra bushes that I’ve never noticed before at the edge of the front field.

I don’t think I’ve shared this view of the house before. This gives you a sense of where our house sits in relation to the barn and the fields. (To take these pictures I was standing in the front field).

Farm in spring

Forsythia bushes in bloom

I love seeing spring take over the farm.

Digging in the dirt

Tulips in the garden

Dirt under the nails, dirt on my jeans, digging in dirt. It has started.

It felt so good to get out in the sunshine on the weekend and start to weed the flower gardens.

Considering that last year it didn’t start at all, I had a bit of work to do.

A full year without weeding meant the garden was overgrown 6 months ago. After everything died off over the winter, it looked terrible.

Overgrown flower garden

Two heaping wheelbarrows later, it looks better, but a little bare.

Cleared garden

There’s plenty of room to grow. And it seems like the bushes, irises, sedums, tulips and other plants are all alive. So it should fill in quickly.

How are your gardens looking? Have you done any weeding yet?

Progress, not perfection

Sarah is making progress on her projects in Illinois. Today, she’s sharing some of that progress, as well as the lesson that it’s okay to strive for progress over perfection.

“Progress, not Perfection.”

I am not sure who said it first. A quick internet search shows many people using this phrase. My cousin is a personal trainer, and she uses it for her clients. It is a great reminder when you are trying to be healthier, but I think it pertains to so much in life.

That is what I am going to use for my personal home goals too. I did not finish any of my first three projects yet, but I did make progress.

If you look back to my earlier post one of my goals is to paint Blitz’s dog house. I still haven’t decided what color I want to paint it but that doesn’t stop me from going ahead and priming it.

Of course I had help. Because when you have a 6 month old puppy, you really can’t do anything without him being under your feet.

Or close enough to what you are painting that he gets white paint on his head and ears.

So there has been progress.

In other news, while I was out in the yard today I noticed new growth at the base of my mums.

You probably remember my massive mums from previous posts. My dad wants a few starts from it, so when the weather warms up quite a bit I will split it up again like I did last year.

When we went over to visit my parents today, my mom showed me her plans and shopping list for her garden for this year. Seeing the starts of the mums and seeing my mom’s plans made me realize, I am already behind on my garden planning this year.

I need to just keep making progress.

Thanks for the reminder, Sarah. It’s great to see the progress that you–and Blitz–are making. I love the paint in his fur. Such a helpful guy. I hope you’re able to continue making progress.

Growing sunflower seeds

It’s been neat to watch the sunflowers go through their various stages of growth.

More than a month ago you saw the cheery blossoms.

A couple of weeks ago, the seeds started to come in. The spiky flowers in the centre of the blossom dropped off to reveal the tightly packed seeds.

Sunflower seeds

Sunflower seeds

It was about this time that the local wildlife seemed to discover the sunflowers.

I had hoped to get another photo this week, but the flowers have been nearly picked clean. Most of the seeds have been consumed.

The biggest culprits are the blue jays. Any time I walk past the garden, at least six jays erupt from the sunflower patch. We’ve also spotted chipmunks and squirrels.

So it appears that we may be buying bird seed again this year.


Making more ‘mums

Almost exactly a year ago Sarah in Illinois wrote a post about sealing her deck, and she included a photo of the very impressive chrysanthemums that were growing on either side of the deck stairs. A year later, they’re even more impressive–and they’ve multiplied. Read on to learn about how Sarah successfully split her mums.

Last fall I shared a picture of my mums. I was really proud of them. They were so full and added so much color to our deck.

Then this spring Julia and I had a garden challenge. One of the projects I checked off my list was to divide my mums.

I simply dug them up out of the ground, divided them into a few same-sized clumps and planted them back into the ground around our deck.

That is it. That is all I did.

Then this is what happened.

I know. I am as impressed as you are.

I have had neighbors stop and ask me what my secret is. But all I can say is, I watered them for the first week or two after I transplanted them. That’s it. No fertilizer. No secret concoction. I didn’t trim them back or even sing to them! I just sat back and let them go.

That’s my kind of gardening.

Holy chrysanthemums, Sarah! Those are gorgeous. I’ve heard that some plants do better after splitting, and this seems to definitely be the case for your mums. My frugal heart also loves that you now have six huge plants and didn’t have to spend any extra money.

The benefit of neglect

I haven’t shared much about the flower gardens this year. Mostly because I’ve done nothing in the flower gardens.

In life we have to make choices. And my choice this year has been to focus on the vegetable garden. That means I haven’t done anything in the flower gardens… at all.

Most of the gardens have filled in enough that they still look somewhat presentable, but here and there are weeds that are taller than me.

I try not to pay too much attention and remind myself that there are only so many hours in a day and I’ve made my choice about where to spend my energy.

However, this week I received another reminder: sometimes leaving things alone isn’t such a bad plan.

Look at this mini sunflower. There are two of these volunteers courtesy of the birdfeeder.

Mini sunflower

Had I been weeding this year, I would have pulled these out long ago. I never would have seen their sunny blooms.

Sometimes neglect isn’t such a bad thing.