Saturday, October 6, 2012


We're into another phase of remodeling the house.  There's nothing more to do this season in the gardens except continue to weed them and apply Preen before the winter weeds germinate.  The Henbit has already begun to appear, so the time for action is now!

Our "big" summer project was shaping up the raised beds for vegetables.  This is the view of the back yard Left a week ago, the cool weather crops having sprouted.

Three weeks ago on a Sunday morning I finished the "small" summer project of contouring the ground in the middle of the back yard so that water flowing downhill from the house would not pool in the area of the circular bed in the picture below.

I killed the grass around the circle and spent several work sessions shaving dirt away to make a shallow trough that tilts toward the dock.  The last step was four car trips to the local nursery to bring back half a pallet of fescue sod and lay it on the shaped earth.  I finished that before lunch and watered it well.  You can make out small white flags I put at the edges of the new sod so that the man who mows our lawn knows where not to bring the machine.  Machinery at this stage would dislodge the small pieces around the curves.  We need to let roots penetrate the ground and fasten the sod before we use a mower there.

Here's my favorite structure outside, a new seedling of mine with a winsome face.

This is the last flower on the first scape produced by my seedling number 12-25, meaning it is the 25th seedling I've given a number in 2012.  In 2011 I assigned 250 numbers and decided to keep the best 85.  The crazy weather of 2012 depressed the bloom in my new seedling beds and I had very little to look at.  I can't wait to see this next summer!

Here is a seedling I've had in the garden for four years, number 08-55.

This was blooming on its second scape earlier this week when I took the picture on a cool morning.  There is nothing distinctive about the face of this flower.  What's interesting to me is that the patterned eye of FANTASY EYES, the pollen parent, was passed to this child by way of a toothy pod parent, ROMANTIC STARES, which seems to lack a patterned eye.

I chose ROMANTIC STARES as a parent because it is Dormant, has good plant structure, is fertile both ways, and is a child of ANGEL'S SMILE, which is known to encourage jazzy results in the eyezone.  Here is ROMANTIC STARES.

There is only a hint of that jagged edge on my seedling, but the eye is more interesting.  Here is FANTASY EYES.

You can see that there are subtle rings of blue violet color in the eye, and there's an edge with two colors.  The thing about my seedling that is most interesting to me is the structure of its scape.  Here is a picture of its second scape, a rebloom that began in late September.  Notice the wide branching extending down the scape and the beautiful presentation of the flowers.

I want to breed this seedling to other patterned flowers in the hopes of retaining the healthy plant and well-formed scape.  On the right edge of the picture you might be able to see the top of a third scape coming along in the hopes of blooming before Halloween.  We'll probably have a frost before that scape can bloom.

Our "big" fall project is the remodeling of the front entrance of our house.  We knew when we bought the house that the front door didn't suit the design of the house.  The windows belong on some other kind of house and we don't care for double doors.  We've ordered a single door with two sidelights.  As long as we were correcting the door, Kathy designed a new front set of steps and a small patio, with planters extending out on either side.  We are using the same blocks as we've used on the wall around our car park area and the same pavers we used on the patio in back.

After removing eight inches of dirt and more than a hundred pounds of old tree roots, Steve Brandt and his helper Tim Yankow worked on building footers to support the rows of blocks that will surround two wide landings before a third step down to the level of the sidewalk.

They removed a large concrete step and found a large void under the existing landing.  Here's Tim pushing gravel up into that void.  Steve is on the left inspecting the first section of the first landing.  Before they finished filling the void, they pushed two blocks under the front of the landing to provide additional support.

Steve spent a lot of time getting the level of the first course of blocks perfect.  Everything else goes much faster if the foundation is correct.  Here's where they stopped Thursday as the rains moved in.

They will put pavers on top of the existing bricks on the top landing to finish that part of the project, but first they will have to address the fact that the existing landing is not quite level.

They've already laid out the foundation row for the front edge of the next landing down.  It will be a step down from the top of about five and a half inches.  We wanted three shallow steps rather than two of standard height.  The second landing will come out to where the grass is and will be about five and a half inches above the sidewalk.  That piece of sidewalk you see on the left will be cut away to make room for the final landing.

The new door is expected in about two weeks, so its arrival should coincide with the completion of the stonework.

This is not the final project we have in mind.  I you look again at the dock at the top of this post, you'll see how decrepit it is.  Kathy will design its replacement over the winter.  It will probably be a summer project, when the lake is at its lowest level.

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