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Spring Is In The Air & It’s Azalea Time!

Spring is in the air, and it’s azalea time in the San Mateo and Palatka areas.  The azaleas are particularly beautiful this year and we had a mild winter, and the warm weather came early.  As you know, we have been re-landscaping the church gardens.  Here is a look at the gardens in their current state.  We have a collection of mature azaleas that have been here for many years, and we boast 7 different colors.  I would have to say, they are more beautiful than Ravine Gardens, which is a State Park here in Palatka that hosts an Azalea Festival the 1st weekend of March each year, but I might be a bit biased.  Here’s a stroll around the grounds and see the beauty here!

 

 

 

 

Re-Landscaping the Church Gardens

We belong to a tiny historic Church here in NE Florida.  A lot of the members are descendants from the original founders back from 1892.  It’s a little Norman Rockwell looking church with a great “family” congregation and a super Pastor.  During my winter hiatus I worked on re-landscaping the gardens around the Church.  The majority of the plantings around the Church are azaleas, so I wanted to be sure that these were saved, fertilized, and properly watered.  The techniques used in this application could be applied anywhere, especially at your home and garden.

Attached are some “before” and “after” photos which really tell the story better than any words I could say.  What they say is true, a picture is worth a thousand words.  But I will try to break down the steps I took in getting the gardens back up to looking as they should look to give glory to the Lord.

First I had to remove all the old plants that had either died or were in the process of dying.  Then came the weeding.  Oh my, the weeding took some time and hard work.  You want to first spray as many of the weeds with Roundup and let it sit about a week to give the weeds time to die off .  This will make it slightly (and only slightly) easier to pull the weeds.  A lot of the weeds in the open area could be pulled up with the use of a garden hoe.  That way you can get down to the roots.  Weeds that were closer to the existing plants had to be pulled by hand individually.

 While the weeding was going on, another member of the Church (my new best friend Ron) was reworking the sprinkler system.  Since this Church has been there for 120 years, I’m not sure when the sprinkler system was installed, but I can tell you it must have been a really long time ago.  There is no electrical outlet on the outside of the building so therefore, there is no automatic sprinkler controls.  I asked the Building & Grounds Chairman where were the valves to turn on the sprinklers.  He showed me a cluster of 6 foot tall Canna Lilies on the side of the Church.  The valves and the valve box were buried under the Canna Lilies.  Does that tell you how long it had been since the sprinklers had been turned on?  Unfortunately, I did not take a photo of the location and condition of the valve box, but basically, the valves were below ground level.  The valves were also leaking, so the valve box would be partially full of water and mud, and whatever else.  In order to turn the valves on, which were 2 zones the east and west side of the church, I had to wear long rubber gloves and stick my hand down in the muck to accomplish my task.  Also, you had to kneel down on the ground with a rubber pad just to get down to the valves.  Needless to say, this was not an ideal situation.

Enter Ron, the Super Sprinkler Man of the church.  You’ve heard of Super Man, well we have a Super Sprinkler Man!  First Ron had to dig up that 6 foot tall stand of Canna Lilies.  What a job that was!  Then several of the heads and pipes were broken.  Those he replaced (he was real good with the pvc pipe and all the materials that went along with sprinkler repair).  Needless to say, a lot of the sprinkler heads were not the correct type for that area of the garden.  So a lot of new sprinkler heads were bought to replace along the garden area; then they all had to be adjusted so that they would water the plants without getting too much water on the building or the sidewalks.

Another issue Ron had to address is that the flower bed that ran along the front handicap ramp had the sprinkler lines running right down the center.  The plants, which were Indian Hawthorns, were placed between the sprinklers and the sidewalk, causing the bush to hang out over the sidewalk.  Plus, they were planted in an unusual way, kind of bunched upped together.  Ron dug a trench along the ramp, and with the use of some 90 degree “L” connectors, he moved the sprinkler line along the ramp so that we could add side strip sprinkler heads and the plants could then be planted down the center and have room to grow in either direction.  The sprinkler heads would then water just the plants and not the sidewalk.  We first tried transplanting the Indian Hawthorns, but since they were not in the best condition when we transplanted them, they were looking a little sickly, so I replaced them with dwarf azaleas to tie in with the rest of the landscaping.  These were the only Indian Hawthorns on the property, so they really didn’t go with the rest of the scheme.  Unfortunately, we were both so busy working on this project and the weeding, I did not get photos of every step.  But I think you can get an idea from the before and after photos.

Super Sprinkler Man Ron also had to dig up the valves and move them both up above ground.  He also added a water spicket so that we could attach a hose or fill a bucket with water.  Ron also added mulch and a stepping stone to make the area look real nice and function the best.  How great that is now that when I come to water the plants, all I have to do is drive up, jump out of the van, turn on one zone, and I can go back home for about 45 minutes, then come back and turn on the second zone and repeat the procedure.  THANKS RON!  One day we hope to have an automatic control, but this works fine for now.  I go over twice a week to water the plants and it is so quick and easy now.  Good thing we only live about 4 minutes from the Church!

 

Buying new plants to replace those that had died, or to lay out a whole new garden was the next step.  There was a grouping of plumbagos in the back between the 2 air conditioning units.  Now there seemed to be some tension about me pulling up those plumbagos.  I’m not really sure what the sentimentality of it all was, perhaps someone planted them many years ago, but they were not being tended to nor were they being watered (see sprinkler info above).  When I did try to get some kind of shaped to them, the limbs literally crumbled in my hands like freeze dried space food.

The Pastor was hoping to have a butterfly garden for the children.  Naturally I thought that the space between the 2 air conditioning units in the back of the church would be the perfect place for such a garden, since the children’s Sunday School building was right behind the church building, and this garden area was between the two.  Well I have to tell you there were many tense moments prior to me digging up those dead plumbagos, so I had to be sure I had enough plants to put in their place once they were gone and it all had to be done on the same day so that there was no blank spot in the garden.

Since it was the end of the season I was able to get some real bargains at the local home improvement store.  The church does not really have a budget item set aside for landscaping other than the grass mowing and edging.  So this was going to have to be donated plants.  I was able to find chrysanthemums, blue daze, and Boston ferns at 99 cents each!  Then I brought some lantana from my garden, bought some heather, azaleas, gardenias, and cape honeysuckle at regular price, and it all worked out quite well, if I do say so myself.  The Pastor’s wife Betty Jane also brought in a lot of plants from her garden, a type of lily with long fronds as well as mondo grass.

 

It’s amazing what a few new plants and about 100 bags of mulch will do for the garden!

 

We live in a rural community, and the little towns around here sometimes have a “city wide” yard sale.  I wanted some type of trellis to put the honeysuckle vine on to block the view of the A/C units, but the trellises I saw at garden shops were so expensive.  I went to one of these small town yard sales looking for a trellis.  Low and behold, the last booth that I came to at the very end of the yard sale area there was this metal head board and foot board, painted black with vining leaves on it for $15.  SOLD!  I brought them back, and even though they don’t cover up all the A/C units, once the honeysuckle vines begins to grow, hopefully you will notice the flowers and not the A/C units.

Since there is a large area of white clapboard behind the church, I thought if we had a red crepe myrtle tree in the center of the garden, when the red blooms were drooping down, I felt it would somewhat symbolizes Jesus’ hanging on the cross with his red blood.  I know that may or may not appeal to a lot of folks, but since this was a historic church, I thought symbolism might be the right thing to do.  Since it was the winter we have to wait for spring for a crepe myrtle, so in the meantime, I placed a bird feeder on a shepher’s hook and boy, the little birds and a family of Cardinals really like it!

Back Again After a Short Break

Dear Family, Friends, Subscribers, and Visitors,

I’ve been remiss in not posting very much since Thanksgiving of 2011, and I know you have wondered where the “Hot Flashes in the Pan” videos have been.  You will be glad to know that I will be focused more on bringing all types of new information, articles, videos, photos, and a whole new array of projects in 2012.  I took  a short hiatus to work over at my Church, tend to our business of forensic work, went through the holidays, preparing the taxes for the IRS submission, etc.

Featured on my blog will be some of the projects I worked on at the Church which can be applied to all other situations & locations, including your home.  My husband and I also put together a website for the church which I think is pretty phenomenal, if I do say so myself.  It’s a tiny little church, about 80 members, but you just can’t imagine all the things that this little congregation does and gets accomplished.  If you would like, please go to the site:  www.sanmateopresbyterianchurch.com and see all the events, activities, projects, and everything that this church does.  The previous church that we were members of has over 1,200 members, and they don’t do or accomplish anywhere near what our little San Mateo church accomplishes.  Hope you enjoy seeing our “little” church.

I thank you for your patience and understanding while I was away, and really appreciate you keeping up with my blog.  So get ready for a New Year, 2012 will be an fun, exciting, & beautiful time for us all!

Yours very truly,

Agnes

Victory Gardens Return to Popularity

March 13, 2010 Garden Gazebo No Comments

War GardensWith the tough economic times we are facing right now, families are looking for ways to stretch their food budget dollar.  A good way to do that is to look back in time around the World War I era, when “Victory Gardens” became popular.  Community and family gardens were planted anywhere a small patch of land could be found:  yards, city parks, public lands, and even railroad rights of way (this could pose a challenge when tending your garden).  These gardens were planted by families as well as for community cooperatives.

During World War II, the Victory Garden emerged again.  Due to the rationing of food products, the Department of Agriculture informed citizens that if they wanted fresh fruits or vegetables, they should plant Victory Gardens.  Americans took hold of the suggestion, and immediately started to grow vegetable gardens.  It is noted in some accounts that Victory Gardens produced around 40 percent of the nation’s produce.  Can you imagine that?  Now we get our fruits and vegetables from all over the world, shipped in various forms of transportation, burning whatever fuel it takes to get those fruits and vegetable here.

With the economic downturn, wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan, the effects of global warming and our carbon footprint, protecting the environment, concerns over food safety, and wanting better tasting food, folks are looking into the Victory Gardens once more.  Community gardens are great, especially in the inner city, as they encourage social interaction and self-reliance, beautify neighborhoods, produce nutritious and good tasting food, help families with their food budget, and as a side benefit offer recreation, exercise, education, and therapy for some. … Continue Reading

Bodacious Koi Pond on Fine Living Network

January 15, 2010 Garden Gazebo No Comments

Lakeview PondGreat News!  Our Koi pond that we had when we lived in South Florida that was featured on HGTV in 2001 has been seen on an affiliated network, Fine Living Network (FLN), and the show is “15 Bodacious Backyards”.  We are number 12, so we are at the beginning of the show.  My husband and I missed the first half, but a friend of ours from Texas was channel surfing last night and saw the clip.  The original show was an hour show featuring 7 water gardens.  The current show is also an hour show, but it is showing 15 locations, so the original clip has been shortened greatly, but you will be able to get the general idea.  FLN will be airing the show several more times in the month of January 2010, and you can check the schedule at their site http://www.fineliving.com/fine/our_specials/episode/0,1663,FINE_5916_63659,00.html and times are listed at EST.  The show will air this weekend on the 16th and 17th, so my husband and I will be watching it.  It’s great to see that almost 10 years later, our Koi pond is still a favorite of the viewers and the home and garden shows.  Hope you can catch the show and ENJOY!

Garden Paradise

September 26, 2009 Garden Gazebo No Comments
Garden Paradise

Koi PondThis is a photo of our front yard Koi pond at our previous home in Boca Raton, FL.  It was featured on an HGTV special program “Water Gardens” back in 2002.  The beautiful orange and white butterfly Koi in the center of the photo was my favorite, we named her “Lady”.  You can still see our short segment on the internet by goint to: http://www.hgtv.com/video/koi-garden-video/index.html.

Hot Flashes in the Pan YouTube Videos

Hot Flashes in the Pan YouTube Videos

Critter Corner

Alligators In Our Yard!

July 17, 2012

  You have to look real close, but the gator is resting behind the sago palm and the water’s edge.  Needless to say, I too these photos from inside the house and did not go out to get a closer inspection. The Alligator Trapper caught “the big one” which was 12 foot plus.  Here he […]

Back Again After a Short Break

February 2, 2012

Dear Family, Friends, Subscribers, and Visitors, I’ve been remiss in not posting very much since Thanksgiving of 2011, and I know you have wondered where the “Hot Flashes in the Pan” videos have been.  You will be glad to know that I will be focused more on bringing all types of new information, articles, videos, […]

Shepherd in a Manger

November 20, 2011

  Found on the Internet / Facebook: A Nativity Scene was erected in a church yard. During the night, someone came across this. An abandoned dog was looking for a comfortable, protected place to sleep. He chose baby Jesus as his comfort. No one had the heart to send him away so he was there […]

Tale of the Missing Socks

September 17, 2011

My cat Penelope wears socks.  Yes, you heard correctly, socks.  She’s a little over 15 years old now and has arthritis in her back legs.  This causes her to be a little unsteady when using the litter box.  Sometimes, not always, but sometimes after she tinkles she looses her balance and steps in the clump of […]

Pets and the Joy They Bring

September 16, 2011

Having a pet, be it a cat, dog, bird, fish, horse, pig, or whatever furry creature you relate to, is a positive and healthy experience.  Studies have proven that they can extend our lives, lower our blood pressure, and pretty much make us feel good all over because they give us unconditional love. You may […]