This year the iris are beautiful!  Blooms are bountiful and I’m actually seeing a few that haven’t bloomed in years and had forgotten what some have looked like. Here’s a pleasant surprise, a peach colored iris that is about to unfurl.

peach iris

Pretty blues:


dark puple


Soft yellow


I paid a little more attention to my iris this year with watering a few weeks before bloom and giving them a boost of fertilizer, it did the job and although iris are pretty maintenance free, they do need a little love before they bloom.

Here is a good webpage from White Flower Farms to learn about iris care.

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Brick and Flagstone

We had some brick leftover from the greenhouse floor but not enough for the little patio I planned to make outside the greenhouse.  I explored possibilities other than just brick online and I found a beautiful combo of brick and flagstone.  I was inspired!  This mason from Hammerhead Stoneworks creates some beautiful stonework.

This is what I completed so far:


Kea hamming it up on brick and ‘Montana Grizzly’ flagstone

The flagstone has some really interesting colors.  I will be getting a few more pieces from Durango Nursery and Supply Co to finish the area surrounding the brick to tie it all in. Plus a few more wooly and ‘pink chintz’ thyme plants to grow between the stone.

IMG_6232 IMG_6223

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Greenhouse Brick Floor

Last week the floor of the greenhouse got finished and it really looks and feels good.  I asked my friend Nikki to help me lay the old brick. I let Nikki decide the patterns and how they should be placed.

Check it out!


measuring and getting layout right


Having fun working on the brick!


Sage enjoying the finished brick floor.

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Rose Tea- Not Just For Roses

Post from Bees and Chicks Tuesday’s Tips IMG_4118 (1) Whip up a batch of my version of Rose Tea for a quick boost. I make this tea for roses, but irises and peonies love this as well. In my garden the blooms are huge and plants just thrive on it. I usually make a large garbage can full of this and let ferment for a week. (Be warned — it smells really bad! ) 20110606_0214 This recipe is for a 5 gallon pail for those who don’t want to have a surplus of stinky tea in their backyard. Multiply as needed for larger quantities. Rose Tea 2-3 cups alfalfa pellets or alfalfa meal with no salt added  (inexpensive at an AG store or farmers co-op) 5 tablespoons fish emulsion 1 tablespoon of liquid seaweed extract or 1/2 cup kelp powder  (I use Stress X) 1/2 cup Epsom salts (buy it at the drug store — way cheaper than at the garden center) 3 tablespoons molasses (supposed cut smell down) Mix all the ingredients in the pail then fill with water to the top. Stir, cover and let sit for a week. Feed roses twice a month with tea, about 1/2 gallon to 1 gallon for each plant. The sludge that remains on the bottom of the pail can be spread around plants. Scratch it in a little to prevent a crust from forming. Another quick rose tip: bury chopped banana peels and eggshells around your roses. 20110609_0723

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A Gardeners Dream Come True!

Ray and I started the greenhouse a few weeks ago and it’s starting to look awesome!  We have been salvaging materials for a few years and last summer we were given some beautiful old windows and bricks from a remodel Ray had been working on.  Those were the last items we needed to get this project going.

I designed the 10×12 greenhouse around the windows we had. I picked the most interesting and least damaged, 14 in total, which had to be scraped, glazed and painted (not my favorite job in the world).  They turned out really nice. I also made frames and hinged most of them (that was a challenge for me, whoa!) so the greenhouse will have plenty of ventilation.

windows before

Windows waiting to be worked on.

Here is the progress so far. We are waiting on the SolarSoft 85 panels for the roof and they seem to be taking an awfully long time to ship.  So in the meantime we will install the windows and maybe throw up some plastic sheeting over the rafters until the panels come, soon I hope.

Framing Greenhouse walls

Ray and Shawn framing walls and windows.

greenhouse march 20

Rafters and collar ties up! Oh so close!!

Hopefully we will get the greenhouse weather tight this weekend so I can get my seedlings off the kitchen table!  Stayed tuned….

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Garden Journal — Spring To Do List

Contact me to schedule your Spring clean up now.

Happy Spring!  Mary Beth 


lilac bud

Bees and Chicks

I wrote this list for the colder Western regions, but Barbara pointed out that it works equally well for March gardens in Southern California.

In the Rocky Mountains there’s a good chance you still have snow on the ground, or if the snow has melted you are dealing with frozen ground that turns muddy for a few hours during the day and then freezes again. But it’s time to start getting ready for spring and here to help you get going is the beginning of a garden to do list.


Get your soil tested once it’s workable. I’m going to do this again this year. I haven’t tested my soil since 2002, so it’s time for another one. The lab will do a complete study of your soil and it’s all very interesting. It will give you a good start in your garden by taking away the guess-work about what…

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Bad Ass Deer Spray!

Here is some evidence that the deer spray is still working!  Cut flowers from my gardens here in Bayfield.

First Bouquet of the Season

This deer spray post was originally posted on my sister’s blog Bees and Chicks.  I have had many requests for the recipe at  the Farmer’s Market here in Durango so I thought I’d bring the recipe on over to my site.  Thanks for stopping by!

Deer Spray Recipe:

There are many recipes for homemade deer spray online. Here’s how I make it.

4 raw eggs
1 tablespoon or more of hot sauce, the hotter the better
1 teaspoon dish soap
2 teaspoons of garlic juice or garlic powder
2 teaspoons of white pepper

1. Blend all ingredients in a blender with a quart of water. It helps to strain it before putting it into your sprayer because it will clog it, which is really annoying.

2. Pour in a gallon sprayer, add more water to top it off to a gallon and let it sit out of the sun for a couple of days so it gets good and smelly.

3. Spray your plants with a fine mist to coat all the foliage and flowers.

4. Respray new growth and after it’s rained.

I no longer measure anything out because I make gallons of this stuff every season. I use it on my gardens and all of my client’s gardens as well. I think the secret is to switch it up a bit from time to time, because deer will get used to the spray after a while and it won’t be as effective.

So you should add things like a few drops of clove oil, peppermint oil, cinnamon oil, or 1 cup of milk, etc. to change the smell and taste a little. I’ve been adding a sliver of Irish Springs soap to my batches lately and this seems to work really well. I find that the deer may take a bite here and there, but after tasting the spray they move on.

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Corner Cabinet

This corner cabinet was designed by Geoffrey Rigby-Leather and built by Ray. The cabinet is made with Poplar and will be painted after installation. It’s a very handsome piece and I think Geoffrey and Ray did a great job.

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Maple Wardrobe and Media Cabinet

Ray’s newest clients asked him to build a media cabinet to go under a wall-mounted flat screen TV. They also needed more space for their clothing and wanted the new wardrobe to match their loft’s trim and cabinets.

Ray crafted the wardrobe with maple wood. It turned out great with clean lines and a lovely hand-rubbed finish. He included lots of drawer space and shelving to help his client’s keep things organized and out of sight. This is the best shot to really give an idea of the piece. The large size made it hard to fit the whole thing in one photo.

This cabinet is made out maple as well.  The satin finish is beautiful and the piece fits the space perfectly.

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Vegetable Garden – Garlic And Starting Cool Season Vegetables

I planted garlic (lots of garlic!) in October and I’m happy to say it all survived the winter. I’m really looking forward to homegrown veggies this year.  Since it was a beautiful day yesterday I planted some cool season vegetable seeds in the new beds I prepared last fall. Good thing I got the seeds in when I did because today everything is tucked in under a blanket of spring snow!

Seeds planted 4/26:

‘Scarlet Charlotte’ Swiss Chard

‘Lacinato’ Kale

‘Nero Di Toscana’ Kale

‘Golden’ Beets

‘Paris Market Mix’ Baby Mesclun Lettuce

‘Easter Egg’ Radishes

‘Bloomsdale Long Standing’ Spinach

‘Alaska’ Peas

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