Playground Rock

rock Placing 008During our rock wall adventure in landscape, sometimes, you run into a really large boulder that really should be made into a piece of solid playground equipment. Here is one that we found this week.  This had to be moved so we could cut a dead tree down where we are going to build our rock wall in front of our house.

rock Placing 011How many tires are actually on the ground as Pete moves it around with the Kubota? As we move this heavy rock, notice the squished front tires when the rock is being pushed. Do you think it just may be a little beyond this piece of equipment’s capacity? Sure hope this little tractor is up to the test.

rock Placing 022 rock Placing 028 rock Placing 031Roll, roll, roll. Push, then tilt.

rock Placing 034This granite guy has a flat top just perfect for climbing on, and two stairs on one side with a single stair on the other, it’s perfect for the lawn area. The grandkids have already tried all the surfaces out for us.

Rock Movers in Elk WA

rock Pile 02If you are an expert “operator” of equipment, or rock mover, anything is possible. Really, just ask Pete!

Kubota Repair 001BTW. Expert, as defined by my father, is a drip under extreme pressure.

Kubota Repair 002

Besides, if Peter breaks the tractor he knows how to order the parts and fix it himself. What is the problem? It takes real talent to move rocks while using equipment that is lighter than the object that you are trying to pick up or move. Just last week Pete had to re-weld the shift lever twice for this poor little tractor. It broke while doing “the impossible”. I wonder what this Kubota tells all the other pieces of equipment in the yard… after the moon comes up each night. It would be interesting to put a baby monitor down there at night to see what the tractor tells the lawn mower, and rototiller when we are not there.

rock Moving 01Here is a pictorial sequence of hooking up to move a big rock with a tiny garden tractor and a chain. Simple, really! Sometimes you have to start with digging a little to be able to reach underneath and put the chain around it.

rock Moving 03Then you hook the chain to the bucket and start to back up real slow and pulllllllll.

rock Moving 07I can see this little orange Kubota sweating as it strains.

rock Moving 05Look at how interested Max is in seeing the rock move. Not even.

rock Moving 08When it reaches where it is going to rest for now, placing a rock under one edge allows us to easily hook a chain around it next time without having to dig under it.

rock Moving 10Okay, now imagine doing that all day long, to make a Ph. D pile like the one at the top of this post. Are you wondering what a Ph. D pile is? A quote from Pete, “It is a stack of rock Piled Higher and Deeper!”

Trumpet Honeysuckle Vines Blossom

honeysuckle 21The wild honeysuckle vines are blossoming here in the Inland Northwest, this is the variety that grows in the wild around here. The way it creates a little “cup leaf” with a group of blossoms appearing in trumpet shapes before springing open is fascinating. Hence the name “trumpet honeysuckle“, here is more information from, if you are interested. It may be simply be an orange celebration in honor of the hummingbird population returning, but, none-the-less it is beautiful to witness.

honeysuckle 08While clearing the slope outside my kitchen window last year, we discovered two small pines totally engulfed in vine. They were goners! Honeysuckle is a ferocious vine striving to climb any tree or bush till it eventually chokes them out. The hummingbirds love these flowers and deer tend to leave them alone. So, we took the time to carefully unwind and transplant the vines into the landscaping off the kitchen deck last year.

honeysuckle 22This area is beginning to look good with plants beginning to take shape from the transplants last year. The two trellis covered with honeysuckle serve as bookends to iris planted between. Hurley seems to enjoy his little yard by the kitchen.

Pure Love

lady 02Now here is a real expert, “Lady” knows exactly how to show pure love. It is really simple. I doubt that anyone has any question about what she is saying.

lady 01Sometimes life gets all filled up with chores, duties and jobs. Things happen and everyone gets worried and all the texting and fretting begins. Then, a fresh dose of unadulterated love smacks you right in the face, fully reminding you of what is really important.

friendshipLove is what is important.

Next time I feel overwhelmed I will remember Lady’s sweet face and the power of what friendship can do.

Celebrate the Fruit Blossoms in Spring

Early Spring is the time to witness beautiful fruit blossoms which can tempt any artist into rendering their beauty. On top of that the air is full of flower fragrances, especially with Inland Northwest lilac scents drifting across the land. It is a cornucopia of eye and nose candy.

apple macintosh 017
macintosh apple blossoms
pear lower 004
pear in lower orchard

Our garden has apple, pear, peach and cherry and choke cherry trees all blossoming and setting on fruit. Hopefully, all the fruit will come through and provide a wonderful harvest.

cherry semi sweet 05
semi-sweet pie cherry lower orchard
choke cherry 035
choke cherry blossoms

Combined with this extensive array are other garden wonders soon to come; the blackberries, strawberries, blueberries and raspberries. Then the huckleberries up in the mountains later on. Well…. hoping for lots of canning this year.

Ooops Gobble, Gobble

turkeyI am going to have to apologize to the dogs for accusing them of getting into our burn pile and making a mess. They both looked at me like, “It wasn’t me!” and I didn’t believe them. Now, we know who the real culprits are and here is some video proof.

As long as they stay outside of the garden, I don’t mind them foraging here. When they cross that line and eat the centers out of all my tomatoes, they then become “fair game”. Literally.


Bleeding Heart Blossoms Surprise

Bleeding Heart BlossomMy focus was to get a good closeup shot of the bleeding heart that is blooming in the garden. I had my handy dandy camera with me. Why? Because, you never know when a fantastic photo will come your way. And, honestly a cell phone just doesn’t cut it. I was able to capture this splendid example showing how this flower got it’s name. The unopened blossoms really look like a little heart dripping some blood off the base. Wow! It may not be the most romantic name for a flower but it sure fits doesn’t it!

bleeding heart butterfly 2Then I glanced behind there, where the sprinkler was watering the corn rows at the compost pile. I noticed maybe a small hummingbird getting a bath in the sprinkler. Wait a minute… that is not a hummingbird it is a black and yellow butterfly.

bleeding heart butterfly 3When the water sprinkled, he opened and shut his wings a few times and then basked in the sun till it came round again. I’m not sure if he was getting a drink or if he was actually getting a bath.

bleeding heart butterfly 4Now, I am waiting by the bleeding heart bush and am on a mission. Can I get a good picture of him without getting the camera wet or scaring him away? It was a good practice in patience.

bleeding heart butterfly 6Then, he finally flew toward me at the bleeding heart bush. I did what any artist does, I took as many pictures of him as I could in the hopes that one would come out.

bleeding heart butterfly 6Check this out!

It pays to notice the colorful miracles all around us. Wa La!


Asparagus First Fruits

Asparagus is First

bucket asparagus
bucket of first asparagus

Here is the first little bucket of spears asparagus harvested this year. It has a mixture of older roots that produce the thicker guys and quite a few baby spears that I cut so that these newer plants concentrate on producing roots instead of stalk. I will pick about this much every two days from our one row of mature spears. Last year Pete and I planted another 6 rows from seed so in a couple more years we should be able to make pickled asparagus and even take some to the farmers market.

bucket & pan asparagus
asparagus ready to sauté

There is nothing like slightly steamed asparagus with butter and garlic. Yum! We look forward to this short season crop. It has lots of nutrients that re-energize us as we get our garden planted and going in spring. Here it is cleaned and ready to put in the pan and the compost is in the white bucket on the left. Experience the flavor of freshly picked spears and you are spoiled for life.

This crop take the patience of Job to start in the garden. Multiple years before you get a reliable harvest, but, it is truly worth all the effort. I started the first 25 foot row by buying those expensive 6 roots for $9 at the farm supply store. Roots were all that was available in the seed books and store, so I was under the impression that you had to start asparagus by a root. Wrong, bare roots work but that is not the only way to go.

You can plant them with seed just as easily. If you let the plants go to seed and collect them in the Fall, you can save a lot of money in increasing your asparagus output. Asparagus produces a lot of seed, so I don’t understand why the outlets that have seed charge so much for it.

Planting takes soil preparation requiring you to dig channels that you fill back up as they grow. The goal is to get a lot of root going and it takes patience, care and time. The biggest difficulty I had with growing this was lack of information to help do that. It is hard to weed around starts if you don’t know what they look like as they start to come up. They do not look like the adult plant, so I murdered a lot of my starts before I caught on. Here are some pictures of how they look in the early stages.

Spokane County Conservation District new plant starts

aspen 7
aspen 7 Brekenridge CO

Every year we order new plant starts from the Spokane County Conservation District to improve our garden or landscaping with. The first time I ordered from them was right after I had placed our mobile home. We had Ice Storm and lost half of our trees, so I ordered as many fir as I could afford to replant with the next spring. I love that these horticulturist savvy people really understand our climate in the Inland Pacific Northwest and that their plants are economical small starts that have a real high success rate. They allow the poor folk to be able to care for the land. This year we got 4 different varieties to add to our landscape; 5 aspen, 3 juice grapes, 5 huckleberries, and 5 mock oranges.


Above is a picture of some aspen seen in Colorado, so hopefully we will have some color where we planted our starts during fall here at home.


grapes and sunflowersWe hope to be able to process grapes soon, our vines have had some problems but I haven’t given up on them yet. There are now two rows of grapes, the older row of grapes has two kinds of grapes and the second row has not got a fence or rail built for it yet.


huckleberry areahuckleberry start huckleberry start up close This is our splurge item. The starts were grown in Priest Lake Idaho area so we hope we are going to be able to get them to grow over here in Elk. This is a higher area on the property with a slope that we cleared as we put in our border dog fence last year. Pete planted the huckleberry above a log and we marked each of the five starts with a stick to be able to find them. They seem to be doing real good without any help from us. Yay!

Mock Orange

mock oragne start mock orange row

These are planted on the east fence of our garden between the garden and the house as a decorative hedge. They require very little care and want good drainage with lots of sun, so they have a lot of that where they are planted. Hopefully this row will be able to slow down water going down the hill naturally. We are hoping to be having the fragrance of the white blossoms to help attract bees, butterflies, and birds during the summer.

Transplants from the Garden


We had a lot of transplanting to do just as the soil thawed this spring in the Inland Pacific Northwest. As the years go by I am understanding that gardening is just a constant state of discovery, change and adjustment. Our goal is to promote native berry’s and herbs growing outside the garden and, reserve garden space for the guys that can not survive outside.

yellow cone flower bush

Yellow Cone Flower Bush

My wonderful gardening friend gave me a start for this beautiful flowering bush that is a joy to have in the garden. Last year it was full of yellow flowers all summer long. However, had decided that my herb garden is heaven and grew to 8 ft tall and wide in diameter. A case of yellow flowers on steroids! I planted it in the middle of my mint patch and by the end of the season, the mint was struggling to survive. It took over, Oooops!

To resolve this, I spent a day getting to know a shovel intimately. Digging around it and lifting a huge root ball approximately 5 ft in diameter. It was so big that I could not pick it up so I cut it into three sections to be able to get it into the wheelbarrow. One was moved to an open area by the strawberry patch, one was put next to a pine tree inside the drive-in gate and the third section was put outside the walk-in gate as an experiment to see if the deer will leave it alone. This way, if the deer decide it is a scrumptious delicacy we will still have two viable bushes in the garden.

choke cherry bushesChoke Cherry

Next are the choke cherry starts that I got from the Spokane County Conservation District (SCCD) a couple years ago. This is a gardening outlet that I look forward to getting starts from each year, because they are reasonable and the plants are tested for success in our climate. You can sign up for the SCCD newsletter at their website.

As you can see here, these were in the bottom of my herb garden at the retaining wall. They were growing to get big enough for the deer to leave them alone. These guys were taking over the lower slope of the herb garden, so we had to transplant them outside the garden. Do you know about the choke cherry, here is some interesting info about them? Bet you didn’t know all that.

herb garden wall rebuildWe had to remove the retaining wall to be able to dig up the choke cherries. Here is the wall rebuilt afterwards and the herb garden is ready for replanting again. If you look up at the top by the strawberry patch you can see one of the yellow cone flower transplant starts there.

Elderberry BushElderberry

These elderberries were quite prolific last year. This is one herb I love to keep on hand to keep flu and colds at bay. The Elderberry bushes are moved outside the garden this year too.

goose berry bushGooseberry

Now, the gooseberry bush, which has the most vicious thorns I have ever experienced. Honestly, it would make an excellent border hedge to keep all manner of beasts at bay. It is being moved out of the garden as a matter of self-preservation for me because I have grown weary of being poked and cut by this bush. If the deer like this berry, then I guess they are welcome to it, cause the wounds are not worth it to me. I am hoping my attitude will improve with a little distance from this guy.