A New Start Again?

Well, Here I go again… After nearly 2 years since my last post, I am attempting a new start… Looking back at this blog, there are MANY times I tried to start anew… I struggled to keep doing something creative, but I had to let go of that idea for a while. My Lyme and the other infections I have along with it, took the creative part of my brain away (and even the part that could give me simple words for things like spoons or forks). It was scary to go into my studio and not have any idea what to do in there. I struggled with every day tasks, too, such as making simple meals and dreaded driving anywhere. I would forget what to do, or where I was. Super scary stuff… I finally decided that I’d just stop fighting things and concentrate on getting my health back.  It doesn’t seem possible that I have been treating these infections for four years now. It has been a long road, and there have been a few more ups than downs in recent years. Last summer, I was actually able to play in my gardens more than I had in a LONG time. I was able to get almost all of the gardens tidied up before I “crashed” again.  Life with chronic Lyme is a roller coaster ride with it’s ups and downs, and there have been too many downs in the past years. Many times I tend to cause my own crashes… after so long stuck on the couch barely able to move, when I start feeling better I just want to make up for lost time and do as much as I can… too much too fast, and I’m down again… so frustrating.

Huge Deep Rose Dahlia Flower

The beginning of 2017, I spent 3 months on a new treatment regimen that really knocked me flat. Treating these infections does that… Killing the bugs can make you sicker that the disease at times, but eventually things got better. By the time the Flower Tent opened, I was able to keep up fairly well when I needed to. Some days it’s really hard to will yourself along… By Summer, I was in the gardens more than I had been in a LONG time… I was thrilled to be able to work a couple hours at a time instead of the 15 minutes or less in past years between naps or rests (and to think I used to be able to work full time at the greenhouses and come home to spend many  more hours quilting or creating my art to sell at shows on the weekends). I have found that feeling better can be a bit “dangerous”… I tend to want to catch up for lost time and end up doing too much, or doing “stupid stuff”… Last year among the “stupid stuff” was letting a lawn tractor I was on roll onto my leg, and late summer I threw out my back trying to lug rocks… I wanted a new stone path in the Lilac Garden… I’ve re-assessed that idea and will still have a path, but concrete stepping stones that will be formed in place, not stone from the old foundations around here.

Lilac Garden Path

The above photo shows the stones I moved around… I did get a few in place… just not too smart… The leg I smushed in lawn tractor incident is still not healed, nearly a year later… The tipsy old tractor is now gone, and I have a newer much more stable one to use now… I just wanted to get the tall grass mowed to keep the ticks at bay…

Lilac Garden Planted and Mulched

The Lilac Garden redo was my biggest accomplishment last Fall. The Lilacs and other shrubs were super overgrown and things really needed some attention. I got Ken to help with some chainsaw work on the Lilacs and the Ninebark shrub, and over a few weeks, got the weeds out, planted in some new baby trees, Hosta and other perennials, and got the whole area mulched with hay. Not the prettiest of sights in the photos above, but it should look pretty nice this summer and get even better incoming years.

Tiny Blue Butterfly

While he isn’t very big, at less than an inch across his wing, this poor little butterfly helped to jump start my newest creative endeavor.  Look at the color and texture of his wings! While vegging on the couch with the laptop, I began playing around with my flower photos and this butterfly photo in Photoshop. I did some designs for fabrics on the Spoonflower site, then I found that Spoonflower has themed challenges each week, and I decided to give one a try. The first theme that I decided to try was a Spanish Tiles theme… I could work with colors I like… I pulled bits and pieces of various flower photos for the colors and textures in my design. I began with one tile, then another, and I ended up with a number of tile type designs, then played with coordinating patterns.

Spanish Tile Pink Blue White

My first challenge entry in a Spoonflower challenge!  Can you see where the butterfly wing got used?? The blue and some black edges are from the butterfly. The color was bumped up a bit. The huge Dahlia flower is similar to the one I used for the deep rose pink areas. A photo of a diamond of succulents, a pink Zinnia, a Waterlily, and a daisy were also used. It was fun to see how I could cut areas out of my photos to use in my designs. Once I get proofs printed of my designs, anyone can purchase them from Spoonflower.

Spanish Tile Coordinates

The photo above shows a bunch of the coordinating designs I came up with. These are all for sale on the site in my shop. AndrusGardens Spoonflower Shop I earn a commission on any of my designs that sell.

Fabric Sampler 2

Since entering my first challenge, I have entered designs in 3 more challenges, and played with reproductions of some of my sunprints, too. It is fun to see my designs in print. I have also discovered that pattern design is used in much more than just fabrics, and I am exploring different online venues in which to sell my designs on gift items and home goods. I am also learning how to use different programs on the computer for creating designs. I have tons of flower photos I have taken over the years in my gardens, and now am finding new ways to use them in my designs.

I am not sure if my creative brain will keep returning, but it is super that I have found something that I can do even while I’m not feeling well.  I’m not sure if I’ll be able to keep posting or not, but I am hopeful. I just need to learn not to overdo things or do “stupid stuff” when I do feel better…  😉

Digging in the Gardens… Dividing Hosta Part One

It’s been a VERY LONG time since I last posted in this blog… Doing battle with Late Stage Lyme disease and 2 co-infections left me with no energy or brain to be able to even think about writing… After just over 2 years of treatment, I am finally feeling more human again… I still have a lot of healing to do, but am finally am finding enough energy to get back to some quilting and digging in the gardens again… I have been doing just the minimum for so many years, and there is a lot to catch up on.

Overgrown Clumps of Hosta Golden Tiara

Overgrown Clumps of Hosta Golden Tiara

The past few days, I have been digging clumps of Hosta out of the gardens to be divided to use in other gardens or potted for sale. I used to divide many of my Hosta clumps every couple years, and there are some really crowded clumps out there. The above photo shows some very vigorous clumps of Golden Tiara that have lived in the “flood zone” in the back yard… They show how hardy Hosta can be… they have been buried in silt and gravel many times over the years and just keep on growing.

Dividing Hosta is an easy way to increase your numbers of plants. One or two plants can turn into a drift of plants in just a few years with some of the more vigorous varieties. Dividing will also renew old, neglected clumps or can keep clumps “in line” if they are getting bigger than you want.

Hosta Sweet Tater Pie with Astilbe

Hosta Sweet Tater Pie with Astilbe

This variety is one of my fastest multiplying varieties, and the one I have divided the most. I began with one clump eight years ago, and now have a nice group of three in the Stone Wall Garden (two show in the photo above), a ring of them around a tree, and have given away a number of them. I have taken out bits of these clumps nearly every year without them even looking like anything was removed. I love the cheerful chartreuse green color of the leaves that add bright spots to any shaded area.

Sweet Tater Pie Clump

Sweet Tater Pie Clump

The above photo shows what one of the clumps looked like after I pulled the mulch off it. This is the stage of growth that I like to divide Hosta, the shoots are big enough to see, and the roots have not begun to take off for the growing season (making digging easier).  They can be divided or moved when the leaves have emerged, but the leaves will wilt and the plants will need more care. As you can see, there are lots of shoots packed quite tightly in this clump.  Step one is to decide how much of the clump you want to remove.

Sweet Tater Pie with Shovel

Sweet Tater Pie with Shovel

This is where some people will get squeamish… It looks harsh, but these plants are VERY tough and you will not kill them.  Place your shovel across the middle of the clump, or just one section if not taking out half of the plant, and step on it to cut straight down through the roots. Depending on the variety, it may take a bit of stomping or jumping on the shovel to get it to go through the roots (this one is an easy  one). Try to ignore the “crunching” sounds… Once your shovel is through the crown and roots, rock it a time or two to split the clump as shown in the photo above. The goal for this example is to leave one half in the ground, disturbed as little as possible. No one will know that anything was removed once the leaves fill out.

Sweet Tater Pie Lifted Out

Sweet Tater Pie Lifted Out

Once you have the dividing line made, dig around the edges of the part of the clump you want to remove. Get your shovel under the roots and pry the chunk out. The other half should remain in place with very little root damage. Once the chunk is out, knock off excess soil from the roots, as shown in the photo above.  Replace that soil against the part left in the garden, firm it and replace mulch. Give the piece that is left a good watering. It will grow as if nothing has happened. The chunk you removed is now ready to be split into more pieces to be planted into other areas.

Krossa Regal Budded

Krossa Regal Budded

Here is another variety that looks totally different from the first one shown.  This is a large, bluish leaved variety I have growing near the previous variety.  This one multiplies quite a bit slower than the previous variety. It has less shoots, but makes a larger plant due to the height and size of the leaves.  The above photo was taken in 2012… it is a lot bigger now.

Krossa Regal Needs Dividing

Krossa Regal Needs Dividing

I have not taken anything out of this clump for a number of years.  You can barely see the shoots filling the whole photo above. Krossa Regal and related varieties also have less tightly packed shoots.

Digging out Krossa

Digging out Krossa

The photo above shows part of this clump being popped up out on the end of the shovel. With less tight plants, I often dig from the edges instead of chopping through the middle. The roots don’t make as solid a mass which makes digging easier.

More Krossa Digging

More Krossa Digging

Another chunk coming out… This plant was next to the stone wall, so I dug out what was closest to the wall.

Regal Splendor Dug by Hand

Regal Splendor Dug by Hand

Very rarely, parts of a plant can be pulled out by hand… This is from Regal Splendor, a cousin of Krossa Regal. This clump lives in a corner with stone wall on two sides of it.  This garden is shaded by Black Walnut trees (yes, Hosta grow well under Walnuts), and gets lots of nuts planted into it by the squirrels. Other critters hang out in the stone wall too, so the soil was very loose around this plant.

Damaged Regal Splendor

Damaged Regal Splendor

This is one plant that I ended up digging out the whole thing, after finding much root damage (one reason things popped out so easily). It looks like bugs or other critters have been munching on the roots.

Regal Splendor Fixed

Regal Splendor Fixed

Here is what should be a much happier plant. I loosened up the soil on the roots that were left, dug and loosened the soil in the garden, and replanted a good sized chunk.

Chunks of Regal Splendor

Chunks of Regal Splendor

These are the chunks of this variety that I kept out to plant elsewhere… Even with not too many roots, these should do quite well in their new homes since they have time to get new roots growing before the weather gets very warm and the leaves get very large…

Dug Clumps Waiting for Dividing and Replanting

Dug Clumps Waiting for Dividing and Replanting

As you can see in the photo above, I have been digging more than just Hosta. The dug clumps are placed into pots, labeled and put into our little greenhouse that is quite shaded. The next step will be to  further divide the chunks into smaller clumps to pot up or plant into another garden.  That will be shown in Part 2…  Let’s hope it isn’t over 2 years again before my next post… 😉

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A Bit of Sunprint Play…

Summer sun and heat are really taking their toll on me this summer…

Front Door Garden from Ash Tree

Front Door Garden from Ash Tree

The gardens keep calling my name, but I can only get a couple 15-20 minute sessions every couple of days working in them in my tick repelling, Geranium scented outfit…  Frustrating, but I have been able to get some veggie plants in the ground and uncover some of the weed buried flowers with lots of “quality time” with my bed in between…  I am really trying to learn to look past the quack grass and just see the flowers…  That is much easier to do with the camera… I can just catch the “good stuff” and ignore the icky stuff…  The photo above shows one view of the Front Door Garden that is pretty well under control. The Echinaceas are blooming nicely, and the Glads (who are on year 4 wintering over here) are even caged. No one needs to know how many weeds are hidden behind the tall bloomers… 😉

Stone Wall Hostas

Stone Wall Hostas

In the back yard, the Stone Wall Garden has needed very little work. The Hostas tend to shade out most of the weeds, and the mulch from previous years is still doing it’s job.  I just need to walk out there and enjoy the view…

Frilly Echinacea Blooms

Frilly Echinacea Blooms

These Echinaceas are in the Mound Garden in the back yard, and did need a bit of “Quack removal” to reveal many hidden jewels… Not all the flowers are as tall as these pretties are…

New Guinea Impatiens Flowers

New Guinea Impatiens Flowers

This annual New Guinea Impatiens plant has given me the gift of really HUGE flowers!  This was just  plunked between a couple Hostas… A few bugs and slugs are having snacks, but they still are impressive… I had to put my fingers in the photo to show the size of the blooms…

Garlic Flowers

Garlic Flowers

This is what the wild Garlic flowers look like right now… Tiny little flowers with clusters of tiny red-ish purple bulblets…  There is LOTS of Garlic this year…

Sunpatiens in Planter

Sunpatiens in Planter

The Sunpatiens in planters near the deck are also growing and blooming with abandon… One Sunpatiens plant is nearly overflowing this large planter with a few other types of flowers.  I hope to be using some of these flowers for some sunprinting someday… The airy white flowers would work great used with some larger flowers for contrasting textures…

Oh, Yea…. Sunprinting… The title of this post did mention a “bit” of sunprinting…  I did get a little experimental session done a few days ago… I wondered what would happen if I sunprinted some Lutradur…  I tiny spark of inspiration!!  A few brain cells beginning to work again!!  I also wondered about trying out my Sizzix Big Shot and my newest bargain dies to make some different resists for sunprints.  Hmmmm… Another Idea??  I know mylar confetti works great for sunprints, so I thought transparencies would work to cut the shapes from… Clear is hard to see, so  I picked up some plastic page dividers in various colors (love back to school supplies), and played….

Lutradur and Spirals

Lutradur and Spirals

Above, shows the spirals I cut from an orange piece of the plastic and the resulting printed Lutradur. I painted the Lutradur as usual, then placed the die-cut spirals on the wet paint and placed it in the sun to dry… by the time I got the paint and spirals on the Lutradur, I needed a nap (pretty sad when I need a nap after only 20 minutes of playing)…  A couple hours later, I went outside to find the dry Lutradur on the grass and all but one of the spirals in a pile on the table next to the paint board… Oops!!  Such a featherweight material easily takes flight with the slightest breeze… I guess no napping while sunprinting Lutradur in the future.  You can see the one lonely little spiral that stayed on even with the breeze… I was amazed that I didn’t have to pick little orange spirals out of the grass!

Sunrprinted Lutradur Swirls

Sunrprinted Lutradur Spirals

The above photo shows the Lutradur held in front of a neutral background, so the icky paint board doesn’t distract.  It worked really well!! There was very low humidity that day with good sun, so the prints came out nice and crisp. The back side has a softer look, so I can use either side!  The plastic die cuts worked great.  Now I have a lot more possible shapes to play with in addition to my leaves and flowers…  I’m thinking some Daisies might be fun with the spirals, and I have dies for hearts, circles, scallops and more, so there can be endless possibilities for playing!  I also think that if printing on the Lutradur worked, then I should be able to get some nice prints on other sheer materials… I’d love to try layering sunprinted sheers over some bright colored cotton sunprints… hmmm… more ideas??  Maybe I really am getting rid of some of those nasty bugs in my brain!!  Some days it seems like things will never improve, then I realize another tiny improvement… Peeks of hope here and there!  I just need lots of patience…. and naps… 🙂

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