Back to the blog just over 6 months from the last post! Shortly after the previous post, the Flower Tent Season started, June and early July saw me getting some of the gardens under control… then mid-July, the rain began…. and has seemed to never end… Flash floods in the Twin Tiers region of NY & PA, some places getting hit more than once. Water got into my studio during one storm, so ditches got dug back out to keep that from happening again. With all the clouds and rain it felt like summer never really came. The hot weather was hot… really hot… not great outdoor weather, and no gardening was done after early July. Now that it is Fall, things are still rainy and wet… the back yard is still a slip-n-slide of slimy mud… walking around the gardens is a challenge, and there have been next to no colorful leaves to look at.
During the dreariness of the past few months, there have been some bright spots… The gardens that I got under control before the sogginess arrived, grew and bloomed fairly well. A few plants had super short bloom times due the rains that ruined the flowers quickly. Echinaceas did fairly well. The photo above shows a bed of orange ones in bloom. Most were seedlings I found in another garden last summer from an orange flowering plant. I had hoped for all orange flowers, and only one plant was purple. I hope to see if I can get some fun new colors by planting certain colors together for cross pollination. I planted a short white one and an apricot colored one in this bed to see what I might end up with. I have collected a bunch of seeds to start next Spring, then wait another year to see the colors.
We added to the family this summer, too… Since I can’t seem to keep from getting bitten by sick ticks, I decided we needed some tick eaters… Welcome the Peeps! Late July, I brought home some baby Guinea keets to raise, now referred to as the Peeps due to their cute little peeping sounds. Now they are adolescents, their voices are changing, but they still do some peeping and “tweedley twerping” when eating. Guineas are super great at eating bugs of all kinds, including ticks. They are also kinder to gardens than chickens. Chickens will devastate flower gardens with their eating and scratching… Not what I want with all my perennials. The Guineas will devastate the tick population with much less damage to the gardens. They are quite entertaining, and make great “guard dogs” by letting you know if someone or something different enters their domain. I’ve only had them free-ranging for almost a month, and they keep pretty close to their coop and pen. It probably hasn’t helped that the weather has been so wet and stormy, and the yard is so muddy (as you can see in the older peep photo).
The relentless rain wasn’t the only problem the gardens had this Summer. The deer population is increasing every year, and they are doing a good job of wiping out lots of flowers. I had only 5 lonely Lily flowers from over 50 plants… deer think the buds are candy. The Hosta also took a bad hit this year, too. Our Bella pup has been really helpful in keeping the deer away when she is out, but they will munch as much as they can when she isn’t looking. I’m hoping the Peeps will spook the deer away when they start full free-ranging. I miss my Lily flowers…
Now for the art… The worst thing the Lyme did was to take away my creative brain… I have finally been able to slowly get back into the gardens after nearly 5 yrs of treatment, but the brain stuff has been much slower to resolve. I am blessed that I usually can remember my name and the words for forks and spoons, but when I go into my studio, things still go totally blank… I spend way more time than I would like nested on the couch. In my early Spring post, I showed what I had started doing with Photoshop, flower photos and the laptop. A month or so ago, I got back to playing again, for another Spoonflower design challenge. This one was a limited palette of ocean blue, terracotta, sienna, blush, and lagoon (we could also use small amounts of black and white). With the blues and pink, I thought I could come up with something. I decided to play with my Ginkgo leaves. I actually started with some photos of a few sunprints that used my Ginkgos pulling out the leaf shapes. With the limited palette, I didn’t want too much detail, so did white outlines of the leaves and drew a few veins using a drawing tablet. The tablet connects to my laptop, allowing me to draw with a pen right into Photoshop. I filled in the outlines with the colors allowed for the challenge and my Ginkgos designs were born. I started with the background plain ocean blue, then started with other ideas. After posting the first two to a design critique FB group, I entered the version below right. The challenge had way over 500 entries and I placed #50!!! The top 50 designs are automatically made available for sale on the Spoonflower site without waiting for a proof to be printed. 🙂
I had done the vines I used for the background for a previous design, so I just pulled the layer out, changed up the color and added it behind the leaves. As usually happens once I get started on something, ideas tend to keep flowing for a bit, so I came up with some coordinating designs.
First I tried different colored backgrounds, then different background designs. I really like the striped background, but it wouldn’t qualify to be entered into the challenge, but is now available in my Spoonflower shop.
More playing resulted in more designs. I made some striped coordinates, simple vine background became coordinates in different colors, different colored Ginkgos on different backgrounds, and more. In my Spoonflower Shop, you can see my Ocean Blue Ginkgos Collection that has the designs shown here in addition to many others in the colors for the challenge.
I am finding that even if I don’t have the energy to get outside, or the rain keeps me in, I can now play with my leaves and flowers with the laptop. I may have finally found something that I can continue to do even when dealing with the ups and downs of Lyme and my co-infections. Some days the creative block is still there, but I can usually do some simple photo manipulations to prepare “parts” to use in future designs.
Here’s to hoping this blog gets posted in much more often again…