Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Contest? Maybe?

As I am closing in on post #100, I'm wondering if I should have a contest. That seems to be the thing to do, to celebrate blog milestones. But it would be kind of embarrassing if no one entered. And what would I offer as a prize? I have a lot of old seeds. And a couple of books I purchased but was disappointed in. And lots of coffee mugs, but I don't think any of them are gardening related. I gave away my old issues of Organic Gardening and Hobby Farm.

Maybe I can lure readers of my knitting blog over here by offering yarn. Now that's an idea!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Can Autumn Be Far Behind?

The hardy aster is actually blooming.

This, despite the fact the hibiscus just got started...

... and the buds on the Rose of Sharon are still rolled tight.

I'm still picking bagworms off the arborvitae, but I am definitely winning that war. Hopefully, the one plant most afflicted will survive.

I'm also having to water more and more. We really, really, really need a good soaking rain.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Wishing for Rain

This morning it looked and felt like it could rain any minute, but nothing happened. Without a good soaking, the weeds are almost impossible to get out of the ground, even with a shovel. So I worked above ground, pruning the forsythia and climbing rose so the worker guys can get in and out of the yard.

I took off more than I left. Hopefully, the plants will be okay.

The Virginia creeper also came down, as did all the volunteer mulberry trees around the yard. I retreated to the house for the afternoon - too humid - but when it did not rain, I spent some time watering this evening.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


Those bagworms are very clever but not too smart. The way they incorporate plant parts when spinning their cocoons makes them appear to be part of the plant. The way they decimate the plant they are infesting seems like a way to jeopardize their long term survival chances, especially since it really upsets the plant owner who then plucks every last cotton pickin' one of them off the plant and condemns them to the fiery depths of hell.


As we head into the dog days of August, not much of interest is going on in the garden these days besides the usual. There is plenty to do in the Weeding and Watering Department. Summer feels like it is just slipping away.

I was trying to get a better photo of some of the finer blossoms in my backyard, so I used some white fiber board as a background.

The crocosmia:

... and the honeysuckle vine.

This sunflower is just perfect in situ.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Wish I Had Chickens

Picked half again as many bagworms off the arborvitae today as we did yesterday. Once again, burned them in the fire bowl. (You'd think the 90 degree heat alone would have done the job.) Every time a wasp flew by, I berated it for not eating more of the bagworms. Bet chickens would consider them a delicacy.

It rained only 0.25 inches last night and this morning, so I watered a few things that were not holding up well. Then I skedaddled inside. Too hot. Too humid. Still recovering from vacation. I need to go back to work so I can rest up.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

In the Bag

Before leaving for vacation, I noticed that one of my arborvitae did not look very healthy, but I figured whatever was bothering it could wait until I got back.

Well, maybe not.

A little sleuthing on the Internet revealed the source of the problem: bagworms!

Besides being hard on the plant, these little critters are really gross. The bags look like part of the plant, but they sway and wriggle. My son helped me pick as many bags as possible from not only the stricken plant but its neighbors as well. Then we burned them in the fire bowl.

So add bagworm plucking to my daily chores. Ugh!

While we were doing bagworm duty, we got the chance to observe some wildlife. A clearwing hummingbird moth flitted about the catmint. Two real hummingbirds looked like they were either battling for territory or else executing a synchronized mating dance. Mama wren scolded us non-stop, as our presence was interrupting her babies' feeding schedule. Inside the pea fence (there is a gaping hole), a baby bunny huddled in fear while my son picked snap peas. And Betsy got her head stuck under the shed while investigating whatever it is that lives there.

I had to dig her out with a trowel.

A stroll around the yard reveals that the daylilies are still going strong.

The July-blooming hostas are in full-bloom, as one would expect.

These sunflowers are volunteers from scattered birdseed.

The butterfly bush is finally blooming, so I am looking forward to more butterflies.

This crocosmia adds a nice splash of red to the 3B garden.

I think of chrysanthemums as fall flowers, but these always start coming on early.

More surprise hollyhocks are blooming.

The purple fountain grass is already sending up a seed head.

The sea oats have had heads for a while, but they are difficult to photograph. In the course of the summer and fall, they change colors, from summer green to autumn bronze.

A few 'Moonbeam' coreopsis survived another winter. I really like their delicate flowers but they don't seem to be very hardy, which is why I have replaced them with 'Jethro Tull'.

It did not rain at all while we were on vacation. Some of my recent transplants looked a little parched, but I think they will all make it. It is raining this evening. I'm hoping for a good soaker so I can pull weeds tomorrow.

P.S. We ate the first tomatoes from the garden today, the so-called grape tomatoes - they look more like cherries to me.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

They Grow Flowers, Don't They?

My son and I have been on vacation this past week, traveling from Fort Rain (which has been hot and dry in our absence - my poor Japanese maple!) to Niagara Falls, where - surprise! - I found hostas and daylilies. Just like home!

I'm so used to taking photos of my flowers that my natural reaction when I saw these was to snap away.

From Niagara Falls we moved on to Cooperstown, but due to a lodging crisis, we were pressed for time and did not linger over the lovely gardens there.

Now we are in New England, on the cusp of heading home, but we did wander about the Robert Frost Farm in Derry, NH. There was milkweed, but with rather languid flower clusters instead of the tight little fists I have at home.

And there were butterflies! Lots of them, including this little beauty who stopped long enough for a quick pic:

The field full of milkweed undoubtedly helps attract the monarchs, but this tidy side garden also makes a difference:

The monarda blossoms were huge.

I'm hoping my 3B garden looks as good some day.

Before the mosquitoes drove us out of the woods, we heard the ovenbird calling, "Tea-cher! Tea-cher!" and saw this trio sunning on a log.

The two turtles were keeping company with a frog.

The mending wall provided shelter for this lovely fellow.

And the only reason I took the following pic was to remind ourselves to find out what kind of maple leaf this was.

We live in the land of silver maples, so did not recognize the sugar maples of New England.

It has been a good vacation, but we are ready to turn our faces to the west.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Lilies, Daylilies, and More (and a Fun Guy)

The lilies and daylilies in my yard are not all flowering yet. I'm wondering how much the staggered bloom times are due to their various and sundry locations in the yard. And I'm wondering how in the world I ended up with so many.

I think this is a bachelor button, aka cornflower. They grow wild along Hoosier byways and highways. I've always meant to plant some in my yard, but never got a round tuit. Once again, procrastination pays off. I wonder how they propagate. Must do some research.

The top of one of my arborvitae looks dead. Must do more research to see what is causing this.

Hopefully the cause is not this fungus growing beneath it. Looks like dog vomit, but it snot.

It is trying to rain today. Still, I watered select specimens in preparation for vacation. Not much rain in the forecast (good for vacationers, bad for plants left behind), but I think everything will survive.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Not Quite Yet

The estimator guy brought some drawings (I believe they are called "elevations") to show me what my new room will look like. We discussed more details, brought out the tape measure and the calculator (while I tried not to hyperventilate), but I didn't sign anything yet. I'm going on vacation, he's going on vacation, there is not a lot either of us can do before we each leave town. So I guess we have a verbal agreement to pick up where we left off today, in two weeks.

Despite doing my best to reduce the cost by abandoning features I decided were not that important, it is still a lot of money. Breathe deep. Breathe deep.

After he left, I mowed the entire yard, did a little watering (the additional 0.25" yesterday did not do much for the transplants), and deadheaded the daisies.

I'm enjoying the daylilies and lilies that are scattered all around the yard. The stellas are basically done (will they bloom some more later?) but others are just getting started.

The original landscape plan called for a bed of lilies in the front yard. I never implemented that idea because the thought of hacking through the heavy clay just did not sound like a lot of fun. Now that I know about lasagna gardening, though, I may just try that to get a bed prepared for a major lily transplant.

See my bee?

I am enjoying lots of bees. They seem to like a lot of what I've planted, but today they were especially fond of the coneflower.

As am I. I love pink.

Two years ago I planted some hollyhocks I bought at Kroger. They were blooming at the time, but within a week were done. I considered it a short lived experiment and moved on. But look what popped up recently.

The plants are rather short, and I'm suspicious that this is not really a hollyhock but a wild mallow of some sort. But it's still pretty.

The early hostas are bursting. In front of these guys are some that bloom later.

My neighbor has what looks like a giant blue hosta that is in full bloom right now. My big blue is still establishing itself, so I am not happy that I will have to move it prior to the construction of the new room.

And tada! The first tomatoes are almost ready.

These are 'Sweet Olive' grape tomatoes. I am so ready to enjoy these babies ASAP.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Weather Alert

Despite yesterday's scepticism, we did get rain - 0.75" - and a funnel cloud sighting. The funnel cloud was near my house, but I was at work, sitting in the auditorium in the basement, waiting for the all-clear. My house did lose power momentarily - enough to reset the answering machine and microwave but not the clock on the stove - and a few of my neighborhood trees lost some limbs, but otherwise we survived unscathed.

The snap peas are almost done. They are one of the few vegetables I planted this year. Since I anticipated that the remodeling would take up most of my attention, I gave myself permission not to plant a vegetable garden this year. It took me a few weeks to get accustomed to this idea, but I'm glad I made that decision. Besides, the local farmer's markets need my business.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Flip Flop

A co-worker of mine was describing how he and his wife have different styles when it comes to major home improvement. After they gnaw on a project for a while, he gets worn down and says, "Fine. Do whatever you want. I don't care." She, on the other hand, leans in the opposite direction: "Just forget about it. We just won't do it at all." Yin and yang.

Well, that's what goes on in the back of my mind all day long. I go back and forth, weighing the options, changing my mind about every 30 minutes. Today, I called the estimator guy and left a message. In the couple of hours it took for him to get back to me, I had pretty much decided to just scrap the whole room addition. But then he called and now I'm excited all over again. Tomorrow he is stopping by with the guy who does the architectural drawings. Thursday he will be back for some final negotiations. I need to plop some money down. Then I will quit vacillating.

All the plant moving I have been doing is in preparation for the room addition. Besides yesterday's transplanting, I also moved some daisies from the south side of the house to fill in the hole by the monarda in the front yard. Then I moved a young hydrangea from the front of the house to where the daisies had been. Then I plan to move the yellow daylilies from the south side to the front, to make room for coneflower that will be rescued from its location beside the Florida room. And I still haven't figured out where to put the blue hosta, Avant-Garde clematis, and two columbines that can't stay where they are next to the soon-to-be-gone deck.

Tonight all I did was water, though. There is a chance of scattered thunderstorms, but we all know what that means: fat chance!

Meanwhile, the gayfeather gets gayer...

... more tiger lilies show their true colors...

... not to be outdone by the daylilies...

... and the hostas are coming on fast.

The prednisone is doing its thing for Betsy Beagle. She is beginning to be interested in life and popcorn again. Not quite bushy tailed yet, but definitely bright eyed.