Saturday, July 14, 2018


I am not growing much food in the garden this year, but there are a few items I cling to. Besides the cukes and zukes, there are green beans as well. Despite the plethora of farmers markets around here, I still think fresh-picked from my own garden tastes best.

Zucchini blossom


Cucumber blossom


There are several beds devoted to dye plants. Initially, it pained me to nip off all the blossoms, but miraculously, the next day there are more! The hollyhocks are about done, though.

Cosmos sulphereous, dyers coreopsis, black hollyhock

I wait for the hollyhock blossoms to fall on the ground before harvesting them; if you pick them off the stalks, you just might end up with an angry Japanese beetle on your hands. The other day, I watered the hollyhock before picking up the fallen blossoms, and the buds bled blue. I'm excited about dyeing with them.

Friday, July 13, 2018

More HOT

More oppressively hot weather is here for a couple of days. And it is dry to boot, so most of my gardening has been watering. I have two rain barrels and the kits for attaching them to the downspouts, but I have not been able to bring myself to cut up the downspouts. Good thing the outside faucets are on the old well.

Rattlesnake master is one plant that looks like it is made for the heat.

This is daylily season

Coneflowers are starting

Bee balm is also doing well

I think this coreopsis needs to be divided... in the fall

Hope you are keeping cool this weekend!

Friday, July 06, 2018

Jeepers creepers

I didn't realize I had so much bindweed in my yarden until it bloomed. It is rather inconspicuous while creeping across the mulch and twining up anything vertical, but it's hard to miss once the white blossoms emerge. First thought: ooh, pretty flowers! Second thought: OH NO!

So I spent a good part of today attacking that, along with creeping Charlie, quack grass, Virginia creeper, wild grape vine, etc. There is some poison ivy in the front yard that I am saving for another day. July must be the month for creepers and climbers. I even pruned one of my 'Betty Corning' clematis vines a bit, along with the juniper bushes that were blocking the view from the den. Now I can watch the monarch butterflies flit right past my milkweed. Is there a secret to getting them to lay eggs?

While weeding the milkweed patch, I discovered that the poke milkweed appears to have been eaten by something. I also transplanted some butterfly weed into the same bed; some of it is doing quite well, while others did not. There are still two blueberry plants hiding in there - with berries! - but I think I'll let the rabbits have them now that I get my berries from Costco.

The spicebush that I thought had succumbed to winter rabbit damage came back to life, but then volunteer pokeweed and golden rod surrounded it. I moved it to the south side of the garden shed. I used to have a compost pile there, so the bush should do quite well, as long as I don't forget it is there.

Now that I can't complain about the heat - normal temps are in the forecast for at least a week - I will gripe about the lack of rain. A few weeks ago, we received almost too much rain, 6" in two weeks, which is probably why so many normally polite plants have turned into sprawling monsters. Now I am having to water, some things daily, others every other day. At least the lawn is slowing down.

I took some pics the other day, but the lens on my camera kept fogging up. Maybe next time.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018


MORE "heat advisory" weather! I planned to do a little weeding this morning, but after walking the dogs, I decided to hunker down inside. Tomorrow doesn't look promising, either. At least I mowed and trimmed yesterday, so things look somewhat tidy out there (except for the weeds).

What I call "ditch lilies" are busting out all over town, but not here. None of mine receive full sun, plus last year I divided some and those are still getting acclimated to their new locations.

This leaf damage seems to be limited to some suckers on one of the redbud trees. After a Google search, I concluded that this is evidence of the leafcutting bee, a native and beneficial pollinator. I see so few pollinators in my yard anymore, this one is more than welcome.

Despite my error in starting seeds too early inside, the resulting plants are (mostly) doing okay. I am growing these cosmos (cosmos sulphureus) to dye yarn, but the orange color is so vivid, I would consider planting them just for that alone.

The seed packet tacks on the word "red" to its name and in the package photo they look red, but mine are definitely orange tinged with red.

Another dye plant, dyers coreopsis (Coreopsis Tinctoria), produces lovely blossoms, but the plants are gangly and sparse.

I abandoned my original plans for the Profusion zinnias, to plant them mostly in the front yard, and put them in pots instead. Most are doing quite well and provide a nice accent for the back deck.

Too bad it's too hot to sit on the deck.

These three annuals are on the short list for next year. The dye plants need to live up to their hype first, though.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Around the yard

The weather is going to turn hot, hot, HOT for a few days. Even with AC, I get to feeling logy when it sizzles outside. I'm just glad it doesn't last long. Why do people move south when they retire? Beats me.

I think I did a blog post once bemoaning the views from my windows and deck and in general around the yard. While those views aren't necessarily a lot better, I find there are some that provide simple joy. Not something one would see in BH&G, but then the yard is for ME, not a general audience.

It also occurred to me that I usually take photos of plants and flowers head on, face to face. That strategy shows the plant but not the plant in its environs.

The tao of some views is more difficult to capture than others.

Anyway, back to the head on photos. I've come to the conclusion that one difference between tiger lilies and daylilies is the tiger lilies look down while the daylilies look up. Maybe they are looking at each other?

The hollyhocks are for dyeing with, but I wasn't sure about how to harvest the blossoms. Turns out that is not a problem, as the blossoms curl up and fall off. I just need to pick them up every day or two and put them on a screen in the garage to dry.

My container experiments this year are growing crocosmia and penstemon in pots. The crososmia grow from corms, so once they started to send up shoots, they took off.

The penstemon is a perennial, so this is its first year sleep. I had an extra hibiscus, so that has gone into a pot, too. I'll move the pots into the garage for the winter.

The pole beans are starting to blossom.

The dill is blooming, too. Looks like fireworks.

I couldn't decide which 'Luna Red' hibiscus photo to use, so I'm posting both of them. The blossom is almost bigger than the plant, which is about 15 inches tall.

I started the hibiscus plants from seed this past spring, so was not expecting to see any blooms this year. I am happy to be wrong!

This Japanese beetle is on an aster, although its favorite garden plant is the hollyhocks. What a pest!

Last night I mowed and tonight I watered selectively, so now I can hunker down for the weekend and let the heat pass on by. Stay cool!

Monday, June 25, 2018

Odds and ends

While I have been moving away from growing food, there are still a few food plants in my yard and garden. Despite my attack on the asparagus, it continues to produce, so I am enjoying that, tossed with a little olive oil and roasted in a hot oven for about ten minutes (the asparagus, not me). Then there is the rhubarb patch, which provides pie for me and mordant for dyeing yarn. And there are some pole beans, just about ready to bloom.

I keep contemplating eliminating the "orchard" but it is low on the priority list. The birds usually get the sweet cherries, but leave these North Star tart ones for me. Another pie producing plant. (Can you tell I like pie?)

Instead of dumping out the "mother plant" I use each year to create more coleus for the front porch, I pruned it up a bit and added it to the tableau.

Coleus are such a nice foliage plant and tolerant of shade that I decided to plant some under the purple-leaf smokebush. It is late in the season for purchasing annuals, so there wasn't much selection. 'Pineapple' was close enough. No pic yet.

The common milkweed in the yard is going to town. The neighbor's privet was providing an almost cloying aroma last week, now it is the milkweed, which fortunately is a tiny bit more subtle. I've seen a few random butterflies recently, but no monarchs.

The blossoms of this Hydrangea arborscens, a.k.a. smooth hydrangea, are not very showy. The plant also has a tendency to die back to the ground during the winter. My 'Limelight' takes a heavy pruning and keeps on producing, so I'm assuming once this baby is established, it will fulfill its potential.

And an early appearance by a coneflower.

I am STILL installing transplants, but the end is in sight. Last year I planted some butterfly weed next to the silvergrass; one clump survived, so I tried again, plus added some coneflower and rudbekia. I also put an ornamental fence around the grouping, in hopes of deterring the dogs. I've also been planting a variety of natives in raised beds, theoretically so they can get bigger and stronger before going in their final resting places; they just aren't quite ready to complete.

And I have been weeding, weeding, weeding. More rain is in the forecast, plus higher temps, so I am "making hay while the sun shines". Ooh! I just saw a monarch. Huzzah!

Sunday, June 24, 2018

What view?

My house offers very few opportunities to sit and enjoy the view. That is one reason I added a four-season room, so I could look out the windows at my (usually very weedy) yard. I took advantage of this most when working from home. After I retired, I spent less and less time in the "den", though. Recently I rearranged the furniture to encourage more viewing pleasure. Too bad I can barely see anything.

It doesn't help that I replaced the bistro table and chairs with a couch, so now I am sitting lower.

I planted the two Juniperus x pfitzeriana 'Sea Green' shrubs with an Alberta spruce conica in 2012. The plant tags led me to believe the junipers would grow to the bottom of the windows, like they were in 2016. I expected the Alberta spruce to get a couple of feet taller than the junipers. I thought it would make a nice tableau, especially flanked by 'Betty Corning' clematis.





So what happened?!?

I'd like to prune the junipers back a bit, but so far have not found any sound advice on how best to do that. They are protecting the Alberta spruce nicely, so there are no dead or brown areas on it, but I would like to actually be able to see the poor thing. And I'd like to be able to see out the windows of the den while I am sitting on the couch. Any suggestions? Besides removing them?