Sunday, July 31, 2016


Ideally, instead of dropping big bucks each winter for birdseed, I'd rather provide our feathered friends with food from my yard. Alas, this rarely works out. This year, thanks to a late frost, not even the Viburnum Prunifolium has fruit. The Wentworth Highbush Cranberry is not much better, despite blooming later.

I've complained repeatedly on this blog (and to anyone foolish enough to ask) about how the other viburnums, Blue Muffin and Chicago Lustre, don't put out much fruit, either. I sure would like to know the secret to producing even an average crop, let alone a bin buster.

The summer birds are happy to help themselves to the people food. This year I frequently witnessed robins literally diving into the raspberry patch. Fortunately, they shared the bounty with us lowly humans. There are just a few late berries left.

Robins and bluebirds like pokeberry, which pops up here and there around the yard. It won't be long before these green berries turn purple. They won't last into winter.

I believe this is the fruit of the bittersweet nightshade. It grows sparsely on the back fence. Some birds like it, notably European imports, which is also the provenance of this alien invasive. Its days are numbered.

At least the cotoneaster can be counted on, year after year. Rarely does it fail to produce a heavy crop, for birds and bunnies.

It looks like I will be dragging home bags of peanuts and sunflower seeds again this year. But first, I need to figure out who the vandal is.

I suspect a raccoon. *sigh*

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Midsummer blooms

I wish my yard was an explosion of color, but right now it is a bit bare bones. That does not mean there is nothing blooming. The flowering plants just aren't arranged in a densely cohesive manner... yet. I'm working on that! Meanwhile, here are the colors that are there.

Mmmm.. lemony daylily

Hibiscus syriacus 'Aphrodite', a.k.a. Rose of Sharon


Queen Anne's Lace (being eradicated)

Impulse purchase #1

Impulse purchase #2

Red Scarlet Zinnia

Squash blossom

Cucumber blossoms

Sunflower of some kind

"Ditch" daylily

Mmm... apricot daylily

Fleabane - it just keeps going!

'Betty Corning' past its prime

Limelight hydrangea just getting started

Black eyed Susan

Blazing star (with blue false indigo seed pods)

Zagreb coreopsis - going strong

Route 66 coreopsis - petering out


Thunbergia Alata 'Sunrise'

Agastache 'Blue Fortune'

Purple coneflower

Avant-Garde Clematis

One of the few milkweeds without aphids

Thursday, July 28, 2016

We saw plants, too

It occurred to me that I have posted very few photos of plants from the Garden Bloggers Fling. Believe me, we saw LOTS of plants, from acres of daylilies to native cactus. I didn't photograph many, just the ones to remind me of this or that.

These orange lilies remind me of the "ditch" daylilies growing in my yard, but in color only. They are Turk's Cap Lilies, a native wildflower. The blossoms perch on long stems. They can spread to form large colonies, but usually not in cultivation, where growing conditions may be less than ideal (like my claybound yard).

At the Eloise Butler Wildfower Garden

This plant is growing in my blueberry bed, among the milkweed. I did not plant it, nor could I figure out what it might be. Now I know: it's Indian Hemp. It's the kind of cannabis one makes fiber with, not the kind one smokes. It's related to both Dogbane and Milkweed. It's also poisonous.

At the Eloise Butler Wildfower Garden

This plant is also in my yard. I did plant it and I do know that it is Blue False Indigo. I did not know it would get so big. So now I am thinking I need to move it to a location more accommodating to its future size.

At Vera's Garden

I used to have the tall reddish plant in my yard (if it is Red Husker Penstemon - I need to replace it), but that is not why I took this picture. Below it grows what I have always considered a weed. And of course, I can't confirm it's identity, but it is some kind of mallow or althea. We were shocked that it is deliberately allowed into the garden, along with other "weeds" like mullein (said the gardener spreading fleabane seeds all about).

At Vera's Garden

I was impressed with this tall specimen of what turned out to be Queen of the Prairie. It prefers moist soil, but so does Joe Pye and it grows in my yard, albeit through the deck. I bet I could get this going, too.

In the garden of "Ruth," a member of Wild Ones. At least, I think that is where I took this pic.

This is bent grass, the same kind of grass used on golf courses. Separating garden beds, it looks like a smooth green carpet. The owners said it was there when they bought the house, in the 1930's. It takes some special care, which made me remove it from my list of must-haves, but it still was a spectacular contrast to the lush garden beds.

At the garden of Lee and Jerry Shannon

My front yard is made up of primarily purple and yellow plants of one sort or another, but mostly purple. When I saw this Sunkist Arborvitae, I immediately pictured it as an anchor plant in my front yard.

At Bailey's Display Garden

Ditto this Golden Spirit Smokebush.

At Bailey's Display Garden

My Blue Muffin Viburnum refuses to produce the profusion of blue berries it is named for, so when I saw one lush with fruit, I had to snap it just to prove to myself that it is me, not the plant.

At Bailey's Display Garden

And finally, we have this echinops. I thought it might be some kind of rattlesnake master, but it is actually a kind of globe thistle. The pollinators *loved* it.

At Squire House Gardens

The Garden Bloggers Fling has filled my head with so many ideas, I barely know where to start. But hopefully I will at least keep in mind the plants above that I want to add to my yard.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

"It's easy!"

So said Wouterina Riana DeRaad when I swooned over her garden sculpture park. "When you start, you won't want to stop!" That latter I'm sure was meant to be encouraging, but for someone like me, it also serves as a warning: DANGER! DANGER! NEW HOBBY AHEAD!

This stop on the Garden Bloggers Fling was the epitome of garden art and creativity. While I would love to take a workshop, a little voice in my head carps that this is not my art form. The artist learned to work with stucco when she and her former husband purchased a fixer-upper, the themes in these functional yet whimsical pieces reflect her personal history and upbringing, and living in the country, she can put pretty much anything she damn well pleases in her yard and on her house (including the red flying Pegasus from a Mobil oil ad, which I neglected to photograph).

I have some garden art in my yard, all purchased or gifted. If I wanted to create my own, what would my media be? What would be the theme? I'll have to ponder that a bit.

Other examples of creativity abounded on the garden tour, from the use of natural materials to the repurposing of a variety of objects.

Deconstructed weather vane hides chicken wire fence

Saw bowling balls in several gardens - is this a thing?


...more sticks...

... another stick.

Tea kettles to planters

Bird cage?

Shovel birds

Something or other as plant holder

One lump or two?

It's a garden party!

Stone bird bath

Painted lumber

One of the more intriguing DYI projects we came across were these concrete planters. They are not actually concrete but styrofoam containers treated to resemble concrete.

We were first fooled, then amazed. But now that I Googled for some instructions, I see that they are not such a secret to the Internet.

After seeing so much creativity everywhere we went, I came home wanting to somehow duplicate everything. But do I really want a bowling ball in my garden? Where would I put faux concrete planters and what would I put in them? Where would I find enough straight sticks to make a trellis, big or small? And then there is the underlying talent, which I seem to lack - my stuff ends up looking "homemade" instead of "handmade".

But I bet I could put together a door mat from bottle caps.