Sunday, July 29, 2018

Back to earth

After yesterday's excitement, the rest of the garden seems rather blah. But there are pretty pictures of pretty flowers to show.

'Lucifer' crocosmia

Lemon yellow daylily of unknown origin

Volunteer sunflower

Blazing star

'Aphrodite' Rose of Sharon

'Black Beauty' zucchini

Those zucchini illustrate what happens when one turns one's back on the squash plants for a moment. I did a search on my blog for 'zucchini' and found lots of references for zuke recipes. Today it was zucchini and basil over pasta.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

I'm so excited!

After reading about Jason's success at raising some monarchs, I decided I just had to search my milkweed patch for some eggs. But first, I watched a YouTube video to get a better idea of what I was doing. (I would have provided a link but the video I saw was mostly about the danger monarchs are in. Yes, we know! That's why we want to gather their eggs!)

While eyeballing the undersides of the leaves, I noticed evidence of some chomping but no caterpillars. I also saw plenty of other critters that may or may not eat monarch eggs and/or baby caterpillars. Apparently, the eggs provide a "pop of protein" - just like poultry eggs for people.

Just when I was giving up hope, a couple of monarchs arrived. The milkweed is past its bloom time, so the butterflies were not looking for nectar. I stood very still and waited until one of them landed and hung along the edge of a leaf for a moment or so. When I inspected the leaf, this is what I found:

I harvested two leaves, each with one egg, and put them in mason jars, replacing the lids with paper towels to allow for air flow. I don't have anything else very useful for raising monarchs, so I ordered a butterfly habitat on Amazon. The eggs should hatch in about four days, so that gives me a little time.

Meanwhile, SQUEE!!!

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.