Thursday, September 24, 2020

On pause

Sorry for the lapse in blogging. The passing of RBG was quite a blow and I didn't feel like doing much of anything for several days (except eat comfort food). My son and his girl friend visited yesterday (we wore masks and social distanced), which really lifted my spirits. I hadn't seen them since last xmas.

Because of their impending visit, I spent more time housecleaning than I normally do, so less time gardening. And now the temps are a bit uncomfortable for outdoor work, again. I did relocate some coreopsis to the area under the 'Perfect Purple' flowering crab, and mulched there and under the 'Golden Spirit' smokebush.

After not seeing hardly any monarch butterflies this summer and deciding to cut down the common milkweed, I spotted this fellow. I haven't seen him since - probably eaten by a bird, yum! As much as we all love monarchs and want them to thrive, the fact is they are primarily food for other creatures.

I stopped moving transplants to the south side of the house. For one thing, there will be some work on the fence and I don't want new transplants to be trampled. Also, an area I want to move some asters to is not ready for them yet. There is still time.

The area doesn't look like much, but give it a year or two (or three).

Along the fence, ironweed, rudbeckia, coneflower, aster. Along the house, switch grass and northern sea oats, plus some aster to be moved.

I talked my SO into taking some of the extra rudbeckia I had. We positioned six of them along his neighbor's privacy fence. The soil is sandy there, so I told him to water, water, water. He likes Mexican sunflower and can plant those in between the rudbeckia next spring. I'll turn him into a gardener yet!

The backyard has been full of sparrows, at the feeders and in the birdbath and all over the weedy lawn. I've seen robins eating pokeweed berries, nuthatches fetching peanut splits, blue jays hogging the whole peanut "wreath", etc. While a squirrel occasionally creeps along the fence or the telephone wire, I have not seen any perched on the feeders, so either the dogs are being vigilent enough or else the rodents can't get to the feeders.

It's the time of year I get a little burned out on gardening, find myself wishing for snow. I have a list of what I want to finish up this year - it's not that long - so (in so many ways) I must soldier on.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Front yard, back yard

All summer long I have been staring at a bunch of perennials, mentally planning on where to move them. Now that autumn is (almost) here, the time seemed right to start in on that project. So that is what I have been doing this past week (once I got the go-ahead from my doctor).

In 2018 I purchased a bunch of coneflower, rudbeckia, monarda, ironweed, butterfly weed, etc. After scanning my blog, I find little mention of them. My (hazy) memory is that I stuck a lot of them in some empty raised beds with the intention of transplanting them in the future. That did not happen last year because of my hip. Now that I want to downsize the garden by eliminating most of the raised beds, they are on the move. The target area is the south side of the house, some along the privacy fence, some next to the house.

So far, I have transplanted the ironweed, the New England asters, rudbeckia, and a few coneflower. I noticed that the rudbeckia overwhelmed the coneflower in the raised beds they shared, so I limited how much of the former I moved. I will group the coneflower so they don't disappear.

Today I started digging up some of the coneflower but disturbed a bee nest which seems to be in the next bed where there is a pile of yard trimmings. They are not yellow jackets or wasps or bumble bees or ground bees. Honey bees maybe? I think one stung Clio several days ago - she yelped and ran around the yard for about five minutes, periodically stopping to examine her butt. Once it gets cold, I will have to investigate further. I don't want to destroy the nest BUT it is in an unwelcome location. Suggestions welcome.

Speaking of bees, I always find it funny to come across bees asleep on the job. Apparently, when the temps drop at night, sometimes the bees just stop what they are doing where they are doing it and sleep. There are two in this photo; one started to stir soon after.

One more interesting factoid: yellow jackets get literally hangry in the fall. Their agressive behavior is due to their food sources disappearing and they are starving. No wonder they are so crabby!

I was not sure the switch grass I transplanted from the front yard to the south side of the house had survived, but each clump is putting out seed heads, a good sign. The 'Autumn Joy' sedum, a popular yard plant in these parts, has turned pink. The sunflowers I planted are just now blooming; otherwise, there is not much to look at colorwise in the yard except for asters and zinnias.

Walking around the neighborhood, I see Rose of Sharon in several yards, late blooming hostas (which did better than the early blooming varieties), red hibiscus. My 'Luna Red' hibiscus did not survive, the Rose of Sharon bit the dust, and my hostas and hydrangea can't be seen from the deck. As I downsize the garden, I will have to make sure I can see color all season long from where I rest my weary gardener's bones.

Saturday, September 05, 2020

Deja vu all over again

For long time readers of my blogs (at one time, I was trying to maintain four) may recall I took a fall about seven years ago, then again about five years ago. Third time's the charm? My falls are not balance related but dog related. I don't trip on the dogs themselves, but the tripping occurs in relationship to something to do with them. This time my feet got tangled up in the dog hammock and I flew into the dining room, clunking my head on the dining room table.

This mug shot looks worse than the original injury, which is on the right side of my forehead. The proverbial goose egg developed there; over the course of the next couple of days, the fluid and blood from that flowed downhill to the soft tissue around my (raccoon) eyes. I think this is the worst it will get; yellow and green will follow the purple and red. (BTW, my SO came and drove me to the ER for an exam and a CT scan, so no worries.)

SO. I have not been doing much in the yard since this happened (Wednesday afternoon). Which is too bad because I was on a roll. As I continued to clean out the bed by the front sidewalk, I debated on whether to move some of the 'Autumn Joy' sedum to the area under the 'Golden Spirit' smokebush. As I dug at the weeds, I disturbed the sedum so much that I decided I might as well move it. So now there are eight divisions around that shrub. I left some in the sidewalk bed, plus a grouping of them in the bed above, in front of the Japanese maple.

Today was the first day I felt like doing much of anything besides lay on the couch or piddle around the house. Still cautious, I limited myself to cutting down the common milkweed. I also tore down the morning glory vines because I am tired of the trellises blocking my view of the backyard. My SO had provided me with some seed from his morning glories, which I am guessing are Grandpa Ott's as they reseed themselves every year and they are a gorgeous blue purple.

Elsewhere around the yard, the smooth asters are blooming with other varieties right behind. My SO cut down the volunteer mulberry trees last weekend. And some stinkhorn fungus popped up in the new pea gravel mulch. I like mushrooms but these are kind of gross looking.

The birds have discovered the relocated bird feeders, but so far no squirrel sitings except on the telephone wire along the utility easement (much barking ensued).