Sunday, June 17, 2018

Mary Jo Remembered

No one could ignore the Catchfly that is blooming in the garden.   Certainly the butterflies are attracted to it.  Amy managed to catch this Tiger swallowtail with the camera.  Many Skippers visit the plant, but they are all too fast for us. These days Ed and I try to think back into the previous century and remember  how these plants came to be in our garden.  Back in the 1990's I belonged to an amazing herb group.  It seems to me that the first time I saw Catchfly, it was growing in the garden at Mary Jo's home.  I remember being given some seeds.  I would have planted them at our previous location since we did not yet own our homestead land.  After all these years we are thrilled to still have Catchfly with us today.  Its color demands a larger planting and we will seed a patch down by the road when mature seeds form.  Catchfly color will certainly catch the eye of drivers speeding by since it simply is too bright to be missed.

Somehow the camera does not capture the intensely hot magenta of these flowers that I see.  I could change the color saturation I suppose, but I prefer my photos as they are.  It's more natural!

It was that trip to Mary Jo's garden where I first saw Copra onions.   I can still see them laid out to dry.  The stalks were straight.  The onions were large and round.  I was told that they stored very well.  I had to grow them.  At the beginning we grew the onions from seed.  Now we purchase onion plants from Dixondale Farms.  Weeding the onions brought back distant memories of  Mary Jo. We will see if this year we will have those big round  Copra onions to make Bodacious Braids!

The weed patch behind the onion bed was formerly a planting bed.  We have known for some time that we have more garden than we can  properly cared for.  The current plan is to cut the weeds close to the ground then cover the area with grass clippings.  The change in levels between the lawn and the planting bed will be smoothed so that the next owner will have the option of mowing the entire area.  The soil that we have built here is rich, fine and deep compared with the gravel that deeply covers the field.  I would be interested in seeing the pattern if the area is simply mowed.  The stone paths will support only poor weedy growth while the garden beds will grow grass that will be much taller and much greener than what grows in the fields.  For now we are here and can still reach to the center of the planting.  The onions look great and we are still eating last year's crop.  The weather at dry down will determine whether or not braids can be made.  Stems must be dry and solid for the braids to hold the onions although a double strand of twine helps to hold the weight..

Friday, June 8, 2018

Shade Garden Grows

Confronted with age related decline in physical stamina, we are looking for work saving strategies that will allow us to continue gardening.  Just how an expansion of this garden fits into that plan might seem to be in contradiction of that goal.  The grass clippings, notice how they follow the line between shade and sunlight, will end the pasture grass that now grows here.  That newly cleared ground will provide space for divisions of our Siberian Iris collection that are long overdue.  Proper spacing and reground bark mulch will make this area relatively free of work once it is planted.  We want to be ready to plant here next spring.

Every bag of collected leaves has been opened and dumped in the shaded area.  We are trying to build forest soil with decaying hardwood leaves.  Little rain is in the forecast for the next several days so these leaves should dry out.  The small hand mower will be used to shred these leaves.  Quicker decay and more of a tendency to stay in place are the reasons for shredding.  The compost pile is slated for removal.
This is the long view as seen from the road.  The wire caged lilies clearly show their ugly protection but the evening munching deer is already eating the New England Asters.  Two years ago that deer ate every lily bud.  Now the lilies are protected but the colorful flowers will be behind wire.

Catskill Native Nursery was the source of this Smooth Solomon's Seal plant.  Buds promise flowers when most of the native woodland plants are going dormant.  A huge Spring Beauty was in the pot with this plant.  That hitchhiker was the actual reason for the purchase.  It was magnificent and should have dropped a load of seeds.  We will watch and see just what treasure this purchase provides next spring.

This is a weed that must be allowed to grow where self-planted.  A Red Clover flower is attractively colored and this one is home for a tiny white spider.  Becky is the one who sees events like this.  I get to enjoy them in her photos.

Cardinal Flower has captured and held my attention for several years.  Just why this native plant remains scarce in this general area remains a bit of a puzzle.  These plants taken from our gardens early this year have spent cold nights in the basement.  Now they are on their way to new owners in three different locations in our attempt to increase the number of plants with a chance to drop seed.