Saturday, July 31, 2010

60 Days Until Frost

How did we get to the last day of July so fast? Here at the Stone Wall Garden we can probably count on 60 more frost-free days. If we are very lucky, that could extend to 75. It was only 79 days ago that the garden looked like this.

This tattered Monarch butterfly is a reminder that we are on the down side of the summer. I actually felt a little guilty bothering her to get a picture. She has serious egg laying business to finish before she dies. Soon we will watch beautiful new Monarchs fly over the garden heading south to Mexico.

The first New England Aster blosssoms are beginning to open. While it's true that they bloom for a long time, they are a signal that the purple asters and yellow goldenrod of fall are on the horizon.

Ed is busy clearing weeds where peas and garlic have been harvested, and planting buckwheat, peas, zucchini, kale and lettuce. Who knows how the crops planted now will do? The weather is unpredictable, but it's best to plant something. If you don't fill in the garden soil with something you want to grow, it will fill in with weeds that you don't want. Mother Nature abhors a bare patch of dirt. Weeds will not miss an opportunity. Weed seeds are in the dirt, float on the wind, stick to the fur of animals, and drop from the sky courtesy of the birds.

August and September are wonderful months for the garden. New potatoes, yellow squash, zucchini, tomatoes, broccoli, green beans, lettuce, peppers onions,and beets are there for the picking. Fresh basil, parsley, mint, thyme, rosemary, sweet bay, lemon verbena and French tarrogon wait to make meals exciting.

There are still new flowers yet to bloom. The asters and chrysanthemums are just getting started. I'm still waiting for the closed gentian, the Angelica gigas, the moon flowers and the tuberose.

The second half of the garden 2010 is here. There is still a lot of exciting garden fun to come!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Dead Monarch

These body parts were found in the garden this morning. Teeth marks might show along the inside edge of the lower wing. The life cycle of Monarch butterflies may have allowed this individual a natural death. He may have been dead before he was eaten. I recently saw a brightly colored newly hatched Monarch, but most of those seen are faded and tattered. Their days are nearly over.

The point of the pin marks the location of a scent gland. The wide section of the black line is a gland that only males have. As you might expect, the purpose of the gland is to attract females

We allow milkweed, the food plant of Monarch caterpillars, to grow freely here. The late June scent of milkweed flowers is one of my favorite fragrances. The flowers are popular with many different bees and butterflies. Walking near all of that wildlife is a thrill. With this much milkweed in flower there is enough for all who come but much of the time we see one butterfly chase others away from its chosen flower.

I keep this area mowed until well into July. That extends the milkweed flowering period both for me and the butterflies. Particular Monarch mothers may seek out tender young leaves as a prime location for their eggs. Butterflies have been seen clasping the side of milkweed leaves possibly laying eggs on the underside of the leaves. Soon we should see caterpillars.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Colors In Combination

Now that our gardening skills have progressed to the point where we only kill some of the plants some of the time, it is time to try new things. Placing plants in proximity so that attractive color combinations present themselves seemed a good place to start. Dark Landini lilies have proved hardy here. White Simplon lily bulbs were planted with the Landinis. Both lilies survived the Mother's Day freeze so expectations ran high that we would see dark and white lilies bloom together. As in comedy, timing is everything. Simplon lilies are in bloom here now. Landini lilies finished blooming here weeks ago. Both were beautiful in their solitary displays.

The purple flowers are wood betony, Stachys officinalis. In the photo the combination of purple and white looks sharp. In the garden the white lilies are chest high while the purple betony is ankle high. Prior to the photo I never saw both colors together.

Red and white are easy colors to mix. Cardinal flower, Lobelia cardinalis had planted itself in this spot. The location has proved a good one producing enough plants to transplant elsewhere. Adding the Leucanthemun "Fiona Coghall" seemed worth a try. Since both plants have been here long enough for us to know their bloom time, this combination worked. I guess the lesson learned is that it is easier to succeed if you have some actual information to anchor your plans.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Garden Mushrooms?

We have been in a rain every day cycle for awhile now. Our garden is usually on the dry side of well drained. It was a surprise to see this group of mushrooms growing in the flowerbed at the base of a lily stalk. Mushrooms are fascinating. Just in this group of five,the change in color and shape of the mushrooms as they age is amazing. I have not noticed them there before so I think they grow at a very fast pace. It will be fun to see how long it takes that small button to grow into a big flat umbrella .

I always get out my mushroom identification book and try to find out what kind of fungus is among us. I never have been successful in making a positive identification. In the end it doesn't matter. I don't do mushrooms. While I have a certain comfort level with identifying and eating some wild plants. Mushrooms scare me. I'm not interested in digestive upset, let alone kidney failure or death.

Even though I would never put wild mushrooms on the menu, I do have a certain curiosity to know what kind they are. How about it fungus folks? What do you think?

Friday, July 23, 2010

What Could Be Better Than Basil?

Fresh basil is one of summer's joys. We are big pesto lovers. I also grow lemon, cinnamon and red basil. I love to add them to salads. Japanese beetles love basil too. I usually just figure the holes in my basil leaves prove that no chemicals have been used . I have that "If the insects won't eat it, should I?" mentality.

Evening primrose is one of the "weeds" that I frequently let grow here and there in the garden . The hummingbirds like it. This year a couple of evening primrose plants came up near the basil.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Japanese beetles seem to like evening primrose better than they like basil. The primrose are not doing much in the way of flowers. Their leaves are being fiercely attacked by the beetles.

The other plant has really been skeletonized. They are working so much better than the Japanese beetle traps that separated me from my money last year!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Fox Kits? No, Coyote Pups !

With the glimpse I got yesterday, I thought the three young animals I saw were fox kits. This morning they were back, and they were clearly coyote pups. We got a chance to watch them chase each other, tumble around, play hide and seek around the garden beds, and run at fantastic speed. As fast as they were going it was obvious that they could go much, much faster. Clearly we are part of a pair of coyotes' home territory. Now, when the fire siren from the closest town goes off, or when the moon is full, three young voices have been added to the serenade. According to the book Tracking and the Art of Seeing by Paul Rezendes, one Native American legend states "If all the creatures in the world were to die, the coyote would be the last one left." They refer to the coyote as a trickster. The grace and speed of these pups was amazing. We only managed one picture, but at least they are in it. Here in New York hunting of coyotes is allowed. Their habitat is shrinking and it is felt that their numbers should be reduced to prevent coyote encounters with humans. I understand this point of view. It has it's merits. But in the eleven years we have lived here, we have heard them often and seen them occasionally, they are wiley, fast and do not wish to be seen. Watching those pups this morning was a rare treat. Working in the garden during the day, we don't think about the coyotes, but after dark when their howls drift on the wind, it's nice to listen from inside. Even there the hair bristles on the back of my neck.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Oh My ! Was That A Baltimore Oriole?

It rained on and off yesterday and the wildlife took advantage of the fact that the garden was deserted. I watched from in the house as a doe and her fawn strolled by. Obviously the garden is a place they like to check out when no one is home. Later when there was a lull in the rain, I took out the compost, and three fox kits streaked from the garden for cover in the woods. I wish I had seen them from the window. I would have enjoyed watching them. In the evening a large skunk wanders about in the garden. I suspect the hornet nest over by the patio disappeared because of him. Bon appetit! With all this wildlife around it might seem curious that a pair of Baltimore orioles could cause such a commotion here. They are such beautiful birds. Who wouldn't want to see them in the garden? The trumpet vine is a hint.

Because last year we caged and netted the lilies and nothing happened, we forgot about the orioles. As soon as we spotted that gorgeous flash of black and orange, we remembered.It was the year before that the real carnage happened. Ed and I worked yesterday to put the lilies in the protective custody of cages and bird netting. The trumpet vine will have to endure. Thank goodness we saw that gorgeous pair of birds in time!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Perfect Purslane Pulling

Late last night we had thunder storms complete with a brief loss of electricity. This morning things were very wet indeed. Ed started his morning by picking the last of the snow peas and pulling the vines. I decided to weed the Walla Wallas. The ground beneath the onions was covered with purslane. Usually when you pull on purslane it snaps off, leaving bits and pieces behind to grow again. Today it was not like that. If you got a good grip on even one branch of the plant, the whole plant came out , roots and all. I've never had so much fun weeding out purslane in my life. I filled my trug with those soon to flower purslane plants. The succulent weeds were pretty heavy so Ed emptyed my trug for me, taking the purslane to the rough compost pile. There was still plenty of purslane to pull in the red onions, but the sun was getting hot, so I searched for a spot with partial shade where I could work in comfort.

The bee balm is tall enough to make a shady spot in the morning. I placed my little cart in that shady spot and went after the purslane in the asparagus bed. I spent my break time drinking water and watching tiger swallowtail butterflies , bumblebees, honey bees and hummingbird moths buzzing around those gorgeous flowers.

When I ran out of shade and purslane, I moved over to the shade garden. Ed and I worked together to weed the shade garden. I do the edge sitting on the wall reaching as far as I can. He uses stepping stones to weed the center. It could not have been a more perfect morning spent in the garden .

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Buffalo, The Last Day

Sunday morning we got up, had breakfast, and took another swim in the pool. It was time to gather our things, and check out of the hotel. We had significantly more than we came with, so several trips to the car were needed. We got it all, even the nutmeg geranium from the windowsill. We headed up to Lancaster Avenue for our last garden tours. What you see is the last picture I have. Apparently my camera batteries were dead. It's too bad . I had a gorgeous long shot taken from an immaculately groomed side garden,through an archway,the front yard, and ending with the fence and garden of the neighbor across the street in the distance. It was one of those great images that was in the camera and then lost forever.I'll have to remember that one in my head.

It was time to say our goodbyes and head for home. With a brief stop to obtain a lentil and wheatberry sandwich for Ed from Amy's Place, we were on our way.

I met a lot of great people, authors, professional garden writers, and gardeners. I visited many fantastic gardens. It was exhilerating, exciting, exhausting and fun! I learned something about myself. I'm a just gardener who writes about the garden I love. I'm happy to get back to doing that.

Friday, July 16, 2010

July,15: Bloom List

"Big Bird" day lily

July 15,2010, Bloom list: Ingeborg's mallow, purple cone flower, morning glory, bluets, spider wort, coral bells, meadow sage, Viola "Rebecca", lemon balm, evening scented stock, nasturtiums, Ptilotus Joey, Gallardia, Johnny jump ups, garden sage, Nicotiana, catchfly, Peppermint stick zinnia, Pyrythem daisy, strawberries, sun drops, Anchusa, "Pretty Belinda" yarrow, snapdragons, heliotrope, lavender Delphinium, lavender, pink poppies, sweet peas, Clematis, Red Lupine, Susan's day lilies, "Destined to See" day lily, wood betony, lambs ear, "Who Dun It" Dahlia, Landini lily, hens and chicks, Aclepsis tuberosa, sea holly, yellow sedum, Aclepsis curveceps, anise hyssop, gloriosa daisy, cosmos, red, pink, lavender and mahogany bee balm, orange turk's cap lily, smoke bush, catnip, hollyhock, French thyme, green beans, milkweed, cinnamon, lemon,red and green basil, Alpine strawberries, soapwort, pink poppies, hollyhocks, dill, anise hyssop, trumpet vine,"Sweet Surrender" tiger lily, pink mallow, wood betony, black-eyed Susan, cardinal flower, Liatrus, wild thyme, "Fiona Cogill" shasta daisy, "Cherry Brandy" Rudbeckia, blue eyed grass, perennial flax, white and pink Phlox,"Big Bird day lily, A.azuratum, "Stardust" chrysanthemum, society garlic, feverfew, drumstick allium, Laurentia star flower( Coming back after being cut back hard),rose of Sharon(1 flower), meadow sage, spearmint, tomatoes, lettuce, sparkler allium, green beans, yard long beans, milkweed, lemon verbena, queen of the meadow, sunflower, mullein, bleeding heart, yellow jewelweed, yellow squash, Easter lily, zucchini, green day lily, purslane, daisy fleabane, plume poppy

Flowers still in bud are not listed, at least one open flower is required to make the list.

This is our attempt to find out what blooms at the same time in the garden. We hope it will help us to plan our planting better. Some of the flowers should be snipped or the plants pulled. We are working on it!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Sweet Saturday In Buffalo

Saturday morning started off at the Erie Basin Proven Winners trial gardens. We made our choices for flowers we liked with little flags. I can't remember what I chose. They were all beautiful!

Our next stop was the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens. Here we looked at all kinds of tropical plants. These tiny orchids looked to me like something from the greenhouse at Hogworts. Looking at them I can almost hear high pitched fairy voices singing.

Our next stop was Lockwood Gardens, a fantastic nursery where we had a delightful picnic lunch. It's a very good thing that this place is four hours away or my garden budget would be blown to bits. I'm proud to say I limited myself to two books; The Well-Tended Perennial Garden by Tracy Disabato-Aust and Great Garden Companions by Sally Jean Cunningham. Sally is one of the great people I had the opportunity to meet and talk with on this trip. She was kind enough to autograph my book, and I will treasure it!

Our next stop was at the home and garden of Mike and Kathy Guest Shadrack.

Here was a country setting I'm more accustomed to with a charming house over a stream , gardens with day lilies, hostas, native plants, and stone walls. This is the one place on the trip that I really wished Ed was with me. He would have
loved it! We were served traditional English tea in this incredible setting. What a delicious way to spend the afternoon!

I have to mention how impressed I was with the driver of our large 67 passenger bus. Besides being very friendly and helpful all day, he backed that bus out of the long drive and onto the highway without missing a beat. He deserved a standing ovation and he got one!

We headed back to the hotel where Amy and I finally got a chance to swim in the pool situated on the second floor of the hotel. wWe had our swim with a fabulous view of downtown Buffalo.

We changed for dinner at the Bijou Grill. It was lovely , but the best part for me was getting a chance to sit with Patty Craft from Horticulture magazine. Meeting her was a treat. I know I would never have made this trip at all if I had not been listed on Horticulture's list of 20 Top Gardening Blogs. I owe her a lot.

Back at the hotel, tired, I skipped the bloggers meeting and headed for bed.

Buffa10, Day 3

Starting small is one means of dealing with deep dislike. These cute little guys are irresistible!

Variegated and rounder, more heart shaped leaves are easy to love, too. After all, a pure heart must be free of hosta hatred.

That is one curvaceous, mysterious, and giant leaf! It merits mention that some truly lovely hosta flowers can be observed in this wonderful garden also.

So, this is progress. When I see a huge planting of hostas, it remains troubling, but an offer has been made to plant some in the shade garden and I'm considering it. Some miniature ones would look fantastic right at the base of the locust tree.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wet Friday Fun In Buffalo

Bright and early Friday morning we started the day touring the gardens of the cottages on Little Summer Street. This little blue cottage garden uses its tiny space to advantage including vertical plantings against the cottage itself. We did not see the gardener here, but clearly the cat is in charge!

If you walk through the garden paths behind cottages on the street, you find more small garden spaces and a few cottages built of brick. The old stable tower and ivy covered wall are a fantastic backdrop for this garden space.

Fences become planting areas here. This planting of hens and chicks with morning glories makes intriguing use of the fence's vertical space. By the time we finished on Little Summer Street, the rains came. We were glad to have the refuge of the bus to dry off a bit.

For an interesting contrast, here is another vertical sedum planting. It is part of an extreme gardening makeover project taking place in the front yards of houses facing Olmsted's Martin Luther King Park.

We visited a second Olmsted Park where they are renovating the Japanese garden. We took a short tour of the garden and got a brief look at the celebration that was going on there.

By the time we arrived at Rue Franklin for lunch, the rain was heavy. This lovely restaurant has a garden where we might have dined on a nice day, but with the rain we were seated inside. Of all the wonderful food we were served, it is the frozen lemon and glazed blueberry dessert that I will remember. It was exquisite!

Our next destination was Urban Roots, the only garden Coop in the country . Many of the bloggers made purchases here . They had a nutmeg scented geranium complete with tiny white blossoms. Too good to pass up, it boarded the bus with us . Plants, garden ornaments and 67 wet bloggers left happy for our next stop which was an amazing garden on Bird Avenue. I can hardly imagine what it would be like to have two buses of wet bloggers pull up to tour your garden on a rainy day. The garden which surrounds the house on every side absorbed us like a sponge. Out hosts were wonderful and friendly. People in Buffalo are extremely welcoming!

After a short time to rest and change into dry clothes at 7:30 it was back to the 20th Century Club for another fabulous dinner. Tonight even featured door prizes. At every meal invigorating conversation flows freely between avid gardeners.

Back at the hotel it was time for a for a meeting of bloggers to exchange ideas. After a day like this and past my usual bedtime, I fell asleep almost as soon as I hit those comfy pillows.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Buffa10, Day 2

Now this is a great hosta picture!! A cottage on Little Summer Street was being renovated, and this truck had to do what it had to do. Some work is destructive by nature. I happen to know, though, that these hosta will be back. When I was growing up, we had hostas next to the front porch. My pot of marigolds had gotten me an adorable picture in the local newspaper and at some point a vision emerged for a lovely child's flower garden in that small space. Effort was made to clear the plot, but it was unsuccessful.

After exploring the roots of my little problem, some details started to emerge. Leaves with sun on them, to me, have an unreal quality, but in the shade they can look quite nice. The flowers are so garish that I want to avert my gaze. Day 3 has a hosta garden on its agenda and if it wasn't for the tea and scones being served, I'd be heading for Old Man River and Goat Island.

Back From Buffalo!

I have to admit I have a little jet lag, and I didn't fly to Buffalo. Buffa10 was a incredible four days.

Thursday afternoon we arrived at the Embassy Suites and checked in.Our suite was spacious with a beautiful view of downtown Buffalo. We took no time to sit and enjoy it because we needed to walk to North Pearl Street to look at gardens opened especially for us. Garden Walk Buffalo is not until the last weekend in July. This year the 24th and 25th. We toured a number of gardens on North Pearl and Park Street. Many of the houses have garden from the house to the sidewalk with no lawn at all. Others have some lawn with beautiful flower beds. Buffalo seems to have a gardening infection that spreads through neighborhoods with terrific results.

Front yards may be viewed from the sidewalk anytime, but if a yellow Garden Walk sign is posted you can enter the garden. You can wander between the houses and enter private gardens in the back. Frequently hidden behind a charming garden gates, these back yard havens are often shady spots to sit and relax. Thursday was a scorcher, and the temperature drop was amazing when entering these enclosed green spaces. We spent some time in Elizabeth's garden meeting the other bloggers for the first time. From there we walked to dinner at the 20th Century Club. We had an amazing dinner outside in the garden. Fabulous food and garden conversation made for an enjoyable evening. We walked back to the hotel and arrived at about 10:00 PM. Tired, I skipped my plans for a late night swim in the pool headed for bed. Friday was to be a full day!

Having had more than 70 garden bloggers in Buffalo, there are lots of beautiful photographs of the gardens in Buffalo on line to see, and that's great, but there is still time to attend this fabulous FREE event. If gardening is your thing, then the last weekend in July , Buffalo is the place for you to be!

Sunday, July 11, 2010


Thirty-two inches of freshly shed snakeskin trembling in the night breeze greeted me as I stepped out of the basement door last evening. This prize was not there when I came in from my days work three hours earlier. We commonly find shed snakeskins around our stone walls. One was neatly left in the irregular crack formed between two rows of cap stones at the top of a wall. This placement represents a novel solution to what must be a tricky task. Rather than wiggle out of the old skin, this snake appears to have used a gravity assist to slide right out. It is eighteen inches from the mouth opening to the ground. The slide to the ground was likely controled by some degree of grip on the old skin. It must have been quite a sight.

I have no problem with snakes that I can see. It is the unexpected that delivers quite a jolt. This skin is high above the ground uncomfortably close to my head. This time there was no audible gasp but it did instantly focus my attention. One question does come to mind. Who was holding this snake's tail?

Friday, July 9, 2010

Hot Gardens In The City

It was pointed out to me that I must disclose that on this Bufa10 bloggers trip while the trip was not free,( I'm not in Congress!) special rates and sponser donated gifts were given. That being said, You will get what I truly think regardless!.

How amazing it is to walk the streets of Buffalo and see so many gardens. Eight inch strips between building and side walk have ornamental grasses where weeds would have been. The Allentown area has beautiful old houses. Front yards filled with stunning flowers and trees delight the eye. More intriguing are the hidden garden spaces tucked behind the house. This garden was filled with flowers and huge pots growing edible plants, a precaution against lead contamination in the city soil. I find these enclosed garden spaces fascinating compared to the wide open spaces we garden in at home. They certainly bring a coolness and beauty to city living.

Buffa10, Day 1

I spent my formative years here in Buffalo, so many of my thoughts have little to do with gardening. One problematic plant plant-related sentiment is this: I hate hostas! They are everywhere here and it's clear that many people have an abiding affection for them. Although great effort may be required, my Buffa10 goal is to learn to like a couple of varieties of hostas.

It starts with tolerance of the leaf or two that appear above. The deep veins do draw the eye nicely in this photograph. We'll see how this goes.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Self Planted Save

Heirloom lilies were planted in this section of our garden. L. speciosum album and L. speciosum rubrum were described in the catalog as hardy to zone 3. Ten bulbs were scattered in two rows along the fence end here in zone 4. The plan was to tie the tall lilies to the fence. Mother's day featured an overnight freeze and frost. At 2 inches tall the lilies were frozen brown, dead to the ground. This was my second try with these lilies. Last year our June 1st freeze and frost similarly killed these lilies. The hole in this years garden was nicely filled by self planted pink poppies, P. laciniatum. I have no plans for a third attempt with these heirloom lilies.

Sweet Surrender, a Tigrinum lily, is catalog described as hardy to zone 4. Nothing was planted adjacent to them so an inverted plastic garbage can protected from frost. Inside the can a jug of water released its heat to protect from freeze. Success was only partial as I damaged two stems when I placed the can. The damaged lilies are still alive and green but produced no flowers this year. A larger garbage can will be needed to cover this planting next year.

Last year after the holiday, I purchased three Easter lilies, L. longiflorum from the grocery store. Despite the description indicating that these lilies have no frost tolerance, all were planted in front of the house after natural die down. Only two of the lilies could be covered by a single garbage can when frost threatened. The third was protected with a pail. Somehow these lilies survived the freeze and later flowered. There are several daughter plants and secondary main stems so things look good for next year.

Easter lilies in our garden provide a connection with my youth. Mother always had an Easter lily on the mantle in observance of this special time. My job was to carefully remove the yellow anthers with tweezers before the pollen stained the pure white flower. The blossom had to be partially opened or its grip on the anther made safe removal impossible. If the blossom was fully open, a yellow stain was likely. With care and diligence, Mother had a pure white Easter lily year after year. Now the lilies in my garden have yellow stains. Surrounding growth allowed no access for this delicate task. A more open site may allow these lilies to produce a more impressive display.

A Garden Affair

My bags are packed and I'm ready to go . I wonder to myself how can I possibly leave this garden I love, to spend time in other gardens,to party there in fact. My garden has been so faithful. Nevertheless I am leaving my beautiful garden for 4 days to do exactly that. Buffa10 begins tomorrow. I must admit I'm very excited. There will be city gardens to see with different designs and unfamiliar plants, all very different from home. Wow! I plan to have fun.

But I will remain faithful to my garden. There will be no deadheading, no weeding and absolutely no planting being done and that's a promise. Yes, I will probably sniff a foreign flower's fragrance, and I will definitely get an eyeful, but in just 4 days I'll be back . PS. If the green beans could wait for my return to need picking, I would appreciate it.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Have You Seen Ed?

Sometimes it takes a bit of looking, but I knew he would be in the garden somewhere.

There he is between the poppies. He's working on his tomato plants, removing suckers and weeding.

After he adds a bit of straw mulch and replaces their cages, these tomato plants will be good to go the rest of the season with very little attention.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Garlic Whine !

Ed's garlic came through the winter fine. In fact it still looked good in May, but the wet weather we have been having is not good for garlic. This bed of garlic is a disaster,rotten and wormy, garbage, too far gone even to compost. It's hard not to whine when you have to dig up one of your favorite crops and put it in the trash.

The one bright spot is that the garlic that Ed planted back in the wilderness garden looks much better. Perhaps we will not have a total crop failure. Ed will have to develop a new crop rotation for the garden in the back. Time will tell whether the garlic we have can be used for seed or if we will have to begin again. No wonder Ed is whining. He has spent years collecting some of these garlic varieties. We will see what October brings.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Garden Peas

We adore fresh garden peas. Of the kinds where you can eat the shell, Oregon Giant is our favorite. They are so crunchy and delicious when lightly cooked. I would have to admit I love to eat a few raw while in the garden as well. For freezing we prefer peas that need to be shelled, so the rest of the peas are picked and shelled, then blanched and frozen to enjoy later. Peas are a labor intensive crop. Ed puts up the chicken wire supports, plants the seeds, installs the protective fence, ties the pea vines up with string when the weight of the peas causes them to sag, and weeds . He loves that part. Pulling up the vines and harvesting the peas is not his favorite.

I rather enjoy shelling peas. I've been doing it since I was a girl. It is only recently , however, that I have learned how much fun it is to sit in the garden to do it. Today was a glorious cool and sunny morning. Ed finished pulling the peas and left to work elsewhere. I stayed to finish . When you sit in the garden , the birds soon ignore your presence. I got a close of view of a yellow shafted flicker sitting on a nearby post, so close I could have counted his spots. I got buzzed by a female hummingbird several times as she visited the mahogany bee balm. With the shelling finished, I left the shells in my bucket of compost, and took the shelled peas into the kitchen. There I washed, blanched and froze them. We will enjoy them so much when the weather turns cold. If I'm lucky eating them will bring back the memory of this delightful morning spent in the garden.

Friday, July 2, 2010

July 1: Bloom List

This Art's Pride Echinecea is blooming so beautifully especially since it was once declared dead. Roots and Rhizomes even issued us a credit. Last year towards the end of the summer the dead looking plant came to life. Amazed, we mailed a check to pay for the " plant that lived". As you can see this year Art's Pride is our pride as well!

July 1,2010, Bloom list: Ingeborg's mallow, purple cone flower, morning glory, lemon finger bowl geranium, bluets, Robin's plantain, spider wort, Dianthus, Valerian,coral bells, meadow sage, Viola "Rebecca", red creeping thyme, lemon thyme, evening scented stock, German chamomile, nasturtiums, Jane's Rugosa rose, Ptilotus Joey , Gallardia, lady's mantle,Johnny jump ups, spotted lily, garden sage, Nicotiana, Stella D'oro lily, rose campion, catchfly, Peppermint stick zinnia, pink foxglove, baby's breath, Pyrythem daisy, peas, strawberries, sun drops, Anchusa, "Pretty Belinda" yarrow, snapdragon, heliotrope, blue Delphinium, orange spotted lily, lavender, pink poppies, sweet peas, Clematis, Red Lupine, Susan's day lilies, "Destined to See" day lily, wood betony,lambs ear, Iris enstata, "Who Dun It" Dahlia, Landini lily, Rudy tritetelia, hens and chicks, Aclepsis tuberosa,sea holly, yellow sedum, Aclepsis curveceps, Art's Pride cone flower, anise hyssop, gloriosa daisy, Madonna lily, cosmos, red and mahogany bee balm, orange turk's cap lily, smoke bush, catnip, hollyhock, French thyme, green beans, milkweed, cinnamon basil, "Mardi Gras" Helenium, Alpine strawberries

Flowers still in bud are not listed, at least one open flower is required to make the list.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Yesterday we were horrified to find a nest of hornets living in the stone wall just to the right of the southern opening to the square. I gave them a very wide berth. I have had nasty experiences with these mean bees before. It was cool last night and Ed came up with a plan. Early in the morning before the hornets warmed up and left the nest, Ed donned his bee suit and got his propane torch. I remained inside the house observing the eviction behind the safety of the bedroom window. The bees warmed up fast, but Ed seared them with the flame of his torch as they exited from openings in the wall. When the bees stopped coming, he lifted the cap stone.

This is the nest after it had been well seared. We hope none of the bees got away. They seem to be a vindictive variety who carry a grudge, and who wants angry hornets in their garden?

You can see where the nest was attached to the underside of the cap stone. This wall was one of the first constructed here. Now Ed is careful to fill in the gaps between the stones with sand. This cap stone had been carefully placed so that is was level and solid but unfortunately a cavern like space, just perfect for a nest, was created. The space has been filled in with sand now. No new tenants will move in under this stone!