Monday, September 28, 2015

Upright Autumn Joy Sedums

Each year in the past, these plants have been beaten to the ground by a combination of the weight of the flower masses and rain.  This year an intervention was attempted.  Since there has been no significant rainfall on these flowers, it would be presumptuous to assume that my meddling was completely successful.  Still, there are eight huge plants supporting impressive masses of flowers in an upright position.

When this was an active dairy farm several decades ago, the cows were brought from pasture and held in the area of my garden until they were ready to cross the road to the barn at milking time.  This is the most fertile ground that we own.  Decades of manure was worked into the ground and allowed to decompose naturally.  Actually, this ground is excessively rich in nutrients as is shown by the size of these plants.  Our more common poor dirt should have been mixed in to thin this ground before the plants were placed.

These plants are not old since I frequently dig and divide to obtain enough sedums to complete the row.  We started here with only three plants.  If we are able to prepare new ground next season, this monster will be split in half.  One piece will be replanted here.  The other division will add to the length of the line.  Our plan is to have sedums and iris fill the area between the stone wall and the trees.  No new plants of either variety will be purchased.  Divisions will supply needed plants.

This picture was taken on June 16, 2015.  A 2" X 4" welded wire cage has been placed tightly around the quickly expanding plant.  The cage would make future weeding impossible so a final weeding was part of the process.  The cage needed to be surrounded by future growth so that its existence would remain secret.  Perhaps the cages need to be a bit larger.  We will try these again next year but do allow for the possibility that heavy rain could break the stems where they contact the cage.

Last evening we enjoyed the lunar show.  Since we live near the base of a rather narrow valley, celestial observations require some creativity.  By definition, a full moon rises as the sun sets.  We had to drive up out of our valley to see both an amazing sunset and a rising super moon.  Forty-five minutes later the moon finally appeared above our ridge.  The first moon rise that we witnessed happened in the bright light of sunset.  The second moon rise for us happened in darkness.

As is so often the case here, clouds rolled in and blocked out the sky.  We are persistent and kept checking for an opening in the cloud cover.  The clouds cleared in time for us to watch the orange moon go dark surrounded by a sea of stars.  These are the kind of experiences that will live in our memories if it ever becomes necessary for us to leave this special place.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Early Fall Arbutus Buds

Overnight temperatures in the mid 50s F followed by bright sunlight drew me outside today.  This is the season when arbutus plants are forming next year's flower buds.  These first to flower plants must get a jump on the season if their white sweetly scented flowers are going to be ready early.  This patch of four plants was transplanted from the wild four years ago.  They were scheduled to receive a new larger protective cage with newly laid drystone walls to prevent hungry rabbits and woodchucks from feeding here.  That task will not be completed this year.

At least three bud clusters can be seen here in a curved line between leaves.  Start at the left edge of the photo just below the large leaf that extends to the top.  A cluster of buds are adjacent to the pine needles.  Stay focused on the gap between leaves and move across encountering two more clusters of buds.

Now that you know what to look for, these two buds are quickly found.  The tell tale hole in the leaf identifies these buds as the same ones seen in the upper photo.

This is our only patch of wild arbutus.  Two years ago a hungry bunny ate all of these plants clear to the ground.  Only then did we come to understand the reason why these plants seemed to repeatedly disappear.  Rugged beyond description, these plants regrew under a wire cage.  This is a rather small appearance for plants that we know are more than a quarter of a century old.  We will see how quickly they fill the area under the cage.

Two years after the attack, this plant is set to flower next Spring.

This is our twice transplanted arbutus.  When we last moved plants from the wild, a small cluster of perhaps three separate plants could not be left behind.  Two were moved this year to a location under an ancient white pine that has grown up in an old stone wall.  We planned to remove the rusted barbed wire and reset the wall so that these plants could grow next to a stone wall.  That is another job that awaits completion.

My last day of outside garden work was on August 1, 2015.  A simple move from kneeling to standing unleashed pain in my lower back that extended to the right hip and ran to the end of that foot.  Three muscles that attach to the hip remained firmly flexed and could not be persuaded to relax. A large quantity of prescribed pain medicines finally brought relief, but then caused massive bowel problems.  That uproar set off an aged gall bladder that threatened my liver.  Emergency surgical intervention followed in a week by surgical removal of the gall bladder may finally finish this experience.  With help I may be able to plant my garlic in three weeks as this gardening season comes to a close.  One has to wonder if  the prudent course is to be a move into a senior community.  I would like it best if it had a spot where I could transplant some of my arbutus.  Does anyone know of a good one?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Monarch Migration

Every Monarch I see makes me happy!!!!

When they open their wings for a photo I am delighted.  Isn't she gorgeous!  Where there's life there's hope!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Better Late Than Never

Evening scented stock, Matthiola longipetalta bicornus is one of my very favorite fragrant garden plants.  A favorite from gardens years ago, it has fallen from favor.  In my experience it is not easy to find seed and not easy to get packaged seed to grow.  It has successfully self seeded here for years but not last year  and not this one.  I found seeds available from Select Seeds.   I tried planting seeds, but this year has been a total disappointment.  After we pulled the peas in this bed, I planted the rest of my purchased seeds hoping for a miracle of sorts.  Things being what they are with us right now the seeds were left to tend themselves.  Among the weeds are 3 evening scented stock plants all in a row just like I planted them.

Yesterday there were a couple of open flowers, the aroma was lovely, but it was so dark and cloudy by the time they were open a picture was impossible.  Today I went out while the sun was still shining.  New flower buds are poised ready to open after the sun sets.  The fragrance and nectar of these tiny pink four petaled flowers are saved for pollinators that fly after dark.  Floating on an evening breeze, the fragrance of just a few flowers will fill this gardener with delight.  It was chilly this morning.  The heat came on in the house.  If I am to have fresh seed this year I will have to pot up these plants and put them in a sunny window hoping that they will continue to bloom and produce some fresh seed.  Many times I have transplanted them in the spring to give to gardening friends.  I wonder if they will take the move inside now?  If they do my house will be pleasantly perfumed in the evening, if not I'll likely buy more seeds and try again in the spring.  These tiny treasures are worth the effort!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Just Beautiful Flowers

Usually when I cut flowers I like to add some green leaves to make things look more natural.  These Clara Curtis mums and purple glads were rescued from my overgrown garden.  Amy brought them inside for Ed.  It turns out they look fabulous .

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Fascinating Fungi, Photos By Amy

These mushrooms are growing on Ed's wood mulch pile.  As an object to photograph, they are a veritable feast.  Color, texture, light, shadows and shape are all fascinating.  Fascinating too is the fact that these  have appeared now when we haven't had rain for some time.  My friend Inglelborg always said to look for mushrooms after the rain.  She really knew her mushrooms and was one of the few people I knew that could  cook wild mushrooms and I was not terrified to eat the results.  I simply cannot tell the good from the bad.

In the full sun they have funny flattened caps.  Down the slope where they are shaded for part of the day they look totally different!

Perhaps a lot could be said about this picture.  I've never seen anything quite like it, but I think I'll leave it at fascinating.

How about a single specimen for closer inspection?

Last, but by no means least is this family group including a tiny pink baby mushroom. How cute is that?

I would love to know exactly what kind of mushroom these are.  Ingelborg would know.  WiseAcre would know too.  I'll have to remain curious and fascinated!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Northern Tobacco

We are reluctant to accept limitations dictated by conventional wisdom or climate zone maps.  With help from those who live where plants naturally grow, we have successfully grown exotics such as ginger.  Now we are giving tobacco a try.  We start many different plants under lights and on heating pads in our basement.  There are frequent warnings written about tobacco plants having a negative impact on tomatoes so our tobacco had to wait for its late turn under the indoor lights.  Its pink flowers have finally begun to open.  Garden nicotiana  is evening scented so we cannot say that tobacco flowers have no scent.  We found them to be scentless when these pictures were taken in afternoon full sun.

This plant is more than five feet high and has yet to show any flower buds.  It is loaded with large bright green leaves.  These leaves will need to be cured indoors.  We are unsure about just how this will be done.  There is little doubt that we have once again grown more than we can handle.  One thing is certain.  This crop cannot go to the food bank.

These mature leaves may be ready for harvest.  I have read that tobacco leaves are cured by threading individual leaves on heavy twine or wire then hanging the group from the rafters.  All parts of this plant are incredibly sticky so this process may present several challenges.

I do not use tobacco any more but am trying to help an addicted individual that does not have the means to pay the heavy taxes now imposed on this product.  No money or services will be applied to this garden product so I hope that I remain out of jail.  The seeds were purchased from Richters in Canada.  I would like to think if there was a problem with planting the seeds, they would not have been shipped to New York.

This near relative of tobacco has self seeded in our gardens for  many years.  We brought it with us from our former garden so we are unsure of its initial source.  This is one plant that has given us a huge return on our original investment. This nicotiana is evening scented and we always pay it a visit when we walk in the gardens after sunset.  Its scent is delicious and the flowers seem to glow in the moonlight.

This is the time of year when drug enforcement overflights are common.  They are looking for cannabis plants.  Our unusual gardens frequently cause hobby fliers to circle around for a second look.  Our small plantings likely do not get a second look from the law.