Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Four Out Of Sixty-Seven Garden Pictures

The star of this picture is clearly the perfect Black Swallowtail Butterfly sipping nectar from the Purple Coneflower.  That would be a native butterfly on a native plant, but the Gloriosa Daisies and the slightly perforated leaf of a Mexican Sunflower are my favorites too!

Another favorite of mine, the Grey-headed cone flower, is a native too, but it is not native to New York.  It seems to have no shortage of pollinators just the same.  I love the way these lovely yellow flowers float above the stone wall on slender stems.  I wonder about the name since the buds look green to me and the tiny flowers are clearly dark brown.  This photo shows how the flowers begin at the bottom and finish at the very tip. Like most composite flowers these look gorgeous for a long time.

You might think that a plant named Arnica Montana would be native to Montana, but no, it comes from Europe.  Amy planted this one from seed.  I checked to make sure and the leaves definitely match the desired plant.  We actually have two of them. At first I thought we had nothing but weeds here but the Arnica is coming on strong and will win in the end especially if it gets a little help.

This wood betony plant is hardly ready for a photo op. It's flowers are nice, but the leaves are obscured by the cage and weeds.  It is the Clearwing Hummingbird Moth that makes this picture special for me.  If you have never seen one of these unique creatures You have missed something amazing!

Ed's daylilies have been so outstanding.  The brilliant  red to orange to yellow color of this one makes it pop against the green background.  Why even the ant is in focus.  I always think of my  Father when I take 67 pictures in one afternoon.  He would have loved  digital photography!  Many of today's pictures  have been already hit the trash.  Others have been saved perhaps to be used later.  These four I had to share! 

Monday, July 19, 2021

Serious Storm


If aged memory serves me correctly, the severe storm visited here Saturday evening.  Strong winds from the south pelted huge raindrops against the windows with attention getting force.  Our power remained on and we retired by 10:30PM as usual.  Anxiety got the better of me by 2:30AM and I ventured out to see just how much of our driveway remained.  There were deep ruts but we were lucky!   I also checked to see if any of the house siding had been dislodged.  None had moved.

The reported rainfall of four inches in little more than one hour must have been a somewhat limited local event.  Our Unadilla River is unusually brown and full but did not appear to have spilled over into farmer's fields near here.  Storm damage likely occurred but fortunately we were spared.

Early Sunday morning I ventured out with a shovel, rake and the lawn tractor with trailer.  Thirty shovels full made a manageable load and it was dumped in the deepest section of the new ravine.  The uniform spreading of the fill hints at my Irish ancestry but many more loads will be needed to finish this job.  As it was, three loads were followed by a break then three more loads finished me for the day.  No chest pain was felt but it was definitely time to quit after the sixth load.

All that rain may have dampened my spirits, but the daylily flowers loved it.  Spiritual Corridor is the name of this variety.  The fern like leaves of Sweet Cicely behind it identifies this plant's placement inside of the stone square.

Sunday Gloves is pictured here along with the messy remains of yesterday's flower and an insect.  Removing the disgusting mess of old flowers usually precedes taking the picture but no sticky hands could touch the camera.


Swallowtail Kite has an unusual series of perhaps four colors as the petals open outward.

Aurora Raspberry features the much favored ruffled edge.

Huckleberry Candy is intensely colored as is the pollen load.


Big Bird has a somewhat disheveled general appearance as did the Sesame Street character.


Frosted Vintage Ruffles has been with us for many years.  It appears to find its placement next to the stone path at least satisfactory

Friday, July 16, 2021

Fifty & Free

In the year 1994, I adopted the slogan fifty and free as the fundamental definition for the remainder of my life.  Seven more years teaching school remained in my future but moving in the yet to be defined direction became my focus.  Six weeks prior to my 50th birthday, I used all of our savings to purchase thirty-six rural acres.  Walking toward the bedrock ridge from what was transformed into the lawn in front of our yet to be placed home, three miles of undeveloped forest would need to be crossed to reach a distant year-round road.  Of course other roads and signs of civilization are close at hand but we were on the edge of a wilderness.  Local legend has both wolves and mountain lions still living here while a moose and a bear have recently been reliably sighted.  Deer, turkeys and a skunk are common visitors to our yard.  I wanted a life lived in close contact with a natural world and that is what we have enjoyed.  We do not own the ridge but have permission to walk there.  The view is all ours.

Native plants became an interest.  We have transplanted a large number of them in our various gardens.  Not all were placed in a natural setting as can be seen by this Stokes aster growing close to the house.  It naturally occurs in the southeastern U.S. but this spot near the south facing wall of the house has proved satisfactory to its needs.  As has been the case with many native plants, several years in its new home passed before flowers were seen.  Perhaps the nearness to a low stone wall was part of our success.  Extra heat, moisture and dissolved minerals may have contributed to this plants continued existence here.

These artificially created Day lilies are far from native plants.  Their ancestry will trace back to orange colored "sewer lilies" but the human hand has worked tirelessly to create distinctive variations.  This Wineberry candy has been with us for many years.  The delicate thin line of purple coloration made this an early acquisition. 

Prairie blue eyes is usually very tall.  Climate limitations this year might be responsible for this more customary appearance.

Indian giver might be judged to be a horribly insensitive name but the white ruffled petal edges made this a must have variety.


Ivory edges is a great name for this attractive flower.

  Blueberry candy is brightly colored.  It also was photographed with a tiny insect visible on the flower.

Our years here have been rewarding beyond description but how much longer we can remain is a question without  an answer.  A recent appointment with a real estate agent was canceled at the last minute.  Perhaps another winter spent at some distance from the road is possible.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Still Learning

I have been trying to grow garlic for more than three decades with very mixed results.  This book served as my Garlic Bible and many hours were spent reading it.  The author's experience occurred near the west coast and included in his text was the flat out statement that garlic could not be successfully grown in New York State.  He saw our climate as a total roadblock to healthy harvests.  Near harvest time in July, we experience hot days with frequent heavy rain.  This happens as the garlic is drying down.  As that unfolds the leaves begin to pull away from the stem allowing water to seep down into the bulbs.  One result is horrid rot.

They say that you cannot judge a book by its cover but perhaps the back cover will provide insight.  For many years I purchased Ron's garlic but success evaded me.  Perhaps garlic grown in NYS would be better suited to our July weather so local seed was tried.

Helen Crandall gave us this strain of garlic.  She promised to talk to the person that gave it to her to find its original source but sadly she passed before that information could be gathered.  This strain was judged to be the best that we had and we treasured both the plant's and the memories it provided. We reliably harvested nearly 100% from the cloves planted.  This year we lost 85% of this crop.

More than ten years ago we opened our garden near the woods to escape the live forever rot that filled much of our garden soil near the house.  Our first planting there included one variety that contained the infection.  We have not planted garlic or onions in that ground since then.  For some reason I felt that this ground was now safe for garlic.  I was totally wrong.  Helen's garlic was planted in the poisoned ground.  Ron was correct in stating that this disease lives on forever.

We now peel and soak our planting cloves.  That allowed us to avoid disease and recent crops have been largely trouble free.  We were considering skipping the peel and soak.  That will not happen now since I have reinfected our planting stock.  With only six harvested bulbs, we will not be able to plant the traditional forty plants.

Susquehanna White was purchased from an organic vegetable grower located near the Unatego High School.  It is possible that he has joined the great majority since the sign there is now gone.  His garlic has preformed well for us with no trace of the horrid rot.  The bulbs are rather small but they are clean and healthy.

We assigned the name White Bishop to this variety.  Charlie was a colorful individual.  We once saw him at the Saugerties garlic festival.  Many pickup trucks had been backed into a large circle where the various growers displayed their crop while waiting for potential customers to stop by.  Charlie stood on a small platform next to his truck where he verbally presented the advantages of his garlic.  His performance reminded me of a carnival barker and he outsold all of the other growers.  His garlic has proven to be reliable and always brings back mental images of his sales pitch.

In the past my frequent trips to Herkimer introduced me to a new roadside vegetable stand.  For the first year her garlic was planted in what had served a beef feeding spot.  Their deep manure served to produce large healthy garlic bulbs.  Unfortunately in later years her garlic was infected with the bulb rot.  We have worked to plant only clean cloves and her garlic now continues to produce healthy bulbs.

I know of two local growers where garlic is replanted where it has always grown and this puzzles me.  How do these people avoid the rot that has plagued me for years?  One of these growers harvests very close to July first.  I usually wait until the third week in July to harvest when the crop has started to dry down.  This successful grower also immediately clears his ground of weeds and places a deep pile of manure where next year's crop will grow.  The only thing that I can see as an explanation for his success is the earliness of his harvest or the impact on his ground of rotting manure.  The other successful grower that uses the same ground year after year has a huge supply of alpaca manure.  Perhaps the manure is responsible for this disease free garlic.  It was nothing but luck that had me harvest my garlic on four consecutive rainless days.  Had I missed those days, the rest of the crop would likely been ruined.  For some time I have know that I am not particularly bright or skilled but I am unusually lucky.

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Ditch Weed Season

Back in the early days, when blogging was the rage, my most popular post ever carried a title similar to the one used here.  Most of those checking in had no interest in flowers but were expecting an examination of cultivating a popular recreational drug.  Single orange Daylilies were a flower from my youth.  The house across the road from mine was owned by a local politician and septic systems were nothing like what is required today.  Sewage was never seen near the road but the ground there was at least always wet.  Orange daylilies grew in abundance there and were given the name Sewer lilies.  Brought to this country in the 1800s these plants are as hardy as they are beautiful.  This double orange was a gift from a gardener in Afton.  It continues to prosper here since it requires no help to stay alive.  It may well be the perfect plant for an aging gardener that can no longer keep up.

There are more than 6,000 named varieties of Day lilies.  The flowers only last a single day and insect pollination is at best limited.  A gardener can make regular garden visits, hand spreading pollen with the intention of creating another beautiful new variety.  This delight was the first Day lily purchased here.  Destined To See is its registered name and it has all of the characteristics I like to see.  Scent, a ruffled edge and a brilliantly colored center please me.  This plant would benefit from another division and we will put that on the to list.

This area was weeded early on but now one of the invasive grasses so prevalent here is claiming this ground as its own.  The flowering plant is going about its business in grand form but the stone bearing its name is nowhere to be seen.  Old and newly unreliable memory has assigned Chicago Arnie's Choice as the name of this variety.  There are several other named varieties carrying the name Chicago and Arnie may well be the name of the breeder that has created all of them.  Once again we see ruffled petal edges and a bright eye spot.

Several years ago we visited a local breeder located very close to Belden Hill.  His large pots contained several new young plants and variety name labels.  Elegant Candy was not the plant named on the label but we are pleased to have this variety in our collection.  Notice the different colored ruffled edge while the center could use a bigger and brighter colored eye spot.

Molokai is the name of this giant.  The large petals are fragile as can be seen by the tears visible following today's wind driven rain.  This plant certainly features bright yellow petals.  In all we have purchased thirty-five different Day lily varieties.  You can expect to see more pictures in the coming weeks.