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Seattle Fling 2011

Garden bloggers meet in Seattle in 2011

What’s Blooming on September 1 at the End of the Road

Thomas Affleck rose

Thomas Affleck rose

What’s blooming on September 1? As we acknowledge that even though it isn’t officially autumn, we notice the days are shorter, and a maple or sumac branch here and there has begun waving scarlet in the sunlight, the bloom goes on.  Thomas Affleck is the only rose, as usual, that has much to show at this time of the year, although there is a stray blossom here and there on the Rose Walk. The ruogosa hips are ripening.

Garden phlox and more

Garden phlox and more

This section of the North Lawn Bed is closest to the house. The garden phlox is putting on quite a show. Echinacea, Russian sage, and bits of lobela and dianthus are also still blooming.

Garden phlox and more

Garden phlox and more

In the middle of that bed more phlox is blooming as well as chelone, liatris, and The Fairy rose. Unseen is the blue toremia, my favorite new annual this year.

Helenium 'Mardi Gras' and phlox

Helenium ‘Mardi Gras’ and phlox

In the end of the bed Helenium “Mardi Gras is blooming with Phlox “Blue Paradise’, I think. I hope the Montauk daisy will bloom soon.

 

Yarrow, phlox, hydrangea

Yarrow, phlox, hydrangea

A bold yellow yarrow, a bit of phlox, aconite, a small annual daisy, toremia (again invisible) bloom in a tangleat the end of the South Lawn Bed.

Robustissima Japanese aneomone

“Robustissima” Japanese anemone

The Japanese anemone is just beginning to bloom, next to a small Joe Pye weed. The deer dined off this clump, but with a little luck I will still see a good show.

"Ann Varner' Daylily

” Ann Varner” daylily

The Daylily bank is pretty well done, but “Ann Varner” is bravely facing the end of the season.  Other bloomers, bee balm, Achillea ‘The Pearl’, potted cuphea, geraniums, and Love Lies Bleeding.

What’s blooming in your garden as we begin to feel the turning of the season?

 

Weeds in My Garden

 

nettles and jewelweed

Nettles and Jewelweed

Weeds. The weeds are thriving in my garden. In the middle of August when we are getting ready for the Heath Fair there is no longer even a pretense that I am keeping up with the weeds. This week I am resolved to begin a major weeding.

One friend I met at the Fair said she had given up weeding for the season and would worry about it next spring. I understand the feeling, but there is a benefit to weeding in late summer and fall. As I walk around the garden I can see the weeds setting seed. If I can pull those weeds now before the seeds disperse I can reduce the number of  weeds sprouting in the spring.

I made a little catalog of the weeds in my garden this fall. To begin with, in the corner of the Potager, behind my two compost piles are giant nettles and jewelweed. These are two of the most easily identified weeds. People learn to identify stinging nettles pretty quick, after only one or two run-ins.

Stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) spread by rhizomes and by seeds. A double threat invasive weed. It is growing beyond its typical 6 foot height by the compost piles because nettles need good soil. Fortunately, they also make good compost fodder. They are rich in iron, calcium, magnesium and nitrogen. Cut up the tall stalk and put them in your compost pile. Or you can make a fertilizer tea by chopping up the stalk and putting them in a pail, weighting them down and filling the pail with water. Put them aside for two or three weeks then use dilutions of this tea as fertilizer in the garden.

You can also make a tea for yourself from a couple of nettle leaves. Don’t let it steep too long or it will be bitter. I haven’t ever eaten nettles, but they are edible and can be used much as spinach is. I’m saving that experiment for another day.

Jewelweed

Jewelweed

Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis), which is often found growing near nettles, is recognizable because of its spotted golden orange flowers and the milky juice from its tender stems. Jewelweed got its common name from the way that water beads up on its leaves, not because the flowers look so jewel-like (to me) in the sun. It thrives in sun or shade, and spreads by seed. Some people grow it on purpose! It is very pretty.

Butterflies and hummingbirds are attracted to jewelweed. Children, parents and hikers like jewelweed because the juicy sap relieves the itch of nettles, insect bites and poison ivy. Native Americans had all kinds of medicinal uses for jewelweed.

Jewelweed is easy to pull up, and it can go onto the compost pile, although it will not add quite the nutritious wallop as nettles.

Milkweed has been getting lots of attention recently because it is an important food source for Monarch butterfly caterpillars. The Monarch population has been under siege for a number of years because of the loss of its tropical habitats. We used to have great clouds of Monarchs visit the end of the road where we had large stands of mint in the field. Mint is a nectar source for the butterflies. When hoping to attract butterflies we have to remember that we need to provide foliage for caterpillar food and nectar plants for the butterflies themselves.

I did see some butterflies on the milkweed blossoms this year, but only a lone Monarch or two anywhere in the garden or field.

I sacrificed my sugar snap pea bed to milkweed this year. We do not have a lot of milkweed in our fields so I thought I would let these milkweeds grow and then I would take the ripe seed pods out of the garden and release the seed in the fields. Next year I want to eat sugar snaps.

The pale green milkweed seed pods are fat and pretty, as is the silky floss that carries the seeds on the wind. That floss has been used to stuff pillows and mattresses. When we lived in New York City I did some research on herbs at the big New York Library on Fifth Avenue. It was there I found a book that said during World War II there was a shortage of material to stuff life jackets for sailors. The government turned to people in the country to collect milkweed floss as a substitute. It seems that milkweed floss is six times as buoyant as cork!

Galinsoga

Galinsoga

Hairy galinsoga is another rapacious weed in my garden. This is an annual weed that spreads by seed, and can actually seed several generations in one growing season. My excellent book, Weeds of the Northeast by Richard Uva, Joseph Neal and Joseph DiTomaso, says “it is one of the most difficult to control weeds of vegetable crops. . . . usually found on fertile soils.”  Well, I’m glad it’s presence in my garden indicates that I have fertile soil, but I have it growing in the vegetable garden, and most especially in the herb and flower beds.  Galinsoga is erect with branching stems, ovate, toothed leaves and tiny five rayed petals around a yellow disk. A single plant “can produce up to 7500 seeds.”

Galinsoga is listed on the online Invasive Plant Atlas so I throw the galinsoga into the compost pile and so far I haven’t found anyone with anything good to say about this weed.

I have lots of other weeds in my garden, lady’s bedstraw, pigweed, burdock, wild mustard, and more, but I prefer not to think of them today.

ALERT and CORRECTION 

My column in The Recorder last week got many responses, from people who couldn’t believe I let my nettles get so out of control (they have since been pulled out) and others who just wanted to commiserate and talk about their own weeds. I also got a warning Saturday morning from my good neighbor Rol Hesselbart, known locally as the Garlic King. He said no one should ever put galinsoga on their compost pile. Galinsoga seeds are so vital that they will not be killed by the composting process because most compost does not get hot enough. Then wherever you use the compost it will carry all those still vital galinsoga seeds. I have taken his advice to heart, because he knows his weeds as well as he knows his garlic. I now have a Weed Pile near the Burn Pile. We must all pay attention. Do you think he is angling for the title of Weed King?

Between the Rows   August 23, 2014

Bridge of Flowers in August

Bridge of Flowers, Shelburne Falls

Dahlias on Bridge of Flowers

I was walking across the Bridge of Flowers this morning and it is clear this is high Dahlia season. I don’t know the names of these varieties, but I am going to look through the  Swan Island Dahlia catalog and see if I can get names for some of these.

Bridge of Flowers, Shelburne Falls

Pink Dahlias on Bridge of Flowers

Some dahlias have a more tender hue.

China Doll Dahlia

China Doll Dahlia

China Doll is a dahlia that everyone loves.

Bridge of Flowers, Shelburne Falls

Dahlia on the Bridge of Flowers

Bridge of Flowers, Shelburne Falls

Dahlia on the Bridge of Flowers

Dahlias come in so many forms and sizes.

Bridge of Flowers, Shelburne Falls

Shaggy Dahlia on the Bridge of Flowers

Do you think ‘Shaggy’ is a dahlia class?

Bridge of Flowers, Shelburne Falls

Stone Fountain at Bridge of Flowers

After all the fire of the dahlias it is nice to have a cool place to sit .

Bridge of Flowers, Shelburne Falls

Shade garden on the Shelburne side of the Bridge of Flowers

Leaping Fish sculpture

Leaping Fish sculpture

Before I left the Bridge I had to go and take another look at the new school of fish leaping up river on the Buckland side. Thank you John Sendelbach. 

The Bridge hosts what is essentially a joyful garden party every day of the year from April 1 to October 30. Visitors from all over the country – yea all over the world – come here to enjoy the flowers, tended by a gardener, assistant gardener, many volunteers and overseen by the Bridge of Flowers committee, a part of the Shelburne Falls Area Women’s Club.

Waterways – Many Ways

White water rafting

White water rafting

Our family enjoys water many ways. Exciting ways on the Deerfield River and

Paddling

Paddling

paddling peacefully on Lake Champlain.

For more Wordlessness this Wednesday click here.

August on Lake Champlain, Vermont

View from Mt. Philo Road

View from Mt. Philo Road

Late last week we drove up to Charlotte on Lake Champlain in Vermont. In 1939 my grandfather and Uncle Wally bought a 300 acre farm. Since then four generations have been attached to this piece of land, even though The Farm itself no longer exists. This is the view from Aunt Doris and Uncle Mike’s house. It was a rainy and foggy day when we arrived so you can’t quite see Lake Champlain, but you are looking down on land that Uncle Mike and his family farmed.

Charlotte Vermont public beach

Charlotte Vermont public beach

I took my husband on a little stroll down  Memory Lane. My father farmed with Uncle Wally for a couple of years so I have my own history with The Farm which is a little longer than that of other  cousins. This is the public beach where I finally earned my ‘Swimmer’ designation. I did not like diving then and I still don’t. I always get water up my nose.

The North End

The North End

The beach at the North End of The Farm remains a family gathering place. There is room for tenting, a pavillion for cooking and eating, and a dock.  Thank you cousins for making all these comforts for other cousins. You’ll notice the stony beach, rounded lake washed stone. I always bring a few of these stones home with me.

North End dock

North End dock

Cousins and friends make good use of the amenities.  And there are still tales of skinny dipping. Oh, how wicked we were at 12!

Walt's grapes

Walt’s grapes

There isn’t much farming going on here anymore, but Cousin Walt who worked for a local winery, and the vineyards of Shelburne Farms in his retirement,  planted a few vines of his own down at the North End. When we drove up the air was fragrant with the scent of ripening grapes.

Chicory blossoms

Chicory blossoms

I enjoyed all the chicory in bloom along the roadsides. I don’t know why there is so little here in Heath.

Esther and Algot

Esther and Algot

During an afternoon visit with cousins Jennie, Bernie and Peggy, we went through a family album that included photos of my grandparents who started everything rolling.

My own childhood memories are sometimes hazy but it is fun to compare stories with Walt who is my age, and who protected me on my first trips in the ‘doodle bug.’ The doodle bug was a the little van  that served as temporary school bus that took us to a two room school house. No safety regs in those days. There were two little benches in the van and by the time we picked up all the kids and got to school we were sitting on each other’s laps.  I attended that school in 1948-49, the last half of second grade and third grade. I’ve written about earlier visits here.  Living on The Farm, visiting The Farm over the years have left their mark on all of us, giving us an appreciation of the work that farmers do, and of the beauty of fields, woods and water that we all treasure.

Heath Fair 2014 on Wordless Wednesday

Heath Fair Vegetable basket

Heath Fair Vegetable basket

What is the why of the Heath Fair?  It is a celebration of the bounty of the earth – and the knowledge and energy to make it fruitful.

Heath Fair cow and calf

Heath Fair cow and calf

It is a celebration of our farms and farmers.

Heath Fair and mini goats

Heath Fair and mini goats

It is about sharing the natural world with our children. Those are miniature mama goats.

Heath Fair Garlic

Heath Fair Garlic

The Heath Fair is about competition,

Heath Fair Music

Heath Fair Music

and music,

Heath Fair Blue Ribbon cookies

Heath Fair Blue Ribbon cookies – baked by Bella

and Blue Ribbons.

For more (almost) Wordlessness this Wednesday click here.

Coffee for Roses by C.L. Fornari

Coffee for Roses

Coffee for Roses

Coffee for Roses by C.L. Fornari is subtitled . . . and 70 Other Misleading Myths About Backyard Gardening (St. Lynn’s Press $17.95.) Fornari covers a lot of ground in this book that gives more than it promises. I had to laugh when I opened the book to the first myth,“A perennial garden is less work than an annual planting because the plants come up every year.” That was a myth that I believed in when I planted my first perennial. I soon found there was more to do than wait for the plants to come up every spring.

Then, when I had been tending a few passalong perennials for a couple of years I was stunned one summer day when I was reading Janet Gillespie’s delightful book, The Joy of a Small Garden, and she began writing about moving her perennials from one place to another. Surely not! Surely once you plant a perennial that’s where it will grow forever and ever. Dividing and moving? I hadn’t counted on that!

That brings us to myth # 3 “Passalong plants from neighbors or plant sales are a good way to plant a perennial garden.” Actually I think passalong plants are a good way to start a garden, but these plants are easy to give because they are what some might politely call strong growers, or aggressive growers or sometimes, thugs. I personally will never grow plume poppy again. Beyond thugishness Fornari points out some invasive plants might come with the passalong, because the owner thought it was pretty, and goutweed is very pretty, or because a bit of root or seed came along in the soil. Great troubles may await you.

We had plant swaps in Heath for a few years, but they stopped because in three or four years all of us had the same strong growers and no one needed any more. We were all busy digging out exploded clumps, and weeding plants that self seeded throughout the perennial bed.

Some myths grow out of a poor sex education. A female does not need a male holly (see Myth #36) in close proximity to grow – only to make the desirable red berries. Some biology principles cross species: women don’t need a man in close proximity to grow either, and hens don’t need roosters to lay eggs, only to fertilize the eggs and make chicks. I was talking to an acquaintance the other day and she was worried about whether her husband’s carefully tended tomato plant would produce fruit this year. I asked if it had any flowers yet. The question stunned her and I had to point out that fruits and vegetables begin with a flower, beans and peas and squash and tomatoes all produce flowers. Apples and peaches, too.

I was  surprised to learn all the different ways that flowers seduce pollinators into their service. Perfume, of course, but color? Vibrators? Landing strips? Mother Nature certainly is creative.

And while we are talking about sex and reproduction Myth #21 explains why you can plant pumpkins and squash in your garden and not end up with “squmpkins.” It is true that pumpkins and squash  can cross pollinate but that means that if you are a seed saver you cannot use the seed from those cross pollinated squash and pumpkins because you don’t know what you will get. Fornari gives you lots of information about the birds, bees and plants that you may not have considered before, but which may save you some blushes in the future.

Fornari not only explains why some myths are untrue, she gives additional related information. When she explains that spiked shoes (Myth #57) don’t aerate lawns, she goes further and explains the various ways you can maintain a healthy lawn as well as dangers like overwatering.

We all get our information about gardening in numerous ways. Experienced gardening friends are usually a font of good information and advice. But many friends are not all that experienced, though they are willing to repeat a tip they “heard somewhere.”

I get a lot of information from books, but even when books tell you something that is true, they might not tell you all the ramifications and consequences that follow. For example many years ago I read, somewhere, that tansy would keep away bugs. You could put it in your hat, or put it by your door, and then not be bothered by bugs. You would even reap a benefit if you planted it with your roses. I don’t recall the promised benefit; it has been erased from my memory by the terrible consequence – a field full of tansy that also infested my raspberry patch and vegetable garden. I am constantly waging battle with this invasive plant. It may be true that tansy keeps away bugs, but I cannot warn people enough about the dangers of tansy which spreads by roots and by seed. It is pretty, but it is dangerous.

Fornari gives you complete information when exploding a myth. She has been gardening for many years at Poison Ivy Acres on Cape Cod, written six books including Your Garden Shouldn’t Make You Crazy, hosts a two hour GardenLine call-in radio show, and won awards for excellence from the Garden Writers Association. You can find her wit and wisdom on her new blog www.coffeeforroses.com. No bum information anywhere. ###

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day – August 15, 2014

Roses and lilies, mostly

Roses and lilies, mostly

On this Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day there are great clumps of bloomers and I can see a busy fall season of digging and dividing. Here the Thomas Affleck rose and Henryii lilies are lush and full of pollinators. You can also see a cloud of meadow rue flowers. I just love this section of the garden right next to the house.

Black Beauty lilies and crimson bee balm

Black Beauty lilies and crimson bee balm

This Bloom Day the Black Beauty lilies and the crimson bee balm make a great combo – even if they are standing exactly straight and tall.

8-14 phlox etc

This section of the North Lawn Bed is one of the places that whisper, ” Dig me!  Divide me!”  Phlox, pink and white, cone flower, Russian sage and even a lily  that the deer missed at their luncheon party a few weeks ago.

8-14 the pearl, mardi grass yarrow

This is another section of the North Lawn Bed where Achillea “the Pearl is rampant in front of  sunny “Mardi Gras”. On the other side of the path you can see a passalong and nameless yarrow, bits of Blue Paradise phlox and Connecticut Yankee delphinium.

Yarrow

Yarrow

I don’t think this yarrow is Coronaation Gold, but I am going to cut it and see if it dries well.

Ann Varner daylily

Ann Varner daylily

Of course, August is daylily season and Ann Varner is at her peak.

The Fairy rose

The Fairy rose

Except for Thomas Affleck and The Fairy, rose season is over.

Cimicifuga

Cimicifuga

The tall candles of  cimicifuga, snakeroot, look very cool in  the shade of the ancient apple tree.

 

Artemesia lactiflora

Artemesia lactiflora

Like the meadow rue, Artemesia lactiflora has very unusual airy blossoms, but dark foliage.

Hydrangea 'Limelight'

Hydrangea ‘Limelight’

The hydrangeas are in bloom.  ’Mothlight’ the oldest is almost as tall as the weeping birch next to it. ‘Limelight’ is very happy and the oakleaf hydrangea is recovering from deer browing. The bucket loader is there because our driveway is actually town road and the road crew is repairing damage by our heavy rain storms. There hasn’t been  an unusual amount of rain, but when it comes, it comes down hard and all at once.

 

Toremia

Toremia

Toremia is a new annual to me. It grows on the Bridge of Flowers and love it. No deadheading necessary.

 

Cuphea

Cuphea

Cuphea is another new-to-me annual growing in pots in front of the house. The colors are fabulous!

Love Lies Bleeding

Love Lies Bleeding

I first saw Love Lies Bleeding, an amaranth, planted in the ground at Wave Hill in New York. I was stunned  by the aptness of its name, and at Wave Hill it was a heroic love that had died bleeding.  I think I will have to plant it in the ground next year. I am perplexed by the differently shapped pendant flower cluster. One looks like pompoms and the other more tassel-like.  Any ideas?

For more of what is blooming over this great land visit Carol, our hostess, over at May Dreams Gardens on this Bloom Day.

 

View from the Bedroom Window – July 2014

View from the Bedroom Window July 1, 2014

View from the Bedroom Window July 1, 2014

The view from the bedroom window on July 1, 2014 shows a hot and humid landscape, but there is a breeze.

July 16, 2014

July 16, 2014

It’s been hot, humid and rainy. The rains are usually torrential – July 4 – 2 inches; July 7 – 2 inches; July 15 – 3 inches during the night.

July 30, 2014

July 30, 2014

Thelast week of July was chilly, with night temperatures in the 50′s. Breezy during the day. A total of another 2-1/2 inches rain on the July 27-28.   With a few showers thrown in, we’ve had about 10 inches of rain during July.

For more (Almost) Wordlessness this Wednesday click here.

Wildflowers and Others in the Field

Panicled aster

Panicled aster

I have wildflowers in the fields around our house. Other flowers have joined them unexpectedly. These wildflowers showed up mysteriously en masse this year. I believe they are panicled asters. They are tall with ‘willow-like’ leaves, numerous rays and they bloom in August through October.

Panicled aster

Panicled aster

Lots of these pretty flowers in the field and along the roadside.

Goldenrod

Goldenrod

Goldenrod, solidago. Maybe this is Solidago juncea which has tiny leaflets in the axils of the slim toothless of the upper leaves. The flower clusters have what they call an elmlike shape.  There are many types of goldenrod and you’d think it would be easier to tell them apart.

Steeplebush

Steeplebush

At least I know this is steeplebush, Spiraea tomentosa, a low woody shrub with pink flowers and leaves that are a pale brownish color on the underside.. If you look very closely you can see that those tiny flowers have five petals and grow in a kind of pink fuzzy cluster.  Right behind the steeplebush is a clump of wild mint.

Wild mint

Wild mint

This isn’t a very noticeable plant. Icertainly never noticed it in the field before. Mine doesn’t seem very minty, but I am fascinated by the tiny flower clusters that grow in the leaf axils.

Thyme escapees

Thyme escapees

Behind the wild mint is a large clump of escaped thyme.  Actually there is a lot of thyme in the field. And in my ‘lawn’.  I didn’t realize it could spread by seed, but it must. I have been deliberately planting thyme in my lawn for a number of years. It gets mowed often enough that it rarely blooms, but I consider it an important element in my ‘flowery mead.’

Bee balm escapees

Bee balm escapees

This bee balm is growing right at the very end of the road, in front of our brush pile. Possibly it is the result of a stray root from a thinned clump of bee balm in the Herb Bed nearby.  Escaped thyme and bee balm – do they now qualify as wildflowers too?