Thursday, July 28, 2011

Going Native: Climbing Prairie Rose

Climbing prairie rose, Rosa setigera, is another native rose I planted in my garden two years ago. I planted it along our fence line to hide the chain link and to offer privacy. It receives a fair amount of sun and has grown amazingly fast. Other than to train it slightly to grow along the fence and handmade trellis, I have done nothing to maintain this rose. This is the first season it bloomed. I expected a few blooms, but not this:

It smells like a rose. It also offers pollen and hips. I look forward to seeing the bright red hips this winter. Pollinators attracted to this rose include Syrphid flies and various bees: honeybees, bumblebees, Anthophorine bees, Miner bees, large Leaf-Cutting bees, and Halictine bees. Birds are attracted to the hips. (I hope to witness this firsthand.)

This rose is classified as a shrub 6-8' H, but is easily trained to climb. Some of my branches are quite long and I simply direct them to grow along the fence.

The leaves turn a nice red color in fall. For someone who knows nothing about roses, I am really thrilled to have two native roses now growing (organically) and blooming in my garden. (To learn more about swamp rose, Rosa pulustris, click here.) If you, too, have a fear of growing roses thinking they are fussy and need gallons of chemical sprays, give the native prairie rose a try!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

What's Growing

Things are taller, fuller, bigger ... bolting, wilting, shriveling in the potager this month.

Greens, greens, greens! Mustard is looking good as are Broccoli Rabe and Swiss Chard. My lettuce mixes are suffering from the heat and lack of rain. This year my greens seem to be ridden with insect bites, more so than usual.

Some of the Chinese Cabbage and Kale bolted but I cut off the flowers with the hope that more leaves develop.

The squash has begun to flower. The bees scramble over one another to reach their pollen but of course conveniently disappear before the camera. Patty Pan or Scallop Squash has already been served for dinner. It's delicious and I will grow more next year.

Beans, beans, beans! Purple beans are also on the dinner menu. The Soy Beans are looking great - their leaves are very fuzzy and fun. I always have to rub them when I walk by. The Scarlet Runner Beans have finally reached the roof of the rustic arbor and are loaded with flowers.

Borage is also beginning to flower. I love these flowers, especially in my salads.

Also flowering are peppers! It's the first time I have been successful with peppers. I have tiny Jalepeno, Cayenne and sweet Lipstick peppers beginning. The tomatillos have been flowering and are now beginning to form. I just love the way these look but it won't stop me from picking them.

I have lots of green tomatoes ... c'mon turn red, red, red!

Beets for tonight!

Today should be the last of this heat wave. After our spring I never thought I would say this but I wish it would rain! I have watered the garden often but the soil is still dry and even cracking in some places. A new rain barrel is sitting in my shed waiting to be installed.

Friday, July 15, 2011

What's Blooming

Out front spires of Lamb's Ear, Liatris, Verbascum, Sea Holly, Russian Sage, Milkweed and Pink BeeBalm are in full bloom. Walking through I am often "pinged" by bees – sorry to be in the way!


In the butterfly garden it is daisy time! Shasta, Midsummer's Night Dream, Coneflowers, and red BeeBalm make for big landing pads.


Out in the potager the first sunflowers are beginning to bloom. The pollinator garden bordering the potager is just beginning to come to life with blooming Larkspur (newly planted this year from seed), Rose Mallow, Catmint, Milkweed, Queen Ann's Lace and Joe Pye.


Just opposite in a new bed along the back of our garage/workshop, Yarrow replaces Columbine gone to seed. A container is filling out nicely. Hostas are beginning to bloom.

The woodland edge is dry. Ironically after such a wet spring, we now have very little rain. This Monkshood was rudely moved late spring and although blooming, is not at its best, but I still love the shape of its tiny hoods.

This primrose hybrid, Primula x bulleesiana, was an impulse purchase at Home Depot. It's still blooming somewhat. I love the way the blooms stack like a mini topiary.

Persicaria Firetail is just lighting up. It is spreading nicely.

Flowering Raspberry, Rubus ordoratus, is doing just that! A nice surprise considering it was newly planted this spring. Yes, you can eat the berries if you beat the birds to it.

The nice driveway is putting on a show with Clematis, 'Comtesse de Bouchard,' and stunning Cones: Ratibida Red, Purple and Rudbeckia Maxima.

Garden bloggers' bloom day is hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens the 15th of each month. Add your blog to the list so we can see what's blooming in your garden.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Pollinators in Action

I had to stop a moment and watch with fascination pollinators in action in my front garden, particularly on my sea holly, 'Blue Glitter.' When I walked by, I couldn't believe the cloud of action surrounding this perennial. Wasps, which I believe to be Zethus spinipes, and several smaller flies and bees were zipping all about. I thought, hey, it would be cool to try to capture that on video! So, I tried to capture a small slice of the action with my camera. It is just over a minute and will not win any academy awards, but you can sense the flurry of activity.

Moving along I am always amused by the Wool Carder Bees. This is the second year they have claimed their own "condos" among the spires of Lamb's Ear and nearby Verbascum. They hover in mid air – their maneuvers worthy of a spot among the Blue Angels. When another bee invader comes too close, they ram into him to "bump" him away. This video may be a bit dizzying, but you can spot a "hover" or two and an attack.

I'll try to improve my video making skills (as in short and sweet), because I will attempt this again. It is very fun to capture these little garden moments in action. Thank you for your patience and I hope you enjoyed.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Secret Garden in the Village

I admire large, sweeping gardens surrounded by open countryside or woodland. Gardens like these easily invite nature in and keep the rest of the world at bay. It's ironic to me that I have ended up with less than a 1/4 of an acre to garden in, in the middle of a village, with a view into my neighbors' windows. How much privacy can one really expect living in such close quarters? How can one truly get away in a backyard that's stuck in the middle of it all?

It was uplifting to tour a garden right here in our village that offers such an escape – a tour made possible through our local garden club. There is so much to learn from this garden. I hope some of its magic rubbed off on me. Hopefully you, too, will be inspired and walk away with ideas of your own.

There is not a stitch of lawn.

The back of the house leads into the garden by way of gravel and stone. The gates transport you into another world.

Deep borders seemingly creep into the gravel pathways. There are plenty of seating nooks.

Shadblow Serviceberry and Magnolia trees will soon form a cradling canopy above.

Corners of this square plot have been erased by curving lines and focal points. I enjoyed this creative play of branches, one of many "stations" ensuring you pause and keep your pace slow, present, relaxed.

Sculptures alight on this stage. A dark green curtain of fence is the perfect backdrop. It doesn't distract – a perfect frame for a palette of plants.

Even stone becomes art.

Flowers dance around this crowned wooden toadstool. How small am I, Alice?

This potted fairy seems surrounded by a gigantic, flowing meadow that is really not all that big. It is magic.

Now I believe I can escape in my own secret, backyard garden. I was certainly transported to another world when I stepped into this one. This post is for all gardeners, but especially for those with limited space and unlimited imagination.


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