Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Five, Six, Seven Picks for Diana!

I am joining Diana of Elephant's Eye in choosing twelve months of my favorite garden plants. Since "Mayhem" I have been submersed in the garden. I find it difficult to sit in my office at the computer, but I need to catch up. Here are my plant picks for May, June and July.

May — Iris. There is nothing like Iris in the garden. Their blade-like foliage adds complimentary texture to any planting bed. Swords of buds, their tips dipped in color, slice through foliage and flora and then one day unfurl in a splash of paint. Blossoming swirls of purple, yellow, cream, inky veins, and bristling anthers brushed with pollen, beckon bees and artists. I have yet to paint an Iris watercolor. My favorite is Sibirica.

June — Alliums. Alliums add surprise and whimsy to my garden. Slowly their sparkling spheres rise and seemingly float above the garden floor, their nodding heads bouncing in the slightest breeze. From the common chive to the bigger beat of the drumstick to the native nodding onion, all of them turn into rotating, buzzing globes attracting all sorts of bees, wasps, flies and other pollinators. I recently added 'Summer Beauty' among my nodding onions for its stronger pink hues.

July — Bee Balm, Monarda. I have several large drifts of Bee Balm. One is pink in color, the others red, given to me by my mother. I would like to add a large patch of Wild Bergamot or Monarda fistulosa. Bee Balm is in fact popular among the bees, and even a small patch of these fireworks guarantees to attract a Hummingbird. How could I not include this among my favorite garden plants when just this week I spied the first Hummingbird Hawk Moth to visit my garden whirring among its blooms? It's the balm!

To read about my previous choices for a dozen for Diana, click below.
January: Sunflowers
February: Wild Roses

March: Lady's Mantle

April: Poppies

Sunday, July 15, 2012

What's Blooming: Bee Balminess

Well, here it is Summer in full swing. Welcome to the jungle – busy buzzing, mad blossoming, balmy nights. Some plants are withering with lack of rain but overall the garden seems content.

A few surprises ... a floating water plant in a galvanized tub blooms, a Clematis bloom peeks through the wall of hydrangeas and grapevine.

The wall of Hydrangeas and Grapevine

In the Bird & Butterfly Garden Bee Balm, Shasta Daisies, Purple Coneflowers, Joe Pye Weed, and Summer Nights Oxeye Daisies dance together among grasses Morning Light and Dallas Blues.

In the Woodland Edge Cutleaf Coneflower and Cup Plant reach new heights.

Ligularia "The Rocket" (yellow spikes)

The orange blooms of Lilies and Jewelweed

Native Nodding Onion

The towering heights of Cutleaf Coneflower and Cup Plant

The foamy blooms of Meadow Rue and spires of Culver's Root

The pollinator border in the Potager overflows onto this path.

Scabiosa Butterfly Blue

Pepperbox Poppy

Cheers to you Nice Driveway! Hummingbirds float in a heavenly state of Bee Balminess.

Giant Coneflower Rudbeckia Maxima

Out front Allium sphaerocephalon poms replace the blooms of common chives, baskets of Begonias and herbs thrive.

Allium Sphaerocephalon

Volunteer Milkweeds

Russian Sage

Not-so-patiently waiting for the first bloom of Night Blooming Datura

Thank you Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting Garden Bloggers Bloom Day the 15th of each month.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

What's Growing: Radish Scapes

Mixed feelings on how the Potager is coming along this year. No matter how things grow, walking among the paths of the Potager is always uplifting. Mornings are beautiful with the sun streaming across the garden and the Robins singing.

Many of the seeds I started never took off. I actually ended up buying starts of tomatoes, peppers, and brussel sprouts. Is it because I used choir instead of seed-starting mix? Or just because? I will be rethinking next year's approach.

Banana Pepper from start. I planted both hot and sweet varieties.

Italian plum tomato from start.

Lemon Boy tomato from start.

Brandywine Red tomato from start.

Cherry tomatoes.

This year I made tomato cages from bamboo and grape vines. The tiki tomato ladder was becoming quite rickety. I have one very small German Striped Tomato from the seeds I saved last year that I didn't give up on. It is just starting to take off, probably too late but one can always hope.

Brussels among Borage

Borage is a great bee magnet and the flowers are edible.

My lettuce (again!) and spinach bolted with the mix of "Mercury" days. The trick I've learned is to keep things well watered during the heat spells – hot and dry = flowers and seeds. Next year I will really pay attention to lettuce seed mixes that are slow to bolt. A savvy local farmer told me she plants her lettuce between rows of kale and chard which shade the lettuce nicely and I bet looks beautiful, too. Planting my lettuce between rows of garlic did practically nothing to hinder the flea beetles. I could plant a "trap" crop of Arugula, their favorite. A trap crop is planted with sacrifice in mind usually a few weeks earlier than the crop you want to thrive. I've also recently read that catnip deters the beetles so I will let my catnip go wild. Lettuce under shading Sunflowers sounds appealing, too. I've been sowing lettuce every few weeks since my first sowing flopped. Some of it is coming up nicely, or was, until the bunny (make that bunnies) dined on it for dinner one evening. I now have two generations of rabbits running around. Guess that old saying is true. But I still should have a worthy fall crop of lettuce and spinach.

Newly planted lettuce among garlic and pole beans just starting to climb.

My cucumbers barely germinated. I have two small plants. The eggplant I may have accidentally weeded out. I haven't grown it before but now see what it looks like after a trip to the nursery – oops. I remind myself that this is gardening.

On the sunny side of the Potager, my snap peas were awesome this year and are just now fading. They are/were the tallest they've ever been and I enjoyed snacking on them as well as using them in stir-frys and salads.

Again I remind myself of the ups and downs of gardening. As usual, the Swiss chard and kales are beautiful, up. The broccoli rabe is not growing very well this year but it is planted next to some strawberries, a bad combination I recently learned, down. I have scallions!, up. The artichokes (another new trial this year) aren't looking very big and lush. Will they flower before cold weather?, down. I have blueberries!, up.

Swiss chard, kale, scallions, beets and carrots.

Who took the art out of artichoke?

Oregano and thymes are in flower. Purple perilla has reseeded itself from last year.

The bush and soy beans are just beginning to flower. So far the squash is growing well. At the community garden we are infested with cucumber beetles. My garden seems to be fairing better. The few beetles I've found I've crushed with my bare fingers! – a newly acquired gardening skill. I have nasturtium planted among the cucumbers and squash which is said to deter the beetles. I've also been regularly checking under the leaves for signs of eggs.

Fuzzy Soybeans

Something new this year, radish scapes. I almost prefer the radish scapes to the radishes! I believe I read about them in Mother Earth News.  A woman from WI (a state I'm partial to), wrote that she lets some of her radishes go to flower. They then form scapes and are delicious to eat. I put them into salads and stir-frys. I left some of them to go to seed for an easy fall crop of radish just as she recommended.

Radish Scapes


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