Thursday, August 30, 2012

Nature Center Magazine

Visit Nature Center Magazine for an insightful Nature Walk with The Violet Fern! Please don't just visit on this occasion but become a regular reader of this wonderful online magazine brought to you by Emma Springfield. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

What's Growing: Kale & Collards

I am enjoying the cooling nights and misty mornings of this August after a hot and dry spell of Summer. I continue to water the Potager. The crack in the earth near the compost continues to grow. Many of my perennials have begun to go dormant. The kale and horseradish are indifferent. The Perilla weeps and sleeps during the day but awakens each evening.

In just a few days, the pole and scarlet runner beans live up to the tale of Jack and the Beanstalk ... they now completely cover their trellis and are searching for more. The bush and soybeans were enjoyed by the rabbits.

The bees are becoming lazy. I catch them napping in the squash, under the leaves of the Coneflowers, on the moppy heads of Joe-pye. The surprise squash I let grow among the patty pan or scalloped squash are ornamental gourds! Much to my delight they have taken to growing up the rustic arbor.

We have harvested garlic, scallions, peppers. Hopefully the potato bin is full. It needs to be harvested soon.

Tomato sandwiches and homemade sauce are on the menu. Apparently some of the lower Romas are also on the menu for the chipmunks! I love to lightly pan stir the cherries with garlic and olive oil then drizzle them over pasta or baguette.

The garlic chives are beginning to bloom. The collards and brussel sprouts are lost in a sea of Borage. Everywhere creeps Calendula. Anyone want seeds? The artichokes choked - not even a flower. Next year I will try again in the soil (not raised bed) with plenty of water. Any other advice?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

What's Blooming: Gold, Fire & Lime

Is it me or does Fall seem to be creeping and sneaking into the garden? A misty green morning but already I see the golds of Black-eyed Susans, reds of Joe-pye and browns of emerging Sea Holly seed heads that will hopefully withstand Winter winds.

On and on the Hydrangeas bloom spilling onto the driveway from the heavy draping wall of grapes.

A few firsts (blooms) this month. A new Hydrangea – Quick Fire. I  miss my Oakleaf and planned to replace it but wondered did it really die from moving or from the stretch of -30° below cold? It would be heartbreaking to kill another. Although not native, Quick Fire is hardy to zone 3! A struggling Ligularia, dentata 'Desdemona' Golden Ray, assures me it will adapt to its spot with first-ever blooms even as it wilts in too much sun and dry conditions. As the surrounding trees and shrubs fill in it will find itself relief in deeper shade. Finally, finally the Cimicifuga Black Snakeroot is sending up blooms. I've been waiting for three years! Gentian Violet is sporting big violet-purple buds. The Trumpet Vine creeping up the rustic arbor blares out its first-ever blooms.

Orange Jewelweed has made itself at home just beyond the screened porch where I can watch the hummingbirds sip from its flowers. Great Blue Lobelia siphilitica stretches through the Raspberry leaves. Persicaria Firetail contrasts with pink Yarrow through a veil of Prairie Dropseed and Big Bluestem Andropogon gerardii.

I'll be saving some seed from these beautiful Queen Red Lime Zinnias for hopefully, repeat blooms next year.

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day is hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens the 15th of each month. 

Monday, August 13, 2012


A recent Wild Ones newsletter update included a link to an interesting NY Times article entitled The Sound of a Damaged Habitat. The author of the article has recorded the sounds of several habitats before and after logging and/or clearing. This article inspired me to record my own garden in a positive light – not as it declines but as it continues to grow and mature. This blog is a journal of my garden in the making and Eureka! should include sound as well as video and photos. I now wish I had sound recordings from the very beginning!

A soundscape is defined as the sounds heard in a particular location, considered as a whole. My soundscape recordings may include a car passing by, a dog barking, a neighbor's (@!#*) leaf blower as well as the sounds of wildlife in my garden. Surrounding sounds do and will affect wildlife living in my garden. Too noisy to be heard and it may not be worth moving into. On the other hand I read that hummingbirds prefer to nest in a noisy location possibly to mask the sound of nestlings. Sound is another dimension in our gardens. We usually think of wind chimes or a bubbling fountain as a means of masking street sounds. The whisper of grasses or rustling of leaves may transport us to a special place. Consider how important the sounds of wildlife in your garden really are – the dawn chorus of the birds, the buzzing of the bees, crickets chirping. Imagine if these sounds were silenced!

Listen to my backyard garden on an August evening 2012, 9:30 p.m.

I bet it didn't sound like that in August of 2008.

Listening, I thought that maybe, just maybe, a toad or frog of some type moved in. I silently stalked barefoot through the grass path with flashlight in hand and tracked down the call of ... a tree cricket. This tiny cricket makes the predominant noise you here in the recording above. He was in the branches of the Flowering Raspberry.

Photo taken from web. This is how he looked in song.

I think I will mark several dates each year to record the sound in my garden – the crickets in August, the birds early morning in Spring and Fall, bee traffic ... it will be interesting to compare the recordings over several years.

I will also make it worthwhile to now and again sit in my garden with eyes closed and focus on the sounds of the garden instead of only the sights. I've learned in my quest to become a better bird watcher that you are likely to hear a bird before you see it. Perhaps I may just pick up a curious sound and discover something new in my garden that I may have overlooked. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Going Native: Flowering Raspberry

I planted Flowering Raspberry, Rubus odoratus in my Woodland Edge border last Spring. It grew well. The rabbits dined upon it all Winter. This year it grew well again in spite of the nibbling. Actually it grew in even better and is exactly as I pictured - yes, just as I imagined. It is filling in the space as I drew it in my little sketch/plan of the Woodland Edge. Yes, I'm amazed by that. Plants do not usually grow according to plan. Perhaps this one will continue to fill in, and fill in, and fill in ... then it will have grown outside the plan. But I want to add more of it to the other side of my garden because I am just that happy with it. I don't foresee my love for this plant fading.

It propagates by runners and seeds although I think the seeds will be devoured before I have a chance to save them. Dining rabbits, enticing blooms that resemble those of a wild rose and disappearing berries and seeds are all clear indications that this plant is not only loved by me, but by the wildlife in my garden, too. Many types of bees are attracted to the Flowering Raspberry. Robins and other fruit loving birds eat the berries. Small mammals will eat the seeds.

Not only does it flower (long lasting!) and produce berries, but Flowering Raspberry has beautiful large Maple-like leaves that I find myself admiring every time I walk by. They form intricate layers and shades of green and will turn a nice yellow color come Fall.

These shrubs grow to approximately 6 ft and are hardy to zone 3. Mine grow in a pretty good amount of sun but I've heard they will grow well in shade, too. I purchased my shrubs from Amanda's Garden Native Perennial Nursery, but you may be lucky enough to gather some seeds in the wild. If you're patient, I may be giving away some of these plants in a few years!


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