Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Highlights of a Country Fair

With the help of my eleven-year-old grandson, Jon, I took 12 first place ribbons at the West End Fair this year. In fact I was awarded a ribbon for every one of my 28 entries. On the day we took the specimens to the fair, it rained and rained. Nevertheless, we were out in the garden early with Jon holding the umbrella over me while we debated the best blooms, vegetables, and herbs to pick. What would I have done without him? The process took several hours and we were MISERABLY wet. Like last year, Jon arrived the day before to help me prepare. Click here to see how he prepped the jars.

The West End Fair committee issues a 'premium' book each year with specific instructions. For example, under the general instructions for HERBS it states:
  • Specimen and container shall be clean, with insect damaged, dead or faded blooms/leaves removed.
  • Judging shall be on the basis of quality. Judges shall consider condition and presentation.
  • Fragrance and/or flavor characteristics of herb shall be important factors.
  • All entries must be grown by the exhibitor.
Under FRESH GREEN HERBS it specifies:
  • Three stems uniform in size and conformation.
  • Submitted in a clear container suited to the size of specimen. Remove leaves below water level.
  • Herbs may be shown with leaves and flowers and/or fresh seeds.
We followed the rules and were duly rewarded.
Lemon Balm with blue ribbon.

I grew borage for the first time this year and it did quite well with a second place. My reliable yarrow 'The Pearl' was included in the herb category and, like last year, earned a blue ribbon. My nasturtium also won a first place.

Borage, starflower

Achillea The Pearl (Achillea ptarmica).

Nasturtium beginning to droop by the time I took the picture.

In the perennial section my clematis, hydrangea, Russian sage, and shasta daisy each pulled a blue ribbon.

Amazing that I still had a clematis in bloom.

Hydrangea 'Pinky Winky"

Leucanthemum x superbum, commonly called Shasta daisy.
Among the annuals, the wonderful cleome that is so prolific in my garden this year netted a blue ribbon and so did my double marigold.

I used the marigolds and some orange zinnias in a shelf display 'School Days'. Jon enjoys the shelf and floor displays the most. He arranged the items to their best advantage and we got a first, third, and fourth.

Shelf Display theme 'School Days'

Floor display theme 'Tea Time' -- the Mad Hatter's Tea Party

"Look, it's a dormouse."

And the first place went to ...

Shelf display 'Nursery Rhymes'.

Blue mist flower, shasta daisies, yarrow 'the pearl,' and geranium, 'Rozanne'

There is so much more to see at the fair. We watched chicks hatch in the 4H building, and patted baby animals. We admired cattle and horses including some delightful minis. (I told Dude, my mini, all about them on our return.)

Welcome to the World.

We sampled delicious fair food, listened to a country and western band on the main stage, and Jon was rewarded with a wrist band giving him unlimited rides! He deserved it.

I am glad to say there was no rain during the week the fair was open.

The West End Fair marks the unofficial end of summer here. Schools opened today. I am linking with Donna at Gardens Eye View for her 'Seasonal Celebrations' meme, as I did last year. Although this is a repeat, Donna, I can't think of a better way to celebrate the changes!

Enjoy your gardens, dear friends, as we celebrate this new season.
Pamela x

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Friday, August 15, 2014

Octopus's Garden on Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day: August 2014

With the temperature ten degrees below normal, it feels like fall this August Bloom Day. I love the cool air and clear, blue sky following a day of soaking rain. My plants love this weather, too, and the garden is more beautiful than usual for the time of year. Usually, ever flower is struggling in extreme heat and humidity. What a different and strange year it's been so far.

On my morning walk I tried to photograph what is new, but couldn't resist adding a couple of old friends to the pictorial mix. Let's start with the pond garden, or as my grandson (a Beatles fan) calls it, "Octopus's Garden."

Angel Falls

The water lily is just opening its petals to the morning sun. Can you see Mr. Bullfrog?

Octopus's Garden, surrounding the pond, is full of color with cleome, butterfly bush, Russian sage, perennial geranium, and the deep red leaves of the Japanese maple...

 Rozanne is a hardy geranium. This is the true geranium, not to be confused with the annual pelargonium. It grows, reliably, in several parts of my garden. Here it is in the rose garden.

Old friend, perennial geranium, Rozanne

My roses suffered horribly this past winter. I lost some and had to cut back others so severely they failed to produce flowers this year. One rose, my yellow Knockout, is attempting to bloom, but as the buds appear they are greedily devoured by Japanese beetles. 

Knockout rose bravely bearing buds.

A plant bearing yellow flowers with much more 'blooming' success is the threadleaf coreopsis.

Threadleaf coreopsis

Not many butterflies are visiting my garden this year. I am so sad! Every day I examine the milk weed for eggs or caterpillars, but I am not finding them. I have spotted only a couple of monarchs passing through. The blooms of the butterfly bushes entice them to stay. Please stay ...

Phlox, shasta daisies, and pink butterfly bush.

Purple butterfly bush, daylily 'Chicago Apache,' and cleome.

Behind the shasta daisies I see blue mist shrub has started to bloom. 

Shasta daisies and blue mist shrub

I planted containers with zinnias and placed them at the end of the path to provide a 'destination.'

Path through octopus's garden.

Entering the kitchen garden I am delighted to see a clematis is still blooming on the arbor.

New this year, I planted borage among the vegetables to attract pollinators. It's striking blue flowers are real bee magnets. I just wish the bees would stay on each bloom long enough for me to take pictures. Please stay ...

Borage (herb)

As always, I planted annual flowers in the kitchen garden.

Zinnias, delphiniums, and marigolds.

Obedience is full of bees...

Obedience plant.

Finally, at the edge of the top field I found an 'escaped' Turk's cap lily with wild, puple phlox behind it...

I scattered the phlox seeds along the stone row late last fall, but wasn't sure they survived the hard winter ...

White phlox in the butterfly garden.

A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing the birds are singing, and the lawn mower is broke. --James Dent

Thank you, Carol, for graciously hosting Garden Blogger's Bloom Day each month. What a joy to see all that's blooming around the world.

Happy GBBD,
Pamela x

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Sunday, August 10, 2014

Miniature Gardening: Part 3 -- Step-by-Step Procedure

Gardening in miniature can be as challenging as designing a full-sized garden; proportion and scale, elements of garden design, and sustainability all need to be considered. -- Janit Calvo

I posted about my fascination with fairy gardens last November in Miniature Gardening: Part 1 and Miniature Gardening: Part 2 - Book Reviews. You can click on the titles of these two postings to read them. Now I am happy to show you my first two creations. To be accurate, I can't take all the credit, because I had considerable help from my grandson, Jon. We decided to make one mini garden in a container, and one in a garden bed.

The container I chose was intended for storing a water hose, but I was using it for my miniature hosta collection. As we were going to put the hostas in the fairy gardens, I removed them from the container and scrubbed it out. The container had a hole in the bottom -- I think it was drilled by H.H. when I made it into a planter. Here is the procedure:

1. Jon covered the drainage hole with a piece of weed block. Or you could use a coffee filter.

 2. Add about two inches of a drainage layer such as pea gravel or broken pieces of terra cotta pots. Jon used pebbles and crushed rock which I washed in hot water first to prevent insect and disease problems.

3. Jon added a high quality potting mix until it reached one inch from the rim of the planter. If you want to keep the potting mix 'sweet' you can add horticultural charcoal. You need at least 3 inches of mix to support the plants' root systems. (I'm glad Jon wore his gardening gloves to handle the potting mix.)

 4. The next step is the hardscaping. Jon decided to create a creek with shiny, marble-like pebbles. He placed them on top of a strip of weed block fabric, so they wouldn't wash into the soil when it rained.

He placed a bridge over the stream.

5. My favorite step was adding plants. We planted three miniature hostas, some lamium, and sedum. Jon carefully placed moss to cover all the bare spots. You will see we used shade-loving plants as they are located in the shade garden.

 Using a similar method, with weed block fabric and marble chips, he made a path from the bridge to an arbor.

He positioned a fairy under the arbor and a birdhouse near the bridge to complete the theme.

 6. Finally, watering and caring for the miniature garden. Use a water can with a fine spray, being careful not to overwater. You don't need to use fertilizer as you don't want the plants to grow too fast.

The completed garden.

 We made a second fairy garden in the 'grass garden' bed ...

 Legends tells us that fairy voices echo within the gentle whispers of a breeze, their faces peer at us from the trunks of gnarled old trees, and the ripples of an otherwise still pond are nothing more than fairies playing. -- Betty Earl

Later, I placed a mirror behind the first garden. It is really lovely now the hostas are blooming.


Miniature hosta.

As the sedum grew, I trained it up and over the arbor ....  

 A love of miniature gardening is contagious. My friend Katharine decided to try it, too. She sent me the picture I placed at the beginning of this posting. She is very excited about her project and is planning to add more plants. She made the fence out of popsicle sticks. The next picture shows a wide view of her sweet fairy garden ....

Another friend, Karen, gave me a miniature bench, some paving stones, and a fence as a hostess gift recently (what a great gift!) so I have more fairy gardens planned. I have to pick up a couple more supplies, and wait until my grandson's next visit before proceeding. Look for Part 4 in the near future.

Miniature gardening is that sweet spot where craft and gardening intersect at such an intimately creative place; it can spur your imagination like no other hobby. -- Janit Calvo

It is so much fun! I recommend you try it!

Pamela x

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