Friday, September 15, 2017

Fall Is in the Air on September's GBBD

As fall hurtles towards my gardens, the zinnias continue to hold center stage. Ever year at this time I'm amazed at their abundance and colors. I'm so thankful I spend time in the spring sowing the seeds in trays, putting them under grow lights, then planting the seedlings in the Cutting Garden. So much reward for such an easy task.

Zinnia Zinnia elegans 'Zowie! Yellow Flame"

The cutting garden and kitchen garden share the same space; there the chocolate mint is blooming. Named more for the color of its stems than for it's flavor, this mint adds a refreshing hint of chocolate to drinks and desserts.

Chocolate Mint

Also in the Kitchen Garden, the monarch butterfly caterpillars are continuing to grow as they munch on the milkweed leaves. I hope they make it in time for the Great Monarch Butterfly Migration.

In the Cottage Garden many plants I featured in my last posting (click HERE ) are still blooming, so I haven't included every one, such as the hydrangeas. Those iconic cottage garden flowers: foxglove, delphinium, hollyhock, and rose continue to bloom in the herbaceous borders. I'm especially thrilled the delphiniums are blossoming again and the foxglove never stopped.

Top left: Foxglove 'Foxlight Plum Gold.' Top right: Delphinium 'Magic Fountain Sky Blue'
Bottom left: 'Red Knockout' Rose. Bottom right: Hollyhock and Russian sage
Top: Perennial geranium 'Roxanne'. Bottom: Yarrow 'The Pearl'

I'm pleased with the potentilla shrub I planted last fall. It's yellow flowers bloomed all season. My English mother called it 'Cinquefoil.'

Potentilla flowers starting to fade but still loved by bees.

 In my previous posting, I mentioned and showed many of the plants in Abundance Garden including Joe pye and my giant lobelia. They are still lovely and in addition pretty fall asters are just starting to bloom.

Left: New York Aster. Top: Supertunia 'Vista Silverberry.'
Some self-seeding snapdragons refuse to give up.

In Serenity Garden, as turtlehead blooms fade, the Japanese anenome buds are beginning to  open at last. (Gardening teaches us patience they say!)

Japanese Anemone 'Honorine Jobert'
Annual Fuscia
Sedum 'Autumn Joy' is found in most of my gardens.

 In the Woodland Walk the beautiful native snake root appears in drifts of white. We removed this plant from around the pastures as it is poisonous to grazing animals, but we allow it to grow freely in the Woodland Walk.

Snakeroot Ageratima altissimo

 In Kat's Field the goldenrod is blooming. A sure sign that fall is upon us.

Noticeably absent are two large features: the stand of sunflowers in the Kitchen Garden and the zebra grass by Froggy Pond. I noticed the sunflowers were drooping and broke open a stem to find it full of the sunflower stem borer lava. This happened last year also -- no, I didn't plant in the same spot and I even used a different variety of sunflower. I wont grow sunflowers for a couple of years, researching what will get rid of the pest. We removed the zebra grass because it began to go to seed and, while I love its cool plumes, I don't want it to spread.  It is on the Pennsylvania invasive species watch list. Mine had grown enormous and messy and had to go. Now I like the openness that reveals both the pond and my beloved miniature weeping spruce. But I'm sad to see the sunflowers go.

Click HERE for picture before we removed the sunflowers. See title picture above for the grass

 Finally, I've chosen two plants with striking leaves for Foliage Follow-up.

Left: Canna 'Striatta.' Right: Smokebush Cotinus coggygria 'Royal purple.'

I'm linking with Carol's blog May Dreams Gardens for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day and Pam at Digging for Foliage Follow Up.  Now I'm going over to Carol's blog to see what is blooming today around the world and to Pam's to see what is happening in Texas. Wont you join me?

Fall is in the air in the northern hemisphere. Enjoy the change of season in your part of the world!

Pamela x

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Sunday, September 3, 2017

End of Summer View

My gardens are a tangled mess -- well, most of them. The echinacea's heavy cone-like flowers are bowed down among the shasta daisies; morning glory vines wind around hydrangea and obedience; zinnias squabble with the marigolds dashed down by rains. Never-the-less, I went outside with my camera to record the end of summer vistas and, I'm glad to say, the resulting pictures don't show all the jumble.  I intended posting on the last day of August but the deadline for my September newspaper article took precedence. I am, however, linking with Steve who now hosts the meme 'End of Month View' at Glebe House Garden. Sorry I'm a bit late, Steve, and thanks for hosting. (Do check out Steve's amazing garden in England.) I have so many photographs, I will try to group as many of them as possible, and cut down on my narrative to keep this post manageable.

The Kitchen Garden continues to produce tomatoes, beans, peppers, and the occasional cucumber, but it is totally dominated by the stand of sunflowers that bloomed so late. The aforementioned zinnias and marigolds in the cutting garden (housed in the Kitchen Garden) are providing lots of color. I planted some cold-season veggies in the cold frame. I'm hoping to have produce for several more weeks, but with temperatures 10°F below normal for the time of year the seeds are slow to germinate.

The Kitchen Garden
Abundance Garden along the kitchen garden fence.

I am so happy with Joe Pye Weed 'Baby Joe.' I'm glad I purchased the miniature and don't have to strain my neck to see its fabulous blooms.

Eupatorium dubium Joe Pye Weed 'Baby Joe.'

With the cool wet summer many plants bloomed late or continued blooming longer than normal. Cleome flowers are usually done by now but they are looking fabulous.

Cleome -- an annual that self seeded.

My roses didn't do well this summer because it was too wet for them. The 'Peace' rose looks good today though.

Hybrid tea rose Rosa 'Peace'
The Cottage Garden Border

There's still activity in the Cottage Garden border as you can see in the following pictures.

Cottage Garden
Clockwise from top left: foxglove (flowered every day since spring), Phlox 'Bright Eyes', Shasta daisies with blue mist shrub Caryopteris x clandonensis, and perennial geranium 'Roxanne' in front of Lamb's ears.

The delphiums rebloomed -- Wow!
I adore my new Smoke bush
Hyssop continues to delight the bees and me. The pink flower is hollyhock.

On the patio the herb garden is still very productive and the canna lilies bloomed at last -- I'd given up on them.

Nasturtium in the herb trug; Canna 'Striata'
The leaves of the banana plant are stunning.

The pond garden is also a tangled mess. Closing it will be a challenge with so many plants needing to be repotted.

Pond and waterfall. Note the sedum in bloom behind the angel

The Serenity Garden is lovely again; now fully recovered from the trauma of the felled tree.

The Serenity Garden
Turtlehead (top) and hydrangeas are the stars.
Can you spot the hummingbird on Turtlehead Chelone 'Hot lips?'
Well, Japanese anemones, bloom already!
Hydrangea 'Limelight' turning a bit pink for some reason.
Colorful coleus guide you on the path to the front door

Finally ...

 ... the pollinator garden at the entrance to our property is the messiest.

You may wonder why there are no pictures of the Woodland Walk. I was afraid to enter it because Billy was acting strangely -- he was very spooked, wouldn't eat, and just stood there staring toward the back of the paddock. I feared a bear was somewhere near. Billy is a very good 'bear forecaster.'

Billy is spooked, but Dude just continues eating -- nothing scares him.

I hate to see the end of summer -- it flew by this year. In my garden there is a definite feel of autumn in the air.

The breezes taste
Of apple peel. 
The air is full
Of smells to feel -
Ripe fruit, old footballs,
Burning brush,
New books, erasers,
Chalk, and such.
The bee, his hive
Well-honeyed hums,
And Mother cuts
Like plates washed clean
With suds, the days
Are polished with
A morning haze. 

John Updike, September

Pamela x

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Saturday, August 26, 2017

Best Books of Summer and Fun at the Fair

Summer is winding down fast; I know this because today is the last day of the West End Fair. Time to review some of the best gardening books I've read this summer. I've picked out four in no particular order: two of them by Lee Miller who blogs at 'A Guide to Northeastern Gardening.' The name of her blog is also the title of her first book. Lee's newest book is Landscape Design Combinations. My third pick is Carol Michel's Potted and Pruned; as many of you know Carol blogs at 'May Dreams Gardens' where she hosts Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. Finally, I must include Jenny Rose Carey's wonderful book Glorious Shade that I reviewed HERE. I'm illustrating this posting with a few of my fair entries.

Sunflower got Best of Show

by Lee Miller

This easy-to-read book has good basic gardening information that is especially useful to the beginning gardener (although as an experienced gardener I learned a few new things.) The book is illustrated with beautiful photographs. The dozen or so chapters cover many aspects of gardening from choosing long-blooming perennials and deer-resistant plants to planting techniques and maintenance tips. My personal favorites are the chapters on planning a butterfly garden, on four-season garden design (I struggle with this as I don't feel I have enough winter-interest in my own garden), and the section on weeping evergreens. I learned how to rejuvenate daylilies and the proper planting technique for trees. I love Lee's use of evergreens in the landscape. The book, like her blog, makes me wish I could tour Lee's gardens in person.

'Tea time' floor display: top shelf shows baking shortbread; bottom tea tray.
by Lee Miller

Lee's latest book, Landscape Design Combinations, complements her first as she explains design principles, how to combine color, how to include hardscape elements, and more. She gives step-by-step instructions and provides labelled illustrations. One of my favorite photographs in her first book, A Guide to Northeastern Gardening, is of a raised cottage garden bed that she shows in this second book with the plants labelled, adding much useful information. I learned there is a seedless, non-invasive loosestrife with a stunning color, Lythrum virgatum 'Morder's Gleam.' If only I could find space for it. My favorite chapter is the one on border designs with great ideas that are easy for the beginner gardener to adapt. Another section is on container gardening and I used Lee's tips to make a succulent planter this year. As Lee points out, shrubs and trees are the backbone of the garden and she gives sound advice on using them in the landscape. She is great at showing how to combine trees, shrubs, and perennials.  The book has a valuable section on planning. Lee concludes with a little bit of the history of garden design. There is a useful glossary at the end. As with her first publication, I feel this book is most beneficial for newbees although there is something for everyone.

Lee and I have something in common apart from our love of gardening -- a long career in education. While I just 'retired to garden', however, Lee started a whole new career in the horticultural industry and has self-published two books. I admire her so much.

My shelf displays at the fair
by Carol J. Michel

Carol's book, Potted and Pruned: Living a Gardening Life, is a must-read for gardeners new and experienced. This collection of 36 essays, reflecting the author's philosophy about gardening, has the ring of truth for all of us. The book is full of the 'seeds of wisdom' with more than a few 'kernels of encouragement.' We are privileged to numerous hilariously funny accounts of her garden experiences: she is Captain HortHero to the rescue of a weedy bed; she uses the word 'frass' as a swear word (frass is insect poop.)  I recognize myself frequently as I read -- yes, Carol, I have GADS, too! We get a glimpse into her garden, for example one of my favorite chapters explains how Carol came to name her garden and each part of it. I've done this in my garden but not as cleverly: I call my vegetable garden 'The Kitchen Garden' (original, eh?) while Carol calls hers, with it's raised beds arranged like pews,  'The Vegetable Garden Cathedral'.  I love the letters she writes to her favorite T-shirt, to a 'common' daylily, to Summer, and (my favorite) to Drought with a plea for it to leave the garden. In my best-loved part, Carol explains how to use temporary botanical names when you don't know the actual one. This hilarious chapter offers the most useful advice for me as I become more and more forgetful. I'm laughing out loud as I write this, recalling her witty suggestions. I find Carol's book not only hysterically funny but full of charm and true to the real life of a gardener. Her five secrets for happiness are fun to discover. 

I met Carol in Pasadena at the GWA conference the year she received an award for her blog. She is a very knowledgeable lady with a horticultural degree from Perdue.  She gardens in Indiana where she calls herself a 'gardenangelist.' She is certainly a 'gardener', one we can all identify with, she is an 'angel' with a true appreciation of all that Nature offers, and an 'evangelist' with wise words to new gardeners.

Some of the vegetables we entered.

Thank you to the four authors I've mentioned, not least Jenny Rose Carey, for giving me information, making me smile, and adding to the excellence of this summer.

Grandson Jon baked zucchini bread; I baked scones

It was an excellent summer culminating in a successful participation in the West End Fair. Jon and I submitted 44 items: perennial flowers, annuals, herbs, vegetables, shelf displays, and a floor display. We were awarded 31 ribbons including 16 first places and three Best of Shows. But the best part of the event was working side-by-side with my wonderful grandson!

The zucchini bread took a first place, my scones only a third -- Great job, Jon.
Young man with his pet hen. (Don't know  him.)

To those bloggers in the northern hemisphere, I hope your summer was as wonderful as mine. We had far too much rain and not enough sun here, but still good. To those of you entering spring in your part of the world, I wish you a successful season.

Our prayers go out to those in the path of Hurricane Harvey.

Pamela x

Herb Entries

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