Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Do You Want to Hear the Good News First or the Bad News?

October brought good and bad news. I'll start with the bad news: the tree company felled the catalpa that shaded the garden on the west side of the house. This is upsetting on several levels. First, we already lost the silver maple that stood alongside the catalpa tree; together they provided the BEST shade. All the plants that were under their canopies are shade lovers. Second, the silver maple and the catalpa were part of my husband's childhood -- with memories of a hammock and shady places to play in hot summers. Third, the branches of the catalpa framed the garden room's French door.  I would sit in my favorite armchair and take photographs of the birds that rested on the branches as they waited their turn on the bird feeder. I haven't been able to take such natural pictures anywhere else. Yes, the catalpa will be sorely missed.

With the removal of the tree, all shade has gone.

We used the Bartlett tree company; they did a great job from the initial evaluation of the tree by their arborist to the grinding down of the tree stump. We had them grind the silver maple tree stump too. We booked a spider track lift that takes up little space, so Duane had to remove only one panel of fencing. Of course, I photographed the whole procedure:

The silver maple tree was taken down three years ago. They began by reducing the height of its remaining stump.
It's easy to see why the track lift is called a spider.  They removed a dead ash tree first.

The procedure for removing branches was interesting:

1. The man in the bucket wrapped a rope around the branch.
2. He sawed off  the branch
3. Another person on the ground held the end of the rope. They carefully lowered the branch.
They chipped the smaller branches in a machine in a trailer parked on the road.

When they had removed all the branches, they attached a rope to the top of the tree trunk. They cut a wedge out of each side of the trunk before carefully pulling it down to the ground.

Pulling the tree trunk down
When we saw the tree was rotted, we knew we had made the right decision.
The tree company would return a week later to grind down the stumps
Lots of firewood for Duane's brother-in-law's wood-burning stove
SURPRISE: The rope that attached the hammock 60 years ago is embedded in the tree trunk with bark grown around it.
They used a robot-type machine to grind the stumps.

We are so sad to lose our precious tree. We will plant another tree in the spring when we will also decide how to construct some temporary shade in the Serenity Garden.


I received a letter from the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society saying they awarded my garden a blue ribbon in their annual garden contest. The contest is open to all types of gardens in three states: Pa, NJ, and DE; there were over 450 entries this year. The judges visited my gardens in July. They awarded points for aesthetic appeal, beauty, innovation, and aesthetic design, plant health, sustainable practices and resourcefulness, edible plants, habitat for pollinators and other plant life, and connections to family, neighbors and/or community. I will receive a 2019 plaque for my garden -- I've received two before -- you can see them in my sidebar. I feel very honored.

This is Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. I'm linking with the lovely Carol at May Dreams Gardens where you can enjoy gardens from around the world. Below are a few flowers in my garden today. Just a handful that have not succumbed to the first frosts.

Happy Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day,
Pamela x

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Monday, September 30, 2019

This Month in the Garden: September 2019

Fall arrived in the Northern Hemisphere at the moment of the autumnal equinox on Monday, September 23. I was not ready to accept that summer was over, but my gardens have since convinced me with their tangled mess of some-living and many-dying plants. In addition, today the weather turned most definitely fall-like with much cooler temperatures. I donned a sweater and headed out with my camera to capture those flowers surviving amidst the end-of-season chaos. (I really must begin the fall clean-up soon.)

At last, the cosmos are blooming cheerfully in the cutting garden. I don't know what they are called; they were part of a packet of free wildflower seeds that I scattered randomly.

Cosmos blooms atop their tall feathery stalks
The Kitchen Garden with cosmos in the top left-hand corner against the fence -- competing with zinnias.

The calico asters have self-sown aggressively at the bottom of the Kitchen Garden. Many gardeners find this wild plant quite weedy but I like its tiny white flowers with their maroon and yellow centers.

Wild calico aster (Symphotrichum lateriflorum)

The New England asters in the Cottage Garden are gorgeous.

New England aster

An abundance of leaves have fallen already and those that remain are taking on their autumn hues.

Compare the top picture of Serenity Garden taken a couple of weeks ago with the bottom one taken today.
The corn in our fields is turning to gold. The trees are changing too.

I need to transplant the shrubs that I put in large pots when I purchased them in the spring. The pots gave them height but wont survive the winter. I thought the diervilla would have a brighter orange color but its just yellow. Maybe the color will change as autumn progresses. The sweet autumn clematis on the trellis had few blooms this year. I'm ready to pull it out and plant something else.

Shrubs in pots: Left hand side - Diervilla 'Kodiak orange'. Right had side - Ninebark 'Tiny wine'.
The leaves of dwarf cutleaf maple (Acer palmatum) have started to turn red

 Some bee-magnets that are blooming in the Cottage Garden today:

Cockwise from top left: Helianthus 'Brown eyed girl', Salvia nemorosa 'Caradonna', Agastache foeniculum Anise hyssop, and Caryopteris 'Dark Knight'

 The blooms on Japanese anemone are very sparse this year:

Top:Rose (Rosa 'Peace'). Bottom: Japanese Anemone (Anemone 'Honorine Jobert')

Duane planted this white pine a couple of years ago

It's nearly time to empty out the hanging baskets; the petunias and calibrachoa are very leggy. But as long as there are a few blooms, I'm loath to give them up.

The sedum that Jonathan planted in the bathtub miniature garden is blooming. I think it's common name is October Daphne.

October Daphne (Sedum sieboldii)

In the bug hotel mason bees are nesting in some of the bamboo tubes and in the drilled holes of the log chips. There is a butterfly chrysalis attached to the bottom but I believe it is no longer viable -- it has been there too long.

 Charm, the miniature horse, has begun to acquire his winter coat -- another sign that summer is over.

Summer was over too soon for me. Perhaps I feel that way because because it was such a wonderful one for me this year.  Last week there was an article in the newspaper about my GardenComm media award. You can read it HERE. I hope you had a great summer, too.

I'm joining Sarah at Down by the Sea for a September view through her garden gate in Dorset, England.

Wishing you a happy seasonal change, wherever you garden.

Pamela x

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Sunday, September 15, 2019

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day: September 2019

I wasn't sure what to expect when I returned from my trips to Utah and Arizona; I was pleasantly surprised to find so many blooms. Of course, the kitchen garden looks rather overgrown and messy. My first job must be canning the remaining beets. There are still lots of zinnias, marigolds, and the beautiful nasturtium 'Empress of India' that won Best of Show when I entered it in the West End Fair. I see the corn has grown high in the field behind the potting shed.

Top: Messy kitchen garden and field corn. Bottom: Beets and 'Empress of India',
The feathery cosmos plants haven't produced too many flowers yet in the cutting garden.

My biggest surprise in the Cottage Garden was the blooming foxglove 'Foxlight Plum Gold'. It usually blooms from early summer to fall. This year, foliage but no flowers all season -- until now.

Foxglove 'Foxlight Plum Gold'

Every month I photograph the hydrangeas to show how their colors change. Today, 'Pinky Winky' is a much deeper pink while 'Annabelle's' white petals are blushing prettily. Roses are making a last showing.

Top: Red rose 'Double Knockout,' Bottom right: Hydrangea 'Pinky Winky'. Bottom left: Hydrangea 'Annabelle'
The asters are late this year

I was amazed to see shasta daisies still blooming ...

Shasta daisies (needing deadheading)

Another surprise -- blooms on the clematis that I cut down to the ground in the spring when it had spots on its leaves from a virus. It looks healthy now.

Clematis spp.

My favorite fall-blooming shrub, Caryopteris 'Dark Knight' is making a statement in the Cottage Garden.

End of summer blues: Caryopteris 'Dark Knight'

The Proven Winners' 'Blue chip' buddleia that I planted this year (to replace the invasive butterfly bushes in my garden) kept its promise to bloom all season.

Miniature butterfly bush Buddleia Lo and Behold® 'Blue Chip'

In the Serenity Garden, sedum 'Autumn Joy' is making splashes of pink color as turtlehead blooms begin to fade. Leaves are falling. Many of them are from the old catalpa tree that we scheduled for removal next month. I'll tell you its story then.

The Serenity Garden today

One plant I didn't want to bloom is the Japanese stiltgrass that surrounds my gardens. This invasive annual grass spreads through a high production of seeds. Cutting it down before it goes to seed is the best control method. Unfortunately, some of it had gone to seed before Duane could remove it with the weedwacker. I'll be solarizing the areas closest to my flower beds with the hope that I can restrict its dreadful progress. For more information about Japanese stiltgrass read my article HERE.

Japanese stiltgrass (Microstegium vimineum)

Today is Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day and I'm linking with the lovely Carol who hosts everyone's favorite meme at May Dreams Gardens. Her garden fairies have beautiful blooms to show us this month.

Happy GBBD, dear gardening friends. I look forward to checking out what is blooming in your gardens today.

Pamela x

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Saturday, August 31, 2019

This Month in the Garden: August 2019

Garden Phlox (Phlox paniculata  'Bright Eyes')

For the past couple of years my 'Bright Eyes' phlox has bloomed late, but is always worth waiting for -- how wonderful to see a mass of pink flowers with scarlet centers still blooming at the end of August . 'Bright Eyes' is so reliable and more resistant to powdery mildew than other phlox. It was one of the first herbaceous perennials I planted in the cottage garden border. Today, much of the cottage garden is looking somewhat faded as the summer winds down, but there are some bright blooms elsewhere as you will see if you take a walk with me:

Flowers in the herbaceous border are fading
The new cottage garden area in the Abundance border is abloom with perennial geraniums (bottom left) and the bee-magnet agastache (bottom right). A delphinium is putting on a late show (top)
Helianthus 'Brown Eyed Girl' bloomed profusely all summer. I would buy this annual again although it did crowd out some of the perennials. Notice the soldier beetle in the bottom picture -- one of our beneficial insects

Pretty foxglove with a late burst of blooms

 A cleome self-seeded in the coldframe. I didn't have the heart to pull it out.

Top: Looking over the fence across the cutting garden. Bottom: Coldframe with cleome

 There are a few vegetables and herbs to be harvested in the kitchen garden including red beets, pole beans, and chocolate mint.  Grandson Jonathan helped me pickle nine quarts of red beets a couple of weeds ago. I'll take care of the rest after my trip to Salt Lake City for the GardenComm conference. I leave in a couple of days -- yay!

Top: flowering chocolate mint with cabbage white butterfly. Bottom: 'Rattlesnake' pole beans.

I have seen more butterflies in my garden this year than ever before. There are mainly cabbage whites today, but monarchs and American swallowtails have been abundant. Also, I lost count of the number of monarch caterpillars on the milkweeds. So happy that they have returned.

The cutting garden is still very colorful. Can you see the mirror there? I place a mirror in each of my gardens.

 Turtlehead is blooming in Serenity Garden and in the rain garden. I planted a white one in the rain garden and I was interested to see its flowers as I thought it only came in pink. I see that the white ones have a distinctly pink hue.

Turtlehead, Chelone 'Hot Lips' bottom left. Chelone glabra, white turtlehead, top picture and bottom right
Also in the rain garden - red and blue lobelia

This year I have been rather successful growing caladiums. I particularly like the red one in the Horseshoe Garden and the white one under the palm on the deck.

Two favorite caladiums and Majesty Palm

The deck is covered with a grape vine that provides shade and privacy. It does tend to get out of bounds so Duane gave it a haircut this week. And made a horrible discovery ...

... we saw our first spotted lanternfly. It hopped out of the grape. I dread to think how many more there are. This new invasive insect is spreading rapidly through the Northeastern United States creating devastation. I was hoping it wouldn't find my garden so soon. For more information go to the Penn State Extension website.

Spotted Lanternfly. Picture U.S. Department of Agriculture

The hydrangeas continue to spread joy. And note the lovely morning glory on the arbor next to Pinky Winky

As I write this and look through the window in the den, I see a hummingbird going from morning glory bloom to morning glory bloom. He's too far away for me to photograph but I did capture one on the fuschia earlier this week.

Goldenrod, the harbinger of fall, is blooming in the paddock. The bees are happy.

I can't believe it's September tomorrow. August was mainly hot and humid with thunderstorms sparking torrential downpours of rain. My gardens survived quite well with the hanging baskets of petunias suffering most. Oh, and batchelor's buttons and painted daisies in the cutting garden rotted. Generally speaking it was a wonderful summer in my gardens this year. Prayers for my gardening friends and all others in the path of Dorian.

I'll take lots of pictures of gardens in Salt Lake City and post them upon my return. Have a wonderful September.

Pamela x

On the vine-covered deck

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