About Mala Burt

Mala Burt writes fiction and non-fiction, screen and stage plays.

Six on Saturday – Still No Rain – October 12, 2019

Still no rain.  We are now over two months without precipitation. Our quarterly town water bill arrived. Almost $300, but I am hoping most shrubs, etc. will survive as well as the emerging areas that I seeded when we removed the raised beds. Despite what the weather people call a “moderate” drought, there are still things to see in the garden among the desiccated foliage . Several people have wondered how I can still have flowers in the garden. I tell them daily watering and close-up photography.

Here are my six on this fall Saturday.

  1. The flower heads on the Autumn Joy sedums are fading but the Sheffield mums behind them are just beginning to open.

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2. We finished a big job on the side of the house prior to my first cataract surgery last Wednesday. The procedure went extremely well. Second eye in two weeks. This side of the house had four straggly spireas and overgrown iris beds. My first plan was to only remove the iris, but as I worked I decided to take out the spireas as well. They never did well in that spot and had been inherited from the previous home owner.

I dug everything out and transplanted clumps of epimedium which I am watering daily.  The soil is so dry that it really isn’t conducive to transplanting, but I needed to get things done before my eyes were being worked on.

Today we laid down landscape cloth and covered it with pine nuggets. When we have a heavy rain, this bed splashes soil onto the siding. I am hoping to eliminate that problem.

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3. The short iris are now in full bloom, just as the goldenrod is fading.

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4.  My one cucumber plant at the St. Michaels Community Garden is continuing to produce. There is a row of garlic chives by this plant which has been covered with bees since it bloomed. I’m wondering if that’s why I’ve had so may cukes. The spaghetti squash plants are flowering but only with male flowers. I don’t think there will be any squash this year. Last year I had enough from a fall planting to see me through the winter.

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5. These are the garlic chive blooms. They need to be divided next spring, but should be cut back this fall before they seed. If If don’t get that done, the babies will be a nuisance in the area between the raised beds.

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6. Also in the community garden are some beautiful peppers in a neighbor’s bed. They remind me of bells.

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That’s my Six on this dry Saturday. The meme was started by The Propagator, a UK gardener. I learn something every week from the participating gardeners. This is the link to the rules if you’d like to join in.  

#lovemygarden

 

Six on Saturday – Last Rain Was August 7 – September 28, 2019

While I was in my garden this morning, my neighbor came over to ask if I needed some Joe Pye weed plants. I said yes having dug most of mine out several years ago in a fit of who knows what. And regretted it ever since. The large clump she is dividing originally came from me. I just love that.

As we were chatting, my neighbor said that the last rain we had was on August 7. She works for a landscaper so her boss should know.

This weekend’s chore was cutting back the large clumps of grasses and dividing them. Not the right time to cut them back and not optimal dividing weather because it is so dry. But it needs to be done. I am having cataract surgery in early October. The right eye and then two weeks later the left. I am told I shouldn’t lift, bend, or be anyplace dusty for several weeks after each procedure. The first surgery is Oct 9 so I figure I will be out of the garden for about six weeks. By that time it will be colder, so I need to get some of these things done.

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Another clump was dug and divided yesterday. Division took the husband hefting an ax. I dug the hole and put buckets of water in it and left it over night. The section I was replanting went into a large plastic busing tray of water and so the root ball could soak all the way through. It was replanted this morning.

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2. Pink Muhly grass in a container is blooming. This was originally three plants which were in an area that one year got too much water. I dug them out and put them in a container. They really need to be in the ground but I’m just not sure where to put them.

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3. The section of the grass where I added soil and seed is coming along. There seem to be some bare patches I’ll need to shake more seeds on. The large area where we removed the raised beds was seeded two weeks after this section. It is now hinting green.

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4. Leaves are beginning to come down from the maples and I am seeing some fall color on this chokeberry. I took the photo after having the sprinkler on in that area, hence the drops of water.

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5. The asters against the goldenrod are a treat for the eye.

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6. A knockout rose in the front of the house is supposed to be all pink. I suppose the pink must be grafted on root stock that has red blooms.

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That’s my Six on Saturday. We are now officially in fall. The meme was started by The Propagator, a UK gardener. I learn something every week from the participating gardeners. This is the link to the rules if you’d like to join in.  

#lovemygarden

 

Six on Saturday – Rain, Please – September 21, 2019

Still dry here on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. I have been continuing to move plants although digging is more like jack hammering concrete. Even with constant watering there will be plant loss.

In my community garden bed one cucumber plant has been outdoing itself. I pick this many or more at least once a week. My yoga class takes them home, I take them to the salon where I get my hair cut and make lots of cuke and onion salad for myself. My husband doesn’t like cucumbers and I can only eat so many. The tag that came with this plant is still there so I will know what kind to get next year.

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2. The tall New England asters are beginning to bloom. They will be gorgeous with the goldenrod planted next to them.

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3. Seed pods on the native milkweed are bursting with seeds.

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4.  In the same area of my garden Verbena bonariensis loves the miserable soil. Someone posted last week that this verbena didn’t do well for them. Their soil might be too good. And these have done well despite no rain for two months. Only an occasional sprinkler on them.

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5. I have some carrots in my community garden bed. One of them is going to seed, but it is really pretty.

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6. It’s been in the high fifties at night. Our first fire of the season is only weeks away.

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That’s my Six on Saturday as we head toward fall. The meme was started by The Propagator, a UK gardener. I learn something every week from the participating gardeners. This is the link to the rules if you’d like to join in.  

#lovemygarden

Six on Saturday – September 14, 2019 – Wildlife among the Flowers

I often wonder if women gardeners have an unconscious link to paleolithic times when women were the food gatherers and constantly scanned the landscape for edibles. I always seem to be looking down when I wander my gardens. And this week I found a baby box turtle in the grass at the edge of a garden bed. I’ve seen lots of box turtles over the years but never a baby. I carefully put it back in a section of the garden with dense foliage to give it cover from birds.

We have had no rain for weeks. I am still hauling the hoses around.

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2.  I scrubbed out the Jan Kirsch avocado and emptied those two bags of soil. Actually I just dumped the soil. At least I’m not looking at the plastic bags any more. While taking photos this morning I noticed a tree limb on one of the big maples that seems to be hanging lower over our neighbors yard. It may need to be taken down before it falls down.

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3.  Geraniums on the deck seem to know cold weather is coming. They are putting on a show.

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4. Solidago (goldenrod) is just coming into bloom. I have no idea which cultivar this is. I’m sure the original plant came from a Green Thumb sale at the Woman’s Club of St. Michaels.

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5.  The neon green of Solomon Seal is vibrant against the epimedium. Transplanting the Solomon Seal is still on the to-do list.

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6.  The space where the raised beds were is now ready for seeding. I plan to water the area for several days before broadcasting seed. The soil is just too dry at this point to support grass seedlings. I have moved quite a few azaleas and divided hostas. There are still things in pots that may go in the ground or on the compost heap. My goal is to make the garden less maintenance intensive.

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That’s my Six on Saturday as we head toward fall. The meme was started by The Propagator, a UK gardener. I learn something every week from the participating gardeners. This is the link to the rules if you’d like to join in.  

#lovemygarden

Six on Saturday – Garden Chores – September 7, 2019

I had hoped for some of the rain bands from Hurricane Dorian to give us much needed rain, but only a sprinkle came to our neighborhood. I count my blessings, however, as the news of the destruction in the Bahamas is horrific. How do you begin life again with only the clothes on your back?

My romantic suspense novel manuscript went to the proofer on September 1 and she has begun. I will have it back by the end of the month. Next step is to finally decide on the title so I can assign an ISBN and work with Laura Ambler on cover designs.

Work in the garden continues as we get the area where the raised beds were ready for seeding. Digging the beds was a project. They were full of tree roots. Then I humped barrow loads of soil to low spots in the lawn and other areas of the garden that could use some extra soil.  My husband thought the wood from the beds might be used in the fireplace, but decided it was too dirty. Good decision, Roger! It will go out, a little at a time, in the trash. 

2. Sedum Autumn Joy is showing color. In the foreground is a neon pink sedum. In front of the black bench are two bags of soil that were supposed to be put under the flagstones under the bench. A year later I still haven’t managed to get that job done. Embarrassing! And scrubbing out the avocado with bleach is on the list, too.

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3. Cutting back a shrub in my backyard us on the list but this gorgeous spider will delay the job. “The spider species Argiope aurantia is commonly known as the yellow garden spider, black and yellow garden spider, golden garden spider, writing spider, zigzag spider, corn spider, or McKinley spider. It is common to the contiguous United States, Hawaii, southern Canada, Mexico, and Central America.” I think the zigzag must refer to the unusual part of the web.

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4.  Hyacinth beans are still blooming and producing seeds. These are from plants given to me by a friend who died several years ago. I think of her often when I am in my garden.  They won’t get cut back until after the first frost.

5. Another big chore on the list is to divide the grasses. You can see they are bare in the middle although they looked fine until recently.

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6.  A black swallowtail caterpillar. This photo was taken before I dug out the bronze fennel in one of the raised beds scheduled for demo. I carefully took the caterpillar to a clump of milkweed.

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That’s my Six on Saturday chore list as we head toward fall. There are lots of chores on the list for this week The meme was started by The Propagator, a UK gardener. I learn something every week from the participating gardeners. This is the link to the rules if you’d like to join in.  

#lovemygarden

Six on Saturday – Demo in the Garden – August 24, 2019

This morning felt like fall. We had much needed rain yesterday and at 6 a.m. today the temperature was 65 degrees. I opened the windows in the house, donned my gardening clothes (including my preferred long sleeve turtleneck) and was in the yard by seven. I’m sure we will have more warm or hot days before fall temperatures really settle in, but working outside this morning was a treat after the soaring temps and humidity a week ago.

I’d been thinking about removing one or two of my four raised beds. They are ten years old and the pine boards we used are rotting out.  Ten years ago the beds got more sun but our big old maples are now bigger and the beds more shaded. Those trees also send  roots into the beds requiring hand digging each one in the spring. For the last two years I did not dig the beds and plants in the beds suffered so I finally decided to remove all four. I’ll keep my two productive beds at the St. Michaels Community Garden.

My husband helped with the first two on Thursday, but this morning headed off to Urgent Care with a swollen, extremely painful knuckle. He was out of commission.

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Never underestimate a determined woman with a six foot metal pry bar. I scrapped my plan to divide some hostas and had the rest of those beds demolished before the husband got back with his diagnosis of an infected insect bite and two prescriptions. We will spread that soil and seed it with grass this fall. Some of the drip irrigation can be salvaged but alot of what had been in those beds is now in the trash.

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2. In another part of the garden I found a few liriope spicata begining to bloom.

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3. These hostas were in this location when we bought our house. I have transplanted them to many other places in the garden. The white flowers are beautifully fragrant. These two trees make a frame for the lovely cinnamon colored trunks of a crepe myrtle.

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4. Spirea is sporting a second flush of blooms after being cut back in mid July. These plants were also here when we bought the house. I think they are Anthony Waterer.

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5.  After being totally non-productive all summer, an eggplant in a large container has produced four fruits. I can’t imagine they will all mature as they are so clustered.

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6. The blue flower in this photo came from the garden of my friend Mary Jo K. It might be a lobelia. Mary Jo reads my blog, so she’ll let me know.  The plant was originally in a bed thirty feet way. Not sure how it got across the garden but I thought it was gorgeous with the yellow rudbeckia.

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That’s my Six on Satruday as we head toward fall. The meme was started by The Propogator, a UK gardener. I learn something every week from the participating gardeners. This is the link to the rules if you’d like to join in.  

#lovemygarden

 

Six on Saturday – Naked Ladies in My Garden – August 10, 2019

Here are six photos from my garden this morning. We had some much needed rain on Wednesday this week, but the gardens are still dry. If this trend continues I will need to rethink what I plant in my garden beds.

  1. The Naked Lady lilies that I despaired about last week have sprouted up like magic and are blooming. The second photo shows more stalks that are just coming up.

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2. Tall helenium are blooming in the midst of a bed of yellow rudbeckia.

3. The butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) seed pods are like a candelabra and are beginning to open. They are self-seeding in my poor soil so I will have many more pollinator attracting plants next year.

4. At long last a baby eggplant. Everyone else I know has been harvesting for weeks. I have two plants and they are not producing this year. Unlike last year when I had a bumper crop off two plants.

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5. Verbena among the rudbeckia.

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6. I saw two black swallowtail cattapillars on the fennel this morning. Last year there were more.

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That’s my six for this week as we head toward fall. The meme was started by The Propogator, a UK gardener. I learn something every week from the participating gardeners. This is the link to the rules if you’d like to join in.  

#lovemygarden