Six on Saturday – Waiting for the Florence – September 15, 2018

Wednesday, Sept 12: I’m starting to write this post earlier than usual because a major hurricane is coming our way and we may lose power by the weekend. As of this morning (Wednesday) the track has altered and now we are supposed to get less rain and wind. But the track may change yet again so we are prepared. We have a generator which my husband fires up weekly to make sure it will start. We have extra gas on hand. Flashlights are ready with fresh batteries. We bought bottled water and have lots of food. We won’t go hungry.

  1. Harvest: In preparation for the storm I harvested the spaghetti squash that I planted in July. I had eight full size squash and one immature. This was a fantastic harvest for me. Planting late seemed to be the solution to borer predation.

I also harvested Japanese eggplants. I can’t remember the specific variety. These were on two plants that came from Lowes. I plan to make parmesan oven fries from these. Yum!

I looked at the few beets remaining and decided they weren’t worth pulling. The beans are over the hill and will go on the compost. We are hunkered down and waiting.

One of my volunteer activites is to send out the weekly MailChimp reminder about our local Farmers Market. It goes out on Thursday morning to let folks know what the vendors will have on Saturday, if there will be music or a food demo and information about any pop-up vendors. In consultation with the Market Manager we decided a decision will be made late on Thursday about whether the market will be open or not. The Manager will then send out a notice to our email list. I have the format set up. Amanda will plug in the final information and hit “send.”

Living so close to the water we have to be aware of tides and the direction the wind pushes the water. We had over seven inches of rain last week and the Miles River is full to dock levels. Many waterfront properties are just a foot or two above sea level. Our little house is on a slight rise and we are 13′ above sea level. It would take a major flood to effect us. The thing I worry about is trees uprooting. The soil is already saturated and lots more rain and high winds could be problematic. I noticed yesterday that a neighbor had cut down a large pine that was listing.

Thursday, September 13: I took some photos before the rain starts. I expect the flowers will be down for the count by the end of the weekend.

2. Goldenrod (Solidago) is finally showing some color. It’s planted in front of miscanthus Morning Light.IMG_7312

3. I pulled out a lot of sedum “Autumn Joy” last year and planted it on my neighbor’s side of one of my lattice property dividers so they’d have this view from their porch.  On the mid-right you can see the pile of sticks that I’m collecting. After the storm there will be lots more.IMG_7297

4. Another sedum with a hot pink bloom is just beginning to flower. I think it is called Neon Pink.

5. Obedient Plant (Physostegia virginiana). A friend gave me a start and it has survived/thrived in the difficult bed near the shed. I notice that the blooming clump of variagated liriope is also doing well. I have it a number of places in the garden. Perhaps I should divide some and use it to edge that problem area which is often under water.

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6.  More sedum “Autumn Joy” and hostas between two silver maples. The bench is teak and came from my mother’s garden. My brothers and I gave it to her for her 75th birthday. In my 75th year I enjoy sitting on it and watching kids ride their bikes through my neighborhood. I had the bench pressure washed a couple of years ago and it was like new (except where the squirrels chewed on the armrests) but I rather like the lichens that grew back. Leaves are beginning to fall.

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Friday, September 14: Storm update: It appears now that Florence’s impact on our area will be rain next Monday and Tuesday. It doesn’t sound ominous for us, but I am thinking about all the millions of people in the way of this storm. In hurricanes water is always the biggest threat to life.

The Saturday Farmers Market is on so I’ll be able to get fresh mushrooms, a loaf of crusty sourdough bread and some organic pork chops for the weekend. I’ve got homemade tomato sauce in the fridge to spoon on top of spaghetti squash. I’ll sprinkle Pecorino Romano cheese on top and run it under the broiler for a minute or two. We’ll eat like we are in Italy…or maybe France. I’m trying to decide which bottle of wine to open. I love thinking about food. Almost as much as I love being in the garden.

That’s my six for this week, a meme started by The Propogator, a UK gardener. This is the link to the rules if you’d like to join in.

 

 

 

Six on Saturday – September 8, 2018 – Fall on the Way

It doesn’t feel like fall yet. Our weather has been hot and humid. Stepping outside is like stepping into a sauna, but my husband is talking about moving firewood to the deck — when it cools off. He’s not into the gardens so much, but a fire everynight though the fall and winter is his thing. He takes total responsibility for ordering and stacking wood. We are always a cord and a half ahead so we have really nice, dry oak to burn. Coming from a house with five fireplaces, I am thrilled we are down to one.

  1. This was the week one of the river birches was removed. There is a flowering cherry, a small maple and a crepe myrtle that will fill in a lot of that area. I need to spend some time sitting and looking before I jump in and plant anything. The people who removed the tree also ground the stump. I need to dig some soil into the grindings and let it sit for a bit.
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Before

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After removal of river birch

2. Black-tailed Swallowtail. I have been watching the three chrysalis that I found. One hatched before I noticed. Another is taking forever which seems very odd. I think it’s dead.  And the third isn’t doing anything yet. Lots of black swallowtails are flying in the garden so I guess the birds didn’t get all the caterpillars. The fuzzy photo below is one that sat briefly on some foliage. One of its wings was deformed so I wondered if it had just hatched and wasn’t totally unfolded yet or was at the end of its life span.

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3. My Beauty Berry (Callicarpa) is beginning to turn purple. Some rubeckia have grown through making a nice diplay. When I googled Beauty Berry to get the scientific name, I also saw a link for Beauty Berry jelly. I don’t have enough berries to make jelly but it never would have occured to me to do so. The color would have said POISON to me.IMG_7262

4. Along my morning walk a Blackberry lily is seeding. I wonder if I could successfully grow this from seeds. The spring flowers are red orange.

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5. Figs from a friend were made into fig jam. I used the jam recipe in the SureJell package but substituted one cup of brown sugar for one of the cups of white sugar and added some vanilla. It is much better than my fig jam from last year. I made notes in my Bell Canning book from forty years ago.

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6. A stop at a local nursery where all shrubs were 40% off meant I brought three Heller’s Japanese Hollys and three Osmanthus ‘Goshiki’ home.  This wasn’t as impulsive as it sounds. I had been there earlier in the week and didn’t buy anything.

I don’t know where they will go yet, but probably in the area where the river birch came out.  I can stick the pots in the area and move them around to see what I like. There some abelias that don’t get so tall that I also have my eye on. If they are still there when things go to 50% off, I may get a couple.IMG_7281

That’s my six for this week, a meme started by The Propogator, a UK gardener. This is the link to the rules if you’d like to join in.

Six on Saturday – September 1, 2018 – Dominoes

I’m in a hurry this morning. And all because I want to put a small freezer in our garage. That required getting some electrical work done. And the freezer would displace one of two tall filing cabinets. I could use that second one in my office, I thought. To ready the garage for the work, things had to be moved away from the wall. Everything is now piled in the middle of the garage but the electrical work has been completed. Finding a small freezer is not so easy.

And in order to put the filing cabinet into my office I needed to reconfigure the furniture. That involved moving a ceiling height bookcase full of ten years worth of stuff that needs to be sorted and pitched. And what was on top and underneath of another table. All of that is now in my dining room. I discovered that the place I wanted to put the bookcase is where an old HVAC outlet is. It’s ancient and stuck out from the wall so I removed it and placed a cover on the floor. Not as easy as that sounds, but it is ready for a piece of baseboard. All this had to be done before I could think about moving the bookcase — just to see if I liked it in the new position. That will happen this morning. Hence the hurry with my Six on Saturday.

  1. Last fall I left Elephant ear tubers in the ground near the garage to see if they would survive the winter temperatures. They were very slow to come up in the spring, but look at the size. I will no longer spend time digging and story the tubers. These are the leaves I made my cement leaf castings from last year.

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2. The wheelbarrow is planted with mint so it won’t escape. I put one coleus plant in the front and some leftover sunpatiens in a pot next to it. Added some drip irrigation. Now I can hardly find the mint. I really do love chartreuse in my garden. The nesting box in the upper left corner hosted two hatchings of Carolina wrens this summer.

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3. This photo is just because it was so pretty this morning. We got some much needed rain last night.

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4. Two window boxes from the front of the house. I thought I had killed one of the plants by putting soapy water on it. Then I read a post by Tony Tomeo (one of the SoSers) who showed a plant with a mildew problem. He said it spread quickly. It looked very similar to the leaves on my Sunpatiens, so I took out two of the boxes that looked like they had been effected and cut the stems back. They are coming back and in a week will go back where they were. We still have two months of warmish weather so they’ll fill in. Thanks, Tony!

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5. The dry spell has done in at least five of my azaleas. The drip irrigation just wasn’t enough. I like the white repleat bloomer which seems to have survived just fine so will try to find more of those. The plants that look dead may come back from the roots but I don’t want to wait that long.

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6. I could only find three chrysalis that the black swallowtail caterpillars made. I guess the birds ate the rest. I must have had at least thirty caterpillars. Will this be a butterfly this fall or not until next year? If next year, should I try and put them in a more protected place?

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That’s my six for this week, a meme started by The Propogator, a UK gardener. This is the link to the rules if you’d like to join in.

Now back to sorting out my garage and office. The garden will have to wait.

Six on Saturday – Now I know Why… August 18, 2018

Welcome to six photos from my garden this week. Walking around to take SoS photos gets me to notice things I would otherwise miss.

  1. Now I know why I didn’t pull out (I almost did) the bronze fennel. This morning there were three black swallowtail caterpillars munching on the lacy foliage. I had been watching the parsley and almost missed them.

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2. I stuck some Joe Pye weed cuttings in a pot a month ago. Some have rooted. They are destined to an area where I took out some large old Joe Pye plants last fall. That turned out to be a mistake. Joe Pye didn’t mind being in that soggy bed by the shed. So these will get planted there. There is a cultivar that doesn’t get as tall which I need to source. I typically cut back the wild Joe Pye to half to keep it in check.

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3. The fragrant hostas are blooming. Can anyone tell me what the blue flowered plant is? It self seeds and can get aggressive in this bed, but I like the blue spikes at the same time this hosta blooms.IMG_7079

4. Monarda “Grand Marshall” has finally bloomed. I bought three plants from a catalog in the spring and when they came the plants were so pathetic I knew I couldn’t put them in the ground. They survived and thrived in the pot and will get planted out next spring. Grand Marshall is not as tall as the other monarda I have in the garden and is not supposed to be as susceptible to mildew. I love the color.

5. The load of chips arrived. What we get depends on what the crews are cutting. This time it was a huge pile of red cedar. You see the fan my husband set up to cool himself off when he was loading the wheel barrow. It wasn’t that hot, but very humid. Typical Maryland summer weather. I like the contrast of the cedar chips on other paths in the garden. It will weather, but for the moment it’s pretty and fragrant. I lifted the slate and then replaced it once the chips were down. It’s a little wobbly to start but will settle.

 

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6.  A task for next week. I had taken metal hoops from a couple of half wine barrels that rotted away. I put down some landscape cloth beneath them and filled them with driveway gravel. They are sinking into the ground and I need to get the gravel up before it gets lost. I’ll cover this path with cedar chips. To the right front in this photo is the variagated liriope that the rabbits like to snack on. I have that same liriope in other parts of the garden and they don’t bother it. Perhaps these small clumps are closer to their den which I suspect is under the shed.

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That’s my six for this week, a meme started by The Propogator, a UK gardener. This is the link to the rules if you’d like to join in.

Six on Saturday – Dog Days of Summer -August 11, 2018

Hot and humid  dog days here. Typical Eastern Shore summer weather. Occasional thunder storms may bring rain or just spectacular lightening in the night sky.  The garden work never ends. A load of mulching chips is now in the driveway. We will start moving it a few loads at a time in the cool of the mornings. It’s hard to believe that September is just around the corner.

Here are my six on Saturday, a meme started by The Propogator, a UK gardener. This is the link to the rules if you’d like to join in.

  1. Naked ladies (Belladonna Amaryllis) – I can never remember where this clump of bulbs is, but in August they appear and bloom. This year I found a stray one and moved it to its sisters. Google tells me that there is foliage that disappears before the flowers appear, but I don’t remember seeing that. I’ll put some flags by this clump so I can plant something low around them to hide the stems. These ladies do look undressed.

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2. I saved some seeds from zinnias in a Community Garden bed (not mine) last fall. This is my reward.

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3. The liriope (Liriope muscari) is beginning to bloom although it is becoming something of a nuisance as seedlings are appearing in the gravel drive.

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4. Tomatoes continue in my Community Garden bed. When I picked this morning I realized the strange yellow/white tomatoes were from the Shah plants I started. I tasted one and wasn’t seduced. I’ll throw them into the sauce pot but I wouldn’t can a kettle of just white tomatoes as I suspect they don’t have as much acid as the red ones. The chewed tomatoes were on a plant at home. Squirrels! The eggplant in a pot keeps producing.

5.  A fresh flush of ferns in an area where they all died back when we didn’t have any rain for six weeks. The hosta is a Francis Williams. Still no significant slug damage on the hostas this year which is miraculous considering how wet it has been in between the weeks of no rain. Might it be those fireplace ashes I spread around the hosta? The ashes have not deterred deer in another section, however.

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6. This is an early morning  photo of St. Michaels harbor, a ten minute walk from my house. On the right is the Maritime Museum, a world class facility that is keeping Chesapeake Bay history and waterman culture alive as well as rescuing and rebuilding some of the boats used by the watermen. Every time I go I am astounded that our little town has this jewel. A friend of mine is in charge of the gardens at the museum. He has recreated gardens from different time periods, including what would have been a typical garden at the small home of a freed slave. I’ll take some photos and share them.

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That’s my six for this Saturday. I hope you’ve enjoyed what I have to share in my garden on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

Six on Saturday – August 4, 2018 – Successes and a Flop

It’s been raining…a lot. The lake is back in the back yard, but I’m not complaining except about the mosquitos. The second 6 cubic yards of mulch was put down before the rain started and there is no longer a blue tarp covered pile in the drive. Our neighbors must be happy. That will change in a few days, however, when I get a load of free chips from our local tree people. Most of that will go in the back of the property once it dries out back there.

Here are my six on Saturday, a meme started by The Propogator, a UK gardener. This is the link to the rules if you’d like to join in.

  1. Helenium (Sneezeweed). I didn’t really appreciate this flower until I downloaded the photos from my phone. The actual flower is small and on a very tall stem. Someone gave me one and it’s not yet a large clump. It would be easy to overlook.  It reminds me of a fantasy chapeau designed by a French milliner in the 1920’s. Or possibly an inspiration for a Kentucky Derby fantasy. It might be too overstated for the Queen. I need to save seeds and see if I can get a clump going. I can’t stop looking at this photo. IMG_6947

2.  The garden beds are producing. Tomatoes Amish Paste and Sungold cherry), green beans, carrots (purple and orange), beets, and spring onions. I found a recipe for a puff pastry tomato and cheese tart on-line. I added some ham because I had some in the fridge that needed to be used. It was a little complicated to make despite the fact that I bought frozen puff pastry, but it was delicious. I had a leftover piece for breakfast the next morning.

 

3.  Kinshi Uri or Somen Kabocha squash. Kinshi means golden threads. This is the original Japanese version of spaghetti squash. Burpee picked up this seed and began selling it as Vegetable Spaghetti in 1936. My seeds for Kinshi Uri came from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company. I planted some seeds at the end of one of my community garden beds about six weeks ago where I had pulled up lettuces. The squash began sprawling so I put in some upright cages trying to keep them contained until I can pull out the rest of the beets. The plants have been setting fruit but I’ve had problems with borers in the past, so I’m not holding my breath that I will get mature squash. For the moment I’m enjoying the healthy plants with lots of female flowers. That great looking mulch between the raised beds is wood chips from our local tree company, Bartlett Tree Services. The fine mesh around the bed keeps the rabbits out and is tall enough to keep the deer from browsing.

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4. The verbena in two big pots had stopped blooming. I gave them a serious haircut and within a week had new blooms. I need to pay more attention to deadheading. The variagated liriope was dug from another spot in the garden. Soon there will be purple flower stalks which will look lovely with the lavendar and pink cleome and play off the bright cherry red verbena flowers.

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5. This mum is a favorite. It makes a compact plant that doesn’t need to be cut back and has come back every spring for probably eight years. It will soon be covered with bright yellow flowers but I don’t know why it is starting to bloom at the beginning of August. Isn’t this too early? I wish I knew where I had gotten this variety so I could buy more. I’ve taken pieces from the edge of this plant and put them in the ground, but they have not survived. I’ll try again by putting the starts in small pots so I have better control over watering.

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6. I am giving up on hollyhocks. I don’t buy alot of things for the garden but I bought these from a catalog last fall.  I think they were called something like Farmhouse Medley. How could I resist.

They looked fine this spring until the rust took them. I guess it’s just too humid in the Mid-Atlantic. Then the rabbits did in the rest, chomping off remaining green leaves. I remember Hollyhocks as a child in Indiana and thought they would look great against the lattice which would also provide support. Too bad.

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This was not my first attempt at hollyhocks, but it will probably be my last. (Notice the equivocation from my beginning sentence.) Of course  I say that about squash every year and I keep buying new varieties to try. Which brings to mind the saying about the triumph of hope over experience…  Either I am a slow learner, or a fast forgetter… or perhaps an eternally optimistic person. I think I’ll stick with the latter.

I hope you have enjoyed the photos of some successes and one total (but not totally unexpected) failure in my garden.  Until next week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Six on Saturday – Summer into Fall

Our six week drought ended with a week of rain. We were lucky because we didn’t get flooding like some other areas nearby. The parched soil drank in the water, and all the plants perked up. The grass could be seen getting greener by the hour.

1. The things blooming now in my garden remind me that fall is just around the corner. Colorful crepe myrtles adorn my yard and neighborhood. Mine are white, a deep pink and a smaller purple. I bought the white and purple, but the pink were plants that someone had put out for the trash. So I snagged them. I really love the exfoliating bark. The old bark reminds of the black snake skins I used to find in our barn back in Harford County on the Western shore.

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2. A friend gave me a small cutting of a Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) that came from her father’s garden. I didn’t realize Rose of Sharon was in the Hibiscus family. This plant is tucked back in a shaded corner of the garden and would like more sun, but it’s where there was an available spot. The flowers are lovely. In my Google search several places noted that these could be used as container plants. I might try that and get this beauty into the sun.

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3. I am seeing some Japanese beetles, so I put a little dishwashing detergent in some water and flicked them into it to drown. The only reason I can think that this SunPatiens is looking so sick is that one day — when it was so hot — I poured the detergent water on that end of the window box. Won’t do that again! All the other plants look fine. What I really need to do is go to the garden center where I bought the bedding plants and see if I can replace the sick one.

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4. The hyacinth bean vines are just beginning to flower. The seeds were saved from plants a friend gave me. She passed away two years ago, but is remembered in my garden. The hose was put away later, but I forgot to go out for another photo. It seems there are always spots in my garden that make everyone know a real person, with a real life, lives here. I was inside making tomato sauce from tomatoes grown in my bed at the Community Garden.

I just realized looking at this photo that I have a replacement for the sick SunPatien mentioned in #3. It’s in a pot at the lower left of this picture. I now remember I had a couple left over from the flat I bought.

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5. The Limelight hydrangea has started to flower. And the Arabella clematis, which has been blooming since spring, is now weaving its way through to the other side of the lattice.

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6.  Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) is a milkweed native and mine are now setting seed pods. I haven’t seen any Monarch caterpillars, however. Monarchs cannot survive without milkweed as their caterpillars only eat milkweed plants, and monarch butterflies need milkweed to lay their eggs. Google tells me that Monarch butterfly populations have dropped more than 90% in the last twenty years because of a loss of host plants, so growing milkweed plants is very important for future of monarchs. I’m trying to do my bit. These plants don’t mind some drought once established, so I will plant some of the seeds when they are ready. I wouldn’t mind having a whole bed of these. They would be a nice complement in front of the yellow rudbeckia.

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That’s my six on Saturday, a meme started by The Propogator, a UK gardener. This is the link to the rules if you’d like to join in.