Six on Saturday – Color at Last – November 10, 2018

We’ve had rain off and on for the last couple of days which is bringing the leaves down. Dark, dreary days but no frost yet. Many leaves are brown and crisp but there are spots of color among the fallen. I think the show will be brief, but I am enjoying every saturated hue.

Here are my Six on Saturday.

  1. The crepe myrtles are beginning to turn.

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2. The red twig dogwood “Arctic Fire” has finally combusted. Once the leaves fall the red stems will provide winter color until they are cut back in the spring.

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3. Amsonia hubrecti (fernleaf) “Arkansas Bluestar”  has turned yellow.  I had another variety  which stayed green and kept its leaves through the winter. It was quite invasive so I dug them out. This clump has grown from a single plant given to me five years ago. I am saving seeds this year and will try to propogate more. I’ve seen it in other gardens where there are large swaths and it’s spectacular.

The small waterfall maple (Acer palmatum, commonly called Japanese Maple), to the right of the amsonia was bought as a rooted twig at the Philadelphia Flower Show at least twenty years ago. I brought it with us when we moved to this house twelve years ago. This photo reminds me I’ve got to get out and put the hose away before we get a hard freeze.

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5. In the spring I planted cornflower (Centaurea scabiosa) seeds – “Perennial Butterfly.” The plants came up but the foliage didn’t stand upright, it just flopped in the raised bed. I almost pulled them out. No flowers until now — and just one! I’ll be interested to see what happens next summer. There are lots of plants with healthy looking leaves. I’ll divide them and put them in different areas to see how they do. If they flop again and don’t flower they’ll go into the compost bin.

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6. I’ve brought my tender plants inside to a corner of the living room for winter color. The red geranium in the big pot was given to me ten years ago by a friend as a hostess gift. That friend has since moved away, but Betsy’s geranium is a long living reminder of our friendship. It goes out to the deck in the summer but really is happier inside. The big pots are on dollys and the other plants are on a repurposed kitchen island also on wheels.

There is an orchid on the top shelf that is alive and sending up a blooming stalk. It’s a miracle! I have killed every other orchid I’ve ever brought into the house. The clivia didn’t bloom last winter but I had repotted it so am hopeful for blooms this year.

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That’s my six for this week, a meme 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.

 

 

 

Six on Saturday – Making Progress – November 3, 2018

Our neighborhood is finally getting some color on the trees. A sugar maple on the other side of the fence is orange. If I hadn’t been out taking photos I wouldn’t have noticed how the sugar maple complements the brick on my house. Out of my office window I see a yellow leafed maple, and beyond that some reds. The crepe myrtles usually have lots of color but so far mine are still green.  I’ll stop complaining and enjoy what we get this year.

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2. The seed heads of the native milkweed are open. I’ll push some seeds in the ground here and there and hopefully get babies. The butterflies, especially the Monarchs, love the milkweed flowers.

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3.  I have seen more bees on the Sheffield mums this week than I have seen all summer. At least I think this is a honey bee athough it doesn’t have the orange stripes with which I’m familiar.

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4. Following a suggestion from another SoS gardener, I stapled bird netting to my wooden fence. The clematis seems to appreciate having something other than the trellis to climb on. And the yellow jasmine is finally happy. When I put it in this spot in the spring the ground was so wet for so long, I thought I might lose it. It should be spectacular next spring.

5.  The rainbarrels have been emptied. They were made from food grade 50 gallon plastic drums used by a local wine maker and were free for the taking. Porch furniture has been stored behind the shed. Potted geraniums have been brought inside along with a couple of other tender things. They fill a corner of the living room and get light through a sliding door. Leaves are coming down and that will be the next clean-up job.

6.  This is one of the crepe myrles in the area where I took out the river birch. It grew lopsided as it reached for the sun although I rather like the wonkiness of the trunks.  I am hopeful with the birch gone I can coax it to fill out on the empty side. The husband will get those birch logs moved eventually. They won’t be fire ready for a year.

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That’s my six for this week, a meme 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.

 

 

 

 

 

Six on Saturday – Another One Bites the Dust – October 27, 2018

The trees in the neighborhood are beginning to show subdued color, but nothing like the riotous hues of some years.  I’ll enjoy the show before the leaves are on the ground and need to be raked.

On Friday I had a garden helper with a chain saw. We took down the remaining River Birches. This is before.

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This is after. There are three crepe myrtles in this area which will now have room to expand and I get the borrowed landscape of the back of my neighbhor’s yard. See those two metal rings in the front of the picture? I have four of these hoops that came from half whisky barrels that disintegrated. I previously used them filled with gravel as stepping stones but took them up when I got chips in the spring. Now I’m thinking I may be able to make some sort of sculpture out of the hoops to put on top of the birch trunks. Of course I’ll have to keep after the suckers and use an herbicide or I’ll have another huge tree in that spot. I originally thought I could put the top of a blue birdbath on the stumps but the scale of the birdbath to the stump wasn’t right. I’ll look at it for awhile before I decide. I can always have the stumps cut to the ground in the spring.

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2. In late October there are only a few welcome pops of color in the garden. The Sheffield mums are now fully open .

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3. The Aronia arbutifolia ‘Brilliantissima’ (Red Chokeberry) leaves are just starting to color and there are small red berries that entice the birds.

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4. The hostas are on the way out but provide some needed color in another area of the garden.

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5. The Limelight hydrangea is lovely with soft pinks and greens.

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6. Not a garden photo but a bit of bragging about winning first place for a traditional pumpkin pie in the St. Michaels Community Center’s pumpkin pie contest last weekend. I hadn’t intended to enter and was just baking two pumpkin pies to be sold by the slice. They turned out so pretty (I forgot to take a photo) that I entered one.  And won!!!

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That’s my six for this week, a meme 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.

 

Six on Saturday – A Retrospective – October 20, 2018

We still have no fall colors on the trees. The asters are blooming and the Sheffield mums are beginning to open. It has seemed like such an odd year in terms of weather that I thought I would go back through previous years to see what was happening in the garden during the third week in October.

1. 2018  The confused Vitex at the end of the drive is blooming AGAIN.

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2. 2017 – zebra grass in the early morning light.

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3. 2016  A good year for tomatoes and this was the last of them. I spread them out in the garage and processed them as they ripened. This year my tomotoes were okay, but nothing like this so I pulled the plants at the end of August and seeded fall crops.

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4. 2015   This photo was taken on 10-12-15 so a little earlier. The plant in the lower left is artemesia in shadow — turned blue by the morning light.

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5.  2014   – I’ve been complaining that the asters are late this year, but it turns out they are right on schedule. They bloomed the same week in 2014.

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6.  2013   This photo was taken on October 9, 2013. I have no idea why I would have covered the raised beds this early unless a frost was expected. Or perhaps it was to keep the leaves out of the beds although I doubt I would have been that industrious. There appear to be plants underneath the row covers.

The Brown Turkey fig tree in the background didn’t survive a subsequent winter. A shame as it was just getting to a size that would permit the squirrels to share with the gardener.

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It’s interesting to look back on the gardens as things fill in. Just to the left of the Direct TV antennae is a small red cedar. It is now 15 feet tall and fills that part of the garden bed along the fence.

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 – Where There’s a Will… – October 13, 2018

It is 55 degrees outside this morning and the furnace is running. Just a couple of dasy ago it was in the mid 80’s. I think fall is finally here although we are still waiting for the trees to show color.

Today there are five photos from my garden and one from Friday’s tour of a nearby commercial cucumber farm.

  1. I thought we would have to hire a crew of studly men to move the Jan Kirsh avocado sculpture, but my husband and I accomplished the feat in forty-five minutes with a mover’s dolly. I had been watching the track of Hurricane Michael and knew that if we got significant rain it would be weeks or months until we had an opportunity to move this heavy concrete sculpture. When it was installed the artist brought a crew of three men. Kirsh now makes these avocados out of resin so they are not so heavy. On the left, still wrapped for winter is the avocado sitting in the mud last May. On the right is the new location.

 

We’d originally installed it in the garden with the best view from the deck. But that is the garden that is increasingly full of water after heavy rains. And eight years later the sculpture had subsided and the red twig dogwood I planted as a backdrop had encroached. It needed to be moved.

I thought I knew where I wanted it to go, but after removing the river birch several weeks ago that open spot seemed perfect. It is a little higher and doesn’t stay soggy. The spot was thirty feet from where the sculpture had been placed and I was resigned to paying a crew to move it.

However, my mind is always in problem solving mode. I realized if we could get the avocado off the base and on to a mover’s dolly we might be able to pull it across the lawn. And on Tuesday morning we had a window. We’d had no rain for a week. The main piece of sculpture was gently rocked off the base onto a bag of unopened potting soil. We didn’t want to break it. We then moved the base and the large piece of bluestone the sculpture sat on to the new location. The avocado was trickier since it had one end that was heavier than the other. We padded the dolly, and levered the avocado on. My husband pulled and I steadied. And we were able to reasemble it in the new location. Yay for septuagenarians!

2. The heavy rains on Thursday night, the remnants of Hurricane Michael, filled the avocado. Before we have freezing temperatures I’ll need to empty it and wrap it for winter. The rain and wind brought down alot of branches from the silver maples. Lawn clean-up is in my future.

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3. I went out on Wednesday to take some photos before the predicted rain and saw at least six Monarch butterflies. They liked the remaining zinnias.

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4. Monarchs liked the tall asters, too.

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5.  A post-it note on a kitchen cupboard had been reminding me of a garden task. I wanted to put some small ferns in the area where the Naked Lady lilies come up so I would remember where they are. I’d flagged the area when the foliage died down and finally got  the ferns planted. I managed to damage some bulbs in the process. Oh, well. I don’t know where these ferns came from but they handle quite a bit of sun, don’t get too tall, but spread nicely.

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6. On Friday I traveled with a garden group to see a local cucumber farming operation which has two enormous greenhouses where they grow seedless English cucumbers. The flowers don’t need to be fertilized to produce fruit. The greenhouses were previously used to grow cut flowers but when the recession hit, people stopped buying cut flowers and the farmers had to find a new crop. These long cukes have very fragile skin and must be hand picked as do the grapes on another part of this farm. Commercial farming is hard work and expensive. This greenhouse is on a farm which has been in the same  family for five generations.

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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 – These Boots Are Made for Gardening – September 29, 2018

A local weather person opined that it rained twice this summer. Each time for a month. It has felt like that. Going into the yard requires boots. Not just slip-on Sloggers, but calf high boots. I ventured out on Friday morning in my chicken boots to see what there was to see in the garden.

There’s a story to the chicken boots. I tried them on in the garden store, slipping both feet into the boots before realizing they were hooked together so I couldn’t walk. They were a tight fit and I had on the largest size. I couldn’t put the toe of one foot on the heel of the other to help lever off the boots. I couldn’t get my feet out. Should I call for help? “Gardener in shoe aisle needs assistance.”

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I was spared the embarrasment of anyone seeing me squat until I could fall on my butt and pull the boots off. If there were cameras in the store, I’m surprised the video didn’t show up on YouTube.

2.  Pink Muhly grass is blooming. I planted three clumps last fall in the bed that stays so wet. It wasn’t wet when I planted them. This spring it was clear the roots were rotting so I took them out and put them in a container. They may stay there or get planted next spring in a more hospitable area.

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3. This is a seed capsule on a camellia bush. A google search indicated that the seeds can be planted, but “it takes years for seedlings to bloom and they are generally inferior to the parent.” I’m going to pass and pull off the seed capsule. The bush can better use its energy to set buds.

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4. Rust spores on the underside of a leaf from hollyhocks I grew from seed. They didn’t get large enough to bloom.  I need to steel myself to pull them all out and put them in the garbage. I cannot succeed in growing hollyhocks in our area.

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5. A sweet, mild red pepper called Lipstick. The seeds were a free packet in a spring seed order. These taste good, but they were late to set fruit and the harvest was slim. This pepper was about four inches long.

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6. This oak has been under roof behind the garden shed for almost a year and my husband has moved wood to the deck. We are ready for the first fire of the season. The green trash can with holes drilled in it was for a failed experiment in worm composting. Now the container holds kindling.

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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 – 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.