Six on Saturday – August 25, 2018 –

Today’s post is a melange of photos.

One and two were taken at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. We had relatives visiting from the Portland area and this was a great way to introduce them to the history and culture of the Chesapeake.

I’ve been wanting to include some specific photos from the museum gardens. The one below was a project of a St. Michaels High School student who, several years ago, received a grant to install a butterfly garden. This photo shows just a piece of it. I saw my first Monarch butterfly of the season there this week, but it declined to be in my picture.

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2. There are two relocated dwellings at the museum which demonstrate the types of houses common on the shore in the 1700’s. It is important to remember that until the Bay Bridge was opened in July, 1952, the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake was isolated, only  accessed from the Baltimore area by boat or a long drive around the top of the bay and down through Delaware.

The house on the left in the photo below is the Mitchell House and was once the home of Eliza Bailey Mitchell, the sister of abolitionist Frederick Douglas. A former slave, Eliza and her free black husband, Peter, lived in this house and worked nearby on Perry Cabin Farm.

The log house on the right is a humble farm cabin, once common throughout rural Chesapeake. This dwelling served as the tenant farming house for Albert and Henrietta Wilson and their eight children for most of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Although small, this log cabin provided the basic essentials – a hearth for cooking, a table for gathering, and a dry, warm place to sleep at night.

My friend, Roger Galvin, designed raised garden beds to illustrate the types of food crops which would have been grown around houses like this in the 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. The paths between the beds are oyster shells.

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3. Now back to my back yard. Several crepe myrtles that were planted when small are now tall and really blooming for the first time. This is one of two that I rescued from someone’s trash. The home owner had put them out for the garbage men to take. They seemed healthy enough so I brought them home. That was probably eight years ago. (I’m a patient gardener.) It may have helped that one of the compost bins feeds the roots.

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4. One of my leaf castings sits on the deck. I keep a little water in it for the butterflies. The crepe myrtle in the bottom of that picture is growing from the roots of one I moved. Obviously I didn’t get it all. I don’t mind it there as long as I can keep it short.

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5. The garden that is going to get an overhaul this fall doesn’t look so back from this angle. Soaker hoses are connected to my four rain barrels that collect rain from the shed roof. This area is under water when we have heavy rains and dries out to concrete when we don’t have rain.

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6. A big job this fall is to remove this multiple trunked river birch. For a number of years I had it topped to keep it in scale with my house and to maintain a weeping look. I suppose I could have it trimmed to get a couple more years out of it, but I have several other small trees that will fill in when the birch is gone. The other trash rescued crepe mytle is one of those trees. You can see it blooming behind the right side of the birch. At the left side of that bed I have a flowering cherry. The area may look slightly bare for a couple of years, but, as I said, I’m patient.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed my Six on Saturday. The gardens are slowing down but the asters and golden rod are still to come.

Six on Saturday – July 7, 2018 – Rain Dance Visualization

I am writing this on Friday morning, obsessively checking the weather channel radar map to see if the predicted 80% chance of rain is going to get to us. Sometimes it just doesn’t transit across the Chesapeake Bay to the Eastern Shore. The ground is cracking and I will lose plants if we don’t get significant rain soon. I can’t water enough to keep up. The gardens are looking sad with a few exceptions. Note: it is now almost 7pm and the rain has just skirted around us. My rain dance visualization had no effect. Tomorrow I will haul hoses.

Here’s my six. Only photos that don’t show the desolation…

  1. This small tree is a Vitex or chaste tree. I prune mine to keep it from getting too tall. It’s glorious for a couple of weeks. A native of the Mediterranean area, it doesn’t mind our summer dry spells.Pruning the suckers on the bottom is on the “to do” list, although they do hide a wonky stem that was the result of someone, who shall remain nameless, backing over the plant when it was small.

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2. A couple of years ago I had a wheelbarrow that I didn’t know how to dispose of. So I painted it purple, put potting soil in it and planted it with mint.  I learned my lesson about the invasive quality of mint years ago as a newbie gardener. Now it only goes in elevated pots or containers as the roots will escape through drainage holes. This spring I replaced the soil in the barrow, replanted rooted cuttings and put a chartreuse coleus in the front (because I had been at a nursery and couldn’t help myself). The pot on the right side has left over SunPatiens from planting the window boxes in the front of the house.

I put a drip irrigation hose in the mint which is keeping it fresh, but you can see the drooping yellow jasmine by the fence. I need to run some drip to it.

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3. The cleome that were tiny two weeks ago are going to town despite the drought. The window boxes are planted with SunPatiens which do well given the late afternoon sun on the front of the house. I have drip irrigation in the boxes.

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4. This is heliopsis Burning Heart. I ordered it last spring and it was puny looking when it came. I’ve parked it in one of the raised beds so I could keep an eye on it.

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5. Tomatoes are coming on. These are Shah, a white variety, which I’ve never grown before. The seeds were included with other seeds I’d ordered. Shah’s leaves are different as you can see below the tomatoes. There is also a Sungold in this pot. The leaves of that variety look like traditional tomato leaves.

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6. The photo below shows what happens when you wait too late to prune. I had already cut back the red twig dogwood once but it was over powering the avocado sculpture so I cut it back again. A couple of days of temperatures in the high 90’s with blistering sun and this sun scald is the result. Tony Tomeo wrote a great blog post about summer heat and plants.

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I hope you enjoy my Six on Saturday for this week. The meme was started by The Propogator, a UK gardener. This is the link to the rules if you’d like to join in.

Six on Saturday – April 21, 2018

These are my Six on Saturday. The plants seem to believe that Spring is here.

  1. The Angelique tulips on the far side of this bed are just getting ready to bloom. There’s also a clump in the foreground.  They are a peony tulip and it looks like each bulb sent up several blooms. I think the pink and yellow tulips are a Darwin variety.

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2. The grass is greening up. I had to get the mower out and make a couple of passes where it was getting too tall. Repairing a grassy area that was full of Green Kyllinga (Kyllinga gracillima) last fall is on the agenda this afternoon if the lawn is dry enough. I sprayed it in the fall with  Sedgehammer which killed it, but I hadn’t realized there was so little grass. I’m not a lawn fanatic by any means. I’ll never get rid of the wiregrass (an uncultivated form of Bermuda grass that is just an evil weed in the Mid-Atlantic), but I don’t like the bald patches of dirt.

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3. Miniature hostas define a seating area on one side of my house. I always forget where the perimeter is in the winter, but the hostas, which get about 6″ tall, let me know. I put two Adirondack chairs in this area facing toward the back of the property so I can sit and enjoy the garden. The chairs are still behind the shed and it’s too wet to get them out. My father built them for me over 50 years ago. They are cedar and we have reinforced them several times, but amazingly they are still functional.

The cord of wood was delivered last week. It has to be wheelbarrowed (once the yard dries out) to the back of the shed where it will be stacked under roof and continue drying for next fall’s fires. To the left of the wood pile are white arches make of plastic electrical conduit. They are 16′ long and slip over pieces of rebar I pounded into the ground.  Originally there were four arches but I took them down this year when we were hauling debris from the back of the lot. When I put them back up it occured to me I could cross them over which might make a better foundation for annual vines like hyacinth beans. I’ll see what happens.

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4. I managed to get three raised beds ready for seeding before the latest rain. The one at the end has some transplanted kale that wintered over. I had to move it from another bed so I could dig it before planting. The other end has some iris I didn’t know what to do with last fall.

I have two more raised beds at the Community Garden. One bed is ready for  my tomatoes which are still in the garage waiting for warmer night weather when I will put them outside in the shade for a couple of weeks before planting them. We are still about twenty degrees lower than the normal temperatures for this time of year. The bed on the right in the foreground is garlic I planted last fall.

In the bed on the left (foreground) I found some sprouts of the Yellow Finn potatoes I planted last spring. There were ten seed potatoes in the bag and I didn’t get much of a harvest. They were, however, delicious. Perhaps I’ll do better with the babies I missed when digging the parents. I moved a few to corral them all in the same area. I still have to dig the rest of the bed.

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5. The epimedium blooms don’t last long, but are lovely pop of color. Wikipedia tells me that epimedium, also known as barrenwort, bishop’s hat, fairy wings, horny goat weed, or yin yang huo, is a genus of flowering plants in the family Berberidaceae. Mine has new leaves with reddish copper coloring. The leaves then turn green and are leathery by summer. Deer don’t like them and the plants spread. These are under a River Birch and tolerate dry shade.

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6. The first azalea is blooming. I think this one is a Lavender Lady. Many of my azaleas  began with plants my mother gave me. She started with a few plants and began to propogate them by air layering. Twenty years later she had an acre of azaleas of all varieties in a beech wood in rural Pennsylvania. Locally she was known as the Azalea Lady. One year, on my May birthday, she brought me a trunkload of azalea plants from her garden that bloomed on my special day. Babies of many of those plants, including this Lavender Lady, were brought as tiny plants from our old house to the new one in St. Michaels twelve years ago. I don’t air layer on the woody stems as my mother did, but if there is a low branch I pin it down to the soil and propogate new babies that way.

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That’s my six for Saturday. I’m not sure that Spring is finally here, but the plants believe it is.

Six on Saturday – March 10, 2018

It’s a never ending miracle that things in the garden that should, by all rights, be dead, come to life in the Spring.

Usually the forsythia blooms before anything else in mid February. This year it is popping at the same time as the daffodils.

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Below is fennel that I grew last year from seed. When mature it has beautiful bronze foliage. In the fall it finally succumbed (I thought) to killing frosts and then weeks of bitter cold. But it is coming back. It creates something of a problem in terms of my being able to dig that raised bed.  The nearby trees send roots into the beds and if I don’t dig them every spring they become rootbound. The fennel will get set aside while I dig and then replanted.

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I have no idea how this hyacinth got into this particular bed near the hellebores. But it is blooming. You can see chrysanthemums sprouting below the flower.

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A bed of irises. These are a dark blue variety that a friend gave me. I mow my iris beds in the fall with the lawn mower and they don’t seem to mind at all. I do the same thing in the spring with lariope. I occasionally see signs of borers in my iris, but I only keep the ones that don’t seem too bothered. I am a lazy gardener.

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The pink metal birds below mark one edge of two septic tanks that I found when I was putting in garden beds. You can see the little pieces of rebar next to the bird stakes. I used those at first but kept tripping on them. Then I put acid green tennis balls on them. I kind of liked them, but they eventually faded in the sun. Having a stake in the middle of a path is something of a problem. Eventually I’ll get around to moving the stones. I need to know where the septic tank is because there’s not much soil on top of it which is how I found it in the first place when I tried to plant that flowering cherry tree.

Now that I see this photo I realize I need to move the start of the path between the birds. Duh! The sedums are easy to move.

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Another spring miracle. I was repotting agapanthas last fall and had leftovers. A friend had told me that hers were planted outside and usually made it through the winter, so I stuck some in the ground. And they are putting out new growth. The pot I brought inside didn’t bloom this winter. If these bloom this summer, all the agapanthas will get moved outside.

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That’s my six this week. We had more rain so the back garden is still flooded and I can’t work there yet. But this week the rest of the roses in the front of the house were cut back. I’m making progress.

On the Writing Front

The first draft of the play was emailed to the director.  Now I have to get back to my novel which was put on hold for a little while. I couldn’t manage to keep two sets of characters separate. Characters have a way of popping up where you least expect them.  A Hot Dish lady from a Christmas themed play doesn’t belong in a novel set in the Caribbean. Sort of like that pink hyacinth, except it is much more welcome.

 

Six on Saturday: Feb 24, 2018

Six on Saturday is the idea of a garden blogger. The idea is for people to take photos of things in and around gardens and post six photos on Saturday. These are mine.

I was at the St. Michaels Woman’s Club yesterday. A friend and I have been tending the grounds for a number of years and are passing the torch. We were at the club to meet with a local landscaper so we could get a bid on ongoing maintenance. We are just getting too creaky to do all we’ve been doing (like putting down 14 cubic yards of mulch). We have enough to do in our own gardens. In one corner of the back yard I found an early camellia dewed by a gentle rain.

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We’ve had a wet spring, but warmer than normal temps which is pushing things to bloom a couple of weeks before they should. I found daffodils blooming today in a corner of my yard. Our town, St. Michaels, MD is having a Daffodil Festival April 14-15. I wonder if all those thousands of bulbs that were planted last fall will have come and gone by then.

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There is yard clean-up to do, but it’s been too wet. The grasses need to be cut back along with many other shrubs. You can see the standing water, but day lilies don’t seem to mind wet feet. The red twig dogwood needs to be cut back soon, but I’llenjoy looking at it for a little while longer. I took alot of things out of this bed last fall and am waiting to see what’s still there before I replant. I just noticed that in the back left of this photo is the bright blue kneeling pad I couldn’t find.

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Last fall I ordered 50 allium schubertii. They make a huge head that I dry and use in flower arrangements. That was definitely one of those what-was-I-thinking purchases. I planted those bulbs everywhere, including plastic pots that I grow vegetables in. I noticed that some in the ground have been munched so I started spraying with Deer-Off which should help with deer and rabbits unless the rain washes it off. Or, come to think of it,  these might be tulips. I also bought too many of those and was frantic to get them in the ground.

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Bok choy wintered over without a row cover. It is so sweet and tender. We are enjoying it in salads.

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At home I have a small bed of garlic that I planted last fall. At our local community garden I have a number of beds and half of one of those is also planted with garlic. 4′ x 7′ more of garlic there.

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That’s my six this rainy Saturday. I’m heading back out to pick some bok choy for dinner.