Upsy-Daisy

The weather conditions this year have been extremely beneficial to my tall plants. Perhaps too beneficial The rudbeckia was sooooo tall, that it far outstripped the meager supports I had in place. When the heavy rains came in the beginning of August, many of those plants bent and snapped – there was simply too much plant, too much wind, too much rain, and supports that were much too low. The supports did more damage during those rains than if there had been no supports at all. Some of the rudbeckia survived but many were destroyed. Note for next spring: put in tall stakes in the corners of the garden to string supporting twine higher.

oh me, oh my, soooo tired and droopy

The Bolton’s Aster is taller than than the previous 2 years. Side note: I was out gardening one day and was chatting with a passer-by. She actually asked me if the Bolton’s Aster was a weed. Really????? We’re discussing my flowers and garden and you really think I’d be growing a huge weed in the front garden? Anyway, the aster is huge. It was staying upright, with a little help from some supports, until the last week or so. Then the winds and rains from Henri & Ida proved to be a bit much.

stand up straight!!!

Unlike the rudbeckia, the aster had room and flexibility to bend all the way to the ground. Unfortunately, both the aster and I have great difficulty springing back gracefully to upright positions. πŸ™‚ While the aster looked okay as a bush, I really prefer it tall, swaying in the breeze (like Mary’s dress). As a bush it was also killing everything under it – grass, flowers, peony. I bought three 6′ stakes. Yesterday I got my husband to pound the stakes into the ground for me. There was a time when I’d have struggled valiantly to do the stake-pounding myself. My husband is 6′ tall and I’m only 5’1″, he’s strong, and I’m not as strong as he is, so despite the fact that I do NOT let him help me up from the floor when I’m weak as a kitten (this part is for YOU, Honour), I did ask him to help me with the stakes. I held, he pounded. I also had him do the twine tying. After all, he IS the structural engineer. πŸ™‚ I think the asters look much better this way. And NO, they are NOT weeds.

The peony is saying “aaaahhhh! air & light!

Butterflies!!!!!

PLURAL!!! There were TWO butterflies in the garden this afternoon. I was backing the car out when I saw a butterfly swooping about. I am that crazy that I pulled back into the driveway and grabbed my new phone so I could get a picture! PROOF! I love that my new phone allows me to access the camera without unlocking the phone. As I clicked away at the butterfly on the Mexican Sunflower Torch, another monarch flew by, heading for the garden that borders the street.

While the first butterfly was deep into Torch nectar, the 2nd butterfly was much more flittery πŸ™‚ Yes, that’s a word. It finally came to rest on the zinnia. Obviously the first butterfly sent the word out, however, and the 2nd butterfly came over to enjoy the Mexican Sunflower. TWO butterflies!!!! I’m so excited. About 2 weeks ago I saw a red spotted purple butterfly (I think) around the garage, and then the next day I saw a humming bird checking out the front porch hanging planters. I didn’t have a camera either time so you’ll have to take my word for it. πŸ™‚ But today – TWO butterflies!!! I even took a video so I could watch the wings fluttering. πŸ™‚ What a joyous way to start the new year! L’shana tovah u’metukah

Down the Garden Path Again

I know there are wrinkles. I’ve decided to consider them aesthetically pleasing

This weekend was my weekend to try once more with the path between our deck and our neighbors’ fence. On Friday I had what has now become my yearly biopsy on my tongue (major ugh and unhappiness). That means that until I can no longer feel the stitches and any and all side effects have vanished, I can’t really talk or eat or do much of anything. It’s Labor Day weekend so 3 days off from work and then Rosh Hashanah on Tuesday and Wednesday. No one expecting much of anything from me. No family holiday dinner as there is no family in town at the moment and, as noted, I couldn’t be sure I could talk or eat in time for holiday dinner. The good news is that (1) I can actually chew some food today and (2) the weather cooperated wonderfully for garden work and (3) my husband was kind enough to go lift, buy, and lift the lumber I wanted.

I should have removed all the stones to the ivy side. Had to do it to unroll the screening

We already know the burlap failed to slow rapid growth of the weeds. It did function beautifully for my other 2 criteria: water permeable and bio-degradable. I don’t think I realized how much water collects in that area. You can see from the photos that there is one section there where it is WET. I don’t think you can tell from the pictures but under 3 of the stones the burlap actually tore, it was that wet and frayed. The new plan was again something that sounded as if it should be easy but ended up having nuances I’d not anticipated. This is why you should really hire professionals, or do a LOT of research beforehand (not my forte) or figure it’s going to take much longer than you expected or have a very low threshold for satisfaction with work done. I chose the last option. The plan was to pick up the stepping stones, line the path with nylon screening, then secure that screening with the bricks lining the mulch, with the stepping stones themselves, and with 4×4 poles along the fence. I’d used the metal U-staples on the burlap. I needed a zillion of them and I wasn’t sure how well they’d work on the nylon.

Not sure if you can see but the 3 darkest patches had already ripped through

My first surprise came when I picked up the stones and saw how quickly the burlap was deteriorating. I begin to understand the popularity of that revolting black weed block. My next surprise came with the screening. I’d ordered a roll of 100′ x 60″, enough for 2 layers of screen mesh. I hadn’t realized how SLIPPERY screen mesh can be. This is where the “easily satisfied” aspect of the job manifested. Besides the screen slithering around and bunching up, it’s late summer. Leaves were falling the whole time I was working. Despite using a leaf blower to clear the burlap before beginning work, and after putting down the first layer of screening, leaves were falling faster than I worked. There are leaves between the screen and the burlap, and leaves between the 2 screen layers. Oh well – they are biodegradable. πŸ™‚

Leaf blower, broom – I couldn’t keep the burlap clear of debris

My other miscalculation was my lack of energy. My last solid food was dinner Thursday night. Biopsy on Friday, only water and tylenol with codeine. Water on Saturday. Late Saturday afternoon I was able to – oh, what’s a polite word for what I did? – ingest some pretzels. Little pieces of pretzel. That I could hold in the non-cut side of my mouth until I could swallow. If you don’t eat protein, and have experienced trauma to your body, you aren’t in very good shape to do physical labor. I’ve never let that stop me before and didn’t take it into consideration on Saturday afternoon either.

This is about the point I realized how difficult it was going to be to unwind that roll

I got most of the walk done – I gave up about 2/3 of the way replacing the bricks – the last step. My husband found me on the kitchen floor, conscious, but not very functional. I’d finally given up when the only thing I was aware of was a nearly overwhelming sense of nausea. I was close enough to the bathroom when I lay down that I figured I could get there in time. Other than that, I had no energy. I was drained. You know I must have seemed out of it when he asked me if he should call the ambulance. That’s the point when I figured maybe I should let him help me up so I could get to a chair. Of course being me, I refused to let him help me (he was moving too fast and strong) and I needed to take off my dirty gardening clothes (something he thought was unnecessary). I fell asleep in the chair wrapped in a sheet. Definitely a case of over-doing. I got up early Sunday morning, put on my dirty gardening clothes and went out to finish putting the bricks back into place. πŸ™‚ I’m not loving the look – the burlap looked so much nicer – but I’m hoping this will keep the weeds growing at a slower pace. If not, I’ll think about it over the winter, and call in the professionals in the spring. πŸ™‚

The lilac bush roots don’t play nicely with the bricks, but notice the gently undulating wrinkles

Canna Lilies Stand Alone

I love the Canna Lilies. Last year the plants were so stupendously gorgeous that I did something I never do. I dug up the bulbs and stored them in the basement to winter-over. The basement is not as cold nor as dark as I thought, even in the old coal bin. I noticed in January that there were plants sprouting. ??? In April I brought them upstairs. They were pale yellow and weak. I had to put them in a spot where they’d get light but not direct sun. I had to nurse them back to green strength. Finally in May I could put them outside. They are all doing wonderfully. They are gorgeous. Passersby stop to ask “what are those plants????” I love them. There is no other text or description needed. The Canna Lilies stand on their own. πŸ™‚

Angelica Gigas

Angelica Gigas with Rudbeckia Laciniata Hortensia behind

Angelica Gigas – I went to elementary school with her, right? No that’s not it. Hmm – camp maybe? No, no, still not right. Ah!!!! A surprise gift from my friend Betty at Heritage Flower Farm!!!!

The first bud – see the leaves coming out of the bud

Last year I’d ordered several perennials. I ordered my plants in March as I usually do. In 2020 I placed my order at the start of the first ‘lock down’ for Covid19. I don’t think that impacted what I ordered. I’ve been planting native perennials that attract pollinators and butterflies, with a few other fun items tossed in. The plants ship as bare-root plants. That means Betty doesn’t send them until the end of April at the earliest and I need to get them in the ground as soon as I can. I use May 15 as my “frost” date. I only need to keep those plants going for a few days.

I’d ordered a few new things – a bleeding heart vine and swamp milkweed. Imagine my delight to find tucked in with my order a gift from Betty – 2 Angelica Gigas plants! Her note said that the plants were looking so spectacular that she just had to share. πŸ™‚ I’d never heard of these plants so began my research on the HFF site and then to Wikipedia and other garden sites. I confess that I still don’t quite understand “biennials”, but AG is a biennial. I planted them in the front, in a very sunny spot, at the end of my row of Rudbeckia Laciniata Hortensia. πŸ™‚ They didn’t do much to impress me other than stay green and survive.

This year, however, was obviously their biennial year and their year to shine. I say “their” but I believe only one of the 2 survived. It’s a bit crowded in that corner so I’m not quite sure if there is another AG in there. First there was a whole crop of big green leaves. I had to keep tying them back to let sun shine on the other plants and seeds I had going there.

Crowded – cosmos, zinnias, & volunteer ground cherry in front, spider wort, rudbeckia, lysimachia ciliata behind

Then the buds started. The flower buds are so different than any other buds that I’ve seen. I’d look at them trying to figure out where/how there was going to be a flower. It looked like a leaf was sprouting from the bud and I was extremely confused (not an unusual condition for me with my garden). It was fascinating to watch them open. The plant is still going strong. It started putting out buds in July, and is still blooming here in late August. I’m not sure if it will flower again next year, or if I have to wait 2 years, but I know I’m going to be happy to see it when it blooms again!

Some Ideas Are Better Than Others

some of my ideas DO work – will be adding to the trellis fencing this fall – grow more ivy

I was wrong. Okay everyone? Happy now?? πŸ™‚ I admitted it. You were all right and I was wrong. But my idea wasn’t wrong – it was my implementation. πŸ™‚

burlap walkway – first iteration – loooking towards the street

I HATE that black weed block. In my initial days of homeownership, before I spent hours and hours planting flowers and herbs, I hired landscapers. We’d built a deck, and I wanted to safety-proof it for our new-born son. The service put down weed block and then a very thick layer of mulch all around the deck. For years we would add a fresh layer if the mulch bed was wearing down. That probably helped to kill our cherry tree – suffocating the root system.

current view along the back of the deck, w/ compost bins where once there was a cherry tree

Time goes by, children grow up, hobbies change, views from the house change, and ultimately, as I’ve recorded here, the time came to “do something” with the back yard. With the kitchen renovation I saw the backyard every day. The window had always been there, but I used to sit with my back to it, not sideways to the view. Now I see the back yard all the time. I began working my way from my viewpoint around the back to the compost bins and then this year to the side strip between the deck and my neighbors’ fence.

stage one looking from the street end to the back property line, with my blue hydrangea (and neighbor’s grass clippings)

That strip gets very little sun, but all the rain that everyone else gets. We don’t usually walk there except to get to prune the ivy growing up the deck privacy screens or to get to the water spigot on that side of the house. All of this means that that side of the house tends to be nothing but weeds. I wouldn’t mind too much if the weeds were mowed, but that wasn’t getting done either. I decided to make a path. I wanted it to be ‘green’ – it should be permeable and it should NOT have that hated black weed blocker that lasts for generation after generation, and should you decide you WANT to plant, you need a machete to cut the weed blocker to get to soil. I wanted a semi-temporary solution until I figured out what should be done as a permanent solution.

3rd iteration – adding bricks to block mulch run-off

First I weed-whacked all the weeds as low as I could get them. I pruned the weeds and the garbage out from the base of the ivy. Next I covered that area with fine burlap. I know that weeds CAN grow through burlap, but I’d picked a very fine mesh and I was hoping for slowing the growth, not obliterating the growth. I put down stepping stones so that we could use that path even after rain when the ground would be muddy. I put down mulch at the base of the plants to help slow weed growth and make it more attractive. I noticed that the mulch was higher than the other side of the path, which meant a heavy rain could wash the mulch right across the path into the fence. I put down bricks on the burlap to line the mulch and hold it back. It looked VERY nice, in my opinion.

penultimate iteration – lots of stepping stones, bricks mulch, no mud (see the low spot up there?)

My family complained that the stones were too far apart for a comfortable walk. I’d been thinking of a ‘working stride’ not a “stroll” so my initial spacing worked for that. They also pointed out that weeds could/would grow throw the burlap but I demonstrated how easy it now was for me to pluck the few daring plants. They were unimpressed. I went and bought more stones and made a comfortable path. The the rains came. With the rains came faster more abundant growth, and much more humidity. Perhaps I’d have weeded better without the humidity, maybe it would have always been too much, too fast.

weeds thru the burlap, up close and personal

I’m going to try one more “patch” this year and then let it go. The path is 54″ wide. I ordered a roll of fine mesh window screen material – 100′ x 60″. I’m going to pick up the stones, roll out the screen, put back the stones. If this does not sufficiently slow the weeds to a point where I can battle them successfully, I’ll admit complete defeat. Next year I’ll call in a landscape service. πŸ™‚

Maybe I should just get goats

The Only One

red spotted purple butterfly

Two years ago I had LOTS of butterfly sightings. It was so much fun to snap the pictures and determine what kind of butterfly had come to enjoy my garden. Last year I think I had a total of 3 sightings. 3. Not even a full hand. This year is even worse so far. One. I had ONE butterfly sighting and it wasn’t even on my flowers. TTTT – I’m a little concerned that the only reason this one was on the chair so long was that it was injured or dead. 😦 I have been planting native pollinator/butterfly friendly plants. I have lots of pollinators out front but nary a butterfly. That makes me sad.

We’re Going to Need a Bigger House

Full Bloom

First it was chair that was too small. Now it’s the entire house. I do love my rhododendron. But even I concede that perhaps the time has come to have someone professional come in and do a little pruning. πŸ™‚ These photos are from May 2021. I’ve been a bit behind in my posting although I have been zealous about taking photos. I have a Skylight in my living room and just last night a photo came up that showed the rhododendron in full-bloom – mid-windows on the FIRST floor. πŸ™‚ I’ve been so fortunate with that bush. πŸ™‚

getting started

From the Garden to the Counter

The spider wort has taken over the porch border garden. Once I have a decent weather weekend I will go forth and do battle.

I’ve cut back a lot this year on growing edibles. In the past I’ve gotten carried away with all sorts of herbs and we almost never used some of them. There are others, like lemon balm, that we almost never use but since it’s thriving and happy it got to stay. πŸ™‚ I have one cherry tomato plant and one red pepper (sweet) plant. I don’t think I have any other vegetable attempts.

parsely, dill, arugula, romaine, leaf lettuce

I was making some salads for us to enjoy in the intermittent hot weather. Aside: it’s been as crazy here as in other places in the world. For example: Wednesday it was 91 degrees in the afternoon. Saturday morning it was 41. Memorial day we did finally edge up into the 70s, but only late in the afternoon before it then started cooling down again. Here we are on Friday – HUMID and in the 70s and we’re due for thunderstorms (heads up, Honour). They are promising 80s on Saturday and – oh hallelujah! – 90s on Sunday. I’ve been sooooo COLD. Back to the salads! There are 3 types of lettuce: arugula, red leaf, and romaine. They were for my tossed salad. The dill and parsley were for the chickpea salad. Yummy!

Ready to cook. Fire pit at the ready, also 2 propane heaters if needed.

The Memorial Day weekend was, as I said, VERY cold and VERY rainy on Saturday and Sunday. Monday things finally started to dry and warm up. We had TEN PEOPLE on the deck for BBQ dinner. It was GLORIOUS! We’d not been together since Feb 2, 2020. So much hugging and smiling and laughing!! It was wonderful to be back together again. I got to show off my latest acquisition for the deck – my new ice cooler. πŸ™‚ My sister and I had gone to an Antiques & Collectibles show back in April. This Italian ice cart caught my eye, caught my sense of humor, and I thought it would be perfect on the deck. When my husband texted back to say he AGREED, the deal was done. πŸ™‚ He keeps saying “we’ll get a lot of use out of it” and I keep laughing and saying “oh my it is so kitsch that it is art and I LOVE it”. Seriously – it gives me such joy. I smile every time I see it. And yes – it is useful. It holds A LOT of ice. Deceptively so. We had 3 bags of ice in it for the BBQ and it looked paltry. But our drinks were cold!

No need for shade. We did light the firepit at dusk and it put out a good amount of heat and a LOT of beauty.