I have mentioned that I did not think I had ever seen a hummingbird until I saw one in June in Phoenix. My next-door-neighbor had a humming bird feeder and she saw them. My husband said that he had seen one in our yard once also (years ago). Other folks in town have said that they have hummingbirds. I have now seen one with my OWN EYES in MY garden!!!! I am SO EXCITED!!!!!!
I was chatting with a neighbor. He is always threatening to steal my Rudbeckia Laciniata Hortensia (my big gorgeous yellow flowers). One year I gave him seeds from the flowers. I believe one year I even dug up a plant and gave it to him. He has not had any luck growing them. This year I gave him the botanical name AND the name of the place from where I get a few new plants each year (Heritage Flower Farm in Wisconsin). As we were chatting – that’s when I saw MY hummingbird! It was wonderful. It checked out the big canna lilies and flew away. My neighbor said that is where he sees them as well – feeding on his cannas. You KNOW next year I’m going to plant a FIELD of canna lilies!!!!
I never did anything about harvesting the seeds from the scarlet milkweed (Asclepias curassavica). I’m not sure the pod is even still there. I don’t think I have them in a very good spot. I may get some more for next year and put them elsewhere – maybe in front of the porch. The false starwort (Bolton’s Aster) is doing fantastic! It is indeed putting forth dozens of little white flowers. I don’t know if that’s a moth or a butterfly enjoying them. It flitted too much for me to get a sufficiently clear photo so that I could search on it. The black swallowtail was back as well. I think it might be a female. I have such a clear picture of it now but I can’t tell if the difference between the male and female on the web site is because they happen to have slightly different markings by the tail end, or if those different markings are how you tell male from female. I think this one looks more like the picture of the female black swallowtail
The big bushy weed thing that was growing behind the zinnias and next to the cosmos – it’s not a weed!!!! Look – it has little flower buds on it! I can’t wait to see what comes up. I KNOW I have pulled that plant out in the past thinking it a weed. There is something growing out from under the yellow peony that I’m sure is a weed. But it, too, seems to have flowers so it gets to stay. The only flowering thing I pull is my goldenrod. The goldenrod would take over the entire yard if I let it. Its runners are extremely aggressive. 🙂 Even pulling out easily a dozen runners this spring, I will still have a nice crop.
Among my many “let’s just try it” this year was an attempt to grow cucumbers. I love cucumbers. I gave my niece my Mexican cucumber plant for last year, and thought maybe I’d see if I could get real cukes this year. As you can see from the picture, it does not appear that I succeeded. I probably did not give it enough light, and maybe it needed friends to pollinate properly. It does seem as if it’s TRYING to make a cucumber. We’ll give it more time and see what develops. Maybe I should tell it that it is a WEED and it would be more productive?
It’s my Boltonia Asteroides – False Starwort! Apparently it blooms in August and September and can grow to 4-5 feet tall. YES!!! The article in Backyard Gardener.com goes on to say that “The Boltonias, because of their great height, are highly desirable in large perennial borders because the plants literally bear thousands of star-like flowers.” I’m so relieved. I KNEW I’d planted something there deliberately. I must have switched my markers when I was planting. Either that or I have been misremembering which plant grew tall. 🙂 I do like tall flowers.
On the other hand, I’m fairly certain that I DO have a weed that has been trying to pass itself off as a cosmos. It is growing where I planted the cosmos. I thought it was a wonderfully healthy cosmos. Then I realized that it was too hairy and too thick to be a cosmos. I’ve seen this imposter before – it’s a weed. 🙂 It doesn’t flower. On the other hand, I rather like its hairy leaves. It gets to stay even though it has no flowers. But NEXT year I’ll pull it if I recognize it in time.
The grape tomatoes are coming in! I lost the first crop to some hungry predator a few weeks ago when I did not spray stinky repel-all quickly and abundantly. I was determined that *I* would get to eat THIS batch. And I did. And they were yummy. 🙂 I didn’t share at all.
I had a new butterfly today as well – the Common Buckeye. It was much less skittish than the Painted Lady the other day. I could step nearer while it was on the flowers and it didn’t dart away. The black swallowtail was back later in the afternoon as well. We’re all enjoying the not weeds. 🙂
Some days it’s just very very difficult to remain upbeat. On those days I look for the brightest possible spot and stare there, whether literal or figurative. This morning’s bright spot award goes yet again to the mandevilla. 🙂 Look at that plant grow!! Not sure where it thinks it’s heading – I may have to string some rope to support that top tendril.
I went out to water the plants in pots yesterday when a large dark something darted across my vision. It was a BUTTERFLY!!!! One I’ve not seen here before (I have seen Monarchs and white moths). It was huge and beautiful and it was flitting about checking out all the flowers! My garden strategy seems to be working for attracting butterflies and pollinators. YAY!!!!! It hung around for awhile on that dahlia (I guess IT didn’t mind the dark color). I had to leave so I don’t know how long it stayed, but it gladdened my heart for sure!
And PLEASE don’t tell me it is a moth, even if it is. 🙂
The mandevillas are LOVING this summer. Either it’s the weather or I bought superior plants this year. They have both reached the top of the 8 foot poles and are still growing. Not only are the vines and leaves growing, but both plants have been putting out an abundance of flowers. I love it! I think maybe next year I will find more room and plant more of them – maybe build a wall of mandevillas somewhere.
The little canna lilies I planted way back in April in the pots have been very disappointing. I am FINALLY seeing one of them put up a flower shoot, but the others have only leaves, no flowers. The hibiscus has also disappointed. 😦 I’ve been putting hibiscus into the front pots for several years now, and I’d say this is the worst crop ever. I can’t even blame the deer this time – I’m not seeing any evidence that they’ve been chomping. I guess they are disappointed, too.
This green plant highlighted against the brown canna leaves is (supposedly) butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa). It’s very tall, but I don’t see a single hint of a flower anywhere. I’m pretty sure it IS what I planted, since I have 2 of them, exactly where I think I planted the butterfly weed. I can’t imagine this plant being at all appealing to a butterfly. I’d almost think that what I thought was the Bolton’s Aster False Starwort was the butterfly weed except that does look like pictures of the aster. If the weather ever cools down sufficiently for me to get out there and weed, maybe I’ll be able to figure out what that plant is. For now I’m calling it butterfly weed. So there.
I do love canna lilies, mandevilla, hibiscus, and gladiolas. They are so bright and cheerful. I’m disappointed in the colors I picked for the dahlias this year. They seem to be very dark, and they are getting lost against the bushes. Most of them have not yet flowered so perhaps I planted some light ones as well. *smile* I really don’t remember what I planted. I just go crazy buying plants and shoving them in the ground and hope that it will look good later when they bloom.
I have been trying to add native plants to my garden in order to support the pollinators and to make it easier to maintain. Some things have been working and some have been a bit disappointing, but all in all I’m seeing progress. One of the new additions this year is the anise hyssop. I put 3 plants near my gorgeous rudbeckia laciniata hortensia. The pictures online look much more attractive than what I’m seeing but maybe next year it will look more appealing. On the other hand, it doesn’t matter if *I* think it is appealing – I planted it for the bees and butterflies. SUCCESS!!!! I saw a bee feasting in the hyssop just the other day! I’ve seen a few butterflies flitting about as well, but they have been much more difficult to capture in a picture. I’m encouraged by this bee and the butterfly sightings. More native pollinator plants next year!!!!
This morning was so gloriously bright and sunny that I wanted to take a few flower photos before heading in to the office. We are due for some heavy rain tomorrow and that often leaves the plants looking somewhat abused. Imagine my dismay when I saw that something had dug up my gazania and munched the tops off of them. Injury on injury – it wasn’t content with merely eating the tops, it dug up the plants!!!
Working in the garden was NOT on my morning to-do list but I got the trowel and dug new holes and patted the plants back in. Not really a first-class job but I needed to get going to the office. I looked at that and realized that they’d never survive the 90+ degree heat due for today, so I went and got the hose and watered them. As long as I was watering them, I got the front garden and the porch baskets as well.
I don’t think the gazania will make it but maybe I’ll get lucky. I’d be more upset (and I was dismayed, don’t get me wrong) had I not treated myself to some more plants yesterday. I’ve spent the last 2 weekends doing massive weeding battles. One of the good/bad parts of weeding is discovering all the areas where you thought you had flowers but now have available space. I seem to spend a great deal of my time at the big box stores for house supplies. Yesterday was another visit so I just happened to stroll into the garden area to see what was still there. I picked up 3 perennial plants. If the gazania fail, I’ll put some of those plants in that spot.
So much for marigolds repelling deer. I think the midnight muncher also attacked my dahlias. Back to dusting everyone with hot chili pepper every night. Sigh. It works, but somehow *I* managed to inhale it every time. ACHOO!!!!
On a happy note – take a look at the glorious gladiolas! Aren’t they beautiful??? And the mandevilla is climbing to the sky! I bought 8 ft poles this year for them, and I can see that’s not tall enough. 🙂 Maybe next year I should treat myself to some kind of arch in the front garden and grow mandevilla up both sides of it. If those poles are 8 ft, then the rudbeckia is at least 7 ft tall (assuming I drove at least 6 inches of the poles into the ground). I LOVE that flower! (And please ignore the evergreens in the photo below – I KNOW they are in desperate need of trimming.)
I headed out to my Arizona vacation with only a vague itinerary. What I knew I wanted to do: hang by the pool, go to the spa, meet my son’s friends, see the desert, get to Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright’s desert home. That left a lot of unplanned time. My Super Shuttle drivers had many suggestions for me. They suggested the Phoenix Botanical Gardens, a trip to Sedona, hiking to Devil’s Bridge in Sedona, the Musical Instrument Museum and Taliesin West. They told me that it was a shame I was there then, because I should have come earlier when the botanical gardens (and all the plants actually) would have been in full bloom. They felt that I’d not get the true flower experience. Ah well, I got there when I got there. The point of the trip was escape, and that happens when it happens. 🙂
My son agreed with all of my plans and with the drivers’ suggestions. He’d also asked his friends for hiking suggestions for us. We woke up Friday morning and decided to have a comparatively relaxed day because we knew we’d be going out at night to meet up with his friends. Apparently mead and gaming are a winning combination. There are a lot of gamers in Phoenix and now there are meaderies as well. Yes – multiple meaderies. The Scale & Feather Meadery in Avondale (part of the greater Phoenix area) is brand new – just opened in May. Jumping ahead to the end of our day I will say it was great fun to meet ‘the gang’ and taste the mead. There was live music and the place was full and it was a lot of good energy. I doubt I’ll ever be a mead aficionado but it was an interesting taste test. 🙂 There is another games & brewery right next door and there was a lot of back and forth traffic between the 2 businesses. I felt young again. *grin*
Okay, so we needed to have a non-strenuous day so I’d be able to hang with the gang. We opted for a nice big breakfast at Chompie’s. This was actually a bit of an ironic choice in a way since it prides itself on being a New York deli. 🙂 Our meal was delicious and perfect for what we wanted. We headed from there to the Desert Botanical Garden. As we approached the entrance we saw huge lime green cacti rising up ahead. My son kept saying “those can’t be real” and I said “who knows – plants are weird”. We got closer and saw that my son was correct. The cacti were beautiful Chihuly glass sculptures. We paid the entrance fee and headed in. We realized that we had hats and sunscreen, but no water. You can’t go anywhere in Arizona in the summer without water. We stopped at a vending machine and got ourselves supplied. We wandered off to see the sights. I have to say that despite the pessimistic predictions there were still many, many flowers blooming.
Even had there NOT been flowers, the plants were fascinating. The layout consists of different garden areas – some are herbal, some contemplative areas, native american habitats, and more. Of course there are the wonderful surrounding mountains as well. Had NONE Of that been there, it would have all been worthwhile because I FINALLY saw a hummingbird. I do not think I have ever seen a hummingbird. Or if I have, for some reason I have been unable to retain the image in my memory. In one of the very first gardens we viewed, there was a hummingbird!!! I managed to take several photos. I was so excited! There were other birds and there were butterflies, and we saw a toad camouflaged among tree roots. For me the hummingbird was the star of the show.
There was also a possessed fountain. Oh sure, there will be those of you who are going to think I’m crazy, or that I have a vivid imagination. But I know what I saw. I didn’t take video, but I took photos. I’m telling you that it wasn’t really just water in that fountain. There was something alien and it was aiming at us. You want an explanation? We sat down in the shade, on a stone bench, near a lovely fountain. As we sat there, the water began to flow over the top of the basin. It hadn’t been overflowing before we got there. It was a perfectly normal fountain. We sat down, chatted, took some photos. And the water came over the top of the basin. It began to trickle down along the bench, following the arc of the bench. It was aiming at my son’s foot. We moved down the bench. It followed. It kept coming. Right at us. Oh I’m sure some of you would say “what is WITH you???” But I have seen B movies. Everyone in the audience KNOWS that you don’t go in the empty house; you don’t sit in the deserted area; when the insects are buzzing and all else is quiet, you don’t stay. And when the mysterious liquid starts seeping towards you, following you, that is the time to FLEE!!! So we fled. I turned back to look. THE WATER HAD STOPPED FLOWING ALONG THE BENCH!!!! It KNEW we had left. I was right. We went to another garden. No mysterious alien water is going to touch us!!!
From the gardens we headed to the Musical Instrument Museum. My coworker had suggested this place before I left, saying that it was fantastic and well worth a visit. Since the shuttle drivers had felt just as strongly about the museum we figured it should be on our list. I have to say – it is great. We got there in time for the next tour. It’s about 45 minutes and it’s set up to orient you to the museum structure and presentations. There are also audio guides which trigger automatically as you near an exhibit. It was very interesting to see the same kind of instrument being used in cultures all over the world. There was a good exhibit on the electrical guitar – so much I hadn’t known/realized and so much that triggered happy memories. The museum is worth a post for itself, but I didn’t take any photos. I was starting to fade a bit (probably from the heat in the garden and the 3 hour time zone change). We made it to the daily performance of the Orchestrion – a mechanical machine that plays music and is designed to sound like an entire band or orchestra. As it was the day after June 6, commonly known as “D-Day” in the US, the gentleman running the demonstration played a selection of military songs. I played the piccolo in our high school marching band, as well as in the marching band from our temple. I’ve marched in blazing sun and pouring rain, at football games, in holiday parades, in celebratory parades and there is one thing they all had in common – at least one song by John Phillip Sousa. Of course my favorite is Stars and Stripes Forever, where you can hear the piccolo above everything else. So for your listening pleasure I bring you the Orchestrion from the Musical Instrument Museum of Phoenix, playing Stars and Stripes Forever. (and a little bit of The Battle Hymn of the Republic)
I tend to show you pictures of my garden as I stand outside and look at the house. I do love that perspective, it is true. But I also love to sit on my porch (bugs permitting) and look OUT at the world, or rather, out at my plants. Some have described my porch as jungle-like. That works for me. 🙂 I took these pictures as I enjoyed a cool, non-humid evening a few nights ago. Or maybe it was humid. I was enjoying a wine spritzer, so all I really know for sure is that I was loving my porch and relaxing. (Ignore the weeds – I do)
It’s raining (again). The news headlines are abysmal (again). I need to do laundry (again). When life gets annoying, the annoyed retreat to their gardens. *grin* Or at least that is where I go. My garden is my happy place. One of my two happy places, the other being the shore (what you might call the beach, but where I live we go down the shore). Since I can’t go out and dig in the dirt directly today, I’ll retreat to my photos.
I’m trying 3 new things this year in the battle against the deer and groundhogs. First, I bought 3 cloches to put over my containers. I have many more pots than cloches but I’m using them on the lettuce (which has already been attacked once by deer before I had the cloche) and the hibiscus. I believe the hibiscus will get too big fairly soon for the cloche, but while I can still tuck it in, I’m using a cloche there.
My other 2 new defenses are marigolds and mint. I’ve always used hot pepper on my plants to deter animals. They don’t like the burning and we don’t mind. 🙂 I don’t want to use chemicals on our herbs and lettuce. I do wash the plants before using but I’d prefer to avoid the poisons. This year I bought an entire flat of marigolds and have placed them in every pot with herbs and lettuce. We’ll see if they help. I’m told deer hate the smell. I don’t think they’ll stop the groundhogs, however. I’ve also bought a lot of mint and I’m adding that to the flowers. I’m toying with the idea of taking my long rectangular planters and filling them with mint and placing them in a row next to the planters. Again the popular reasoning is that deer don’t like the smell of mint. We’ll see. 🙂
I couldn’t remember when the irises bloom. While I was doing some cleanup and planting a few weeks ago I began to fear that I’d either missed them or I had none this year. I’m delighted to see that both fears were misplaced and my irises are back. As is the peony. I really thought I planted an orange peony way back when. I don’t know if that is wishful memory or if I really did and it was a hybrid that has naturalized back to yellow (see below). It’s beautiful no matter what. That corner still needs a little more work. I’ll be planting either cosmos or zinnia seeds (or both) there this weekend.
I plant guara (the little pink flowers in front of the evergreen bushes) every year. They are supposed to be perennials. They almost never come back for me. I am also completely inept at growing echinacea. Everyone tells me that coneflowers are soooooo easy to grow. Yet either they die on me or I’ve been ‘weeding’ them out by mistake. I had THREE plants going last year and I can only find the remains of one this year.
I use a lot of container pots because the sun is in the front of my house. So are the deer. 🙂 I only have so much yard and the pots give me a lot of flexibility. The ones closest to the house are filled with herbs and lettuce, with the flowers further out for public viewing. I got smart and broke apart one of my huge succulent plantings. Although I loved the pot, it is WAY too heavy to bring into the house during winter. I took the succulents that were still alive and moved them to smaller pots, plus I bought some new plants for a third pot. The big red heavy planter now has flowers.
The pots with the green shoots have canna lilies. One pot did fine but the other one only scored 1 out of 3. I’ll need to find something for that. You can see that I’ve allowed many of the herbs to go to flower. I think that is a “no-no” but I don’t really care. In most respects I am very relaxed about my garden – it works or it doesn’t work. If it doesn’t work, I toss it and try something else. In the plot between the sidewalk and the street I had 4 False Starwort plants. Only 2 came up. So I dug up what was left of the other 2 and planted a mandevilla. 🙂 I have high hopes for both the lupine (perennial) and the gazania (annual).
The rhododendron thrills me every year (top picture). I need to find someone who could get up on a ladder and trim the top a bit. I’m delighted with how the plant blocks my living room windows (but lets in air and light) but I don’t think I need it growing up to the 2nd floor. 🙂 I also need to cut it back from a width perspective. But oh my, isn’t it gorgeous? We planted that the first year we were in the house. My sister and I put it in, along with 2 white azaleas. The azaleas are still there, but they struggle for space against the rhododendron.
We also planted a clematis to wind up the porch support that very first year as well (my sister was my guide and teacher when I first moved in to the house). Over the many years that original clematis migrated to the side of the porch (after the sewer line was dug up and all the plants had to be moved and replanted). I’ve added a few more plants of different varieties to try to regain what used to be a stupendous abundance of purple flowers shading the entire corner of the porch. Slowly but surely we are getting there.