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. 🙂 I have one cherry tomato plant and one red pepper (sweet) plant. I don’t think I have any other vegetable attempts.
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!
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. 🙂 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. 🙂 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!
This was one of the very first plantings we did when we moved in 37 years ago. That fall my sister and I went to the nurseries (and there used to be many more than there are now) and we picked out 2 white azaleas, a rhododendron, and 2 Andromeda bushes. Only 1 of the white azaleas could hold its own against the rhododendron. There is an Andromeda bush (I think) still hanging on behind the white azalea. The other Andromeda bush thrives at the front corner, well away from the rhododendron. A friend has told me she wants a rhodo like mine. All she needs is another 36 years. 🙂
For about 2 weeks now, however, my ears have been telling me it is mid- to late September. The cicadas are extremely loud and out there every evening. My nose is smelling that cooler slightly moist air that means fall. The air is heavy and still. At night the temperatures are dropping into the low 70s, and once or twice into the high 60s. That is NOT August weather. The sun feels warm on my skin, not searingly hot.
According to the calendar, it is only mid-August. That means it is summer. I’m sure mid-August used to FEEL like summer. Hazy, hot, humid. Time for our week’s vacation down the shore. By now the water will be warm which means more likelihood of jellyfish. (Except THIS year, in keeping with everything else 2020, the water has sea lice. I would rather have jellyfish.)
It sounds and feels like mid-September. It is only the dratted no-see-ums that remind me it is still summer.
We had no snow this winter. Our temperatures swing from the 70sF to the 40sF. I was sure we were done with worrying about the plants. I’m so ready to start tossing seeds in the big pots and to pot the succulents I bought. I also bought some more thyme – English thyme. The thyme that wintered over is lemon thyme. I thought that this past weekend was going to be a garden day.
The past weekend wasn’t too bad weather-wise. It was the weekdays after that had the bad forecast. Winds of up to 60 mph were predicted for Monday, along with driving rain. Tuesday was supposed to have temps in the 50s. Wednesday night had frost warnings – temperatures 30-35F. Excuse me???? We had NO winter and now in mid APRIL we have FROST warnings? So annoying!!!!! Well, I’d already moved the pots down off the porch, so I figured I’d better cover them. The succulents and time and ivy on the porch were probably fine, but as long as I had the plastic out, I covered them as well. Everyone made it through the night with no trouble. I don’t think it got below freezing. I left them all uncovered last night when the temps were in the low 40s, and I think maybe the cactus that had orange flowers may have been unhappy. Time will tell.
Oh rats. Just heard a forecast for Tuesday night: 30-35. NO!!!!!
At the risk of annoying my dear friend Honour, I’m posting more plants in bloom pictures today. Honour and I are not that different in some respects – we both love and need growing flora. Of course in other respects (shoes and hair, for example) we do differ greatly. 🙂
Today was already a “difficult” day and it’s not even 10:30 am. I woke up tired. I don’t know why – I think I slept well. I don’t remember any bad dreams or tossing and turning. Yet I’m tired. It happens.
Then I made the mistake of listening to the news on the radio as I got dressed. Made the bigger mistake of looking at headlines as I fed the cats. Saw that I had no response to two emails that I had hoped might get answered. Looked at my work schedule and saw meetings booked solid from 9:30 am to 1:30 pm. Ouch.
But today is a beautiful gorgeous spring day outside! The sky is a lovely shade of blue, trees around the house are blooming, no power landscaping services disturbing the serenity. My husband made a full pot of coffee. *smile* I did what any sensible person would do. I took my camera and went outside. I want to upgrade my phone SO MUCH. But in these worrisome times, that is a foolish expenditure of $$$, well, in my opinion anyway. Who knows what’s going to be happening in the future and a new iPhone, no matter how fantastic the camera, is not essential. (yet)
Looking at all these gorgeous trees (none of which fall within my property lines) cheered me up. How can you not smile when looking at such beauty? Then I discovered that my 10:00 am meeting was cancelled. Who knew that just looking at trees could be so rewarding? *grin* The little grape hyacinths are in my garden, as is the andromeda bush. I’ve been waiting for my seed order to arrive – it’s been weeks. I understand seeds are not a priority shipment, but it would be nice to have something to do in the garden. It’s still too early to put in plants. Ahhhh. All this talk of the garden and trees – I feel better already.
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?
The weather is definitely cooling. It’s still summer, but we hear and sense Fall approaching. I know this because my husband and I are both back in the kitchen cooking. 🙂 He wokked two meals last week and I made another summer salad. Once the humidity dropped last week I felt energized sufficiently to tackle a new recipe. I decided to make the Mediterranean Cracked Wheat Salad. I’ve made tabouli before, usually from a box mix. I’ve also bought it pre-made from the store. I’ve never done anything fancy with it. As I mentioned in my Wheatberry Salad post, I have always shied away from “things” in my food. I also mentioned that I seem to be overcoming that attitude, thank goodness!
This cracked wheat salad is the last of the recipes I saved at the start of the summer, when I was searching for tasty, healthy food that wouldn’t require heating up the kitchen. This recipe called for boiling some water, but that was it for ‘cooking’. The rest was chopping and combining. I wasn’t able to pull anything from my garden for this salad. I’d already snacked on all of the grape tomatoes and I discovered that caterpillars were embedded in my parsley. Given all my support for butterflies, I abandoned my parsley to the caterpillars and used dried parsley. (If I identified the caterpillar correctly, it will be a black swallowtail, which makes sense.)
I had to substitute on the peppers as well, since I did not find pepperoncini peppers at the farmers’ market. I used jalapeno peppers. I’d like to try again with the pepperoncinis because jalapeno is still a bit hot for my taste. My husband, however, loved it. My other change was to ditch the olives. I don’t like olives. I knew I’d just pick them out of the salad, I wouldn’t eat them, and if I didn’t tell my husband that they were missing he’d never know. 🙂 No olives. I loved the taste and look of the julienned radishes. That’s something that would have never occurred to me. See – learning new things. I followed the instructions to only pour some of the dressing on the wheat/vegetable mixture. When I decided it need more dressing, rather than pouring or spooning it on, I used a fork. That way I was getting mostly the ingredients in the dressing and not much of the oil and lemon juice. That kept the mixture from becoming soggy yet it all got some of the dressing. Next time I will probably reduce the olive oil and juice.
This passed our taste test! We are both enjoying it, it’s going fast. It was easy to make, very clear directions which anticipated things such as liquid remaining after the wheat had been absorbing the directed amount. Definitely another keeper for the kitchen files!
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. 🙂
The black swallowtail butterfly has been much more cooperative than the orange and black butterfly. The other day I managed to catch a few photos of her, although she moves so fast! She is much more aware of my presence than the black swallowtail, which allowed me to get close enough to take several decent pictures. This butterfly moved every time I moved. All the photos are just that bit out of focus, but I think she’s a Painted Lady. Now that I’ve gotten this close, I’m wondering if it is this butterfly I’ve been seeing or if I really was seeing Monarchs earlier in the season. Maybe I’ll have another lucky day and will be able to catch her, or other butterflies in the act! I’m happy to see that they are enjoying the zinnias as much as I am!
I love the tropicana canna lilies. They are simply stupendous. I was listening to a garden show this morning that was explaining how I should dead-head the flowers, but it sounds a bit tricky. Apparently the new flower is growing right next to the old flower and if you cut in the wrong place you lose the new one. Sounds too risky for me to try. She was also giving instructions on how to dig them up to over-winter them. Sigh. I suppose I SHOULD try to do that – the plants are so expensive, and I do want them every year. But by the time it’s digging-up time, I’m really “over” my garden. 🙂
I have also figured out that what I thought was the false starwort is actually the butterfly weed. And what I thought was the butterfly weed is probably some huge weed weed(you can see it behind the cosmos and zinnias and to the left of the canna lilies – it’s green 🙂 ). I guess the false starwort died. I started reading to see what I’m supposed to do with the huge butterfly weed seed pod. Apparently I should harvest it, which seems to be easy but messy. I think one of the reasons I’ve been so confused is that I tend to buy very tall plants – ones that grow to be 3 feet or taller. Butterfly weed does NOT grow that tall. It’s possible that at the point when I planted everything I knew that and knew what I was doing. 🙂 I must have ordered them because I wanted to support the butterflies. 🙂 That’s actually ironic, because I NEVER see butterflies over in that part of the garden. I guess they don’t like marigolds.
I KNOW that I bought, planted and HAVE the Agastache foeniculum (anise hyssop). I’ve posted pictures of that here. I also know that I planted things where those 2 huge weeds are growing. I’m waiting to see if they flower – it looks as if they might. But they are NOT false starwort by any stretch of the imagination. Here’s the bottom line – they will flower and I’ll decide whether or not they stay, or I’m going to pull them out.