Monday, August 18, 2014

Summer Sunshine

These should be the dog days of summer. It's mid August, hot and sultry, right? Not this year.
Queen Red Lime zinnia
Shabby birdhouse surrounded by Sunny Knockout roses
Munstead lavender with black eyed susans

This year summer is more temperate. It's not too hot, it's not too cool. Perfect.
Grandpa Ott morning glory
Gazing ball with Full Moon coreopsis and anise hyssop
Apple Blossom pelargoniums from seed
Summer vegetables arrive daily, full of summer sunshine. There are jars and jars of pickles in the fridge. Tomatoes turn into salsa. I'm looking for the perfect recipe to use the lovely eggplants that are ripening quickly. The freezer is full of zucchini bread. It's all just so perfect.
Summer veggies

I wish I could say that everything is perfect in the garden this year. I'm an organic gardener, so there will always be a few bugs out there munching. The rough winter made many of my plants small and weak. Blooms are often much later than normal.

Verbena bonariensis with purple coneflowers and Karley Rose pennisetum

Black eyed susans
Endless Summer hydrangeas peeking out from armillary sphere
 Butterflies don't seem to visit as often. But they're out there. They too love the summer sunshine. But they sure don't like to pose for my pictures. There are many more visitors than you see here. Yes, I've seen monarchs, but they are the most skittish of all. That's okay, it's good just know they are here.
Painted Lady butterfly
Swallowtail butterfly caterpillar

Summer is a quiet time around my house. Many of my usual activities are on hiatus, leaving me time to putter in the garden more. This is a very good thing. For once in my life, I don't feel so behind. I might even feel like I'm caught up, can you believe it?

Karley Rose grass

Tiger Eye rudbeckia
But the days are cooling a little faster this year. I'm afraid that summer won't last quite as long. I fear that fall will sneak in behind my back. So I try to spend all the time I can spare just enjoying that summer sunshine. 
Summerific Cherry Cheesecake hardy hibiscus


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Beach Therapy

I left my garden behind for a few days, and headed north towards "home". Even though I live in Ohio these days, the beaches of St. Joseph Michigan will always be my real home. I know there are a lot of people like me out there, people who love being on the beach. But I often wonder if the beach calls to them the way that Lake Michigan does to me.

I answer the call a few times a year, and it won't be silenced till my feet are in this sand and my toes hit the waves. That's when I know that I am truly home.

It's not that I am a sun bather. I just need to "be" there. I have to hear the waves crashing and feel the sand beneath my feet. I might just sit and watch the horizon. I might walk the shore collecting rocks. I might just grab my book and read. And I'll definitely take lots and lots of pictures.

Now St. Joseph has more appeal to me than just beaches. There are art galleries, charming shops, wineries, restaurants, and even old friends to see. Still, it's the lighthouse and sand dunes that call the loudest. And if it's sunset, well, all the better.

Often times, the lake breeze is chilly, even in summer. As the sun goes down, there is often quite a chill in the air. But it doesn't matter. I can sit there for hours, just watching the sky, lining up photos, and waiting for the perfect shot.

It's funny, but with all the pictures I've taken there, you'd think I would have nailed The Shot by now. Nope. I have a lot of great shots that I love dearly, but there's always the possibility of an even better one.

So I keep trying, and gladly. After all, the time spent at the beach taking picture is not exactly wasted time. It soothes my soul just to be there. I've seen so many beach quotes on Pinterest, and I'll nod my head when I read them. My favorite is "You can shake the sand from your shoes, but it will never leave your soul". Yes, yes, yes! That has me written all over it.

I've tried to figure out just why this place is so special to me, but there is no easy answer. So I just go with it. A few hours by car, and I can be there once more.
I don't think it's possible for me to be unhappy in this place. Even a windy, stormy, rainy day will be not keep me away.

But lucky for me, the weather was fine this time. A little cool, but it doesn't matter. Even a simple sunset like the one below is special to me here. And simple sunsets have a way of surprising you....
....turning into this.....
....and finally this. Just think, I was about to leave the simple sunset when it changed into this.
So if you are looking for me in my garden, and it seems a little quiet, you'll know where to find me.
Just head north to St. Joseph Michigan.
Listen for the crashing waves.
And wait till sunset, then you'll surely find me back "home" again.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A "Normal" Summer

I've only lived here in central Ohio for ten years, which still seems long enough to notice patterns in the weather. But every time I think that I've got it, I realize that I don't. Summer in particular just baffles me. Most of the time, it's just hot and dry. We've watched storms pass to our north countless times, without giving us a drop. In response to this, I use mostly plants that are drought tolerant. Makes sense, right?
Snapdragons Tall Ribbon Mix
Rudbeckia Goldsturm
Only it doesn't. Every few years, we have a "normal" summer, with plenty of rain. I must admit, it's wonderful to have most of the water we need. And my dry-loving plants seem to take it in stride, so they must have the drainage they need. But I noticed something interesting.
Pennisetum Karly Rose
Pennisetum Karly Rose

Pennisetum Karly Rose
In the years when we have plenty of rain, I get way more blooms out of my flowers, even those that supposedly don't like much water! I can't figure it out.
Monarda Jacob Clline
Sunset Hyssop
Endless Summer hydrangea
I've come to the conclusion that I may own plants that actually need more water than I thought. The most amazing difference I've seen this year is with my phlox plants. I had almost forgotten that I even owned phlox Nicky and phlox Pixie Miracle Grace, because they are always so stingy with their blooms. Not this year! This year, they are making themselves known. Perhaps the bitter cold winter gave them a boost?

Phlox Nicky

Phlox Pixie Miracle Grace
This one is new this year, so I can't judge if this is how well it always blooms. I've never had enough blooms from any of them to actually smell there fabulous fragrance. This year, that fragrance perfumes the whole area. I think I need more of them. Fragrance is crucial in my garden.
Phlox Purple Flame snuggling up with a mandevilla
  Phlox David has always done fairly well, but this year it's blooming like crazy. I've decided that all of the phlox just need more water than I give them.
Phlox David

  I've grown Nigella, or Love-in-a-Mist for years, simply letting the seeds fall where they will for the next year. This year, I actually dropped some new seed, and have been rewarded with the prettiest blooms ever. I won't leave this to chance anymore.
Nigella or Love-in-a-Mist
Nigella seed pods
The coneflowers have really surprised me. Being a drought tolerant native plant means that I plant them, and just enjoy the beauty. But this year, even they have bloomed better than ever. Again, I'm not sure if it's the rain, the cold winter, or if I just got lucky.
White Swan echinacea
Pow Wow Wildberry echinacea
Magnus echinacea
Green Envy echinacea
I guess I'll just enjoy this lovely "normal" summer and all the blooms that it brings. Next year will probably be dry as a bone, and that will feel normal too. I just can't figure this place out! Maybe another tens year ought to do it.