Saturday, August 24, 2013

Summer Winding Down

Kids are heading back to school, and summer is coming to a close. In actuality, it will still feel like summer for weeks. Even when it begins to feel like fall, my garden will still look good for a few months yet. I often think how fun it would be to garden year round, but honestly, I enjoy the rest period during winter. And I do like the way everything sort of peaks at the end of summer.
We finally found a few hours to finish our herb garden project. It was pretty easy, the hardest part was planning out how we wanted to make it. The actual construction only took a few hours. Another difficult part was finding fresh herbs to plant at the end of the summer.  Before, I had some herbs scattered about the garden. Now I have easy access right outside the back door.
It hasn't been my best butterfly and moth year. I haven't seen a single monarch or buckeye yet, and very few swallowtails. My sedum Autumn Joy is about to bloom, and that's guaranteed to bring more butterflies. But what is interesting is the more uncommon species that have stopped by. I had to do some digging to find out this is a six spotted forester moth,
this is a false crocus geometer moth,
and this is a dogbane tiger moth.
 There were even some "fake" butterflies that turned out to be a Tiger Bee fly.
Silver spotted skippers, 
common skippers that I can never keep straight, 
and cabbage moth/butterflies are common visitors. Since I don't grow any cabbage crops, they don't bother me a bit.
 And the few swallowtails that do stop by are more than welcome here as summer winds down.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Peace In the Garden

I think I learned my love of gardening from my grandmother. I remember a big vegetable garden behind her house, with cherry tomatoes just begging to be popped into my mouth. I only have vague recollections of flowers that she might have grown. I do know that whenever I smell phlox or evening stock, my mind goes directly to her, so she must have grown them there.
So you can probably understand why my favorite old time hymn is In the Garden, because it was Grandma's favorite. Here's Brad Paisley singing this traditional hymn.
The lyrics starts out by saying "I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses". I'd bet that most gardeners have done the same.
Whether or not you are a religious person, there is definitely peace to be found in the garden.

You can start with your mind spinning, but spend a little time amongst the flowers and you'll find yourself settling down. Things become clearer, your pulse slows and the furrows on your brow will relax.

I can't even begin to tell you how many solutions I have found amongst the flowers, and how many troubles I have buried in the dirt.
 Even now I am sitting on the patio with my laptop, with my little kingdom of garden about me. I'll write for a while, then just sit and stare. Butterflies come and go, and the hummingbirds come by for the last sip of the day. I can just feel my blood pressure going down.

So next time you feel overwhelmed at the amount of work you need to do in your garden, I want you to think instead about the peace it will bring you. At the end of the day, as you wash the sweat from your brow and the dirt from your hands, you'll find your troubles have also been washed down the drain.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Summer Goes On

This summer is warm and sticky, as usual, but not nearly as hot as expected. And we've had lots of rain, which is totally different! So with the better weather, my flowers are having a great year in the garden, as are my veggies. The veggies are actually quite amazing. The last few summers have been so dry that the vegetable garden just limped along, barely producing. This year we are having a banner year instead. I always say that I only grow enough vegetables to eat, not enough to can and freeze. Well, this year is different. I'm keeping busy finding ways to use up all this produce besides just eating them immediately.
 I've written many times about my love affair with Queen Red Lime zinnias. This is a must have at my house. I've never seen them available as plants, nor have I ever seen the seeds in stores. I always order the seeds online, and I have to order early because they often sell out. The plants get large and full of blooms, never get mildew, the flowers last a long, long time, and their coloring is unique. 

But this one is funny, because it came up with only the lime coloring. This came from the same pack of seeds for Queen Red Lime. I thought it might just be the one flower, but the whole plant is like this. I like it, it's different.
 Speaking of green, I always like how this corner turns out be a study in greens. This is the first year I've grown white coneflowers, and I like them almost as much as the purple ones. Almost. 
There are plenty of plain pink zinnias around here too. Plain, yeah right. They are gorgeous, and floriferous!
Even the traditional black eyed susans look better than usual this year.
 Anyone who likes to see hummingbirds visiting their garden should grow this hyssop. It grew easily from seed, which were labeled sunset hyssop. I've also heard it called hummingbird mint. This is the busiest corner of my butterfly garden. Maybe it's a little wild, but the rest is pretty orderly, so I mostly just let it be. Can you list how many different flowers you see?
 A few of my dahlias have popped out, and they are just as lovely as ever. I was noticing how similar the flowers look to zinnias.

The roses are also having a banner year. Black spot is less bothersome than usual, and there has not been a single Japanese beetle to bother them.

 There was one week with terribly hot, dry weather, and of course that was the week I was on vacation. Some of my annual pots did not survive, so I had to replace them. I thought these trailing type vincas wouldn't mind the hot sun. The huge geranium is a beautiful deep wine color, much darker than it shows in the picture.

I did NOT plant purple morning glories this year. However, this little guy had different ideas.
I am a big fan of using coleus as color in my shady areas. Love, love, love the look of mixed coleus! Did you know they are very easy to root over the winter? Just root and use as house plants till next spring.
And so it goes. Summer may be a little sticky, but it's still my favorite time because my garden loves it so much!