Growing Crispy

After a wet spring and early summer, Evansville has dried up. Despite my watering, my garden is getting crispy.

whole garden in October

It feels like everything is ready for the cold weather to come so it can stop wasting away, go into dormancy, and start fresh next spring. It’s difficult to fight my garden on that.

There’s not too much to eat from my garden. My tomato plants are struggling onward with a few green knobs growing on them. There’s a little basil and a mass of lima beans. Dreaming of my friends’ bright stands of zinnias and sunflowers, I’d planted a couple sections of them but only ended up with a couple spindly pops of color.

a couple tomatoes

zinnia

Then the other day I glanced out the kitchen window and saw a crazy orange orb suspended at least ten feet above the ground in my neighbor’s tree. It was like an alien egg pod or a giant, mutant butterfly chrysalis. Then I realized it was one of my super overgrown cucumbers. It was pretty impressive. I later saw it had fallen to the ground and had a few small bite marks in it. Apparently the squirrels didn’t find it as delicious as my tomatoes.

alien egg

mutant butterfly

Now that the downtown farmer’s market is over for the year, I’m sadly without local produce. In September, I’d snagged some purple plums that turned into a fantastic fruit platz. I finished my sole bag of local apples today and have squirreled away some winter squashes (But, ha-ha Squirrels, didn’t take a bite out of them first.). I’m sad not to have better access to fresh, local autumnal produce.

plums

Maybe part of my problem is that I need to plant a few more autumn-blooming plants. My toad lilies are happy and beautiful in the face of other plants’ crispy brownness. I’m glad to report that all three varieties have returned. I was afraid I’d lost at least one to the city’s herbicide. They’re much diminished because of it, but they’re there.

toad lily

 

toad lily

toad lily

I also love the horny seed pods of the moonflower. They’re great at accentuating my garden shed and garden art.

moonflower

moonflower and art

And today I was surprised by the beauty of the flowers turning to seed pods on my hearty begonias. I’ve never noticed it before, but it’s very wonderful. The flowers slowly stretch and extend and fade from pink to a beautiful green. They’re quite elegant.

begonia flowers

planter

And finally, my good, old cat turned 19! For his birthday, I let Shamoo wander around outside and tried my best to let him stay out for as long as he wanted. It’s pretty dull supervising his outdoor time because he doesn’t do much, so I tried taking so photos. Eventually I made him go back inside, but I gave him some fishy treats as a consolation.

He still seems content with life, although I hate to tell him that the time of coldness will soon be upon us again. He’s moved back into his heated cat bed already.

RAWR!! It’s a Bobcat! Critters in the Garden.

I’ve gotten behind in my garden postings…or summer is flying ahead of me.

My harvests have moved into the early summer sorts of things. I dug up my garlic a couple weeks ago and planted a variety of beans and cow peas in its place. The seeds are beautiful in their variations. The plants sprang out of the ground with just a little extra water.

I also harvested some carrots.  They haven’t done well for me in the past, so I’d given up on them, but then I got a pack for Christmas and the promise of multi-colored carrots was too much for me. I thought they hadn’t amounted to much, but on closer examination there were a few there. The pinkish-orangey one was particularly tasty.

My own tomatoes are still in the early stages, so I’ve had to get some from the farmer’s market. Still they taste great in a sandwich. Today’s lunch was a fried egg, fresh mozzarella, and tomatoes on locally-made cheddar broccoli bread with an avocado/cilantro sauce.

I followed that with several handfuls of blueberries. I’ve been picking them for the past three weekends. Maybe I’ve got enough in the freezer now to get me through next winter.

Elsewhere around the garden, the hostas are blooming and things are generally looking good. Suddenly my elderly cat Shamoo has (for some reason) gotten it into his head that he needs to go outside and walk around, not just observe from a perch in the back door. Someone has to stay with him because, let’s face it, he has no survival skills. He’s happy, though.

And speaking of critters, we’ve had even more in our live traps. We’ve been concerned that they have a renewed interest in possibly living in our house, so we’ve been motivated to move them along. Unfortunately that has included a whole adorable family of raccoons.

I found an old, beat-up marble in my garden, so I gave it to my concrete raccoon. I also dried my alum blooms and then spray painted them. I liked the way that they made the concrete raccoon look like he’d been to a wild party. I also like the way the ugly garden gnome behind him looks aggravated and irritated by his presence.

Also sort of related to little critters, I’ve got the coolest plant blooming indoors. It’s an orchid that I picked up at a Master Gardener Plant Sale a couple years ago. It’s name was listed as “Bobcat” from the Wildcat series.

Huh, I wondered. How does this resemble a bobcat?

Now I’ve got my answer and it’s really neat.

The flowers look like they have little cat muzzles at their hearts, complete with rows of white teeth and little cat noses. Every time I walk by it makes me smile.

And in other generally pretty blooms, the garden I started last year at the side of the house is happily blooming with abandon. I’d filled it with plants I knew would spread, so it’s not really a surprise that things over there are kind of wild. There are a couple things (like the black hollyhock that fell over in the wind) that really are too big, but I’ll let it go for a little more before I pull anything out.

Welcome to the AMAZING WALL OF SCENT

It’s a wonderful time of year for my garden. The honeysuckle that forms a green fence around the garden is in full bloom and the scent is amazing. It’s a massive, enchanting scent. I’ll miss it when the blossoms are over.

honeysuckle wall

new honeysuckle bloom

yellowed honeysuckle bloom

The honeysuckle in the front looks stunning, but doesn’t smell at all. Luckily for it, the scent in the back often is strong enough to make its way up front, giving the illusion of scented flowers.

these blooms do not smell

close up

I’ve had the pleasure of hosting a couple groups of friends in my garden in the last week. It’s always fun to get to show it off in person, and I’m grateful for their interest and for the fact that they humor me and all my plant talk. Several people were interested to see my garden but weren’t able to come in person, so here’s a virtual garden tour.

Looking East

looking east

Looking West

looking west

Looking North

looking north

The Vegetable Garden

vegetables

The New Garden

just starting out

And here’s a new garden space that I just planted. It looks pretty sparse, but the plants should all spread. I’m interested to see how it develops and which plants will thrive. Since it’s in an exposed area at the front of the house, I was concerned that the neighbors would give me a hard time for spending time and money on silly plants, but everyone I talked to was nice, interested in what I was doing, and adding their own two cents. So, it was a great get-to-know-your-neighbor event.

One of my big accomplishments for the year is getting a black iris bloom. My friend and neighbor Alan has a nice little patch of them in his garden. I transferred one of them to my garden 5-6 years ago, but no bloom. So I transferred a second one in case the first had died, but no bloom. But finally this year…

black iris

In other news of the extraordinary, early one morning I awoke to birds’ alarm calls and looked outside to see a hawk perched on the alley streetlight while holding a dying dove. It was pretty interesting. The hawk sat there for a while before flying away.

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And an interesting bird skull I discovered while mulching the new garden in the front…

bird skull

And a sampling of other photos from around my garden (remember, click any one for a slide show with captions):

 

 

Summer’s End

I’ve been enjoying the golden light filtering through the leaves of our maple tree.  Everything in the back yard glows as it either settles in for the winter or puts out one last burst of life before the killing frost.

The toad lilies have been blooming like crazy. I’ve got four varieties, and I always look forward to their blooms during the waning days of summer. And even as the weather cools, my garden continues to provide tasty things to eat. I planted lettuces, cilantro, arugula, and kale and they all continue to grow. I’m hoping they hold out for a little while in the colder weather. I also got my garlic in the ground, tucked in under some nice soil and ready to start my 2015 garden.

The whole thing was looking good:

Here’s a close-up of the sweet mum arrangement that the staff at work gave to John and I for boss’ day. I put it outside and the squirrels stole the mini pumpkins within a week. Boo, Squirrels!

Mums

And then there was frost…

frosty weeds

And my cat has decided to stay in his heated cat bed till it’s warm again.

Heated Cat Bed

 

 

In Contrast

Sometimes it’s a challenge to capture with a camera what your eyes are telling you. You see a beautiful moment. A beautiful combination of shapes or colors. Contrasts. Something marvelous and unique. Something touching. Something odd.

But when you try to capture it with a camera, the result looks flat. It may be an exact replica of what is sitting in front of you, but it’s not what is really there. Your eyes and your brain interpret in ways that the camera does not.

So there I was, trying to photograph a very cool new tomato and it just wasn’t working. The golden flecks, the blue shoulders, the bronze streaks. It didn’t translate. So then I turned on the fancy high contrast camera setting and, pop! there it was in all its glory.

It looked so good that I decided to point my camera at other things in my garden, even though I don’t normally do extra camera settings of digital editing. Here’s the result. Click through for a slide show.

 

Favorite Places Around My Garden

I’ve been busy lately, so I haven’t been posting as much, but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been taking photos of my garden. Here’s a collection of some of my favorite moments around the garden during June. All of them are set up as slide shows, so if you click on one thumbnail, you’ll get to flip through the show.

1. Blooms and foliage in the perennial bed. First came the flaming astrilbe blooms, then the hostas. Hostas blooming below are the tiny “mouse’s ears” and my favorite “golden tiara” that has a beautifully variegated bloom that’s beautiful with the chartreuse leaves.

2. My brick wall garden continues to make me happy. The ferns, begonias, coleus, and sedums are happy, colorful, and beautifully textured.

3. Sedums scattered here and there around my garden.

4. My old cat watching it all.

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