Moving through May

Between plant sales, cold and rainy weather, a new garden sculpture, and preparations for some friends’ annual visit to my garden, I’ve not had time to post in my blog. I figured I’d better post something before too many good photos built up on my computer!

I hope to have a grand reveal of my new sculpture sometime soon, but there’s still lots of work for me to do on it. Here’s a teaser:

The honeysuckles have been blooming and blooming and blooming. It’s a treat to work outside because I get to smell them. And they were spectacular in the cold rain a few weekends ago. Plus, I was working on my sculpture and I caught a glimpse of a hummingbird drinking from them. That’s so much better than the feeder I tried last year and never could quite keep fresh enough!

And there are other blooms in the back garden and in the garden on the east side of the house. It’s not blooming yet, but this year I added plants on the west side of the house as well. All came from the Master Gardener’s plant sale at the beginning of May. Actually, some had come from last year’s plant sale and then waited in pots because of all our roof troubles last summer.

At this point, I’m pretty well out of spaces for plants, so maybe I need not to go to the sale next year. But it’s so much fun to admire and choose from so many plants!

I had oodles of rose breasted grosbeaks when everyone else in Evansville was inundated with them, the hawks are still around somewhere, I spotted a prothonotary warbler in my neighbor’s trees, a family of wrens is trilling about the back yard as are a cardinal couple and a family of downy woodpeckers, and every morning for at least a week I’ve heard a Swainson’s thrush trilling in the background. I think I’ve even seen it a time or two.

And finally, The Ladies continue to delight. Ygraine is sweet and floofy and she will sit at the back door all day if I give her the opportunity. She loves watching the outdoors but seems pleased with her life of luxury indoors. Meanwhile, Morgaine is sassy and dreams of taking over the world. One day John caught her studying my cordless drills and a mini butane torch as if she was plotting something. She likes to sit on the front table to watch the outdoors through glass, and when she sees us approach, she stands up and inadvertently sticks her head inside the lamp sitting there with her. It’s funny. She looks like a party girl with a lamp shade on her head.

A Very Green Christmas to You!

The…umm…Christmas crocuses are popping up everywhere. Yes, it’s been more than a little warm lately.

Christmas crocuses

Though other things are attempting to stick to the regularly scheduled winter activities. Last week I woke up to find a large presence on the cable wires along the alley: the hawks are back for the winter and are scoping out my bird feeder.

hawk

The hosta leaves continue to sculpt themselves in beautiful ways as they dry, and the blackberry leaves’ colors continue to shift.

hosta

hosta 2

hosta 3

blackberries

John and I spent Christmas morning together. We had a fantastic Northern Michigan breakfast: French toast made with amazing cinnamon bread from the Dutch Oven Bakery in Alanson, Michigan topped with Bourbon Barrel aged maple syrup from Maple Moon Sugarbush near Petosky, Michigan. We got both this summer during our vacation, and they were a great pairing.

breakfast

And as a way of reviewing 2015: a year of Shamoo looking at the garden from a window (yes, he is still alive). He insists on having us set a chair at the back screen door so he can look out of it. When it’s warm enough, we let him. When it’s too cold, he gets angry that we haven’t adjusted the exterior thermostat to match his desires.

I was amazed to be putting his chair into position just this week, which made me think of looking through my photos to create this series. January 2015-December 2015 are represented below. May and November are missing not because he didn’t sit at the back door but because I failed to take photos of him then.

 

Songs of Summer


The summer is winding down. It’s a time of corn and tomatoes. There’s still plenty of heat and humidity weighing down the air, but somehow there’s a touch of fall now, too, hovering just above the treetops.

My garden continues to be a green oasis that’s still full of summer goodness. Whether I’m weeding, watering, clipping, or buried in my blackberries, The Garden Song will pop into my head from time to time. It’s a great accompaniment to all garden work.

A few weeks ago, a big group of old friends was in town, and we sang many favorite songs including The Garden Song. I was happy to record it in the version I first learned and have sung many, many times at Patchwork Central.

The Garden Song

 

A friend named Randy Pease adds another great song to the soundtrack of late summer.

This is usually the time of year when John and I look at each other and realize that if we don’t get to an Evansville Otters baseball game soon, they’ll be over for the year, so we rearrange our schedules and go.

The Otters are part of the Frontier League and play at Bosse Field, which is the third oldest ballpark in the U.S., behind only Fenway Park and Wrigley Field. It turned 100 this year.

It’s a great location, and the games can be interesting, too. You might see odd errors, triple plays, stealing home, or a great performance by someone who is a few games from getting called up to the major leagues. For $5 you can sit 30 feet from the action, and there are goofy crowd participation games on the field or in the stands between each inning.

John and I went to an Otters game last week. We got our burgers, fries, and beer and settled in for the first game of a doubleheader. It was a Wednesday and a school night, so the crowd was thin, with only a couple hundred in attendance. There were a few good plays, but it was a pretty unremarkable game until the bottom of the seventh inning.

The Otters were behind by one.

The sky darkened.

They summoned “all interns to the tarps immediately.”

Rain started to fall.

The Otters were at bat and were two outs away from losing.

Rain fell harder.

Another out.

The rain was falling in sheets, and still the pitcher kept pitching. The interns waited at the tarp. Why not roll it out now?

And then a cheer went up (a much greater cheer than you’d imagine for so small a crowd).

The ball was hit out of the park, and two players crossed home in the pouring rain. The game was over. The Otters won.

I Love This Game

Yikes! I’ve been busy…

…And I haven’t been busy gardening (mostly).

I was out of town for work, then in town for several intense weeks of work, then a weekend of many friends and little sleep. In between all of that, I dashed around my garden doing some maintenance but mostly working on my new painting project.

You’ll hopefully see more of that project soon.

My life right now feel like this section of the garden: a bit of an explosion in all directions. It’s more than a little unruly.

Green blob

A lot has happened in the last month in my garden (as always, click on any photo for a larger view and a slide show)…

My harvests have been mixed this summer. I didn’t get into the berry bush often to pick berries, so the birds got most of them. My corn set ears but the kernels didn’t fill in well. And the tomatoes took a long, long time to get ripe. I’m not fond of many of my selections this year (choosing seeds is an adventure!), and the one variety that I really do like is getting devoured by baby grasshoppers. They’re apparently the squirrels of the insect world: taking a few bites from each fruit and leaving the rest.

bug bitesOn the plus side, my basil is finally taking off, the okra is doing well, and I have finally discovered the perfect melon for my space. It’s a little cantaloupe that’s the size of a baseball yet is packed with sweet melon goodness. I’ll definitely grow more.

this melon is greatAnd I had a fun adventure in my new garden out front. Soon after planting it, I noticed two tiny squash plants sprout. Now, I’ve given up on squash in my main garden because the squash vine borers have killed them reliably every time before they can fruit.

“Maybe my secret squashes will outsmart the borers!” I thought. “They won’t think to look for squashes out here!”

But what kind of squash would these become? Where had the seeds come from? I’d mulched the bed using leaves from our yard, and there’s a compost bin in the yard, but no seeds should have escaped.

I waited.

squash plants growing

Tiny squashes formed. Would they be tasty?

tiny squash

I waited (and saw a squash vine borer fly by one morning–drat!).

The vines became monstrous. My friend Jane reminded me that the only viney things that ever grow as volunteers are the stuff you don’t want to eat.

bigger vines

And then the answer was revealed:

baby pumpkin

Right…those baby pumpkins that the squirrels stole from me last fall. I’d discovered the squashes’ skeletons among the leaves months later…the leaves that I used as mulch.

Stupid squirrels.

The insects were having a wonderful time in all the squash blossoms, so I was a little sorry to kill the plants. But once I knew that it wasn’t going to be a particularly tasty variety, I decided I’d better sacrifice it before it annihilated all the plants I’d actually planted there.

bee in the blossomsThough I saved the few mini pumpkins that there were to eat for supper.

mini pumpkin

And finally, the caladium are particularly happy this year and add some nice color to my turning-to-late-summer garden. They make great photos:

Happy Garden of Rainbow Unicorn Dreams

This time of year is perfect. My garden looks beautiful, in part because everything in it is so fresh and new and excited to be alive. I bought several new plants at the annual Master Gardener Plant Sale a few weeks ago (held, funnily enough, on World Naked Gardening Day (no one was naked)) and I shoehorned them into my stuffed perennial bed so it’s an even bigger and fuller mass of colors and textures. The whole garden is a chartreuse land of rainbows and unicorns, and I’ve been spending all my spare minutes in it.

There are no death zones where plants have decided that I pushed them a little too far and they really don’t like where they’ve been planted. The raccoons haven’t held a kegger in the middle of the perennial bed. Nothing is deflated in the summer heat. No bug or slug infestation has wrecked the place. No single plant has decided to crowd out its neighbors until they die. The neighbor hasn’t lobbed bottle rockets into the yard. The next door landlord hasn’t killed my honeysuckle with Round-Up just because he blames the world for his shortcomings.

It’s a paradise that will fall soon enough. I’m just trying to enjoy it while it lasts.

Early May Garden 2015

bits of color

The plants have all emerged from the ground and most are nearing their full size. You can click through the slide show below to see what’s going on in more detail. See if you can spot my cat surveying his domain!

 

The Next Phase of Spring

This year, the magnolia bloomed for Easter. It is always such a treat to smell the flowers as I walk up the front steps and to see the grand tree covered in happy blossoms. Unfortunately, the blooms are considerably muted this year because so many were damaged by the cold and never opened. Still, the ones that remain are gorgeous.

Magnolia 2015

Other signs of the quickening spring are appearing everywhere in the garden (click on any image below for a slide show of larger photos):

  • The grape hyacinth blooming (I always loved my grandma’s grape hyacinths: the teeny tiny, knobby blooms and the fragrance!),
  • unexpected little blue blossoms,
  • the Japanese painted fern emerging from the ground like a cluster of cramped bird claws,
  • hops (reminding me of my family in Germany) that’s quickly ascending its support,
  • tiny lettuces,
  • tiny blackberry leaves greening the formerly bare branches,
  • asparagus shoots–the garden’s first edible produce,
  • multi-colored and multi-textured leaves emerging from the ground,
  • a healthy patch of wild ginger and Solomon’s seal unfurling skyward,
  • and violets that fill my yard and refuse to give way.

Here’s an overview of my garden now:

P1220425

For Easter, we had beautiful weather in Evansville. I had the afternoon to myself, so I decided to ride my 1968 Schwinn Hollywood Red Line bicycle along the Evansville riverfront and down the Pigeon Creek Greenway Passage. It was the perfect day for it. Photos below are: the pedestrian bridge along Ohio Street, the Fligeltaub scrap yard, the flooded Ohio River, and the tulips at the Pagoda.

 

 

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.