Shifting Seasons

We’ve had a wide variety of weather in the last few weeks. One day it was warm. The plants loved it. The crocuses bloomed even bigger than before. The honeybees were happy…

Then it snowed a beautiful, fluffy snow that was gone as quickly as it arrived, all in a single morning. Notice the flakes caught in the spider web on the fig tree, and I’ll be sharing more about the new construction that you see highlighted in snow in my yard…

Then it was warm again. Then it rained 7.34 inches in about 24 hours (I wanted to give our sump pump a great big hug). Suddenly, sprouts are appearing in my garden and the hellebores are blooming. After such a long cold winter that seems to go on and on, it continues to be a happy surprise to look outside and see a little green appear among the browns and grays I’ve been seeing for so long…

My seeds are coming up in the greenhouse. I love looking at all the seedlings, both mine and some that belong to my friends…

And then I smelled the sweetness of our magnolia blooming. Its petals have been damaged somewhat by the cool weather, but I take it as a happy sign that spring is really here.

Around my Back Yard…

My Back Yard

Summer is here, and yet the weather is still treating my garden well. Soon it will be so miserable outside that I’ll finally get some work done inside, but until then I continue to spend my weekends in the back yard.

The last of the astrilbes has bloomed…

end of astrilbe

And now it’s on to hostas. I’d originally disliked hosta blooms for being gangly and dull, but this summer I’ve started to appreciate them as a way to provide graceful variety to the garden.

Hosta: Goodness Gracious

Hosta: Blue Mouse Ears

Hosta: unknown

Also appearing now are the caladiums I planted among the irises. I’ve done this combination for several years now. The caladiums start to take over as the iris leaves start to fade. They’re a fun bit of color.

caladiums among the irises

caladium

Their cousins, my grove of elephant ears, are also starting to get bigger. I use the air conditioner condensation to keep them well watered all summer…

elephant ears

There’s also a shift in what I’m harvesting from my garden. Last week it was a couple early tomatoes, some dragon’s egg cucumbers, the end of the peas, and garlic.

Harvest: third week of June

And more sunflower blooms, including this sad, wilty little one that the birds planted in a crack in the concrete. I crushed it under a hose a couple weeks ago, but its persevered.

sad little sunflower

And others that I planted…

siblings

golden ring

And a few more shots of my favorite sections of the new brick garden…

brick garden 1

brick garden 2

My melon is blooming…

happy melon bee

But, sadly, my squashes are no more. Reading the seed catalogs got me so excited about all the possibilities for squash even though I had trouble with them last year. I got seeds started, planted the seedlings outside, and then a friend enlightened me about squash vine borers. Namely: they come back year after year. They got my squashes last year and they were attacking again this year. The plants didn’t look bad yet, so it was really difficult to rip out things that were such a healthy green. I’ll just have to get my squash from the farmer’s market.

In Memory

The Official Master Gardener Garden Walk

Two years ago, I went on the Southwestern Indiana Master Gardener’s Garden Walk. Like a giant garden scavenger hunt, you get a list of addresses, drive to them, and check out the gardens that you find at each one. It was lots of fun.

I came home and decided to start this blog because I saw how much fun it is to show your garden to people and, I thought, I’ve got a pretty nice garden, too.

The Master Gardeners held their Garden Walk again last weekend and I managed to make it to all 13 gardens. Again I enjoyed seeing the variety of gardens and things growing in them.

There were the picturesque and perfect landscapes:

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One garden’s special attractions included a straight line worn into the grass by raccoons on their nightly trip from underneath a neighbor’s barn. Ah, raccoons.

One garden that was a little different was set on a hillside in the forest that sloped down to a lake. The gardeners had created wonderful paths lined with ferns from the property itself and hostas. The trails led to various places like a gazebo and a table set for two and a dock for kayak launches. It was the one place that I toured the garden with the owner and it was fun to hear her excitement about her garden.

forest path

There were also many fun plants–both those I might possibly grow in my own garden and others (like some cacti whose blooms the bees were gleefully throwing themselves into) that I’m happy to appreciate in someone else’s garden:

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There was also lots of garden art to provide me with some inspiration.

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I liked that this gardener used Mardi Gras beads for some sparkle and also used weeds as a nice ground cover. He’d edged the bed and had a nice grass walkway, so it took a second or third glance to realize I was looking at a weed called Creeping Charlie.

Beads and weeds

It was also a tour of bottle trees. I’ve contemplated making one and liked the variation in which the bottles went over pitchfork tines.

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There were also many really nice water features. They’re beautiful and I love the idea of a trickle of water in my garden, but they always look like a little too much work and expense and I hate that you have to have a power cord running to the pump. That’s why I liked this one that was just a little drip hose running into a birdbath:

Dripping water birdbath

There was also one garden that contained garden art reminiscent of my friend Jane’s. There were a lot of found objects that were re-purposed in fun and unexpected ways. It’s the only place other than Jane’s where I’ve seen bowling balls in place of gazing balls. Here were a couple of my favorite areas:

cool stuff

mossy boots

The Virtual Garden Tour

I would love to have you all over to show you my garden. Since I can’t do that, here is a tour in photos.

The month of May is generally so kind to my garden. The beginning of June is, as well. Then nature turns up the heat and things get tired and crispy.

In May, it’s bloom after bloom. When one kind of plant stops, another begins.

I’ve got irises of all sorts (enough different sorts to stretch the blooming for weeks)…

creamsicle

reticulated iris

happy iris

IMG_1245

purple bearded iris

celebratory iris

And the wonderful baptisia…

baptisia

Blackberry…

blackberry

Peony…

peony

And now, honeysuckle. The air in the back yard is heavy with the scent, even with part of the honeysuckle wall cut back. Too bad I’ve got a cold and can’t fully appreciate it.

honeysuckle

With my new camera, I can get better panoramic views of the garden. It helps to (maybe) show how small the space is. Here is the back yard from the west:

view from the west

And now the same space but from the east:

view from the eastIn all my planting, I’ve also added more to the little rock garden I built last year. I added some begonias and other annuals and more sedums. It’s a real mix of things, so I guess I’ll just see what survives and add more of it next year. For now, I kind of like the way it looks:

rock garden

fern and begonia

begonia

Also around my garden:

little bug

The flowers say it’s September, so I guess it must be

It’s been a long, difficult, tiring summer. I think I can tell because  haven’t been cooking nearly as much as last summer. Still, I’ve had a little extra time away from work recently, and John and I have had a chance to do a little bit of cooking from garden produce. It’s been mostly recipes from my book of favorites, which is safe, but good. I did make some great peach shortcakes for dessert on Labor Day which were a new recipe and particularly good.

This weekend was finally cooler, but I’m still having a hard time believing that it’s September and that really, pretty much, fall has arrived. However, Saturday I saw the first toad lily blooms, so I guess I can’t escape the fact that falling leaves aren’t too far away.

The marigolds are really starting to get big. It was about this time last year that I couldn’t stop photographing them because they looked so nice. This year I’ve had a bunch come up as volunteers half way through the summer. Surprises are fun!

And the hostas have bloomed.

And the sweet autumn clematis is blooming throughout the neighborhood. It smells so nice.

However, it’s also the time of the year when the raccoons get nasty. I heard a loud noise in the middle of the night last week. I was suspicious, so I looked out the back door and saw a raccoon waddling toward the front of the house. It sounded like he had been jumping onto the lid of the compost bin as if it was a trampoline. It’s been hard to sleep since. Every creak in the house wakes me up because I’m afraid that it’s the raccoons crawling through the duct work again. Then I stay awake listening to hear if there’s another creak. It’s not very restful.

Meanwhile, my garden’s happy with all the recent rain.

I’ve got beans, tomatoes, cukes, and a few peppers.

I also have a mass of lima beans that are in a better location than last year, but are still way out of control.

And look! I finally have some tomatillos! The first year of my garden I picked up a plant somewhere thinking they would be fun, and I made some good food with its fruit. In the two years since, I tried to start my own from seed but, I haven’t been able to get the fruit ripe before the frost came. This year, I got them started super early in the greenhouse. It’s been so long that I don’t remember what tasty food I prepared with them that first year.

The cardinal creeper is taking over the side of the shed, just as I’d hoped.

And the elephant ears are still marvelous, but they’re in a really unphotogenic spot by the air conditioner and compost bin. That’s why they have generally appeared as close ups.

I also continue to get produce at the farmers’ market. It won’t be open much longer, sadly. These peppers were so beautiful. They look like the sunset. I didn’t really need them, but they looked too delicious.

We’ve also had a lot of continuing activity related to the house construction in our neighborhood. They’ve got foundations built for three on our block alone. There’s supposed to be one more across the street, but they haven’t been able to remove the giant tree stump in the middle of the lot. Here are the workers phoning their boss to tell him that the giant crane can’t get the stump to budge.

That was a couple weeks ago and they have yet to come back with a new plan.

All the dirt that’s getting dug out to create the foundations is getting piled behind our house. It’s a crazy little alien mountain range that’s replaced the football field that had been back there. The kids have fun walking across it.

Details

Things to notice if you’re looking closely in my garden now:

A few butterflies…

The sun shining through the elephant ears…

A little squash plant preparing to grow outdoors…

Tomatillos  plumping…

Reflections by the turtle…

Tomatoes discovered half eaten on the garden bench one morning…

(Who did it!?! Was it you, Squirrel? Or was it you, Mr. Raccoon?)

The way the Japanese painted fern matches the raku shards in my garden…

My old cat loving the view…

The angel’s trumpets and the masses of bees that flock to them as they open at dusk…

On a less picturesque note, trapping raccoons is all about the details. I never imagined I’d be a connoisseur of live traps, but I am. The standard model of Have a Heart trap seems to be the best.

Raccoon #9 was in the basement trap at 1:30 am early Saturday morning but by 7:30 am he had muscled his way out. It was a Have a Heart easy set model and has had enough raccoons caught in it (maybe 4?) that the springs that hold the door shut have worn out and loosened up too much. I got another brand of trap to replace it, but I’m taking that one back because its back door is held in place with one wimpy spring. Definitely not tough enough to go up against a raccoon!

February Dreaming

I’m spending plenty of time looking out my back door and dreaming of what I would love to see this summer.

High on the list is actually something I’d like NOT to see: so much concrete. I’d love to carve out a little more garden space, making my plot a full rectangle. I’ve also realized that I’d have some good growing space if I had planters or raised beds of some kind on top of the concrete in the middle of the back yard.

Hmmm…I could  start tearing out the concrete by my current garden and use the “urbanite” chunks to make a raised bed. It would be great! Until things go horribly wrong, as they very well might.

Or, it would work out just fine…AND I’d have a place to plant all the vegetables I ordered because I was dreaming big (Sure! I have room for squash, don’t I? …somewhere. gotta make room.)

You can see my other ideas below:

Here’s some things actually happening in my garden right now:

More crocus blooms!

And foggy mornings that highlight the giant oak behind our house:

And then this weekend I did some unexpected gardening, but it was at Patchwork and not at my house. You see, we’re having the tower in front of Patchwork restored and it’s taking a lot of heavy machinery. As John and I left work on Friday evening, we saw that one of the giant lifts had caught the poor little crabapple that Keep Evansville Beautiful planted last summer and had crushed it vertical under the machine’s giant elbow. The tree trunk hadn’t snapped, so Saturday I went over and carefully dug it out from under the metal elbow and replanted it in a spot in Patchwork’s garden.

Of course it was a serious challenge to dig the new hole, since in this neighborhood, anywhere worth digging a hole doubles as a subterranean brick yard. At least this time I dug up an old pipe in addition to the bricks, so the time doubled as archeology.