Saturday, July 30, 2016

Favorite Summer Natives

Searching for a native plant in bloom is commonly a spring activity.  Summer sweet first came to our attention while Amy and I were on a hike.  Walking into a cloud of incredibly sweet scent led us to this flowering bush.  Our captive specimen came to us from a friend's garden.  She objected to a root runner spoiling the balance of her plants.  The offshoot came home with us and has since taken over a huge section of our planting bed.  One of its daughter plants will anchor a foundation planting at the south west corner of the house.  The glossy dark green foliage looks great when not hidden behind numerous white flowers.  Having the wonderful scent near the house will be an added bonus.

Most of the flowers have yet to open.  Even so a tiny spider has found the pollen on an early flower.  When more of the flowers have opened, the brown pollen stains will detract from the bright pure white mass of blossoms.  I try to see the stains as golden in color but that helps little.  In addition to the sweet aroma, there is the remembrance of that special time together when Amy and I discovered  this native treasure.

We were introduced to Cardinal flower in the writings of John Burroughs.  A single purchased plant deposited seeds and produced six new plants at its base many years ago.  Now we have these brilliant bright red flowers throughout the garden.  Late frosts are hard on these plants and those pictured were among the eighteen that were potted up and carried into the basement when cold threatened.  That may be overly protective but it does allow me to plant these where I want them.  Their red flowers near a stone wall creates an unbeatable picture.  Hummingbirds also find them irresistible!

For years I have been trying to get a clear photo that shows the unusual structure of a single blossom.  A long upward red tube opens into five petals.  Three droop down while two curl upwards.  Between the up pointing petals is a white tipped tube.  This photo shows single blossoms in profile in addition to the centered star of the show.

We do have fall asters to look forward to but for me the season of brilliant native plants has reached its peak with these two wildly different plants.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Survival Strategy

This plant has been with us for years as an annual that reseeds rather freely.  It has a growth habit that is unique among our other plants.  All four of the pictures shown here were taken today.  All of these plants are in the same planting bed within a few feet of each other.  Each seed sprouts according to some unknown schedule and at widely different times from the others.  The tiny plant is just now getting underway while some nearby are in flower.

These larger plants are just inches to the right of the first plant shown.  No flowers appear on these plants yet but the Japanese beetles are having a field day on the leaves.  One plant is caged since our herd of deer also feed on these plants.

Most of the plants are at this stage of growth.  Flowers are open in abundance and seed clusters are in the early stages of development.  Here again we can cage out the deer but nothing will keep the beetles at bay.

We do not know the exact identity of this plant.  Ingaborg emigrated to this country from Germany between the World Wars.  Our first plant was a gift from her and we have always called it Inga's mallow.  Some visitors think that it is a hollyhock but we are holding on to the tag mallow.  Not knowing the proper name of the plant is a rather small issue.  Its colors are intense and we always remember Ingaborg when looking at these flowers.  Her gift to us will likely live on after we have left this place.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

A Garden Visit; Photos By Amy Plus One

"No time to say hello goodbye I'm late..." An update will follow!
                                                       Moon flowers and Liatris

 Bee balm and hummingbird moth with clear wings

Bee balm with clear wing hummingbird moth

                                                      Snapdragons and seaholly

                                                             Egyptian walking onions

                                             Water on daylily leaves taken by accident

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Can You Call This Working In The Garden?

Everything in the garden is growing so fast.  I chose to weed a new strawberry bed before the weeds ruined the plastic netting we use to protect the strawberries from birds.  I sit on a little cart when I work on weeding and that puts the beautiful  bee balm right at my eye level.  The butterflies and hummingbird moths  were way to busy sipping nectar from the flowers to notice me. I counted 6 hummingbird moths that I could see at once.  Never have I gotten such a close look at these fascinating creatures.  One came so close I got a great look at his fuzzy tan and brown body.  His wings moved  too fast for my eye to see them as he hovered over one tubular blossom after another. When he left he flew right by my left ear so I could hear the faint buzzing noise of his wings.  Several checkers and a couple of white butterflies were hanging around as well.

Since my weeding was finished when this tiger swallowtail showed up, I took a break and went for the camera.  I find butterfly photography challenging, but the bee balm helps to keep them focused on feeding.

I got a nice picture of this Tiger Swallowtail butterfly.  The strawberries are weeded and safe under the netting.  So is this working in the garden or having incredible fun in the sun?

Please note that coyote visited the smoke bush this morning.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Garlic Harvest 2016

Growing healthy garlic in New York State is recognized as being nearly impossible.  Garlic matures here early in early July and that month always features one series of thunder storms after another.  When the garlic should be drying down it is flooded repeatedly with sometimes heavy storms.  Each garlic leaf originates at the base of the bulb adjacent to the source of the roots.  It is tightly wound as it climbs the stem.  Where it leaves the stem to unfold as a flat leaf there is a weak point.  When the leaf is green and growing the joint is watertight.  As the leaf begins to weaken and die the seal leaks and water can enter the stem.  Once inside the water drains directly down into the inside of the bulb.  Wet bulbs appear tan colored rather than the white coloration that marks a recently harvested healthy bulb.  This year I harvested early when we were between storms.  Giving up one weeks growth seemed like a small price to pay for dry bulbs.

When first removed from the ground, garlic is a sorry sight.  Its huge root mass holds wet muddy soil and the lower leaves are brown smudged with black soil mold.  We spread the plants out on our wire cages where air freely moves above and below the drying garlic.  One day after digging we clean up the mess.  The root mass and its ball of mud is cut free with large scissors.  Moving up the stem past the dead dried leaves, we find the first supple green leaf.  It will cleanly pull free all the way to the base of the bulb.  Then we return the clean plant to the cage to continue curing.  At this point healthy bulbs are colored a solid white.  Purple blotches at that time indicates a bulb that was partially filled with water.  These bulbs are set aside for the food now bucket.  As the bulbs cure purple stripes appear.  At this time the bulbs are rather beautiful.

This planting of sixty cloves is marked Helen's.  We supplied Helen with her seed stock and she returned some of her harvest to us.  She had not previously grown garlic so her garden soil was free of the troublesome organisms that plague garlic growers.  Her sixty planted cloves returned fifty-six healthy bulbs to us.  This is the best return from the six different varieties we planted.

We know that the plants are curing nicely since our basement no longer smells like a salami factory.  Our next step will be to shorten the dried stalks so the garlic can be stored perpendicular to the floor.  Far more plants can be stored that way and we will once again be able to freely walk about.  That will be short lived since it will then be time to harvest the onions.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A Monarch Indeed!!

 We have always had a thing for butterflies.  From the very beginning when we moved here we began to encourage the milkweed growing here.  The fragrant blossoms attract many kinds of butterflies, but of course the Monarch is king. Click Here to go back to 2008! 

This far North however it is not the fragrant blossoms that really attract the Monarchs.  What they are eagerly  looking for is some nice green milkweed leaves on which to lay their eggs. Ed carefully mows the plants in stages so that we have new milkweed plants when the butterflies need them.

We have been waiting and watching for the Monarch's return. Whenever an orange and black  blur goes by we wonder if it is a Monarch.  Sometimes we see what we want to see!  Yesterday a Monarch stopped to feed on this freshly opened Liatris plant.  There was no doubt this time and it was a girl.  No, there is no picture of the butterfly, but as of July 19, 2016 we can indeed say a Monarch has been seen here at the Stone Wall  Garden and inside the square at that!

 Every  Monarch we see is a joy and the same will be true of the caterpillars.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Incredible Beauty

Blackberry Candy is in its second year with us.  This is the first year that we have seen flowers.  I am easily taken in by the pie crust edge.  The sharp contrast in the vivid colors is absolutely captivating.  The metallic green object is a fly.

Lime Frost is also producing its first flowers here.  In addition to the ruffled edge, this one is sweetly scented.  That is a very clear white.  These pictures were taken early this morning ahead of the hard rain.  This flower was only going to last for one day under the best of conditions but the pelting rain ended it early.

Prairie Blue Eyes has been here for several years.  It is our tallest daylily and the flowers are huge.

Blueberry Candy has also been here for quite a while.  Scented, sharp color contrast and ruffled edges make this a real winner.

Destined To See is the first daylily purchased here.  The tricolor crinkled edge makes this one special as does the scent.

Spiritual Corridor would have been the first flower pictured here but a deer came inside of the stone square and ate all of the mature buds.  Wire cages may come between me and my lilies next year.  All of that wire will look offensive but what is the other choice?

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Busy As A Bee

Today  is wordless Wednesday.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Lazarus Lilies

As winter gave way to spring here, our weather experienced extreme shifts.  Daytime temperatures can range across seventy or more degrees on consecutive days.  An early appearance of a strong warm system from the south tricked many of our plants into early robust growth.  Then an equally powerful cold northern air mass changed everything.  Overnight temperatures fell perilously close to ten degrees.  This was way beyond a simple frost.  Our plants were hit with a hard freeze.  New daylily leaves that were nearly one foot tall were transformed into yellowish limp slime.  We were certain that all of the daylilies were totally dead.  Not knowing how to deal with the mess, we simply turned away to other tasks in other parts of the garden.  After more than four days had passed, new growth began to appear above the rotting slime.  Nearly normal leaf growth finally produced properly appearing plants.  Relieved that our plants still held life, we tidied up the bed, but expected no flowers from them this year.  These pictures show that we had seriously underestimated the strength of these plants.  We love the colors of this variety but hate its name, Indian Giver.

Molokai was poorly placed near the field grasses.  Quackgrass rhizomes have pierced the crown of this daylily but its leaves prevented the deer from finding and eating flower buds.  When a more civilized area is ready for desireable plants, Molokai will be moved to a better spot.  Big yellow and beautiful, this flower can be easily seen through the heavy rain from inside the house even though it is at the far end of the garden,

Chicago Arnie's Choice displays the moisture from early morning rain.  We have watched moisture laden systems pass north or south of us for months.  Today we will likely see measurable amounts of rain all day.

Ivory Edges sports small flowers with rather flat petals.  Shades of purple marked with white is a favorite combination here.  Safe inside of a fenced area, yesterday's flowers are beyond my reach.  Sliding my hand through the 2 inch by 4 inch openings would allow me to snap off the spent flower but then the back of my hand would have spots of color similar to the purple of the flowers.

The storm clouds have opened and bright sunlight now fills the air.  We will be drawn outside to work knowing that the rain will return and we will be soaked before we can reach shelter.  This is how July in the garden is supposed to be here.  The gardeners don't look nearly as pretty as the daylilies when drenched with rain, but we are enjoying the rain just as much!

Monday, July 4, 2016

Celebrating Pink

This year I have a special reason for celebrating the 4th with this pink Lewisia.  My friend Helen loves pink and these flowers are perfect today! I love them both!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Bloom Today

This morning  I was out in the garden pretty early to pick Oregon Giant peas for dinner.   Clearly this daylily started the day earlier.   It has already begun to open.  This is its one day to bloom.  I snapped this picture and went on with my morning.  Now that we have had some rain there are plenty of things to do in the garden.

By 10:00AM I was ready to head inside for a break, but I stopped and took this picture of that same flower.  How amazing it is that something so beautiful happens so quickly while we are not watching.  Given to us by a garden friend, this is the only double daylily we have.  It's the single flowers that have captured our fancy. I prefer pinks, purples and  white over orange, but this orange and red beauty is a stunner!