Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Hydrangea Love

Having bemoaned the lack of hydrangea blooms this summer - and I have truly missed them!  - now comes the newest addition to the yard.
 June 30th.
A 'Vanilla Strawberry' hydrangea that I planted last fall, and frankly had not counted on its blooming this year. 
July 2nd.
Although it's a "panical" hydrangea and so new to me, it blooms on new wood and therefore escaped the last freeze of the winter that killed all the buds on the mopheads and lacecaps.  Even in its first year, it is blooming.  This variety typically grows 6-10 feet in height and diameter, so I put it where it can serve as a "barrier plant" between our yard and our neighbor's.
July 4th 
When fully mature, the panicals should open white and then "age" to darker shades of pink to strawberry - eventually producing a shrub full of multi-colored flowers. 

What's not to love about that?

Monday, July 7, 2014

Feeding the Masses

Well, perhaps not the masses, but at least the two people who live in our house. 

Mitchell's new raised beds have certainly lived up to their potential this summer.  We planted several types of tomato, broccoli, cauliflower, several peppers and okra in early May, and now are reaping the benefits. 

The tomatoes are awesome!  We will soon be those people who break into their neighbors' homes and leave produce on the kitchen counter!

We started getting 'Cherokee Purple' more than a week ago and then harvested the first 'Brandywine' last night.  Both are heritage varieties and very tasty!  There are a zillion green Roma's just waiting to ripen up and become roasted tomato sauce for freezing. 

The broccoli are nearly done - we are well into the second cutting of side shoots.  Hard to beat the taste of broccoli that was cut 30 minutes ago. 

Even the okra are cooperating this year.  Only planted about half the usual number, since last year we got really, really tired of them.  So far, I've cut 3-6 every night, so we only have a meal's worth every three to four days and that works well for us. 

There are mystery peppers, too.  Mystery, because I have lost the little tags and can't remember what I planted.  One is Cubanelle, but have no idea about the others!

The herbs are flourishing as well, and providing basil and cilantro on a daily basis.  Life is good!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Heaven in the Garden

It's that wonderful time of the summer when all you really have to do is sit back and enjoy.  Well, perhaps add a bit of water now and then and a bit of deadheading, but mostly it's time to enjoy all the hard work of fall and spring. 

The lilies are in full bloom.  This one is a mystery.  I do not remember planting it, altho this is at least the third year it has bloomed - each year more spectacular than the last. 

It is more than six feet tall and has three separate stalks this year - after only one for the past two years.

The flowers are lovely, but it's the whole THING that is so striking.
The gate is 36 inches tall.

Dayliles are coming along, too.

As well as the calla lilies.

What's not to love?

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Wednesday Workday - The "New" Project

About a month ago, I focused on a new project.  
Renovate another bed.

We are lucky enough to have an American Elm tree.  I have pretty much ignored it, except for getting it trimmed every other year to keep the branches over the roof of the house cut back, and to keep the shape good.  Otherwise, I just love it and let it be... as you can see from how overgrown the ivy and  creeping Euonomous were around the base and up the tree. 

The plan is [was?] to clean out all the vines and then plant a less invasive (or more controllable) groundcover and perhaps some early spring bulbs - crocus and other tiny little things.  That pile of webb-dirt is still calling to me, so i was planning to build up the existing border (steel edging) using half bricks and then add a couple of inches of good composty webb-dirt to the outer parts of the bed - without burying the trunk of the tree.

The past two weekends have been cool enough to do some significant work outside - without dying of heat prostration!  So, i dived into the job.  After only one day, it looked like this.

And, after two days - like this. 

"So ... what happened?" you say.  
Clearly I was on a roll .... until the yellow jackets intervened!  

Yep! yellow jackets.  Somewhere under that last little bit of viney mess, is the entrance to their nest.  They made it very clear that they did not want me to finish the job.  

[Now, what are the chances that I would pick a place to start cleaning and then work both left and right and end up with only one small area to do and THAT is where the danger lies?  Well, that's exactly what happened!]  I read all the suggestions i could find on the Internet for how to handle a yellow
jacket nest - most had to do with pouring gasoline down the hole and many with following that with a lighted match. 

Not going to happen here.  First, it's an elm tree and I am not pouring gasoline into its root system.  Second, what about polluting my ground water?  Third, really?  get that close to a nest of yellow jackets?  It's not like they are just going to hang out and watch me do that!
So we shall call an exterminator and see what our real alternatives are.  I hate to kill them, but apparently they are not pollinators and are mainly beneficial because they kill other flying critters.  We have bats, dragonflies and several other helpers for that, so i think they will have to go. 

Could use any experience or suggestions you have, tho.

[Note:  Won't waste your time apologizing for not blogging for more than two weeks - same tired old excuses, plus some new ones!]