garage shadows

Sunplay on the back wall of the garage, west-facing. The amaranth on the right is twelve feet tall and still reaching. The seed (provenance unknown) was given by a friend as a “real good eating green.” The young leaves are indeed tender and unusually tasty, until hard heat sets in. Then the plant is set on growing straight and tall, leaning in September to disperse it’s seed and increase territory. I pull out far more than I keep but its still a keeper.

carrot grow bag sedum glads

Seeded ‘Touchon’ carrots in a grow bag this year. Budding mystery Sedum–ahem, Hyloteliphium–on the right. 9/5, no germination.

cricket katydid scudderia sp

Camouflaged. Katydid (family Tettigoniidae), munching on ‘Genovese’ basil.

lobularia maritima

Sweet Alyssum, Lobularia maritima, is in my Top Five lifelong plants. I have grown it in four counties, three states and six towns, often in pots. It is always beautiful, sometimes fragrant, tough, delicate, humble and highly attractive to insects. I hope to never be without it.

tapestry 4 8:16


Cucamelon, Melothria scabra, finally on the move. They hugged the ground until rain came at the beginning of August. Also known as Mexican sour gherkin and Sandita, “little watermelon.” Grape-sized when ripe, striped black and green. A good crunch, almost sour, cucumber green. Kelly Kindscher advises slicing them in half for salads.

bales ears

Always tickled to see the straw bales sprout. Rye, I think (Secale cereale). I’ve caught several neighbor cats eating it. Seeds sold as Cat Grass are often rye. Nice set up for the Taro, Colocasia esculenta.

gravel bed bench 8:16

Tritunia ‘Blue Star’ on the gravel bench 8/16.

gravel bench 8:22

Gravel bench 8/22. Thyme, Talinum, sage, miniature roses, lilies and fading Echinacea. A wave of yellow Ipomoea batatas ‘Sweet Caroline Light Green’ crashing from the left. Meyer lemon in the pot at left, rhubarb chard seeds in the pot at right.

gravel bench 8:31

Gravel bench 8/31. Peachy Rosa ‘At Last’ in bloom on the bench.

rosa at last

Rosa ‘At Last’ from a quart pot planted in April. Rich soil, mulch and monthly feedings of fish emulsion. Fourth bloom flush so far, slight fragrance on hot evenings. Sweet alyssum seedlings coming up underneath. Advertised as 3’x3′, it will go in the ground mid-September.

nepeta lysimachia plectranthus

The future home of Rosa ‘At Last’, between the blue and gold. Catmint on the left, Creeping Jenny at right. A wee Plectranthus in the bottom right corner.

ipomoea quamoclit alba

Cypress vine piling up on the left, Ipomoea quamoclit ‘Alba’.

little path nicotiana bella

Little path facing West, 8/22. The pink-white trumpets of flowering tobacco, Nicotiana x mutabilis ‘Bella’, held aloft on strong, thin stems at right.

little path face west

Little path, 8/31. The Nicotiana at right now stripped by tomato hornworms (likely). At back left, magenta-red Madagascar Periwinkle, Catharanthus roseus–a Catharanthus species is increasingly used to dramatic effect against childhood Leukemia. ‘Pesto Perpetuo’ basil and yellow chard mixed in.

main path south entrance

Main path, South entrance, 8/31.

main path pots 8:22

Main path pots facing East, 8/22.

ricinus amaranthus

Spiky flower heads of Ricinus communis ‘Carmencita’ at left; chenille tresses of Amaranthus cruentus ‘Hopi Red Dye’ at right.

tomato amana orange

Tomato ‘Amana Orange’. Nearly all of the early fruit was spoiled by blossom end rot, occurring when soil moisture is inconsistent, as it was during our June/July heatwave. A few fruits are ripening unscathed.

garage bed face south 8:22

Garage bed face South, 8/22.

garage bed face north 8:31

Garage bed face North, 8/31.

garage bed 2

Garage bed face West, 8/16. Wild arugula owns the pathway.

fungus yellow rosemary 8:4

A striking yellow mushroom, Leucocoprinus birnbaumii, popped up in the rosemary pots, 8/4. Common in warm, organically rich soil. I’ve never seen it before but I did go heavy on the compost this year and it has been very warm. It also came up in the lemon pot a week later.

robber fly Promachus rufipes

The Red-Footed Cannibal Robber Fly, Promachus rufipes. What an excellent name; also known as the Bee Panther. Reputed to kill hummingbirds on the wing, Robber flies feed primarily on flying insects: bees and wasps, dragonflies, beetles, grasshoppers, and their own kind. They are strong and swift in the air. They find elevated camouflage (as above), perching immobile until prey flies by. Rocketing onto the backs of their targets, they use strong legs to enfold and immobilize, and inject a paralyzing enzyme via a sharp proboscis. All on the wing.


gladiolus white

White Gladiolus bloom. I’ve never grown Glads before but I’ve bought plenty from florists over the decades. I planted 30 corms in Spring; 10 each of green, white and yellow. Several sent up spikes at the end of July but they soon burned. Two whites have bloomed so far.

leonotis nepetifolia

In early September, the tallest plants in the garden are usually the Leonotis nepetifolia, aka Lion’s Ears or Klip Dagga, the orange-flowered mint at top right. Hummingbirds are crazy about it, nectar-rich, easily accessed, and one of the last energy resources of the season before they move South. This plant is seven feet tall now, 10 feet easily in two weeks, probably two feet taller by the middle of October when it will fall flat on the ground. I planted it five years ago, a Zone 9 tropical in a (then) Zone 5 garden, and it has reseeded more and more each year. Now, like Perilla and Amaranthus, an introduced plant requiring editorial diligence.

fuschia gartenmeister 8:16

Fuchsia ‘Gartenmeister Bonstedt’, backed by blooming Plume Poppies, Maclaeya cordata, 8/16.

opuntia snowball echeveria

An un-rooted pad of Opuntia ‘Snowball’, hopefully rooting, and a tender Echeveria struggling to bloom.

opuntia nebraska orange

Fingers also crossed for a pad of Opuntia ‘Nebraska Orange’ across the Little Path from Opuntia ‘Snowball’.

ipomoea quamocilt ipomoea batatas tritunia blue star

Ipomoea batatas ‘Solar Tower Black; Ipomoea quamoclit ‘Alba’, the white-flowered Cypress Vine; and Tritunia ‘Blue Star’. All in the family.

pumpkin monarda

Pumpkin ‘Jarrahdale’; Monarda fistulosa re-sprouting behind; and Sweetbay‘s Bidens aristolchia moving up, top left.

ride face east 8:22 1

Ride face East, 8/22.

ride face west 8:31

Ride face West, 8/31.

ragweed giant

Giant Ragweed, Ambrosia trifida, (Asteraceae). Long ago it was pointed out as a troublesome weed so I routinely pulled it out. This year, because it was the only plant in July that was tall, green and thriving, I let it be. A visiting botanist identified it at the end of the month. For three weeks, I’ve been weeping in the garden like a Celine Dion song and I thought it was the misery of age. That ragweed is gone.

A final note about Ambrosia trifida: It blooms at the same time as Goldenrod, Solidago sp., and because the Goldenrod is showier, it is falsely accused as the allergen. Ragweed makes you sneeze, Goldenrod feeds the bees.

peppers santa fe

Baby ‘Santa Fe’ peppers, thick-skinned and Serrano-hot when red and ripe, about the size of a ‘Cubanelle’. A bone-warming heat for soups and sauces.

view from table 8:4

View from the table, 8/4.

view from table 8:16

View from the table, 8/16.

view from table 8:31

View from the table, 8/31.

solanum quitoensetapestry 2

solanum jungle 8:22

Solanum jungle.

stump pots 8:31

For the third year in a row, Spring is getting shorter, June and July are much hotter, August wetter. Bitter cold last Winter but only three inches of snow. More bugs, more rabbits, busier voles, and poison ivy everywhere, even in gravel. Lantana over-wintering at minus 15.





*feeling the heat chamaecyparis miscanthus 7:29

We’re all talking about the heat. Unprecedented fire and drought all over the world. We all can’t afford my spending as much water next year as I did in 2018. On July 30, my accounting confirmed that my vegetable garden expenses exceeded the cost of buying the same produce from the farmers market. That’s a moot argument: it isn’t the gardening game and there aren’t enough small farms. We have to become sincere  phenologists, we have to think ahead.  I’m planting Forestiera, Opuntia and Portulaca for 2019, and reading up on swales and dry farming.

*entrance 7:29

Entrance 7/29. Cloudy day, storms on radar bearing down, only spitty rain came. Two cloudy days followed–the plants had a respite from cruel sun and heat.

*barrows small 7:29

Two small barrows, handles sawed off, placed end to end under a Hackberry but still too hot. Tomato ‘Cherry Falls’ and ‘Genovese’ basil. Tomato flowering shut down after the second week in the 90s, early June.

*Lilium ‘Scheherazade' 7

Lilium ‘Scheherazade’, fourth year, now tough. Not a bit of scorch on those beautiful leaves. Seven-footers, before leaning. They share space with a four-year stand of Monarda fistulosa, also a shameless leaner. I’m not an enthusiastic staker but I’ll give them better direction next year.

*lilium ‘scheherazade' 8

Lilium ‘Scheherazade’ in flower. The one on the right is a week older than the left. The new flowers have extraordinary substance, almost feel like plastic.

*lilium saltarello apricot 2

Lilium ‘Saltarello’. Flash in twilight.

*sun scorch on lily

Scorch, early July.

*lilium auratum gold band echinacea

Scorch 7/17. Lilium ‘Legend’ and Echinacea purpurea. That was as good as that lily got this year.

*lilium auratum gold band eryngium yuccifolium

Lilium ‘Legend’ again, faring better in the company of Eryngium yuccifolium in a hot, gritty bed.

*lilium tiger

The Tiger Lilies all bloomed at once and barely lasted four days.

*lilium black beauty cypress vine

‘Black Beauty’ lily suffering. Rabbits took it down last year, now beaten by heat.

*garage new paint

TP and JT put new paint on the garage.

*jordan briceland

I was glad to bring this Jordan Briceland sculpture down from the South-facing garage wall, placed by the artist seven years ago. It was deep blue then. My plan was to set two posts standing six feet above ground in the thicket along the fence line and attach the sculpture at eye level–a short, pruned path leading to it–to block a dull view and prying eyes. A job better suited to Autumn than 100-degree days in July. I leaned it against a honeysuckle trunk in the interim. Two weeks ago, a storm threw the sculpture to the ground, snapping off most of the protrusions and dismantling the frame, and giving us two inches of rain.

*insect butterfly pearl crescent phyciodes tharos

Pearl Crescent Butterfly, Phyciodes tharos, resting on Hibiscus acetellosa.

*insect imperial moth Eacles imperialis 7:28 1

The Imperial Moth, Eacles imperialis, seven-inch wingspan, 7/28.

*gravel bench floor

The floor of the Gravel Bench. Thyme, Hylotelepium ‘Blade Runner’, and regular self-seeder, Talinum paniculatum ‘Kingswood Gold’, less gold with each year. ‘Jewels of Opar’ is the charming common name of this succulent plant, young leaves good in salad.

*red stems three

Three red stems. Left to right: Ricinus communis ‘Carmencita’; Hibiscus acetosella ‘Mahogany Splendor’; Amaranthus cruentus x powellii ‘Hopi Red Dye’.

*helenium flowering early

Three- year Helenium blooming mid-July, a month early. At least its upright at this point–last year it was a groundcover when it bloomed.

*hyperion moonglow

Hemerocallis ‘Hyperion’ and Juniperus ‘Moonglow’.

*hemerocallis yellow chartreuse noid

Hemerocallis ‘Wedding Band’, two feet tall with an eight-inch flower. From the Greek: hemeros (day) and kallos (beauty), we get the common name of Daylily.

*main path pots 3

Main path pots.

*solanum quitoense urn bed

Solanum quitoense, Naranjilla.

*empty bed 7:29

Seedlings of flowering tobacco, Nicotiana x mutabilis ‘Bella’, on the move after deep rain at the end of July.

*little path bedraggled

Little Path facing East.

*trellis north

*elder fruit sparse

Sparse fruit set on the native Sambucus canadensis ‘Burroughs Creek’ this year. Hoping the stressed berries are extra-potent.

*colocasia 7:29

*buckets face west above 7:17

*view from table 7:29

View from the table, 7/29.

*pointillistic 7:9

He has found his style, when he cannot do otherwise. – Paul Klee


Beatrix Farrand. Photo: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library archive.


Thomas Church. Photo: The Cultural Landscape Foundation.

Archaeologists discover bread that predates agriculture by 4,000 years
The findings suggest that bread production based on wild cereals may have encouraged hunter-gatherers to cultivate cereals, and thus contributed to the agricultural revolution in the Neolithic period.
Science Daily

Mouse Melon or Mexican Sour Cucumber, Melothria scabra
The white, crisp interior flesh has a crunchy texture. The flavor is generally described as cucumber-like with a hint of sourness.
Master Gardener Program, University of Wisconsin Extension

Toxic Nectar
I was introduced to the concept of toxic nectar thanks to a species of shrub quite familiar to anyone who has spent time in the Appalachian Mountains. Locals will tell you to never place honeybee hives near a patch of rosebay (Rhododendron maximum) for fear of so-called “mad honey.”
In Defense of Plants

Jamaican Ackee, Blighia sapida
Consumers of the unripe fruit sometimes suffer from ‘Jamaican vomiting sickness syndrome’ (JVS) allegedly caused by the unusual amino acid components, hypoglycin A and B.
Department of Chemistry, UWI, Mona, Jamaica

The case of the spiny eggplants
My first experience with this botanical genre came early in my gardening career. I had just taken up seed-starting, and had yet to discover the wonderful world of online seed trading. …Among the many curiosities I ordered were balsam pears, hairy-leaved chiles, and bundleflowers, some of which still inhabit our garden. But the one I remember best was Solanum atropurpureum, whose description included a quote from a botanist proclaiming the majesty of this ferocious plant, ending in, “I call it ‘Malevolence’.”
Rob’s Plants

Olea europaea
Olive trees (Olea europaea) have long represented wealth, abundance, power and peace. The olive has been a symbol of the Mediterranean since time immemorial and has a reputation for long life, nourishment and its ability to thrive in tough conditions.
Kew Science

American Elderberry
As with many underutilized fruit crops, relatively little breeding work has been done with American Elder. There are few named cultivars, and those that exist are not genetically diverse. But this may change through a concerted breeding effort at the University of Missouri.
Uncommon Fruit

Okra, or “Gumbo,” from Africa
One of the earliest accounts of okra is by a Spanish Moor who visited Egypt in 1216. He described the plant in detail, as cultivated by the Egyptians, and stated that the pods when young and tender were eaten with meal. (Southerners in our own country know how to cook it with corn meal — slice the pods, dip the pieces in meal, and fry them.)
Aggie Horticulture

A Bloom Day Walk About
I have a lot of ground to edit when the entire three plus acres of wild cultivated gardens are taken into account. So it’s ok with me that the leeks went wild in the roadside vegetable garden.
Outside Clyde

Perennials Proliferate in Three Year Old Garden
Summer is generally not considered a time to work on garden planning, but it is in summer that many of the problems of our plant arrangements reveal themselves with painful clarity.

Sound waves reveal diamond cache deep in Earth’s interior
There may be more than a quadrillion tons of diamond hidden in the Earth’s interior, according to a new study from MIT and other universities.

Astronomers discover 12 new moons orbiting Jupiter – one on collision course with the others.
Astronomers describe the twelfth new Jovian moon as an “oddball”.
The Guardian

Botany, the science of the vegetable kingdom, is one of the most attractive, most useful, and most extensive departments of human knowledge. It is, above every other, the science of beauty. – Sir Joseph Paxton


Rosemary Verey. Photo: WBUR Here and Now.

russell page

Russell Page. Photo: Landscape Notes.

“No occupation is so delightful to me than the culture of the Earth, and no culture comparable to that of the garden.” – Thomas Jefferson


*garden edge face west

*verbascum gov george aiken

Verbascum thapsus ‘Governor George Aiken,’ from seed via Hayefield in Pennsylvania. Fourth generation here. Like many in the species, it is biennial, reseeds freely, and is attractive to many insects.

*big barrow

The big barrow at the end of June, facing North, home to a ‘Cherokee Purple’ tomato, ‘Rosita’ eggplants, ‘Genovese’ basil and petunias. Blossom end rot is a problem.

*tomato cherokee purple

Big barrow from above, facing West. Yellow chard on right after three cuttings.

*storm 1

*hackberry storm 3

Thunder woke me at 3AM, June 4. Opened the front door to strobe lightning and fierce winds, another Kansas storm. Went back to bed. For eight years I’ve been eyeing the massive branch of the 60-foot hackberry, Celtis occidentalis, overhanging my bedroom. Four years ago, the tree started to rot. At 5:30AM, I woke again to that “train sound,” a sustained gust of wind, then loud cracking noises. I went on the front porch again, the lightning revealed a significant event, but the storm forced me to retreat indoors. Made coffee. At 6:30, I took the photo above. No damage to the house. The forked branch on the left even managed to straddle the lamppost and the flowering spikes of the Yucca (first storm photo).

*storm repair

Tree crew came by the next day.


*rosa at last tritunia blue star lettuce red sails selfie

Rosa ‘At Last’ and Tritunia ‘Blue Star’ take a selfie.

*stump pots 1

Stump pots, June 4. Two Fuschia triphylla ‘Gartenmeister Bonstedt’ and a petite, yellow-rimmed Buxus.

*stump pots 6:30

Stump pots from above, June 30, with Maclaeya cordata, the plume poppy, on the move. Hosta ‘Daybreak’ in bloom below, and a self-seeded Petunia exserta bunking with the boxwood.

*small barrows

The small barrows, home to ‘Cherry Falls’ tomatoes (bred to cascade), bright orange ‘King Theodore’ nasturtiums (slow in the heat), and ‘Genovese’ basil. ‘Red Globe’ amaranth in the pots.

*dianthus coconut surprise

The fetching blooms of Dianthus ‘Coconut Surprise’ in front of a ‘Bluebird’ aster, Symphyotrichum laeve. The Dianthus is very fragrant but the blooms fade quickly to brown mush, probably due in part to the extreme heat we’ve had since May.

*gravel bench 1

Gravel bench facing East, June 6.

*gravel bed face northwest

Gravel bench facing West, June 24. Dark red ‘Serengeti’ lilies, a Longiflorum/Asiatic hybrid (LA); Castor Bean, Ricinus communis ‘Carmencita’; Echinacea purpurea; and Red-Leaf Hibiscus, Hibiscus acetosella.

*main path face southeast

From the main path, facing Southeast, June 4.

*echinacea rudbeckia polygonum sedum

Same angle at the end of June. Echinacea purpurea, Echinacea purpurea ‘PowWow White,’ Polygonum orientale, Rudbeckia maxima, Helenium autumnale ‘Rubinzwerg,’ and ‘Hopi Red Dye’ amaranth, Amaranthus cruentus x powellii.

*light afternoon 2

Main path, facing southwest. Evening light, June 4, 7:45PM.

*lilium bright diamond hemerocallis south seas

Lilium ‘Bright Diamond,’ another LA cross, has good substance and strong fragrance. Hemerocallis ‘South Seas’ in the background.

*lilium regale album eryngium verbascum

The white blooms of Lilium regale album, a species lily with powerful fragrance, are four feet tall after three years. To seven feet at maturity. White Verbascum on the left; Chamaecyparis and Sambucus canadensis behind; Monarda fistulosa rising on the right; and the flowers of Rattlesnake Master, Eryngium yuccifolium, below.

*berberis pot 2

The main path facing South. Berberis thunbergii ‘Sunjoy Tangelo’ in the foreground at left.

*main path face west close

From the main path facing West. The red and yellow blooms of Blanketflower, Gaillardia aristata, below. The seeds I purchased were supposed to be the ‘Burgundy’ cultivar but turned out to be the species.

*empty bed face west 1

Same, from above.

*gravel bench face east

*solanum quitoense sporobolus

The broad, felted and thorny leaves of Naranjilla, Solanum quitoense, with Prairie Dropseed, Sporobolus heterolepis, a fine native grass.

*afternoon light new elders

Flowers of Sambucus canadensis ‘Bob Gordon,’ collected by Mr. Gordon from the wild in Missouri, 1999. Two-year plants are eight feet tall, blooming mid-June.

*elder bed new

‘Bob Gordon’ setting fruit at the end of June.

*garage bed 2

Pole and bush beans by the trellis at left, June 4. Rabbits mowed them down a week later. ‘King of the Garden’ lima beans were sown in their places, their rough leaves seemingly less palatable to young bunnies. The snow peas on the right failed to set pods in the extraordinary heat.

*garage beans 2

‘Dragons Tongue’ bush beans , peppers (Jalapeno, Poblano), and ‘Black Vernissage’ tomatoes on the upright canes, plum-sized mahogany fruits striped with green.

*rabbit depradation

Bush beans along the bamboo cut to the ground by rabbits at the end of June. Some are making new growth so wait and see.

Notes on Rabbits
– Rabbits, hares and pikas are in the Order Lagomorpha, more closely related to elephants than rodents.
– A female rabbit is a doe, a male is a buck, babies are kits. The word “bunnies” refers to rabbits in general, not just kits.
– Most active feeding at dawn and dusk.
– Does are able to breed at four months of age. 30-day gestation period, four to 12 kits per litter. A single doe can produce as many as 800 children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren in one year.
– Kits can care for themselves after five weeks, only 15% surviving to their first year.
– Average lifespan of eight years.
– Rabbits do not hibernate, eating bark, roots and buds in Winter.

*buckets mid-june

Five-gallon buckets, bottoms removed, filled with loam, compost and worm castings. ‘Amana Orange’ tomatoes in the back row, Aji amarillo peppers middle and front. Zinnia ‘Will Rogers’ in between the buckets.

ricinus buckets

Buckets from the other side (facing North), at the end of the month. The Castor Beans supply much-needed shade.

*pumpkin squash

A week of 100+ temperatures were too much for the yellow straightneck squash at left. Above the corpse, ‘Jarrahdale’ pumpkins, an Australian variety with a slate blue rind, face a challenging future.

*empty bed 6:4

The Empty Bed, Jun 4. Two nice rose bushes and a fine Abelia grandiflora ‘Sunny Anniversary’ also fell victims to rabbit depredation in Winter. Hence the name of the bed. Last yellow blooms on the Carolina Bushpea, Thermosis villosa, center, with buds of Hemerocallis ‘Bertie Ferris’ below.

*empty bed nicotiana

Young plants of Nicotiana alata x mutabilis ‘Bella’ filling space in the Empty Bed on June 24. Wind-damaged Wild Senna, Senna hebecarpa, on the right.

*gravel bench bed face east

Gravel bench facing East, mid-June.

*lemon scorch

Sun scorch on the Meyer lemon, Citrus x meyeri, mid-June.

*new path face north

The New Path, facing North, June 4.

*new bed nursery

A new bed in the works; at the moment, an ersatz nursery bed. Calamint, Calamintha nepeta; Love Lies Bleeding, Amaranthus caudatus; Russian Sage, Perovskia atriplicifolia; a young Elderberry, self-seeded pink Cleome hassleriana; and perennial Sweet Pea, Lathyrus latifolius. A  Catalpa pollard in back.

*lilium sch bud

Lilium ‘Scheherazade,’ an Oriental Trumpet hybrid (OT), in bud at the end of June.

*linaria maroccana

Toadflax, Linaria maroccana ‘Northern Lights,’ blooming at the beginning of June from a mid-March direct sowing.

*view from the table 6:24:18

View from the table, June 24.

While I have the space for long sentences, I prefer to use color as punctuation. Garden mavens generally disapprove of “dot planting,” single plants sprinkled around, but it depends on the plant and the bloom display. Color isn’t the only consideration: foliage size and texture also come into play. A single Castor Bean is an exclamation point; a green Hosta, a comma; a fresh lily flower, full stop. Above all, my garden is my creation, my gathering of friends. I favor a Pointillistic manner, welcoming many and sundry to good relation.

I’m too old to be a plant snob anymore. A “right” plant is happy and long-lived in it’s place. I care less and less about the Color Wheel, a human notion rejected by Nature. Those who preach that orange with pink is heresy have never seen miles of California poppies cozying with pink Gilia. Those who say orange is vulgar in the garden are rejecting genuine thrills.

I wonder if humans are a failed species.

My favorite gardens are mostly green, truly peaceful.



“Young Hare” by Albrecht Durer, 1502. Photo Wikimedia Commons.



“Don’t knock the weather. If it didn’t change once in a while, nine out of ten people couldn’t start a conversation.” – Kim Hubbard


**spring green lilies chamaecyparis thermopsis

Spring Green 1: Six-pack Violas, Daylilies, “Scheherazade” lilies, Chamaecyparis, Miscanthus and Carolina Bush Pea, Thermopsis villosa.

**spring green elder lemon banana

Spring Green 2: Elderberries on the left (Sambucus canadensis “Burroughs Creek”), native Fleabane upright in the background, fronted by a cutting-grown Korean Boxwood (Buxus koreana), a potted Meyer Lemon, and on the left a Banana gifted by friends as a pup last September, overwintered on the back porch. In the foreground is Northern Sea Oats, Chasmanthium latifolium. I appreciate this plant for it’s bambooish appearance but I pull at least 30 seedlings every morning. The two plants I have in half-shade are slower, skinnier and sparing re-seeders.

**spring green verbascum amsonia thermopsis overhead

The rosettes of gray leaves on the left belong to white-flowered Mullein, Verbascum “Governor George Aiken,” a favorite of bees.The yellow groundcover up top is Creeping Jenny, Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’. The feathery leaves below belong to Amsonia hubrichtii, a Bluestar, in it’s fifth year from seed and finally bulking up. The compound leaves at far right belong to the Carolina Lupine, Thermopsis villosa, with wild Violets (Viola papilionacea), and Calamint seedlings underfoot.

The end of May marks the start of one of the biggest annual events in the garden: the Fruiting of the Mulberries. Avian anticipation is sky-high, as much parking lot activity as a 1970s Grateful Dead concert. Grackles, Cardinals, Robins, Thrashers, Catbirds, Chickadees, Bluejays, Waxwings and wingless Squirrels inspect the fruit many times a day, awaiting that moment. One male Cardinal——nesting with his partner in the light above the garage door—staked turf on the big Mulberry, taking up his position on a high perch in the tree at dawn, forcing other male Cardinals to the younger, less fruitful Mulberries in the back of the garden. The fruit is still tight and red but if this heat keeps up, they’ll ripen in a week. Once the mulberry feast is over, the grackles move north, following the Fruiting up to Minnesota, leaving behind a minefield of purple and white ejecta that cling to plant leaves like Super Glue. The best part of the Fruiting is that the grackles are gone until March next year. And mulberry pancakes, of course.

– Other birds: Barred Owls, a Merlin, Red Tails, Turkey Buzzards, and a newcomer whose call starts with short, rhythmic chucks that sound like rosewood sticks, followed by several liquid gulps, all unusually loud—a rainforest sound. Reports that the raptor boxes installed on the nearby grain silos are all occupied account in part for the decrease in the rabbit population.

**allium christophii 2

I was strangely satisfied with this picture, taken on May 25: Star of Persia, Allium christophii, bursting out; Giant Coneflower, Rudbeckia maxima, the glaucous leaves at left; Helenium ‘Rubinzwerg’ rising in back; Red Clover, Trifolium pratense on the sprawl; and bright Creeping Jenny on the ground. I can’t deny my admiration for the Hayefield style–my ideal garden is a cross between Ninfa and Harry Dodson’s walled Victorian kitchen garden. I often consult Nan’s site, particularly older posts, and came across a shot from Bloom Day, June 2013, below.



Ahem. The persistence of inspiration. Hayefield.

Chelsea Chop: Sedum, Asters, Monarda, Patrinia, Buxus
Delays bloom and directs growth—you can stagger and prolong the blooms of particular plants by cutting back only half of the plant. The uncut half will bloom at the usual time, the cut half a few weeks later.

In July, the Hampton Hack (also named after an RHS plant show), rejuvenates herbaceous plants after their initial flushes of bloom (Geraniums Nepeta, Alchemilla, Calamintha—anything looking spent), spurring foliage growth and occasional repeat bloom. The key is to divert the plant’s energy from making seed to overall vigor.

**beans bush dragon tongue

Seedlings of Bush Bean “Dragon’s Tongue,” long flat pods, yellow streaked purple, purportedly tender with extra-beany flavor. A rainy day on the 16th.

**garden entrance

That same rainy day.

**bunny beds peach

The Bunny Beds on the 20th, another gray day.

**cat graveyard 2

Small pond, Cat graveyard and garage.

**front lonicera major wheeler

On the chain-link out front, “Major Wheeler” had his first flush mid-May.

**front elder darlow ninebark

In front on the creekside, left to right, Burroughs elderberry, “Darlow’s Enigma” rose (fifth year), and dark-leaved “Summer Wine” Ninebark, Physocarpus opulus ‘Seward’.

**rosa darlow's enigma close

“Darlow’s Enigma,” close.

**front pseudo-shrubbery 5:25

The Pseudo-Shrubbery on the front walk.

**elder bed new

The New Elders bed, from six-inch cuttings 15 months ago, now pushing eight feet and budding.

**echinacea mutation

Unusual flower color and form, and very early bloom, on a Purple Coneflower, Echinacea purpurea, by the main path. There was a phyllodic mutation in this patch of Coneflowers last year—perhaps more interesting variations are forthcoming.

**iris gerald darby fronting ipomoea batatas

Iris “Gerald Darby,” a yellow Ipomoea batatas, tropical Plumbago at left.

Bugs return mid-May: Chiggers, Mosquitoes, Oak Mites (humans), Loopers, Hornworms, Flea Beetles (plants), Fleas, Ear Mites (cats). Many Bumblebees, few Honeybees. Fireflies and crickets back in force. Fireflies are Earth magic.

The Shiitake logs flushed after the first rain, two pounds in five days, three good dinners.

**color wheel

Slaves to the Color Wheel would hate this.

**face west

On the Main Path facing West, May 30.

**main path little path

Main Path and Little Path, May 20.

**peppers beans

Peppers and Beans, mid-May. Tomatoes on the stakes.

**snapdragons 2

Snapdragons on the Little Path. Never grown Snaps before–bees all over them. This location seems too hot and sunny; a bit more shade next time.

**sporobolus solanum nasturtium

Left to right: Prairie Dropseed grasses, Sporobolus heterolepis; Nasturtium “Moonlight,” a pale yellow trailing type; and Naranjilla, Solanum quitoense.

**main path pots 2

Main Path pots, from the left: a coral Diascia; seedlings of Zinnia “Profusion Apricot;” a remarkable yellow Lantana camara, a Zone 8 tropical who survived the Winter of 2016 (-12 degrees), in open ground; variegated Aptenia cordifolia; a Tangelo Barberry and pale yellow Moss Roses, Portulaca grandiflora, in the big red pot; and a seedling “QIS Red Globe” Amaranth in the pot in front.

**tomato barrows need groundcover

Barrows of “Cherry Falls” cascading Tomatoes, orange Nasturtium “King Theodore,” “Genovese” Basil, and Red Globe Amaranth in the pots. Seventy-five percent of this garden is from seed or cuttings.

**trellis seedlings

Pole Beans on the left, Cucumbers and Bitter Melon on the right. Bush Beans below.

**mulberry face north

Mulberry One, facing North.


What we’re waiting for.

**garage bed last year for raised bed 1

The last year for this old raised bed.

Forcing a plant, or any living thing, to subsist in unnatural conditions is a cruelty to the creature; a waste of time, hope and resources for the gardener; and a bad effect on Life. It goes back to Beth Chatto’s dictum: “Right plant, right place,” though, as Chatto always averred, she wasn’t the first to make that observation, (Theophrastus, Historia Plantarum, 300 BC).

Case in point: the ubiquitous Verbena bonariensis, almost a garden cliche now. It grew itself in my California gardens, reseeding at a welcome nuisance level, yet here it languishes in our muggy heat. It really is a desirable and charming see-through. This is my third attempt to bring V.bon into this garden—the first two from seed, this time from nursery plants—and its not looking good. Even in part shade, they droop drastically by noon. Drooping is not a reason to fill the watering can; it is a survival tactic for extremes. Usually, when the hard sun passes, plants perk right up. V.bon perks up in the shade but with each 90+ day, it’s will diminishes. Desired plant, wrong place. I don’t like to witness unearned suffering; sometimes, the greatest mercy is a quick kill. Perhaps Hesperaloe is a better see-through option in this changing climate.

**pond path

Path around the Big Pond.

**robert burns 2

Robert Burns isn’t so shy anymore. He heads to the creek around 7:30 am most mornings and returns to the pond at 6pm. Punching the Snapping Turtle clock. I see him in transit a couple of times per week.

**snake path face west 3

Snake Path facing West.

**urn bed herbs dianthus lychnis allium

**main path face northeast

**ride face west pm

**cypress pole

White Cypress seedlings, Ipomoea quamoclit, have germinated at the base of the pole and are reputed to climb to 15 feet. A white Daylily at right in front, Tradescantia ‘Sweet Kate’ at left, Lemon Balm milling around, and Tritunia ‘Blue Star’ in the pot.

**view from table 5:25

View from the table, 5/25.

*robin on bones

Las Condiciones del Pajaro Solitario
Son cinco.
La primera, que se va lo más alto;
la segunda, que no sufre compañía, aunque sea de su naturaleza;
la tercera, que pone el pico al aire;
la cuarta, que no tiene determinado color;
la quinta, que canta suavemente.
– San Juan de la Cruz, Dichos de Luz y Amor



lily scabiosa basil

Lilium “Scheherazade,” Scabiosa “Butterfly Blue,” Basil “Pest Perpetuo,” Verbascum “Gov. George Aiken,” a wild Aster, Hemerocallis “Chicago Apache,” and Miscanthus “Morning Light” coming on behind.

*pots on stumps

Hosta “Daybreak” takes a lot of sun. Violas on the sides, Plume Poppy, Macleaya cordata, between the stumps.

*ipomopsis aster

pelargoniums petunia exserta behind elder

Pelargoniums and Petunia exserta on the hay bales behind the elderberry.

gravel bench 2

Gardening is the making of a lasting foundation for hope. For 30 years, I have been trying to grow Thyme from seed, without decent luck. On a warm day in January 2017, I flung a packet of old Thyme seeds in a wheelbarrow of exhausted soil and forgot it. Bingo! Thyme is everywhere in the garden now, a valuable plant for bees. Thyme, like Lavender, Rosemary and Sage, love the heat but can’t take cold, wet, clay soil in Winter. For the gravel bench, I dug two feet down and filled it with loam, compost and pea gravel. The pots on the bench contain Rosa “At Last” and Tritunia “Blue Star.”

woodlot barrows

The barrows in front of the Woodlot contain “Cherry Falls” tomatoes, bred for hanging baskets and cascading to three feet. “King Theodore” nasturtiums are interspersed with the tomatoes and the pots will soon be home to “Red Globe” amaranth.

*cherry wild blooms

Wild cherry blooms at the end of March.

*dogwood 1

*pear tree bed

Pear/Hosta bed mid-April.

hosta bed

Pear/Hosta bed mid-May.

*snake path west 3

Snake Path facing west at the end of April.

*redbud face west

Young Redbud, Cercis canadensis, is a beautiful pest here, reseeding freely with deep, persistent roots. This self-seeder, blooming at the end of April in just the right place, is a keeper.

*tulip gavota 2

Tulip “Gavota” at the end of April.

*garage bed face east

The garage bed at the end of April. The nine white buckets at right, bottoms cut off, will be home to Aji Amarillo seedlings. The green posts at left were set in August of last year. Most visitors to the garden thought they were a feeble post-modern statement.

garage bed 1

The posts were set as primary supports for an easily adapted trellis. My friend JG has a big stand of 20-foot Phyllostachys bamboo that needed thinning, I had nails and wire.

garage bed 2

The bamboo trellis was inspired by the jail on “Gilligan’s Island.” Its great to have a sturdy structure for vining crops, this year home to bitter melon, cucumbers and pole beans. Bush beans and eggplants on the margins. The barrow and pots hold tomatoes, “Rosita” eggplants, Wave petunias and basil.

main path face northeast 1

Main path facing NNE, today.

*face west 3

March 28, 2018.

*face west pond back door

March 26, 2016, a rainy day.

*snapper returning to big pond 1

Snapping turtle moving from Burroughs Creek to the Big Pond 1, May 5.

*snapper returning to big pond 2

Snapping turtle moving from Burroughs Creek to the Big Pond 2.

*snapper returning to big pond 6

Snapping turtle moving from Burroughs Creek to the Big Pond 3.

*snapper returning to big pond 9

Snapping turtle moving from Burroughs Creek to the Big Pond 4.

*snapper returning to big pond 12

Snapping turtle moving from Burroughs Creek to the Big Pond 5.

pots hot main path

bean pole

*geometry chance