long path face north

Entrance to main path looking North.

snake path impatiens

Six inches of rain in 60 hours. Five inches of mulch were swept from the Snake Path to smother a seedling thyme hedge 20 feet away. Balsam responding with first scarlet blooms.

ride face west

The Ride, facing due West.

drunk drive 1

August 16. A woman in a red Trans-Am going at least 50 in a 35 zone “lost control of her vehicle” and took out the mailboxes in my neighbor’s drive.

drunk drive 2

And cruelly pruned a Yucca and flattened a Miscanthus. It was a hit-and-run but the driver behind her got the license plate number. The Yucca is already sprouting and what’s left of the Miscanthus is blooming. If only humans were still as adaptable and resilient as plants.

beanville 1

Beanville. First attempt at growing bush beans in containers, a yellow flagelot. I get a handful of beans most days. They adapt well with daily watering and weekly fertilizing with fish emulsion and the occasional sprinkle of coffee grounds. I over-planted this time: the big pot on the stump contains seven plants. Three next year.

clematis close

Clematis terniflora. Rampant, to 30 feet in trees. In my garden, this is a tough and cursed weed. And you too would curse it as I do, until late August. For two weeks it scents the air with sweet vanilla. Everyone in the neighborhood enjoys it. It is a Type 3 Clematis, cut hard above the lowest bud break in March.

canna leaves 3

Leaves of Canna “Red King Humbert” at 7pm.

canna flower backlight

Flower of Canna “Robert Kemp” at 7pm.

back door view

View from back door.

back door flash

Down the steps.

back door long view approaching storm

Off the patio and towards the garden with approaching storm.

amaranthus topple

Amaranth toppled by a storm. Unless they’re hurting a neighbor, I leave plants to do what they do. Now that the stem is closer to horizontal, every node has a new upwards shoot. Rosarians know this.

centranthus ruber

The pink flower is Centranthus ruber, a personal gardening triumph for 2017. I have known this plant for much of my life, in Spain and California. Loves free drainage, which takes years of careful soil work in a clay-heavy Kansas garden. This is my third year of growing these plants from seed and I had good germination this Spring. This one bloomed in a pot, perhaps a lesser triumph but I’m very pleased. I have eight more fattening up in my short patch of sandy, gravelly soil and, as a gardener, I expect more triumphs next year.

elberberry patch log

This elderberry patch was planted with six-inch cuttings in February 2017. “Heavenly Blue” Morning Glories climb the trellis.

eclipse leonotis

Eclipse. Mostly clouded. Leonotis nepetifolia, seven feet so far.

swallowtail caterpillars

Eclipse. Swallowtail caterpillars undeterred from chomping on fennel.

eclipse 1

Eclipse. At the darkest, chartreuse and yellow leaves glowed.

monty sculpture stump

How does it feeel?” Monty Don joins in on the chorus of one of our favorite garden work songs.

party down

persicaria virginiana

Persicaria virginiana, Virginia Knotweed. Many gardeners here pull this plant as a weed. I find it subtle and elegant. It does run quickly but easily controlled.

petunia blue 2

Petunias are often tricky in this humid climate but I always pick up a few from Vinland in Spring. They are good companion plants, a Solanaceae. This one, a NoID, appears far more blue in photos than real light, but its a real doer–non-stop blooms since July.

lilium black beauty 2

The shy blooms of first-year Lilium “Black Beauty,” an oriental hybrid (L. henryi x L. speciosum). I’ve had it reach seven feet in gardens past.

rose prairie sunset bud 2

A Griffith Buck rose, “Prairie Sunset,” in bud.

rose prairie sunset open 1

“Prairie Sunset” in bloom. The fragile blooms usually last for three days, fading to white, unless beautiful iridescent beetles find them.

shiitake logs flush 3 1

Third flush on the shiitake logs. We’ve had at least 30 pounds so far.

thyme barrow

The Wheelbarrow of Thyme.

snake path face south

View from the table, early August.

vacant lot face southwest

helenium perilla polygonum

Helenium “Flammendes Kathchen, Perilla, Polygonum orientale, “Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate.” The burgundy plumes of Celosia “Dragon’s Breath” in the background, left.

hosta impatiens

malevolence fruit 2

Solanum atropurpureum in fruit.

colocasia leaf 2

Colocasia esculenta.

talinum paniculatum

The bright, fleshy leaves of Talinum paniculatum ‘Limon,‘ Jewels of Opar, are a good salad leaf. Like purslane, Talinum is classified as a succulent. The pink flowers and scarlet seed capsules held on long stalks are charming. A regular self-seeder now.

elderberries

Sambucus canadensis “Burroughs Creek.”

barrow zucchini long viewfriends over

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jefferson

photinus pyralis photo terry priest american museum of natural history

Firefly, Photinus pyralis. “Fireflies flash to signal that they are ready and willing to mate. But in some species of fireflies, the females are known to take advantage of this display of eagerness, using their flashes to lure males and then attacking and eating them, a practice known to researchers as ‘hawking.’” Photo Terry Priest, American Museum of Natural History.

Ornamental Fillet with Thistle Motifs by Daniel Hopfer (1471-1536, Germany) Image Wikimedia Commons

Ornamental Fillet with Thistle Motifs by Daniel Hopfer (1471-1536, Germany). Image via Wikimedia Commons.

The greatest service which can be rendered any country is to add a useful plant to its culture. – Thomas Jefferson

14 Fun Facts About Fireflies
What’s more magical than a firefly light show on a warm summer night?
Smithsonian

15 of the most remarkable trees in America
They stand witness to history, being rooted in place sometimes for thousands of years, as generations of people come and go. They act as landmarks; they are the centers around which stories take place. They are workhorses for the environment and give us shade and food. We would be nowhere without them; yet sadly they’re not always recognized as the living monuments and eco-superheroes that they are.
treehugger

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Europe’s Huge New Vertical Farm
Outside the growth room is a winding, humming network of pipes, screens, and dials. Van der Feltz pulls back a large sandwich panel door, and when we step inside, the air is noticeably warmer and more humid. It smells like a farm, except without the manure, and it feels a little like being on a spaceship—trays of plants are stacked four levels high, hundreds of blue and red pinpoints of light beaming down on them from above.
Singularity Hub

The Lurie Garden in July
If you plopped the Lurie Garden down in some suburb it would still be a wonderful garden, but it wouldn’t be as exciting if it weren’t surrounded by the Chicago skyline.
gardeninacity

Days Of Whine And Desert Roses
Iguanas do not eat Desert Rose!
Nitty Gritty Dirt Man

Order of the Thistle
There are gardeners who regard the giant cotton thistle, Onopordum acanthium, as a weed, but I love them and carefully dig up the seedlings where they pop up in clusters and redistribute them for better effect.
Monty Don; The Guardian

The Evolution of American Landscape Art
The Hudson River School emerged out of a sense of disenchantment with the unchecked growth of crowded, dirty industrial cities in the Northeast. Artists traveled up the Hudson in search of pristine wilderness, documenting the remnants of a natural world that was fast disappearing.
New York Times

July Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day (in the Philippines)
The most durable plant in my garden is the blue Duranta erecta. It is already as tall as around 10 ft and don’t stop flowering even during the dry season. It serves as the butterflies’ nectar source all year round.
Pure Oxygen Generators

Beekeepers Feel The Sting Of California’s Great Hive Heist
Literally billions of bees are needed to pollinate California’s almond crop. …Earlier this year, around a million dollars’ worth of stolen bees were found in a field in Fresno County. Sgt. Arley Terrence with the Fresno County Sheriff’s Department says it was a “beehive chop shop.”
NPR

Rare corpse flower begins long-awaited bloom late Tuesday afternoon in K-State greenhouse
One of the rarest, largest flowers in the world, which earned the nickname “corpse flower” — because it emits a dead-animal stench — began to bloom late Tuesday afternoon at Kansas State University.
Topeka Capital-Journal

Seriously Asian: Perilla Leaves
Right now the Korean ladies are selling stacks of perilla leaves, though if you go to any Korean grocery store, you’ll see them being sold as sesame leaves. I don’t understand why they refer to perilla leaves as sesame leaves, but they do.
Serious Eats

Chefology: Rethinking the Cucumber
There are many more cucumbers than your average English variety. Here, a primer.
Boston Magazine

Sweet Alyssum, Lobularia maritima
The sweet smelling flowers have a honey-like fragrance and are very attractive to bees, flower flies, sting-less wasps and butterflies. It is a particularly good nectar plant for beneficial insects as those tiny insects can easily access the tiny nectaries of the small flowers.
University of Wisconsin, Master Gardener Program

The greatest fine art of the future will be the making of a comfortable living from a small piece of land.― Abraham Lincoln

sweet alyssum lobularia maritima photo Dosiero Wikimedia Commons

Sweet Alyssum, Lobularia maritima. Photo Dosiero, Wikimedia Commons.

perilla

Perilla frutescens, Shiso, Beefsteak Mint. “Annual herb with purple foliage, spikes of lavender flowers in summer. It self-seeds abundantly in our garden, which makes for quite a display of massed plants. It’s easy to pull up, though, and doesn’t spread itself very far from the mother plant, so it really never becomes a nuisance.” Photo and text from Rob’s Plants.

LINCOLN BY GARDNER

*view table seat 2

View from the garden table, early July.

*view table seat end july

View from the table at the end of July.

*barrow love lies 1

Amaranthus caudatus ‘Love Lies Bleeding’ and ‘Poona Kheera’ cucumbers in the big barrow in early July.

*barrow love lies 2

The same barrow, another trellis added on the other side, at the end of July. I always enjoy the adventures of cucumber tendrils.

*barrow cukes

Cucumbers coming on. ‘Poona Kheera’ develops a russet skin at maturity, which might contribute to it’s prolonged holding capacity at large size, always juicy and tender.

*snake path before

The Snake Path before.

*snake path after

Snake Path after. The small plants edging the hump (snake) on the left side are old-fashioned Balsam, Impatiens balsamina ‘Peppermint Stick’. Despite being heat-lovers, the four hours of sun they get in Summer causes severe wilting and required daily can-watering. With a deep mulch of hay, I now water lightly twice a week in 90F+ temperatures.

*snake

Its a fake snake, sent by a friend shortly after I began making this garden seven years ago. I wasn’t expecting the package when it arrived, and when I opened it, I jumped four feet backwards from a standing position. An excellent garden gift. I move it to a different position every year and enjoy the occasional cries of alarm from visitors. Of course, once Winter passes, I have forgotten all about it when I’m cleaning away debris. This year, I managed to jump four feet backwards from a seated position. The shock is like a Spring tonic; I’m on high alert for a couple of days. A brush with mortality is often useful, an immediate change in priorities.

*pond long view

The big pond in the morning. Can you spot the snapping turtle? Hint: The carapace looks black.

*pond snapper

Hello you, Chelydra serpentina. Several snappers have occupied the pond over the years. They come in from the creek, Burroughs Creek, which runs along the south side at the front of the property. The creek usually dries up by August, except for a few mosquito pools, and the snappers come looking for deeper water. Once in, they are generally very shy, ducking underwater at the slightest intrusion. This youngster is getting used to me but he is not alone in the pond. I was lucky enough to sneak up on Emily Dickinson, the Queen of All Snappers, this morning, a resident for four years. She has, at least, a three-foot carapace, and is easily four feet from snout to tail end (females grow larger than males). I fling raw chicken legs in there every now and then because, other than each other, I can’t imagine what they could find to eat. The pond freezes solid in Winter and they survive. Remarkable beings.

*lily tangle

Two-year Lilium ‘Scheherazade’ making way through a tangle of native Bee Balm, Agastache ‘Black Adder’ top left, Castor Bean and Iris.

*fish pepper canna close

The Fish Pepper is a hybrid of either the Serrano or Cayenne, TBA, with the recessive gene for albinism. At the bottom right are nearly all-white leaves; most of the leaves are green with white mottling. This plant was overwintered on the back porch and is now heavy with fruit.

*queen anne bed i mow around it leave it alone

The far west side of the property is a blank canvas, weedy with Amur Honeysuckle, Lonicera maackii and Slippery Elm, Ulmus rubra. Subtraction is the game here: mowing, pruning and sawing. Every year, I mow around a large patch of ground just to see what comes up. This year, Queen Anne dominates.

*queen anne lace fleabane best and this is what it does

And this is the beauty it gives. I have doubts that this the straight Daucus carota–it lacks the central dark floret. Could be Daucus pusillus.

*castor self-seeded

Self-seeded Castor Beans, Ricinus communis ‘Carmencita’.

*verbascum monarda

The white-flowered Mullein, Verbascum thapsus ‘Governor George Aiken, fronts the purple haze of native Bee Balm, Monarda fistulosa, with the orange blooms of Trumpet Creeper, Campsis radicans, climbing the utility pole in back.

*shiitake logs

Pleasantly surprised by Shiitake after a thunderstorm.

*shiitake long best

A fine dinner here.

*nicotiana syvestris

Self-seeded Woodland Tobacco, Nicotiana sylvestris, in the herb bed. They always find a right place.

clematis jackmannii canna robt kemp

This purple Clematis jackmannii was four feet up the post in April until decapitation by rabbits. Nevertheless, it persisted, now flowering two feet up. Beside it is a Spring-planted ‘Black Beauty’ lily now setting buds. The large maroon leaf in back is Canna x generalis ‘Red King Humbert‘, overwintered in the ground without mulch–highly unusual. Our winters are distinctly warmer than a decade ago; we had very little snow last year.

hosta maclaeya polygonum

Left, Hosta Guacamole; Maclaeya cordata, the Plume Poppy, with glaucous, incised leaves and sprays of white blooms; and deep green Persicaria virginiana, Virginia Knotweed, soon in delicate flower.

*whit bones

A sculpture by Whit Bones atop a dead elm trunk. Pollarded Catalpa bignonioides on the right. Young Buddleia ‘Black Knight’ at the base.

helianthus annus chocolate cherry

Helianthus annus ‘Chocolate Cherry’ and another Whit Bones sculpture on the stump behind.

*chasmanthium latifolium

Chasmanthium latifolium, Indian Wood Oats.

*lilium bright diamond tragic beauty

This ‘Bright Diamond’ lily is a favorite–the first lily I planted here, long-blooming and intensely fragrant–and having a hard season. Deer, rabbits, floods, wind… Once the foliage ripens, it will be moved to a better situation.

 

*stinkhorn

The Stinkhorn is a fungus in the Phallaceae, hence the colloquial name “Devil Dicks.” This is carrion-scented Mutinus caninus, swarming with flies.

*asclepias gaillardia helianthus beat down storm

Butterfly Weed, Asclepias tuberosa; Blanketflower, Gaillardia aristata; and Dogtooth Daisy, Helenium ‘Flammendes Kathchen’ flattened after a downpour.

 

*more zuke

HR Giger undoubtedly took a design tip from zucchini. Q: Why do country people always lock their car doors when they come to town? A: So some farmer won’t slip a bag of zucchini on the back seat.

 

*dianthus pushing through

This tiny red Dianthus, provenance unknown, has had an even rougher time than the ‘Bright Diamond’ lily. Moved three times in three years, in every “perfect” place I put it, it is soon swamped by it’s neighbors. Next season, it will have it’s rich reward (see next photo). In Kansas, Dianthus transplanted in Autumn frequently rot over Winter. Wait until new growth is up and strong in Spring, then divide and transplant.

*purple grit quartzite 1

The light purple stone mulch is chicken and turkey grit, 100% quartzite, $13 for a 50lb. bag at Orscheln. In Britain, a nation of gardeners, horticultural grit is available at every nursery, at 1/4th the price here. Chick grit is the closest we get in retail America. In combination with compost, it improves drainage in heavy clay soils, and makes a great mulch–perfect for the beleaguered Dianthus, Mediterranean herbs, natives, succulentsany plant that needs quick drainage from the crown. Thyme, Daylilies, Sedum and burgundy Gaillardia are already in place. After looking at it for a couple of weeks, I don’t mind the color at all, and it will be covered in green soon enough.

*purple grit quartzite 2

*calamintha main path

On the Long Path, the bright green leaves, center, belong to the tropical Plumbago auriculata ‘Imperial Blue, flowering best in September, when the worst of the heat has passed. It leans against Iris x robusta ‘Gerald Darby’ and is flanked by Calamint aka Nepitella, Calamintha nepeta subsp. nepeta, a member of the Mint family and a prime honeybee plant. It tastes like a cross between mint and oregano, partners well in vegetable and mushroom dishes, and makes a fine tea. After four years in the garden, I can report that Calamintha self-seeds freely in NE Kansas, maybe too much, as is the case with Perilla and Ageratum. Lamb’s Ears, the sterile, non-flowering Stachys ‘Helene von Stein’, are the gray-leaved plants along the stones.

*phyllody 3

See those bright green clusters of leaf-like structures where flowers should be on this white Echinacea? That is phyllody, the result of a hormonal imbalance caused by environmental conditions such as heat stress and drought, and by severe insect damage. In this garden, the vector is most likely a phloem-munching insect: Hemiptera, the Leafhopper. I don’t mind the occasional mutation in the garden but best practice is to pull and discard affected plants. Don’t compost them.

*lilium gold band leonotis

Lilium ‘Gold Band’ on the right; the beanstalk stem of Leonotis nepetifolia, Lion’s Ear, on the left

*tiger lilies

Tiger Lilies, Lilium lancifolium, in bloom on the north side of the house, the first flowers from their smothered bulbs in at least a decade. The brush along the fence line was extremely thick and each year I thin out more and more. Two years ago, I noticed three-foot lily stems poking through. I cleared a bit more space around them. Last year, the stems grew to six feet but didn’t bloom, instead storing energy in the bulbs for this year’s spectacular resurrection.

 

pelargonium table in disappearing woodpile

Also on the north side, the Pelargonium table in the disappearing woodpile.

*moth bumblebee monarda

What hovers like a hummingbird, has antennae like a moth, and looks like a bumblebee? Hemaris diffinis, the Bumblebee Moth, all over that Monarda.

garage tower cuke tomato

Tower 2 is home to ‘National’ pickling cucumber, a self-seeded cherry tomato, Thunbergia alata and ‘Heavenly Blue’ Morning Glory. Cornflowers, Centaurea cyanus ‘Dwarf Blue’, are dying off at the base, making room for seedlings of ‘Ragged Jack’ kale next month.

*jalapenos

Jalapenos and Petunia ‘Ultra Star Red‘.

*little path overhead

The pots bordering the Little Path mostly contain Mediterranean herbs requiring free drainage: ‘Munstead’ lavender, hyssop and rosemary.

posts painted

The new trellis posts have been trimmed and painted–a suitably innocuous hue, I think, which should disappear when covered with growth next year. The installation of the posts has caused enough disruption in these beds this season. I’ll let the plants grow on undisturbed and deal with the remaining construction when the garden is finished for the year.

cassia leaves

The leaves of the Popcorn Bush, Cassia didimobotrya.

*7pm light

July 29, 2017, 7pm.

monty almost suppertime

Almost suppertime.

*love lies on coleus

Red_Clover_10

Red clover, Trifolium pratense.

aji amarillo yamashiro

Aji amarillo, Capsicum baccatum, a staple in Peruvian cooking. “In Spanish, “Aji” means chili pepper and “Amarillo” means yellow, translating the name to literally mean “yellow chili pepper.” Although this slightly fruity, medium to hot pepper begins with a yellow coloration, the tinge changes as it matures and it actually becomes a vibrant orange.” Photo and text via Yamashiro.

To see a world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower. Hold infinity in the palms of your hand and eternity in an hour. – William Blake

Permaculture Plants: Red Clover
Red Clover is one of the most popular green manure, fodder, and cover crops grown in the world. As a legume, it puts atmospheric nitrogen into the soil. …There are a number of varieties available, but they can be grouped into two divisions: early-flowering and late-flowering. Typically, late-flowering (also known as Mammoth) Red Clovers are used in more northern climates.
Temperate Climate Permaculture

Fermented red clover extract stops menopausal hot flushes and symptoms
Fermented Red Clover extract is demonstrated to decrease significantly both the number and severity of daily hot flushes. The study also found that the extract prevents the normally accelerated menopausal bone loss affecting one in three women over the age of 50. These findings are very promising as the benefits take place without any of the side effects of traditionally proscribed hormone therapies that increase the risk of cancers and cardiovascular diseases.
Medical Xpress

– Blanket Flowers: Plant Care and Collection of Varieties
Produced above a clump of hairy, narrow, gray-green leaves, the blossoms of perennial blanket flower have petals that may be solid colored shades of yellow, wine red , orange or peach, or may be banded in combinations of red or orange with yellow. The petals of some are frilled, while others have a unique, tubular shape.
The National Gardening Association

Why No Dig
Save time and effort by helping natural processes to work with you: undisturbed soil can develop its own aerated structure so vegetables/flowers grow more easily and weeds grow less.
Charles Dowding

The Rambling Rose and the Climbing Rose. What’s the Difference?
Ramblers are distinctly different from the Climbing Roses in that they have blooms in clusters of seven (the climbers have clusters of five) and their leaves are in groups of seven (the climbers have groups of five). The other difference is that the Ramblers will only flower once eg. the Banksia Rose,  whereas the Climbers will flower repeatedly eg. Madame Alfred Carriere. However, two ramblers do flower repeatedly – ‘Malvern Hills’ and ‘Snow Goose’. Ramblers also have very few thorns compared to the Climbers.
All My Favourite Flower Names

– Verily Robot Will Raise 20 Million Sterile Mosquitoes for Release in California
Alphabet’s life sciences arm, Verily, says it has built a robot that can raise a million mosquitoes a week and has used it to produce infertile male insects. The company has started releasing the first batches of what will total 20 million sterilized mosquitoes in Fresno County, California.
MIT Technology Review

Passiflora incarnata; Purple passionflower, Purple passion vine, Maypop
Purple passion-flower is an herbaceous vine, up to 25 ft. long, that climbs with axillary tendrils or sprawls along the ground. Intricate, 3 in., lavender flower are short-stalked from leaf axils. …The name Maypop comes from the hollow, yellow fruits that pop loudly when crushed.
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Discovering Aji Amarillo Peppers
In 2012, we were asked to grow Aji Amarillo peppers for one of our customers. They are used extensively in Peruvian cuisine, but here in the U.S. they are often in short supply. It is now almost 3 years later and we still haven’t been able to deliver the Aji Amarillo for the customer who requested them. Paradoxically, Aji Amarillo has become one of our favorite peppers, although it feels like we are only scratching the surface of its potential.
Mother Earth News

Fish Pepper: A Peculiar Pepper With Deep Roots in African-American History
Fish peppers are a mutation of serrano or cayenne peppers (history has never been certain), bearing the recessive gene that causes albinism. They start as pale cream-colored fruit, gradually maturing into light green with dark green striations, then orange with brown striations, and then finally red, at which point the peppers are at their hottest.
Garden Betty

How the transgenic petunia carnage of 2017 began
Two years ago, plant biologist Teemu Teeri was walking by a train station in Helsinki when he noticed some vivid orange petunias in a planter. The flowers reminded Teeri, who has studied plant pigments at the University of Helsinki, of blooms created in a landmark gene-engineering experiment some 30 years earlier. As far as he knew, those flowers never made it to market. But he was curious, and he stuck a stem in his backpack.
Science

Charles Jencks: The Garden of Cosmic Speculation
It all started with a swimming hole.
Symmetry

Eight dreamlike abandoned settings being reclaimed by nature
Eventually, abandoned structures become completely swallowed up by vegetation and the earth itself, leaving few traces of our human footprint.
treehugger

Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them. – A. A. Milne

passiflora incarnata

“Passionvine blooms spring through fall, and the flowers are 6 to 7 centimeters across and extremely fragrant. The vine spreads by seed and root and can become hard to contain in one area. After planting Passionvine you may begin to find it jumping the borders of your flower beds and sometimes springing up many feet away from where it was originally planted. Individual vines can grow up to 36 feet in length.” Photo and text via the Museum of Science and Industry, Tampa, Florida.

centranthus tunnel photo messy nessy

Red valerian, Centranthus ruber, reclaiming the “Little Belt” railroad tracks (La Petite Ceinture) in Paris. The line was closed in 1934. Photo Messy Nessy.

The view from my seat at the garden table.

Eryngium yuccifolium flowers. They tend to flop but attract so many good insects that I let them be.

I wasn’t much of a daylily fan until coming to Kansas. But any plant that can thrive in tough prairie conditions deserves respect, so last year I added several Hemerocallis cultivars. I’m glad I did.

Hemerocallis ‘Ice Carnival.’

Hemerocallis ‘Sea Gold.’

Hemerocallis ‘Hyperion.’

hemerocallis chicago apache best

Hemerocallis ‘Chicago Apache.’

hemerocallis south seas 1

Hemerocallis ‘South Seas.’ The flower is a bit out of focus but what a color.

hemerocallis red unknown

An unknown red. The elongated petals suggest spider parentage.

urn bed overhead

The urn bed is always a fragrant tangle: tall ‘Pesto Perpetuo’ basil, Greek oregano, creeping thyme, miniature red roses, lilies, red lettuce, Sedum, Solanum, a yellow-banded Miscanthus zebrinus grass, and Sporobulus heterolepis, Prairie Dropseed, in the urn–a truly excellent native grass; wiry, tough and beautiful.

poppy danish flag

‘Danish Flag’ poppies with bolting lettuce and escarole. The potted “Tennessee Cheese” pimento peppers, bottom left, wait patiently among Japanese eggplant seedlings and “Nebraska Wedding” tomatoes. The greens and poppies will be cleared out next week, the peppers go in.

okra bed

The okra bed, adjacent to the poppy and lettuce bed, also contains yellow-podded bush beans and red “Will Rogers” zinnias. Once the seedlings are up and the bed is thoroughly weeded, I’ll mulch with straw. I’m trying a new okra this season, “Stewart’s Zeebest,” a South African cultivar reputed to be extra heat-resistant, robust and prolific. The lone amaranth in the bed will grow at least seven feet tall to provide shade for the okra and greens for the soup pot.

garage bed barrow

The big barrow in the garage bed contains “Love Lies Bleeding” amaranth, a heavy re-seeder, and russet-skinned “Poona Kheera” cucumbers, probably the most vigorous and best-tasting cuke I’ve grown here so far. As the seedlings get bigger, I’ll put a trellis against the stones for them to climb.

garage bed love lies

Amaranthus caudatus ‘Love Lies Bleeding’ in the foreground; jalapenos and petunias in the big pot; wild arugula in the low planter.

barrow zucchini

A burly zucchini shares a barrow with white lantana and low-growing ‘Apricot Profusion’ zinnias, both popular with butterflies. The grass on the right is Chasmanthium latifolium, Indian woodoats, an almost too-vigorous spreader.

cassia

Speaking of vigorous, the coneflowers have put on quite a show this season. Both the straight species, the pinkish Echinacea purpurea, and it’s cultivar, ‘White Swan,’ seem determined to take over that bed. Plenty of passalongs for next Spring. The pinnate-leaved Popcorn bushes in the center, Cassia didimobotrya, are setting flower buds. The plants will grow at least another two feet over their month-long bloom period and both leaves and flowers do indeed smell of buttered popcorn. The pale purple flowers in back belong to our native bee balm, Monarda fistulosa, a fine mint for tea. True to name, they are covered in bees.

 

lily cobra

Lilium ‘Cobra’ looks fine with it’s bee balm neighbor.

pepper chinese 5-color coreopsis moonbeam

The fiery Chinese Five Color pepper, Capsicum annuum, sports purple, red, yellow, orange and white fruits. I use them in arrabbiata sauce. Here, it shares space with the demure ‘Moonbeam’ coreopsis.

bench bed face south

Good fruit set on the elderberries this year, looking forward to pie, jam and liqueur in Autumn. The pot on the stump contains the last of the ‘Red Sails’ lettuce, remarkably bolt-resistant in the Kansas heat, a keeper. Bush beans will replace the lettuce next week. The bluish grass, bottom left, is our native Little Bluestem, Schizachyrium scoparium. Its lagging a bit this year due to a rough transplant in Spring but there’s plenty of new growth and Bluestems are rugged plants. To the right of the Bluestem is Iris pseudacorus, Yellow Flag, the model for the fleur-de-lis, often invasive in wet soils but well-behaved here. This clump in fairly dry soil is four years old and three feet tall. The same plants growing in the pond are well over six feet.

lilium white diamond

The Asiatic lily ‘Bright Diamond’ perfumes the entire garden in the evening.

rain 1

There is nothing like a Kansas storm. Torrential rains washed away most of the path mulch a couple of weeks ago.

rain 2

main path monty

Some new stone edging and a fresh application of mulch put things right again. The cat was instructed to walk back and forth on the paths until the mulch was well-tamped. He’s been at it for two days.

verbascum thapsus gov george aiken

Verbascum thapsus ‘Governor George Aiken,’ the cream-flowered cultivar of common Mullein, the chrome yellow flowers you see along railroad tracks. This plant is more than eight feet tall.

verbascum gov geo

solanum atropurpureum malevolence 2

Solanum atropurpureum ‘Malevolence,’ appropriately named. What thorns!

The watering can and the toilet

Take a break, little buddy.

wini dayton bored

As always, my young gardening friends take great interest in my horticultural monologues.

amaranthus coleus ipomoea zucchini 2

kniphofia uvaria unknown yellow

pear bed 2

dry stone huts cabanes de breuil france

Dry stone huts, Cabanes de Breuil, France. “The date of the buildings isn’t known but there are records from 1449 when they belonged to the Benedictines of Sarlat.” Photo SilverTravelAdvisor.

dry wall glasdrumman n ireland paul mcilroy creative commons

Dry stone wall, Glasdrumman, northern Ireland. Photo Paul McIlroy, Creative Commons.

senna didymobotrya starr wiki commons

Popcorn bush, Cassia didimobotrya. Photo Starr, Creative Commons.

Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace. – May Sarton

Popcorn Bush
The pollen-producing stamens are the least of the show: They’re the small frilly bits right at the center of the flower.  But the pistils—which are what receives the pollen—are almost blushingly genital.
Louis the Plant Geek

Vinegar: A cheap and simple way to help plants fight drought
The study reports a newly discovered biological pathway that is activated in times of drought. By working out the details of this pathway, scientists were able to induce greater tolerance for drought-like conditions simply by growing plants in vinegar.
Science Daily

Nandina
Nandina grows 5 to 7 feet high and spreads 3 to 5 feet. The plant looks like bamboo in its lightly branched, cane-like stems and delicate, fine-textured foliage. The leaves are divided into many 1- to 2- inch, pointed, oval leaflets, creating a lacy pattern. Young foliage is pinkish, then turns to soft light green. The foliage is tinged red in winter, especially in full sun and with some frost.
Clemson University

Thomas Dolliver Church
He became involved in landscape architecture at a time of transition and experimentation. Travel through Italy and Spain exposed him to cultures in which outdoor living was similar to that of his native California, and this was a major influence on his design approach.
The Cultural Landscape Foundation

Spiny Solanums
You’ve heard of prickly pears. But are you aware of their equally intriguing and just as needly relatives, the spiny solanums?
Rob’s Plants

Cydonia oblonga: The Unappreciated Quince
During Colonial times a quince tree was a rarity in the gardens of wealthy Americans, but was found in nearly every middle class homestead (Roach 1985). The fruit—always cooked—was an important source of pectin for food preservation, and a fragrant addition to jams, juices, pies, and candies
Arnold Arboretum

A Fond Farewell to a Veteran Quince
At The Met Cloisters, we treasure history. For this reason, we are particularly saddened to lose one of our four veteran quince trees.
In Season, Met Museum

The Intelligent Plant
Plants are able to sense and optimally respond to so many environmental variables—light, water, gravity, temperature, soil structure, nutrients, toxins, microbes, herbivores, chemical signals from other plants—that there may exist some brainlike information-processing system to integrate the data and coördinate a plant’s behavioral response.
Michael Pollan, The New Yorker

The Braided Rivers Project; the beauty of stone
I’ve been working with stone for over 30 years, and I have to admit it is something of a love affair that I’ll never tire of.  I’m just beginning to work on what is called The Braided Rivers Project at Camp Glenorchy in the little town of Glenorchy, on the shores of Lake Wakatipu on the South Island of New Zealand.
Jeffrey Bale

Balsam, Impatiens balsamina
Also known as Touch-Me-Not, Garden Balsam, Rose Balsam. Very shade-tolerant, balsam brings the tropics to the annual garden with brightly colored flowers borne closely along the upright, bright green stem of the plant.
Cornell University

If a tree dies, plant another in its place. – Carl Linnaeus

nandina domestica gardens online

Heavenly bamboo, Nandina domestica. Photo Gardens Online.

ulisse aldrovandi sunflower garden history

Illustration of Sunflower, Helianthus annus, by Ulisse Aldrovandi.

The mailbox bed is home to wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa), Echinacea purpurea, Shasta daisies, maiden grass, three Sedum, Euphorbia and Yucca nearly blooming. The six-year-old snowball bush on the left, Viburnum opulus ‘Sterile,’ bloomed profusely, dozens of white softballs, for 10 days in mid-April. My neighbor likes it too. The white-flowered mullein in front, Verbascum thapsus ‘Governor George Aiken,’ is one of three seedlings planted three years ago–this is generally a biennial species.  It didn’t bloom last year but is off to an impressive start now. The other two sent up nine-foot velvety spikes of creamy, nickel-sized flowers in early June. The street gets hot; whites, pastels are cooling.

The yucca plant is exclusively pollinated by the yucca moth. The caterpillars of the yucca moth can only survive on the seeds of the yucca plant. These organisms co-evolved, a perfect example of mutualism.

Creek bed, back to front: two-year cutting from a wild elderberry (Sambucus canadensis), taken from the Burroughs Creek Trail under (rare now) snow in early January; the ultra-thorny, white-flowered ‘Darlow’s Enigma’ rose, just after first prolific flush of blooms–not convinced it repeats; and dark-leaved ninebark, Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Seward,’ starting it’s third year at three feet tall, so far.

Front walk: The pseudo-shrubbery, with shaggy boxwoods and yews, hostas, Solomon’s Seal, Arum italicum Marmoratum, a dwarf red barberry (Berberis thunbergiiConcorde), and Virginia sweetspire, Itea virginica ‘Little Henry,’ in full, fragrant bloom.

Big pond: Back patio, facing north.

Big pond: Facing west from the top step to the back porch.

Past the pond and into the back garden. On the left, someday, sturdy raised beds; now, wheelbarrows, old boards, plastic pots… anything suitable. A new bean trellis is in progress–see the 4×4 in the center of the picture.

Looking to the southwest on the main path. Prairie dropseed, Sporobolus heterolepis, in the urn and below. Mexican evening primrose, Oenothera speciosa var. berlandieri, a thug in pink, in the foreground. The clump of pots on the left side contain a young Meyer lemon tree; three blue cultivars of Agapanthus; cuttings of Sedum spectabile ‘Blade Runner’ in the smaller pots; all under-planted with ‘Red Sails’ lettuce, orange pot marigolds (Calendula officinalis), and low-growing Zinnia ‘Profusion Apricot’ for the butterflies.urn bed 1

Urn bed: Looking north. Variegated upright basil ‘Pesto Perpetuo,’ Greek oregano, thyme, sweet william, red miniature roses, wild violet, purple coneflowers. The large, spherical seed clusters on the right are Allium christophii, about two feet tall and fading after silver-lilac bloom. The starry green shoots on the way up, bottom center, are ‘White Diamond’ lilies, ultimately four feet tall and highly fragrant. A rogue woodland tobacco, Nicotiana sylvestris, holds it’s ground, bottom right.

garage bed face east

The garage bed. Looking east. The seven-foot trellis will follow the line of the old 4x4s on the ground, ending next to that lucky peony that never blooms, center. Purple pole beans, Poona Keera and National cucumbers, bitter melon and Thunbergia alata will be the inaugural climbers. Lettuce and tomatoes in the cage on the right, soon joined by eggplants and basil, all grateful to be shaded from our merciless summer sun by the deep red ‘Carmencita’ castor beans coming up at the posts.

north pathA photo of ‘Carmencita’ castor bean, Ricinus communis, behind the banana on the right, taken two years ago. That one was about nine feet, with a heavy crop of bright red seedpods. The Ricinus clan–generally tall, dramatic and toxic–are very useful as shade for other plants, the degree of shade adjustable by pruning. It ignores intense heat, humidity and drought, though it does love regular water. Of tropical origins, Ricinus have strongly reseeded in my Zone 6 garden for the past five years.

garage bed face north

Garage bed, facing north.

garage bed face west

garage bed petunias

There are four flowering Jalapeno pepper plants spaced among the red Ultra Star petunias in the big pot on the left. That gaudy petunia was the first plant I grew successfully as a child. I haven’t grown it since, more than 50 years ago, and I’m very glad to have it again. Snow peas are on the trellis to the left, arugula and dwarf blue cornflowers below. Self-seeded tomato and castor bean on the other trellis, purple-podded pole bean seeds in the ground below.

main path dichelostemma

The tubular red flower on the right side is the firecracker flower, Dichelostemma ida-maia, a hardy bulb native to California and Oregon, averaging two feet tall. Behind it, the spire with yellow flowers is the moth mullein, biennial Verbascum blattaria, a potentially pernicious weed in some areas. It rarely shows up here so I welcome it’s company. The strappy daylily to the left is ‘Steeple Jackie,’ bright yellow blooms on six-foot scapes.

monty main path

Monty was four or five months old when he came here four months ago. He’s adjusting well.

pots caged

A major component of my rabbit defense program is the making of many dozens of chicken-wire cages. These protect lavender and hyssop seedlings, immediately devoured in the open last year. The bricks protect a variegated ‘Fish’ pepper from digging squirrels.

lilies peppers

Another prison pot containing, appropriately, Eryngium leavenworthii, and, in front, a seedling of red-flowered Petunia exserta, nearly extinct in the wild. The pot is flanked by ‘Spicy Bush’ basil, with ‘Chicago Apache’ daylilies and ‘Wyoming’ canna behind. The cage in the background contains ‘Scheherazade’ Orienpet lilies, ‘Danish Flag’ poppies and ‘Tennessee Cheese’ sweet peppers.

pots stumps

Hosta ‘Daybreak,’ ‘Isla Gold’ tansy, lemon balm and plume poppies, Macleaya cordata, jostle with wild knotweed, Polygonum virginianum. The pots on the stump contain golden creeping jenny, Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea,’ and ‘Empress Wu’ and ‘Guacamole’ hosta.

little path face north

Left front, our native bee balm, Monarda fistulosa, delights the honeybees and makes a fine tea for humans. This bed also contains Sedum spectabile ‘Autumn Joy’–another excellent bug plant, blooming in autumn; dark red daylilies; Miscanthus grass; rue; true blue-flowered viper’s bugloss (Echium vulgare, another good bee plant); lemon balm; catnip; and three plants of purple-tinged, spiky, seven-foot-tall ‘Malevolence‘ (Solanum atropurpureum).

urn bed wide 2

The same bed from the north side. The cages on the dinosaur kale were no protection from cabbage moths, now just a line of leafless stems. The pots contain ‘Winter Sunset,’ a Griffith Buck rose with apricot blooms; a three-foot bay tree in training; scented Pelargoniums and tarragon.

clematis sabotage

More depredation. Last year, rabbits chewed this newly planted Clematis jackmannii to the ground within an hour of planting.  In a fit of cat-inspired optimism, I removed the cage two days ago and noticed today that the vine, four feet tall with six fat buds, was wilting. Here’s why. I’ll have a talk with Monty this evening.

bench bed 4

I like everything about elderberries: the form, the foliage, the flowers, the vanilla fragrance and, of course, the delicious, health-giving fruit. Last year I made a tasty elderberry liquer. The salad bowl on the stump to the right contains ‘Red Sails’ lettuce and a lone kale seedling. I had great germination from ‘Red Sails’ this year–you may have noticed it all over the garden. A good-looking, nutritious eating lettuce, it also makes a fine ornamental. Most of the plants in the ground will be left to bloom for seed. In the center, the tall yellow flowers are new blooms of Thermopsis villosa, the Carolina bush pea.

elderberry close 3

Flower cymes of Elderberry, Sambucus canadensis.

elderberry close 1

plum bed face north

The main path with a checkerboard of escarole and red lettuce; peonies; feathery gray wormwood (Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’); Calamintha nepetoides aka Nepitella, another good honeybee and tea plant; Rattlesnake Master, Eryngium yuccifolium; lilies and ‘Hyperion’ daylilies.

phacelia bed

Blue-flowered Phacelia tanacetifolia, Bee’s Friend, in the foreground. Why so many bee plants? First off, bees are extremely important to plant life–everyone should have bee plants in their gardens. Secondly, the aged, hollowed Catalpa tree in the background contains a huge hive of native bees.

bees catalpa hive 1

The main entrance to the hive is the hole on the left side of the crotch.

bees catalpa hive 2

Apparently, all the bees buzzing around the entrance confused the camera’s auto-focus. This was the sharpest of over 30 photos; you can glimpse the honeycomb inside. This hive swarmed in April, half the group taking up temporary residence in the mulberry tree in back. A bee-keeping neighbor came over and captured the swarm, involving a bee suit, a 20-foot ladder and a pole saw. And, in a moment of serendipity, the following day another neighbor came over with a homemade gift…

hive face west

hive close

… a top-bar hive. A top-bar hive differs from the standard hive, or Langstroth hive, in that it contains no pre-made frames for the honeycombs. The combs simply hang from bars of wood, ostensibly making for lighter work and easier harvests for the beekeeper.

hive open

I have much to learn on this fascinating new project. Bees are exacting in their requirements.

hive face north

The hive sits under a wild cherry tree, with good morning sun. Seems like the perfect spot, so far.

harvest mulberries lettuce

Overall, May 2017 has been good to the garden, with more rain coming tonight. Through an ever-escalating series of defenses, the three-year rabbit plague has mostly abated. I’m growing lettuce in open ground. A pleasant half-hour at dusk yielded salad greens and enough mulberries for a pint of jam and a couple of pancake breakfasts. I take care of the plants, the plants feed me, I feed the mosquitoes… Everything in balance.

main path face north 1

urn bed face south

bench bed 5

avant garde pot 2

pear bed face east 1