giant pumpkin utah

In 2014, Matt McConkie’s 1,817 pound pumpkin set the Utah state record. McConkie estimates the weight of this year’s pumpkin at between 1,900 and 2,000 pounds. Photo and story at the Salt Lake Tribune.

hesperaloe_parviflora arizona photo fritz hochstatter wiki commons

Hesperaloe parviflora, also known as red yucca and hummingbird yucca, is native to the Chihuahuan desert of west Texas. Photo taken in Arizona by Fritz Hochstatter via Wikimedia Commons.

A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in. – Greek proverb

The Secret to Growing the World’s Largest Pumpkin
The current world record is held by Beni Meier, a Swiss accountant by day, who grew a pumpkin that weighs in at 2,323.7 pounds, roughly the same amount as a small car.
Smithsonian

Genomic study reveals clues to wild past of grapes
“Like most plants, grapes are typically considered to have been cultivated around 7,000 to 10,000 years ago, but our work suggests that human involvement with grapes may precede these dates,” Gaut said. “The data indicate that humans gathered grapes in the wild for centuries before cultivating them.”
Science Daily

Chanticleer Garden: A Hidden Gem Outside The City of Brotherly Love
Chanticleer’s six staff horticulturists are each responsible for the design, planting, and maintenance of particular areas of the property, including 15 distinct garden “rooms”, each on a scale of a good-sized residential garden, and each with its own look and feel. They all flow together and are seamlessly woven into rolling lawns, curving pathways, gentle hills, and woodlands.
Garden Collage

Harvesting and Storing Green Tomatoes
Just as I do at the beginning of spring, I begin to watch the weather in October.  If the night-time temps start to drop in the low 40’s, I go ahead and remove all the tomatoes left on the vine and bring them in the house.
The Blonde Gardener

Insects are In Serious Trouble
Insects are the lynchpins of many ecosystems. Around 60 percent of birds rely on them for food. Around 80 percent of wild plants depend on them for pollination. If they disappear, ecosystems everywhere will collapse.
Atlantic Monthly

Doing Time in the Gardens of Alcatraz
The image of inmates in faded blue dungarees tending to roses and cutting long-stemmed gladiolus for floral arrangements is extraordinary, bearing in mind the violent histories that cast these men out onto the island.
The Planthunter

Citrus in pots: how to grow, and overwinter it, with Four Winds growers
“How can I overwinter my potted lemon tree indoors?” It’s the question of the moment from readers, as cold weather comes on.
A Way to Garden

Solar ‘smart’ greenhouses produce both clean electricity & food crops
“We have demonstrated that ‘smart greenhouses’ can capture solar energy for electricity without reducing plant growth, which is pretty exciting.”
Treehugger

Vikings Razed the Forests. Can Iceland Regrow Them?
The settlers slashed and burned the forests to grow hay and barley, and to create grazing land. They used the timber for building and for charcoal for their forges. By most accounts, the island was largely deforested within three centuries.
New York Times

Wild Poinsettia
Euphorbia cyathophora never fails to get a compliment and a second look when it begins to bloom in late summer or early fall. That’s also when the innermost parts of each bract turn a vibrant red giving rise to the common name of fire-on-the-mountain.
Clay and Limestone

Colors of Autumn
In my garden, the colors of fall have come into full force, and there’s even some left after the atmospheric river that brought heavy rains and winds to the Pacific Northwest.
The Practical Plant Geek

Purple and Gold
I first saw American beautyberry 30 years ago when we visited the Elizabethan Gardens in Manteo. I was floored when I first saw them. I had no idea we had a native shrub with such gorgeous royal purple berries.
Sweetbay

Early bloomers: Statistical tool reveals climate change impacts on plants
“My mum reports her snowdrops are blooming earlier each spring in her English garden,” says Utah State University scientist Will Pearse. “Are her observations, like those of thousands of citizen scientists across the world, indicating unpredictability in temperature, precipitation and other weather patterns?”
phys.org

Top 10 Foods for Winter Bird Feeding
The following ten foods are extremely popular with backyard birds all across North America.
Bird Watcher’s Digest

A garden really lives only insofar as it is an expression of faith, the embodiment of a hope and a song of praise. – Russell Page

northern cardinal male wiki commons

Male Northern Cardinal, Cardinalis cardinalis. “The male Northern Cardinal is perhaps responsible for getting more people to open up a field guide than any other bird.” – All About Birds, Cornell University. Photo Wikimedia Commons.

giant sequoia

Giant Sequoia, Sequoiadendron giganteum, in Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park, near Visalia, California. Photo National Park Service.

Advertisements
entrance

That Liriope needs thinning and transplanting. I hesitate to call it invasive, all successful plants are, but it is certainly vigorous. A member of the lily family.

caterpillar petunia

Dapper caterpillar on Petunia. Still unidentified.

geometry

Geometry.

empress wu

Hosta “Empress Wu” spent her first two years in a big clay pot. Now she’s under the mulberry tree: morning sun then dappled shade. Covered in birdshit for a few weeks while the mulberry is fruiting but that’s why we have hoses. “Empress Wu” is touted as the largest Hosta in cultivation, so far. Five feet tall by nine feet wide. The little cage behind contains nettle seedlings.

firepit evening

Seedlings that spent the season in pots are now in the ground.

jalapeno final

The jalapenos were generous this year. They perished after three nights below freezing.

amaranthus hopi red dye seedheads

Chenille seedheads of Amaranthus “Hopi Red Dye.”

chamaecyparis & friends

Fading lilies with Artemisia, Chamaecyparis, and blue-flowering Perovskia.

maquis 3

Maquis 1

maquis face west

Maquis 2. Few people in Kansas are familiar with the maquis biome, though similar to the prairie, so my affectation usually goes uncontested. What barely qualifies this bit of the garden as maquis is Mediterranean plants, lavender and thyme primarily, and dry, rocky soil. Faking a maquis doesn’t come easy in Kansas clay: two feet under these plants is an eight-inch layer of pea gravel, three 40-pound bags and a lot of digging.

malevolence fruit 2

Fruits of Solanum atropurpureum, common name “Malevolence,” generally considered hardy to Zone 10. It has re-seeded for three years in this Zone 6b garden.

zinnia will rogers 1

Dahlia “Bishop of Llandalff” struggles in our unpredictable weather. Zinnia “Will Rogers” doesn’t.

thunbergia final

Tropical Thunbergia alata flowers profusely in September and October, turns to mush at first frost.

barrow zuke 2

Butterfly barrow.

oyster 1

The shiitake mushroom logs, at top, gave at least 20 pounds this year. The oyster mushroom logs were deemed a failure until this bloom after the first frost.

oyster 2

Oyster mushrooms, “White Pearl” here, flush in cold, damp weather. Sauteed with garlic and jalapenos then scrambled with eggs.

lemon 1

Centuries of practical experience recommends removing all fruit buds in the first producing year of any fruit tree, to allow that fruiting energy to be directed to plant growth. This two-year Meyer lemon, eight inches tall when it arrived, had four baby fruits in Spring. I couldn’t resist keeping one.

baroque rococco

new bed 2

The purple (more like hot pink), coneflowers were re-seeding selfishly in the garden. I prefer the whites. I corralled the pink rogues in new beds by the bench. The goldfinches are crazy about the seeds.

morning glory trellis

“Heavenly Blue” morning glories are accurately described. I threw a handful of seeds at the base of this trellis when planting the Dead Log elderberry bed in August. And they bloomed. They seem to do better with afternoon shade here.

toadstool indicator of oyster fruit

This wild fellow reminded me to check the mushroom logs.

bay 1

Laurus nobilis, the Mediterranean Bay tree, my dear friend. Bought as a three-inch start five years ago, now four feet and seemingly amenable to my topiary dream. It comes on the back porch every Winter.

pokeweed snakeweed

Pokeweed and snakeweed.

okra bugs

Okra “Stewart’s Zeebest” was so productive that I’ve had enough for this year. Glad these bugs can use the rest.

salvia elegans first blooms

Pineapple sage, Salvia elegans, with few blooms in too much shade. In full sun, they flower with abandon but require daily water. Trying to find the balance.

solanum atropurpureum fruit

Little Path facing West.

pepper chinese five-color

Chinese “Five Color” peppers are remarkably cold-tolerant. This photo was taken after a 28-degree night. Very hot; use sparingly for salsa and Arrabbiata.

ride face east 1

The Ride, facing East.

poison ivy 1

Poison Ivy coloring up.

gravel bench 1

Gravel bed in progress, for Thymus, Dianthus, small bulbs and miniature roses.

view table 1

View from the table.

monty model

Suppertime.

My ideal garden is a cross between a Victorian family farm and Ninfa. What I usually end up with is a cross between an unkempt laboratory and a set for the Planet of the Apes. “Right plant, right place” and “Nature bats last” are my primary principles, both inferring tolerance for a high degree of informality. Last Spring, I was stymied by a visitor who described the garden as “kind of municipal.” Was it the zinnias? Another friend called it “a good place to take a nap.” Whatever the garden is, this was it’s most floriferous year and I have the birds and bugs to prove it.

barrow thyme

The Barrow of Thyme.

bidens 1

The yellow flowers of Bidens aristosa in the foreground, orange Thunbergia alata–one of the many plants called Black-Eyed Susan–on the tower behind. Red Amaranthus cruentus “Hopi Red Dye” on the lean.

cukes 2

The last of the “Poona Kheera” cucumbers.

helenium perilla amaranth 2

Burnt-orange blooms of Helenium “Flammendes Kathchen” jostling with purple Shiso, Perilla frutescens, and Hopi Red Dye amaranth. Naked stem of red Ricinus up front. I’m a big fan of Rousseau.

barrow circle trellis

firepit

Unknown pink-mottled, burgundy-leaved Coleus behind the fire pit.

ligustrum coleus ipomoea zinnia

Bottom to top: the waxy, variegated leaves of “Jack Frost” privet, Ligustrum japonicum; that unknown burgundy Coleus, which takes a surprising amount of afternoon sun; Ipomoea batatas “Sweet Caroline Bronze”; and, in the barrow, Zinna “Profusion Apricot,” yellow and white Lantana camara, and an expiring zucchini. The white Lantana, typically hardy to zone 10, over-wintered in open ground, zone 6b. A native/naturalized Euonymus climbing the elm tree.

ride west

The Ride, facing west.

ride east

The Ride, facing east.

canna red king

Canna x generalis “Red King Humbert” blooming late. I would grow this for the foliage alone. Below, bush basil, wild aster and a potted banana seedling.

little path 2

The Little Path, facing west. Bottom right, a toppled castor bean, Ricinus communis “Carmencita”; bottom left, the first blooms of the “Bluebird” aster, Symphyotricum laeve. Above are the ripening stems of “Scheherazade” lilies and the flopping stems of bee balm, Monarda fistulosa. The Chamaecyparis flopped upon is the second plant I put in this garden seven years ago. I owe my stolid Chamaecyparis friend two things: more shade from the afternoon sun, and to look up it’s full name. The rosy flowers of Sedum, ahem, Hylotelephium “Autumn Joy” attract an amazing number and variety of insects.

aster yucca

“Bluebird” aster sprawling on Rattlesnake Master, Eryngium yuccifolium, on the right, and a variegated Yucca filamentosa “Color Guard” at left. A blue “Moonglow” juniper seedling, Juniperus scopulorum, center right. Chives, red valerian, thyme and yarrow fill the gaps.

okra bed 1

Okra does well here and I try new types regularly. “Stewart’s Zeebest” is a Louisiana heirloom touted as spineless, extra tender, smooth (no ribs), and heavy yielding. So far, its living up to it’s press: seven-inch pods are perfectly tender. Blaring red “Will Rogers” zinnias share the bed.

main path face north

The Main Path, facing north. Right of center, the Popcorn Cassias, Cassia/Senna didimobotrya, have been struggling lately, shedding leaves and refusing to bloom. Might be too damp in that spot this year. Leaning in from the left, the extraterrestrial orange flowers of Lion’s Ear, Leonotis nepetifolia, a nuisance self-seeder this year–a mint, after all. Most of the plants are at least eight feet tall. In Autumn, they start to lean, a very efficient method for increasing their territory. If the plants aren’t pulled before the seed ripens, and the stems are allowed to fall, in Spring you’ll find clumps of easily transplanted seedlings coming up at least 10 feet from the parent. Lion’s Ear is a powerful hummingbird attractor.

tomato last

The last tomato, “Amana Orange.” Misrepresented as an Amish heirloom, it was selected by Gary Staley of Brandon, Florida, in 1984. The fruit tended to crack this year but we had unusual summer rains. The fruits are a fetching shade of apricot-orange, the texture is meaty, the taste is good–more sweet than acid.

snake path full length west

The Snake Path looking patchy. Baked, then drenched, all summer. The Blue Bed on the left is due for an overhaul. A storm at the end of the month flattened the Impatiens balsamina “Peppermint Stick,” and there was too much shade for the pineapple sages, Salvia elegans, to produce a decent flush of bloom.

rose prairie sunset fading

Probably the last bloom on “Winter Sunset” for the season. It spent this year in a pot, recovering from a near-fatal rabbit encounter. It will go back in the ground in a couple of weeks.

hosta guacamole

Hosta “Guacamole” on the fade, attended by a self-sown orange Impatiens. The yellow Coleus to the right of the Impatiens is also self-sown. Serious zone-pushing this year. The plume poppy, Maclaeya cordata–those deeply cut, gray-green leaves–could use more sun.

elder patch

The Dead Log elderberry patch was planted from cuttings in early March, in a small clearing between a mulberry tree and a walnut tree. The plants get three or four hours of direct sun a day, then mostly dappled shade. They’re looking well. “Heavenly Blue” morning glories on the trellis.

lemon portulaca

Potted Meyer lemon under-planted with a peachy Portulaca. Surrounding pots contain Agapanthus and “Apricot Profusion” zinnias.

pelargonium table

Pelargoniums on the back patio.

face east

Facing east. Snake Path on the left, Little Path to the right.

view from table end sept

View from the table, September 26, 2017.

thunbergia amaranth

bidens 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

tropidogyne pentaptera

Tropidogyne pentaptera. 100-million-year-old fossilized flower identified and named by OSU researchers George Poinar Jr. and Kenton Chambers. Photo George Poinar Jr., Oregon State University. See article from Science Daily below.

seseli gummiferum moon carrot rotary botanic wisconsin

The marvelous Moon Carrot, Seseli gummiferum. Photo Rotary Botanical Garden, Janesville, Wisconsin.

Botany is the school for patience, and its amateurs learn resignation from daily disappointments. – Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Madame de Tessé (25 Apr 1788). From Thomas Jefferson Correspondence: Printed from the Originals (1916).

Seven complete specimens of new flower, all 100 million years old
“The amber preserved the floral parts so well that they look like they were just picked from the garden,” Poinar said. “Dinosaurs may have knocked the branches that dropped the flowers into resin deposits on the bark of an araucaria tree, which is thought to have produced the resin that fossilized into the amber.”
Science Daily

Step Inside the World’s Most Dangerous Garden (If You Dare)
The duchess thought she might want to include an apothecary garden, but a trip to Italy set her on a slightly different course. After visiting the infamous Medici poison garden, the duchess became enthralled with the idea of creating a garden of plants that could kill instead of heal.
Smithsonian

Moon Carrot
Seseli gummiferum is quirky, and definitely not quotidien.  There are only so many plants that look like endearingly awkward craft projects that any one garden can handle.
Louis the Plant Geek

The Missouri Elderberry
Nearly 2,400 years ago, Hippocrates called the elder plant “the medicine chest of the country people.” In fact, the elder leaf, flower, and berry can be used in salves, infusions, and syrups to relieve coughs, colic, diarrhea, sore throat, asthma, and the flu. And get this: You can chase mice away with an infusion made with fresh elder leaves or use elder flowers to soothe a burn. It’s a talented plant. And it’s native to Missouri.
Missouri Life

Midsummer at Chickadee Gardens
Peak flower season is upon us and, as I see the temperatures rising to record highs, I am reminded to observe what the garden has to offer. These flowers might not last long if our predicted 108 degree temperatures are realized this week, so it is time to enjoy.
Chickadee Gardens

The Wild Desert Garden
This past spring I witnessed the superbloom in the California deserts. It was a sensation.
Gardening Gone Wild

A Secret and Possibly Non-Existent Garden
For various reasons (which I frankly didn’t quite understand) the man who created this garden is no longer tending it: there was construction taking place in part of it. Maybe it had been sold? All I know is that the pictures you’re saying may be some of the last taken here, which should give them a certain added poignance…
Prairie Break

The Scientific Feat that Birthed the Blue Chrysanthemum
To make chrysanthemums blue, researchers from the National Agriculture and Food Research Organization inserted a gene from the bluish Canterbury bell into red mums. The presence of this gene modified anthocyanin in the mums, producing purplish flowers. To achieve a truer blue, the researchers added a second gene from the butterfly pea into the mix. That did the trick.
Smithsonian

11 Things to know about this year’s Harvest Moon
All full moons are special, but the Harvest Moon has some unique features that make this month’s moon a marvelous must-see.
Treehugger

Telling the Tales of Trees Around the World
Trees can live without us, but we cannot live without trees.
New York Times

As the Garden Grows
Looking at old photos of the garden can really bring home how much has changed in just a few years.
The Practical Plant Geek

It’s humbling to think that all animals, including human beings, are parasites of the plant world. – Isaac Asimov

scutellinia scutellata botany photo day

Scutellinia scutellata. Eyelash pixie cup, eyelash fungus, eyelash cup, scarlet elf cap, Molly eye-winker–all are common names for this diminutive fungus. …This species is common across North America and Europe, and recorded from every continent (yes, even Antarctica). Photo and text via Botany Photo of the Day, UBC Botanical Garden.

amaranthus caudatus

Amaranthus caudatus “Love Lies Bleeding.” Photo AnRo0002, Wikimedia Commons.

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

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