viburnum mum 11:4

11/4, Mailbox. Mass-produced, supermarket Mums usually do well in the rougher parts of this garden. I used to dismiss Mums as gaudy and over-tweaked, as I did with snapdragons and zinnias. I was again happy to be wrong, the best lesson in my gardening life. The larger burgundy Mum hugging the Verbascum on the left was planted in January 2014, a holiday party gift. The temperature was above freezing, the rocky ground was wet and cold, the Mum looked bad; it was a hospice gesture. Third year now, a foot taller, blooming later each season, even flowers through the first snows. Better than the flowers is the dark matte foliage, much easier to shape than box, a tight 2’x 2′ mound with one cutback in late Spring. The savvy Victorians used Mums as hedging in bedding-outs. I put out three more supermarket pots in late September, $2.99 each, two burgundy, one orange. They’ll begin to make a sturdy clump next year.

south learnard color 11:4

11/4. This picture was taken a week too late. You get the drift.

north fence little henry golden rain 11:4

11/4. Golden Rain tree, Koelreuteria paniculata, honey-leaved in back; Itea virginica ‘Little Henry’, red in front. Big Catalpa leaves on the ground, on the box. Once the leaves fall, it takes four three-hour sessions to redistribute them as mulch. There are few truths in human life but here’s one: Never allow a Catalpa three feet from your front porch.

back porch 11:12

11/12. This is the fourth winter on the back porch for Agapanthus, bay, lemon and rosemary. Also overwintering two peppers, Lantana in the bag, ‘Rosita’ eggplant, Pelargoniums.

snowfall second one inch 11:12

11/12 First snow. Back door looking West. Follow the fox footprints.

main path face north 11:24

11/24. Main Path face North.

ride face east 11:24

11/24. Ride face East.

garage bed finished

11/24. Garage West face.

lilies finished

11/24. Done Lilium.

maquis finished

11/24. Done maquis.

klee all revealed 11:24

11/24. Pinus, Juniperus, Chamaecyparis.

blizzard 11:26 2

11/26. Blizzard.

pumpkin 11:26

11/28. The pumpkin is a traditional harvest symbol in the New World. Native to northern Mexico and the southern United States.

 

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lepidodendron stump preserved defense of plants

A preserved Lepidodendron stump. “The Carboniferous was the heyday for early land plants. Giant lycopods, ferns, and horsetails formed the backbone of terrestrial ecosystems. By far the most abundant plants during these times were a group of giant, tree-like lycopsids known as the scale trees.” Photo and text from “The Rise and Fall of the Scale Trees” at In Defense of Plants.

steve geddes pumpkin 2018 boston globe

“The pumpkin grown by Steve Geddes of Boscawen, N.H. tipped the scales at a whopping 2,528 pounds, which earned him a first-place ribbon and $6,000 in prize money, officials said. Geddes also won major bragging rights, as he currently owns the biggest pumpkin ever grown in North America.” Photo and text from the Boston Globe, 9/28/18.

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. – Albert Einstein

The Insect Apocalypse Is Here
We’ve begun to talk about living in the Anthropocene, a world shaped by humans. But E.O. Wilson, the naturalist and prophet of environmental degradation, has suggested another name: the Eremocine, the age of loneliness.
New York Times Magazine

Species Tulips
In my Seattle garden, among those dozen or so species that have returned for three to five years, are the long-lived Tulipa batalinii clan, including ‘Apricot Jewel’, ‘Bright Gem’, and ‘Bronze Charm’. From Bukhara (part of present day Uzbekistan in western Asia), T. batalinii seems to be ready for anything. These eager, apricot or soft, bronzy-yellow, urn-shaped blossoms may actually begin to open while sitting on the soil, impatient for their six-inch stems to catch up with their enthusiasm.
Lee Neff; The Pacific Horticulture Society

New tool to predict which plants will become invasive
The results indicate that a single, easily measurable trait — plant height — can be a highly predictive factor in determining which plants may become invasive in a given environment.
Science Daily

Better “nowcasting” can reveal what weather is about to hit within 500 meters
The results are promising. One important assumption weather forecasters make is that the atmosphere will continue to change in the same way it does now. This is called Lagrangian persistence, and it is often spot on.
MIT Technology Review

Up and Comers for 2019
Hundreds of new variety introductions made their debut earlier this year at the California Spring Trials.
Greenhouse Product News

Horridculture – Well Done Stakes Are Rare
Stakes are temporary. That is what so called maintenance ‘gardeners’ do not seem to understand. Stakes should not stay any longer than necessary, so need to be removed sooner than later, depending on their function. Stakes that are left too long can interfere with the healthy development of the trees and vines that they were intended to help.
Tony Tomeo

Perennial Digitalis
As a group, they are known as the foxgloves, named for their most popular species, the common foxglove: Digitalis purpurea. The genus has recently migrated from the figwort family (scrophulariaceae) to the plantain family (plantaginaceae) – along with its cousins the penstemons – but most references still place them in their former taxonomical position.
Rob’s Plants

Quarry garden sculpture at Pedreres de s’Hostal as an example of the after-use of mineral workings
Quarries are famed for their propensity to create ‘a scar on the landscape’. But they can also produce wonderful results, as land sculpture on a supra-human scale and majesty.
Garden Visit

John Singer Sargent’s Carrara Watercolors
One of the reasons I wanted to go to Carrara, I’m not ashamed to admit, is because James Bond had a car chase there.
Dry Stone Garden

Chesterwood: An Enchanted Space
For 35 years, French summered at Chesterwood and cultivated his garden, imploring colleagues to visit.  “I hope you will come to ‘Chesterwood’ and rest.” he wrote in 1911.  “It is as beautiful as fairy-land here now, the hemlocks are decorating themselves with their light-green tassels and the laurel is beginning to blossom and the peonies are a glory in the garden. I go about in an ecstasy of delight over the loveliness of things.”
Landscape Notes

Status of Spring
How do you know when spring has begun? Is it the appearance of the first tiny leaves on the trees, or the first crocus plants peeping through the snow? The First Leaf and First Bloom Indices are synthetic measures of these early season events in plants, based on recent temperature conditions. These models allow us to track the progression of spring onset across the country.
National Phenology Network

Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you. – Frank Lloyd Wright

sargent watercolor carrara

Carrara marble quarry, from a series of watercolors by John Singer Sargent, 1911-1913.

iceberg finder

Track the movement of icebergs around the world at Iceberg Finder.

*garden entrance 10:3

Garden entrance, 10/3. Today brought the first gestures of Autumn: cool temperatures, a mix of clouds and sun, and thousands of grackles gathering for their annual voyage down South.

*bidens aristolchia 10:3 2

Tickseed, Bidens aristolchia, in the foreground, 10/3. A most appealing yellow, to me and to dozens of insects. Five years ago, I seeded a big patch of it elsewhere in the garden and was alarmed by it’s spread the following year. Its easy to identify and pull, now restricted to a few patches. It blooms here in late September, a true harbinger of Autumn.

*garage bed face west 10:8

Garage bed facing West, 10/8. Two nights in the high 20s didn’t knock much down. Once the heat subsided, mid-August, the tomatoes began flowering and fruiting again. I had hopes of fair weather and a lucky, last-minute harvest but…

*tomato squirrel

Squirrels. There were about a dozen plump and blushing fruits hanging on various plants. Squirrels are discerning diners, taking a single bite from each fruit to judge flavor. Once the bite is made, the bugs move in. I had planned this ‘Cherokee Purple’ to be my last tomato sandwich of 2018, salted and peppered on crusty bread with a thin smear of mayonnaise.

*aji amarillo pumpkin 10:7 1

10/7. Squirrels here don’t usually eat hot peppers–the Aji amarillo were untouched except by a friendly pumpkin vine. My new favorite pepper to grow and eat, the Aji ignored the damning heat, flowering and fruiting with generosity throughout the season. Medium-hot, like a Serrano, with a sweet peachy-pineapple flavor. Fifteen delicate-looking plants easily yielded 10 pounds of fruit over four months. Sauteed with garlic and thyme for a starter, soups and stews, pickled, and pureed for a sauce that freezes well.

*amaranths 10:3

10/3. I’m hooked on the Solanaceae and Amaranthaceae families; beautiful, interesting and useful plants. I’ve yet to harvest the seeds of amaranth but I gladly eat the leaves. A delicious passalong green amaranth in front, “Hopi Red Dye’ behind. If you cut red amaranths for the house, use a clear vase–they turn the water red.

*pepper bed 10:7

The Garage Bed looking north, 10/7. Peppers, tomatoes, amaranths, Ricinus and Leonotis. You can see where the squirrels have been planting acorns under the bamboo.

*lonicera mac berries color 10:24

Amur honeysuckle, Lonicera maackii, giving Autumn color and berries. Poison ivy, Toxicodendron radicans, glowing gold at bottom right. Amur honeysuckle is a Top Five invasive plant in Kansas–I fight this plant more than any other in my garden. But twice a year, it is beautiful.

*gomphrena small barrows 10:8 2

The Small Barrows were a good trick this year. Planted with ‘Genovese’ basil, ‘Cherry Falls’ tomatoes, and Gomphrena ‘Strawberry Fields’. The Gomphrena blooms mimic small tomatoes and I saw several people double-take. “What kind of tomatoes are those?”

*leonotis wind 10:3

Leonotis nepetefolia, the Lion’s Ear, in strong wind, 10/3. A mint growing to ten feet and more, their square stems are thick and very strong. I dry them most years for garden canes.

*leonotis lean 10:8 2

Leonotis on the lean, 10/8.

*leonotis nep ants

Leonotis with Ants. Six years and this is the first time I’ve noticed ants on the blossoms of this plant. The flowers are nectar-rich, hummingbirds flock to Leonotis. Hummingbirds are aggressively territorial and I’ve seen amazing aerial battles over the years.

 

*aster yucca 10:7

*gravel bench tangle 10:8

*new bed 10:8

*maclaeya cordata rain 2

Plume poppy, Maclaeya cordata, in the rain. They flopped this year and look like giant Alchemilla.

*ipomoeas batatas and quamoclit not bw

10/3. Not a b/w picture, taken at 5pm before a storm. Ipomoea batatas ‘Solar Tower Black’, a climbing sweet potato, and Ipomoea quamoclit ‘Alba’, the feathery, white-flowered cypress vine, on the pole.

*urn bed rue 10:7

The lacy blue leaves of Rue, Ruta graveolens, remind me of sea plants. Host to swallowtail butterflies.

*main path empty space 10:3

Empty space on the Main Path, 10/3. Most of the pots that stood in the bare patch at left are now on the back patio.

*main path helianthus 10:7 2

Main Path Helianthus, 10/7.

*main path frosted 10:17

Main Path after first hard frost, 10/17, 8pm. Orange flowers of Gaillardia pulchella, a fine plant for most gardens.

*off we go 10:24

Klee set-up with yellow Amsonia hubrichtii, juvenile blue Juniperus, grasses, lilies and flowering tobacco.

*ride face east 10:8

The Ride facing East, 10/8. Sagging ragweed in the foreground.

*ride face east 10:24

The Ride facing East, 10/24.

*solanum quitoense 2

Solanum quitoense, 10/3.

*solanum quitoense frosted

Solanum quitoense frosted, 10/17.

*view from table 10:3 1

View from the table, 10/3.

*view from table 10:24 1

View from the table, 10/24.

*brush pile 10:24

Brush pile on the West fence. Eight feet tall by 20 wide in May, now five feet tall and collapsed to two feet by Spring. The soil underneath the pile will make a rich mulch. Home to dozens of my marauding rabbits, cute Eastern wood rats, and one tetchy groundhog.

*pots coming indoors 10:8

Pots holding for Winter quarters on the back porch. Rosemary, Fuschia and Pelargonium.

*lot going on

Lots going on.

*autumn light 10:24

 

 

basket of medlars photo jorgens wikimedia

Basket of Medlars. Photo jorgen.mi, Wikimedia Commons

Neelakurinji Strobilanthes kunthiana

Neelakurinji, Strobilanthes kunthiana, Anamudi Shola National Park, Kerala, India. Photo Vinayaraj, Wikimedia Commons.

The only difference between an extraordinary life and an ordinary one is the extraordinary pleasures you find in ordinary things. – Véronique Vienne

November
If November begins in autumn it ends unambiguously in winter. The days become shockingly short and the chances of frost – or worse – are real enough to make the business of protecting and tidying the garden urgent, so it is a busy month, especially as bad weather can bring work to a juddering halt for days or even weeks at a time.
Monty Don

One of India’s best-kept secrets
One of the rarest flowers in the world, the Neelakurinji blooms just once every 12 years in India’s south-western state of Kerala.
BBC Reel; video, 1:43 mins.

Experimental mini-greenhouse plays host to urban plants & bees
Located in the middle of a busy, “exposed and harsh” intersection in Copenhagen, right beside a three-lane road and a train station, it’s not exactly the most hospitable place for greenery to grow. However, that is the point of this three-year experiment, which will see this ecosystem hopefully thrive without any human interference whatsoever.
Treehugger

Growing the World’s Food in Greenhouses
For this project, Mattson’s team studies the use of LED lights. LEDs are significantly more energy efficient than legacy lights and also have more control capabilities—such as adjusting light intensity and spectrum—whereas legacy lights can only be turned on and off.
Cornell Research

Mespilus germanica
If, like me, you are a fan of the word “bletting”, then medlar is the fruit for you.
UBC Botanical Garden

The Garden History of Thomas Edison
He used soil from the adjacent Caloosahatchee River to enrich his fourteen acres, and one of the reasons he originally bought the property was that it was already established with bamboo. Carbonized bamboo was one of the first lightbulb filaments, lasting over 1200 hours before burning out.
Garden History Girl

Gardening for the Common Good
Victory gardens (originally called war gardens or liberty gardens) made their first appearance during World War I (1914–1918). President Woodrow Wilson called on Americans to plant vegetable gardens to ward off the possible threat of food shortages. Americans took up the challenge as a civic and patriotic duty.
Smithsonian; Cultivating America’s Gardens

It’s about the plants, honey!
People pooh pooh crevice gardens as stark, and rock gardens as artificial in urban settings. But if you want to grow treasures like these, this is the way to do it.
Prairiebreak

Gymnosperms and Fleshy “Fruits”
Many of us were taught in school that one of the key distinguishing features between gymnosperms and angiosperms is the production of fruit.
In Defense of Plants

Moving On To Fallen
A whole bunch of leaves fell in the last wind and rain. More of that is incoming for Monday and Tuesday. By Wednesday it could be all over. The mountains are already naked up top and I see a possibility of the first snow for the weekend.
Outside Clyde

Last Load?
A basic requirement for a woodland garden is a thick cover of rotting hardwood leaves.
Plants and Stones

Working with Variegated Plants
Spots, splashes, streaks, and margin markings: These and other sorts of variegation add an extra element of interest to lovely leaves. The visual effect can range from subtle to gaudy, and from elegant to somewhat sickly, depending on the pattern, intensity, and colors.
Hayefield

Closing Time: Goodbye to Hummelo
After nearly 40 years of welcoming the world through its gates, the private garden of Piet and Anja Oudolf at Hummelo will close to the public for good at the end of this month.
The New Perennialist

A garden must combine the poetic and the mysterious with a feeling of serenity and joy. – Luis Barragan

oudolf design hauser worth somerset john lord.

Segment of Piet Oudolf’s planting design for Hauser & Wirth Somerset garden. Photo John Lord, Wikimedia Commons.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Dahlia ‘Thomas Edison’. Photo Mark Twyning, Wikimedia Commons.

*barolo anaheim ducks 1

Dad’s birthday lunch at Barolo, one of his favorite Italian restaurants. A lifelong sports fan, Dad was very happy to see members of the Anaheim Ducks at a nearby table. “They won a Stanley Cup,” he said with pride.

*barolo chicken piccata 2

Pollo piccata at Barolo.

*agave transplant 1

Agave encroaching on the front sidewalk were transplanted to the back yard. I was concerned that the sprinklers would provide too much water but…

*sprinkler bad

This sprinkler only waters the pavement. A chore for the next visit.

*brugmansia 1

Brugmansia borrowed from the neighbors.

*brugmansia 2

*papaya corner

Planted a Papaya in a sheltered corner. A transplanted rose and cuttings of Senecio, Crassula (guessing), and Pelargonium below.

*banana

Blood Banana, Musa acuminata var. zebrina, planted near the Fig Wall, Ficus repens.

*garage bed

Blank canvas by the garage.

*thunbergia salvia asclepias

A fine tangle: Thunbergia alata (‘Blushing Susie’, I think); white-flowered Salvia; and red-orange Asclepias curassavica.

*thunbergia purple flower unknown

The same Thunbergia with a striking and unknown purple-flower, perhaps a Hibiscus relative.

garage red plants

After 10 days away, back home to my own lovely tangles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

solanum quitoense 1

Three of a hedge of four Solanum quitoense aka Naranjilla, overwintered on the back porch last year, looking sick when planted to rich ground in April. Two months of drought and hard sun soon followed, I thought them goners. Four feet tall now, in fruit and flower. What a difference some rain makes. Their broad leaves make shade enough–even in Kansas sun–to stunt Lamb’s Ears, Stachys byzantina ‘H von Stein’. The flowers look like a large, white tomato flower; the fruits are the size of a big cherry tomato, covered in brassy fuzz, but I grow them for their big, scalloped, gray-green, felted and pink-thorned leaves.

ipomoea quamoclit alba

Ipomoea quamoclit ‘Alba’

lettuce transplant

Transplanting lettuce.

front 1

The chain-link fence was installed in 2014. The house is on the local Historic Register; there are rules about changes. But when Burroughs bought the house in 1982, there was a similar chain-link in the same place. In fact, chain-link is all over the property, a 20th century Midwest vernacular. A fourth-year Rosa “Darlow’s Enigma’ is covering the fence at left, three plants of Lonicera sempervirens ‘Major Wheeler’ at center. What is that mutilated tree, you ask? An old hackberry, Celtis, most of it came down in a hard Spring storm. There’s a world of Funghi growing on the shady graveyard side, it will come down soon, but not on the house.

empty bed helianthus 1

Birdseed Helianthus annus.

front north hydrangea

North side of house, looking east through sculpted Lonicera maackii. Azalea, Box, Hydrangea, Flowering Quince and Viburnum down there, so far. Another boxwood, Clematis montana, an upright Chamaecyparis seeking shade, and a Cranberry bush will be moved here while dormant in mid-February. If transplanting in mid-late winter, Zone 6b here, take the biggest rootball you can carry. No matter the weather, water in well after planting to settle the soil around the roots, add thick mulch.

hibiscus ipomoea zinnia 3

Left to right: Hibiscus acetosella ‘Mahogany Splendor’; Miscanthus g.; Ipomoea batatas (a Triffid in this year’s heat); and a surfing flower of Zinnia ‘ Will Rogers’.

little path face south 2

Pear Path looking South. ‘Peppermint Stick’ Balsam the scarlet in the foreground.

barrows small 9:8

Barrows, small, 9/8. Tomato ‘ Cherry Falls’, ‘Genovese’ basil, Gomphrena ‘Strawberry Fields’.

barrows small 2 9:13

Barrows, small, 9/13.

barrow big pumpkin 2

Barrow, big, Pumpkin ‘Jarrahdale’, Garage.

garage bed face west 9:8

Garage Bed facing West.

verbascum front

Verbascum ‘Governor George Aiken’, seed from Hayefield, standing proud in the third month. The “lawn” is filling in.

view from the table 9:13

View from the table, 9/13.

DAD VISIT 9/17 – 9/27

door shelf blue throne 1

Downtown Los Angeles, Little Tokyo, Donna and David.

downtown tents 2

Freeway overpasses and sidewalks bordering vacant lots seem to be safe ground for the homeless. The police are justifiably overwhelmed by the numbers–mostly, they let them be. Odds are you won’t freeze to death in a Southern California Winter. Check the slogan on the billboard.

On the drive from LAX to Little Tokyo, once we got on surface streets near downtown, three things struck me: the increase in destitute people, used to be confined to cardboard night cities around the Mission on Main Street; the increase in yuppies (still a viable descriptor); the increase in trees. A limo will pull up in front of a hot shitty restaurant and You Tube stars will pile out, influencers dressed and plucked, barely stepping over the skinny old woman collapsed on the sidewalk. Tall planter boxes of Equisetum are the standard street space definitions. I lived downtown 1982-1986, in the Jewelry District at 7th & Hill. The Garment District was seven blocks West. Most of the high-rises downtown were empty above the third floor or renting to garment manufacturers, sweat shops. In 1982, I paid $200 mo. for the entire second floor of an old department store. I had to build in my own place, 2000 square feet, luckily encompassing the old men’s room. I had fourteen-foot ceilings, four toilet stalls, four urinals and four sinks, all with good pressure. For an American male, a glimpse of Paradise. Now, 600 square feet of level drywall and flat eggshell paint, some kitchen granite, and a bidet-toilet starts at $3,000 a month, before coop fees. So much money is pouring downtown, so many more people are slumping on the streets. But plants are everywhere, there has been plenty of funding for greenery. Used to be only Spring Street had trees.

bunker hill echeveria

Echeveria planting, parking lot, Bunker Hill bodega.

9:17 nightwalk 1

Arrived LAX 5pm, Dave picked me up, dropped off bag at home, saw Donna again, out to Suehiro for dinner. Then a lovely LA nightwalk.

9:17 nightwalk 8 grand central

Grand Central Market. After 18 years away, still there. Still has brain tacos. Prices gone way up.

9:17 nightwalk 11 last bookstore arch

This building originally housed a bank. When I lived downtown, it was a paint/hardware store–I painted my home from this store–a Glidden franchise, if memory serves. Now, it’s the best bookstore I’ve ever seen: The Last Bookstore. I’m a bookhound, been around, but this is really something. They tell you books are more than words on pages.

9:17 nightwalk 12 last bookstore paper sculpture

Last Bookstore third floor paper sculpture.

la fish co 2 whole fish

Only one day in downtown, much to revisit. Early morning at LA Fish Market.

elysian park 13 plumbago

Elysian Park, where Plumbago is a rangy weed.

downtown gehry 3

Downtown Gehry.

lac 6

Los Angeles Athletic Club (LAAC).

lac 9

LAAC bar.

lac roof 4

LAAC roof.

little tokyo jacc suntory garden 12

Suntory Garden, Japan America Cultural Center, Little Tokyo.

little tokyo jacc suntory garden 14

Suntory Garden 2.

little tokyo jacc suntory garden 4 persimmon

Suntory Garden 3. The Persimmon that survived Hiroshima.

bottega louie 2

Bottega Louie.

downtown philippe 16 lamb

Philippe’s French Dip. Lamb and blue cheese.

olvera lucha libre

olvera street alabaster blue

olvera street sparrow tortilla

Donna walked me over to Olvera Street, where “El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles” germinated, just across from Union Station. Had coffee and guacamole for breakfast, fed chips to the same bold sparrows. Caught the Pacific Surfliner south at noon.

union station palms 2

loteria reflection

Dad and Marta met me at the station and we set off on the daily errand run. First stop was the lottery store, Dad and Marta reflected in the window. Then to lunch, the post office, and the grocery store to get ingredients for a chocolate cake. Dad’s 86th birthday was the next day.

guest room

The guest room where I stayed. The Batman rug was in my bedroom when I was a kid.

Dad’s roses, mostly Tea, all unknown to me.

dad rose 1

dad rose 2

Growing Tea roses against a wall in any climate is said to encourage black spot. These poodle roses must have good wind.

dad rose 3

dad rose 4

dad rose 5

dad rose 8

front yard 5

“Get rid of those tall green sticks. Too tall” Some kind of succulent, a surprisingly small root mass, heavy to lift, but stems turgid.

front cleared

Cleared.

romneya coulteri

A crime against Nature. Matilija poppy, Romneya coulterii, hacked like a common Hibiscus. I got Dad’s gardener’s number.

Enough for now. Part 2 in a few days.

 

 

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

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.