JOURNAL July 2017

*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

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