JOURNAL June 2018

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


*garden edge face west

*verbascum gov george aiken

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

*big barrow

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

*tomato cherokee purple

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

*storm 1

*hackberry storm 3

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

*storm repair

Tree crew came by the next day.


*rosa at last tritunia blue star lettuce red sails selfie

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

*stump pots 1

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

*stump pots 6:30

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

*small barrows

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

*dianthus coconut surprise

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

*gravel bench 1

Gravel bench facing East, June 6.

*gravel bed face northwest

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

*main path face southeast

From the main path, facing Southeast, June 4.

*echinacea rudbeckia polygonum sedum

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

*light afternoon 2

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

*lilium bright diamond hemerocallis south seas

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

*lilium regale album eryngium verbascum

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

*berberis pot 2

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

*main path face west close

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

*empty bed face west 1

Same, from above.

*gravel bench face east

*solanum quitoense sporobolus

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

*afternoon light new elders

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

*elder bed new

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

*garage bed 2

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

*garage beans 2

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

*rabbit depradation

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

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

*buckets mid-june

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

ricinus buckets

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

*pumpkin squash

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

*empty bed 6:4

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

*empty bed nicotiana

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

*gravel bench bed face east

Gravel bench facing East, mid-June.

*lemon scorch

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

*new path face north

The New Path, facing North, June 4.

*new bed nursery

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

*lilium sch bud

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

*linaria maroccana

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

*view from the table 6:24:18

View from the table, June 24.

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

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

I wonder if humans are a failed species.

My favorite gardens are mostly green, truly peaceful.



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


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