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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.

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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.

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

The view from my seat at the garden table.

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

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

Hemerocallis ‘Ice Carnival.’

Hemerocallis ‘Sea Gold.’

Hemerocallis ‘Hyperion.’

hemerocallis chicago apache best

Hemerocallis ‘Chicago Apache.’

hemerocallis south seas 1

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

hemerocallis red unknown

An unknown red. The elongated petals suggest spider parentage.

urn bed overhead

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

poppy danish flag

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

okra bed

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

garage bed barrow

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

garage bed love lies

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

barrow zucchini

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

cassia

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

 

lily cobra

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

pepper chinese 5-color coreopsis moonbeam

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

bench bed face south

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

lilium white diamond

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

rain 1

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

rain 2

main path monty

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

verbascum thapsus gov george aiken

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

verbascum gov geo

solanum atropurpureum malevolence 2

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

The watering can and the toilet

Take a break, little buddy.

wini dayton bored

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

amaranthus coleus ipomoea zucchini 2

kniphofia uvaria unknown yellow

pear bed 2

dry stone huts cabanes de breuil france

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

dry wall glasdrumman n ireland paul mcilroy creative commons

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

senna didymobotrya starr wiki commons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

nandina domestica gardens online

Heavenly bamboo, Nandina domestica. Photo Gardens Online.

ulisse aldrovandi sunflower garden history

Illustration of Sunflower, Helianthus annus, by Ulisse Aldrovandi.

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

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

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

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

Big pond: Back patio, facing north.

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

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

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

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

garage bed face east

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

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

garage bed face north

Garage bed, facing north.

garage bed face west

garage bed petunias

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

main path dichelostemma

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

monty main path

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

pots caged

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

lilies peppers

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

pots stumps

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

little path face north

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

urn bed wide 2

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

clematis sabotage

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

bench bed 4

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

elderberry close 3

Flower cymes of Elderberry, Sambucus canadensis.

elderberry close 1

plum bed face north

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

phacelia bed

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

bees catalpa hive 1

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

bees catalpa hive 2

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

hive face west

hive close

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

hive open

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

hive face north

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

harvest mulberries lettuce

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

main path face north 1

urn bed face south

bench bed 5

avant garde pot 2

pear bed face east 1