Monday, October 23, 2017

Autumn in the Garden 2017

We have been having rainy days.  Some wind and cold temperatures as well, some cold enough to leave ice on the car windshields.  Time to clear out the carport so when we have to be somewhere early in the morning, we can park under it the night before and avoid scraping windows.

Between the rain and looking for a new job (there may be good news soon on that front), I haven't done much.  Autumn gardens may have pretty fall colors, but they are depressing, signaling an end to flowers and butterflies.

When I first moved in the lattice overhand was covered with ancient sticky (as in nothing but dry dead sticks) Virginia creeper.  I thought I'd removed it all. It wasn't until it changed to the gorgeous autumn red I found it growing among the climbing rose!  I'll leave it.  I'll just try to keep it under control. 

The peach is very pretty.  As is a small something tree that came up from a nut that looked like a filbert (hazelnut) but with different leaves.  I am going to transplant it into a nice pot and hope it stays small for a miniature garden vignette. 

 The forsythia lost its leaves during the wind a few days ago.  The asparagus is nearly ready to cut back already, that's usually a December chore. 

 The anise hyssop has gone to seed.  I've read it's best to cut back the flower heads before the seeds drop, but I didn't.  Rain and wind knocked down a big part of the pineapple sage, which in turn broke off some of the anise hyssop.  You can see just how many seeds only a few of the flowers formed.  I took the broken ones and set them upside down in canning jars, where they released dozens, if not hundreds of seeds!  I really like anise hyssop in the butterfly garden, so will let the rest of the plant drop its seeds in the garden, and I'll transplant them for "gifts" to unsuspecting "friends!" 


This is a blue chocolate cherry tomato!  The plant got a very late start from seed, and now has just set fruit, which probably won't get the warmth needed to ripen more than this one.    It's not as dark as I'd expected it to be. 

 The butterfly garden is reaching the end of its season.  This was the pineapple sage this morning.  It lost its right side to the storm, and the rest is going to the cooler nights.  The corepsis is about done, the black-eyed Susan and blanket flowers have fewer flowers by the day.  I've already started ordering more seeds for both the butterfly garden annuals and perennials for the rock garden!  The latest are butterfly weed (asclepias tuberos) and a perennial lupine.  Under $2.00 per package of seeds, free shipping, plus U.S. grown, why not? 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Butterfly Garden Path and Review

I had only finished one side (what I consider the "back") of the butterfly garden when I first built it.  The rest was open to the, loosely speaking, lawn (grass/weedy) area.

May 3:

June 27:

August 21: WOW!   It's amazing how quickly some seeds grow to maturity!   Not all of these are annuals, which do need to hurry, since they must produce seeds before the first freeze. 

October 1:  A lot still going on strong.  

So, today, my last day of vacation, I sort of finished the "front" path.

I am replacing the small cinder blocks around the cherry tree with larger ones from the raspberry bed (which I am hoping to completely get rid of, although as soon as rain hits I'll probably have dozens of canes pop up).  The larger blocks are the five in the front.  You can see how much nicer they are.  They are part of The Great Cinder Block Deal of 2012.  There will be plenty left for a single block deep (currently it is two blocks deep, which is not needed for vegetables) bed. 

I sprayed weed killer, then weed barrier cloth, tucked under the smaller cinder blocks, and topped it all off with three bags of bark mulch (broken bags for 50% off!).  The long end is just an 8' furring strip.  They are just the right size to keep mulch in place, can be simply held in place with a few wooden spikes, and are under $2.00 each.  The end still needs to be sawed off so we (ie me!)) don't trip. 

The cinder blocks aren't permanent, they are just placeholders and weights until I get more of the blocks you see at the end, on the left.  That one is leftover from the fire pit construction.

There's Boo, sticking his tennis ball into a hole! 

There's Boo again, looking as handsome as ever, if a bit more portly than when this blog began five years ago!   He's still "The Most Beautiful Dog in the World." 

Not a bad way to end a vacation!

Garden Close-ups

Just some close-up shots of things around the yard.  I am impressed how close you can get with an iPhone.  I don't bother to use a separate camera anymore.



pebble with cactus


lemon balm

aloe vera

ivy flowers 


Holey Rocks:  I absolutely love these photos!  I didn't realize how lovely this rock was until I saw it up close and personal.  The moss growing at the entry to the deep hole, the yellowish ring around the shallow hole, the stone crop succulent growing through a hole...


Flat Marbles:

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Beautiful Autumn Weather - all sorts of garden stuff!

I've been off work for the past week, and have three more days to go!  Just a little vacation, with nowhere to go.  Painting walls and planting bulbs, those kind of things that two day weekends just don't allow much time to enjoy.  I do enjoy painting walls! It gives me a chance to clean the room, organize, rehang pictures, get rid of clutter. (I am, sadly, also spending some time applying and interviewing for another job.  I love working for the Grange Co-op, but my location is closing, and for reasons best not mentioned here, I am choosing to leave.)

So, here, in no particular order, are the sundry things I've been up to.

The weather has been perfect. Autumn is my favorite season, even if it welcomes in winter.  The skies are a clear bright blue with just enough white clouds to break up the blue. 

The trees and shrubs are turning yellow and orange and red and all those together.

neighboring trees


Bulbs are going in for spring blooms...

The white Grosso lavender has been planted in the front yard bed.  

white Grosso lavender in the middle, with Munstead lavender to the left and Tuscan Blue rosemary at the back

It's the time to plant pansies, violas and Johnny Jump-ups!  I adore them!

Pollinators are still buzzing around the butterfly garden.  The ivy is blooming (very low key flowers, barely noticeable unless you get close) and is noisy with bees and flies.  The honey bees are alright, but there is some bee that is quite aggressive, to the point of knowing I am there, knowing I am trying to photograph it!  It leaves the flower, flies to face me, obviously saying, "get out of here!"  I do.  Those bees are quite common on the anise hyssop. 

The autumn sages are showing why they're called "autumn" sages!  Pineapple sage (Salvia elegansis) not an autumn sage (Salvia greggii) but it sure fooled me!  Remember when I thought it was nothing but a huge lush green plant with no flowers?  Remember how it got so big I broke off big chunks throughout the summer to keep it from overpowering the rest of the butterfly garden plants?  Well, I was wrong, wrong, wrong!  It's huge and gorgeous!

pineapple sage

Radio Red autumn sage

Some of the pineapple sage pieces I broke off rooted in water and I've now transplanted them into a big ceramic pot.  If they all survive the winter (they do dormant) I'll keep one in the pot and plant the others around the yard. 

pineapple sage starts

I tore out all the boysenberries!  They are so much work, cutting back the old canes and training the new growth cans (they will have the fruit next season), and they have wicked thorns that once in my fingers form sores. I am sure I am not rid of them altogether, they crept out of the drainage holes and popped up in other places!  I also have a few in the old gate bed to tear out.  Yeah, it's sad to see the empty pots, but empty pots also symbolize new plants!  Besides, now I can get to the broken lath. 

The shallow plastic planter I bought (at 75% off!) now is turquoise.  I also enlarged the holes I drilled into the bottom.

The lemon cucumbers are gone.  They became too bitter to eat a few weeks ago.  That can be caused by uneven watering (not in my case), being too hot (they were fine in the dead of summer, so that's not it), temperature fluctuations (maybe...), or heredity (not likely, they were tasty at first).  They were so bitter just one bite and the plants went into the compost heap, they were that bad.
I've left the small chocolate cherry tomato just in case it has time to ripen. 

The neighbor's cat still visits the rock garden on a regular basis.  A few days ago, in broad daylight a different neighbor's bullmastiff wandered over and started digging around!  I guess he was unearthing the cat's deposits!