Sunday, November 20, 2016

Butterfly Garden

I was given a paper bag full of milkweed seeds.

milkweed seeds
Milkweed is the only food of the Monarch butterfly larva.  Monarch numbers have been declining, as have the populations of many types of butterflies in the United States.  Planting butterfly friendly flowers, including "weeds," is a way to help these important pollinators.  Imagine a flower patch without butterflies!  In my imagination it wouldn't be nearly so pretty as with them.

Now, a paper bag of seeds is not a butterfly garden, but I took it from there and ordered lots and lots of other butterfly garden seeds off eBay!  Hundreds of seeds... Thousands of seeds... more seeds than the entire neighborhood could ever use!  Fortunately, seeds last for years, many more years than packages indicate. 

1000 seeds?  If even two grow I'll have more than enough being that yarrow is a perennial!

Mexican Butterfly Weed is a kind of milkweed.  This shouldn't be planted in areas where it will grow all winter.  Some studies have shown it can cause a parasitic infection in areas where Monarch butterflies winter.  It's an annual in my area, so it will be fine.  The photos remind me of lantana. 
Another annual, but sunflowers grow quickly from seed, and 50 seeds will last me 5 years!

The mix contains:

  • Bishop’s Flower - also known as false Queen Anne's lace.  I'll have keep a watch on this one, if I see it growing I'll need to pull it out; Bishop's flower is toxic to dogs.  Not that my dogs are big flower eaters, but Boo does have a passion for zinnia leaves so I'll err on the side of caution.  If I'd known (done my research) this before purchase, I wouldn't have bought these seeds. 
  • Black-Eyed Susan
  • Butterfly Milkweed
  • California Poppy - a self-seeder that will come back year after year if I leave the seed pods
  • Candytuft - I am not a fan of candytuft, but if the butterflies and bees like it... 
  • Cornflower
  • Dwarf Cosmos
  • Dwarf Godetia - an easy to grow annual, native to my region
  • Gayfeather - also called blazing star, this one is a biggie, 2' -5'' tall and as wide, one will do!
  • Indian Blanket
  • Lance-Leaved Coreopsis
  • New England Aster
  • Perennial Lupine
  • Plains Coreopsis
  • Purple Coneflower
  • Purpletop Vervain - another tall one.  It seems many butterfly flowers are tall and gangley plants. 
  • Shasta Daisy - I plan to buy a Shasta daisy plant or two. They are perennials, growing up to 2'-3' tall and 2' wide.
  • Siberian Wallflower
  • Sweet Alyssum - easily self-seeds
  • Sweet William Pinks - Pinks are itty bitty carnations and smell so sweet. 
My Rocky Mountain Penstemon (beardtongue) seeds are back ordered.   I think I have a penstemon plant in a pot that blooms every summer.

But, where will this butterfly garden be?  

Right there! 

Pretty much in the exact center of this photo.  Oh... dear... look at that broken trellis.

Why there?  Because of a photo I found online.  I am unable to post its photo here, but it is fabulous!   I ABSOLUTELY LOVE the garden!!!  I love the curving path and beds, I love the beds made from various materials, I love the trellis in the foreground... I love the cat...  

The basic shape, size and layout of the garden is similar to the shape, size and layout of my far-back yard.  It even has a building on the right side, where my shed is.  I put the photo of it side by side with mine and day dream!   

What will I use to build the beds?  I hope to find some of those curved scalloped edging blocks, those ones that are made from reddish concrete, designed to circle trees.  They aren't pretty, but they're cheap and will do the job.  My local stores (Home Depot and Lowe's) don't carry the curved ones, which is what I want. I might be able to find some on Craiglist by the time I need them, spring.   9 edgers make a 3' diameter circle.  I thought 3 circles set close together would leave an open area in the middle for one of the larger perennials.   

The butterfly garden will have to be my 2017 spring project for the far-back yard.  A little at a time and I'll get that "dream garden" look!  

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Autumn Colors

Just when I think there is nothing so depressing as a spring-planted garden in fall, the sky turns blue, the temperature rises, and I'm able to get outside to see just how beautiful the colors of autumn are!  I love autumn.  I love the colors of the leaves, and the way the sun is angled in the sky so the light is different.  Oddly, the popular fall flowers, chrysanthemums, I dislike!  I don't mean I don't care for them, I mean I really dislike them !  I bought some a while back for the wonderful colors, and actually hated them so much I pulled them out!  I wish I'd grown gourds... they are the essential autumn decoration. 

asparagus - these will need to be cut back to ground level and a layer of steer manure laid down soon
This is the first year the pyracantha kept it's berries.  I grew up in California, where the pyracantha berries are red, but the orange variety is the only one I see around town.  I got this plant several years ago, for free.  It was completely root bound, and to move it the nursery employee had to cut a root that had grown into the ground.  It's done pretty well considering it's rough start.

silly raspberries... you aren't an everbearer! 

Virginia creeper berries

Monday, November 7, 2016

Well... I'm trying this again!

Apologies to at least myself for not continuing this blog for soooo long!  I could use the excuse that working full-time cuts into a lot more time than I expected.  And, while that is true, I have plenty of time each and every morning before work to play computer games (casual games, mostly hidden object puzzle game), so that is an excuse, not a reason.

I was looking online earlier today for new gardening ideas, and found so many I made a Pinterest account to store them!  Now I am fighting myself to stop checking the new content!  Looking at all the wonderful photos made me realize how much I'd missed posting to this blog. 

I will admit, the garden has suffered from my devoting less hours per week tending to it, and I didn't plant much this past spring.  The usual tomatoes and lemon cucumbers.  Brandywine tomatoes came up as volunteers, and I got my Sungold cherry from The Tomato Lady of Central Point again.  I wanted a simple tomato too, and found a bush Ace, which disappointed me.  Oh, it had a lot of tomatoes, but they had a tendency to lay in the soil and rot.

July, 2016 - Sungold on left, bush Ace on right, lemon cucumbers just beginning to climb trellis, and miserably producing Jade bush beans in the front

The lemon cucs didn't do well in this new location.  The Sungold tomato on the other hand over-did any other Sungold I've ever had, and I've had them regularly for years!  I was taking dozens to work every few days.

This bed was thrown together with some Douglas fir boards, and it isn't even fastened in the back, just supported by the fence posts.  The soil was partially there, and I tossed in all the bags of various things I had laying around... compost, manure, peat, potting soil...  Not really the best way, but it worked for the Sungold!

The Meeker raspberries took over not just their own 4 x 8 bed, but the surrounding ground, popping up in places 6' away!  Meeker are supposed to be just summer bearing, but today I picked a bowlful of fat red berries.  Much nicer berries than the summer ones, since it was so hot they were small and dry. 

Meeker raspberries in July, 2016
I don't think I'll ever get the old fruiting canes out of that mess!  Then again, if some of the canes fruited a second time I can just cut them all down, right?

My favorite part of the 2016 harvest was the Plumcot (Pluot) fruit!  I don't think I have ever tasted anything so delicious!  I was pleased to find that the flesh was what I wanted, a deep red. I just hope I can prune it correctly.


I messed up the Frost peach!  I didn't take the time (notice I didn't say I didn't have the time?) to thin the fruit.  I learned too late that if you don't thin peaches before the pit hardens they don't grow any larger.  So, I had a lot of peaches, a lot of teeny tiny peaches!  They were delicious though.  I even made a small batch of jam.  The tree was very pretty when it blossomed.  It is still not well though, it still has that bacterial canker problem which will do it in eventually. 

My biggest garden project this year has been to start turning the bark-filled front yard into a rock garden!  I completed about 1/3 of the yard, and hope to finish the rest next spring and summer.  I need some current photos, as things have grown tremendously since these were taken.

Digging in sand and placing the rocks - March, 2016

Blue Fescue, Aubrieta, Lewisia, Creeping Phlox and Sea Thrift(Armeria)

More Lewisia, Sea Thrift, Creeping Thyme and Creeping Phlox

The rock garden is rimmed with river rock, with paths of pea gravel

Look at that Blue Fescue by July!  I also added some succulents.
The day lilies are just the way I envisioned them!  Just perfect...  I still haven't built the other side to the handrail. 


American Revolution
I'll it for now, with these photos of my garden helpers!  I promise, I really do, to come back soon, at least no later than a week!  That makes sense, since today is my "Sunday" as my work week begins tomorrow.


Edward the Goldendoodle