Using wood and stone

In the last year I’ve been adding a lot more wood and large stones to the garden. We’ve also been getting more serious about putting in a few small ponds or fountains, but that will take more study and planning. Maybe next year. Here’s an example of a recent stone/wood addition, in the white garden:rock and woodThere are wood chips on the path, with large rocks lining the bed. One large dead branch is “planted” in the soil. To my delight birds often perch there.  Two large and a few smaller rotten willow branches from the ravine in the horse pasture are lying here and there. One very large rock sits in the middle of the bed. I planted a valerian there on the left, and a white daylily near the rock. A group of white heirloom tiger lilies is on the right by the upright branch. As you can see the white garden is still pretty sparsely planted. It’s a tough bed to plan–sand underlies the bed, so drainage is TOO good. I have added a lot of manure and old hay but it takes a while to break down. This dry year was tough on this garden. But there’s no hurry. I’ll keep adding plants and see what thrives there.

As many other gardeners have commented, flowers and stone go well together. I like the way plants fall over a rock edge. Here are some petunias and some edging pavers this morning:flower jumble

In the new bed under the old playset the annuals I planted, the ones that survived the raccoon scourge, are a riot of color. Petunias, small pansies, dianthus and marigolds. In the middle of them sits the beautiful metal agave sculpture given to us by Prairie. Prairie's giftOne side of the remaining play set structure is covered now with trumpet vine, and on the other side we planted a red/orange honeysuckle vine. A large, spreading dead apple branch that I found on the woods floor the other day works there as a trellis. And the birds have already signaled that they approve of this addition.apple branch trellis w honeysuckleIt was hard to come in to work this morning. What a beautiful sunny morning! Mr. Fluff sat sunning himself along the southside path as I was leaving. good bye kitty

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vegetables and flowers

My sister, my niece, and I are doing a “greens challenge”: seven days in a row we’re eating greens (broadly defined, including basically any really healthy-for-you vegetable that is green) cooked in various ways. Miso soup is an easy way to get greens in early in the day. The garden produces a lot of chard. Here is the garden on a recent foggy morning. 008The row of chard is in the middle–here is a closer shot:010Beautiful! And I made miso using only ONE chard leaf:011That’s a whole serving in one stalk. I added some tofu, parsley, garlic chives, left-over brown rice, and mushrooms:miso soup makingsWe’ve been spending a lot of time outdoors. First we spent a day moving the horse pasture to a new area, requiring taking down the existing fence, brush-hogging and trimming branches in the new spot, the re-placing the fence. We’ve also done some black-berry-picking and apple-gathering. We froze the blackberries and made apple sauce from the apples. When we were fencing I found a beautiful dead branch of an apple tree and used it as a trellis for the vining honeysuckle:apple tree branch trellisIt’s kind of hard to see in this photo–I’ll take a better one later.

The hibiscus we have in the meditation garden are blooming now, with their crazy-big blossoms. One is dark red and one is white with a red center:red hibiscuswhite red hibiscus heartOn our last trip to Canada we bough silver gazing globes–here is a picture of them in the back yard:silver gazing globesSometimes we come out in the morning and they’ve moved. We think that the raccoons play with them over night!

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drought over

We’ve had lots of rain in the last week and the garden is happily soaking it in. So there are a few more slugs, and the top-heavy phlox are all bowed to the ground, it’s all worth it. A few days ago we took advantage of a dry day to drive to the Rideau Woodland Ramble garden and nursery in Merrickville, Ontario, Canada. Wonderful! Everywhere you look as you walk their shady paths you can see garden/outdoor art of all kinds, and beautiful trees, shrubs, and flowers. There are also ponds and fountains. In one small building they offer coffee and original paintings for sale. Here is the view out from that room:Rideau Ramble garden doorwayHere is just one example of the garden ornaments:Rideau Ramble garden ornamentThey also have a labyrinth mowed into a lovely wildflower meadow. We were so charmed and inspired that we went to an art shop they recommended called Windsor’s Courtyard in Merrickville, and bought two pieces of garden art. I didn’t yet get a photo of the three shiny silvery metal balls we got and put in the back yard–one large and two smaller ones. The other is a wind-mobile sort of thing, made of metal, that twirls in the breeze. Here it is in the front yard:front yard with new ornamentHere’s a closer view of it:new ornamentIt withstood the strong winds and rain we had last night, so I guess it is sturdier than it looks. After our trips to Canada to visit gardens, we spent most of yesterday sitting on our front porch watching the rain fall. front porch with onions

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early August garden

Some news from the place: my talented sister sewed some curtains for the sun porch. They keep the beating sun out on hot days and their bright yellow color adds cheer. Even when they are open, they dress up the room a lot. Here’s a picture:new curtains for the sun porchOn the southside patio we’ve added a bench and a new chair. Here’s the view of it from the east:patio from the eastand here it is from the west:patio from the westThe biggest news is that we got the barn fixed. Here you can see some of the construction:fixing the barn 1We’ve added a nice chair to the front porch sitting area. Where for years there was a wooden plank over cinder blocks to sit on, we now have a nice new metal chair.front yard sitting spot

I also removed most of the paths from the white garden, keeping just one, so there’s one entrance to it and one exit. swingset garden The white garden is not very far along mostly because I’m still building up the soil and figuring out what to plant there. So for this year I planted a bunch of bright annuals, like these bright marigolds: bright marigoldThe main issue in the garden these days is the lack of rain. Every morning starts with watering, but I can’t water everything so I have to watch some plants falter in the heat and dry. It’s painful! In spite of that, there are some bright spots. Here are some photos from yesterday:entrance to back yard

front yard

front yard

patio garden

patio garden

you can always count on coneflower to stand the heat and dry weather

you can always count on coneflower to stand the heat and dry weather

My friend Val told us Canton folks about the newly available compost at the village highway department area, and I’ve been going there, not just to get some compost, but also to pick up some wood chips. Thanks, Val! I’m going to use wood chips now on all they paths–they last very well and help keep moisture in.

Here are a few critter shots:

bee on agastache

bee on agastache

cat with lilies

cat with lilies

little bugAlso a few lovely volunteers appeared in the garden this year. Here is a graceful white nicotiana that appeared in the meditation garden pathway:volunteer nicotianaAnd a new color of phlox appeared nearby:new phloxI’ll stop here–time to go do my daily rain dance!!

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a dry summer

We did get a little rain today, thank goodness, but the garden is pretty dry this summer. In spite of that the lilies and phlox and daylilies are showing their colors. The back yard especially is almost dizzying. back yard with barnunder the apple tree sittingWhen phlox bloom they create an amazing cloud of color. I love how there are so many different shades of pink, red and lavender.pink phloxThe oriental lilies are blooming. I’ve had to stake them, partly because I planted these in a spot with insufficient sunshine, and they all leaned over to try to find the sun. I’ll move them next year.fragrant lily collectionpretty oriental lilyI am slowly and carefully returning lilies to the garden after the disaster with red lily bugs of five years ago. Then I had 500 or 600 lilies all over the garden, and couldn’t keep the bugs off. Now I have three spots where small numbers of oriental lilies are, and I think I’ll stick with that idea. The other star of the garden now is daylilies, which are peaking this week. fair country windsThis one is a Klehm lily, called “country fair winds”.  Every morning I walk around the garden with a bucket to snap off the faded daylily blossoms. It might seem like a bother but it’s a wonderful way to start the day, and it lets me really look at each plant and enjoy the colors. The lily below is a double, and very fragrant.034We are also harvesting a lot from the vegetable garden and our currant bushes. The black currants did great this year. Here I am picking currants yesterday. picking black currantsAnd this morning we picked 12 quarts of blueberries at our neighbor’s U-pick farm. We’re going to make blueberry jam!

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mid-July extravagance in the gardens

vegetables first:broccoliHere is David holding a head of broccoli he just cut in the garden. Yum! And I was busy the other day picking red and black currants:red currants

We freeze them and will hopefully make something interesting out of them. We especially have a lot of black currants. Maybe we can make currant cordial or jelly.blooming elderberriesOur elderberries are blooming, and here is our young fruit orchard:fruit orchardWe have a variety of trees and shrubs: currants, elderberries, apricot, pear, and others. The green peppers have started producing. Those get chopped small, frozen on baking trays, then put into freezer bags for use in chili. green peppersWe will soon be making pesto with our basil, parsley and garlic. And we’re looking forward to trying my sister’s tomato sauce recipe when our tomatoes ripen. They are growing like mad. This picture is of me between walls of climbing beans and tomato in the garden this morning.tall tomatoesIn the flower garden, there are too many things to list that are blooming. I’ll put here some landscape views of the various beds:

back yard from the side (south)

back yard from the side (south)

the square garden from the west

the square garden from the west

The colors never seem to clash, no matter how they get combined:

yarrow and friendsprimary colorsI found a new source of wood chips, after being informed that the pile I was using in Potsdam was supposed to be for the dog park–oops! I have to go a little further but now I’m legal. Paths look nice with wood chips on them:front yard top pathsI have been patrolling the garden in the cool mornings for Japanese beetles and red lily bugs. The Japanese beetles really love hollyhock–warning: this next photo is rather X-rated!July 15 067The daylilies are starting up in earnest now. I walk around each morning with a bucket to deadhead. Here are just a few:daylily blushing summer valentinedaylily siloam purple princedaylily apricot sparkles groupdaylily pale yellowI bought four six-packs of cleome, and they have really prospered in the hot dry weather. giant cleomecleomeAnd here are a few other bright spots in the garden:false sunflowerpoppylarkspur clumpzinnia orange

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open letter to the skunk, high summer arrives, being a “soil scavenger”, a new backyard path

Open letter to the skunk:

Dear Skunk,

Thank you for visiting our garden last night again! I am happy to be sharing space with many creatures and you are welcome here. I smelled your lingering perfume on the cool air this morning, and saw that you’ve been busy as usual digging for worms and grubs. I don’t mind re-arranging the soil and smoothing over the little holes you make. But, I wonder, could you stop digging up the marigolds and petunias? They’re getting a little ragged from getting dug up every night and re-planted every morning. Have a nice day, and thanks again for visiting!

Sincerely,

Anne

high summer is here!

Along the roadsides, a garden of blue chickory, daisies, black-eyed Susan, clover and Queen Anne’s Lace is always for me the signal that high summer has arrived. We’ve had glorious days of hot sun and blue skies. In my own garden, an increasing flow of produce from the vegetable garden, and the close of the peony season signal high summer. Here is the last bouquet of peonies, from a late-blooming bush of fresh-looking snow-white “Elsa Sass”. last peony bouquet

The day lilies are all budded but only the wild orange ones and the Stella D’Oro are blooming. The beebalm have made their splashy appearance, while larkspur and delphinium add cool shades. bee balm light purple

 

 

honeybee on larkspur

scavenging:

My dictionary says a scavenger “salvages discarded items”. For me garden scavenging is all about adding amendments to the soil to keep it healthy. Recently I have been dragging half-rotted logs and branches from the woods to place in the garden to to line paths, or to make garden art. small tripodAnd all summer long I keep big tubs, buckets and a pitchfork in my all-wheel-drive Subaru Impreza hatchback to bring home various organic materials. One favorite spot is the dumping ground for used stall shavings from a large horse barn. A few weeks ago another gardener tipped me to a source of free wood chips which I was delighted to make use of. I am putting these chips on some of my paths. They break down very slowly, are good for moisture retention, blocking weeds, and of course do eventually become soil.

A new backyard path!

I am very pleased with the new, wide, log/branch/rock-lined path in the back yard. Here is how it looked before I started clearing it:back yard jungle

Going into the back yard from the meditation garden I had earlier created a wide path:

back yard panorama June 6

But most of the back yard was a trackless mass of plants and I had to thread my way through whenever I wanted to get into it to weed or whatever. So I put some thought into where to put a path that would disturb the least number of plants, and this is the result: new backyard pathwayNice and wide, mulched with wood shavings, and with the plants politely standing aside.

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