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!

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

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!



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


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.