Monday, June 28, 2010

The Coming of the Queen Bee

The Queen Bee is coming, the Queen Bee is coming.  

[The Queen Bee is formerly known as The Mom.  The reason for her name change can be found on her blog, here]

Yes, it's true.  And she's bringing her white gloves for a thorough inspection.  I'd better get to work so I'll be ready for her.

I have two cubic yards of mulch arriving today.  I'm sure I can get it spread by Friday.

I have tulips whose leaves have finally died back and need to be trimmed.  I'm sure I can get them removed by Friday.

The pansies at the base of my chimney have been trammeled by workmen.  I'll have to replace them with blooming annuals.  By Friday.

The Guerrilla Rabbits ate a plant at the Spot of Doooooom.  It's partly shady and there are a lot of tree roots in the area.  My first attempt at planting something there didn't survive (too dry?  Competition from my one front yard tree?).  My second attempt - see above re Rabbits.  I'll have to come up with something else to try.  By Friday.

With all the work on the outside of the house I'm behind on my deadheading.  I'm sure I can catch up by Friday.

I have a few still empty pots.  I'll have to plant them with annuals.  By Friday.

I haven't spread around the extra compost from this year's plantings.  I'll have to do that.  By Friday.  And move my red planting tub that is full of water and potting soil (I wash the roots before planting).

The Husband recently got a gas grill (the fancy new radiant heat type of grill, the most fuel efficient and least air polluting type on the market, and we got a SMALL one since we seldom need to cook 44 hamburgers at once).  We're planning to put a small patio by the deck for the grill to live on (our deck is small, too).  I'm sure we'll be able to get this installed by Friday. 

We'll also have to get the bricks that are piled along the driveway installed to form a border along one of my perennial beds.  By Friday. 

Whew.  After that's done I'll move inside.  My begonias are going through their yearly ugly phase.  They'll look bad for about a month and then start blooming again (and bloom all winter).  Hmmm...  I may have to hide them and put something else in this area.  By Friday.

What's that you ask?  What about cleaning the inside of the house?  I tidied up the houseplants this past weekend.  But you're right.  The indoor water gardens (ie fish tanks) need some tidying, too.  I'll get right on that.

I hope The Queen Bee doesn't mind tripping over the clutter and wading through dog fur to inspect the plants!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Rabbit Wars - Battle For the Baptisia

[If you haven't been following the Rabbit Wars you might want to read this and this before beginning this update]

We have a breach.

Repeat we have a breach in the defenses.

During the night someone attached the Baptisia Fortress and broke through the walls.

This left two of the remaining Baptisia defenseless against the Marauding Hoards of Guerrilla Rabbits.

It is unclear if the damage was done by Guerrilla Rabbits or if they hired Mercenary Deer for the attack.

[Thank goodness they didn't hire any of the neighborhood skunks!]

We have repaired the damage.  We expect reinforcements to be in place later this afternoon.  We MUST protect the Baptisia!!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Flower Power

Between the painters finishing up and the roofers arriving I managed to slip out and photograph some of my blooms. 

Scabiosa 'butterfly blue' and Gaura 'whirling butterflies'

New to me - Knautia maceodonia - looks to be like Scabiosa on a stick!  Hope it does as well for me as the Scabiosa!  The goldfinches are already using the stems to perch on.

More Scabiosa 'butterfly blue' plus Coreopsis 'Zageb'
This is a nice vignette but these plants are only 1 year in the garden.  I chronically plant too close together.  I think I'll have to move some stuff next spring.  Which means a new garden bed since this one is full.  Gosh darn it!

Asclepias tuberosa

I really like their flowers.
No one has told the Pansies that it's Summer and they can quit blooming now.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Report From the Front Lines

...The fortress seems to be holding stop....

....The chemical warfare is NOT repeat NOT effective stop...

....Rabbit in full battle gear found inside back garden stop...

...Yes, in the Lieutenents' private area stop....

...Obviously the scent of dog is not enough to scare these War Rabbits stop...

...A mighty enemy indeed Full Stop...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Declaring War

Anyone who's spent time on this blog or with me knows that I'm not much of a war monger.  Two wars in the Gulf over oil?  Please!  We should reduce our use and explore alternatives like solar (WANT....SOLAR....PANELS).  But I have found something more precious than oil, more valuable than gold (and molybdenum and lithium and whatever else they've found in Afghanistan, don't they know that NO ONE ever wins a war in Afghanistan.  Ever.).

What is so valuable that I will declare war?


Here is one of my Baptisia plants.  Look closely.  It's right there by the soaker hose.  Don't see it?

That's because it was eaten!  By a rabbit!

Now, normally I'm a friend to rabbits.  They're cute, shy and honestly, in ecological terms, they're Nature's Big Macs.  We have lots of good predators around.  Coyotes, Fishers, Bobcats, Foxes.  But this year is a big rabbit year in my neighborhood and they've been eating more than their fair share of my newly planted plants (the established ones are not suffering enough damage to worry about).

So I rounded up my army.

Lieutenant Jasper (top of the stairs) and Lieutenant Piper.

The Lieutenants will contribute fresh dog fur (especially over achieving Lieutenant Piper, she's bucking for Captain).  This fur will smell like dog, hopefully suggesting to the rabbits that the dogs are patrolling the area routinely and it is not safe to stay. 

The dogs would be happy to patrol the area frequently but then they'd wander back into the woods and have an exploration and loose running dogs are very vulnerable to attack by the savage ranks of the Feral Wood Rabbit.  They need to stay closer to base.

And here's Colonel Husband.  He helped manufacture the fortifications to protect the Baptisia.

Here is an example of a Baptisia Fortress.

(I was writing an exam so I wasn't able to take care of this today, my poor students.  Seven pages.  29 questions.  It took me five minutes in my trial run to answer all the questions.  I bet it will take them longer!  Oh, right, this is a gardening blog, sorry)

So we have mounted our first round of defenses.  I have documented the results of the nighttime raids by the Guerrilla Rabbits.  Soon night will fall and we will once again be engaged in a battle over the Baptisia.

I wonder if The Husband still has his night vision binoculars.  And would be willing to sit outside on guard duty all night....

Now to lighten your hearts after all this talk of war here are two gratuitous photos of the World's Cutest Cat, Katydid.

So sweet.  "Helping" me write the exam.

And look at those PAWS.  

Yes, she has around 104 toes.  And a bob tail (not shown).

OK.  Soon back to the garden.  I promise.

Unless the rabbits eat it.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

I want my garden back

The painters are nearly finished.  I'll be so glad when they're gone.  They've tried to be considerate about the gardens but the damage has been done.

This is the lawn around the house.  Can you see how trammeled the grass is?  Can you imagine how compacted the soil must be?

They've stepped on these Mexican Feather Grass.

These lilies had a paint sprayer hose dragged across them.

And let's not mention the weed getting out of control, the spring annuals needing to be replaced and the daffodil foliage ready to be cut back.

It will all be worth it, though.  The old, faded, stained paint is gone and in it's place


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day

We've gone Over The Edge this month.  Over The Edge of Sanity, that is.  For the past week we've had a painting crew working on the outside of the house, we had carpenters replacing damaged siding, we had the termite inspection (no termite, just carpenter ants, I'm ruminating about a blog post on the topic), I started teaching Anatomy and Physiology in summer school (my first time teaching A&P so lots of hard prep work) and one of the dogs has an ear infection.  Whew.  So apologies for the brief GBBD post this month.  It's Chaos here on The Edge.

I'm in that intermediate time of the garden where lots of the late spring bloomers are done or are finishing up and the summer bloomers are just beginning.   Like this Coreopsis Zagreb.  One more week and it'll be spectacular.

This Rose, Don Juan, is also just starting to bloom.  This is the second year for this plant so it is in the "creeping" phase.  Can't wait to see it next year!  (Plant growth pattern:  first they sleep, then they creep, then they leap.  This means that when you first plant something it has to put out roots and no top growth is evident.  For some plants the time frame is one year at a time, for others it can be weeks or months).

Lastly is my Veronica Royal Candles.  Just because I managed to snap a good photo before the painters started setting up this morning.

For more GBBD check out Carol's May Dreams Gardens.  She has a lot of links at the bottom of the post to find other blogs.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Pest Control

If you've read my blog you probably realize that I'm anti-pesticide (please hold the sarcasm) but today I'm calling a pest control company.  Why?  We'll get to that.  First here some reasons why not.

Very rough looking American Lady butterfly (Vanessa virginiensis) on my Centaura Amethyst in snow.



Ants - look close

Damselfly on Basil

This year we finally started seeing grasshoppers in the yard

More bee, NOID


I consider my garden a shared space.  I share the space with the local wildlife.  I exert control only over the plants and I try to make plant choices that are beneficial to my own personal ecosystem.  That means that I tolerate a great deal of insect "damage" on plants.

Like this spittlebug on Parsley (2nd year plant, you can see flower buds)

And the damage to this violet.

Unfortunately it also means that I will not be planting any more lilies (this damage is done by the Red Lilly Beetle, a non-native species that I apparently have in large numbers).  I could treat these plants yearly for the RLB but there would be collateral damage to some of the insects I want and up the food chain to the local birds.  I don't want lilies bad enough to justify poisoning My Own Personal Ecosystem.

Then there are the species that do even more damage.  Like this cute little rabbit (photographed through the window).  Fortunately the rabbits have not done a lot of damage in any one place.  She seems to nibble here, move on, nibble there.  My plants can handle that type of damage.

Then there are the deer.  Fortunately we don't have a lot of deer in our area.  They are one reason I encourage rampant growth of "wild" violets.  I've found deer will graze violets before most other garden plants and the violets will come back.

On the negative side the deer also found my garden peas.  I'll plant them inside the back yard fence next year where the deer fear to tread.

Why do the deer fear to tread into the backyard?  These garden pests.

Piper is a digger so backyard plants have to be pretty hardy - I protect the shrubs for one to two years and then they are on their own and I plant "aggressive" perennials like Monarda that should be able to take dog damage.

Here's the real predator.  Jasper used to be a feral dog and he can and will catch most types of animals that stray into the backyard (he's caught and killed birds!).  Doesn't look like a garden pest does he?

Ok.  So now back to the big question.  Why am I calling a pest control company?  Because I found this in the garage.

That's evidence of wood destroying insect, probably termites.  Sorry, guys but I need to keep my house.  Insects that hurt me or mine are subject to eviction with prejudice.  (that list is limited to yellow jacket nests, wasp nests near the front door and termites and the first two are because The Husband is allergic)

So I have to swallow my convictions and call.  And try to convice the pest control company to minimize the collateral damage to My Own Personal Ecosystem.  I hope they don't scare off the local garter snake population.

Then I have to control my urge to rant when they try to sell me on monthly applications of pesticide (doesn't THAT sound like a good idea for both the local ecosystem and the health of my family).  

I will NOT smack the pest control guy.

I will NOT smack the pest control guy.

I will NOT smack the pest control guy.

Wish me luck.