Tuesday, September 30, 2014

My View of the Garden

My garden is my sanctuary. Whenever I'm stressed it's a place to go to relax and feel calm and content. But I realized that very few of my photos show the garden as I see it when I'm trying to de-stress. Because when I de-stress I'm sitting on the ground. Not on the bench. Not standing. Sitting. Usually weeding or deadheading lower growing perennials or planting small things that only require a hand trowel (or my fingers, my soil really is that loose). So today I went out and tried to take some photos from my normal perspective.

My morning chore included removing the last of the grass from this planting area. I turned up more than a few earthworms (below).

I'm almost finished installing the last of the bricks. I just need to go and buy 7 more and then sweep off the dirt from the new ones and mulch where I removed grass and... ok, I'm not quite done.

Mums providing a punch of color in the midst of chaotic growth.

The birds are going to be really happy mid-winter. They love my holly bushes and this year they are covered in berries.

Sign of fall - things are starting to die back.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Vegetable garden update - Basil

I planted some basil in the tomato garden this year. My plan was to plant new basil every time the older ones bolt but either due to the regular watering schedule or the fact that the basil was shaded by the tomatoes they bloomed but didn't die off so I'm still harvesting fresh basil.

In a few weeks I'll have to freeze pesto base for the winter.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Don't let me near a garden center until next spring!

The Husband and I were running errands on Saturday and we were near one of the more distance garden centers I like so we stopped in. I wasn't expecting to buy anything. OK that's a lie, I did want to look in their greenhouses since they carry quite a few houseplants. Not that I have space for more houseplants...

It's kind of late to be planting stuff up here in New England AND we're in a bit of a drought. Not a good idea to buy stuff for the yard. So I didn't buy MUCH.

But I've been wanting to add a Goldenrod (Solidago sphacelata Golden fleece, native to the SE US) but I haven't found any all summer long so when I found some I snatched one up.

I've also been wanting to add a Helenium Mardi Gras. Ditto. I looked for one and just now found it.

And while I was browsing I notice one other plant that was COVERED with bees. Of course I looked it up. AFTER I planted it. Oh, a bit aggressive? I should have put that in the back yard instead of where I planted it. Welcome Physostegia virginiana. Please don't take over.

So, three new plants to water and cross my fingers and hope they survive the winter. Now if I can just avoid garden center until Spring.

Except for Messelaar bulbs. I do still need to add bulbs to the garden. I'm sure there's space somewhere.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Vernonia: Favorite Plant of the Week and Native Plant of the Month

I've got a double whammy this time. My favorite plant in the garden this week is also my featured native wildflower for the month of September. Meet Vernonia angustifolia var. Plum Peachy, common name: Ironweed.

Granted V. angustifolia is not the species of Vernonia that is native to Massachusetts - it's natural range is the Southeastern US but it is very attractive to the local wildlife - my resident bees are enjoying it.

Vernonia angustifolia is hardy in zones 5-8 or 9, likes full sun and Plum Peachy gets to be about 4 foot high (and that's the height actually is in my garden so bonus points to Plant Delights for getting that right!). The wild type is listed as getting every larger.

V. angustifolia is deer resistant but may reseed. I haven't noticed this in my garden but I may have pulled the seedlings without identifying them first.

I particularly like the darker stems and foliage of Plum Peacy, it makes a nice contrast with nearby, paler greens and it sets off the purple flowers nicely.

Thanks to Danger Garden for the Favorite Plant of the week and to Clay and Limestone for the Native Plant of the month meme.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Summer Project

This summer I set a project for myself. I would line all of the gardens in the front and side  yard with bricks. Now I didn't have a lot of money for this project so I used cheap bricks from a big box store, nothing fancy, and The Husband and I installed them ourselves.

We didn't do this like what we see on This Old House when they put in patios. We did NOT dig down below the frost line and put a layer of sand, topped with a layer of gravel, use a big heavy weighted wheel thingy to compress the soil and so on. No, we just dug up grass and installed straight into the dirt. I used a string to mark the straight-ish edge and off we went. 

I'm hoping this will help prevent plant creep. I have a defined line and if garden plants or grass is on the wrong side I'll just remove it. 

I'm almost done. I just need one more nice weekend day and the front and side yards will be complete. Next year - the back yard! I may hire someone to do that since I have a few complications, like an area of slope that needs a retaining wall, curved lines, a place I'd like to get steps installed that is full of tree roots, and I'm wanting to add a small patio.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Tomatoes September Update

The weather is starting to turn cooler and we're still short on rainfall but my tomatoes keep on producing!

I have plenty of ripe ones.

Plenty of not-yet-ripe ones.

And this is today's harvest (sorry for the wonky color - I'm taking a Photoshop class this winter that I hope will mean better quality pictures on this blog next summer). I'm only harvesting once or twice a week but I'm getting about this much each time. Plenty to eat and plenty to freeze. This doesn't include all of the small tomatoes that I munch on while in the garden, is there anything better than working in the garden and wandering over to the veggie bed for a quick snack? Mmmmm.....

Friday, September 19, 2014

Mystery Houseplant

I spotted this cute little thing at a big box retailer recently. It cost a whopping $2.98. How could I resist?

I didn't know what it was but I can usually find these things out with a little Google-foo.

Not this time. I found the supplier's website and it's not pictured there. Any ideas?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

End of the Season

Summer is definitely over here in New England. The season of leaving windows open all day and night, working in the garden and, for me, not having to go to work.

That's over.

Classes at my college started two weeks ago (can you tell? I'm not posting nearly as frequently) and I'm hip deep in class prep and grading (my to be graded pile is already several inches high. Groan. I never seem to catch up on that until the end of the semester).

In addition to my summer vacation ending it's also the end of summer vacation for my houseplants. It's starting to get into the 50s and occasionally into the 40s at night so inside they come.

Some of my houseplants getting ready for their end of the summer showers and the frantic oh-crap-I-put-something-else-in-their-spot craziness.

They all enjoyed their summer outside, putting on growth spurts and even blooming!

This Calathea looked pretty bad in the spring. I put it outside to forget about it but it responded "I'm not dead yet!"
It's so gorgeous right now I hope I can keep it alive all winter.

Now to make sure I didn't bring any visitors inside with them and to find them a place to spend the winter.

I'm so happy with how well they all did that I think I'll move even more outside next summer.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day Sept. 2014

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day snuck up on me this month so all of these pictures were taken early this morning, before I left for work. At least you know I'm being honest about what's blooming in my garden today ;)!

This time of year my garden is winding down. I have a few plants that flower specifically in the fall but I'm mostly dependent on long-term bloomers, annuals and pots. First up: the new bloomers.

OK, so Aster (Symphotrichium?) oblongifolium 'October Skies' is not quite blooming yet. It's just starting but once it gets going it will be COVERED in blooms for over a month. 

Last fall I planted this Clematis terniflora Sweet Autumn Clematis along the chain link portion of our fence. I wasn't sure how it would do since I bought it on sale and got it in the ground late. It survived. I bet it will be really showy next fall.

My last fall specific bloomer is already fading -  Allium tuberosum or garlic chives. This one has a wasp who spent the night still on the bloom. It's so cold this morning that I could probably safely pet her, but I restrained myself.

Next up are my long-term bloomers. These are plants that have bloomed since at least mid-summer and are still going.

Gaura. This starts blooming pretty early and goes until frost.

Scabiosa. An under utilized small perennial that blooms from spring through frost. It is a short lived plant and, in my garden, tends to get overgrown by more aggressive plants but what a bloom period!

This Rudbeckia fulgida, black eyed susan, is still going strong. It's new to my garden this year. I know these can be very aggressive but it's planted in the back yard so it has to be tough to survive the abuse of dogs running straight through it and digging around the roots.

Another very long term bloomer is Nepeta racemosa 'Walker's Low.' It seemed to take a break between early blooming and now but it's doing pretty good.

Both of my Hydrangea  bushes are starting to fade.  Hydrangea paniculata iforgotus on top and the lacecap Lady in Red (maybe) on bottom.

Re-blooms on one of my Heucheras.

A volunteer Agastache.

Late planted Lavender hidcote.

Wow I really do have a lot more blooming than I realized... That means I can save the photos of annuals and potted plants for another post!

Thanks to Carol at May Dreams for this meme and for helping me realize that my garden isn't as done  for the year as I thought.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Late Summer Planting

I learned to garden in The South where right now is a great time to plant. The hardest season for most plants down there is summer (especially August which tends to be hot and dry except when tropical storms come around) so planting right after summer gives them the most time to get established before things get rough.

Not so up here in New England. Up here the hardest season is definitely winter. Summers are fabulous, with only a few hot days, and we (usually) get plenty of rainfall during the growing season. So up here planting in the late summer and fall is risky and spring is the best time to add plants to the garden.

Still. I can't resist one last chance to make additions to the garden.

Plus, everything is ON SALE right now (correspondingly, selection is low).

Here are my new additions. May they all survive the winter.

Hakonechloa macra All Gold, which looks great against my jumbo sized pot

Hibiscus Kopper King (a HARDY Hibiscus) Love those leaves

Lavender hidcote - planted two of these in August in the Hell Strip. Plenty of sun and a little dry.

Andropogon (or Schizachyrium) scoparium The Blues. I really like the fall color against the color of the house. Looking back we should have changed the color of the house when we had it painted so that my green plants showed up better....

And lastly, I replaced the worn out Petunias who were against the fireplace all summer with some Pansies. Pansies are pretty cold hardy but tend to die during the heat of the summer so hopefully these will bloom all fall and still be alive when the snow melts to start blooming early in the spring.

Monday, September 8, 2014


Here's your Monday morning encouragement. If plants can grow on the flat roof (NOT designed as a green roof) of this apartment building entrance you can get through a Monday.

Biology will always find a way. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Sleepy Bees

In late summer the number of pollinators in my garden grows exponentially. As we start to get cool mornings I often find bees tucked under leaves and flowers, sleeping until it's warm enough to be active.

Disturbingly I have a song about it. It's to the tune of Daydream Believer by the Monkees.

Wake up sleepy bee

It's that time of day

To-o pollinate flowers and gather nectar.

Of course I only "wrote" the chorus [aren't you glad?]

Oh and this skipper (butterfly) was asleep, too. They move so fast when they're awake that I seldom get photos of them.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


It's the first day of the fall semester. Meetings today and first day of classes for my students tomorrow. I think we can all use a reminder to be determined at this time of year.

While I was gone for a week The Husband managed to keep MOST of my plants going but this Fuschia looked horrid when I returned so into the compost bin with it.

It didn't give up.

I love plants that flourish in weird places.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Comment Moderation

I've finally gotten to the big-boy blog stage of getting a lot of spam comments. In an effort to control this I have turned ON comment moderation. Please keep commenting! If the comment moderation isn't working let me know at DEQDAVIS at gmail dot com.

Thanks! Here's a picture of our neighborhood turkeys for reading this - mom and two of her FIVE poults.

It's September

Welcome to September. For many gardeners September is a great month with cooler temperatures and a second planting season. For me, my garden is starting to go downhill, I'm back at work [trying to convince college students that are only taking science because they have to that Biology really is cool!] and Winter Is Coming.

But it's not all doom-and-gloom. Yet. I still have tomatoes ripening.

My Buddleia, butterfly bushes, are just past their peak (with a patch of Gaura to the right) but still attracting butterflies.

My Sambuncus (Elderberry) Black Lace is looking gorgeous and the birds are nibbling on the berries.

The view against the side fence is fabulous but hard to photograph because the neighbor's house is white. It really needs a paint job - do you think I can convince them to change the color so I get better photographs? Left to right - Physiocarpus, Ninebark Diablo, Buddleia evil ways and Paniculum virgatum, switchgrass Cloud Nine

Lacecap Hydrangea, possibly Lady in Red, past her peak but still handsome

Hard to photograph but this is Thalictum, Meadow Rue (afraid I don't know the variety) growing up over the edge of the deck (as planned).

My experiment with Palms in pots got mixed results. The palms grew but also got some sunburn. I think I'll try something different next year. The New Guinea impatients in the bottom did very well (they're pinker than they appear)

That's my garden as the month changes. How's yours doing?