Friday, August 15, 2014

Octopus's Garden on Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day: August 2014


With the temperature ten degrees below normal, it feels like fall this August Bloom Day. I love the cool air and clear, blue sky following a day of soaking rain. My plants love this weather, too, and the garden is more beautiful than usual for the time of year. Usually, ever flower is struggling in extreme heat and humidity. What a different and strange year it's been so far.

On my morning walk I tried to photograph what is new, but couldn't resist adding a couple of old friends to the pictorial mix. Let's start with the pond garden, or as my grandson (a Beatles fan) calls it, "Octopus's Garden."

Angel Falls

The water lily is just opening its petals to the morning sun. Can you see Mr. Bullfrog?

Octopus's Garden, surrounding the pond, is full of color with cleome, butterfly bush, Russian sage, perennial geranium, and the deep red leaves of the Japanese maple...


 Rozanne is a hardy geranium. This is the true geranium, not to be confused with the annual pelargonium. It grows, reliably, in several parts of my garden. Here it is in the rose garden.

Old friend, perennial geranium, Rozanne

My roses suffered horribly this past winter. I lost some and had to cut back others so severely they failed to produce flowers this year. One rose, my yellow Knockout, is attempting to bloom, but as the buds appear they are greedily devoured by Japanese beetles. 

Knockout rose bravely bearing buds.

A plant bearing yellow flowers with much more 'blooming' success is the threadleaf coreopsis.

Threadleaf coreopsis

Not many butterflies are visiting my garden this year. I am so sad! Every day I examine the milk weed for eggs or caterpillars, but I am not finding them. I have spotted only a couple of monarchs passing through. The blooms of the butterfly bushes entice them to stay. Please stay ...

Phlox, shasta daisies, and pink butterfly bush.

Purple butterfly bush, daylily 'Chicago Apache,' and cleome.

Behind the shasta daisies I see blue mist shrub has started to bloom. 

Shasta daisies and blue mist shrub

I planted containers with zinnias and placed them at the end of the path to provide a 'destination.'

Path through octopus's garden.

Entering the kitchen garden I am delighted to see a clematis is still blooming on the arbor.


New this year, I planted borage among the vegetables to attract pollinators. It's striking blue flowers are real bee magnets. I just wish the bees would stay on each bloom long enough for me to take pictures. Please stay ...

Borage (herb)

As always, I planted annual flowers in the kitchen garden.

Zinnias, delphiniums, and marigolds.

Obedience is full of bees...

Obedience plant.


Finally, at the edge of the top field I found an 'escaped' Turk's cap lily with wild, puple phlox behind it...


I scattered the phlox seeds along the stone row late last fall, but wasn't sure they survived the hard winter ...


White phlox in the butterfly garden.

A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing the birds are singing, and the lawn mower is broke. --James Dent

Thank you, Carol, for graciously hosting Garden Blogger's Bloom Day each month. What a joy to see all that's blooming around the world.

Happy GBBD,
Pamela x






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Sunday, August 10, 2014

Miniature Gardening: Part 3 -- Step-by-Step Procedure


Gardening in miniature can be as challenging as designing a full-sized garden; proportion and scale, elements of garden design, and sustainability all need to be considered. -- Janit Calvo

I posted about my fascination with fairy gardens last November in Miniature Gardening: Part 1 and Miniature Gardening: Part 2 - Book Reviews. You can click on the titles of these two postings to read them. Now I am happy to show you my first two creations. To be accurate, I can't take all the credit, because I had considerable help from my grandson, Jon. We decided to make one mini garden in a container, and one in a garden bed.

The container I chose was intended for storing a water hose, but I was using it for my miniature hosta collection. As we were going to put the hostas in the fairy gardens, I removed them from the container and scrubbed it out. The container had a hole in the bottom -- I think it was drilled by H.H. when I made it into a planter. Here is the procedure:

1. Jon covered the drainage hole with a piece of weed block. Or you could use a coffee filter.



 2. Add about two inches of a drainage layer such as pea gravel or broken pieces of terra cotta pots. Jon used pebbles and crushed rock which I washed in hot water first to prevent insect and disease problems.


3. Jon added a high quality potting mix until it reached one inch from the rim of the planter. If you want to keep the potting mix 'sweet' you can add horticultural charcoal. You need at least 3 inches of mix to support the plants' root systems. (I'm glad Jon wore his gardening gloves to handle the potting mix.)



 4. The next step is the hardscaping. Jon decided to create a creek with shiny, marble-like pebbles. He placed them on top of a strip of weed block fabric, so they wouldn't wash into the soil when it rained.



He placed a bridge over the stream.

5. My favorite step was adding plants. We planted three miniature hostas, some lamium, and sedum. Jon carefully placed moss to cover all the bare spots. You will see we used shade-loving plants as they are located in the shade garden.

 Using a similar method, with weed block fabric and marble chips, he made a path from the bridge to an arbor.

He positioned a fairy under the arbor and a birdhouse near the bridge to complete the theme.

 6. Finally, watering and caring for the miniature garden. Use a water can with a fine spray, being careful not to overwater. You don't need to use fertilizer as you don't want the plants to grow too fast.




The completed garden.

 We made a second fairy garden in the 'grass garden' bed ...


 Legends tells us that fairy voices echo within the gentle whispers of a breeze, their faces peer at us from the trunks of gnarled old trees, and the ripples of an otherwise still pond are nothing more than fairies playing. -- Betty Earl



Later, I placed a mirror behind the first garden. It is really lovely now the hostas are blooming.

 

Miniature hosta.

As the sedum grew, I trained it up and over the arbor ....  



 A love of miniature gardening is contagious. My friend Katharine decided to try it, too. She sent me the picture I placed at the beginning of this posting. She is very excited about her project and is planning to add more plants. She made the fence out of popsicle sticks. The next picture shows a wide view of her sweet fairy garden ....



Another friend, Karen, gave me a miniature bench, some paving stones, and a fence as a hostess gift recently (what a great gift!) so I have more fairy gardens planned. I have to pick up a couple more supplies, and wait until my grandson's next visit before proceeding. Look for Part 4 in the near future.


Miniature gardening is that sweet spot where craft and gardening intersect at such an intimately creative place; it can spur your imagination like no other hobby. -- Janit Calvo

It is so much fun! I recommend you try it!

Pamela x

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Thursday, July 31, 2014

High Tea and Cottage Garden Flowers


A garden brings pleasure in so many ways. One way is to share it with visiting friends; another is to bring beautiful cut flowers indoors. I enjoyed both pleasures recently when some dear fellow gardeners came to my home for high tea. Prior to their arrival, I picked cottage garden flowers to decorate the dining room. My July garden peaked late this year and my arrangements showed a large variety of blooms.

Tea time was fun. I love to set a table with pretty, English china, tea sandwiches, scones with cream, strawberries, trifle, and tea cakes, on a lace table cloth. Best of all was the conversation with like-minded people, following a tour of the garden of course.

Wonderful friends share my English tradition.

The white jug was given to me by my friend, Karen, some years ago. I filled it with phlox, cleome, Queen Anne's lace, and purple cone flower. I added spikes of Russian sage, gooseneck loosestrife, and obedient plant.

Pink phlox 'Bright Eyes' with cleome and Queen Anne's lace.
As you may remember, I removed all my echinacea after it was struck with aster yellows. I planted a different variety far from the infected bed, hoping it wont suffer the disease.

Echinacea Purple Cone Flower
For the table arrangement I used white shasta daisies, tiny yarrow, and Queen Anne's lace, punctuated with colorful nasturtiums, delphinium, and marigolds.

Table arrangement.
Yellow thread-leaf coreopsis and pink cleome also add color.
Shasta daisy is a must-have cottage garden flower




I added a yellow dill flower.
My friend Karen brought flowers from her garden. Karen introduced me to the joy of growing zinnias many years ago, but this year my zinnias were very disappointing. Hers, however, left me gasping with envy. Large and colorful, they made a striking bouquet.


Karen uses hosta leaves in her arrangements, to great effect. 


She decorated the mason jar with burlap and ribbon. How lovely is that?



Thank you, Karen, and all my wonderful friends, for an enjoyable afternoon of flowers, food, and conversation.

Enjoy the rest of your summer (it's going too fast.)

Pamela x



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