susansflowers

garden ponderings


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Flowers in the Vegetable Garden

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Strawberry plants are looking great.  I pick a couple of pints every morning.  My favorite ways to eat these summer gems is on a bowl of granola for breakfast, and on a dinner salad.  M-m-m, tasty!
Any extras get frozen on a cookie sheet and put away to be enjoyed in winter.
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Copy of DSCN3527 Copy of DSCN3535Summer squash is just getting going, I like mine small, young & tender.
A friend was surprised with a few zucchini at her front door the other morning.
The zuke elves are starting their rounds, watch out!
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Copy of DSCN3528 Copy of DSCN3536I’ve picked only a very few cherry-size tomatoes, and not one green bean – yet.
The best is yet to come in these departments.
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Copy of DSCN3530 Copy of DSCN3548Baby, red leaf, butter lettuce gone to seed is not necessarily glamorous.
The dandelion-looking fuzz balls are their flowers gone-to-seed.
Close-up the flowers are kind of cute.
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Copy of DSCN3538I try to keep flowers pinched from all my basil plants, as it is the leaves that are used.  Thai basil has the prettiest purple flower buds, and a few blossoms opened before they were pruned.
These leaves get dried to add flavor to curry dinners all winter long.
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Copy of DSCN3531Amaranth is new to me, and I’m not sure how much larger the flower will grow.  There are around a dozen plants, each about a yard (a meter) tall.
I keep checking this one, there is much for me to learn here.
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Copy of DSCN3526 DSCN3549Melons are such a gamble to harvest here.  Will the heat continue through August and September?  Since it is still July, it looks like this could be a good year.  Cantaloupe or rockmelon are the size of a large orange, so far.  Smooth-skin melons usually take longer to mature, but this one is on its way, also.
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And last, but hardly least, are a couple of my own garden nemeses:
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Someone was just here extolling the beauty of Queen Anne’s lace in the fields, and I objected.  The flowers are not evil themselves, but when they go to seed, the trouble starts.  It is a test of my patience to pick the burrs out of kids and my own socks.
The yellow flowers are not dandelions, but I would not be surprised to learn they are close cousins, as the flowers turn to fuzz-balls when they go to seed.


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Dazzling Dahlias

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Four dahlia bulbs were planted a couple of years ago.  I see three coming up, but only this one is blooming.  One has buds, and is also in direct sunshine, but no flowers yet.  Why, oh, why?
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Dahlia poses in my version of a bud vase.
The turtle cut-out on top helps the single flower stem stay erect.
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This is what the flowers from the top photo look like a week later.
It is tough to age gracefully, but these are doing pretty good.


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Harmonious Hydrangea

Copy of DSCN3466This shrub produces more flowers every year!
How is that not to love about a plant?

There are many types of hydrangea, some are smaller, some larger.  Some get pruned to the base every year, others merely get dead-headed (dead flowers are cut off), to encourage flowering the next year.
These are hereditary differences.

As far as flower color, pink or blue, that depends on the ph environment of the soil in which the bush grows.

I wish I could figure out which type of hydrangea I have.
One of the two in my garden is pictured above.
The other has never bloomed.  I am reluctant to cut all the branches to the base, for fear none of the branches would return the next spring.
The two specimen that I have were acquired at different times from very different places, they both get a lot of sun exposure and their local ground has been enriched.
Various hydrangea could be like relatives, they are in the same family, but even siblings are different from each other.


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Alluring Artichokes

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After our share of thistle hearts (in case you didn’t already know, artichokes are in the thistle family), I let the last few buds go to flower.
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This was not the only bee allowed a last fling before I cut the flowers.
If you get a chance to feel them, fresh artichoke flower tops are very soft.
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Copy of DSCN3475A dried artichoke flower from last year is on the left and a fresh cut flower on the right.  Not only the color of the new flower base (it is green), but its shape reveal the difference in age of the two.  As water evaporates, the bud will shrink and lose weight quite a bit.

These flowers are standing in a Goddess Vase that I made.
I love to play/work in the mud – clay and flowers both live in dirt.

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One of the coolest things about artichokes, is that the mother plant that yielded delicious eating chokes and pretty flowers for drying, makes baby plants before it dies.
There are two artichoke plants coming from the ground, in the photo above.  On the left side is new growth with the mother plant’s leaves turning  yellow on the right side.


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First Sign of Autumn – A Little Early to Me

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This morning, I noticed the first red leaf on Eonymus ‘Chicago Fire’.
It’s leaves change color way early in the summer, but now I am actually documenting just how early.

Out of curiosity, I googled this plant, and found no information on how early the leaves turn colors.  But I did learn that it is supposed to be deer-resistant.  Therefore, this winter it will be moved outside the fenced-in area.
Now I would like to find a flowering vine to climb the fence.  It is a particularly sunny area, that has honeysuckle farther down the same fence.
Any suggestions?


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Just this one time, Veronica!

Summer is not the usual season to transplant.  Especially when it is a particularly hot summer (global warming?), on a hot afternoon.
On a recent trip to my local Farmer’s Coop, I spied a desired perennial – on sale!  It was in great condition (okay, just a little root-bound), had blooms, and I had recently noticed a location in my flower garden that could use a plant just like this.
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Another blossom fell off on the drive home, so I immediately put it in a vase.  Veronica is also an excellent cut flower, as it has been on my kitchen table for a week.
Welcome to your new home, Veronica!


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Live and Learn

When I was younger, I thought I knew a lot (sometimes I even thought I knew it all!).  Everyday, as I get older, I realize just how little I know.
Does this make me smart ?  Because I know that I have lots to learn.
Or does this make me stupid, because I am dumb enough to think I know anything?

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Enough rambling, I have a correction to make:
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I posted this photo on June 29, 2015, and claimed it was a Monarch butterfly with a lily.  WRONG!  Monarchs are orange and black, what is in the photo is a Swallowtail butterfly dining on an Asiatic Species Lily.
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And a discovery.  Since July 4, 2015 when I posted Weed or Not, a new flower bloomed, and I recognized Coreopsis:
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Can you tell that the leaves look the same?
The specimen on the right has significantly more altitude than the shorter flower.
I am waiting for the taller one to bloom before the deer discover it and chew the buds off.


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Treasure Hunt

Back in Fall of 2013, I purchased a bag of pastel color tulips from a local store.  All 40 bulbs were planted under a Japanese Maple Tree, and bloomed beautifully the next spring, in April 2014. Copy of DSCN0106
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A year later in March 2015, the flower production was not quite as spectacular.

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I am suspicious this is inherent in tulips, that they bloom less every year the bulbs stay in the ground.  Or it could be a plan by the tulip breeders, to get customers to buy fresh bulbs every year.

I decided to dig up the bulbs under this particular tree, divide them and replant in the fall.  It doesn’t seem like I have a lot to lose, especially if the flowers diminish even more next year.
So . . I went on a treasure hunt.  After hours of shoveling and sifting with my fingers through the dirt, I had over a gallon of bulbs in a bucket (about 5 liters). Copy of DSCN3445 The bulbs had definitely multiplied, but none were near as large as the original bulbs.  Next, I sorted the bulbs by size. Copy of DSCN3447 I selected the forty largest bulbs and put these aside to replant under the Japanese Maple tree.  Into another container I put fifty of the next size down bulbs.  And into another container went 100 of the next size bulbs (very close to the same size as the 50 bulbs).  Containers 4 & 5 hold 150 bulbs each, and in the last container went hundreds of very small bulbets.
If I looked at it as multiplication, I hit the jackpot by turning 40 bulbs into more than 500.  Or I could look at my ‘winnings’ from a different point of view and see a very slight increase in bulb volume.

This fall, the plan is to plant as many bulbs as I can.  I will try to note where each size goes, so I can learn if they all have a chance of blooming again. I’m wondering what is done commercially?  Do the tulip farms replant all the small bulbs?  Do the bulbs take more than one year to grow large enough to be marketed?  I hope be able to answer some of these questions next spring!


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Germander (I’m pretty sure, but how can I be positive?)

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How can one not love a drought-resistant, deer-proof, reliable blooming plant?
This one has lived here long enough for me to move babies to other places around the house.  It makes itself at home wherever it goes.  Does not take over, may make a baby if encouraged, takes pruning at most any time of year.
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The bumble bees love these flowers.  While I am smart enough not to test them, they are so engrossed in the blossoms they barely notice people around.  Bumbles are not the only bees who savor this nectar.


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Weed or Not?

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Doesn’t it really depend on your definition of what is a weed?
This garden invader (see, a negative comment by me already), is at least 4 feet tall (over a meter).  I have been letting it stay so I could see what the flower looks like.  Perhaps I will like the blossoms, and it could be a new addition to this deer-proof bed.

So far, neither bees or wasps have been attracted to this specimen.  Although, when I was photographing this morning, the bees were all over nearby plants, and I did not dawdle.
The other photo-taking challenge was getting the entire plant in one picture.  It is in the middle of a bed, and the neighboring greenery partially disguises what I am attempting to point out.