susansflowers

garden ponderings


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Last Hurrahs

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Leaves on the Sweet Gum tree (above left) are just turning from green to yellow, while the Sugar Maple (on the right) has lost most of its leaves.
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Why would the leaves on one of three Aspen trees still be hanging on, when the other two trees are almost naked?

There are no flowers around the house.  Between the drought and global warming, I should be able to find some plant that will flower later in the season.  Driving today, I did spot nasturtiums in a neighbor’s yard.  Those I know I can grow – and they come with the bonus attribute of being edible besides pretty and late-growing.
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Down in the garden, it is another story.
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Dill (left) and Cilantro (right) flowers are staying handsome.  I think it is the perfect balance between enough sun to keep them happy, but cooler days of less daylight keep both of these plants from ‘going to seed’.
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Copy of DSCN4155 Copy of DSCN4157Cherry tomato and jalapeno flowers are in for disappointment, there is no chance they will grow to maturity before winter sets in.  Just not enough heat-hours left in this season.
Strawberries, also, keep blooming, and their fruit is much quicker to ripen, so I have a chance to harvest more of them – hoorah!


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Autumn has Definitely Arrived

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Some of these Sugar Maple leaves have been moved to cover beds in the vegetable garden for the winter.  Today’s agenda includes:  to finish moving this pile before expected rain comes tomorrow (unless I get side-tracked. . .).  You can see there are plenty more leaves to come!
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We enjoyed a long hot summer.  Grew delicious melons that rarely mature in the hills where I live – farmers really are gamblers!
Our lack of rain has been sorely felt by the trees.  On the right, above, is a dead cedar tree just next to a thriving one.  To the left is a fir tree slowly dying.  There are too many more like these.  To me, the saddest part is the quantity of very large (over 40 years old) fir trees that are dead and dying.  We will have to pay an accomplished tree faller to cut the dead ones without hurting live trees nearby.
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On a lighter note, I learned something about drying amaranth flowers.
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What was I thinking when I lay the fresh flowers in this position to dry?
As you can see, they stay in the same position after drying!
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This drying position should give flowers that will display much nicer!


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Autumn Wildflower

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Along the driveway, where I often walk, I saw a flower I had not noticed before.  We are in the midst of a drought.  The grass is brown and very dry at the end of summer.  These tiny blossoms would be easy to overlook, as the soft yellow blends in with the muted colors of its surroundings.
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Since I have been writing this blog, I have become more aware of mother nature at home.  Documenting my observations, I have a record of what time of year a particular flower emerges.  Also, what color of a particular flower will bloom before other colors.  Memory is weak, writing is strong.  I am not the only victim, it is human not to remember all the details one wants to remember.


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Oregano, Mexican and Greek

Oregano, GreekOregano, Mexican

While both of these oregano plants look similar in the photos they have big differences.  The first photo is Greek oregano, which is low growing like a groundcover.  When Mexican oregano comes into bloom, the flower stems shoot up over a foot high.  While various bees like lavender and germander flowers, moths are especially attracted to the Mexican oregano.  I remember catching these moths when I was a kid (it is not hard to pinch the wings together when they are fully open).

In the culinary field, low-growing Greek oregano seems to me to have a stronger aroma and potency.  I recently acquired a small Italian oregano plant, that has yet to flower.  Have not yet done a taste comparison with the three varieties of oregano either.

I like using all of the oregano plants in the landscape, as they have some strong assets, besides their good looks.  They are deer and drought resistant.  The flowers are a pretty addition to a summer bouquet, but not over-powering in their scent.  While the Greek oregano flowers are good for very small vases, the Mexican variety is a nice accent for mid-size flower arrangements.


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Shasta Daisies

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Shasta Daisies ring half of the flower garden area around my house.  Because the deer do not bother these flowers.  Usually deer-resistant plants are fuzzy, aromatic or gray-leaved, and Shasta Daisies have none of these features, so I have not figured out why the deer avoid them.  Another benefit to growing these daisies is they are drought-resistant.  Not quite like a cactus, but definitely do not need pampering.

I am including a photo of an arrangement of Shasta Daisies with accents of sprigs of lavender.  As the daisy flowers are coming into full bloom, the lavenders are starting to fade.  Thus a natural bouquet is so much a matter of timing. 

The flowers are standing in a Goddess Vase that I made.  Do you see the female figure in the pottery vase?  They are modeled on archaeological figurines that have been found throughout Southern and Eastern Europe, around Iberia to Scotland, and dated 20,000 to 30,000 years ago.  The original sculptures were usually small, with no head, just a torso.  They are often full-figured.  It is speculated the pregnant female body was being honored, as that ensured the future of humans.  This was long before the advent of agriculture, which emerged around 10,000 years ago.


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Lavender

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I have two colors of lavender plants the darker purple and lighter lavender.  Through the years, the baby plants have taken on both colors and are now mostly a nice medium purple.

A couple of years ago, we ate lunch at the restaurant at King Estate Winery in Oregon.  The view included beautiful lavender beds.  I have seen fields of lavender, but they are just fields; where the King Estate lavender were artistically arranged.  With inspiration like that, I wanted to make my own lavender beds to enjoy from my front deck.  It has turned out to be a bit of work, and will take a few years before the baby plants I moved around to mature.  I’m sure it will be worth the wait.

Besides their beauty and delicious scent, I love that lavender is deer- and drought- resistant.  And the aroma!  Just a brush against the plant emits a heavenly smell.

Rosemary

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Rosemary

It took a few tries to get a photo of these small flowers when the wind wasn’t moving them around. Most herbs wait until later in the season to flower, rosemary is the earliest that I know of.

Deer stay away from this plant, as they do most all aromatics. I love that feature in a plant while I am living here.

I’ve seen rosemary plants growing in all sorts of climates. My biggest surprise was when I saw a row of upright rosemary plants growing on a commercial side street in Las Vegas. These are very drought-resistant, and grow in various sizes from sprawling to a good-size shrub. A woman told me how she trained her rosemary plant in a round, not circle, shape using metal wire as a guide. I haven’t figured that out – yet. Give me a little more time.