susansflowers

garden ponderings


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Fingernail-Size Spirea Flower

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These tiny white flowers are the size of my baby fingernail – and I keep my nails trimmed short!
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The deer love this plant, so it is encircled with a fence.
In the left photo, there is space between the fence and the plant, so flowers have a chance to grow and bloom on stems close to the ground.
Where the fence is very near the plant on the right, deer keep branches and flowers trimmed.


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Spirea in late Autumn

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From the corner of my kitchen window, this plant looks to me like it is on fire.
Or it makes me think it is a large funny hat in the yard.
I had forgotten that this shrub can be so colorful in the fall.  In summer, it is an ordinary green, that merely blends into the landscape.

Deer keep the lower branches nibbled to the fence that surrounds this bush.  Surprisingly, the deer don’t bother to eat what is not at a convenient level for them.  Unless they get very hungry, when we have seen, usually an old doe, stand on her hind legs to get a morsel of food.


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Japanese Maple on the First Day of Autumn

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Actually, autumn began at 7:30 pm last night, but today is the first day of the new season.  The color change of the leaves is very subtle, as it is just beginning, in this tree.   If you look on the upper left side, you can notice the leaves getting lighter, as they lose the deep red color they had all summer long.

Yes, that is a four foot high (122 cm) deer fence around the tree trunk.  Although the tree appears to be tall enough that the deer cannot decimate its foliage, I will not even attempt to remove the fence until spring.  There is barely enough forage for the deer at this time of year, and I have seen hungry animals stand on their hind feet to eat whatever they can.


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White Ground Rose

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The top photo was taken a few days ago, mid-September, while the second one was from early June.  This is another rose bush of mine that just keeps on blooming.  The flowers begin as a light pink, but pale to pure white as they open.

Deer keep the side of this plant next to a wire fence pruned, as I believe that deer think of roses as people think of chocolate.  I have pruned the bottom branches that cover the ground, so I can keep the weeds in check.


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Verbena Bonariensis

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While this photo was taken July 1 this year, this plant is flowering again.  These flower stems are very long – about 3 feet tall (1 meter), yet the flower heads themselves are quite small.  The one in the picture is 3 inches across, at most.  And each flower head is really many teeny-tiny florets.

I’ve only seen this flower in a public planting here in the Northwest US, one time, and it was more sparse than lush.  One reason might be that it grows as an annual here in Oregon, but can naturalize in tropical climes, as Hawaii.  But then you have to watch out, because it has become invasive some places.  I try not to plant anything that can become invasive in my area.  We are doing battle with enough unwanted plants, for example Himalayan blackberries (planted to control erosion) and English hawthorn (brought by early settlers for fence rows).


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Hollyhocks

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Hollyhocks were unknown to me until a woman friend gave me a handful of seeds.  I dutifully planted them and they grew and grew and grew some more.  These are by far the tallest flowers I have.  They have bloomed and reseeded for a number of years now.  This year the blossoms are far more meager than in previous years, and I wonder if the plants are just getting old and need to be started again.  I used to see stems-full of dark red flowers that I learned were an old-fashioned favorite.

In the second photo you can see where the deer have eaten everything off the hollyhock stems.  They have been pruning these plants for years now.  I just measured the deer fence at 4 feet (120 cm) high, and it is also 4 feet (120 cm, again) from the house wall.  While the deer could jump this height easily, the bed is full of plants with no landing space.  The fence is high enough to deter the deer from nibbling low stature plants.


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Sweet Pea in Mini-Vase

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I just love sweet peas.  So much that I planted an entire package of everlasting sweet peas.  Did that turn out to be a mistake!

The flowers were beautiful as they grew along a fence.  Deer kept them pruned on the outside of the wire fence, but there were still plenty of flowers to go around.  I picked handfuls to put in vases indoors, and there were still lots more flowers.  Which of course, meant lots of sweet pea seeds.  I collected seeds to strew along other wire fences, the flowers made even a wire fence look pretty.  It took another spring before we saw sweet peas coming up everywhere.  Not just along a fence line, but everyplace the ground had been stirred.  Between the birds and the wind, the sweet peas were on the verge of taking over everything. 

Then I remembered where I had seen sweet peas growing wild along roadsides.  They looked very pretty there, also.  But nothing else grew in the masses of sweet pea vines.  Very reluctantly, I took a shovel to the now unwanted plants.  It has taken a couple more years and I still find interlopers that need to be dug up.  The flower pictured was a surprise, and the plant was immediately put an end to.

I still love seeing sweet peas in the wild.  They were planted by someone, or the birds dropped a seed – all it takes is one seed in a favorable environment to start a colony of these flowers.  But I keep them out of my garden. 


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Agastache – Hyssop

Copy of Agastache - purple Copy of Agastache c

I know that Agastache is a cousin to Hyssop, but cannot tell you how they are alike.  (yet!)  I have two of these growing in separate areas, and have killed at least that many others.  Supposedly the deer do not like these plants, but my experience tells me otherwise.  They may not be as delectable as roses or tulips, but they are not on the hated food list either.

The agastache I am growing now, are definitely babied.  They both have a small fence around them to keep marauding varmits at bay.  My long-term goal is to get them large enough to be able to survive on their own.  At which point only one fence will be removed a year – I will take few chances on these supposedly sturdy perennials.

I like the looks of these flowers a lot, and look forward to including them in cut bouquets as the plants grow and flower more.  In the meantime, they are beautifully, distinctive plants in the landscape.

Orange Daylilies

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Orange Daylilies

 

Because daylilies are so easy to grow, I have them in many places around the ranch.  This particular photo shows part of a long line of daylilies, planted under photinia plants. The bed includes a row of bearded iris behind the daylilies, and columbine which reseeds wherever it can get a foothold.

A winter project is to remove the ground cloth that lies below the orange daylilies, which flower now in early summer, and plant yellow daylilies that would flower in the spring.  Tulips could be planted in between, as this area is fenced from deer (if you look close, you can see the fence behind the photinia trunks).
Later in the fall, I go down the line of daylily plants and pull out armloads of spent flower stalks, which come out easily once they are dried and turn brown.

These periennals are so easy to care for. I have found them to be disease-free, and the only pests they attract are deer. In some places these plants get irrigation, and in other places they are left to mother nature. No matter what, they easily multiply.

Honeysuckle

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Honeysuckle

This photo shows three stages of honeysuckle flowers: the bud, full flower and spent flower. These blossoms are on a good-sized vine along a fence near my vegetable garden. Sometimes, when the breeze is just right, the scent will waft for a distance – such a beautiful aroma. I don’t think anyone could say the smell of honeysuckle is offensive. Quite the opposite is true and I think this plant can even stir olfactory memories.

Many years ago, I would admire the garden of an older woman (thank you, Leta). She dug a honeysuckle start from next to her own established plant. For all the gift plants I have killed by mis-timing their replanting in my own garden, I am very happy that this one survived.

What a surprise when I learned that honeysuckle blooms are edible. I grew up in a more temperate climate, where these splendid vines did not exist, and only discovered them as an adult. Nasturtiums move over – you are not near as tasty as honeysuckle.