susansflowers

garden ponderings


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Fruiting Plum Trees

Plum trees flower so early in the season here, we rarely get fruit.
On top of that, we have had rain every day for over a week,
which is not great for pollination.

Above is a Santa Rosa plum tree whose fruit is so delicious to eat right out of hand.
The last time this tree bore fruit was 25 summers ago.  We took quart bags of home-grown plums on a family river rafting trip.  They were so juicy, just a few bites,
then see how far you can toss the pit.

This Japanese prune plum tree has borne only a handful of fruit in over 25 years.
It was swarming with insects that appeared to be fertilizing the blossoms,
on the cool, but dry afternoon, this photo was taken.

Besides conducive weather at pollination time, we need no more below freezing temperatures.  I will always remember when it was severely cold one Mother’s Day in early May – we lost the fruit from all of our trees that year.


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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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Russian Sage

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This is one of the newest additions to my garden, a Russian Sage.  I have seen examples of these plants living in high-desert areas, and admired their growth and beauty in very low-moisture climates.   For as wet a reputation that Southern Oregon has, the summers tend to be quite dry.  Plants survive in my gardens on irrigation alone, so I always notice those that appear to thrive in what would normally be considered less-than-optimal conditions.

It was planted in the middle of summer, a death knell to many plants is to be moved in the hottest time of the year.  But this specimen showed its strength and grew just fine.  The piece of fence around protected the Sage from rabbits and deer as it gets established.  I think it is in a good, permanent location, and could grow to be even three feet in all directions.

The flowers appear to stay on the plant for quite awhile, another feature I like in a plant.  I will need to remember to prune this shrub severely in the spring, I believe that will keep it from looking straggled.

Santolina in Bloom

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Santolina in Bloom

Yesterday, I pruned the flowering plants back, so they are not so large or plush anymore.  In my second entry in this blog, I showed a photo of this plant in January.  I thought it was pretty then, as so few plants have color in the winter. I like this perennial all year long, with or without flowers.  Although the flowers are profuse, they are very small.  It may not be known for its flowers, as the foliage is quite unusual: first of all, it is not green, but a sort of gray-green color; it sports thin, fine ‘leaves’, that emit a strong scent when brushed against.  I rather like the aroma, though some may find it too pungent and be put off by it.

The original plant was never pruned, and grew to cover a large area, about 10 feet square.  After a severe, unusual winter freeze (below freezing for 4 days in a row), a lot of the mother plant died out.  When I removed the dead plant material, what remained was a number of small plants.  I pruned and transplanted these around the house, and nursed them back to health.  Now, I notice that if I keep the mother plant pruned, it does not make more plants.  It appears the baby plants come from stems that root themselves in the ground.

Silver Thyme

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Silver Thyme

I’ve been moving starts of this plant to different places around the house. Thyme is such a sturdy plant that all the moves have been successful. This example has bi-color leaves of white and green, with spikey flowers in pale lavender.

If I wait too long before I prune this ground cover back, the leaves turn to a solid green.  I discovered that if I prune off the dead flowers, the leaves remain the beautiful bi-color as pictured above.

It will multiply naturally where a longer branch touches the ground, or send up starts on its own.  I’ve given plant starts away, and transplanted it around my house.  The deer and rabbits do not seem to bother with this herb.