Month: June 2009

Time well spent

campanula cup and saucer mix 6-09_edited Gardeners are often so focused on what is left to plant, prune, weed, thin, spray, fertilize, and pick, that we forget to stop and enjoy our creations.  I was reminded of this yesterday.

Over the last couple of weeks all my spare time went toward completing some overdue gardening chores waylaid by rain.  Outside of grabbing a few photos of flowers in bloom or nice plant combinations, I took little time to enjoy the view.  But complements offered by friends and family attending my daughter-in-law’s baby shower reminded me how important it is to grab the opportunity to stop, look, and listen.

Lamb's Ear in flop_edited


Lamb’s ear are in full bloom and, yes, some of the tall flower stalks have flopped; foxglove blossoms have passed, or nearly so, and their brown spent blossoms cannot match the visual delight these biennials offered in full bloom; and still, there is weeding and mulching to complete.

astilbe-pink 2 Louisiana iris black gamecock 3 But, astilbe and Louisiana Iris (black gamecock) grab attention away from browning foxglove stalks, while bright nasturtium blossoms and pastel campanula (cup and saucer) beckon “look at me!”   With highlights such as these, little notice is made of yet unaccomplished chores.

nasturtium multi_edited So, thanks to the baby shower-goers, who not only supplied wonderful gifts to our awaited family addition and heartfelt well wishes to her expecting parents, but reminded me to take some time to enjoy the flowers.

Creatures leave their mark

slug damage to petunia - edited Many creatures have left their calling cards in my gardens.  The wet, humid weather has caused a bumper crop of slugs.  They usually only feed at night, but not this year.  Maybe it’s their numbers, maybe the lack of sun has kept the slimy crawlers from seeking daytime cover. Regardless, the telltale shiny trails left on this petunia, and on many of my lettuce and tatsoi plants, show slugs are feasting quite well.

garter snake I can only hope the concurrent explosion in the garter snake population will eventually decrease the slug population.   I am NOT even slightly enamored of snakes … but I have learned to  tolerate garter snakes., and identify their favorite basking spots so I know where to expect them.  Usually one or two ‘regulars’ and I develop a mutually tolerant, but still standoffish, acceptance of each other  through the growing season, but this year my tolerance is being stretched.  During a brief bout of sunshine I came across four garter snakes sunning in a three square foot area of a stone pathway and two more among nearby vegetation.  An hour later I nearly stepped on one in a different part of the yard … trust me, profanities flew from my mouth faster than the snake slithered away.

aphids on nasturtium_edited Aphids are also thriving in our lovely swamp-like weather.  Theoretically, planting nasturtiums helps keep aphids away from other plants.  Here, on the underside of a nasturtium leaf, black aphids have set up housekeeping (I doubt the aphid-eating ant is an invited guest).  However, to deal with this year’s aphid population, this ant may need backup from an army of ladybug beetles to help chomp the aphids away.

What caused holes in my moonflower and morning glory leaves was a mystery until one of my sons noticed a small – ladybug sized – metallic gold beetle climbing nearby.  A little research identified it as a golden tortoise beetle – a bug with the admirable ability to change its color at will.  Cool, except this beetle’s favorite food is ipomeas.

vole hole 2 Voles have found the small group snow peas planted directly into the ground at one end of the garden – notice the hole where a pea vine once grew.  These tunneling vegetarians also find the in-ground planted lettuce an easy meal.  This is why I plant most vegetables in pots.

deer damage to coneflower_edited Lastly, these coneflowers used to be about a foot taller – proof that deer have moved back out of the woods after delivering their young and are teaching a new generation where to find the best eats.