Friday, July 27, 2007

The Organized Gardener

This carries all my heavy duty supplies for planting, deadheading, etc. Look at the new plants I got today (yea!!). I plan to do a post about them soon.

In order to arrive at my back patio (because of previous remodeling jobs) I must exit my kitchen into the garage, then walk a narrow concrete ledge for the length (narrow because I keep too much stuff there, like all my bird feeding supplies), down a few steps and across the back porch, along a sidewalk where my veggies are located, turn the corner and walk the length of the house to the patio. Needless to say, I try to make this trek as little as possible. I carry a basket (sometimes two) of supplies I can't do without:

Gardening journal and pen
Book or magazines to read
Latest garden catalog (here it is High Country Gardens )
Bug spray
Lotion, glasses and sun visor
Ipod "Shuffle" in case of noisy neighbors
Tool belt that holds pruners and phone
Energy bar or snacks
Cold water

And anything else I think I might not be able to do without. Sometimes that includes breakfast or lunch. Now, all I need is a porta-potty and I'd be all set for the day! Taking a lead from Carol of May Dreams, who has most likely already asked this... what do you like to carry in your gardening organizer?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Really, Really... Slow Food

We have a wonderful organization here called the Horticultural Arts Society. They sponsor and mantain a beautiful garden in an old park downtown. Their Heirloom Vegetable Garden is so interesting because of the signage which tells the story. I love the flowers they have planted with the vegetables to discourage pests. This group does a great job in maintaining and beautifying this area.

Yesterday was grocery shopping day. It was hot, hot, hot, and I had many errands to do. I have to visit two grocery stores -- the natural food market and the "regular" food market. Just can't afford to do all my shopping at the natural food market. Thank goodness more traditional food markets are beginning to stock local produce and products. Anyway, the point of this story is that not only does it take time to buy the food, but when you get home you have to wash or properly store everything so it doesn't spoil. There was fresh Coho River Salmon and Talapia, so I had to have some of that.

We still don't have tomatoes, but I did find some nice looking heirlooms, which I added to my cart, along with some luscious organic green grapes. At the traditional store they had just put out a new shipment of Olathe (Colorado) corn which looked like it just jumped off the stalk. So, I loaded up on that. One hasn't lived until one has tasted Olathe white corn.

So, here is what I did for dinner for two (which was three hours later by the time I got all the washing and everything done): Grilled salmon fillet with a soy marinade, corn grilled in the husk with a lime-chili butter, cucumbers and basil from my garden with tomatoes (not from my garden) and a homemade dressing. Oh, and I also had to go out and cut herbs. Then, peal and cut fresh Colorado peaches for dessert. We have the MOST wonderful peaches from the Western slope near Grand Junction, where the nights are cool and the days are heart. Nothing like them!

I think that's about it, but by the time I shop and get all this done I'm too tired to eat and enjoy it. Of course, I never learn to do the cooking the NEXT night when I'm hopefully not so tired. I get so excited at all the fresh stuff and I just can't wait. And don't even mention when I go to the farmer's market! I wanted to take a photo for this blog but was tooooo tired to do so. Dinner was, however, delicious. Oh, for the energy I used to have when I was young(er).

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Purple Curb Appeal

I took this photo today on my morning "walk about" before the heat of the day. Purple Coneflower Echinachea purpurea, is a drought tolerant perennial and is one of the very best butterfly and bee attractors. Even though this plant calls for full sun or partial shade, I find that because of the broad leaves it easily wilts in the hot afternoon soon, especially when it is young. So, I need to give it a quick, cold shower almost every day that the temperature rises. It makes me wonder why they classify this as a Xeric plant, but once it blooms it is pretty tough. I think it is one of the most beautiful flowers in the garden. I would love to explore some of the other colors. Tomorrow is going to be hotter yet so I know I will be out there with the hose. It still beats throwing water down the gutter at dried up turf, however. And a pretty alternative too.

Garden Bloggers Book Club July

My Summer in a Garden, by Charles Dudley Warner, is a treasure trove ripe with wit and wisdom. In the introduction, Henry Ward Beecher calls these writings "...curious and ingenious papers, that go winding about like a half-trodden path between the garden and the field...." Charles Dudley Warner dedicated this book in 1870, to his dear wife, Polly. Each chapter is a weekly garden "letter" or an "honest sketch of experience," that he wrote for a daily newspaper in New England. His purpose in writing these articles was to write something that he, as well as his readers, would enjoy.

It took me a while to get into this book and begin to "enjoy" it. At first glance, this thin publication leads you to mistakenly believe that you can finish it in one reading before the ice melts in your tea. Not so, for me, anyway. There is such a depth to this book (I thought) that I found I needed to absorb it in small doses in order to appreciate all of the intricacies and truths that are familiar to just about every gardener. It is filled with meaningful analogies and antidotes that left me laughing on almost every page. Take the one on lettuce. "Lettuce is like conversation: it must be fresh and crisp, so sparkling that you scarcely notice the bitter in it." Or, "Lettuce, like conversation, requires a good deal of oil to avoid friction..."

My favorite way to appreciate this book was to take a break from my gardening chores, sit in the shade, and read or ponder one article at a time. I found his writing to be so rich that I needed to go slowly to enjoy every sentence, many of which I had to read more than once to fully understand.

I loved this book. I'm keeping it in my gardening goodies basket to enjoy whenever I need a good perspective on life or gardening. As Warner recites in the Eleventh Week, by reading this book I feel that, "In half an hour I can hoe myself right away from this world...." I plan on opening it to a random page and see what treat awaits me this time.

And, have you ever read such a heartfelt tribute to a dear cat as the one he wrote for Calvin at the end of the book? From his neighbor's chickens, children, and cows, to his battle with weeds and birds, this book is relevant at one time or another to every gardener.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Beautiful Morning Stroll

It's a beautiful morning after a nice fresh rain, so please join me in a stroll around my gardens.

This plant brings me much joy. It is Agastache rupestris Sunset Hyssop. Why I don't have more of them I don't know, but plan to remedy that next year. It smells like root beer, and it's blossoms are such a beautiful shade of orange and lavender. It is a water-wise plant, but surprises me when it seems to droop on a hot, sunny day. I can't figure out why. So I give it a quick dash of water when it does that. Isn't it lovely?

These were direct sown from a mix called Grandmother's Cut Flower Garden. Soon after they were sown we had a huge downpour and they all washed together. I just left them, as I didn't want to disturb them. They need to be thinned but I thought I see what the do first. They are just beginning to bloom. This is my oldest garden and seems to be in constant need of redoing one part or another most of the time. That is a Rose of Sharon among the flowers. It had not blossomed yet. I could not fine the name of this sedum, but I believe it is called Dragon's Blood . It grows nicely with Orange Carpet Hummingbird Mint. Penstemon Whippleannus with Blue Oat Grass. I think this look like a fountain!

As you can see, this Penstemon (I think it is Whippleannus) does not do well in wind. I'm being a little more selective about what I plant because of all the wind we have here. Plants need to be pretty sturdy to withstand that much. I also did not expect it to get quite so tall.

We had .3" rain last night. While many areas south of us received severe storms and street flooding, we lucked out with a gentle rain that was much appreciated by all of the gardens. It was a beautiful morning for photos so I took a few to share. It was also a good time to see where my "problem areas" are and think about what to do. I have not posted for a couple of days because I needed to get some non-gardening chores done. The only way to do this was to not allow myself near the computer until I achieved a measure of progress. This blogging is addictive!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Attack of the Grackles!!

Bad, bad, bad Grackles!!

I thought these blooms were so pretty, so I kept several of them, knowing that the onions would be smaller, but still, I enjoyed the blooms.

The other day as I neared my vegetable garden I was welcomed by the VERY strong odor of onions. When I got closer about a thousand grackles (must be, at least) suddenly flew up, seemingly turning the sky black (remember The Birds?). It turns out that they were after my onions, a few of which I had let bloom because I thought the blooms were so unusal and pretty. Don't think I'll make that mistake again! I've never seen anything like it. They must have been going to seed and that was something that appealed to the grackles?? I already have to put up with them (grackles) emptying all of my bird feeders and turning my fountain and bird baths into mud at least once a day. They seem particularly bad this year and there are sooooo many babies. There aren't too many things in the animal kingdom that I don't like, but these are certainly one of them. Their constant squawking is an assault to the senses. I pulled all of the onions, but I can see they have been back looking for more. Sometimes I wonder what Mother Nature was thinking??

Saturday, July 14, 2007

July Gardener's Bloom Day

"Voodoo" has never had so many blooms at once!

Certainly the highlight of my garden right now is my small rose garden. I have never had so many blooms as this year! I think I owe it to the new organic fertilizer I used for the first time, Peace of Mind. I have applied it twice.

Many of my garden areas are in transition. The Salvias have all been cut back (boo hoo) and are beginning their second bloom, although not as full. I cut back my beautiful large Pink Poppy which was a star attraction next to the May Night Salvia and Snow in Summer (which looks dreadful at the moment). Next to take center stage will be the Russian Sage. They are the mainstay of the hell strips from now on, and are almost in bloom.

Several Yarrows are in bloom, including red (Paprika), white, purple and gold. Autumn Joy is beginning to bud (is it that time already?) Here are photos of some of the highlights of this July 2007 Bloom Day:
And here is my pride and joy... Endless Summer Hydrangia... YEA!

This Creeping Jenny has the most delightful blooms, which I do not recall seeing before this year.

These Asiatic Lilies were a gift from a friend. I once had several plants but this is all that remains.

I'm posting this photo of a Hollyhock for my garden buddy LostRoses!

This is one of my Penstemons. I'm planning a special post on them in the near future.

What more beautiful way to view a Purple Coneflower? I do not know what kind of butterfly this is...perhaps someone could enlighten me?

This is a bright combination of carnations and Butterfly Blue Delphiniums.

This the first Rudbeckia of the year. They seem to last only a couple of years so had to be replanted this season.

This is in a container, a very delicate Salvia "Nymph Coral" which caught my eye at the nursery.

Other new blooms for July:
Gladiola - 1 so far
Cosmos - just beginning
Morning glories
Purple Monkshood

Continuing to bloom:
Rose Campion
California Poppies
Violas - many varieties
Dianthus - a few varieties
Companula Scottish Bells
Shasta Daisies

Herbs continue to do well, thyme is heading out and cilantro is bolting. My 2 lavenders are blooming but need to be in a location where they get more sun.

Vegetables: Second crop of lettuce is showing leaves. We actually have about 3 green tomatoes, which is exciting. Have been harvesting cucumbers, yellow squash and peppers.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

A Tribute to Lady Bird Johnson

There is a wonderful tribute and memorial to Lady Bird Johnson on the Wildflower Center website She will be missed and honored for her environmental work and love of flowers that she shared with so many of us.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Seven Random Things About Me

I was tagged by Beth at Morning Glories to participate in the Seven Random Things About Me meme. To keep this post on topic, I won't go completely random but make it seven things about myself as a gardener.

1. I believe I inherited my Love of Gardening from my paternal grandmother who lived a very hard life on a dairy farm in Wisconsin. One day I found a photo of her in her flower/vegetable garden and recognized the look of wonder and contentment on her face. It's a gardener thing. You can always recognize that look.

2. The one thing missing in my Garden is a Cat. I love seeing photos of cats in gardens. They go together. I used to have one and she would follow wherever I went, until she became too old. Now her ashes reside in a special spot of my "Critter Corner." My present darling feline, Kayla, is a rescue cat. She is an older cat with a heart murmur and is declawed, so she can't be outside. I also like to feed the birds and always felt bad setting them up for a target, so it is just as well.

3. Simplicity. My art career taught me that simplicity is usually the end result of a great deal of complexity. First, you need to see what doesn't work before you find what does. Just like life. I admire simplicity in other gardens, yet mine don't reflect that. They are full to the brim. Guess I haven't mastered that yet when it comes to gardening.

4. I hold Conversations With My Plants as I garden. "Do you not like it here...would you rather be somewhere else... okay... let's try." Or, "Thank you for your beauty.... I so much appreciate you." Or, "Now, you better come around or you're outa here!"

5. If I had the money I would: Install french doors in the living room that opened into a small deck with steps down into the yard, put in a new driveway, and build a beautiful garden shed.

6. The Biggest Mistake I've made in my garden is planting Mexican Evening Primrose! I'll never be able to get rid of it. I don't mind it in small doses but it refuses to stay where I want it.

7. The Thing I'm Most Proud Of is bringing joy to others when they make a special effort to stroll by and see my flowers. It does my heart good to know I've given them a quiet moment to appreciate nature. A few are other caregivers who take this time to put their worries aside.

And now to hand this off to some other garden bloggers.

Here are the rules: Each player starts with 7 random facts/habits about themselves. People who are tagged need to then report this on their own blog with their 7 random facts as well as these rules. They then need to tag 7 others and list their names on their blog. They are also asked to leave a comment for each of the tagged, letting them know they have been tagged and to read the blog.

Here are the folks I'm tagging:

Monday, July 9, 2007

Garden Exploration Tour 2007

Well, this is our local 2007 garden tour. It was called "Garden Exploration," but I called it "Garden Exploitation." For the last several years the annual tour was sponsored by a local garden club whose members put their hearts and souls into it. One of their purposes used to be to inspire the "ordinary" gardener by demonstrating what could be done by individual homeowners. NOT so this one. This year it was sponsored by The Colorado Federation of Garden Clubs and the American Society of Landscape Architects. Yes, the landscapes and gardens were spectacular and showy. Of course they were, because they were professionally designed and maintained. I really didn't need to be reminded of what my garden and home limits are, but I did enjoy drooling for a while. Here's what I don't understand: Where do all these people work and how do all these people have soooo much money? This town doesn't seem big enough to hold that many millionaires and mansions. It was area, after area, after area of large estates and homes. I missed the friendly feeling of the previous tours. Oh... and you had to be a billy goat in order to traverse most of the terrain. With only one exception they were all hanging on the edge of a hill. Each one trying to be taller than the other. Anyway, here are some photos of a few of the landscapes. Don your oxygen masks and come along.
My Favorite

I loved her theme of cobalt blue in so many of the "rooms." She even had a cobalt blue hose and sprinkler head!! Talk about hose envy!

By far, this was the most delightful, cheerful and "lived in" landscape. The owner greeted us, and her enthusiasm and love of her gardens was very much in evidence. I could have stayed here forever and savored every nook and cranny. It was great to see a garden with so much of the owner's input and personality.
My Second Favorite

Beautiful stonework, paths, fountains, water falls, what more could you ask for? Except the $$ to own something like this. My favorite feature here was the wonderful use of Pikes Peak Purple Penstemon used throughout the landscape. I thought this gave a nice continuity to the gardens.
Zen Retreat

Finally... a level site to rest my poor knees. This garden is close to the Broadmoor Hotel and features a Zen retreat.
1927 Spanish Mansion

These are not real animals, but rather a beautiful sculpture. I believe they are panthers. The other view shows them in the background of the swimming pool area.

This "wine bottle tree" was an hit with everyone. Every garden room had a different color palette, yet the entire landscape was very Tuscan-inspired. Containers and colors were rich and textural and used in stunning combinations. Of course, the gardener was there to answer questions.
This 1927 Spanish Colonial gave me a "Great Gatsby" feeling. It went on forever on a bluff (what else) with sweeping views. Lots of beautiful sculpture and garden art.
Back Patioscape

Here is where the tour began. Another vertigo-inducing site. The area that appealed the most to me was this tiered back patio. The wall increases seating without taking up floor space, and the planting bed is supposed to be safe from deer. I wonder? I did like the gas "campfire" to the left because it was made to look like a natural part of the landscape.

This is the neighbor of the first home/garden on the tour. It was getting more attention than the tour home, and you can see why.
All in all, I appreciate very much what I have and the gardens that I have created. These would all be too much for me!!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

First Yellow Squash for July 4th Dinner!

Well... we don't have much of a bounty yet, but we did have two tiny yellow squash (I like them when they are small). So, I fixed a bed of fresh greens from my garden, along with the squash and onion, then made up this dish. (I love being creative in the kitchen.) It is a Chicken Tostada. Chicken breasts were baked yesterday by marinating with fresh lime and tequila, olive oil, rosemary and cilantro (from my garden). I placed leftover frozen corn and black beans on the tostada, topped with sliced chicken and havarti cheese, sprinkled with more cilantro and smoked paprika. Then placed it in the toaster broiler until melted. Was VERY delicious, if I do say so. My husband always teases me about being able to recreate my cooking because I do so much on the fly, but I think I'll remember this one. Because the chicken was already cooked it took only a small amount of time and no hot kitchen. Suuuure would love to have had one of those nice tomatoes that everyone is showing to make this dish really complete!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Happy 4th To Everyone!

What a beautiful day it is here in Colorado. Last night we had 1.2" rain and all the plants are celebrating. I think I'll join them. Took care of my Dad this morning and plan to spend the rest of the day out back in my "Retreat" reading, thinking, planning, eating, etc. Right now I'm reading a Linda Howard ("Ricochet") and I have another to start: "Death in The Orchid Garden" by Ann Ripley. I've not read her books before. I love garden mysteries, so if anyone has some favorite authors please let me know. I'm also reading Carol's Book Club selection, and an interesting publication from Denver Botanic Gardens on native plants. What are you reading?

So... hello to all my garden buddies and thank you for your interest in my blog. I LOVE hearing from all of you. Have a great 4th!

Monday, July 2, 2007

New Bird Feeder - Garden Art it Ain't

My husband found this stump at the yard waste disposal site. Of course, he noticed it (hey, it's a guy thing) and lugged it home, thinking it would be good for something. I decided it would make a unique feeder for the ground-feeding birds. Well... it is different. And the birds love it.

Where I'm Spending My Time

Here is where I've been the last few days. Temps have been pretty warm during the day (86) yesterday and will be warmer today, which is nothing compared to other areas. Still, it's too hot to do any heavy gardening. I'm just trying to keep things cool and hydrated (including myself). The mornings have been quite cool out in the backyard in the mornings. Around 60 on the patio. The lows during the night have been about 49, so that's quite a temperature range. Typical for Colorado. So, I get up early in case the screaming kids next door decide to spend all day trying to see how loud they can be in their wading pool, sit in the shade until I'm shivering, then into the sun to water until I'm too hot, and so on.... such is the life of a gardner. I like this time of the season when most of the heavy chores have been done, and it's mostly a matter of maintaining and deadheading, plus a little weeding. Back to my book.