So much has been happening in the garden this week, I hardly know where to begin! A few days ago, I decided to pick and arrange some flowers for my nightstand. I arrange flowers in much the same way as I garden...with very little planning! I just pick whatever catches my eye in the garden (as long as there is enough to spare) and have fun putting them one by one in the vase. Of course the wonderful thing about arrangements is that you can start all over again if you don't like the result! The flowers in this bouquet include Sweet William, Snapdragons, Heliotrope, Nicotiana, Stocks, Borage, Petunias, Zinnias, and a rose from my new David Austin bush.
As in my somewhat messy garden, this arrangement must be viewed from different angles to see all the flowers!
I couldn't resist taking this picture of the Crocus rose, before putting it into the vase!
Some highlights in the garden...I love the black hollyhocks and have planted several more from seed I saved last year!
And here are some of my favoritest flowers! These Peppermint Sticks balsam flowers are so unique. These were also grown from saved seed...
Can anyone tell me what this plant is? I didn't plant it, but it came up in the spring along with the comfrey plants, and I noticed that its leaves were very soft, unlike comfrey. I was curious to see what it would do and so I let it grow. It looks familiar, as if I've seen pictures before, but I'm not sure what it's called, although I feel like it's at the tip of my tongue right now!
Each evening I eagerly anticipate the opening of the Marbles Four O'clock, or Marvel of Peru flowers. Every flower is different, even on the same plant!
It was thundering last night when I was photographing these, but I wasn't paying much attention since it had been thundering most of the afternoon, but all the storms so far had gone around us. So, imagine my surprise when I turned around and beheld a wall cloud over the field across the road! Thankfully no damage, although I'm pretty sure I saw a funnel cloud, which almost touched the ground. The wind picked up for a few minutes, but then we just got some much needed rain.
I'm not very adventurous when it comes to food, and for the most part have no interest in flowers as edibles, but I decided to try making candied heartsease to decorate a chocolate cake for a garden party with a friend this past week.
The bowls contain egg whites and sugar. The paint brush turned out to be more of a hindrance for me. It seemed to be easier to just coat them with my fingers! Make sure all of the petals get coated with eggwhite. Then sprinkle them with sugar, and lay them on the parchment paper to dry.
Once they dried I cut the stems off...
The garden seems to be constantly changing. No sooner do I write a new post here, I go outside again and there is another new flower that I missed with the camera earlier!
My new David Austin "Crocus Rose" has its first flowers now. I really hope it will survive the winters here!
The annuals are starting to take over the garden in earnest now...
A picture taken while standing at the back of the garden...getting there was abit of a challenge!
The foxgloves are now past their prime, but this is still one of my favorite garden spots right now.
This is the first time this 4 year old lavender plant has bloomed!
Progress on the new garden...
Buckwheat starting to come up!
The vegetable garden is starting to look good with the pumpkins growing faster than I can believe! I think we might even get a few cucumbers within a week or so, despite the beetles which are still a problem. We've also been enjoying broccoli, lettuce, and tomatoes. Peas will be ready very soon.
Those who know borage better than I do will probably laugh, but I was shocked when the first flower on one of my plants opened a lovely shade of pink! I was surprised again the next morning when the same flower had started turning blue, and by afternoon was all blue! On closer observation, it seems that most of the flowers open this way!
Yesterday I picked the first tomatoes of the season. These Black Krims ar the BEST tomatoes I've ever had! Of course, I have many more varieties to try. Where we live it's almost impossible to grow any tomatoes out in the garden, except for a few super early, cold-hardy varieties like Sub-arctic Plenty, which aren't that tasty. I am so thankful for my greenhouse! Last year I harvested Martino's Roma tomatoes until November 1st, and I hope to keep picking even longer this year (if we don't get extreme cold too early). Now, I will finally be able to try out the many heirloom tomatoes I read about in seed catalogs that make my mouth water!
A little history about Black Krim tomatoes...
It originates from the Isle of Krim in the Black Sea, near the Crimean Peninsula. It is believed that soldiers returning home from the Crimean War, in the late 19th century, gathered these seeds and began sharing them. They were introduced to the market in 1990 by Lars Olov Rosenstrom of Bromma, Sweden
I love being in my garden at dusk. Especially on a cool breezy evening with a bright moon shining! It was so beautiful last night, the flowers were wonderfully fragrant, and I finally figured out how to take night-time pictures!
The first time I saw a picture of an all-white garden, I thought it was ridiculous! But the idea has gradually grown on me, especially after growing Aztec Sweet nicotiana last year. Now I would like to find a spot for a white garden of my own! They are nice in the daytime too of course, but I think it would be just glorious in moonlight! This nicotiana is the first flower that comes to mind when I dream about what I would plant in it.
The Valerian really stood out nicely against the dark background!
I love these petunias! The new hybrids just can't compare!
Light-colored Foxgloves are lovely at night, too. But I think these are at their best just before the sun goes down. I tried to get a picture of them a few days ago, but right when I came out with the camera, the sun went behind some clouds!
And I didn't think that the borage would show up well in a picture, but I tried anyway and was amazed at the results!
I had fun photographing the vegetable garden. By this time (around 10 PM) it was completely dark and I was somewhat blinded by the camera flash, so I didn't exactly know what I was aiming at! I don't usually go out there in the dark. It's right next to our woods, and bears are quite common around here. I even had a close-up encounter with a bull moose a few years back!
Two days ago, I was pleasantly surprised to see a new peony open! This is the first flower of the "Coral Charm" peony from Fedco that I planted in the Fall of 2013! It probably would have bloomed a lot sooner if I hadn't moved it once, intentionally, and another time by accident! But it has been well worth the wait. The color reminds me of watermelon candy and the fragrance is nice, but very different from my Sarah Bernhardt and Benjamin Franklin peonies and so far this flower hasn't been messed up by the rain, unlike the "bomb" types.
Thanks to the thunderstorms and rain we've been getting almost daily, some parts of my gardens are looking decidedly messy. It may also be the scruffy look of the lupines and forget-me-nots that are now going to seed. It's tempting just to cut them down, but I want to save seeds from both. I am going to have to be a little more agressive with thinning out the forget-me-nots next year, though. They were nice at first, but then they choked out some of the seedlings I planted near them. Somebody remind me when the time comes, because I probably won't have the heart to do that next spring when they look so green and fresh! I guess I could always dig them up and move them to more desirable places. Hopefully the garden will look better in a couple weeks when more annuals come into the bloom. The first nicotiana flowers opened 2 days ago, as well.
I love the way gardens look when half-hidden from view. (It looks better when the garden is messy, too!)
And this is the view from my bedroom window...
I'm still debating whether or not to plant comfrey all along the back of this garden. It is such a tough plant, it would be perfect, but I'm noticing now that it does have a tendency to lean over onto the plants in front of it and hide them from view!
This is one of the treasures I found buried under the comfrey...one of my heliotrope plants coming into bloom!
Some more highlights in the garden right now...
More and more flowers are opening on the petunias in the barrel planters! Their fragrance is just heavenly at night!
The pumpkins are growing amazingly fast. They are now starting to climb the A-frame support (with a little encouragement!).
I covered my 3 Ajvarski pepper plants with cheesecloth to keep them from cross-pollinating with the others, as I really want to save seed from them. They are pretty rare and a little expensive!
And...work has begun on the new vegetable garden! The bean arbor will stay, although I don't have much hope for the hyacinth beans. They grew really well inside the greenhouse, but as soon as I put them outside they just about came to a halt. If they don't work out, I will plant runner beans there next year.
I ordered 5 lbs. of Buckwheat seed from Wood Prairie Family Farm (www.woodprairie.organic) to plant for a cover crop. It is supposed to be delivered tomorrow, which means I really should go get back to work instead of sitting here typing this!
So many of my favorite flowers have come into bloom in the last week or so, I have decided that this is my favorite part of the summer in my garden. But I'll probably feel the same way when the nicotiana, four o'clocks, balsam, snapdragons, and everything else come into bloom later on!
The peonies are lovely, but sadly we've been getting downpours almost every day, so they won't last long. The Sweet Williams always amaze me...every year the same plants bloom in a different color! This year there are even a few doubles. And of course the foxgloves...I just love them! Unfortunatetly, the seed company I got them from no longer has them, so I plan on saving as much seed as I can!
The single stocks aren't very showy, but I like their simple flowers and they smell to me like cloves or allspice!
Another storm on the way...
Someday I would like to make a formal herb garden. I was really inspired by the herb garden at the NYBG, as well as a friend's herb garden that I got to see last week!
For now, my herbs are just mixed in with all the flowers. The small garden around the birdbath was supposed to be an herb garden, but I couldn't resist planting some flowers there, too!
Here are some of my favorites in the garden this afternoon...
There are 2 petunias open in the barrel planters now. They are so fragrant...one of my dogs buried her nose in a flower yesterday, and then sneezed!
In the vegetable garden...
And just for the fun of it...a close-up of one of the heliotrope, or cherry pie plants. They are really pretty now, but I had my fears when I first planted them out. Maybe it was because the night temperatures were often in the low 40s, but they sulked for a couple of weeks. Then just when I had almost given up and was thinking about pulling them out, they recovered!
While on a trip to NYC this week, I had the opportunity to visit the New York Botanical Gardens! It was wonderful! There wasn't enough time to see everything, but I did get to see the Conservatory and the Rose Garden, and some other areas along the way. It is such a huge place and I did get lost a few times!
Thain Family Forest
A few other pictures I took along the way. I was a little lost and went on a few detours so I don't remember what areas of the garden these were...
I came home yesterday, and was shocked at how much my gardens changed in just 4 days! The foxgloves are in full bloom now and are some of the prettiest flowers I've ever grown! The Sweet Williams are opening as well as a few peonies, and more petunias and valerian. The young rhubarb plants seem to have nearly doubled in size, and everything in the vegetable garden has grown a lot too, except the cucumbers who aren't doing well thanks to the cucumber beetles. But the lily beetles seem to be all gone after just a few days of hand-picking them. I've been wandering around in disbelief, taking pictures of everything-as usual!
Some close-ups of the foxgloves...
some of the rosemary seedlings. I'm so glad they came up!
The petunias are doing so well in the barrels and hollowed stump I planted some of them in! We've already had a few compliments on them and they aren't even blooming yet!
The thing with having such jumbled up flower plantings is that it can be easy to overlook something! But that can also lead to pleasant surprises! I just noticed this evening that one of the valerian plants is starting to bloom! I've read that not everyone is fond of it, but I can now agree heartily with Tasha Tudor that it is "a fine old herb"!
And while I was out with the camera I snapped a few pictures of the heartsease and the first petunia flowers. :)
Walking through my gardens this morning, I was amazed at how suddenly they have changed from spring to early summer! When I step into the front yard I am overwhelmed with all the wonderful scents! The old rugosa roses (I'm not sure what variety they are) have begun to bloom and a few Sweet William flowers have opened as well, and even a few petunias!
However, a few garden pests are starting to make themselves at home. One of my oriental lilies was attacked by the scarlet lily beetle. The odd thing about it is that another lily just a few feet away is totally untouched-so far! Since I discovered it, I have been going out and hand-picking them off a couple times a day, and it seems to be working. The first time I did it a few days ago, I picked off at least 8, and also had to crush a cluster of eggs on the underside of one of the leaves. Since then, there have been fewer each day, and today I've only found 1 so far, and no more eggs. I am going to be gone for a few days this week, though, so I'm hoping they won't come back again in full force while I'm away!
Also, it seems I spoke too soon when I said that I hadn't seen any cucumber beetles. They made their appearance yesterday, mainly on the cucumbers, but there were a few on the pumpkins, too. I have been hand-picking them also, but it doesn't work as well because they are so quick to fly away. I am going to experiment by sprinkling wood ashes around the base of the plants and on the plants themselves. But for when I'm gone, I will probably cover the cucumbers with cheese cloth to keep them off. I'm not so worried about the pumpkins because in past years I've found that they are so vigorous they quickly recover from any damage done by the beetles. But I have lost cucumber plants to them before.
The 2 lettuce varieties I'm growing this year are delicious! Sanguine Ameliore, or Strawberry Cabbage Lettuce, is a 19th centruy French heirloom introdused to America in 1906. And Tennis Ball was listed in Thomas Jefferson's garden book several times between 1809 and 1822.
The new rhubarb plants are looking really good. I transplanted some alpine strawberries to the same bed (they had been planted in the vegetable garden, but I needed the space they were taking). They have been sulking ever since, but are now looking a lot better after we had a good rain.
And I know it's about time to keep my promise of sharing ideas for the winter window garden but I still haven't have time to research all the possiblities. However, I did plant some Rosemary seeds about 2 weeks ago and am thrilled that a few of them are germinating already! They will have to be an indoor plant for the winter since they aren't hardy here.
This book caught my eye in an issue of Heirloom Gardener magazine. I haven't bought it yet, but it is definitely on my wish list!
So that's about all I have for now. Eventually I will do a whole post about this!
Planting is nearly accomplished! There are just a few more flowers to put in the ground, and the rest of the runner beans. However, my garden has been having a mysterious visitor the past several nights. Almost every morning I find several transplants dug up and either buried or left there on the ground. When it first happened to my runner beans, I suspected turkeys, as the ground looked like it had been scratched. But now that it has also happened in the flower garden right outside my bedroom window, I'm not so sure! Whatever it is, I'm not feeling too friendly towards it right now!
Other than the nightly visitor, the vegetable garden has been doing very well. I am very happy that I haven't yet seen any signs of cucumber beetles on the cucumbers or squash. They were very bad the past 2 years. I will be harvesting lettuce today for the first time.
We had a little bit of wind on Sunday! Besides ripping the plastic off the greenhouse door (which was soon fixed), the wind ripped out a few of my sunflower plants.
The tulips are pretty much done now. Some of them are still holding on to their petals, but they look like they've been baked (which they have-it was 91 a few days ago!).
I didn't plan it this way, so it's kinda funny that all the flowers coming into bloom now are either blue or purple (along with a few white lupines and Bridal Veil Spirea)! Irises, mountain bluet, forget-me-nots (they are still in bloom but rather past their prime), lilacs, columbine, evening dames rocket, lupine, chives, and comfrey! The evening dame's rocket is very fragrant on cool evenings.
This is the view that greets me coming around from the side of the house. The garden is still best viewed from the sides right now because of the blank areas in the middle where the anuuals haven't filled out enough yet. I want to plant more biennials there this year and just tuck the annuals in so it will be full all season next year.
From the other side...
Flowers on the mountain ash tree in front of my vegetable garden.
Buds on my Benjamin Franklin peony after a shower...
Comfrey...I'm thinking about planting several more along the back of the garden. They are almost indestructable, and anything else I plant there gets beat up by the wind (the sunflowers, for example).
The hyacinth beans are planted under the bean arbor, along with trailing nasturtiums that I hope will grow out across the path in imitation of Monet's Grand Allee! Other than that, I haven't planted anything there, and am planning to focus on improving the soil this summer. I'm very seriously considering turning this whole area into a second vegetable garden, but with some flowers and shrubs added, too. I'd really like to plant lilac bushes at the entrance.
I can hardly wait to see the Apricot Beauty foxgloves in bloom!
And now it's back to work for me. Have a great day in your gardens!