Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Gulp, gulp, gulp... AH

We got our wish at last: 4 and 3/4" of rain over the last two days. The plants and the earth
had been very very thirsty.

In spite of the drought, the hardy ginger has been blooming for a month.

Beautiful flowers with a beautiful fragrance. Sweet, coconutty and very
strong. If we hadn't gotten rain it probably would have closed up shop
for the year, but now it'll probably keep going until a freeze cuts it down.

We have really enjoyed the 4 o'clocks this year. The last couple of
weeks they've looked terrible during the day but were still covered
with flowers that opened to release their sweet fragrance at night.

I hadn't grown Silverleaf Sunflower for several years but have been meaning to. At last, this year I finally grew some from seed. These are in a new bed at the edge of the lawn. They get about 5-6 feet tall and highly branched, so they are covered with flowers and bloom over a long period of time. One year we had a volunteer come up in the little field across from one of the pastures; it looked so picturesque there and like a beacon. And naturally it was a complete accident. lol

It seems to me that the Beautyberries turned earlier this year than usual. They turned last month.

The Japanese Beetles have been gone since late July, and these roses are blooming because I was watering new stuff that I'd put in recently. That might seem stupid in light of the dry spell, but we had been getting forecasts for rain.. besides, I can't wait until fall to plant a lot of the babies. Many are hot weather plants, which seem to do best for establishing for the next year when there's still heat. Also, I wouldn't be able to get to the front door.

I ended up coaxing every last drop from the rain barrels. So there are some flowers on 'Caldwell Pink'


and 'Clotilde Soupert'.

Here's looking forward to some cooler temperatures, at last.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Doing a rain dance

We need rain in a really bad way. Everything is drying up and going dormant, which doesn't bother me as much as the fact that the water pressure in the well is dropping. Normally the well pumps at 60 gallons per minute.

We had a dry spell this spring too, which is part of the reason that I didn't
get as much coverage with the Bidens as I wanted. Still very colorful though.

The tractor was parked in the front yard so that the bolt that connects the rotor arm of the bushhog to the blades could be replaced. It snapped while I was mowing one of the fields near the creek. Three bolts snapped and two stabilizer bars bent. We let the sapling trees get too big, darn it. However, I was delighted to see two native Snowbells in the field and Gerardia -- not a disease but a native with beautiful glowing pink-purple flowers -- back this year.

Gene saw Tommy laying on the bushhog and dubbed him "Farmer
Tommy". I think Tommy needs a little straw hat. I don't think
he'd go for coveralls though, or any work either for that matter.

These pictures are from last week. All sorts of insects visit the flowers. The
flowers have a fragrance as well as incredible sunny color: part mum and part
sweet, a reminder that fall is coming. Currently the plants are looking very thirsty.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Great Bidens Experiment of 2010

Although I took the summer off from blogging, I have been gardening as much as I can.

The Great Bidens Experiment of 2010 did not have ideal results, due to some long dry spells, but there will still be a lot of flowers.

The idea was to have a wide swath from the top of the hill to the bottom, next to the woods and next to the ditch, but they were not able to come up in the most inhospitable places. It would seem counterintuitive that this would be at the bottom of the hill, but the dirt (and it's dirt) was compacted when the house was moved and is still packed.

I mowed this area high with the tractor back in May and then left it. If it looked awful I was going to mow it again, but there was a lovely swath of Meadow Beauty (a species with fine leaves and pale pink flowers, and another species with darker pink flowers) all summer. The Bidens are coming into their peak now.

A view of the lack of Bidens at the bottom of the hill, with a new bed made with extra compost at the edge of the lawn this spring. The bed is full of transplanted Bidens and Texas sunflowers, which the goldfinches love.

The wildflower ribbon extends along the edge of the woods
around the paddock and back of the stalls to the driveway.

This rough edge has drawn the woodland edge birds up closer to the house. Summer tanagers, blue grosbeaks, and indigo buntings often bathe in the puddle left when the horses' water trough is emptied every morning, and we keep flushing a pair of bobwhite quail from the garden. One afternoon we watched them pick their way from the new bed in front of the lawn to the rough edge. They are so cute.

These Tiger Swallowtails were sunning themselves on a cool morning earlier this week.

This has been an amazing year for butterflies. There is no way for me to capture
the wonder and grace of 20+ Swallowtails on a Butterfly Bush. I didn't even try.

There are also American Ladies, Buckeyes, Skippers, Sulfurs, Viceroys, and Monarchs galore. From sunrise until sunset, everywhere you look, there are butterflies fluttering and a pair of Swallowtails bickering, rising and then falling again, their battle looking like a dance.

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