Thursday, May 26, 2011

Happy Belated Wildflower Wednesday

The Penstemons are in bloom now and they are bee magnets.

Aren't they lovely? The fine fuzz on the flowers and buds add to their vibrancy. Not sure if this is smooth or foxglove beardtongue.

I also don't know if this is a species or a hybrid, but I love the delicate coloring.

Carolina Bush Pea is finishing up now but I wanted to include it anyway. It has such an elegant stately presence in the garden. It grows wild on mountain balds in the Appalachians but is just as much at home in the piedmont. It looks especially beautiful with the bright pink flowers of Rosa palustris scandens.

I grew this purple milkweed from seed that I bought from Prairie Moon Nursery. It's more of a rosy magenta than purple, but I really wanted to grow it since it's so different in color from the other milkweeds I've seen: white common milkweed, orange butterfly weed, red-orange few-flowered milkweed, and pink swamp milkweed. It's in a bed with Rosa palustris scandens, spiderwort 'Zwanenburg Blue' and 'Concord Grape', St. John's Wort and the rose 'Basye's Purple'. It would look great with butterfly weed too.

I seem to have a hard time getting my act together for Wildflower Wednesday. One month I wrote it down on the calendar, only to realize that I wrote it down on the 5th Wednesday of that month. lol But better late than never, right? Thank you Gail for hosting this wonderful meme.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Turning the corner to summer

The big bed is getting ready to turn the corner for summer; the foxglove is just beginning to seed out and the Brazilian Blue Sage is taking on size. The hummingbirds will be happy when the sage starts blooming. It's their very favorite. They spend all summer bickering over it.

The chickadee babies that were in the nestbox at the back of the garden fledged over a week ago; I hear them as they move about, as they never stop talking, a sped-up constant version of the chickadee call. They sound sort of like maniacal elves. A pair of Chipping Sparrows built a nest on a lower branch of one of the pines at the back of the garden and judging from how noisy the young are they will fledge some too. I see the parents foraging on the ground around the garden all of the time, looking very dapper.

There are Indigo Buntings, Blue Grosbeaks, Summer Tanagers, Bluebirds, Kingbirds, Great Crested Flycatchers, Peewees, Ovenbirds and Wood Thrushes all around. Vireos, Indigo Buntings and Summer Tanagers sing all day no matter how hot the weather. I even heard a Yellow-Breasted Chat near the house the other day, and the past couple of years they have stayed down in the floodway fields. An understory border, including a lot of blackberries, has grown up around the edge of the woods and I think that's why the Indigo Buntings nest so close to the house now. Just yesterday one was singing in a tree opposite the kitchen window. The hollow created by dumping the water trough in the paddock back of the house is a very poplar spot for bird bathing. It's been kind of dry lately so I've been keeping the hollow filled with the hose. Last summer when we had a very hot dry spell even the bees drank from it.

Bobwhites call back and forth in distant fields. A pair spent the summer on our farm last year, foraging in the gardens and occasionally going up the driveway to the field up top. Once or twice a week we would flush them out from the garden as we walked to and from the horse pastures. I think they liked the gardens because there's a lot to eat in there, both seeds and bugs, there are short mowed paths they can walk on, and good cover.

The predominant color in the garden just now is green, with the exception of the spiderworts, late roses, and Carolina Bush Pea.

This Rosa palustris scandens got so big that it sort of fell over on itself, but it's still beautiful. The truck happens to be in the picture because I was moving the last of some fill dirt up the house in buckets. Later on I switched to using a wheelbarrow, which was actually easier.

Rosa carolina, Rosa virginiana, and Carolina Bush Pea.

Rosa carolina, growing together over what used to be the path through the back part of the garden. The path goes around the back of the Carolina roses now. I plan to fill the rest of the old path with more Carolina Bush Pea and Baptisias. No doubt the roses and Brazilian Blue Sage will find their own way in there too as they all spread by runners.

I have read some gardeners' complaints about the short bloom time of Carolina Bush Pea;
I have not noticed the bloom time being that short, and love it for the beauty of its
stately clear yellow spires. That shade of yellow seems to go with everything.

The Wax Myrtles next to the ditch that runs behind the garden have gotten big the last couple of years. I hope to remember to scatter larkspur seeds on the top part of the garden this fall; in the shallow ditch that runs in front of the garden I have added more Rosa palustris scandens, Amsonia hubrichtii, and Spiderwort.

In this low spot there's already Monarda 'Claire Grace', Crinum 'Royal White',
Iris virginica, Iris japonica, Swamp Milkweed, and lots of Bidens seedlings.

Yesterday we had our warmest day so far, at least 93 degrees, and it will probably reach 95 today. We're due a warm spell with May being so advanced. I will probably be hiding in the shade or the air conditioning from the afternoon sun but the butterflies will love it.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Vegetable Garden

The vegetable garden is going to be all over the yard this year, although the vegetable garden proper will still have lots going on. I took down the wires strung between the 2 posts, which supported a black raspberry and a Sombreuil rose that have been moved elsewhere. The black raspberry needs to go entirely since it's thorny and the berries basically have no taste. Corn and squash have been planted in their place. We've never tried corn before but the squash is sure to produce.

Next to the corn are Chinese cabbage, a lettuce mixture, and broccoli. Sugar Snap Peas are growing up the wood pole teepee and there is a stand of fingerling potatoes beyond those.

The lettuce and cabbage are as beautiful as any ornamental.

The strawberries next to the driveway have had ripening berries for a few weeks now and are they ever sweet. I've been eating the lettuce, strawberries and broccoli and they're all about a 1000 times better than what's available at the grocery store. Since they don't have to travel anywhere they can just be grown for taste!

I have been pleased with the border next to the vegetable garden. The Rosa palustris scandens has gotten huge in the last four years.

The 2 Veilchenblaus have gotten pretty big too. There's another one on the other side of the Rosa palustris. Smells so sweet too, when all of the flowers are open! Not rose-like though. The spot of blue beneath the Rosa palustris is the Louisiana Iris 'Sinfonietta'.

The flowers of Veilchenblau open purple-pink but
darken to purple once they've been open a few days.

Belinda's Dream is blooming for the first time in 2 years.

Worth the wait as it's such a romantic-looking rose. The flowers smell like tea.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

It's been a lovely spring

It's been a lovely spring here so far. Not too much rain, nor too little. Mostly beautiful sunny weather in the 70's. It's not uncommon in April for someone to turn the faucets off and turn the thermostat up but that didn't happen this year, not yet anyway. ;) Iris virginica, which hardly bloomed in 2010, has responded by putting on a beautiful display that has lasted a long time, longer than the Siberian Iris. The flowers range in color from palest blue-violet to deep purple.

The Mockorange blossoms have lasted a long time too.

The Spiderworts have been blooming with abandon.

I will add more Spiderworts and Iris virginica in front of the roses as soon as the divisions are ready. I have at least one other year-old Amsonia seedling going (to go with the 3-year-old one on the left). I planted 3 and need to look for the other two. There are already lots of daylilies in this bed.

I'm not sure I've ever seen an iris bloom for as long as this Jesse's Song has.

The foxglove, which looked sickly last year after a very
wet winter, look good this year. I always wish I had more.

Peony flowers don't last very long but are so worth it for their intricate beauty.

The roses never disappoint, no matter the weather. These are tough roses though. Not mamby-pamby roses. I never spray them and only prune deadwood.

Clotilde Soupert is a perfect little romantic package in a rose. The only time the
flowers have balled over a 4 year period was during a very wet spell late last summer or fall.

The cultivars are my most beautiful roses, but I love my
rugosa seedlings too. They are such workhorses and very fragrant.

'Nasturana' by the driveway is covered with blooms. No wonder this was J.C. Raulston's
favorite rose. (He was a well-known local horticulturalist and professor at NC State University.)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year ~ Part II

Looking southeast, toward the neighbor's pastures. The hedge in the background consists of two Prairie Roses (Rosa setigera) that have grown together. The big white rose in the foreground is 'Sir Thomas Lipton'. It will continue to bloom on and off throughout the season.

'Sir Thomas Lipton' and 'Hansa' at their peak 2 weeks ago.

The perfect stand of foxglove, which the horses could not reach even if they were still spending the night up here. These pictures are deceptive, as the flowers are actually at least 4 feet away from the fence, which has hot wire running inside of all 3 panels. In any case the horses have not been in this paddock for over 6 months, as they have another paddock that's much larger, with a 12 x 24' shelter.

The pictures above make it look as though the foxglove are right up against the fence, but they are not.

A little less perfect after the rain and wind this morning but so what? ;)

Gotta love the freckles!

Prairie Phlox (Phlox pilosa var ozarkansa) is just as lovely recumbant
as standing, and very sweetly fragrant, like candy with complex notes.

Rugosa rubra

'Aloha' with 'Alchymist'

'HF Young'

with 'Alchymist' buds


Standing at paddock fence looking north toward the vegetable garden, with 'Blush Noisette' in the foreground.

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