Thursday, March 20, 2014

A Floral Start to Spring

Happy Spring!

Here's the first daffodil bloom* in the yard.  I think it opened earlier this week, but I didn't get out to see it until today.

Next, some plum branches that I pruned about 10 days ago and brought inside.  All these flowers were just little white balls yesterday.  How did they know they were supposed to open today?

 Finally, my lodgers brought me these tulips before they departed today:

I'm so happy to have flowers to share on this first day of Spring!

* the current record:  Yellow 3, White 1, tie 1
2013: tie (6 Mar)
2012: yellow (25 Feb)
2011: white (9 Mar)
2010: yellow (17 Mar)

I thought the daffs were super late this year, but it looks like they are on a very similar schedule to 2010.  It's great to have a blog archive for things like this.  (Maybe I should keep up with this thing a little more, so it is not just a daffodil recording device!)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Black-Eyed Susan Grass

Today I found a new plant:  black-eyed susan grass.  Never heard of it?  That could be because it doesn't exist.  Blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolia): now that's a thing.  I've even grown it, though not reliably.

So how did I happen to find this non-existent black-eyed susan grass?  Well, first, I didn't mow my yard for a month.  Maybe five weeks.  Normally in the summer four to five weeks is a typical span between mowings, but with actual rain this year it needed mowing about three to four weeks ago.  But I was on vacation.  Then it was hot.  Then I was so busy I had not a single daylight moment to myself.  Then I was gone again.  Then yesterday, well, yesterday I took a breather.  Then today I started to continue that breather.  But 1/2 hour before dark I decided the yard must be cut right now.

I dragged the mower out of the garage and coaxed it to start.  I sweet-talked it into venturing through the tall grasses and taller weeds.  "They" say one should cut about a third off grass stems in a mowing. At my mower's highest setting (where I generally leave it), I was cutting off not less than 2/3 of the growth.  It was slow going.

Because it was slow going, I was able to take time to look at what was being mowed down.  And there it was:  black-eyed susan grass.  It closely resembled an annual rudbeckia, just starting to flower.  Since it was growing in my lawn, however, it must have been a grass. 

If I'd stopped to photographic-evidence-taking, there's no way the mower would have started again.  You'll just have to take my word for it.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

July 2013 Blooms

Once again, my bloom day post has been delayed.  I blame the excessive heat.  Oh, I took pictures on the 14th and 15th, but the heat has completely sapped my energy for even the most sedentary tasks, like blogging. 

Fortunately the garden doesn't complain quite as much about the heat as I do.  I did venture out earlier in the week to find a cucumber hiding among the very tall weeds.  It is over a foot long.

On to the blooms ...

Most of the yard this month has been daylilies and Rudbeckia.  But I also have these:

 Echinacea on the patio, forming the backdrop for the glider.  The 'White Swan' Echinacea is barely visible in this photo, just behind the glider and on the right edge.

More Echinacea in the side garden, shading some yellow-blooming blue spruce sedum.  Oh, and there's something else in there ...

It is all flopped over and only made two blooms this year, but the stargazer lily, declining for the past few years, is still there. 

And here's a closeup of the blooming sedum

The lower border in the front has some sedum, too.  I don't remember what this one is, with thick grayish leaves.

Also in the front border:  four o'clocks and catmint.

The upper garden is sporting some cute little Coreopsis rosea.

The garage garden is full of phlox.

The side garden, in addition to the Echinacea and lilies, has balloon flower (shown here with daylilies) and heliopsis (with a rose campion).

Back in the front are this year's new bulbs:  Acidanthera (Gladiolus callianthus).  I just love them!

Oh, I'm pooped now, just thinking about those plants out in the heat.  Time for a nap.  

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Summer Storms

I've been away on vacation for the past week.  During that time, there have been storms every day.  I was a bit worried what state my yard would be in when I returned this evening.  Fortunately, the worst damage was this:

I really should have planted some of those things before I left.  I think they all survived.  The only questionable one is the dahlia in the black pot that got completely squashed by the grill.  We'll see.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Peas, Reborn

Pea plants die off quickly in summer's heat.  Then it's time to rip them out an plant something else in their place.  This year, due to lack of sunny garden space, I had to get creative with my plant placements.  I couldn't wait until mid-June to replant this part of the garden, so in May I planted tomato seedlings in between the rows of peas.  That mostly worked, though I noticed this week that the tomatoes planted in the pea patch are about 6 inches shorter than the tomatoes planted in a clear area of the garden. 

Because the pea patch was already replanted early, I wasn't in a hurry to rip out the dry, brown pea vines.

When I finally went to clear out the old plants, I found that many had new pea sprouts growing from the base.  Some "reborn" plants were quite full looking, with several flowers and developing pods:

I decided to cut off the old stalks and see what happens.  Maybe I'll get a few more peas to nibble on, or maybe this experiment will go the way of the zucchini from two years ago.  I'll let you know.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Would You Eat It?

Back in mid-May, I found this growing in my garden:

I hadn't planted it, at least not this year.  I did put in some "mixed greens" seeds in that general area - about two years ago.  The plant was right where I planned to put a tomato, so I just put the tomato next to it and hoped they wouldn't interfere too much while I figured out if the mystery plant was friend or foe.

Then I posted the photo to FaceThing and asked friends:  should I eat it?

Responses varied. Here's a sample:

* It looks like a red mustard green. I have some Asian ones. If you grew a salad greens or stirfry mix, it might be from that. Or perilla--there's a red type.
* The question is.....will it eat you?  (my favorite response)
* No. But I wouldn't eat it if was served to me at a 4-star restaurant.
* Looks like something my horse would not eat; if they don't eat it, I don't.  (ok, this was the same commenter as above, but I thought it deserved its own entry)
* I'd eat it. It might be hallucinogenic lettuce.
* Yes!!!
* Why take a chance?
* Let another set of leaves grow. Sometimes you get surprised and then other times just another weed. Just make sure it's not jimsonweed, an entire family had hallucinations a few years back when they tossed it in some soup.

Note the range from "Yes!"  to an emphatic "No."  Note also two references to hallucinogens.  Who are these friends of mine?  By the way, the conversation devolved from here into me offering to dig up jimsonweed (which I can ID, and this is not it) from my parents' yard to give to the guy who suggested hallucinogenic lettuce.

I'm not a particularly adventurous eater, so I knew before I asked the question that I wasn't going to try it.  But I also knew my more culinarily adventurous dad would be coming to visit in a few weeks, and he'd probably be willing to take a nibble.   So I let it stay. And grow.

Dad arrived, nibbled, and declared:  mustard.  So my first respondent was correct.  Congratulations, cousin Sue!  We had some in our salad that same night.

A little mustard goes a long way.  Can't say I've harvested any since - it's not really my favorite green, though it does bring back some good childhood garden memories.

Now it is bolting:

It is also as tall as the tomato and shading my little basils.  Off to the compost pile!