Articles for the Month of July 2010

What a Difference a Year Makes

Wildflowers on the hill

Last year I planted a mix of wildflowers from Wildseed Farms in several places around the property.  In particular I put down a patch on the hill leading down to the pasture.  The notion was a wild garden with little upkeep and care.  The results were everything that I could have hoped.  A distribution of flowers came forth with a variety of colors and blooming periods.    The latest Gardening Gone Wild Picture This Photo Contest for July has as a theme the Intent of the Gardener. The above photo of a wild palette of colors is my submission.

Now in the second year, with the heat and lack of water, the results from just leaving the flowers in place has been very limited.

Wildflower patch in the second year

Come to think of it, I need to go water the garden (again)…

Up Close and Personal

Red-Shouldered Hawk that greeted me yesterday morning

Though the mulberries are almost gone, I still try to start the days with a half-hour watching the birds in the mulberry and cherry trees.  Yesterday morning as I was rubbing the sleep out of my eyes on the way out to the garden I heard the characteristic cry of the Red-Shouldered Hawk.  And there on the garden fence, not 25 feet away was this awesome hawk.  The cry is actually a mating call so that I was probably just a distraction.  Nonetheless the look I got was an irritated one.

Red-Shouldered Hawk getting ready to launch

Red-Shouldered Hawk takes off, note the talons

You would think that this would make the birds of the neighborhood lie low.  But moments later I witnessed this same hawk getting dive-bombed by this Eastern Kingbird (no bigger than a Robin).

Eastern Kingbird atop cherry

Just two days earlier I had seen a family of Great Crested Flycatchers amongst the Cherry trees.

Great Crested Flycatcher

Great Crested Flycatcher youngster

So despite the fact that I missed the last couple of weeks of the mulberry/cherry season there is still a lot of bird watching to do — and it remains rewarding to get up and out in the morning.

Yesterday also yielded a Swallowtail hanging out in the Agastache ‘Tutti-Fruiti’.

Swallowtail on Agastache

Swallowtail fully spread out on the Agastache 'Tutti-Fruiti'

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day for July 2010

Oriental Lily 'Time Out'

Well it is Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day once again where thanks to Carol at May Dreams Gardens we are called upon to describe what is blooming right now.  For us it is lillies, lillies, and more lillies.  The problem is that because of the drought we have been through all the flowers are much smaller than normal.  More about that later.  First let me share some of the flower pictures.

Oriental Lily 'Salmon Star'

Oriental Lily 'Marco Polo'

Trumpet Lily 'Scheherazade'

Lilies provide the added benefit of striking fragrance on a summer night and their smell permeates the house if you bring them inside.

Even the daylilies are getting into the act.

Red Daylily

Yes, there a lot of other players in the yard right now — the Shasta Daisies, the Black-eyed Susans, Yarrow, Gaura, Heliopsis, and Joe Pye Weed.

Joe-Pye Weed (Eupatorium purpureum)

And our favorite Glad is out in bloom.

Princess Margaret Rose Gladiolius is the first one out again

And let us not forget a cute little annual Celosia.

Celosia 'Flamingo Feather'

But the biggest feature of the garden has been the lack of water.

We went on vacation at the end of June.  June was a very dry month before we left.  But I had watered everything I could before departing.  For the full month of June this is what we got for rainfall.

Weather for June

Note the record heat.  In addition during the two weeks we were gone there was zero rain and the heat got worse. Through the first 8 days of July not a drop fell at our house and the temperature went to a 106 degrees.  I had counted on getting at least one little rainstorm and hadn’t expected desert-like temperatures.

I still haven’t finished toting up the damage.

The dead and dying on the Maple Allee

This is the sight I faced on the evening I returned.  A lot of labor and years of growth on the little Maples — wasted.

The newly planted Coral Bark Maple is toast...

Garden disasters - note shrunken water-starved corn

Potted plants on evening of our return home

The positive on this last picture is that with water our thirty year-old Grapefruit has opened it’s leaves again.

I’m sure there is some lesson here about abandoning your garden while hiking through the wildflowers in Colorado, but I don’t want to hear it.  Maryland is supposed to have better weather than Nevada…