Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day September 2017

Anemone x hybrida ‘Whirlwind’

Well, it’s fall here in Maryland and some of the usual suspects are providing our flowers for Bloom Day.  Japanese anemone are robust and reliable, as well as incredibly beautiful.

Anemone x hybrida ‘Whirlwind’

Some of the other regulars are in the following pictures.

Trycyrtis ‘Autumn Glow’

Alstroemeria ‘Sweet Laura’

Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’

St. John’s Wort ‘Hidcote’

In the wildflower patch, the wild asters are currently the star of the show, attracting insects of all sorts.

Wild Aster

In the cutting garden the standouts are the Tithonia.


Beth has shown they look really nice next to the Salvia ‘Black and Blue’.  They are also quite tall so it’s easy to see them from underneath as well.

Tithonia from underside

A similar color comes with the Atlantic Poppy which took forever to start blooming but now has a new flower every day.

Papaver atlanticum ‘Flore Pleno’

Inside the greenhouse we have blooming for the first time the Scilla maderensis.  It seems to open just a few of the flower elements per day so that it’s never completely in flower for us.

Scilla maderensis

It is nevertheless interesting and exotic which goes a long way to getting space in the greenhouse.

Looking down on Scilla Maderensis

The first of the Oxalis are coming into bloom now.

Oxalis melanostica ‘Ken Aslet’

There are three species blooming now, but the rest will extend the blooming season into January at least.

It’s worth noting that one does not live by flowers alone.  The garden fruits and vegetables have been abundant this year, pushing us to new recipes and uses for the crops…

Vegetable garden production

Kieffer Pears

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day May 2017

Horned Poppy (Glaucium flavum)

Wow, a very busy day yesterday in gardenland.  I discovered the horned poppy shown above had returned after a year’s absence in flowering as I was catching up with the vegetable garden on an absolutely gorgeous spring day here in Maryland.  My cup runneth over with chores at this time of year, but the weather has been most cooperative (at last!).  I tilled the garden, finished weeding the strawberries, planted out the veggies started in the basement, seeded much of the rest of the garden, put in more glads and dahlias, and meanwhile Beth and Josh were weeding and pruning like mad.

Getting the garden planted

As usual on Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day I will share some of the flowers of interest blooming around the yard.  It’s worthwhile to step back from my close-up images to see the wide array of flowering plants right now.

Front Garden Circle

I’ve noticed that some folks tend to think of ‘garden’ as the larger scale perspective, whereas I often get caught up with the specific flowers.  This little blossom on the Kalmiopsis leachiana, for example, is almost hidden amidst the surrounding Daphne.

Kalmiopsis leachiana amid daphne spent flowers

Another small distinctive flower that first bloomed last fall and is repeating already is this little Delphinium.

Delphinium cashmerianum

A constant volunteer for us is this little pink columbine that we inherited from Beth’s mother.

Aquilegia light pink

In the garden leading to the greenhouse gateway, there is a floriferous Callirhoe variant.

Callirhoe involucrata var. lineariloba ‘Logan Calhoun’

A quite distinctive plant is this allium which is just finished blooming and looks like it has little onions for seed pods.

Allium (nectaroscordum) tripedale

The very fragrant Rhododendron ‘Viscosepala’ is also just at the end of its blooming.

Rhododendron ‘Viscosepala’

By the back porch there is a lovely Bougainvillea that has overwintered in the greenhouse.

Bougainvillea pink and white

Of course, it’s hard not to miss the peonies in May.

Paonia ‘Sweet Shelly’

We also have yellow flowered peony that has been with us for thirty years.

Yellow Shrub Peony

The name has long since disappeared.

And the old stalwart, Festiva Maxima.

Paonia ‘Festiva Maxima’

We brought this one with us from Alexandria in 1975 and have planted it in many places around the property.  It thrives everywhere, even in the pasture with no real care.  The fragrance is wonderful and they make great cut flowers.

Paonia ‘Festiva Maxima’

Another plant that thrives on neglect is Baptisia.

Baptisia x variicolor ‘Twilite Prairieblues’

These grow right by the pasture with no assistance whatsoever.

The various iris species also have a celebration time in May.

Bearded Iris pink cultivar

Iris tectorum

At the back of the garage we have very large Black Lace Elderberry that is fully in flower right now.

Black Lace Elderberry (Sambucus nigra)

One of my favorite alpine plants is the Edrianthus pumilo which grows in a nicely formed cushion in the Large Trough by the greenhouse.

Edrianthus pumilo

Let me leave you with a couple of the birds which have shown up recently in the yard.  First a bluebird which is probably nested nearby.

Bluebird salute

And a Yellow-rumped warbler which is more likely just passing through but is the first instance I’ve seen on our hillside.

Yellow -rumped Warbler


A Moving Experience

Dusk on the Hill

The latest Gardening Gone Wild Photo Challenge involves motion of various sorts in the garden.  The specific theme “Show the Motion” discusses how you can set out to use motion to enhance your normal photos in the garden.  Following the judge’s suggestions I set out at dusk one evening to see if the camera, tripod and I could capture the fireflies that dance around the garden in the evening.  One of the by-products of wandering around the hillside in the evening with a tripod is that you get a wonderful light on the flowers just as the sun is going down.  The colors are exceptionally strong without being blown out as they would be in mid-day.

Rock Garden at Dusk

Rose Garden at Dusk with Luxor Lilies

It turns out that the time period during which you can shoot with a long exposure, still get the garden elements, and let the fireflies dance is fairly limited — about 1/2 an hour.  I tried various exposures, zoom levels, ISO’s, etc. but the difficulty is you can’t really see and appreciate the arcing tracks of the fireflies until you return to the computer.  In the end it’s a very random thing as to whether the fireflies will actually choose to light up in sync with your camera, but it’s fun to try!  For example here is a shot from the front rock garden in which you can see three streaks of golden light.

Fireflies in Rock Garden

Another was on the hillside with clear arcs of color.

Fireflies above Coreopsis

In the end my favorite shot of the night came on the side of the hill with the pasture as backdrop and the False Sunflowers  in the foreground.  This picture was taken in the near-dark and it’s only by the magic of digital photography that fireflies appear as golden streaks of fairy dust in what looks like daylight.   This will be my submission for the GGW photo contest.

Fireflies and Hillside Garden

I also need to give some praise to the Luxor lilies which are flowering on six foot stems right now.

Asiatic Lily 'Luxor'

And I’m becoming a fan of the Walcroy Crocosmia which is an outstanding gold color to match the daylillies in the front yard.

Crocosmia 'Walcroy'

I should mention in passing that this is harvest time for the garlic.  I’ve strung several large bundles from the rafters in the garage.

Garlic (Kettle River Giant) hung to dry

And the blueberries are doing their annual thing.  I always look at them in the spring thinking that there really aren’t very many blossoms and maybe it will be an off year.  Then, come harvest time, the bushes yield abundantly and there are more to pick than we really have time for.  Beth has made a couple of full-size blueberry tarts that have been delicious.  It looks like we will be freezing berries again…

Blueberries picked last night from one of seven bushes

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day for December 2010

Camellia Sasanqua frozen in place

Well it is indeed another opportunity to check the progress of the garden and to search for flowering survivors against the cold weather of December.  I bundled up yesterday and went into the subfreezing cold to look for the hardiest remnants of our garden.  The Camellia shown above sits against sheltering wall but has only the one bloom hanging on and, truthfully, that bloom has seen better days.  There are many other buds hoping for a January thaw since there are not many signs that the temps are coming back up again in December.  I looked back to last year’s posting and see that this very same Camellia is the lead flower for that edition of GBBD as well.  Note to self:  A White Camellia Sasanqua should be on the shopping list.

Now I rather expected the Camellia to be flowering.  What I did not expect was to see a Chrysanthemum  bloom still hanging on long after its compadres had packed their bags and planted their seeds for next year.

Last vestige of Chrysanthemum

A bit bedraggled yes.  But we who are in the begging profession (as all North Eastern gardeners must be at this time of year) can not afford to be too picky.

What did strike me — in addition to the freezing winds yesterday — was the number of plants that still make a beautiful green contribution to the landscape.  There are lots of plants that we assume will come to the fore at this season — like Yews or Boxwood — but there are others like the Hellebores and Epimediums that seem be contributing above and beyond the call of duty.  Given that they both will put of lovely flowers in the springtime.

Epimediums defy the cold

Epimediums, in particular, seem so delicate but are at the core just as sturdy and determined a ground cover as you can imagine.  Like ferns they are much more reliable than their appearance would seem to call for.

And the Hellebores are becoming one of my favorite flowering plants.

Hellebore x sternii 'Hot Flash'

They are incredibly hardy, reliably deer-proof, and increasingly the hybridizers are bringing new colors and styles to the market.  The above ‘Hot Flash’ has a silvery cast and interesting markings to the leaves as well as pretty green flowers in the spring.

As far as plants still doing their thing despite the 20 degree temperatures I need to take note of the Swiss Chard in the garden.

Swiss Chard still surviving

What a great vegetable!  Thanks to son Josh, we now stir fry this with maple syrup — yum.

And yet another survivor, though nearly done, is the last of the lettuce.

Buttercrunch in the cold

I somehow never realized that the lettuce could tolerate such low temperatures.  Needless to say, I will take fall gardening more seriously in the future.  I only really planted the fall garden this year because the drought killed off our summer production so badly.  There is a world of discovery right there in the backyard…

To see other gardens on this GBBD please go to May Dreams Gardens where the event is hosted by the originator.

Autumn Harvest

Fall Fest at Wilson Farms

The theme for Gardening Gone Wild photo contest for September is Autumn Harvest.  I was not inspired by our own drought-thirsted crops as considered what photo to enter.  The above photo is from Wilson Farms near Boston.  They make a fall tradition of gathering in some of the biggest pumpkins, squash, and gourds that you will ever see.  They also have apples, cider, and a generally inspiring collection of wonderfully diverse market garden produce and flowers.  If you have the opportunity it is well worth a visit.

However, I think for my entry I’m going to go with last year’s visit to Turkey.  As we drove across the country we went from the fruit orchards of the coast to the equivalent of our midwest where the big crop is sugar beets.

Harvesting sugar beets

We saw tractor after tractor towing in wagons of sugar beets.  They drove them up a near vertical ramp to dump them out (see the red tractor in the upper left of the picture).  Then the enormous piles of sugar beets were loaded onto big trucks for traveling across the country.

Trucking sugar beets

The source of the sweetness for some of those delicious baked goods is probably the molasses derived from sugar beets. The sugar beets are also used for one version of Raki, a distinctive turkish alcoholic beverage.  But wait, the quest for an Autumn Harvest image goes further.

The small farm that we stopped at for an overnight stay operated with more of a traditional mixed crop approach.  We were hosted by a multi-generational family that provided a wonderful meal for us.  They offered that those who wanted to get up early could witness the milking the next morning.  So I got up, along with several others, and toured the barn to see the milking (the whole farm reminded me of my grandfather’s place in Canada).  Then we took an morning walk into the fields. .  The early morning light fell on the stacks of reed-like plants that were as tall as the old traditional haystacks that you may have seen in the U.S..  In honor of the many hours that were required to create those twelve foot stacks I decided to submit this image as representative of Autumn Harvest.

Reedstack at Akburun village

Oh, the gentle rain that droppeth

Morning Mist

Not too long ago we had a morning mist that covered the hillsides.  It was the most rain we had from the twelfth of August until last night.  Another month without rain.  And only .4 inches from last night.  You might ask how the plants can survive such dismal conditions and the simple answer is they can’t.  I have had to water as much as possible and we just don’t have the capacity from our well to support all the plants on the property.  This is what the triangle field looks like after a summer of drought.

The dry triangular field

And, as if it weren’t enough that the dry conditions (combined with woodchucks) did in the corn, the squash, and the cucumbers completely (I mean nothing, not a single morsel), we now have an invasion of stinkbugs on everything that’s left.

Stink Bugs on the tomatoes

These aren’t your ordinary stink bugs.  These are the Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs that will want to come inside for the winter time.  They’ve taken to sitting on the door and window screens when they are not sucking the life out of the tomatoes, the peppers, the eggplant, and the apples.

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

Nonetheless, we shall persevere.  We can always look forward to a tropical storm visiting the area… — I see that Igor is forming in the Caribbean…

A Gourmet E’scape

Garlic scapes

I realized this week that the season was moving on for the garlic that I had planted last fall.  I could see that some of them were starting to put up buds for flowers so I began to look up when I’m supposed to harvest them (this is our first venture into growing anything beyond elephant garlic).  And that’s when I read about garlic scapes.  It turns out that culturally one needs to trim off the new buds to allow the plant to put more energy into the bulb (which is the part we normally plan to eat).  But for the hardscape garlic (most of our crop is hardscape whereas commercial garlics are the softscape variety) that new growth comes up on a curly green shoot that makes an epicurean delight all in itself.  By luck I was able to harvest the scapes at just the right time (when they are still curling and flexible).

Cutting up the scapes

Recipes abound online for using these cuttings.  But far and away the favorite use seems to be pesto.  And after our experiment last night I can see why.

Garlic scape pesto

Beth tossed this creamy pesto into a vegetarian pasta dish with sun-dried tomatoes and pine nuts, as well as fresh basil from the garden, and —voila! — we had a delightful eating experience.

Pasta with garlic scape pesto

We also spread the pesto directly on toasted sourdough for a very rich and delicious side dish for the meal… Yum!  The scapes have a kind of essence of garlic flavor with no sharp bite but a delightful aftertaste.

We had also brought in a large bowl of blueberries yesterday morning.

Blueberry pickings

Blueberries en masse

They also had to be part of the menu.  The night before we had taken toasted pound cake (received as a barter gift for blueberries) added unsweetened apricot prevserves, ice cream, blueberries, and amaretto for another sinful eating experience.  Sorry, no picture, that one vanished very rapidly…

Just to show that we don’t just eat around here, we also planted a nice set of Bell Heathers that Beth found at the local Big Box store.  This was a variety, C.D. Eason, that I don’t recall seeing here before.  The test will be how they last through summer and winter, but at the moment they look very nice on the garage bank.

Bell Heathers on the garage bank

Bell Heather 'C.D. Eason'

Playing in California

This is the time of year when I venture to California to visit with my mother.  While yet another snowstorm covers up the snowdrops again I visited my mother last week and checked up on the plants that are growing vigorously almost any time of year.  The outstanding elements in January are always the pair of Camellias that dominate the side of the house.

Camellia blooms dripping off the bush

Camellia wall

They grow so easily and flower so vigorously that it seems almost criminal.

Another spot that gets my every couple of months check is the back bed.  The back of the yard was once a lovely flower garden that my Dad planted but it got overrun with nut grass.  My cure was to build up the bed and put in pots with a drip irrigation system that waters only the pots not the surrounding earth.  This I did quite a few years ago and by and large it works pretty well if the irrigation tubes don’t get knocked off or the timer reset.

The back garden

There are now three dwarf citrus trees along the back wall and numerous perennials.  My mother pointed out last trip the value of pinning down the drip irrigation tubes and that has proved to be a very valuable step.  The citrus are yielding less than last year, but everyone is still pretty much alive back there and that’s a major plus.  That’s Cape Honeysuckle with the orange flowers hanging down from the porch.

Cape Honeysuckle (Tecomaria capensis)

This is a vigorous plant with attractive flowers the year round.

It’s a little bit early for the plants in the back bed to be flourishing, but I did notice that because of the heavy rains last month the part of the garden outside of the pots that does not get watered by irrigation was covered withs seedling Calendulas, a number of which were already up to flowering size.

Calendulas self-seeding

One could do worse than having Calendulas go wild.

I added a few plants this trip, as is my common practice.  This time I found a really nice tall Pink Coral Pea.  It fit in very nicely where the Dahlia had been eaten by snails and next to where the Bougainvillea has not made up its mind whether to grow or not.

New Pink Coral Pea (Hardenbergia violacea)

The large vine provides instant color to the bed.  However the joke was on me.  As my mother pointed out we already had two very large specimens of this big shrubby vine at the side of the house.

Existing Pink Cora Pea

Because the nursery plant was well ahead in flowering I didn’t realize that the same plants were already in the yard.  Credit one to the supervisor.

The Supervisor

I also put in a Peacock flower and an Anemone Coronaria, but the final step as an investment for the future was to add a little tomato plant.

Tomato seedling (Celebrity)

This one is surrounded by diatomaceous earth to provide an ancient drying spell against snails which run rampant in California gardens.  We’ll see if it makes a difference to the slimy sort…