Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hibiscus bloom

One of my two hibiscuses finally bloomed this year for the first time. (I planted it early last year.)  It's huge -- larger than the largest sunflower blossom.  I'm not sure if my other hibiscus will also bloom (I don't remember seeing any buds on it.)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Rain, finally, and some overdue maintenance

It's raining this morning, and is supposed to throughout the day, which is such a relief, given the lack of it over the past few weeks.  I've resorted to hose watering rather than using the rain barrel for spot watering.  (I even hooked up a hose to my rain barrel and hose-watered that way.)  But the ground has needed a deep soaking, and it's finally getting it.

Saturday I got around to some long overdue maintenance in the garden:  I cut back all the yarrow in my parking strip, which was looking awful, pulled up the dried-out daylily stalks (leaving the foliage), pulled up some bachelor buttons that were losing their luster, and weeded, weeded, weeded.

While out in the garden, a neighbor whom I barely know drove by, stopped, and asked how to get her hydrangea to bloom.  I gave an educated guess, and in the process of the conversation, she offered me a peony plant (herbaceous) that she didn't like.  (It was crowding her hydrangea, she thought.)  So I went over with shovel and pot, dug it up, and planted it along my back fence, which now gets much more sun than it used to.  I divided the tubers and planted them in the spot where I had just dug up some Yukon gold potatoes.

I also pulled the remainder of the peaches off my tree:  they are amazingly delicious and abundant (enought to give away to neighbors), and we've been having peach smoothies every morning for the last week.

Other harvests include bush beans, carrots, cherry tomatoes, and blackberries.  My okra has started to fruit and grow, as has my watermelon and pumpkin.  I hope they grow to maturity before the frost comes.

I yanked out my wandering cucumber plants, mostly because I didn't like the flavor (too bitter, even when young -- what went wrong?), but also because they were shading out the other vining plants in the front garden.

For blooms, my white phlox (Davids, appropriately) are the most beautiful at this point, and so long blooming.  Also open are Russian sage, butterfly bush, globe thistle, bee balm, sedum, cone flowers and black-eyed susans.  The rest are gladiolas and annuals:  zinnias, cosmos, petunias, and snapdragons.  But my favorite are the morning glories, which have grown up through the peach tree and are producing blue flowers among the branches (very cool looking!) and others up the grape vine and into the bird feeder, producing candy-stripe flowers.

Finally, my bougainvillea has been in bloom for about a week -- nowhere near as stunning as when I bought it, but I'm pleased that I've managed to maintain it.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Monday, August 2, 2010

Mid-Summer Lull; Harvesting Food

I've been very busy the last few weeks:  I've landed a full-time teaching job starting in the fall, so I've spent most of my time preparing classes (and raising my daughter, and everything else).  My garden has suffered because of it, as has this blog.  But here's an update:

We're in a mid-summer lull.  The front garden looks beautiful, I've been harvesting food for a few weeks now, but there's none of the excitement of spring and early summer, where new plants are popping up and new blooms are opening all the time.  There are a few new blooms, however, including most of my annuals (sunflowers, zinnias, and morning glory), as well as my garden phlox.  

I've also realized something about myself:  I'm much more of a flower gardener than a food gardener, which I regret.  If the flowers fail, you just get new ones.  If the food fails, it's much more disappointing.  So I have to work on improving my vegetable gardening skills -- next year.

My main success in food production is with fruits.  We've been picking blackberries in the back yard, a few strawberries now and then, and just yesterday, I started pulling the most-nearly-ripe peaches off my tree, so as not to snap the branches.  A few were soft enough to eat, even if small.  I pulled over 30 off the 5 year-old tree, and probably have over a hundred left.  It's going to be a bumper harvest.