We had almost two inches of rain in the past few days, so the parched plants are starting to recover.  There is more fall color on the shrub border now.  The spice bush really grew tall this year and is starting to turn yellow now.  We bought two American Hornbeam trees last fall.  One of them is still quite green, while the other is shades of orange and pink.
Garden 10 05 13 028

American hornbeam between two lilac bushes.  The idea is that the hornbeam and small lilac would gradually grow and fill in this space in the shrub border.  On the left is solidago rugosa ‘fireworks” and on the right is chrysanthemum ‘overture.’

Garden 10 05 13 031

Close up of carpinus caroliniana – American hornbeam, also know as blue beech, ironwood, and musclewood.

Garden 10 05 13 063

Purple aster.  I think they are New England asters, but they could be purple dome asters.  I can’t exactly remember what I planted.

Garden 10 05 13 065

Potter wasp (or mason’s wasp) on aster.

Garden 10 05 13 076

Green metallic bee on aster.

Garden 10 05 13 075

Action shot of green metallic bee in flight.

Garden 10 06 13 003

Bumblebee on agastache – ‘blue fortune’ anise hyssop.  I am not that good at distinguishing between bumblebees and carpenter bees, but I think this is a bumblebee.  The agastache is still covered with these bees.  At night they hang on the underside of the flowers and as soon as dawn comes they come to life and start buzzing around these flowers.  The agastache has definitely been the most attractive plant for pollinators over a long time this summer.

Garden 10 06 13 012

I have had a ‘top hat’ blueberry in a container on the patio for the past two summers.  Yesterday I planted it in the patio border.  It is the little plant with red leaves on the left.  Just to the right of this border is the ‘duke’ blueberry, so the two are close enough to help in pollination in the spring.  I had to add some acidic soil to the ground for the blueberry, so we will see how it goes.

Garden 10 05 13 022

Just to the right of the last picture, the alyssum took over the sidewalk half-way through the summer, so that I have been walking on the lawn… Yesterday I put most of it in the yard waste bin, since October is the last month for yard waste pickup.  I have two large garbage cans, but they can fill up pretty quickly this time of year.  I don’t needs these alyssum seeds in my compost.

Cooking adventure:  Just roasted a butternut squash and green beans.  Yesterday we made the kale and potato soup again.  That freezes well, too, so it’s a winner.


Beautiful Summer Day!

June 30, 2013

It was a gorgeous day today! About 75 degrees with a nice breeze. It was a great day to sit in the sun and enjoy the wonder of summer.

Garden 06 30 13 019

Red hot pokers in the center with orange butterfly weed in the background.  On the right is Russian sage and on the left is the ornamental grass, miscanthus morning light.

Garden 06 30 13 020

Just to the right of the picture above is a large patch of gaillardia.  Now the self-seeding alyssum are starting to fill in the open ground areas.

Garden 06 30 13 001

In my drought garden is white-blooming swamp milkweed.  I also have the pink-blooming swamp milkweed – asclepias.

Garden 06 30 13 012

Fly on heliopsis false sunflower summer sun.  Today as I sat on the patio a gold finch came and started tearing the leaves off this flower, trying to get at the seeds, I think.

Garden 06 30 13 021

I am also growing real sunflowers for the first time in this yard.  The leaves seem to bend toward the sunshine.  This is the biggest one and it is as tall as I am now.  It looks like it will have multiple blooms.

Garden 06 30 13 046

Shasta Daisy

Garden 06 30 13 036

Zucchini blossom and cucumber beetles.  Three cucumber beetles find a nice refuge in the zucchini blossom.  Or maybe they are mating….  I am glad there are a lot of birds around to reduce the population.

Garden 06 30 13 032


Cooking the good stuff:  I cooked another big pot of vegetable soup today.  Last week my soup lasted for four days for Phil and I, which really helped me with my busy schedule!

Backyard Backdrop

October 7, 2012

As fall progresses the garden is starting to wind down.  The temperatures got down near freezing the past two nights so I am not sure how many more vegetables we will harvest.

I found a sunny place to sit to read my book back near the vegetable garden.  The alyssum covers the sidewalk.  The oak tree, off the picture to the right, is starting to create some shade on the grass in the afternoon.  I must have been sitting on the running path of the chipmunk, as he kept running under my chair.

Here is the chipmunk.  My camera was too slow to get anything closer, though s/he ran under me quite a few times.

I am enjoying the view of the mums and nasturtiums from the kitchen window each day.  Other colors of mums will be opening soon.

We decided to dig up the three sweet potato plants today.  Under each vine there was one average size sweet potato and a few little roots.  We cooked them all up and they tasted great.

We also dug up the one peanut plant, planted earlier by a squirrel in our yard.  We found a few peanuts on the roots.  Neither sweet potatoes nor peanuts are usually grown in Illinois, so this was just a fun learning experience for me.

I continue to pick pole beans in the garden and came across this camouflaged grasshopper in the leaf litter.

I could not stop myself from playing with the grasshopper a little.

I also enjoyed watching all the birds coming to the bird bath.  There was a woodpecker, bluejay, bosy robins and at one point I saw six birds splashing in the bath at once.

Morning in the Garden

August 11, 2012

On Friday evening after work I like to clean up the garden and fill the bird baths.  I deadhead the flowers and harvest the vegetables.  Then when I get up on Saturday morning I am ready to take pictures.  It is best before full sun.

Phlox is blooming all over the garden.  It seeds itself more each year and last year the pink phlox appeared for the first time.  In the background you can see the Blue Hill Salvia.  I cut it back in June and now it is starting to bloom again.

Coreposis ‘Early Sunrise’

The purple veronica spike speedwell is also coming back after being cut back in June.  The white alyssum carpet of snow is an annual that seeds itself around the yard.  It fills in nicely when other flowers die down over the summer.

Next to the veronica is the Little Bunny Pennisetum, which is a dwarf fountain grass.  Generally it has not done well in the garden, but is looking cute this year.

Wonder of Staffa Aster

The asters squeeze in behind the gaillardia and in front of the big canna plant.  I am enjoying the two different thyme plants on the front of this garden.  Also, you can see the sweet potato vine coming on the ground behind the canna.  It was growing up the middle of one of the yew shrubs and I put it on the ground.  I am hoping for sweet potatotes eventually!

The butterfly weed seed pods have opened and the seeds fly away on these silky tufts of fluff.  Always box elder bugs on this plant.

Beautiful Autumn Garden

October 2, 2011

The colors seems brighter in the garden this week.  Some things are dying down, but others are still going strong or just getting started in October.  I am still waiting for the first mums to open.

Now that is has cooled down the foxgloves have started blooming again.  Good for bees and hummingbirds.

The alyssum was slow in starting this year, but now covers the sidewalk.

I think this is a painted lady butterfly on the zinnias further down the sidewalk.

Female praying mantis on Fothergilla bush.  They are beneficial insects attracted to a garden with a lot of insects and moths.  Autumn is the time they mate.  They send out some good smells to attract the male.

Male praying mantis a few feet from female.  At mating time they approach cautiously, as the female is dangerous.

Northern Sea Oats with beautiful seed heads.

Beautiful colors, shapes and lines.  Hydrangea and sweet potato vine.

I walked around Lake Katherine this afternoon.  The colors are starting to change.  There were many geese, duck, and swans on the lake.

August Flowers

August 23, 2011

I enjoy the bright colored flowers in the garden this time of year.  The butterflies are starting to be more numerous, as are the dragonflies.

Remember those little zinnias I planted in the spring?  They are three to four feet tall now.  I got them as starter plants at Sid’s and they clearly showed a picture with red, yellow and possibly white zinnias.  Instead I got mostly pink ones.  Oh well, they brighten up the corner where they are.

Pink Phlox.  I planted one white phlox about four years.  I have been moving it around each year to find a good place for it in the garden and pulling up all the babies, since it self-seeds freely.  I have never planted pink phlox, though, so either these came from the birds, or the white phlox reverted to pink.   I like them, though!  On the right are salvia “blue hill.”

This spring I impatiently planted all kinds of seeds in the ground by this fence, but nothing seemed to come up, since it was so cold and damp.  Then everything started growing at once!  Here the small zinnias on the left came from seeds and the larger zinnias and coleus came from Sid’s.  On the end are nasturtiums that finally came up, also, though they have not flowered much yet.

This is another segment of the same fence.  This part also has white alyssum.  I also planted mums that will be purple or lavender next month.

I thought I bought “Johnson Blue,” but these do not look very blue.  This is the first year I have been successful with a hardy geranium like this in my garden.

I am not sure of the name of the cactus like plant in front of our house, that I think of as Agave.  You can’t see in this picture, but it is in front of the arborvitae.  It bloomed earlier this year.  I left the stalks up, since I heard there was a caterpillar that only liked these seedpods.  One day we heard pecking, looked out the window and saw this woodpecker pecking on the stalks.


October 17, 2010

This weekend I put the zucchini, morning glories and alyssum in the waste bin.  There is still a lot of color in the garden, though.

Leaves of the Viburnum, Blue Muffin.

Zinnia – I think these are called California Giant, or something like that.  So popular with butterflies.

Flowering Kale – Nagoya White

These flox reseed themselves around the garden.  Other flowers currently blooming are asters, foxgloves, gaillardias, and the pineapple sage.

We are really enjoying the zebra grass, but having trouble getting a good picture.  All the ornamental grasses are interesting this time of year.

I meant to chop up this parsley to put in the freezer today, but it did not happen.  I did find two swallowtail caterpillars on the parsley by the zinnias.

Snow Crocus bulbs.  It takes time to plant crocus and daffodil bulbs, but I think I will really enjoy them in the spring.


June 13, 2010

White can be a tricky color in the garden because white flowers often turn brown or look discolored.  White blends in with many other colors, though, and glows at night, so here are some pictures of white flowers in my garden over the last few weeks.

This plant that likes shade is Aruncus, also known as Goat’s Beard.  In the back corner of the garden, it gets shade from the Joe Pye Weed and the neighbor’s garage.  In this picture it is next to a tall Foxglove.

This is not the best picture, but it shows two Chicago Lustre Arrowood Viburnum that we planted next to each other hoping they would grow together and form one large shrub 8 to 10 feet high.  We will see how that works out….

The Shasta Daisies are in bloom and the first Red Hot Poker can be seen on the far left.

I got this Incrediball Hydrandea through the mail last year and now it is blooming for the first time.  In the back on the right you can see the other Hydrangea I planted last year. I think the name is Macrophylla and it should be blue or pink, depending on the soil ph, but right now it is starting to look purple.

This white Alyssum seeded itself from last year.  By August the Alyssum and Nasturiums  will spill over most of the sidewalk.

My drought garden came with three butterfly weed plants.  The advertisement showed pink, orange and yellow flowers.  So far I have white butterfly weed and a dark pink variety getting ready to bloom.  I planted orange butterfly weed, too, which is my favorite.