Yellow Show

May 7, 2014

It is 80 degrees fahrenheit today!  My tomato and pepper plants arrived in the mail and I put them in the ground.  There seems to be a number of yellow things in the garden that I thought I might group together.

Garden 05 07 14 058

Mammoth yellow quill chrysanthemum.  I got three of these plants in the mail this spring and they are starting to bloom.  I wonder if they will bloom again in the fall.

Garden 05 07 14 053

Dandelion.  I hate to admit that it was not hard to find one to photograph!

Garden 05 07 14 072

There are a lot of strawberry blossoms now.  You can see the green strawberry starting to form in the center of the flower.

Garden 05 07 14 052

American plum blossom.  This is not really yellow, but I had to point out that there is only one blossom on my two trees.  Last year there were about 10 blossoms.  I wonder why.

Garden 05 07 14 061

We still have a number of yellow and white daffodils around the yard.  I think this one only gets partial sun, so it opened later.

Garden 05 07 14 064

I put together a container over the weekend.  The big plant in the middle is a cornflower.  It was taking over the flower bed, so I took it out and stuck it in this planter.  I also put in some marigolds, purple petunias, and a little goldenrod. In the back left the wonderful agastache is starting to come back.

Garden 05 07 14 008

Goldfinch.  I think this is a male goldfinch.  The picture is not so great, but he was singing his heart out when I zoomed in for this shot.

Garden 05 07 14 026

Speaking of birds, we have a number of cow birds in the area.  Here is the male.  The female is harder to get a good picture of.  They lay their eggs in songbirds’ nest and the songbird ends up feeding the baby bird for them, often to the harm of her own chicks.

Garden 05 07 14 007

I noticed the yellow on this bird’s throat, but I don’t know what kind of bird it is.  Can anyone identify this bird? Dan was shooting bird pictures from the kitchen.

Advertisements

From Snow To A Snake

April 20, 2014

Happy Easter everyone!  It is a beautiful day here in Northern Illinois!  A great day to kick back, get out the lawn chair and take a nap in the sun…

Garden 04 20 14 033

The garden this time of year is bright yellow with daffodils and everything is starting to green up.  The dragon’s blood sedum is red this time of year and the red leaves of the ‘profusion’ crab apple are opening up.  The bumble bees and butterflies are visiting.

Garden 04 20 14 007

But when we woke up last Tuesday morning, April 15th, this is what it looked like.  The snow did not last long though, and soon we were back to the green color.  I think I have put the plastic hoop away for good now…

Garden 04 20 14 018

Yesterday was a beautiful day and I planted some collards, along with some other plants.  This robin kept track of me and followed me around looking in holes I dug.  It may be a little early to plant, but collards are pretty hardy and they were very cheap, so why not! The green onions are ready to eat.

Garden 04 20 14 042

I divided my chives and put half under my American plum trees, which are just starting to leaf out.   I also planted a hellebore under these little trees.  Here is my theory.  Last year the plums were attacked by a lot of little bugs.  If I put some smelly plants and more variety below these shrubs and leave the lawn a little high while the trees are blossoming then the bugs will get more confused or have more places to explore.  The predators will also have more places to hide out.  Basically, biodiversity to solve the gardens problems.

Garden 04 20 14 020

I got my daughter outside to enjoy the day and she snapped a picture of me planting some mums.  It was a hot day, but I was covered up, afraid of sunburn, since I was out many hours.  You can see that the hicksii yew shrubs got a little burnt over the winter.  Luckily it was not too bad.

Garden 04 20 14 011

After trimming some old overgrown thyme I noticed a snake moving and went to get my camera.

Garden 04 20 14 012

Here is a close up of the head.  My daughter and I guessed it was between 12 and 15 inches long.

Garden 04 20 14 013

Here you can see the skin pattern a little.  Looking on Google I am guessing that this is a DeKay’s brown snake.  Any snake experts want to tell me if I am on track or not?  They apparently spend a lot of time underground and eat earthworms and slugs.  We have plenty of both of those.  I enjoyed seeing this little guy and glad he has a home in my yard.

Previous postings:  I noticed that when people first visit my blog they often open the link for “Purchase Pre-Planned Garden,” which I posted many years ago.  I wanted to say that only about half of the plants I ordered in that package garden lasted past the first year.  The lavender, sea holly, and the yellow butterfly weed did not survive.  I substituted with other plants.

Food – We are eating several cups of baby kale and greens every day from the plants that made it through the winter.

Winter Moon

February 9, 2014

It seems like I have taken a lot of snow pictures this year.  So I turned my camera up to the sky this week.

Garden 02 09 14 015

The sky was so blue and then I saw the moon. The day was so cold and crisp, without a cloud in the sky.

Garden 02 09 14 022

Back on the ground, in the front yard, it is becoming hard to find places to put the snow.

Garden 02 09 14 035

These thorny American plum bushes grew so quickly last year that we had to stake up the branches, which were hanging down and breaking.  There were no plums, but I am guessing that it may take a few years for these bushes to get established before fruit is produced.

Garden 02 09 14 009

This kale that is outside in the garden finally looks really dead, but is it….?  Last year it came back with green shoots off the stalk.

I heard some birds singing today, despite the cold snowy weather. More cold weather is coming this week.

Plain Old Leaves

May 26, 2013

Flowers get most of the attention, but leaves can be pretty interesting too.  In the spring many of the leaves start out reddish or a very vibrant green.

Garden 05 26 13 081

There are lots of names for this little tree.  Carpinus caroliniana, American hornbeam, blue-beech.  I love the details on the leaves.

Garden 05 19 13 040

Catkins on our chinquapin oak.  I took this picture a few weeks ago.  You can see all the little pollen-bearing catkins hanging down from the upper branches.  I wonder when we will start having acorns.  This is the fourth year the tree is in our yard, so it is probably five or six years old.

Garden 05 26 13 050

Fresh green leaves of Chinquapin oak.  I think the leaves get darker as the summer goes on.

Garden 05 19 13 064

New spring growth on Hicksii yew shrubs.

Garden 05 26 13 069

Ants and flies on American plum tree.  There must be something very tasty about these fast growing plum trees.  The sparrows were in the trees today eating something, too.  We have two trees next to each other.  One is growing so quickly that the branches are breaking from rain and wind.  They seem to be attracting wild life, though, so that is fun.

Garden 05 19 13 045

Lady’s mantle snowflake leaf!  It looks like some insect took a bite of this leaf before it opened, making something like the paper snowflakes we make at Christmas.

Garden 05 26 13 052

The slugs are out in the garden again.  So far it has not been too bad, but it looks like something was enjoying this broccoli plant.

Garden 05 19 13 078

Romaine lettuce.  Just like the bugs we like to eat tender leaves.  This week we have been eating romaine and leaf lettuce, baby kale, spinach and tatsoi.

Garden 05 19 13 090

Yellow crookneck squash.  On Mother’s Day there was a frost which affected my tomatoes, peppers, basil and this squash plant.  With good water and warm weather they all revived, except for two of the peppers, which I replaced.

What’s been happening?  I finished mulching my garden and tying up/staking tall plants.  I’m excited about my first sunflowers that have now sprouted!

This week I have been busy planting seed for beans, cucumbers and zucchini.  I also bought small vegetable plants at the nursery and got them in the ground.  I bought eggplant, mustard greens, brussel sprouts,  kale, yellow crookneck squash, basil, thyme, and maybe something else.  I like to try a lot of different things and see what grows well.  While I worked I was enjoying the blossoming trees.

Garden 05 05 13 039

American Plum Tree Blossoms.  There were just a few blossoms on the trees, but they have beautiful intricate detail.

Garden 05 05 13 023

Amelanchier Laevis – Allegheny Serviceberry Blossoms.  This serviceberry has been in the yard for four years and is a native shrub I bought at Possibility Place.  The small berries in June are very tasty if I get them before the birds.

Garden 05 05 13 049

Pollinator on Serviceberry blossoms.  With bees having such a hard time due to pesticides and mono-cultures without flowers, such as lawns or a corn field, it is important for them to have flowers all season, from early spring to late fall for them to gather nectar from.

Garden 05 05 13 040

My lawn has a lot of violets, which I do not mind at all, and I am sure they keep some pollinators happy.

Garden 05 05 13 002

I have put daffodils in almost every blog post this spring.  Different colors just keep opening up!  A bee would be attracted to check out the trumpet of this coral colored flower.

Garden 05 05 13 052

In order to fit in all the vegetables I want this year I have been planting them in between flowers and in every spot I can find.  I bought four eggplants this year.  This one is a Japanese variety called “Ichiban.”  It’s a very tasty variety and will hopefully withstand the advance of the daylilies  that will surround it.

Green smoothies:  Buying organic greens can get expensive.  Now we are starting to have more greens to put in from the garden.  We have kale, from last year’s stalks, although they are trying to flower now.  We are starting to eat romaine and we threw in some dandelion greens today, which are certainly easy to come by!  Of course when you mix in blueberries, bananas, dates, and cocoa powder, any greens taste pretty good.

Green Outburst

April 28, 2013

To compare this spring with other years in my garden you can scroll down to the archives and compare these pictures to the ones from my blogs at the end of April in 2010, 2011 and 2012.  The crabapple has finally leafed out with red leaves, but does not have blossoms yet.  This week the American plum, which we planted last year, leafed out and I am looking forward to the blossoms.

Garden 04 28 13 010

American Plum Trees – still quite small

Garden 04 28 13 008

Last year I planted the middle regents serviceberry on the west side of the house and since then I have been pondering what else to plant.  I decided to get two more of the same and planted one on either side.  The blossoms are just getting ready to open. This was one of those projects where Dan came out and gave me a hand!

Garden 04 28 13 001

I must have planted a lot of different kinds of daffodils last fall.  They just keep coming and I have been enjoying how well they go with the vibrant green grass.  This orange middle stands out.

Garden 04 28 13 012

I could not resist buying this tiny mum this week.  Maybe they were selling them for containers or something, but I am hoping it will settle in and come back next year.

Garden 04 28 13 019

I bought a nine-pack of collards and planted them in the garden.  I have never planted collards before, but we have been buying them to eat recently.  I also got some tomato and pepper transplants in the mail and had to get them in the ground. You can see one of the tomatoes on the other side of the fence.

Garden 04 28 13 016

I just dug holes in the lasagna mulch and planted in the peppers with some good soil.  This pepper is called bull nose and is an heirloom.  My catalog says that Thomas Jefferson grew this variety of pepper at Monticello.  It should be a sweet red pepper.

Garden 04 28 13 022

Here are the beautiful leaves of the potato I am growing in a pot, one week later.  Soon I will start piling up soil so the potatoes will have more room to grow.

Garden 04 28 13 023

The promise of lilacs coming soon.  Charles Joly Lilac.

Chores:  It is that time of year when some attention must be given to the lawn.  Since we are organic we tend to have dandelions in the lawn.  I don’t worry too much in the back yard, but today Dan dug out the dandelions in the front lawn and we filled the holes with soil and grass seed.  We will see how that works…..

Sun, Shadows, Snow

February 24, 2013

We had three or four inches of snow on Friday.  It is really the most snow we have had all winter, and is very welcome!  Today it is melting quickly.

Garden 02 24 13 018

These are the two american plum trees we planted last April.  I can’t wait to see them bloom, since we planted them after bloom last year.

Garden 02 24 13 029

Sun, shade, miscanthus grass.

The sun is getting a little higher every day and the shade is moving off the lawn.

Garden 02 24 13 031

Each spring I clean out this agave-like plant to get rid of dead or broken leaves and so that the new babies can grow up.  If the old plant survives it sends up a flower stalk, and the woodpeckers love the bugs they find in that stalk.

Garden 02 24 13 005

It is soon time to think of birds.  Unfortunately this birdhouse attracts sparrows, which can scare away the bluebirds.  I wanted to order a Gilbertson PVC house for bluebirds, but Mr. Gilbertson no longer manufactures them, so I wonder if I can get one from someone else.  I saw a purple finch this week.  It was trying to get a drink from the upside-down birdbath and was sampling the crabapples.

Garden 02 24 13 007

During most of the winter we have not had snow to look at, so I appreciated it this morning.  This is the lettuce I planted on January 27th.  The mesclun mix on the left should be edible pretty soon.  I will thin it out by eating some of it.  The seed savers leaf lettuce on the right did not do so well.  I guess I will try that variety outside and see if it does better.  Without a good lighting system I am somewhat limited.

Baking adventure:  We had some bananas to use up today so we made some vegan raw cocoa banana bites.  It was delicious!

All Nature Sings

March 25, 2012

This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears

All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres

This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought….

It is a beautful time of year and the birds are enjoying the garden with me.  Here is what is happening after our recent heat wave…

The fothergilla shrub starts to bloom.  The leaves should follow soon.  Below are spreading chrysanthemums.  They certaining supress the weeds, but are not my favorite color in the fall, so I might replace them.

Last Sunday these serviceberry flower buds started to form.

 Two days later I took this picture when the plant was in full bloom.  I chose this over the close up, since I wanted to include this busy squirrel.  We have had a lot of squirrels enjoying the yard, though none of them live on site.

The lilac leaves have filled out on both lilacs.  This one has flower buds, too.   On the right side, in the background, you can see two American plum shrubs we planted yesterday.

Here they are close up.  We went to Possibility Place in Monee yesterday to get an American plum tree and came home with two smaller plums.  They tend to form a bit of a thicket and will probably not bloom until next year.  They are a native shrub and are supposed to have plums with a sweet flesh and sour skin.  They will probably be 15 feet high eventually and provide a good screen as well as a welcome place for birds.  The white blossoms will be a nice contrast to the pink blossoms on the crab apple.  Thanks for your help Dan!

 Malus Profusion – crabapple.  The crabapple has leafed out about a month early this year.  You can see the pink buds getting ready to bloom.

There is work to do today once the ground dries a bit from the past days of rain.  Both the purple lysimachia and the goldenrod above are quite agressive and have gone under the railroad tie and are moving toward the neighbor’s yard.  I need to pull up unwanted plants, as well as other weeds around the yard.

I planted more daffodils last fall and now am enjoying all the different colors coming up at different times throughout spring.  This coral colored daffodil is something new, though my favorites are the bright yellow ones.

Winter Warmth

February 19, 2012

The weather has been amazingly mild this year.  Many days have been in the 40s.  Hopefully it has been cold enough to kill off weeds and diseases.  Here are some of the things growing in the middle of February.

 These crocus bulbs bloom on the south side of a log.

Daffodils and Liriope break through the ground on the north side of the house.

The strawberries are spreading vigorously now.

At the base of all the sedum, the new rosette are growing.

Rock Moss grows on the east side of the house.  Last summer, just after Dan finished tarring the garage roof, we had a strong storm and the tar splattered off the roof onto the rocks below.  We may need to get some more rocks to replace these…  Today we visited Home Depot and made an appointment to have a roof specialist visit us to talk about re-roofing next summer.  We need to get several quotes.  That, and college costs, will cost money, so I am reminding myself to try to be cost conscious in the garden this year.  I’ll start planting seeds indoors in a month or so, as that always costs less than buying plants.  I think I have decided to buy a native American Plum tree from Possibility Place in April.