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.
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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.’

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

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

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

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Green metallic bee on aster.

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Action shot of green metallic bee in flight.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Acorns and Asters

September 29, 2013

Not everyone likes acorns.  They can be a hassle on the lawn.  When we picked out our chinquapin oak we heard that the squirrels really liked the acorns and we would not see many on the ground, and this appears to be the case, so far.

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Acorn of chinquapin oak – quercus muehlenbergii.  This is the first year we have acorns.  I would guess that the tree is about six years old.

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You can also see empty acorn shells throughout the tree.  It looks like the squirrel either ate it on the tree or it fell out and left the shell.  In any case there is not much on the ground yet.

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Purple aster and goldenrod.  We have one purple aster hiding behind the viburnum bush.  I like the combination with the goldenrod.  Asters usually do not look good on the bottom half of the plant, so it is a good thing that this plant is hidden, but still provides something for the insects to pollinate now.

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The little yellow cushion mum I bought in the spring survived and is blooming now.

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Chrysanthemum ‘Overture’ after the rain.

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After the rain and with warm weather coming up, I am hoping for more juicy heirloom tomatoes to ripen soon.

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.

Planting, Harvesting, Savoring

September 30, 2012

We are gradually building up the shrub border around the house.  Two weeks ago we planted a few bushes from Possibility Place and need to keep watering them so they get settled in before winter.

First we had to move two arborvitae from their current spots to this corner of the garden to make a threesome of trees.  We were able to leave the small hydrangea here and hope it grows more next year in the shade.

Then we planted this vernal witch hazel, hamamelis vernalis, between the two lilacs.

Carpinus Caroliniana – American Hornbeam – Blue Beach.  These are all names for this bush, which will eventually be a small tree.  We planted two of these on the west fence and hope it will block the view of the neighbor’s garage.  It’s pretty small now, though!

Top Hat Blueberry.  We planted this in the container this spring, so we have not had any blueberries yet.  Hopefully this will make it through the winter.  I will need to do some research to ensure that.  Asters in the background.

Another aster that is blooming is purple dome, with fireworks goldenrod in the background.

Chrysanthemum ‘Overture.’  I planted them this spring and they are the first mums to bloom in my garden this fall.  They are red with a yellow center, though not a true red.

We pulled up the first sweet potato vine last weekend and found one decent sized sweet potato and a few small ones.  The flavor was good, though a small portion.

Today we baked an apple, oatmeal, raisin dessert and earlier in the day we made up some spicy watermelon gazpacho.  We keep experimenting with vegetarian recipes.  Yesterday Dan made bean, corn, and avocado enchiladas, which were great!