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

I have trouble focusing on just one thing in the garden.  This is an important time to be planting early spring vegetables and thinking about producing food, but I am also keeping my eye on the beauty of the flowers and taking a little time to clean them up and weed around the beds.  I love seeing the trees and shrubs starting to leaf out and bloom.  Even the lawn must be attended to a little.  In all the activity I am always watching birds and even what is crawling in the compost pile.  Like I said, I have trouble focusing and specializing.  I just dabble in whatever interests me at the moment.

Garden 04 27 14 026

Serviceberry amelanchier laevis.  This native serviceberry is blooming now with a promise of sweet berries in June.  It grew so much this past year that I am guessing it is eight feet tall now and is solidly established after a slow start.

Garden 04 27 14 042

Another native shrub – spicebush lindera benzoin.  It looks like this shrub could use some pruning, but the tiny yellow flowers are just starting to bloom.  There are no berries here, but it is a host plant for the spicebush swallowtail butterfly.  Actually, I think I might get berries if I had a second spicebush for cross-pollination.  You can see the serviceberry bush in the background.

Garden 04 27 14 017

I spent quite a while yesterday morning cleaning up four strawberry patches I have around the garden.  First I cleaned out dead leaves and pulled up runners.  I moved some of the smaller plants to new locations.  I put down compost between the plants and watered it in then laid down straw from my ornamental grasses between the plants.  That keeps the strawberries off the ground and there are less problems with pests and diseases.  Can’t wait!

Garden 04 27 14 006

Time to eat these onions.  This weekend I planted more onion bulbs, red potatoes, and seeds for peas, kale, pak choi, turnips, and lettuce.  I am also trying spinach again, which I have never had much success with.  These plants all do well in cool weather.  There never seems to be enough room for all the vegetables I want to plant, so I mix them in with the flowers or pull up more grass to plant more food.

Garden 04 27 14 041

A project for the weekend was putting in two poles for laundry.  Previously we only had one laundry line.  Thanks Dan!!  The green side of me likes to limit my use of the gas dryer whenever possible.  In the background you can see the red leaves of the crabapple.  In the foreground the common lilac is getting ready to bloom.  On the left are the strawberries.  The yellow daffodils are still looking good, but starting to wind down in some areas.

Garden 04 27 14 012

This is one of the later daffodils with white petals and a yellow trumpet.

Garden 04 27 14 023

Another late daffodil with a peach colored trumpet.  I am glad to see these flowers multiplying each year.

Garden 04 27 14 033

I started to turn the compost pile yesterday, but realized that the shovel I was using was likely to slice a lot of worms in half and kill other critters in the pile, so I went and got this pitchfork.  It is called a 5-tine manure fork.  Now I really feel like a farmer!  I need to finish turning the pile.  Parts of the pile were steaming but other parts seemed a little slimy, so it needs some oxygen.  We have gotten a lot of leaves blowing in from the neighbor’s yards this year, while I appreciated and added to the pile.

Garden 04 27 14 020

I disturbed a nice worm while cleaning up the oregano patch.  The worms improve the structure of the soil and eat organic material like bits of dead leaves, then poop out worm castings, which are great fertilizer.

Garden 04 27 14 047

Wild violets are blooming in the lawn and here among the ground cover plants.  Such a delicate design!  I am not sure what I will do to improve the front lawn this year.  I would like a nice organic lawn service to make it look good!  The back lawn, which I do not worry much about, is full of creeping charlie, my least favorite plant.

Notice:  At some point this blog will run out of storage space.  At that point I am thinking of starting a new blog that will refer back to this blog.  I guess I will do this when I have to and I am not sure when that will be.  I don’t feel like paying for the additional storage space indefinitely.

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.

Spring Bulbs

April 13, 2014

The crocuses were blooming a week ago and I am finally getting pictures posted to have a record of how late they were this year.  Spring is definitely here, though freezing weather and possibly some stray snow has been forecast for tomorrow, so it is a little early for planting.  The birds are building nests and things are greening up.

Garden 04 13 14 071

One of my favorite flowers in the garden is this white daffodil, which opened yesterday.  It is ready for the first bees.  Yesterday I was cutting back ornamental grasses and a big bee surprised me by flying out of the center of the grass stalks.  Did I wake it up…?

Garden 04 13 14 009

Another white flower is this white crocus.  This is one of the earlier snow crocuses, I think.

Garden 04 13 14 012

By the time I wandered back into the garden this spring these tiny snow crocuses were pretty much finished blooming.

Garden 04 13 14 061

This later purple crocus seems more substantial.  I love the design on the petals.

Garden 04 13 14 004

Yellow crocuses come up through dragon’s blood sedum.

Garden 04 13 14 067

From the kitchen I can see the mini daffodils that have opened this week, cheering up a drab landscape.  Soon the viburnum bushes will make that area very shady, but this time of year it gets full sun.

Garden 04 13 14 069

Here is a close up of these cute little daffodils.

Garden 04 13 14 066

The standard daffodils are opening up around the yard, too.

Garden 04 13 14 098

Anemone.  Yesterday as I was cleaning up I noticed some leaves that I did not recognize.  Later I saw this cute flower above some of the same leaves and remembered that I planted some mixed color anemones last fall.  So far only the blue ones have bloomed. They are very tiny but a welcome addition to the garden.

It has been a long winter with snow again this morning.  I wondered how this winter compared to March of the past five winters so I went back in my archives to see what happened.  To see the complete posts you can look back in the archives.

2010

100_1717

In 2010 we decided to dig up the sod by the patio and threw the sod both in the compost pile and in the easement.  We eventually also added the crabapple tree to this bed.  Since then we have expanded this bed to the right to double it and provide privacy for the patio.  There was no snow on the ground at this time. Though I think a little bit dusted the garden later in the month.  We were probably working in the garden a little too soon, but I must have had an itch to get going.

100_1694

During that same week I received all but one of these plants for my pre-planned drought garden in the mail in the middle of March!  I potted them up and brought them in and out of the house for a while and then planted them in April, I think.  The lavender and sea holly didn’t survive in my garden, maybe due to the humidity here.

2011

Garden 03 13 11 014

On March 13, 2011 the crocuses were poking up through the ajuga.

2012

Garden 03 13 12 014

On March 13, 2012 my mini daffodils were blooming, so that was an early spring.

Garden 03 13 12 009

Crocuses were coming to the end of their bloom time.

2013

Garden 03 09 13 013

On March 9, 2013 it looks like a robin is working on crabapples that had fallen into the snow….

Garden 03 17 13 033

But by March 17, 2013 the crocuses had started to bloom in sunny spots.

2014

Garden 03 08 14 014

This year has the most snow on the ground of the five years.  There is ice under the snow so it is thawing very slowly, though warmer weather is expected this week.

Garden 03 08 14 006

I went looking to see if I could see if there were any bulbs poking up, and sure enough these crocuses were popping out of the snow on March 8th, so they should be blooming before too long!

Conclusion?  Even though we are behind when compared with the last years we are not that far behind.  As the snow starts to melt everything is ready, set to grow.

Many shrubs and perennials that were late in blooming this spring suddenly opened up this week when the weather warmed up.  Now we have a few cooler days, so hopefully the blossoms will stay a few days, unless they fall off with the rain.

Garden 05 09 13 009

Common lilac – They smell fantastic!

Garden 05 09 13 012

We added this little common lilac bush last year, so now we have three lilacs.  In the bottom left you can see that the strawberries are blooming.  There are a lot of flowers, so I am hoping they are getting pollinated and that we will have some delicious strawberries before too long.

Garden 05 09 13 002

Crabapple – Malus Profusion

Garden 05 09 13 033

Top Hat Blueberry blooms.  A few feet away I have a Duke Blueberry blooming, too, so I can’t wait to get some blueberries!!

Garden 05 09 13 035

As predicted, last year’s kale is now flowering.  I wondered what color the flowers would be and now I know.  We will have to cut this out soon…

Garden 05 09 13 039

At dusk a little mosquito-like insect rests on one of the last daffodils.  I have been bitten by some kind of insects recently and found myself scratching before I knew it….

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…..

Springtime Yellow

April 21, 2013

Everything started to green up this week.  I am enjoying yellow in the garden this spring.

Garden 04 21 13 012

I am not sure what kind of native bee this is, but it was exploring each daffodil trumpet and is carrying off yellow pollen.

Garden 04 21 13 044

What a week of rain!  I guess the drought is over in our yard for now.  The daffodils have been long lasting with the cool weather, but a little beat down by the storms.

Garden 04 21 13 008

These narcissus opened before the rain.  They are some of my favorites.

Garden 04 21 13 020

The spicebush blossoms finally opened this week attracting pollinators and birds.

Garden 04 21 13 036

Note the difference between the spicebush blossoms and these Cornelian Cherry Dogwood blossoms I saw blooming at Lake Katherine today.

Birds:  When I stand at the kitchen window I can see so many different kinds of birds.  They are all busy now, with spring so late.  Here is a robin enjoying our birdbath a week ago.

Garden 04 21 13 001

Plant Resurrections

April 7, 2013

Following last week’s Easter theme, it is fun to see green mounds and shoots pressing up out of the cold ground.  I have been planting more bulbs each year so that my garden is starting to look cheerier in the spring as I wait for the garden to green up.  If there is something blooming then I am not as impatient for the coming of the lush green of spring.

Gardern 04 07 13 030

I love these dwarf daffodils!  Other daffodils are coming up and will be blooming soon, but these early ones are the most welcome.

Gardern 04 07 13 027

I have two patches of these dwarf daffodils naturalizing by the back fence.  Later the goldenrod and viburnum will hide them as their leaves fade.

Gardern 04 07 13 041

All the way across the yard I see the bright yellow daffodil blooms from the kitchen window.  I put water in the bird bath and took this picture this morning as a cardinal came for a drink.  The robins and sparrows actually line up on the railroad tie and in the oak tree for their turn in the bath.

Gardern 04 07 13 036

With such a long winter the crocuses have been lasting a lot longer.  I love the detailed design in this purple crocus.

Gardern 04 07 13 020

Another group of cheery crocuses dressed in their choir robes and singing joyfully!

Gardern 04 07 13 044

Rhubarb shoots.  A very small start, but soon to come are the giant leaves and then maybe some strawberry rhubarb treats.

Gardern 04 07 13 049

While in Wal-Mart I noticed a nine-pack of romaine plants.  I know it is early, but I put three in a container that I can bring inside if it freezes and put six in the ground.  I can always cover them on cold nights.  I am planning to grow a lot more lettuce this year, so I need to get started!

Gardern 04 07 13 004

Back inside I grow a few house plants.  I almost killed this one, but then I must have done something right as it seems very happy now.  I love all the hair on the leaves and the pink stems and undersides of the leaves.

Cooking news:  Dan is back to cooking a lot of greens.  Some of the most nutrient dense greens are kale, collard greens, mustard greens, swiss chard, bok choy and watercress.  We bought a bunch of organic greens this week and Dan keeps trying new recipes to find out how to cook all of these in tasty ways.