The weather is cool again this week, going down into the 40s tonight.  The garden is very green, with the trees leafing out and the grass vibrant green.

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Lilac bushes on a sunny day.  The smaller common lilac in the front grew so quickly that the branches have been bent over after the heavy rains recently, since they have such heavy flower heads.  I need to prune off the flowers in a few weeks.

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Crabapple – malus profusion.  The crabapple was late in blooming, then once the blossoms were open the weather was hot, followed by strong storms, so the blossoms only lasted a few days.  I hope we have a good batch of crabapples for the birds later.

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Blossoms of the Duke blueberry bush.

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The two fothergilla bushes are blooming now with their funky flowers.  The green leaves, which are starting to emerge, are beautiful, too.

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I don’t pay much attention to hostas, but they caught my eye this week with their fresh green leaves.  The slugs usually enjoy nibbling on them, so they don’t stay good looking that long in my garden.  They are good ground covers, though, in the shade.

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Male goldfinch sipping water at the birdbath.  I finally left my camera by the kitchen window to try to capture a goldfinch before it flew away.  These birds are so quick.  The little brown bird is typical in that I can’t really tell all the little brown birds apart.  I assume it is some kind of female sparrow, though it looks different from the female house sparrow in the bird book.  It looks sort of like the female indigo bunting in the bird book, but it could be some kind of baby or immature bird, too.  Can anyone identify this brown bird?

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Male house finch at the birdbath.  These birds love to chew on the sedum seen in the background of this picture.

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This female northern cardinal took a nice bath and then flew up to the oak tree to fluff her feathers.  Then she flew back down to the bath and splashed around again!

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Handsome male northern cardinal hunts in the grass.  There are a lot of birds poking around in the grass these days.  Dan let the grass grow long before mowing it the first time and now it is growing quickly again with all the rain.  Such a pretty bird!

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Ground Covers

June 16, 2013

With the rain and mild weather everything is looking very green.  As the heat increases the tomatoes and other vegetables are taking off!  This time of year quite a few of the ground covers are blooming, so I thought I would throw them together in a post.
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This sedum stonecrop with yellow blooms is a mounding type.  It keeps growing and covers the area.  In the early spring I cut it way back into three circles and let is grow again.  The green mound in the back that is not flowering is marjoram.  The green mound in the front left is taller sedum that I pinched way back a few weeks ago to keep it manageable.  It will bloom pink around the end of August.  Way in the back you can see the first coreopsis early sunrise flower blooming and in the front is yellow yarrow.

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I am not sure if this ground cover is sedum, but it is a creeping type that spreads under the spicebush and viburnum.  It just stops where I put down the straw from last year’s ornamental grasses.  It is starting to bloom yellow where it gets more sun. I call it my fairy meadow.  In front is crookneck yellow squash, which is blossoming.  Also in the middle of the ground cover is the caryopteris I planted from a volunteer seedling.  There are some potato plants back in there, too.

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Here is what the ground covers by my patio looked like on May 19th.  These are three that I bought together as part of sedum carpet, that had 6 different ground covers.

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Here is what those same ground covers look like now, a month later.  The one that was blooming yellow has turned a bronze color, and one more ground cover, dragon’s blood, is on the right.  Also, I pulled out two big cornflower plants on the right and put in a green and purple coleus, an eggplant and a scabiosa blue butterfly, among other plants.

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A close up of the ground cover on the left above.  The foliage is a bit like an evergreen, but the flower is like sedum.

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This time of year this sedum dragon’s blood is sending up flowers.  When the weather is cold the foliage turns dark red.  The gaillardia are coming up in the sedum and will grow up and shade much of it.  The taller plants are butterfly weed (asclepias) of various types.

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Hostas are a good ground cover for a shady area.  I moved the goat’s beard into the hosta area north of the house and so far it seems to be holding its own.

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Strawberries are a useful ground cover.  In the fall they get fall colors and a little messy, but this spring I cut the runners off each plant and have had great fruit production.  I put straw from the dried ornamental grasses under the fruit to keep the strawberries away from the dirt and bugs.

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Another useful ground cover is greek oregano.  This plant is very aggressive and is fighting with the strawberries nearby for space.  It will soon send up flowers, which I usually cut back, but the bees love the flowers.  It is great to put oregano, parsley, and thyme in our homemade spaghetti sauce.

Fun activity:  I visited the farmer’s market this morning.  I bought two turnips, a bunch of onions,  and two kohlrabi.  I tried the kohlrabi raw with a little salt and it tasted like something from my past that I had eaten without knowing what I was eating.