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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Fall Rainbow Colors

October 16, 2013

I just wanted to share some of the colors that are still blooming in the garden these days.

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Pink chrysanthemums.  These flowers get no sun this time of year as they are on the north side of the house.  They are just starting to open up and should be in full bloom in a week or so.

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Pineapple sage – a popular plant for hummingbirds.

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Intricate nasturtium blossom.  The yellow and orange nasturtiums are multiplying with the recent rains.

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Scabiosa – blue pincushion flower – and swiss chard.

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The ‘hens and chicks’ outside the front door seems to be very healthy these days.  I have brought this indoors several winters.

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Fall colors on lindera benzoin – spicebush.

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The colors are more subtle in the shrubs and grasses.  Vernal witch hazel shrub and miscanthus ‘morning light’ grass.

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Bumblebee rests on gaillardia ‘blanket flower’ in the evening.  The bees are still looking for nectar this time of year, but slow down in the cool mornings and evenings.

Bugs:  I have disturbed a few praying mantises, who are moving more slowly this time of year.  I have not seen my usual grasshoppers in the garden, but maybe they are just hiding well.  I saw a few beautiful earth worms when I was pulling up the alyssum plants…

Springtime Yellow

April 21, 2013

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

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

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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.

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

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

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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.

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Our kale never seemed to die last fall, so although it was ugly we just couldn’t get ourselves to cut it down.  It had grown so amazingly tall and given us so much food and seemed to have baby leaves coming out of the stubs where we had already picked leaves.  I think that the stems were so thick they were like tree trunks and protected the life through the winter.  Now leaves are coming back…

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Below the dead kale leaves new leaves are sprouting.  We had freezing temperatures and snow yesterday morning, but they still keep growing.

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Here is a closer look at a new bunch of kale leaves coming out of the old stalk.

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Here you can see that some leaves have started growing out of the ground near the base of the stalk.  I am assuming that these will taste the same as they did last year, since they are coming from the same roots.  My experience is that annual plants that overwinter really want to flower, so I will plant new kale plants, but these might give us a few leaves before the others grow big enough to eat.

Today the weather is finally supposed to go up to 70 degrees for one day, but this morning it is still cool.  Everything seems to be just waiting for the sun.

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Our spicebush has grown so big!  It has a lot of inconspicuous flower buds that are just waiting to open, like the daffodils, lilacs, and serviceberry bushes.  I am hoping to attract spicebush swallowtail butterflies to this bush.

Garden projects:  I picked up a Dwarf Fothergilla Beaver Creek that I plan to plant on the west side of the house, where we just have mostly rocks now.  The lawn could use attention, and Dan mentioned that he could rake out the thatch.  That would not be such a bad chore if the weather really warmed up!