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.


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.

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Common lilac – They smell fantastic!

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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.

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Crabapple – Malus Profusion

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

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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…

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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….

Late Spring

March 31, 2013

Spring seems late this year.  Still, here it comes!  Happy Easter!

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The yellow crocuses smile out of the brown earth.

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Last week I planted this little “Duke” blueberry bush.  My hope is that this shrub and the little “Top Hat” blueberry in the pot in the ground will cross-pollinate to produce blueberries.

farm city

I enjoyed listening to the audiobook, Farm City, which I got from the library. I am not raising any animals in my yard for meat, but had a good time hearing her stories.

Bird houses:  In the last post I showed pictures of the two new bluebird houses we put up, which were supposed to be less attractive to sparrow.  Not so!  The sparrows have tried to move into both of these houses in the past two days.  I will keep clearing them out to see if we can get the attention of a bluebird, but I have not seen one for a while.

Autumn in Zone 5

November 11, 2012

We have had several frosts and tomorrow there is a chance of snow, but yesterday and today the temperatures have been in the high 60s with strong winds.  The wind is blowing down a lot of leaves.

We mulched up the leaves when we mowed the grass and threw it all in the compost.  I also put down some organic lawn fertilizer and then we had a nice rain after that.

The wind brings a lot of leaves to our back gate.  These yellow leaves have just fallen today from the neighbor’s tree.  We open the gate and push all the leaves in our yard before they blow away.

Viburnum dentatum – chicago lustre.  There are no berries on the viburnum this year.  I can’t remember if there was a weather issue that caused this or what happened.

There are still a few geranium flowers and the leaves have been pretty this fall.

This was the solution I came up with for the top hat blueberry.  I buried the pot and gave it a good watering.  I hope it makes it through the winter!  I might get another blueberry next summer!

I enjoy seeing the red crab apples from the kitchen window. – ‘Profusion’ crabapple.

Onions and chives do well in cooler weather, but seem to really do well next to the compost pile!

Food adventure:  We cooked a blueberry apple pie this morning that was delicious.  It was vegan and had a crust of almond butter, ground flax seeds and dates.  I am about to go make a creamy butternut squash soup with mushrooms.  Yum!

Fall Foliage Close Ups

October 14, 2012

Here are a few of the colors in the garden now.

Virginia creeper turns red.  I just planted this plant this summer, but enjoy seeing the color across the yard.  I hope it will spread out more on the fence next year.

Here is the little American Hornbeam tree we planted in September.  In several years it will have a beautiful fall display.  In the background you can see the still green lilac and the yellow vernal witch hazel shrub.

Looking the other way is the vernal witch hazel with the red American Hornbeam in the background.  Farther back you can see the spice bush starting to turn yellow.

Another picture of ‘top hat’ blueberry and ‘wonder of staffa’ asters.

We have two burning bush shrubs in the yard that are turning red now.

Even the compost pile gets colorful – purple rhubarb leaf.

I planted a native grass, ‘little bluestem,’ last summer.  I did not think it had survived this year until I saw the red stalks that identified it in my little meadow this fall.

The ‘Chicago Lustre’ viburnum shrubs are still green and some of the last to change color.  I believe we planted these in the fall of 2007 and they were about three feet tall then.  Five years later they are between six and seven feet tall and could grow quite a bit more.

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!