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.


Plain Old Leaves

May 26, 2013

Flowers get most of the attention, but leaves can be pretty interesting too.  In the spring many of the leaves start out reddish or a very vibrant green.

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There are lots of names for this little tree.  Carpinus caroliniana, American hornbeam, blue-beech.  I love the details on the leaves.

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Catkins on our chinquapin oak.  I took this picture a few weeks ago.  You can see all the little pollen-bearing catkins hanging down from the upper branches.  I wonder when we will start having acorns.  This is the fourth year the tree is in our yard, so it is probably five or six years old.

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Fresh green leaves of Chinquapin oak.  I think the leaves get darker as the summer goes on.

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New spring growth on Hicksii yew shrubs.

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Ants and flies on American plum tree.  There must be something very tasty about these fast growing plum trees.  The sparrows were in the trees today eating something, too.  We have two trees next to each other.  One is growing so quickly that the branches are breaking from rain and wind.  They seem to be attracting wild life, though, so that is fun.

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Lady’s mantle snowflake leaf!  It looks like some insect took a bite of this leaf before it opened, making something like the paper snowflakes we make at Christmas.

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The slugs are out in the garden again.  So far it has not been too bad, but it looks like something was enjoying this broccoli plant.

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Romaine lettuce.  Just like the bugs we like to eat tender leaves.  This week we have been eating romaine and leaf lettuce, baby kale, spinach and tatsoi.

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Yellow crookneck squash.  On Mother’s Day there was a frost which affected my tomatoes, peppers, basil and this squash plant.  With good water and warm weather they all revived, except for two of the peppers, which I replaced.

What’s been happening?  I finished mulching my garden and tying up/staking tall plants.  I’m excited about my first sunflowers that have now sprouted!

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.

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American Plum Tree Blossoms.  There were just a few blossoms on the trees, but they have beautiful intricate detail.

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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.

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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.

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My lawn has a lot of violets, which I do not mind at all, and I am sure they keep some pollinators happy.

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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.

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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.