Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Surprise Acorns

No I am not talking about this surprise acorn. Although we do find these little surprises dotting our landscape. The squirrels are generally very generous with their acorns. The squirrels must think this is their version of the easter bunny as they bury their acrons all over the garden. We find them when they are about this size and pull them. If not we would have a forest of Oak trees. I am not sure what kind of oak this is but I am letting one grow where one of the pine trees used to stand. Thank you Mr Squirrel but enough is enough.
The acorn I am surprised and most delighted to find is the one that sends up these beautiful yellow blooms. I first saw this bloom a couple of weeks ago...in the compost pile. I was quite excited as I knew it was some kind of squash. I just didn't know what kind it would be. I like Spaghetti and Acorn squashes.
A few days later I got a hint of what was to come. It has been fun anticipating the fruit of this vine.
Whoo hooooo it is gonna be an acorn squash.
Now this is my kind of veggie gardening. No preparing of the bed, no planting of the seeds, no fertilizing or bug picking. Yep I feel very blessed with this small crop of acorns. The only problem with this screnario is that I don't know when to pick them. Can anyone give me a clue? Do the vines dry up? I am thinking it won't be long. Can I leave them on too long? I am just beside myself because I don't know when to pick. I don't want to pick too early or late and not get to enjoy these little squashes.
I would probably have more of these little beauties but Vinny kept running over the vine as it is in his path to go bark at the neighbors dog. Sigh~~ I would really appreciate any tips you could tell me about harvesting these squashes.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Long Weekend

This weekend was a long one it seems. My computer decided to stop working for what ever reason. My DB and his brother put their heads together to get it up and running again. It just made me realize that I am addicted to my computer. I couldn't blog or read blogs. Worse I couldn't communicate with friends and family via email. I couldn't check the weather. Oh my gosh what a feeling of being disconnected to the world.

Now I feel like I am way behind. I have so much to catch up on plus we have started a big project. Now doesn't this look interesting. Also, when we backed the truck into the garden it went under the Hawthorn tree and look at the dust that came off the branches. It looks just like rust. UGH... Rust is what must be on the Hawthorn and apple tree. YUCK. It was floating in the air. Yuck yuck yuck.
It is going to be a wild week for me. Gotta work on the big project, work and celebrate a birthday. See ya later.

Friday, July 25, 2008

A Bit of Whimsy

Yes, whimsy has a role in my garden and is incorporated in many ways. I like the cheerful glow of gazing balls in my shaded garden. They capture light and reflect the surrounding green and gives all a mysterious glow.

Most of my whimsy has a story to relate. This bear for example caused quite a stir in our world when it was featured in the local newspaper in an article relating to our garden. A lady saw it and wanted to come to our garden to see it in person. She tracked us down then came by. She was so taken with it she called the nursery where I bought it and ordered herself one. She was quite the character herself and loved gardening. Whether you love or hate gazing balls you have to admit that they bring light into dark corners. Behind this golden ball that my daughter gave me years ago you can see the wheel of a larger bit of whimsy. You can go here to read about Pedro and his cage.
I have them from the large to the small. I can never decide what color I like best so I have several colors. A lot of my whimsy has to do with the nature that I like to invite into my garden. Although I plant to attract all critters I have yet to see a lizard in my garden. So I have a couple of them that have been well documented here.
If you have read my blog for some time you will know that I live on a small city lot and our city ordinances don't allow chickens. Booooo says I, Yayyy says my DB. So the closest I will probably ever get to having chickens is this Hen on a nest.She does get around the garden and lays eggs here and there. You know how these clay heads are. They forget where they lay their eggs.
Then the chicks get destracted while she is laying more eggs on her nest. They are scattered here and there. You can read more about my chickens here .
Some of the whimsy that is in my garden are actually reminders. This concrete Lab is a memorial to my beloved pet Mishka. We had him for 15 years. He was one large part of our family and is still sorely missed.
This lady came home with me from Charleston. Some friends and I went there for their annual spring garden tour. It was such fun and she lends a serene elegance to our garden.
This duck in repose was a gift from my Mother. It has calmly watched over my present garden as well as a previous garden. It always reminds me of my Mother and evokes fond memories.
Of course is any garden complete without fairies? I think not, so I have a few fairiey statues sprinkled around the garden. I like to think of them being sprinkled with fairy dust in the evening by the real fairies so they can join in the fairy feastivities. The little guy below came to my garden by a friend who thought he just fit into the landscape. Since I have a collection of minature hostas he did indeed fit in. This post was generated by the prompt from Gardening Gone Wild. If you want to participate leave a comment at their site so you will be inclueded in their end of the month posting. I hope you do. I love to see what everyone else has in their garden as whimsy.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Sad and Unsightly

I was saddened when I looked out my office window yesterday to see that the Forest Pansy Redbud tree had split. I didn't remember that it had two trunks or I would have taken care of that long ago. As it appears It won't be long for this world. It was such a big beautiful tree. I liked the feeling of being in a forest when I looked out the window while I sat at my desk. Especially during summer when the leaves were thick on the tree. During spring this tree hosted many migrating birds too. Sigh~~
Since we had to make a trip to the stick pile with the remains of the FP Redbud we had a hard look around the garden. The Apple tree had several dead limbs on it. So my DB got after it with the chain saw. Needless to say we had a truck load to take away.
My biggest concern is the Apple tree now. It is old and I don't know what kind it is but it has such character with its old gnarled limbs. It appears that it has some kind of fungus on it. I have never seen this before. Does anyone know if this will kill the entire tree or is it going to be just a nuisance?
There is also some kind of weird fungus on the hawthorn fruits. I just wonder if the apple tree fungus is related to this fungus. I have never noticed either in years past. The poor birds and bees will have trouble this fall finding something good to eat.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Chicago Odyssey

This is where my Chicago odyssey began. My first train ride. Our little station was somewhat of a disappointment. I thought it might be taller so we could board directly onto the train. Ha... just shows I have watched too many old movies.
When I got inside I almost expected a preacher to step out of the 'employees only' room and begin preaching but no such thing happened. Luckily our train was on time coming and going. It was a pleasant way to travel into the heart of Chicago. No fighting the traffic and I could gawk all I wanted.
I don't want to bore you with pictures of the corn and bean fields we passed through on our way to the big city. However I always think this first glimpse of the downtown area is always exciting.This wasn't exactly a pleasure trip. I spent most of my time in this building. The Merchandise Mart. I can't tell you how numb ones feet and legs can become from traipsing back and forth through the various show rooms. That isn't what I want to focus on.Chicago is one of the prettiest big cities I have been in a long time. This time of year they do their very best to put a rosy glow on this world of concrete and stone. I think every meridian, flower box built in the sidewalks and park had many many flowers and they all looked surprising beautiful. The shots of color were most appreciated by this gardener I can tell you. These are but a few of the plantings we admired. You couldn't hardly turn your head without seeing something beautiful blooming in this concrete jungle.

There was art every where. The only birds besides the pigeons I saw were these peacocks interplanted in some beds. They may have been Herons I am not quite sure. I couldn't find them in my bird field guide. There is other kind of art on the streets of Chicago. They seem to have a theme every year. This year were manikins that were dressed in recyled materials. This was my favorite one.

I just love the street artists that you encounter in big cities. Those of you that see them all the time probably don't get a kick out of seeing them as this 'tourist' did. I wasn't the only one admiring their work. I am always amazed at the energy the street musicians and other performers use to garner their tips.

This planting was outside our hotel. It was so well done. It even had a fountain running in it. We wondered whose job it was to keep all these plantings watered and groomed. We did see a truck with a big tank of what looked to be Miracle Grow or some such substance going around very early in the morning.
You can see from our hotel room that there are many planters dividing the roadways. OOps, did I inadvertantly show you Nordstroms? They were having an Anniversary Sale. Did I get to shop while in the city? Ummmm guilty as charged. tee hee....
I must say there was a little bit of wildlife there too. As we were walking along there was this beautiful caterpillar crawling up the side of a building. I wonder what kind of moth this is?? Does anyone know?
I have to say that Chicago this time of year is a great place to visit. I was truly impressed by all the lush plantings through out the city. It is beautiful and if you have time you can keep yourself occupied in the most fun ways. Oh, I couldn't forget to mention the restaurants... Yummmmm

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day - July 2008

This morning when I went out to get some photos for GBBD I was greeted by this Datura that still had plenty of blooms open. This is one of the prettiest white flowers in my garden. I just wish it bloomed all day as well as at night. I love the tips of the bloom that swirl into a point. I always wonder if the garden fairies were swinging by the tippy tips of the bloom and caused this. My garden has quite a few things blooming at this time. This Veronica 'Eveline' is always such a treat. It doesn't mind a drought and keeps on blooming. The liatrus and rudebeckia are blooming. The Rudebeckia seems to be a little slow to go this year. Maybe it doesn't like all the rain it has been getting. Everything else is happy about all the rain and cooler weather.
I have two tall phloxes blooming now. This one is the handsome 'Robert Poore'. He is as fragrant as David and grows taller. He stands as sentinel by the garden gate welcoming everyone with his perfume. This guy's perfume is so strong that I have had to take a bouquet out of the guest room when a guest said it was too overwhelming. Outside I can't get enough of it.While David is is used to hanging out with the Queen, he is quite the rogue as he doesn't mind keeping company with the common Cleome. He is outlasting the Queen with his blooms too.
This frothy bloom is on a Sorbaria 'False Spirea'. It is supposed to attract lots of bees. I have it planted in dense shade so the bees don't venture here often. However the bright white of the bloom is appreciated here.
This blue snowball is on a Niko Blue Hydrangea. The blooms are all at the bottom of the plant but at least it is blooming. You cans see that the hostas by it are blooming. I could do a whole post on hosta blooms.
I have a couple of vines blooming. The Late blooming Dutch Honeysuckle is going through its second bloom period. It is so pretty right now since it has these shiny red berries that the Robins, Cardinals and other seed/fruit eaters like plus the blooms that the hummingbirds and bees work on. This yellow trumpet vine is just as vigorous as the native orange trumpet vine. The hummingbirds like it as well as any vine too. We have a resident hummer that sits amongst the blooms most of the day protecting these blooms like it would the nectar feeder we have out for them.
This is the first time that I have had a Cardinal plant live long enough to bloom. It is one of the plants that was in the water garden that I got going this summer. I wish I could get a whole stand of them going at once. They are the deepest darkest most lovely shade of red to me.
I hope you have enjoyed my smattering of blooms this GBBD. Be sure to head over to Carol's at May Dreams Garden to see a long list of other gardens with blooms you can peruse.

I am off to Chicago on a buying trip with my boss. So I probably won't be able to post again until next week. I am looking forward to the trip because we are taking the Amtrak train into Chicago. I have never ridden on a train. I am thinking of this as a great adventure.

Babies of a different sort

We have been lucky enough to find a Polyphemus Moth in our garden on more than one occasion. The last time it was in the spring of 2007. This big, 5-6" or 10-15cm, Moth is so pretty. It seems like it could be a pet. Even the underside of the moth is beautiful.
You can see that its body looks like it is furry. I always want to pet one when I see it.One of the interesting things about this moth is that it makes this interesting cocoon. One winter I found an empty cocoon attached to a Service Berry tree. You can clearly see the hole where the moth emerged.

I brought it in and have kept it for a couple of years. They are quite strong. You can see the imprint of a leaf on the side of the cocoon. Day before yesterday I was walking around the garden and look what I found. Another Polyphemus cocoon.
It is was attached to a maple leaf. It had dropped to the ground. I have read that they do this to overwinter in leaf duff. We always pile our leaves around the base of the maple. This little guy will have a nice winter bed. I hope no racoon, skunk or possum finds it and eats it. We will hope for the best.