Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Sunlit beauty

My first sunflowers from seed are putting on a show. This is "Evening Sun" from Seeds of Change. There's a range of colors: red, orange, mahogany or this, which I think is closer to burgundy. Right now there's about three flowers fully open with several more ready to explode. I'll cut some for an arrangement and leave the rest for the birds.

In just days the Echinops "Globe Thistle" has started flowering. It's spikey ball is softening into a purple-blue cloud that floats above the plant's deeply cut leaves. I was asked by I Have Important Thoughts how I get this to grow and I can't say I do anything special. When I bought it, maybe three years ago, I tucked it nearly right up against the south side of the house. The soil gets baked there although it did get a dose of compost one year, which helped. It shares the space with a large Hebe, providing it a bit of shelter from the sun in the early stages.  But overall this plant is supposed to withstand pretty much any soil conditions and is a sun lover.

Crocosmia was one of the earlier purchases in my gardening journey. I'm not up on the many cultivars but this orange-apricot variety could be "George Davidson." (Correct me if you know different, please). The second year the plant only produced its long, narrow leaves that spill forward onto our path. I assume it was just settling in because the flowers have come back every year since.

Did I mention we have apples? Lots and lots of apples ...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

When life gives you apples...

Here's the Apple Crisp we made from our bounty of fruit from our tree. We still have plenty more of the apples so I continue exploring more ways to use them, including forcing them on my neighbors! Thanks for the reader recommendations, too. Keep them coming.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Bright and sunny

Work at the south side of the house has given me ample opportunity to recall why I enjoy this area, with it's dry heat and unforgiving dirt. Despite some serious lack of attention the Dahlia continues to shine, turning up its broad face in cheery welcome.This particular plant has been dug up and moved several times. Actually, I think I was pleasantly surprised that it came back after its last relocation.
Another fun addition to this area is Globe Thistle, which stands at spiky attention above a mounded Hebe. Thistle makes me think of Fourth of July fireworks bursting into brilliant displays of color.
A stroll toward the backyard finds countless numbers of bumblebees enjoying the lavendar, Stonecrop and this plant whose identity escapes me. It's another cheerful element in the garden with it's button-like flowers and chartreuse foliage but it tends to reach about 3 feet and then topples over. I'll need to explore some good companion plants to help support this towering beauty and hide its fading foliage.
A year-round feature in our backyard "shrub garden" is Hebe "Great Orme." It stands prominant in my garden at about 3 feet but can grow another foot easily. This Hebe trembles with bee activity and it's fun to watch them at work.Alright, this Hosta is in the front of the house but I love the little flowers that shoot up from these plants. The foliage tends to be the most flamboyant of Hostas but when close up you can't help but appreciate the blooms.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Time for tough love

An apple a day, but what about four or five? Our beloved apple tree is producing profusely for the first time since we moved here. That's likely do to timely pruning, another first. Now we're being showered with fruit and we can't keep up.
I don't can food. I never learned and really don't have time (I write as I hear the boy gleefully waking.) We don't care for apple pie so I'll have to try a crisp. Yes, I think the spousal unit would enjoy that. Otherwise I'm going to be handing out apples to the neighbors, whether they want them or not!
In the vegetable bed the squash has become a thug, spreading its gigantic self wherever it pleases. I've never been good at containing vegetables; don't have the heart no matter how much I read you must be strong and yes, sometimes ruthless.
Time has escaped us this summer and I never got around to building a support for this space hog. Now I'm at a loss for what I should do. It appears it's already taken out the onions but at least now it's heading outside the boundary of the bed.

So sweet, you see why I can't bring myself to discipline the little monster? It's for the greater good, though, right?The nasturtium takes its cue from the squash, but this delicate and tasty treat can do little more than look pretty as it cascades over the edge of the bed.
I have grown broccoli. I'm very pleased with how this is coming along, despite a little worm that has made swiss cheese of some of the leaves. But, again, I must buck up and take the knife to this florette so it will produce more, albeit smaller clusters.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Just can't help myself

Excitement abounds at our house. OK, really it's just me who is so giddy about the delivery of a gigantic pile of mulch so kindly dumped by the garage. FREE OF CHARGE.

Seattle Tree Preservation is again the bearer of all things good. Their crew happily brought an entire dump truck full of the sweet smelling mixture culled from someone else's yard in our neighborhood.

We've been waiting almost two months for this special delivery. It seems many people are choosing to keep their cuttings - a good thing for sure but it means longer waits for us mulch hounds.

This is the second pile this year. We're sharing with neighbors so it can go fast. What we have managed to get down has been tremendous help in preventing or weakening weeds and grass. 

I got the call Thursday that they'd be delivering it. So I spent three hours cleaning up existing beds to prepare for another layer. I thank my now 1-year-old, who decided it was a good day to take his longest nap yet. Did I mention how much I love that little guy.

After he woke and had lunch, we went to Swansons Nursery to spend the "Swan Dollars" they hand out each year. They're equal to cash so if you have $20 worth and purchases totalling $40, your out of pocket is cut in half with the fake money. It's the nursery's reward for us garden enthusiasts.