Sunday, July 27, 2008

Not my garden

Look what I found in my FIL's butterfly garden today- not only a butterfly but a Giant Swallowtail butterfly. The largest butterfly in N.America (I looked it up). His butterfly garden is great, it's not very big but it's a nice jumble of butterfly loving plants, we watched the bees and butterflies coming and going all day. I aspire to that kind of garden.
Picture was taken with my new camera- Canon Powershot A590is. I wanted to get another Kodak Easyshare and support the local economy however the Kodak, despite taking great pictures, seems to have a major problem: the motor in the lens tends to conk out, then work, then conk out again-unreliable. The fix is about expensive as a new camera. I was hoping in the intervening years between first camera and now they would have fixed the flaw, but after a little research that doesn't seem to be the case-I googled it and came up with recently posted issues. My mom, MIL and SIL all have the Kodak Easyshare too and all have had a problem with getting the lens to extend and retract. Not good when you are trying to capture memories! Not to mention butterflies. So DH and I used our anniversary money and after a lot of research settled on the Canon. So far I like it. I'm all about supporting the local economy but I'm also all about not throwing money away. Kodak shows a lack of respect to it's customers by not fixing the problem in the past 6 years.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Drunk on Pollen?

Look who I found passed out in the squash blossom this morning! They were in there for at least an hour, barely moving and then another bumble bee came in and woke them up. It looks like they had a good Friday night!
On another happy note: My Meyer Lemon tree (see July 1 post) has 2 blossoms on it. A tiny bee (? hover fly) was hanging around it this morning and I see telltale signs of pollen on the leaves. Fingers are crossed. BTW it smells fab.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

I'm a homicidal maniac...

...Actually, I prefer to think of myself as a specialized assassin. I only have a few victims: aphids, japanese beetles and garden slugs. I haven't seen aphids in weeks, I think I got them all. Japanese beetles started to show up a week or two ago. I haven't seen a lot of them and what I have seen has pretty much ended up in my soapy water dish. I'm a big chicken and won't work without my green suede assasin gloves. Sometimes a beetle will escape while I'm fumbling around trying to get the gloves on. I must work on my rection time. I didn't mind picking japanese beetles when I was a kid but now their hairy legs creep me out! I can't abide touching slugs either! Eeewe! I have to have my gloves or a stick to pick them up with. My preferred M.O. is a jar full of cider vinager. I throw the slugs in there and they are done.
I guess I'm an organic gardener or at least organic-ish. I don't use anything stronger than above mentioned vinegar and I've convinced DH not to use herbicide in the lawn anymore, I really don't mind the dandilions- they are rather cheerful looking I think. Living in suburban hell is tough because the Chem lawn trucks are still patrolling the area with depressing frequency. When we walk the dog we have to keep our eyes peeled for the little lawn flags that alert us to the use of chemicals. My husband has noticed that the little chemical pellets get scattered out into the street so even though we avoid the lawns we're still afraid it ends up on Bodies paws which he usually ends up licking at one point or another. Washing his feet is not really an option, he doesn't like us to mess with his feet too much. We try to get them wiped off as much as possible after the walks.
I realized that I post a lot about my flower garden but not so much about the veggie garden, so here's a progress report on the vegs: It's official that some of the seeds I started this year ended in failure-namely the peppers, lettuce and marigolds. Yes, marigolds! 5 year olds can grow them in dixie cups but for whatever reason I failed miserably this year-how depressing! I bought a flat and planted them in pots for the patio but my veggie garden is woefully bare of flora. Marigolds get a bad rap, I think they're great... they look pretty, they are easy to care for and they keep bugs away. You can't ask for anymore than that! The spinach I started fizzled out and the endive bolted immediately. I'm reading a book by Sally Cummings -a Master Gardener from the Buffalo area (Great Garden Companions). From Sally's advice I'm trying to stretch the garden into the fall. Yesterday I planted radishes, parsnips, arugula, spinach (again!). I also planted white clover as a cover crop around the tomatoes to crowd out the weeds (and maple seedlings). I'll try to incorporate more of her ideas next year and see how it goes. The ideas in the book seem like really good ideas, but lets review: she's a Master Gardener, I'm not.
I find vegetable gardening to be more difficult that the flower gardening. I know a lot of people that have flower gardens (and even more that don't garden at all)-no veggie gardens. I only know one person with a veggie garden and she lives in Ithaca and I don't talk to her or see her very often. It's hard to figure out how to do stuff. I need to construct something for my peas and beans to grow on but I have no idea how to go about it. Thank God for the Internet!
It's been rainy today-everytime I go outside the heavens open up and it pours, so I've been looking at stuff on the computer. I found the Seed Savers Exchange and Diane's flower seeds- both sites are dedicated to saving and perpetuating heirloom seeds. I try to use heirlooms as much as possible in the veggie garden. I think they are much more interesting than hybrids-those 2 sites have CRAZY stuff-I can't wait to try some new things next year! Brandywine tomatoes are divine, I had some Green Zebra's last year that were out of this world.
A note about the picture above- all of my tomatoes (I started from seed) got rearranged and mixed up when DH was helping me out getting them hardened off while I was travelling for work in the spring. I have no idea what is what in the garden and I also planted up 4 tomatoes in 5 gallon buckets for my mom and niece and nephew but I have no idea if they are the cherry tomatoes (Jellybean and Peacevine) that I had intended or some monsterous Brandywines and Super Sioux! Whoops! Need to come up with a better plan next year!

Saturday, July 19, 2008


I had a visitor in the garden this morning. I was sitting in the sunroom drinking my coffee when I saw it swoop down. I wish my old camera (kodak easyshare) was working, it took great pictures. This is taken as a still from my Canon video camera.
I think it's a Monarch, I looked it up in the image gallery of "Butterflies of North America". He seemed to really like my marigolds in pots on the deck. He also liked the Echinacea. Not the gorgeous deep pink Ruby Star that just started to bloom yesterday but the generic giant monstrosity of an Echinacea bunch at the edge of the garden. My ultimate goal is to attract butterflies, bees and hummingbirds. I think I've seen some honey bees, I've had a ton of bumble bees. No hummingbirds, I have a feeder hung in the garden but it doesn't seem to be attracting anything but wasps I think I hung it too late in the season.
My foxgloves and delphinium are setting seed, so I was out early harvesting the seeds. I'm going to try to start them from seed myself so I can make new flower beds next year and fill them economically. DH will appreciate that.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Sweet Promise

As promised-Sweet Promise. She must be pretty sweet because something has nibbled tiny little holes in her petals. This is her first bloom ever. She was planted bare root about 13 months ago. The color doesn't really show in the picture but she's got more of an orangey apricot tone. She's supposed to look like this:
She looks more like this:
She does have a nice fruity fragrance, like a fresh cut apple. Everyone has told me not to judge a rose bush by it's first bloom, it takes awhile for it to get into it's groove and start producing a nice show. I'll be patient and see what happens

The seeds came today for my late summer veggie garden-turnip, beets, swiss chard, carrots, rutabaga, peas, beans, cucumber, daikon radish. I also got white clover cover crop seeds to improve the soil. Now I have to figure out where to put everything....

I forgot to mention the annual dahlias I got a few weeks ago had powdery mildew-I segregated them (but not until AFTER my veronica caught it) and on the advice of a coworker I snipped of the really bad leaves and washed the whole plant with anti bacterial soap and rinsed with fresh water-that was about 10 days ago and it seemed to do the trick. They are still segregated but no sign of disease. I'm glad I didn't pitch them!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

What I've been up to

I've been away the past 2 weekends. We went up to Uncle's place up on a lake near the 1,000 Islands for July 4. Different Uncle (and different lake) than Memorial Day Uncle. It's beautiful and quiet up there, we usually go up for the whole week but schedules didn't work out for that this year. Then we were at my moms in Syracuse for the rest of the weekend. My husband took on gutter cleaning duty (she had helicopter problem too that manifestited itself in the gutters) I really dislike cleaning gutters so I decided to weed the front "flower bed". Basically it was all weeds so I pulled almost everything out, hit some sales and planted a bunch of stuff. Then I put down a soaker hose and mulched the whole thing. My moms neighbors are very happy they don't have to look at the weeds anymore. I put in low maintenance plants that are deer resistant.

This past weekend I went to see my sister in Ithaca. There was a rose propagation class there that I signed up for given by Lee at It was a wonderful class. He has a beautiful property with an amazing garden that was a hayfield 5 years ago! It was a 2 hour class and we each walked out with 2 cuttings of 5 different non patented roses and with the knowledge of how to propagate roses. It was the last class he offers for the year. I can't wait to take more classes next year. He's got a large selection of cold hardy roses, I'm studying up on his inventory and trying to narrow down my choices to put in the garden next spring!

Gruss an Aachen is blooming right now (see picture), it smells great, it's a beautifully delicate rose. I think the mystery Sweet Promise is actually Sweet Promise. The bud is unfurling as we speak. It's more of a deep apricot than I was expecting. It kind of clashes with the rest of the garden, I'd like to move it at some point to a new location. I'll have to research that and see if it's feasable.

What's blooming now: EVERYTHING! Echinacea, hostas, sweet peas, helianthus, yarrow, stokesia, foxgloves, delphinium, bee balm, cosmos, coreopsis.

Veggie garden update-we have tiny tomatoes forming! I have been harvesting lettuce for quite a while, tiny cucumbers are visible and the summer squash should be ready in about a week to ten days.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


Fab news to report on the rose front: Winchester Cathedral is in bloom! Wooo Hooo! I planted it bare root from White Flower Farm on or about 4/23 (pre-blog). My SIL gave me a Gift Certificate from WFF for my birthday (and a Meyer Lemon tree!) I was laid up with a bad flu in early March and spent a whole week perusing their catalogue -Winchester Cathedral is the result. I planted it along the picket fence where I killed 3 roses last year. To be fair- I put the roses in at the end of June last year and it was a brutally dry-hot summer. This year has been ideal for the flower garden- a lot of rain and only a few heat waves-otherwise moderate temps. Gruss an Aachen is happily chugging along-definitely one bud maybe 2. Sweet Promise/Mystery rose now has 2 buds (!) Now Windchester has 2 blooms and 1 bud. Eden had 3 blossoms clipped yesterday to keep me company while I drudge away at my day job.

Sweet Pea bloomed today too-Yeah!!! I'm not sure what kind it is- I planted a couple of kinds and made notes about what went where and then Bodie went after the chipmunks and dug everything up. Sweet Peas are popping up all over the place! They smell fantabulous!
Picture courtesy of my video camera- doesn't take pictures as well as the dead camera but it works!