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Thursday, June 23, 2016

All my thoughts are in the garden

Where are my thoughts these days?

I never have to wonder too much about where my thoughts are because most of the time, I can find them in the garden.

I've been thinking lately about attracting more birds to the garden, not by setting up "fast food" stations like hummingbird feeders, but by planting more plants that provide food for them.

One such plant is a Sundenia® Dipladenias. It's in a hanging basket and likes to vine up and all over. I've seen one hummingbird enjoy its blooms and hope to have time to sit on the patio and watch for other hummingbirds to show up.

I've noticed a lot of birds on the serviceberries. They are loaded with fruit, fruit that I could pick and use to make some jam but I'd rather let the birds enjoy them.

I went out to pick some of my first crop of honeyberries, which I did want, and they were all gone.  The birds apparently got to them before I did.  Admittedly, there was probably only a handful on my two year old shrubs, but I wanted that handful for myself.  I'll be more vigilant next year.  Maybe I'll throw a net over them to keep the birds from getting the fruit?

I probably won't, but it's a thought.

I thought earlier today that I'd just trim up the shrubs on the east side of the house, including some Deutzia and Rhus aromatica 'Gro-Low' shrubs. I trimmed back a couple of deutzias first.  I thought they were just okay when I moved on to the Rhus aromatica.

It was a bit out of control. I think it is a nice shrub in the right spot, but this was not the right spot for it.  I've had to hack it back for years and today as I began to hack it back I thought "why I am I fighting this shrub every year?"  Really, it should be used on a hillside for erosion control or something like that, not on a border next to a house.

And with that thought, I hacked it all the way back until it was no longer there. It's gone, and I have a nice open spot for something else.

Then I thought how that whole east side of my house could be so much better.

So now I've decided to also tear out the deutzias, along with some ditch lilies growing there. And just like that, I'll have a whole new border to replant.

I'm thinking of replanting with fruiting shrubs, which will provide food for me, unless the birds beat me to them.  Or maybe I'll just fill it up with annual flowers.  Or maybe do both since I wouldn't replant shrubs until fall.

I'm glad I went out to the garden today. I would never have thought about pulling out all those shrubs if I would have stayed inside. And now I'm making plans for a whole new border.

See what I mean? All my thoughts are in the garden.


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The creatures make the garden

Bee on swamp milkweed
If all the birds and the bees and the spiders and the insects and the chipmunks and the squirrels and all the other creatures disappeared from your garden, what would be left?

It's a trick question.

Nothing would be left.

For soon without the birds and the bees and the spiders and the insects and the chipmunks and the squirrels and all the other creatures, the garden would no longer be a garden.

It would be reduced to a group of sad plants and flowers, with no reason to bloom.

So don't try to figure out how to get rid of the birds and the bees and the spiders and the insects and the chipmunks and the squirrels and all the other creatures.

Learn to live with them.

Provide sources of water for them, so they have a place to drink, perhaps to bathe.

Provide a variety of plants for them, so they don't get bored in your garden.

Provide a pesticide free garden for them, so they can safely eat and drink.

Provide supplemental food if needed, to get them to come to visit, perhaps to stay.

Of course, bad guys will show up in your garden, along with the good guys. That doesn't mean you have to start spraying pesticides all around.  Look for other ways to thward the bad guys and they'll move on.  It takes some time and research and trial and error but eventually, you'll get to a balance where there are fewer bad guys and more good guys.

And then you'll have a garden you can enjoy along with all the life that is in it.

For more info on gardening with wildlife, visit Gail at Clay and Limestone for Wildflower Wednesday!


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - June 2016

Clematis x triternata 'Rubromarginata' 
Welcome to Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day for June 2016.

Here in my USDA Hardiness Zone 6a garden in central Indiana, the garden is beginning to transition into summer, which is gardener's code for "get out there and weed".

Everywhere I look, it seems there is a weed or two or one hundred to pull, but that doesn't keep me from enjoying the many blooms, starting with the tiny blooms of Fairy Bower, pictured above.

It has the big name of Clematis x triternata 'Rubromarginata' and used to climb up a nearby serviceberry tree. When I had that tree removed for very good reasons, I thought I'd lost this clematis, but it survived and is scampering about the garden once again.  It is one of my favorites.

Elsewhere in the garden, me thinks this bayberry, Myrica pensylvanica, is not terribly happy to be upstaged by the lovely white blooming clematis.


And readers may not be happy with me because I do not know the name of it.  I will look for the tag when it gets hot in the summertime and I'm looking for indoor tasks to keep me busy. Until then, isn't it pretty even without a name?

In that same area, a bush honeysuckle planted last year is blooming.
Kodiak® Black Bush Honeysuckle, Diervilla rivularis
Proven Winners sent it to me last year to try in my garden. It goes by the name Kodiak® Black Bush Honeysuckle Diervilla rivularis.  It is a native shrub, not the invasive Japanese honeysuckle we see invading any wooded area.  I have the northern bush honeysuckle, Diervilla lonicera, blooming now in the front garden. It is also native and though it isn't invasive, it likes to run, sending out runners in all directions.  They are easy to pull up and cut off and so that's what I do to keep it in its bounds.

Another shrub blooming today is Carolina Allspice, Calycanthus floridus.
Carolina Allspice, Calycanthus floridus
I planted it because I like the unusual blooms and it will become a nice tall shrub, good for birds to hide in.

One more shrub small tree now blooming is the smokebush, Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’.
Smokebush, Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple
There's nothing native about it but it is interesting in full bloom.  Once those blooms fade, I'm going to cut that back a bit.  That's the nice thing about smokebush.  You can whack it back and it will return.

Perennials you ask?  Do you have any perennials in bloom?

Of course I do.

There is coreopsis, probably Coreopsis tripteris, but don't hold me to it.

And there are daylilies, like this peachy one.

And the lamb's ear, Stachys byzantina, that shows up throughout the garden, wherever it decides it should be.
It flops over quite a bit but the bumble bees love it so I let it grow and then when the blooms fade, I cut it back.

And did I mention Clematis?
This one is 'Comtesse de Bouchard'.

And let's not forget the vegetable garden where the tomatoes are all blooming.

And finally, the first coneflower, Echinacea purpurea, is blooming.


It looks like it didn't bother to get fully dressed before showing up.  I think the others should take their time and wait for July, when they'll surely have more petals, don't you?

And that's a bit of what's blooming in my garden on this lovely June morning.

What's blooming in your garden today?

We'd love to have you join in for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day and show us. It's easy to participate and all are welcome. Just leave a comment below about what's blooming in your garden and then leave a link in the Mr. Linky widget to help us get safely to your bloom day post.

And remember, "We can have flowers nearly every month of the year.” ~ Elizabeth Lawrence

Thursday, June 09, 2016

The Ritual of Shelling Peas

I've picked peas from my little pea patch twice this week.

Then I sat down and shelled out the peas. I shelled out about three quarts of peas from the first picking and about two quarts of peas from the second picking.

If you've ever grown shelling peas, or English peas as some call them, you know it takes a bit of time to shell out that many peas.

And there is no way to hurry it up.  Well, there is one way. Someone once told me they cooked their peas in the pods and then shelled them as they ate them.

I'm sure that works but by cooking them in the pods they missed out on the ritual of shelling peas.

It's the same ritual every year, the same remembrance.

When I shell out my peas, I always remember how my Dad first taught me to plant peas and later pick them and shell them out.  I remember him telling me how when he was a kid, everyone helped shell out peas... him, his brothers, his parents, and his grandparents.

They grew enough peas to eat fresh in the springtime and to can for the wintertime. That, my friends, is a lot of peas.  I can imagine them all sitting on the front porch at the old farmhouse, shelling out peas, talking and telling stories.

We don't have near enough of that kind of family time any more, do we?

I was pretty happy with my 20 foot row of peas and how many peas I harvested this year. The variety was 'Green Arrow', which I've grown for several years now, ever since I found an old packet of my Dad's seeds for the same variety.

I saved back some peas to eat fresh and then blanched and froze about eight cups of peas from my harvest, enough for me to enjoy a few times this winter and add to some vegetable soup. Enough peas for me to remember gardening with my Dad, enough for me to remember the old farmhouse and imagine my grandparents and great-grandparents sitting on the porch, shelling out peas, and telling stories.

Enough for me to remember the ritual of shelling peas.