Friday, July 31, 2015

Floral Friday: Beating the Heat

As July comes to a close in the garden, the flowers are still heavily blooming. The fruit and vegetable crops are continuing to bear. Here's a quick tour as to what is happening in the garden this week.

In the vegetable garden:


The "Blueberry" cherry tomatoes are coming along nicely.

Another detail shot of the cherry tomatoes.

This 'Pineapple" tomato is starting to change color.

In the front garden: 

The anemones are beginning to bloom. This is a favorite of the bumblebees.

The front walkway.

The phlox is standing up well to the heat and humidity this year.

The Kieffer pears are continuing to grow larger.

This summer has been good for hydrangea blossoms.
The daylilies continue their show.

The second variety of plums - Satsuma - is beginning to ripen.

Self-sown verbena bonariensis along the front walkway.

Breaking out the Petzval lens again to create a star bokeh.

And more star bokehs in this photo as well.

In the back garden:

The elderberries are beginning to bear. This is the York variety.

So happy to have brand new lights in the back garden!

New this year is balsam which I grew from seed. It's very tropical looking.

What's growing in your garden this week?

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Sunday, July 26, 2015

Terrain Hosts First Summer Garden Party

WESTPORT, Conn. - In early July, an email arrived in my inbox:


How could I resist? I've been following Terrain through their e-mails, and now I had an excuse to visit their retail store by the Connecticut shoreline. My coworker and I decided to go together, and while we were only able to stay until 1:30 p.m., there was much to see and experience! 

The Connecticut store ties together gardening, home decor and home entertaining themes. Terrain uses its space creatively to display a wide variety of goods. (The flagship store is located in Glen Mills, Penn., and is tied to Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie.) 

While I was exploring I couldn't resist taking out my iPhone to snap photos of what I saw.

I really like the stakes being used to train the orchid stems in this photo.

So many book tables to peruse. 



I was so happy to find both "Enchanted Forest" and "Secret Garden" by Johanna Basford on display and for sale at the store. I've read so many positive reviews on these two books and they've been sold out on Amazon for the longest time. Both are coloring books designed for adults. Both ended up in my basket.

Sun printing kits.
I was also drawn to these sun printing kits, supplied with paper, cards or a silk scarf. Maybe next time!

Pretty embellishments such as these help to launch your own creativity. I did end up going
home with a bottle of that Elderflower Presse. My friend bought the organic lemonade.
There were many candles on display in the store.
To further sweeten the garden party, Terrain invited local vendors to sell their goods in the store as well. One featured guest was Muddy Feet Flower Farm from Ashford, Conn., who grows organic "farm-to-table flowers." I snapped photos of some of these beautiful flowers while she was still setting up.





I ended up going home with one of her beautiful bouquets that featured sweet william, snapdragons, anise and globe thistle. It was a tough decision to make! (See below.)


Air plants, succulents and glass - whether it be terrariums or just open vases - are very trendy and popular this year, and Terrain had several original ones for sale.

Gotta love seashells and succulents.

This reminds me of a little nest.
I love how they added a starfish to this creation.
Outside, a giant plant sale was in process (Buy 2 Get 2 Free) along with demonstration tables. Food trucks and a band were on hand for the party as well. I tried ice cream from Walnut Beach Creamery from Milford, Conn. Each batch of ice cream is made by hand. I tried the lavender and fig flavor (lavender soaked in honey and pureed with fig) and not surprisingly, it was delicious!

A sample table arrangement.


The store was offering samples of their elderflower presse and mojito mix for customers to try. We decided to eat in the restaurant on site and I was delighted when this little bread baked in a flowerpot arrived at our table.


Adorable!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Shiro Plums


I have more than 11 pounds of Shiro plums sitting on my counter divided into various bowls. Each bowl is my estimation as to how ripe the fruit is. Most of the fruit is still light green but getting softer to the touch. Some of the fruit is turning yellow, but the plums needs to be bright yellow in order to be sweet. If you try it before it's fully ripe, the fruit is a little tart.

Once the fruit reaches its desired ripeness, I'll store it in the fridge for a few days until I have a large enough batch to start making Shiro Plum Jam. Yum! (If the fruit isn't ripe enough, then the jam will be sauce, which still tastes good, but very runny.)

I've kept some fruit on the tree as well to continue to ripen, but I'll be picking the rest of it by tomorrow. The squirrel has found my plum stash and is raiding it daily.

Do you grow plums? What do you make with them?

Update 7.26.15:
I removed the rest of the plum from the tree tonight after I saw a purple finch snacking on them. There are 26 pounds total! I took this photo to show how the plum progresses in color as it ripens.

Click to enlarge.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Floral Friday: Garden Visitors and Showstopper Daylilies

There's lots happening in the garden this week. First off, the last of the black swallowtail caterpillars transformed into a butterfly on Sunday, July 19. The season total is two males and three females so far. Later in the week I spied a black swallowtail lazily flying about the flowers and the parsley, so I'm hoping it's one of the girls I raised who has come back to lay eggs to start the cycle over again.

The fourth butterfly I released from my recent caterpillar nursery.

The house wrens have been taking care of their growing family. Every day they arrive at the birdhouse with an insect of some kind and are met with a loud chorus of baby wrens clamoring for food. Soon they should be fledging. On one particular day in the garden, a feral cat decided to take a snooze under the pear tree, which is in close vicinity to their birdhouse. The parent wrens were very upset and constantly flew around chiding this "awful" cat. The cat, of course, was oblivious, which made it all the more humorous.

"Why must cats nap near my nest?"

"Go away, cat!"

The Shiro plums were harvested this week as well. The branches seemed to be so relieved when their fruit was freed. I've left some of the plums especially up high for the purple finches, who seem to also enjoy the fruit. I ended up harvesting 26 pounds of Shiro plums this year (not including those that split or fell victim to birds or squirrels). This is by far the best year for Shiro plums I've had since I've begun growing them in my garden. I will begin to make Shiro plum jam on Wednesday, and I'm being careful to make sure they ripen fully before I try to make the jam, a previous mistake made two years ago that I am hoping to avoid again!


As usual, the daylilies continue to show off their bright colors, despite the heat and lack of rain. I'm so happy that I've added so many to the garden in the last few years.






The dahlias and phlox are "packing a punch" as well. I think it's pretty obvious that I am drawn to pink and purple flowers!





And, to highlight what usually happens around here, whenever I have the wrong lens on the camera to capture a hummingbird, there she is! The hummingbirds in general seem to really like my new feeder this year. It's pretty easy to clean, too.


What's blooming in your garden now?

Somehow we are already 10 weeks into the #GrowNow2015 season. Check out the Growing Now Tour hosted by Beth over at More Than Oregano to see this week's featured garden by Laura Flanders! Be sure to follow the #GrowNow2015 hashtag on Twitter to see what other gardeners are sharing weekly!