Ornamental and edible gardening adventures.

Cleaning up

Why not find something good from something bad? While cleaning up the yard, I decided to build an impromptu arbor with the fallen branches from the black walnut and maple trees.

It looks a little fairy-like to me.

And it saves me some cash on buying a pre-made arbor.  It will be supporting my Zephrine Drouhin rose (which I tracked down to grow in our Connecticut garden since I had so much success with it in my previous home - it's thornless and tolerates shade!) and a new clematis I bought on sale about a month ago.

The extra part of the huge 12 foot branch is being used to border my shade garden along the garage.


Hurricane Irene

We've never seen the barometer go this low!
We were extremely lucky when it came to the hurricane that past. Saturday night was frightening. We really should have not slept in our bedroom (which is the closest room to the tall maple and black walnut trees). There were severe thunderstorms overnight and the wind was whipping the trees around. I woke up several times wondering if I should wake up Rob and move us to the living room couches. I kept praying that our house would stay safe.
Flooding begins in the back yard ~ 8:41 a.m..
(Noticeable in the cold frame and the area surrounding it.)

On Sunday morning we lost power. Water from the rain began to pool up out back. We listened to our police scanner and heard multiple reports of trees coming down in our town. And then we heard the thud. I raced to the back window, and was happy to see that a large, 12 foot tree limb (probably from the black walnut) fell from above and just missed our shed.

Massive tree branch just misses shed, takes out trellis
for trumpet vine ~ 10:39 a.m.
Power was restored Sunday night, but then we lost it again Monday afternoon. Overnight on Monday it returned, and has stayed on since. There are still several people in our state without power.

We're thankful that we did not have any property damage from this storm. The Connecticut River, down the road from us, is cresting, and yesterday was already six feet above flood stage. But still, our state was lucky. Two hours to the north of us, in Bennington, Vt. (where we like to vacation), the town is still experiencing terrible flooding, road washouts, bridge washouts, and more.  No matter how well they can predict a storm, Hurricane Irene was still unpredictable in the end.

After the storm passed ~ late Sunday afternoon.
Better view of the branch that fell.

Getting Ready for the Hurricane

For the last day and a half, I've been watching the local garden centers (which I am luckily surrounded by many!) lighting up Facebook with posts advising gardeners in Connecticut how to handle the impending Hurricane Irene. It's very depressing to read, knowing that all the hard work of getting the garden to look the way it does is going to be undone by Monday morning.

I got out of work later than I had hoped to tonight at 6:45 p.m., and immediately set to work gathering and storing various items in the garden. (Apparently it takes a hurricane to have me finally clear off the patio and the driveway!) I squeezed as many plants as possible into the garage (including all my lovely eggplants in pots and perennials I haven't been able to plant yet). Our garage is pretty crowded to begin with, so now it is filled to the max. The shed was next on the list and I took down the tall birdfeeding station (one birdfeeder remains up) and put away the new lounge chair I had saved up for. In went the umbrella (and most likely the spider that creates her web off it every evening) and other misc items. I pushed the patio furniture against the house and covered it with a tarp. The plants that had to remain in the driveway are now pushed in front of the garage door, huddled together and a little bit out in the open, unfortunately. But it's better than there previous summer-long location in front of the power meter.

With the light fading fast, I then started my second mission of the night. I harvested as much basil and parsley as possible for our rabbits. After that, I started cutting all flowers that were in bloom. I was able to get two bouquets worth, and could have probably cut more if the mosquitoes weren't following me around (and making me their supper). Tomorrow morning before work I'm going to pick the last of my tomatoes that are ripe (I ran out of time and light tonight).

The biggest bouquet I was able to pick tonight includes the sunflower I was waiting to bloom, my zinnias, the sedum that has just started to flower, Rosa "The Fairy" and a few stray coneflowers. (And of course, our bottled water is ready to go in case we lose power.)
No one is sure what to expect. My neighbor fears that trees surrounding the property will come down. With wind gusts that can reach 80 mph (at least), I'm hoping all the trees surrounding our house (especially the tall maples and black walnuts) stay intact. I guess it's silly to be lamenting the envitable doom the garden faces... but I still am. I'm ready for this hurricane to be past.


We Love Basil!

In our house, Basil is King. Well, at least when lettuce and carrot tops are not in season.  We grow a hefty supply of this fragrant herb to satisfy our demanding household residents.

Our rabbits!


This mystery sunflower has been growing in my strawberry patch and has been preparing to bloom for a few weeks now. It's being exquisitely slow in it's unfurling, but it seems to be worth the wait.


Busy Bees

The "Little Joe" Dwarf Joe Pye Weed is supposed to attract butterflies, but it's doing it's fair share of attracting neighborhood bumblebees- the cute little ones that is. They were working hard this evening as dusk was about to set in to get the last drop of goodness before calling it in for the night.

This "dwarf" still towers over the garden - it's taller than me, and I'm 5'4"! I'm thinking of moving it to the background for next summer, but there's something nice about having it right next to the driveway, even if it does stand out a bit!

Digging in the Dirt

Today was my day off, and one look at the thermometer showed it would be a good morning for planting the numerous perennials I've been acquiring and (temporarily) leaving in the driveway. I dashed out when it was still 67 degrees F, and began work on the new garden bed in the front lawn. The sun hadn't moved to this part of the property yet, so I was able to cut, dig and remove the majority of the grass* in the shade. (*I don't really have nice grass, instead I have mostly weeds -- crab grass everywhere. In an effort to eventually banish the lawn from the front property, my husband and I have given up on trying to correct the problem. Your time is limited, crab grass.)

I wanted to create a semicircle bed at the onset, but the form got more amoeba-like as I went along. Halfway through I realized I could successfully make a butterfly-shaped bed, and proceeded to fine tune the edges to do so. I finished digging up the turf just as the sun was beginning to shine on the area. A trip to the back compost pile resulted in a full wheelbarrow of dirt, which I applied to the top.

Now was the fun part! The plants! I planted four echinaceas, Sunrise, Raspberry Truffle, and two others toward the middle. In each of the "lower wings," I planted a David Austin rose (a type of rose I've been wanting to include for a long time now and got on sale at the garden center a couple of weeks ago): Pat Austin in the left and Sir John Betjeman in the right. I dotted the back part with Lavender Provence (three plants). And the top part of the "wings" were laid out with a Gaura Whirling Butterflies (far left) a cransebill geranium (center) and a new shasta daisy (far right).

Right now the garden looks like a green jumble, but I think next summer this bed will look pretty nice! After planting, I went back around with the edger to solidify the border, watered, and then called it a day.


Garden Color Palette

This past week, while having a few days off from work, I realized how I leaned (very much) toward pinks and purples in designing my garden. Or maybe it's just really evident right now at the end of August that pink and purple plants are the majority still blooming.

Lovely pink anemone by the front door. They are literally buzzing at this time of year - being visited by several neighborhood bees.

Love love love this recent addition to the garden - Raspberry Truffle coneflower. I purchased it from my local garden center.

These zinnias (Art Deco) are at their height of bloom right now. I grew them from seed by Botanical Interests.

This lovely combination was purely accidental. By the front arbor, morning glory reseeded itself and intertwined with cardinal climber, a new vine I tried this year. I took this photo in the morning before the sun caused the morning glories to close up.

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