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Garden Delights

A selection of thoughts and ramblings about life in the garden.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Pollination Suprise

An unknown pollinator on a daylily. Lots of critters pollinate, not just bees. So while the bee population is down, hopefully the other critters will take up some of the slack.



Cold Spring Gone?

Well, it looked like it was going to be an early spring.

Looked like.

But then the Arctic air blasted in from the frozen tundra and washed away all hopes of getting into the garden early.


So now I am playing catch-up, with little enthusiasm.
The dandelions are far more energetic than I.

But I'll get there. Eventually. Life is hectic.

And I'll be looking for hectic. In the form of bees.

According to the news and hive-keepers, 95% of the honey bee population in the U.S. has disappeared. This is both tragic and scary. Sad for the bees and keepers, scary as we eat what the bees pollinate. What they ingest, we ingest.


So I'm rather impatiently waiting for a nice warm day with lots of flowers to go out and do my own unofficial bee count.

My yard attracts lots of bees.


I get all kinds of bees. From teeny ones that you can hardly see to the huge lone bumble bees. And what I'm trying to see is if ALL of the bees have gone AWOL. There are over 4,000 different types of native bees in the United States, and I'm betting that not all of them have died or flown the coup. But I have to have sun and flowers to do my survey. Insects don't like a chill anymore than I do. And mother nature hasn't been co-operating with the warmth.

So all you gardeners out there unite! Do your own survey and tally up the bee count. There may still be pollinators out there; they just won't give us honey.



Friday, March 31, 2006

A Sunny Yellow Crocus Posted by Picasa

Spring Cleanup

Yes. Sadly it is that time of year again.

I spent about seven hours of the day yesterday doing this semi-unpleasant task.

I enjoy it for the most part.

What I don't enjoy is finding all those little projects that will have to go on the 'to do' list for the season.

And there's always a lot of those.

The enjoyable part is finding out how all of the little plantlings are doing, and watching the spring bulbs appear overnight and blossom.

Today will be mostly a chore.


Because a wicked wind is blowing and my nice, lightweight brown paper yard waste bag will be flying all over the place.

I will spend much time muttering curses under my breath.

But...at least I will be outside on a warm spring day watching the little jewels of the garden emerge.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Daffodil 'Minnow' Posted by Picasa

Albuquerque Update

Greetings to all!

It's been ages since I've been here.

Busy, busy, busy.

But spring has arrived. The crocus are blooming and the tulips are trying to make an appearance.

Time for spring cleanup.

But before I wander off into the jungle, I want to give you an update on all the little plantlings that journeyed west to Albuquerque.

Believe it or not, they appear to be doing quite well for the most part. Despite the transplant in the June heat and sun, many have survived. While I don't have a complete list, here's a few that definitely made it.

Artemisia, artemisia, artemisia. I planted it everywhere, and it's growing everywhere. Which is a good thing in Albuquerque. Many folks wouldn't think so.

Grape Hyacinth. One of those lovely spring bloomers that will spread with reckless abandonment. Which is a good thing.

Little daffodils. These little beauties are called 'Minnow', which is appropriate as they are very tiny flowers. They also like to multiply rapidly.

These are just a few. I also know that the hollyhocks are alive and kicking, along with the peach and apricot trees, the grasses, and a host of other things. Like the iris and sedum. Hopefully it will all fill in for my sister in a year or two.

One year for roots, one year to fill out.

This should be a fun year.

Monday, October 24, 2005

My sister's new landscaping. Note the large cosmos behind the little peach tree. Posted by Picasa

Hitchhikers in New Mexico

I got to my sister's house in New Mexico, and was both amazed and disappointed.

Disappointed as not as much lived as I'd hoped.

Amazed because more survived than I thought would.

One of the more amazing plants was a blue mist shrub. It had grown to a nice little shrub about 2 feet tall and was blooming it's little head off. I figured it would live. I just didn't expect it to thrive.

Another top performer was a Russian sage. It had never grown well for me, so I decided to take it west after it had broken into four pieces. I kept one for myself and gave 3 to my sister. Mine is about an inch tall. Hers are 3 feet tall and blooming like gangbusters. Go figure.

Some plants thrived, others were barely hanging in there. Which isn't too surprising as it was the height of summer when I left them. Baking heat does not make for a good transplant situation. But a lot of them did well.

I also found a few hitchhikers.

Yep. Even plants like to hitchhike.

Seeds like to hide in the dirt and make a surprise entrance.

One stow away was a datura (aka: moonflower). The seeds had waited for the nice warm New Mexico sun to germinate. By the time I got there in October, it was a nice sized plant, blooming away.

But the most impressive tag along was a cosmos. It had almost gotten pulled up by my sister because it looked kind of like a weed. When I got there it was four feet tall and sturdy as a tree.

And just about to bloom.

What fun! I got to watch it open it's first blooms and amaze my sister with its colorful lavender discs.

Hopefully it will drop a few seeds in a not too silly spot and offer up another surprise for next year.

Plants do like to travel from time to time.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Rose of Sharon heading west. Posted by Picasa

Desert Bound


I'm heading back out to the high desert to check out my handiwork.

In case you missed it, I took a carload of plants from Illinois to New Mexico in very early summer. Now I get to go see what's still living, even though some people claimed they'd never survive the move.

I have it on good authority that some already declared themselves permanent residents.

According to the news flashes I get periodically, here are a few of the survivors:

blue mist shrub
spider plant
naked ladies
coreopsis (at least two varieties)
ornamental grasses (several types)
honeysuckle vine
trumpet vine
artemisias (several types)
wild petunia (ruellia)
painter's palette
a variety of sedums
purple coneflowers
a variety of yarrows
a hosta or two
a stray datura
Russian sage
hardy hibiscus

I believe there are a lot more survivors out there. My sister just can't remember the names because of the wicked west wind. The tags just didn't stick in the sandy ground good enough.

Now I get to go play botanist and identify the plants with the missing tags.


(Shhhhhh! This is a secret!)

I've stowed away a few plants in my trusty luggage to replace those that didn't find the surroundings to their liking.

This time I'm taking two rose of sharons, cypress spurge, two different rose campions, phlox, campanula, porcelain berry vine, more hardy hibiscus, golden Marguerite, veronica and coral bells.

You should see my suitcase.

Have plants. Will travel.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Fang In Guard Mode. Posted by Picasa

Meet Fang

He...or she...doesn't LOOK mean, does he?

Well, he is.

I suspect my little friend is a female Ruby-throated Hummingbird, but I'm not positive.

And it seems rather aggressive.

So I'll call it a he.

And I've named it Fang.

I know, Fang doesn't seem like a good name for a hummingbird, but it fits this one to a tee. What you can't see in the photo, is he's sitting on top of the hanger holding the hummingbird feeder.

And he guards it zealously.

(And the other two he can oversee from his vantage point.)

Fang is mean.

He won't let the other little hummingbirds have their fare share. As soon as they show up, he's after them so fast you can hardly see him moving.

And the chase is on.

Fang also chases bees away from the feeders.

He doesn't seem to care that he's hoarding a stash that would probably feed 100 hummingbirds. Fang just knows he's got a good thing going and he's not about to lose it.

Big meanie!

The others are developing a few tactics to sneak in for a drink. Stealth is key. Either that or wait for Fang to make the rounds of the flowers he's decided are worthy of his attention. Like the false dragonhead, Brazilian verbena, sweet peas, honeysuckle and impatiens.

But he's really more interested in guarding the feeders.

And he's rather brave.

He's occasionally given me a fly-by, which sounds like a mini helicopter buzzing you if you don't see him coming. Sometimes he ignores my being 3 feet away from the feeders. But he seems to have gotten a bit camera shy. I got a few photos in the beginning, but now when he sees me raise the camera he takes off.

Little stinker.

And he's there from dawn to dusk.

I'm beginning to think he sleeps on top of the feeder too.

He's fun to watch.

But I do wish he'd learn to share.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Balsam growing in crack in sidewalk. Posted by Picasa

The Best Grow Almost Anywhere Annual

And the winner is...

Summer Flowering Balsam.

And it does grow just about anywhere.

About all it requires is a decent amount of moisture and semi-good soil. And I'm not even sure if it requires that.

It's growing in the cracks at the bottom of the stairwell on the north side of my house.

I don't water the stairwell.

It hasn't rained much here this summer either.

I will admit that it does much better in some locations than others. It does not like the front yard for some reason. (I think it's the thirsty maple tree.) But when it finds a spot it likes...

It really likes it.

Summer flowering balsam is a member of the impatiens family. Like most of the impatiens, it likes water and doesn't mind shade. It also blooms profusely in late summer when much of the garden has kind of faded out. It can get quite tall, up to 3 feet in height, and it comes in a wide variety of colors. It comes in lots of hot pinks and bright shades of blue-lavender and corals, along with the paler pinks. There's even a variety with white spots on the flowers.

I'm not kidding.


Once they have managed to bloom themselves out, or when the frost gets them, they can easily be pulled up to make room for something different.

It's one drawback (which might be a good thing for some people) also gives it another one of it's names: Touch-me-nots. It's seed pods explode, sending hundreds of small seeds everywhere. And if they like where they land, they will grow next spring.

Even if it's a crack in the sidewalk.

This does make it a bit of a pest if you have it in a mixed border. But the seedlings are easy to pull out. Just remove the ones that grow where you don't want them too.

Instant repeating color.

And the bees like them too.