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Garden Delights

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

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Look what happened to my hose. Posted by Hello

You Know It's Dry When......

You set fire to your garden hose.

I suppose that needs a bit of an explanation.

It hasn't rained here in forever. Whatever that is.
I smoke.
I have a fire pit out back.
My daughter has lots of bonfires.
There are lots of old coals in the pit.

That should pretty much set the scene.

I was gardening. And smoking. I decided, as I often do, to make use of the firepit as an ashtray. No worries. I live in the humid Midwest. I took some photos, watered a bit, and left the hose draped through the firepit. I went back inside to upload photos to the computer.

A short time later, I glanced into the backyard from the kitchen.
It was smoking.

I knew right away what had happened. The recent lack of rain, the heat of the day, and a light breeze combined with my cigarette butt had started the coals smoldering.

And there sat the hose, right in the middle of it.

It wasn't pretty.

On the positive side, had the fire of the hot coals managed to burn all the way through the hose, it would have put itself out.

On the negative side, I think I need a new hose.

And now you know why they have fire warnings out west. A slight breeze, good kindling, and a small ember will do the trick. I'm always careful when I'm out west.

It's kind of looking like the Midwest is in for a drought.

Friday, June 17, 2005

A wonderfully scented daylily, probably Hyperion. Posted by Hello

Stop...and smell the flowers

Today was a low impact garden day. I had a doctor's appointment this afternoon, so I decided not to get dirty.

You can always tell a true gardener by looking at their shoes and knees.

Instead of getting covered with dirt, I got covered in pollen. Which can sometimes be just as messy.

I just stopped to smell the flowers.

Asiatic lilies don't have much scent, compared to their Oriental counterparts. But I tried anyhow, and ended up with a shirt full of pollen.

I smelled all my baby daylilies to check for scent. Sadly, none were heavily perfumed. One of the others, probably Hyperion, was wonderfully scented, funneling the delicate fragrance out through giant trumpet shaped blooms.

I pondered the ladybell situation. I received my ladybells via a trade in the mail. Somehow I ended up with two different types. One is the standard deep purple blue. The other is a more delicate blue with very recurved petals. No one has been able to identify the delicate blue one. Is it simply a rare variety, or do I truly have something new and noteworthy?

I dead-headed a few flowers.
I put markers by a plant or two.
I surveyed the overall landscape, planning for the future.
I enjoyed the cool, mosquito free environment.
I sat and watched the flowers grow.

Much later, after dinner, I did something I almost never do.
I just sat on the porch swing and had a good swing, watching the moon play hide and seek with the clouds.

And I watched the dragonflies.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Bees on sunflower in August. Posted by Hello

Bee Shortage?

There's been a lot of press lately about the current bee shortage. Current estimates say that the honeybee population has declined by fifty percent in the last fifty years.

You could have fooled me.

I have no shortage of bees. Honeybees, bumblebees, sweatbees... You name it, I have them. I have so many bees I tend to have a problem with plants self-sowing on a cosmic scale. So I find it difficult to believe there's a bee shortage.

Well. Not really.

I live in the midst of corn country USA. What they've got here is basically one giant corn field. And that's it. Corn, corn, and more corn. Well, sometimes soybeans. Very few windrows. In fact, every year I watch them rip out the few remaining windrows that are left.

Now where's a self-respecting bee supposed to live?

Better yet, what's it supposed to eat?

In my yard, I have plants that bloom from the time the snow melts til the first snowfall. My bees have no lack of food. So it's really not surprising there's a bee shortage when farmers plant one crop, then get rid of all weeds, flowers and alternative pollen producers. No wonder they have to import bee hives to pollinate their orchards and fields. No self-respecting bees would hang out in that kind of a neighborhood.

There are over 20,000 types of bees in the world. Take a good look at that number. Twenty-thousand. That's a whole lot of bees. And somehow there's still a bee shortage.


When I first moved in to my present location, the neighbors had an old apple tree that never had any apples. Then I started my flower planting campaign. Now the silly thing is loaded with them every year. No one sprays them so they're pretty much just annoying, but they are still apples, pollinated by bees. Bees that showed up for the flowers and decided they liked the neighborhood. It probably helps that I use as few chemicals as possible.

I once read an article in National Geographic about hedgerows. Hedgerows don't seem to be very popular with commercial farmers. I can't imagine why. Aside from the whole erosion control thing, they also house a myriad of beneficial animals and insects. Birds to eat bugs. Bugs to eat bugs. Bees to pollinate the crops. They also do a darned good job of wind control too.

My advice to farmers?

Plant windrows.
Plant flowers in your orchards.

Stop relying on just the honeybee.

If you build it, they will come.

The humble ox-eye daisy and cranesbills. Both like to wander in the garden. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Flower or Weed?

Since I have just spent many hours in the garden, ripping out many merry ox-eye daisies, now is a good time to debate the whole weed vs. flower issue.

Personally, I think all flowers are just very pretty weeds.

Some are just much more well behaved in the garden than others.

The humble ox-eye daisy is pretty much a weed. It will self-sow all over the place and has the potential for becoming quite the pest. I know this all too well. It had invaded my baby daylily bed and I had to banish it again. And I will have to banish it from other areas many more times before I finally hang up my trowel for good.

I just can't bare to banish it completely.

It is one of the most cheerful flowers in the garden. Brilliant white daisy flowers with that irresistible yellow center. It is a joy to behold nodding in the wind on a sunny, or not so sunny, day. And it's a wonderful cut flower. I kept a vase full of the invaders to bring inside the house for some early summer cheer.

I guess I like weeds.

I like the weeds that grow in the ditches, from the flashy orange ditch lily to the bright blue chicory flowers and the flat white clouds of queen-anne's lace. From primrose to spiderwort, they make the roadside sparkle with color. I even let some of them grow in the garden.

I like the ditch look.

The truth of the matter is that all of our cultivated flowers had their start as weeds. Even now, horticulturalist are searching every corner of the globe for more 'weeds' to bring into our gardens. They find them, we plant them. What would the world be like without Russian sage, ornamental onions, asters, and the like?

Rather dull, I think.

I'll keep my weeds.

And I'll even let them wander a bit too.

Daylily Albuquerque Sunset--one of my many seedlings. Posted by Hello

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Albuquerque or Bust!

I'm back!
All the little plantlings survived the trek to Albuquerque. Mostly. There were a few fatalities. But those weren't expected to make it anyhow.

I forgot to take a photo of the loaded car.

Worse yet, I forgot to take a photo of them all planted happily in the bakey New Mexico sunshine.

Most were looking quite wilty when I left, but I expect they will perk up a bit once the put down some roots. Plants are quite amazing really. There was one little hosta that was flat to the ground like a pancake and wilted to the point where I couldn't imagine it ever making a comeback. But, sure as shootin', the next day it was standing upright and perky. It was a bit singed, but upright and happy none the less. It's amazing what a day or two and some water will do.

Now I'm back and looking at my garden of Eden in horror. Yikes! I don't even think I was gone for ten days. I have created a monster. A very thriving monster in spite of the fact that it only rained once while I was gone. Most plants grew a foot or more. And I think the weeds did even better on the growth chart. Guess it's back to weed, weed, weed.

I can still see the blooms though. I don't let the weeds bother me too much. Blooms are the important part. And I'll have a lot of them this season. I was rather foolish and decided to try and grow daylilies from seed. Two years later and I'm about to see the fruits of my pollination labor. In fact, some are blooming already. And, since I get to name them for fun, the first few are getting names with a southwestern flair.


We made it to Albuquerque.