Archive for July, 2011

July 15, 2011

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day – July

Well, here I am again for July’s Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day.  Thanks to Carol over at May Dreams Gardens for hosting this fabulous monthly theme.  Wander over and check out many gardens that will impress and inspire you!

It has been hot.  Oppressively hot, and I have been concerned I wouldn’t have much for this post, but as I am learning, there is always something going on in the garden.  All the real action is happening in the front garden right now.  The Echinacea purpurea and Rudbeckia fulgida are loving this heat, and I am grateful to come home to this colorful carnival everyday.

I planted these coneflower and black-eyed Susan plants last year after returning home from a trip to Ontario where I saw them growing in abundance in many front gardens. Before then, I don’t think I even liked coneflower very much!  I can tell you though, it was love at first sight when I saw them in combination with black-eyed Susan.  For them too, I mean, can’t you just feel the love…

BFFs...truly

…and the butterflies share in the love too…

I have a small bed where I planted two Coreopsis ‘Full Moon’ plants, originally thinking they would be on the smallish-side like the ‘Creme Brulee’ I have growing beneath the mailbox.  Well, these two have grown to diva proportions. They are spilling out over the wall and crowding some marigolds that have come back from last year. An azalea and a couple of boxwood shrubs are in the back, but have been blotted out from view.  I hope they are okay!  This fall, I will be relocating the ‘Full Moon’ prima donnas to the other side of the house to give them the room they demand…ahem…I mean, deserve.

Coreopsis 'Full Moon' & French Marigold Dwarf

Garden phlox is so old-fashioned and comfy-cozy in the garden.  I love it so much, I must have more.  I only have two plants, and I am already making plans to expand for more.  I love the delicate blossoms on the long stems that sway in the breeze…when there is a breeze, that is.

'Robert Poore'

Last, but not least, these little flowers have popped up all over the place in the weedy, rocky no-man’s land underneath the back deck.  I have no idea what they are or where they’ve come from, but they are very pretty and sweet in varying shades of pink.  They remind me of some kind of petunia.  Except for one hanging basket I had on the deck years ago, I have never grown any petunias.   So, where did these come from?  Like I said before, there is always something going on in the garden, isn’t there?!

Another mystery!

Sitting pretty in no-man's land

July 9, 2011

Diva Dog

My dog has a bit of an attitude.  Being a German Shepherd with alpha-female tendencies, she can be a bit territorial.  She loves to chase things whether it be her favorite ball, thrown sticks, or another dog that foolishly wandered into the yard.  I have seen her go after deer, squirrels, birds, butterflies and turtles.  Bees…I have seen her chase bees!  Diva Dog has destroyed a pair of curtain sheers on the dining room window trying to “make friends” with the UPS guy.

There has been recently something that has tamed the wild beast in Diva Dog’s heart.  A formidable opponent so strong that it has successfully been able to get into my dog’s head somehow and render her to putty.  I have caught Diva Dog on more than one occasion staring from the window at this trespasser with a sphinx-like trance, as if hypnotized. And what is this villain?  What could bring out the kitten in Diva Dog?  What I found was something quite unexpected.  I could understand if it was something bigger and stronger, but this?

This…!?

Fie, fiendish villain!

This rabbit’s new favorite place to hang out is around the vegetable patch, of course.  It hasn’t touched anything in the garden since I have netting over it,  but no doubt this rabbit is on some kind of recon exercise, looking for weaknesses in my fortress.  Diva Dog doesn’t seem to mind.  I will be jumping up and down on the deck, flapping my arms, yelling at Diva Dog to “Get the rabbit! Get the rabbit!”  But she doesn’t seem to want to move or take her eyes off it.  Sigh.  Maybe she’s thinking…“Aw, look at the cute little bunny!”

BFFs...forever!

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July 4, 2011

Virginia Natives, Part 2

This is Part 2 of a two-part series that I began in May.  Part 2 is also meant as a springtime post and since we are already well into summer, I gave half a thought about saving this for next spring, but really, I don’t want to wait.  This post has been swirling around in the back of my mind for months, if not, years.  You can catch up on Part 1 here.

Upon my return home from the State Arboretum of Virginia, the first thing I did was change out of my suit and heels and into my comfy outside work clothes and flip-flops, and headed out into the yard.  I took a long slow walk along the treeline of the woods and examined what was growing there.  My husband and I built our house 8 years ago, and one of the first things we noticed after living here a couple of years, is what sprouted up along the treeline.  Tiny, new branches began to appear along the leafless trucks of the tall maples, wild blackberry and blueberry bushes flourished and curious little wildflowers popped up all over the place.  Lots of nature’s drama all in response to, what we suspect, the increased sunlight gained from the clearing for our house.

On my turn around the yard, the first thing I found was this Mapleleaf Viburnum.  I wouldn’t have known the name or that it has been identified as a plant native to Virginia dating back to the 1600s, had I not seen it on the arboretum’s Native Plant Trail.  As such, I was really excited to find it growing several yards from the garage and in the surrounding woods.

Viburnum acerifolium

Viburnum acerifolium

Every spring my friend and neighbor, D always talks about the Mountain Laurel growing rampantly in the woods surrounding her house. In years past, I have scoured the woods around our house and never found any.  I could never understand why since it seems to grow everywhere else in the area! Having given up finding any, I was all set to pay D a visit with camera in hand this year.  Mountain Laurel comes and goes very quickly every spring so I made plans to visit D as soon as she said it was in bloom. A couple of days before my visit while I was walking down our driveway to the mailbox, I looked up and caught a glimpse of white pom-poms in the woods. Had the sun been at a different angle, I probably would have never spotted it. To my surprise and delight, I had at last, finally discovered the only Mountain Laurel specimen in our woods! I wonder where it’s been hiding all these years?

Kalmia latifolia

Now, I have no idea if the following plants are “Virginia natives” or not.  These are a bit of a mystery and I can only make guesses as to what they actually are.  I am including them in this post because they are a part of nature’s drama that goes on here year in and year out, and are perhaps the biggest surprise of all.

Sitting on the back porch one April morning years ago, I spotted something very pink just past the treeline.  What I found was a rhododendron-azalea-y looking little bush.  I have heard of wild Rhododendron but have never seen it in this area. We have since put in a vegetable patch just beyond this “wild Rhodie”, and I like to keep the area cleared so I can always see it from the house.  This year, while we were doing the winter clean up and preparing the veggie bed, I noticed more of these little shrubs have sprung up.  I would love it if it continued to spread.

Wild Rhodie?

Another surprise appeared soon after we moved in.  I actually spotted it one day looking out the window.  I always called it my “wild Rose” and have gone to great lengths to protect it.  We once hired someone to take out a dead tree close by, and I made sure the tree-guy knew he was going to have to negotiate his and the dead tree’s way carefully around this shrub. When I checked on it in early June as it began to bloom, it appeared to be spreading from all the new specimens I could see.  It looks like some kind of Rosa rugosa, from research I’ve done but I don’t know, and I am not sure why it is growing in the woods.

Rosa rugosa? It's a mystery!

Well, that’s it until I can discover more.  Let’s call this a preview of what’s to come in Spring 2012!  In the meantime, I will be waiting for the wild blackberries and blueberries to ripen, and try to get them before the squirrels do.

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