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August 2010
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October 2010

September 2010

Garden visitors

DSC_0009 I find it a true honor to be visited by another garden blogger.  Even though....the garden is a fall garden with little blooming.  My eyes seem to have grown weary of it with its declining foliage and flowers.  I don't think I could live in a place without the change of seasons.  I look forward to the changes and to the change in garden duties. I digress.  I always want to know from a visitor what is different from their expectations.   DSC_0023
Garden bloggers and gardeners are a friendly, kind group so I know that they would never be discouraging.  At least the ones I know who are not into gardening as a competitive sport.  Robin, of Bumblebee blog fame, came to visit over the weekend on her way back to her home in Maryland from a business trip to New York.  I met Robin in Chicago at the Chicago Fling and we had wonderful conversations which were carried on in Buffalo this year.  Robin arrived on Friday afternoon and was greeted first by the pups.  Since Robin loves dogs, this was a good beginning and each pup received a present and a box of cookies.  DSC_0030
I should mention here that she was missing her own two mini dogs, Sophie and Sarah.  Tucker and  Cooper were quite happy to try and make her feel welcome.   After initial introductions to the EM we took a spin around the garden, wine glasses in hand and dogs by our sides.  It was a beautiful, golden afternoon. DSC_0079
  I am not sure we spoke about the garden more than in passing.  We just had too much to catch up on.  What books are you reading?  How was the drive?  How is the family, dogs, chickens?  It didn't matter what the garden looked like.  It was enough to be in it with a fellow garden lover just enjoying the incandescent afternoon and each others' company.  I did ask her how the reality of the garden differed from her impression through this blog.  She said 'It is much bigger'.  Maybe it is time to get out the video camera.  Anyway, the time spent was not enough.  There are conversations yet to be had.  I am looking forward to our next visit and that is as it should be.  Garden bloggers are welcome here. 


Marbled Orb Weaver

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The other day I received a comment on a blog which was posted in 2007.  Thankfully, all comments are linked to the post and the commenter, Holly, identified the unknown spider in that post as a marbled orb weaver.  I am not afraid of spiders, generally speaking.  I find them quite interesting and their webs are works of art.  This web was discovered in another area of the garden and its' owner was nowhere to be found.  DSC_0087
I  must admit that I do not like them crawling on me.  Who hasn't had a daddy long legs run up an unsuspecting arm?  You know before looking down what is giving you the shivers and it is tempting not to look and confirm your suspicions.  I don't know the names of many of the spiders but I now know this one.  Marbled Orb Weaver, Araneus marmoreus, and you can read more about this charmer here. DSC_0044
The comment prompted me, while taking the morning walk, to look a bit more closely at foliage and fauna and within a day of that comment, I found this creature hiding in the foliage of a weigela shrub.  She didn't seem to mind my nosiness and I actually think she was posing.  DSC_0046 She was obviously proud of this intricate tracery on her back which seems as finespun as her pretty web and who could miss those bright red stockings? DSC_0088  Her actual web was in disarray and perhaps she was consuming it to build yet another for the day.  Do you enjoy the spiders in the garden or are you seriously afraid of them?     

Cooper update - Assistant Job Supervisor

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Most of you have been introduced to Cooper, Tucker's gardening supervising assistant.  He is growing so fast I thought I would show just a few pictures of his progress.  Cooper was born on May 20th and is now almost four months old. The above picture was taken when we first met Cooper.  He was just about a three weeks old.  Neither he nor Hailey look too impressed with each other.  We went to visit him again when he was six weeks old.  DSC_0119
These two are still not best of friends but you can see the fat little puppy stage.  DSC_0069
  Two weeks later, Cooper and Tucker meet for the first time.  Tucker is less than amused with this new creature.  On August 6th, friends threw a 'Puppy Shower' for the new addition.  DSC_0129
Cooper loves cookies and he had his way with this box.  Hailey is adjusting and helps him open his presents.  DSC_0123
By the end of August, Cooper is wearing Tucker out with his baby play although is is starting to look like a gangly teenager.  DSC_0045
  He has a few bad habits.  He has trouble controlling his jumping up on people but he has learned to sit on command and also to lie down.  He loves his crate which is a good thing since when he is out of it he chews everything.  DSC_0057
Take a shoe off and leave it on the floor and it is in his mouth not to mention his love for tomatoes..  He does love to tease.   DSC_0030
  It has taken Tucker this long to train his new buddy but they are now good friends enjoying a romp in the field.   Cooper is fast though and it is difficult to get him to sit still for  a picture.  That's a puppy, always moving. DSC_0008

A Berkshire garden

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Heath, MA is a small, rural town located in the Berkshires of northwestern Massachusetts.  It might not be a destination for many but for those of us who love to garden, it is the home of Pat of Commonweeder and the garden of Elsa Bakalar who passed away recently at the age of 91.  Pat is a prolific writer having written for the New York Times, Horticulture magazine and also has written a weekly column, Between the Rows, for thirty years for The Recorder in Greenfield.  All this you may know of Pat but what you don't know, or may not know, is that she is a gourmet cook, mother of five grown children,  maintains her own chickens, has a lovely garden and screen house, DSC_0077
has lived and worked in China and is a supreme hostess.  Heath, MA and Pat's garden is a good two and a half hour ride from my RI garden but the trip was glorious and I was kept company by my Mom who loves a good ride and change of scenery.  We first visited Elsa's garden which you can read about here and then Pat escorted us to her garden.  We drove six or seven miles along winding rural roads until we reached the final turn to Pat's garden which is at the end of at least two miles of rarely traveled road. How do I know this? The grass was growing up the middle of the tract to her house.  This I envy although she has the best of both worlds since the town does maintain the road which ends at her house.  She may be at the end of the line but it is the most glorious end of the line I have ever witnessed.  Picture a sunny hillside with farmhouse overlooking gardens, fields, woods and the far hills.   DSC_0054

I wandered the gardens while Pat puttered in the kitchen and chatted with Mom.  It is nice to have a tour but it is also nice to absorb the efforts and inspiration of another's garden.  The house has a delightful patio with wisteria covered pergola and an herb garden just in front.  Walking across the drive and past the old barn foundation, the rose border beckons.  Many of the roses are done blooming for the season but a gardener's imagination knows no limit and the scent was as real as if it were actually in the air.  The rose walk heads down to the new potager with blooming flowers and vegetables. DSC_0061
The screen house sits overlooking the field and just in front, on the way back to the house, the crescent shaped beds of perennials, shrubs and trees provide color and interest.  DSC_0072
Did I forget to mention the apple trees along the potager?  I have to confess I plucked one for an early treat. DSC_0065
Pat has a welcoming home with bookshelves filled to overflowing with cookbooks.  To our delight and surprise, the table was set and we had a lovely lunch in the light of the sun filled table in front of the window overlooking the garden and beyond.   How could biscuits taste so lovely?  Just as appetizing were the farm raised, marigold yolked eggs in fritatta form with berry buckle to follow completing the meal.  Simple, elegant and very delicious.  It is a meal I will long remember shared with Mom and Pat overlooking a beautiful garden.   DSC_0078
Our day did not end here as Pat graciously took us down the mountain to the city of Shelburne to view the Bridge of Flowers.  That is a post for another day though.  Blogging has enriched so many of our lives by opening worlds beyond our own.  Every opportunity to meet a fellow garden blogger and to actually see their garden is a great gift.  Many thanks to Pat. I am hoping she will take the drive down to visit my garden when she has the time.  Tucker, Cooper and I are here waiting for you, Pat.   Thanks to all for taking the tour with us.  Have you visited a garden blogger this year?  Who, when and how about the next one on the list.  Share!   

Mexican Sunflower - Tithonia

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Has anyone grown Mexican Sunflower, Tithonia rotundiflora?  I grew it from seed several years ago after seeing it at Tower Hill Botanic Garden.  You have got to love the bright orange, zinnia like flowers.  The first year I grew it in average garden soil and the plants grew to about four feet at the most.  Here my friend, Denise, is taking a nap next to them.  Her outfit does match them quite nicely and she provides nice scale and proportion for the plant.  She is of average height. DSC_0294
The plants were unfazed by warm, dry weather and, in fact, they did thrive in those conditions.  You know how it goes with many annuals, you try them, like them, and then make room to try something else.  Tithonia has been on my list to plant again and this year a friend gave me two plants which she started from seed.  I put them in the flower bed right in front of the living room window since this plant does attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds and I often watch from inside.   Who knew what would happen.  They are making a nice green curtain right about now.   DSC_0120
 Outside the house, they are the large plants on either side of the birdfeeder, closest to the house, and towering over the roof.  They have had just two flowers so far and they have required rebar stakes to keep them  somewhat upright.  I use an organic fertilizer but not in excess and they really are being stingy with the flowers this year.  I am hoping they will light up like a jack o'lantern well before Halloween since the frost will get them by then.  We shall see.  Now, I am waiting to see just how tall they will grow.  Has anyone had them get this tall and, if so, did they have lots of flowers?  Just wondering.....