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June 2011
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August 2011

July 2011

The Fragrance of Phlox

Phlox in the morningOne morning this week I walked through the garden quite early. It was before 7:00 A.M. and the sun was just coming up. I caught a scent on the slight shifting of summer air and was transported back to childhood. I remember gazing eye level with the purple phlox and drinking in their fragrance. These were my grandmother's garden phlox and just the plain old purple. PhloxThere are so many cultivars available these days but I find them to be, usually, unreliable in their seasonal return to the borders. The Phlox x 'Miss Linguard', a white, is always present but the oranges and multi-colored phlox which I have put in over the years often decline after the first year or two. What I have found is an abundance of seedlings and the seedlings are more fragrant and that very purple of my childhood. Phlox paniculataThere is something to be said for longevity. In people and in phlox.  


Perennial Combinations - Worth the Wait

Hemerocallis 'Magic Dawn'As a perennial gardener I am used to waiting for plants to reach their perfect size with an abundance of blooms. Sometimes combinations made in the garden just don't work for one reason or another. Either one plant flowers a bit too early, too late, or it doesn't flower at all. At other times, the colors are off just a bit for complementing one another. I planted Hemerocallis 'Magic Dawn' with Monarda didyma 'Raspberry Wine' years ago. Monarda didyma 'Raspberry Wine'
In past years, they flowered at different times or one flowered and the other slept. They are both in a bit too much shade but they do flower and this year, together. Magic Dawn and monardaDreams realized are some of what gardening is all about for me. I think it was worth the wait. 


Hosta 'Ryan's Big One'

Ryan's Big One
The hostas are starting to bloom. This one is named 'Ryan's Big One' and the leaves are a good eight inches across. The whole plant spreads four feet wide and this one is taking over the entry garden. It commands attention and, as you can see, the leaves need a bit of cleaning. They are large enough to catch the mower bits and any falling leaves from above.  Hosta flowers
They are one of the earlier bloomers along with 'Sieboldiana Elegans' and 'Golden Tiara, and they are now in full bloom. Ryan's Big One flowersDoes anyone really plant hosta for blooms? Perhaps 'Royal Standard' which blooms very late and has very fragrant blooms but for this gardener, the blooms of most hostas are snipped off rather quickly as they bloom from the bottom to the top and by the time the top flowers open, the bottom flowers are brown and rather ugly.  Flower bud on RyanA hosta in bud is another story.  The buds rise from the scape eventually clearing the edge of the leaves and the flower spike starts as a star shaped cluster.  I find the clusters fascinating as does this little spider. Hosta bud They catch the rain and their architecture is an example, to me, of nature's perfection. Do you snip off the flowers of hosta plants or do you plant them specifically for the flowers?    


Deadheading the Garlic

Garlic flower scapes
Between work and dinner I found time to head up to the vegetable garden, clippers in hand, and cut the scapes from the garlic plants.  The scapes are delicious when steamed, sauteed or pulverized into hummus and they really should be removed from the hardneck garlic when they start to curl and the flowers bulge. Scapes in a trug
You can check out some excellent recipes over at this website. Deadheading helps the bulb to enlarge as energy which could have been spent producing seeds is diverted to the roots.  I will have to find time to water these garlic plants. The soil in the vegetable garden dries out quickly as the beds are raised.  Maybe one more watering before the harvest in a few weeks.  The foliage has some slightly yellowing tips right now so it won't be too long before this bed is ready for a late crop of carrots or turnips.  This next picture shows the new cucumber fence tilted for the ultimate hanging of the anticipated fruit which should make for easier picking. I plan on planting lettuce under the tilt of the fence. I do need to thin the plants just a bit and I hope for a good sized crop of cucumbers. They taste so much better than those in the grocery store. I always wonder how long that store cucumber has been off the vine.  Veg garden end of JuneStay tuned on this.  Many things can go awry as with any plant and I have already noticed a few little chew marks on the leaves of the cucumber plants.  I couldn't find the culprits though. On another note, the very first Japanese beetle was spotted today which is a week earlier than usual. First Japanese beetle of 2011
There was just one but a gardener knows where there is one, there are many more to follow.