Monday, May 31, 2010

Seed production and collection.

In my yard, everything is open pollinated. The bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies spread pollen from flower to flower. There's no telling what mix you might get from year to year. This is most evident in the black eyed susans. Early spring bloomers have started releasing their seed pods. Some have already been scattered around the yard. Some will be collected for trading. Most will be returned to the soil just before it rains for next year's plants.

Sweet Williams. I'm sending most of these to the backyard, especially the pink and white crape myrtle bed which needs some early color.

Columbines have already produced a lot of seed. Sown fresh, they will germinate this year and probably bloom next spring. I'm filling mostly shady spots with these plants.

Peonies. I've never grown peonies from seed, but I know it's possible. I might wintersow them, in summer.

Red Hot Pokers. There are a LOT of seeds on these two plants. I'll probably collect them instead of scattering them. People love these plants that start out looking like fine blades of grass. It takes 2 years for blooms from seed. Year three is where mine are now.

Poppies. I'll scatter them as soon as they are ripe. They'll germinate when it's time.

Mountain bluet seeds are hard to collect. These seedlings are beneath the current plants. Once they get a little size to them, I'll move them around this fall to areas that still need spring color. The parent plants need to be cut back soon.

Dusty Miller has just started to bloom. Planted in the fall of 2009, these plants have gotten huge. The blooms float about 2 feet above the soil. If I remember, the seeds are like dust.

Grown from scattered seeds, the annual Monarda citriodora is one of my favorites. After it blooms, it can be cut back for a repeat bloom. I did this twice last summer. The seeds are collected by shaking the spent blooms over a container.

Speaking to Cameron at Defining Your Home Garden, I've decided to scatter seeds as soon as they ripen. This seems the most natural method as it's what happens when there's no gardener present. Nature takes care of enough seeds to create a new crop each year. I'll save a few seeds just in case. You never know what could happen over the winter.

It's currently 81 degrees and pouring rain. Heavy thunderstorms are about to move through the area. The rain is expected to last a few hours.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

*sniff* *sniff* *sniff* AHHHHHH!!!


Two new unusual rudbeckia are blooming.

This one is the returning Cherry Brandy grown from seed last year.

The perennial bed has filled in. Yellow flowers poke up here and there among the green foliage. We've had plenty of rain lately, now we just need some more sun.

It's 72 degrees, humid, and cloudy. Upper 80s is the forecast for today. 30% chance of isolated thunderstorms after 1pm.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Misty Morning

It started raining about 7pm. Thunderstorms rolled across the Piedmont area of NC all evening. I took advantage of the rain to clean the house and do a little work on the kitchen. I started painting the small room off the kitchen. It will be a few days before I can mask the edges with tape and paint the white.

Outside this morning, many of my poppies are laying on the ground. 1.57" of rain fell between 7pm and midnight. The basement has a new water feature. The mist still hangs in the air outside. Everything is bright green.

It's 64 degrees. More rain is possible this evening. 30% chance.

Friday, May 28, 2010


All it took was a little sun.

Lots more to come in the next few weeks. Some rudbeckia are just starting to bud, other are still growing. Seedlings are popping up here and there since we've been receiving decent rainfall.

Moonshine Yarrow

It's 77 degrees and humid. 60% chance of storms this evening after 6pm. Rain possible all day Saturday.

Feeling Good.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

As night falls...

The nicotiana is starting to bloom in the fragrant bed.

Datura is budding in several places around the yard. This plant is a self sown volunteer.

Orlaya grandiflora glows. These seeds came in a trade. I didn't know much about them. I sowed them. They germinated. It's blooming. I'm happy.

Have you ever seen variegated pokeweed?

It's 84 degrees. The yard is mowed. The breaker for the microwave was installed with only 3 calls made to Robert. Or maybe it was 4. I still have laundry to do and dinner to eat. There will be more rain Friday and Saturday.

Icicles in spring.

Day Two of no rain in the forecast. The sun is moving higher into the sky. It's 59 degrees this morning, but the afternoon temperature will reach into the low 90s. It's the perfect time for Icicles to form in the Crape Myrtle bed.

Veronica spicata "Icicles"

The Daisy Gardenia is in full bloom. Now imagine this shrub 3' tall and 4' wide. It could take years.

After work, I plan to install the new breaker for the microwave. Still doing more research on concrete countertops. Melamine is used to build forms. My cost, as a special order product from the store, will be about $30/sheet. I need two sheets. The concrete is roughly $4 a bag. I'll need at least a dozen bags. Broken bags are still half price. I've got the guys in lumber keeping an eye out for a few.

I really like the Pressed Concrete method. It looks like travertine stone. Almost any color combination is possible.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Waiting....

For about 15 minutes yesterday, it poured. Within the hour, the sun was shining again. I'm sure the plants love it. The humidity is starting to frizz my hair.

The upper potager. The cucumbers are starting to climb. The pole beans have been twining for a week.

Tomatoes are going to need staking very soon. Still need to figure that one out. 53 stakes is a bit much for the budget. I may try the Florida Weave this year.

Blue Queen salvia was wintersown. Out of 10 containers, I have 4 clumps that survived the attack of the squirrels.

Stargazers are budding. This clump is about 5' tall this year. I didn't know they'd grow that high.

I'm not the only one anticipating the blooms on Lemon Mint Monarda. These are self sown seedlings from the one clump I wintersowed last year. As an annual bee balm, it's easy to control.

Cherry Brandy Rudbeckia made it through the winter. I'm hoping the blooms are more red this year and not so much like dried blood.

Golden Jubilee is an agastache with purple blossoms against lime green foliage. The goldfinches collect more seeds than I do.

Orlaya grandiflora, or White Lace Flower, is just getting started. This dainty annual is a relative of the garden carrot and Queen Anne's Lace, but much less likely to become invasive. The blooms resemble hydrangeas with large flowers surrounding tiny florets. I have it planted in several beds. Behind the ferny foliage, datura seedlings and nicotiana will brighten the dark corner of the perennial bed soon.

My favorite rudbeckias are unfurling. The ladybugs are already on the job, picking off the aphids and other sucking insects.

High up in the tree, a single Magnolia bloom was smelt before I ever spotted it. Down the street, the trees have been blooming for over a week. I've seen many large buds on this one. When the oak tree came crashing down, it opened up the sky giving this tree more sunlight. The smaller one at the edge of the yard still shows no signs of blooms, even though it's about 30' tall. I can't find the bloom in this picture either. Don't feel bad.

It's 63 degrees. No rain in the forecast for today. We'll see. The sky is clear. The humidity stands at 83%. The thermometer will rise to the mid 80s today. Last night, I couldn't sleep. I started researching concrete countertops. There are more options than I realized.


Remember this poppy?

The name is "Drama Queen". How perfect is that?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Yesterday, it came another downpour. We've gotten nearly 5" of rain this month. Our average is just over 4" in May. I'm not complaining. No, sir. The garden has really taken off. Loads of rudbeckia are ready to bloom, we just need some sun. The potager is growing visibly each day. Squash plants are about to bloom. Seeds that I had given up on in the meadow are germinating. New seeds were tossed out last night just after a heavy storm. The ground squishes when you walk. It's 64 degrees, cloudy, and humid. 30% chance of late afternoon drizzle again today.

Some random pictures taken yesterday before it rained.

8:37am - The microwave is in. I told you I was serious about getting this kitchen done. It was easier than I thought it would be. The outlet in the upper cabinet isn't hooked up to the breaker box yet, but I picked up the breaker yesterday and if I'm courageous enough, I might just install it myself. Robert has offered to come back to do it, but that's a long drive just to install a simple breaker. He gave me instructions.

Next up, a test piece for the new countertops I intend to build in a few weeks. I've decided I don't like the laminate. I'm thinking concrete.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Gardening with a hammer.

I started another new bed a few weeks ago. It began as an odd assortment of plants, some Yucca that needed a home, Euphorbia "Blackbird", and tiny pieces and bits of trailing and spreading sedums. Months ago, Carla asked if I wanted some terracotta pots she didn't want. I said no at the time. Clay pots dry out way too fast in summer and need to be watered everyday. I went back this week and told her I would take them. I used my hammer to smash them, creatively, and placed them around the area of the new bed.

On Sunday, I took a few hours to haul 5-gallon buckets of small stone from the gully, from the other beds in the yard, and from wherever I could pick them up in the paths through the backyard. I dumped them between the plants and broken pots.

Terracotta bricks in the gully were relocated and repositioned several times until it looked "right".

Wintersown grasses, yucca, and other drought tolerant plants were placed here and there between the stones and broken pottery. Yarrow, rudbeckia, and echinacea was transplanted from various parts of the yard.

Two large stones were maneuvered into place. The largest one took an act of Congress to get it where I wanted it. The handtruck will be retired with honors soon. A third stone still lives in the gully. I don't think I'll be moving it without help from a lot of friends.

Over time, I'll fill more areas between the stones with sandy soil. Sedums will be rooted as the plants I now have start to grow. This bed will change and fill in as years pass. I could go out and buy all the plants, but that wouldn't be as much fun. Down the street, I spied pups under a blue agave that survived the coldest winter ever (not really). I've asked Carla to keep an eye out for the man who lives there. If she can't get me one, I'll have to look elsewhere. It would make a great centerpiece for the bed.

It's 66 degrees and cloudy. Rain is likely this afternoon and into the evening. The plants are loving it.