Monday, July 30, 2007

Ornamental Grasses

Last fall I purchased my very first ornamental grass, it was Fountain Grass Pennisetum Alopecuroides. I enjoyed it so much during the autumn months as I watched it sway in the breeze...

and I especially enjoyed how it added to the beauty of the landscape during the snowy winter.

It was particularly beautiful one winter morning when the fog froze and created a glittery masterpiece. Being from the south, I am in awe when I see the rare beauty of frozen fog on the trees and plants. I knew I had to have more of these wonderful grasses. So this year I have added many more to my yard and flower gardens. I have 25 new grasses, not counting the lily-turf and annual grasses. Some of them haven't done well with our weather extremes and others haven't transplanted well, drying up and turning brown. Hopefully they will revive as others have and in a year or two add to the beauty of our landscape.

The Purple Fountain grass Pennisetum setaceum 'Rubrum' is an annual but I have enjoyed it in my containers this year. I'm going to try and overwinter it in the garage and I've also collected some seed to try my hand at growing my own as I did the pampas grass this past winter.
This is Japanese Blood grass that I just bought in Shipshewana. I have two of them waiting to be planted. I can't decide where I want them to go. The more sun they have the more red they become, so I definitely want a place in full sun.

This is Blue-eyed grass Sisyrinchium angustifolium, it's an iris-like grass with pretty purple flowers. I have two of these also.

Dixieland Maiden Grass Miscanthus sinensis
Miscanthus sinensis 'Zebrinus' Zebra Grass

Maiden Grass
I am terrible at keeping up with the names of plants and since I planted over 25 grasses I've lost track of what they are. Most of the grasses I have are some form of Miscanthus Maiden grass, I know I planted several Karl Foerster Feather Reed grass. I don't want to guess and mislabel the grass so when I get a positive ID I'll come back and label them. If anyone wants to help out, please feel free.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

End of July Blooms

We had family from Alabama visiting over the weekend and had a wonderful time. Nell's sister, brother-in-law, niece, the niece's husband and two children came up to spend some time with Nell in the nursing home. They were able to be here from Friday until Sunday afternoon. I didn't get out in the yard while they were here and was surprised at some of my blooms when I watered this evening.
I've never had a hydrangea before, I'm not sure why because I think they are beautiful. Last fall I decided to rectify that and planted six of them; out of the six only three survived and only one is blooming and looks healthy. It's quite small, but at least it's alive and doing well. I moved another one from the side of the house, to the backyard a few days ago, because I never water anything on that side of the house and it was suffering from lack of rain and heat. hopefully it will perk up and bloom.
A few of the zinnias that I grew from seed are beginning to bloom.
I have mums blooming already. I'm not sure if I should pinch them back or not. I'm thinking of just enjoying these blooms now, because I always add a few mums in the fall too.
The lavender that I planted several weeks ago is blooming. I've never had lavender before and was so excited to see it.

I almost missed the blooms on the variegated lily turf too. I have quite a few of these, so the others will probably be blooming soon.
I'm also getting a few buds on the moonflower and should get a bloom soon.
I'm usually in the yard everyday for at least a quick check, (lately it's to check for Japanese beetles), so I was surprised to see how quickly things in the yard changed in such a short time.
I did a bit of deadheading and weeding this evening and finally pulled the violas from the front flower bed. They lasted far longer than I thought they would, hopefully they will reseed and fill that small space.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Praying Mantis

I've seen several praying mantis on my Japanese maples, but I had never seen them eating anything, until today. I spotted this one eating a beetle, at first I thought it was eating a ladybug, but after doing a bit of searching on the net, this beetle looked like a cucumber beetle. I've seen these beetles on my purple coneflowers; they are yellow with black spots and they have elongated bodies. It was so cool to finally catch one eating!

Here is the lamppost project I did the night before my trip. I still have to add some soil and amendments, and tidy up the back edges, and I'm still thinking about what else to plant. Since we're so far into the summer, I'm not quite sure what to do.

Shipshewana, IN

Shipshewana is one of my favorite places in the great state of Indiana to visit. I love the simplicity of the Amish people, I love to buy their well made goods and shop in the unique and interesting stores where they shop. I was thrilled when my neighbor and friend Suzanne invited me to go along with her on an overnight trip. We had a great time and did quite a bit of power shopping.
These first two pictures were taken at one of my favorite stores, E & S Sales, it's an Amish bulk grocery store. It is quite unique, because they order things in bulk and package them in clear plastic bags. The majority of the items do not have the manufacturer's label on them. I'm not a member of a co-op so this is where I buy my wheat and other grains. The prices are very reasonable due to bulk pricing, so I also try to stock up on spices, dry beans and various other items.

Another popular form of Amish transportation is bicycles; it is not unusual at all to see the elderly Amish women riding bicycles to and from town.

I thought the store front of this building was pretty. The flowers all around the downtown area were so pretty.
An Amish farm, (the picture was taken from the car at 40 mph). I'd love to go back again some time soon when it's not such a quick trip and get better pictures of the farms and barns. Most Amish people do not like to be photographed so I always try to be considerate and never take a picture of their faces.

A beautiful, huge hibiscus. There were several vendors selling plants at the flea market. There were some beautiful shrubs and perennials.

I saw several people with their pampered pets at the flea market. These three Yorkies got quite a bit of attention; they were so cute in their puppy stroller.

This was a very popular spot for the old and young alike. These Amish people make homemade ice cream using this machine. Yesterday they were serving vanilla and butter pecan. I love ice cream, it is my weakness, so of course I had to have a scoop, O.K. I had two scoops. I had the butter pecan and it was the very best ice cream I've ever eaten.

A nursery was selling perennials for $1.00 each. Of course I came prepared to buy a few plants. I saved the box that my bottled water had come in, I pulled the bottles out and kept the plastic on it. It made a perfect tray for plants.
I bought two 'Astra Pink' balloon flowers, 'Royal Wedding Oreintal poppy, 'Goldstrum' Rudbeckia Black-eyed Susan, 'Goblin' Blanket flower, 'Beauty of Livermore' Oriental poppy, two baby's breath.

I also bought some Japanese blood grass. The man from the nursery said this is the only perennial red grass in zone 5.

I found this picket fence section for $4.95, I want to use it for my fall decorations. I just have to decide where to put it.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Tickled Pink

My hands are so blistered and sore I can barely type. This evening I started a project and was determined to finish it before I came in, (I finished a little after 10:00 p.m.). We have an outdoor lamppost that really needs to be replaced, but instead, I decided to cover it up. I did a raised bed, using castle blocks, around the lamppost and removed all of the grass. To mark my area and get it even, I took a bungee cord and hooked it around the light post at one end and hooked the other end to my edger. It was pretty easy to keep the shape I wanted, (semi-circle), with this easy method. I had bought two Maiden grasses and planted them on either side of the lamppost. I'll have to decide what else to plant, I know for certain I want a clematis to grow in between the grasses and up the lamppost. It will also be a perfect spot for tulip bulbs and maybe some asters or mums too.
I'm so excited, a neighbor/friend has invited me to go on a little trip with her for a couple of days. We will be going to north Indiana's Amish country. I love it up there! She has never been, so it'll be fun taking her to my favorite stores and then on Tuesday we'll go to the huge flea market. I'm on the lookout for a rustic looking birdhouse, I should be able to find it there.
I'll be back on Wednesday!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Queen-Ants Lace

I love to photograph flowers and download them on my computer; it sometimes amazes me what I miss when I just look at the flowers in the garden. I don't care for Queen-Anne's lace, to me it is a weed. This one is growing in my backyard but I took a picture of it and when I saw the picture on the computer, I was surprised that there were ants on the flower. I even held this flower in my hand because the wind was blowing. I don't know how I missed seeing those ants, but I did.
Today was absolutely beautiful, just too pretty to be inside. On my way to the nursing home to feed Nell, (my m-i-l with Alzheimer's), at 11:30, the temperature was 71 degrees. As I sat feeding her I kept glancing out the wall of windows that look into the courtyard and I couldn't believe the weeds that had grown from the bird feeders, it was horrible, there was even corn as tall as me. I asked the sweet activities lady if I could do some weeding for them. She said I could and even brought me and Nell some gardening gloves. I put them on Nell but she couldn't really follow instructions to weed. This is so sad to me because she always loved to work in her yard, she still loves it outside though and she and her little friend enjoyed watching me work. They were so cute, whenever I would tug and pull a large weed (and they were large), they would clap and cheer me on. I had almost finished weeding the entire area when they became restless and needed to go in.

I even finished one of my backyard projects today. I did an English edge around a row of trees and grasses the other day, and today I did the weeding, laid newspaper and then mulched the area. It looks so much better. Usually I want to pull out every blade of grass I see, because I can't stand weeds in my flower beds, but after spending way too much time weeding, I decided some of the weeds could stay under the newspaper and mulch. I'll never get through if I don't stop pulling the grass.

Tomorrow looks like it's going to be another beautiful day and I have a few more projects to complete.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Monarchs and Volunteers

Monarch butterfly on the verbena bonariensis.

I also saw a beautiful tiger swallowtail out the window and grabbed my camera only to discover that my memory card was in the computer upstairs. By the time I got the card it was gone. Maybe next time.

I didn't plant this portulaca, but it appeared at my mailbox this year. I think what may have happened is when I enlarged my mailbox area this spring I must have dumped dirt from one of my containers that had some portulaca seeds in it.

I also didn't plant this dainty black-eyed Susan (I'm assuming that is what this is), that is just beginning to bloom, but my neighbor has hundreds of them in his yard so this must have been brought by the birds or the wind. I have about three or four of them this year.

We've had rain for three days in a row, and it has been such a blessing. Everything has perked up and is looking so pretty.

Restaurant Style Salsa

I have a delicious recipe for salsa that taste so much like the kind that I get at my favorite Mexican restaurant. Everyone that tastes it loves it. I crave it and can eat it by the spoonful without chips.

Restaurant Style Salsa

2 cans stewed tomatoes (This is the trick to get the right consistency, don't substitute)
1 or 2 limes, juiced
1 lemon, juiced
1 small onion, chopped
cilantro, to taste
salt, to taste
cumin (a few dashes)

Blend above ingredients with a stick blender or in a stand blender, (not too long or it will be foamy) .

After the above ingredients are well blended add 2-3 cans of Rotel tomatoes, (I use the Rotel with lime and cilantro)

add a couple cloves fresh garlic
fresh jalapeno
remove seeds and add fresh chopped tomatoes

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


We've had rain for the last two mornings and things are looking so much better. I was outside looking around and heard something land in the small birch tree. It was a cicada and at that very moment I heard another one in my neighbors tree. They sure are ugly creatures and quite loud.

The Japanese beetles were everywhere this morning, on things they normally don't bother. They usually aren't too bad on my Japanese maples but there were quite a few that went into my zip-lock bag with soapy hot water. My new Karen azalea was just covered with beetles. Hopefully they will be gone soon. I saw three praying mantis on the Japanese maple and wondered if they eat the beetles.
I never knew, until I looked at the picture closely, that the beetles have odd and interesting antennae.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Swizzle Zinnia

Several people have made comments about this zinnia. I couldn't find the tag and didn't know the name, thankfully Apple correctly identified it for me. It is "Swizzle". I will definitely be buying some seeds for this winner. It has performed beautifully during our drought and it is very photogenic. I usually don't like bright colors in my garden and I'm drawn to pinks and purples, but this flower is a definite exception.