Saturday, June 30, 2007

Finally, Tomato Sandwiches

Today was nice and cool, a perfect day for being outside. I went to both the Fishers and Noblesville farmers markets this morning. My mom has been telling me about the delicious tomatoes from her Alabama garden and she had me craving a tomato sandwich. I found some beautiful, perfectly ripe tomatoes at the Wilson's Farm stand, along with squash, new potatoes, cantaloupe, green beans and corn. For both lunch and supper tonight I had tomato sandwiches. They were so good! If you've never had a tomato sandwich before, you must try it. Here is how I do mine. Use fresh white bread, carefully peel the tomato and slice it, lightly spread mayonnaise on both slices of bread, add the tomato, salt and pepper and enjoy. Delicious! WARNING: DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS WITH GROCERY STORE TOMATOES! Tomorrow I will cook the rest of the veggies and share my friend's yummy squash casserole recipe.

Here are a few blooms for today.

A bug and purple worm on Lambs Ear

Daisies at the birdbath.

This is a Concord Grape Spiderwort I recently bought at 75% off. It's now blooming!

A flowering zinnia, (notice the tiny yellow flower).

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Black Swallowtail

I planted certain flowers this year with the hopes of attracting more butterflies and hummingbirds to my yard. Even though I don't have a vegetable or herb garden, I planted parsley in the midst of the flowers to attract the black swallowtail. Imagine my delight this morning when I spotted this black swallowtail on the parsley. I observed for several minutes and I believe she was laying eggs on the parsley and the small cottoneaster.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Refreshing Rain

We had another refreshing rain today. The storms that came through yesterday only brought severe lightening and thunder, the rain was all around but bypassed us. I was beginning to think the same thing might happen today. Thankfully we received a pretty good downpour.

Raspberry Surprise Dianthus

This is one of the many Pampas grass that I grew this winter.

Coleus grown from seed.

Impatiens grown from seed.
The hostas are blooming.

A white coneflower recently purchased.

I've always been partial to pink and purple flowers, those are the predominate colors in my flower gardens. However this year I've been purposefully choosing a variety of colors. This bold zinnia is quite a striking addition to my butterfly garden.

The birdbath was popular today, as were the bird feeders. I can't believe how much little birds eat. I have two feeders in the back near the birdbath, each feeder holds about three to four cups and they empty both feeders everyday. I'm not sure I can continue to go through this much food on a regular basis, that can get quite expensive. These pictures were taken from inside the house. This has been a very good reason to do windows ;)

I bought sunflower seeds yesterday and put them in this produce bag. It's in front of the window near the hummingbird feeder. Hopefully, kitty and I will have a few more close-up visitors.
I saw a little ground squirrel today in my neighbor's yard. I had them all over the place at my house in Alabama, even though they are cute and fun to watch they were quite a nuisance. I'm wondering if my new bird feeders and sunflower seeds will cause him to take up residence at my house. I hope not. Hmmm... maybe the bird feeder in my flowerbed isn't such a good idea after all.
I hear it raining again. I imagine it will be quite some time before I take that wonderful sound for granted.

Monday, June 25, 2007

A few Summer Blooms

A close up of the zinnia.
I planted the catmint last fall and wasn't sure what to expect since I had never had it before. It has grown quite large and and is in full bloom. It tolerated our drought very well.

The liatris is just beginning to bloom.

The new red salvia I recently bought for my hummingbird garden.

I planted a morning glory to wind around the pole beside the birdbath, I also planted a few sunflowers and zinnias. I went to a local nursery today, they had large pots of big, beautiful, colorful zinnias en mass. It was so pretty. I came home and planted a pot full of giant zinnias myself.

Beneficial Insects

I've complained about the harmful bugs and moths in my yard, but I also have some very beneficial insects too.

Look at the pollen pocket on this busy bee. They have loved the lamb's ear, it seems to be their favorite.

Another bee on a purple coneflower.

I have a shrub with quite a few small praying mantis on it. I usually see a few of these in my yard every year. Hopefully, these will stay and my mantis population will increase.

Destructive Moths

I'd like for my garden journal to only show beautiful pictures of flowers, birds and butterflies. I'd like to portray only the successes and picture perfect flowerbeds, but that would not be realistic and would not be the complete picture of what I am dealing with as I attempt to transform this empty lot into the place I envision it to be. I don't mean to focus on the negative, but honestly, right now, it seems that between the weather and pests, I'm dealing with a lot of gardening negatives.

My daughter, (who is an indoor girl, just like I used to be), said this morning that she hated gardening, and that was why. It's too much work and there are so many problems. I told her it's kind of like having children, they are a lot of work, they can be a lot of trouble, they don't always behave the way you want them too, and at times can even cause heartache, but they are absolutely worth all of the trouble.
By nature I am a nurturer. I love tending to babies and children, animals, and plants. My full-time "job" right now is to take care of my family, my home and my yard, I have successes and failures. This is true no matter what our jobs are. Not every patient leaves the hospital with health restored, sometimes business deals fall through, firemen can't always save homes or lives, in fact sometimes they loose their own. This certainly puts silly gardening setbacks into perspective, doesn't it?
Getting back to the reason for this post, last evening I took a closer look at my Dwarf Spruce, I thought it was turning brown because of the drought we've had.

When I pulled the branches aside to look, it was all brown underneath.

I found quite a few cotton like sacks, some with eggs that were hatching.
I I also found several moths inside my trees.

I found these this morning on my arborvitae; they are infested too. I had no idea how destructive moths could be.

This is a bag worm I found on the arborvitae.
It looks like I have several pests attacking these trees. I'm not sure what to do. I don't use chemical pesticides, but I'm wondering if I need to. I don't want to loose these arborvitae to pests. I think one of the dwarf spruces is too far gone to save, I'm not sure about the other two. It is quite frustrating to say the least, but hopefully I will keep things in perspective and remember that this is but a small problem compared to what others are facing, and nothing worthwhile comes easy, at least not for me.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

When it Rains it Pours

Thankfully our water emergency is over. It has been raining off and on all day and there is another large band moving through tonight. It's been the kind of rain that really gives things a good long drink. Our grass is already getting greener, so hopefully the damage from our moderate drought will be temporary.
I have been working on this area at the back right-hand side of our property. There was nothing here but the tree. I am extending the bed and edging it, I added the birdbath, and yesterday I planted some flowers. I'm glad for the rain and cooler temperatures, hopefully the new plants will have less of a transplant shock.

May Dreams Garden Questions

Carol from May Dreams Gardens asked some gardening questions, ( in honor of her 500th post. Here are my answers to her questions.

What are you most proud of about your garden? I am most proud of my new patio wall and the fact that I did it myself with some muscle help from my son. It has added a sense of privacy and enclosure and we all love it.

When you go to sleep at night, what are you worried about in your garden? I am not usually a worrier and I try not to focus on negative things before bed. During the day however I was concerned about our lack of rain. (Right now, I hear the rain outside and it is a wonderful sound.)

When others come and see your garden, what do you think they remember most about it? I'm not sure, hopefully they won't remember all of my messy unfinished projects. Right now it's not very memorable but I'm working hard to change that. What I hope they will remember one day, is when they sat in my yard they felt a wonderful sense of rest, peace and tranquility as they enjoyed the beauty of flowers, butterflies and birds.

What is your favorite gardening tool, the one you would recommend every Gardner get? I don't really have any special or high class gardening tools. I just make do with what I have. Hopefully one day I can splurge on special tools. Right now, I guess the tool I use the most is a tough little Scotts tool that should have been part of an interlocking system. I never even bought the handle because I picked up this attachment on clearance many years ago, and the store no longer carried the handle. I use it every time I garden. It is kind of like a hand held hoe, but it's more like a scraper with a somewhat sharp blade. I always use it to weed, edge, remove grass, dig small holes for planting flowers, loosen up hard soil. I have three of them and it is one tool I wouldn't want to garden without. I can't recommend it to any one because I believe it was discontinued.

If you woke up this morning with all the time and money in the world to spend in your garden, what would you do first? This is a fun question. I'd buy a whole new garden (land), with a new house on it. One that isn't near a common area and has privacy. I'd love to have more space so that I could attempt to copy Yolanda Elizabet's kitchen garden at Bliss. Of course mine would never be as beautiful as hers, but I'd love to have that for my goal.

Thank you, Carol, for sharing your gardening experience with us through your entertaining, informative and beautifully written blog. Congratulations on your 500th post!

Garden Dreams and Nightmares

Hopefully gardeners are not a squeamish lot and this picture won't gross anybody out.
I was planting my new perennials last evening and I couldn't believe the number of huge grubs I came across. I have never seen grubs this large before. Usually I will squish them when I find them but I could never squish one of these big ones. They were even gross to touch. They felt so full and bloated as if they would burst at the slightest touch. The one on the right is a large but normal size grub.

I even had a dream about these grubs last night. I dreamed I was gardening and everywhere I looked were these massive grubs, of course in my dream they were even larger than the ones I actually found.

It is funny how often I dream about my garden and flowers. Sometimes though they are nightmares instead. Like the one I had the other night. I dreamed I was planting flowers and ran out of space, I went to my neighbors house and started planting my flowers in his front flower bed thinking this was a nice gesture, until I was confronted by the angry neighbor. I ran away in embarrassment wondering how I could have been so dumb for doing that without asking first.

So, do you have dreams about your garden too?

Garden Cart

I found this handy garden cart yesterday on clearance plus I had an additional 20% off coupon. It is always a hassle to get my tools back and forth from the garage, and many times I scatter tools across the yard as I work on different projects and have to hunt for the tool I need. This cart will help me to keep all of the tools at hand while I work.
It has a harvest bag, (for me it will be a weed bag), and a pocket organizer which will be a handy place to keep my garden scissors and gloves, and the lift plate will hold up to 150 lbs.
Will this be more of a hassle to haul back and forth from the garage than making several trips to carry the tools I need? Hopefully it will be helpful and will have been money well spent. We'll see.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Embarrassing Returns

I planted quite a few trees and shrubs in the fall and some of them didn't survive. I've had the evidence in the garage for several weeks now but kept putting off returning the items to the store. Usually making returns doesn't bother me, but taking sticks into the store to get money for them is kind of embarrassing. One of the box stores gave me a store credit and the other gave me cash. (Orange you glad I'm not going to rant about this little detail and name names?) Anyway, I used the store credit to purchase perennials for the back area where the new birdbath is. I've planted lots of foliage but very few flowers and I want to see something blooming back there.
Two white balloon flower plants were purchased.

I bought four gold and one yellow lantana, 2 purple and 2 white balloon flowers, two shasta daisies, six lavender, one larkspur, one purple and one white coneflower, gerbera daisy, spiderwort, and four purple sages.
I don't usually buy yellow and gold flowers but the butterflies were all over the lantana, so I had to have them for my butterfly garden.
The gerbera daisy and spiderwort were on clearance for 75% off; hopefully they will perk up and survive.
I was planning on getting these planted today but we actually got some rain and it's too wet! Yea! I think I'll go shopping instead.