Saturday, July 31, 2010

New Blooms - Day 2

After an overcast, cool morning, the sun broke through the clouds about 2 PM. When I finally made it down to the big garden later in the afternoon I was pleased to discover 3 more dahlia blooms had opened. Pictured above is "Kelsey Sunshine" a collarette form in yellow with white petaloids. This is its first year in release and I was thrilled when a friend and fellow dahlia grower offered me an extra tuber. I had tried to order it this year but it had already sold out.

Also opening up today is "Jacs Sashay" another collarette form. This one is a dark blend of purple & red with white petaloids. It is a bit more purple than the above photo shows. The third variety open today was single blooms on two plants of "Nicole C", a miniature cactus form in orange. It isn't a large plant, but it is already just covered in buds.

Friday, July 30, 2010

The first dahlia bloom of the year

When I walked down to the garden this morning some color at the far end caught my eye. The first open dahlia bloom of the year! Or to be more exact, the first two open blooms of the year. Both blooms were on plants of "Raeann's Peach" a single dark blend of orange & red. Hybridized by Wayne Lobaugh of Chehalis Washington, it was released in 2008. Until I saw it at a dahlia show, I wasn't a fan of the Single form of dahlias. But "Raeann's Peach" has changed my mind! In the sea of green that is the dahlia patch below, you can clearly make out the glowing blooms on the left.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

An Empty Nest..Sort of!

Yesterday the last two Barn Swallow babies took flight. The first two babies left the nest last week, but have been returning in the evenings to sleep. The last two chicks seemed smaller in size and didn't appear very interested in leaving the comfort of the nest. But when I came out this morning, the nest was empty.

Then I heard a familiar chirp and found one of the babies sitting on top of the fireplace, not 5 feet from the nest! He even managed to get his parents to feed him there a couple of times.

Then the parents sat on top of the PVC poles of the vegetable garden, chipping back at the baby. I think they were telling him he could fly now and catch his own bugs.

Eventually he did fly away, although both babies kept coming back to the nest over the course of the day. And as evening set both were back in the nest for the night. This learning to fly stuff is exhausting!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Yearly Cleaning

Today I got around to cleaning the garden gate. Once a year, after everything in the garden finally gets planted, I have the time to give the front gate a good scrubbing with a biodegradable soap and water. Over the coarse of a year it gets coated with dust, pollen, and dried grass from mowing. I never notice quit how dirty it gets until I clean it. Then its "mystical blue" paint from Home Depot just glows! And on the inside, my treasured glass dragonfly got a good cleaning too.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tuesday Garden Update

Its hard to believe that this is the last Tuesday of the month. As we approach the end of July, the gardens are really starting to mature. I still haven't been able to harvest anything from them yet, but there is a lot of potential out there!

Here are some tiny fruits of "Black Plum". All of the tomatoes in the vegetable garden have set fruit now, with the except of "Momotaro". Since this is the first year that I have grown that variety, I don't know if it is always late to set or if it is just being ornery.

A row of "Mars" red onions. They bulbs are really starting to fill out now.

The first two set fruit on the Gypsy" pepper. There are a lot more blossoms on the top of the plant.

An underneath view of the "Yellow Patty Pan" summer squash.  It is amazing to see how many squash this one plant is going to produce. I think I am about one week away from harvesting the first ones.

And the Winter Squash are growing fast too. Here is an immature "Butternut" fruit on one of the vines.

Down in the big garden, the "Canoe Creek Colossal" Cantaloupe is starting to open its very first blooms.

The "Bingo" Pole Beans have just started latching onto the support tower in the last two days. This tower of beans seems to be much happier, and doing much better, then the exact same variety up in the vegetable bed.

I took this picture just this morning of morning glory "Milky Way".

Last, but not least, here a picture of a bud of dahlia "Nicole C". Of all my 199 plants, this will be my first bloom of the year. Let the show begin!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Wordless Monday

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Third Rose

There are three roses down by the big garden. The first two are located right by the garden gate, inside the deer fence. They are June bloomers and for the most part are done for the year. The third rose is located outside the garden gate, about twenty feet to the left. It is in an area that I think the former gardener Dorothy had some sort of flower garden many, many years ago. In the Spring Scilla bulbs pop up in the underbrush and bloom. And every July it is the rose's turn. It has been completely surrounded by blackberry vines over the years. I have only a general idea where its main crown might actually be planted. Each year it sends new canes arching out of the berry patch, searching for sunshine and elbowroom. This year all of the rose canes are buried within the blackberries and I had to go searching for my yearly blooms. At least the deer don't get them this way!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Saturday at the Farmer's Market

Today Beth & I made it down to the Farmer's Market. We tried to get there a bit earlier because it is suppose to hit the mid-nineties today. We started with Breakfast. Beth opted for a breakfast burrito and I got a Pain au Chocolat. Once we were well fortified, we hit the stalls. We pulled together a wonderful, all-local dinner. Fresh albacore, new red potatoes and sweet corn.

It really felt like Summer today at the market. Both the hot weather and the arrival of all the warm weather crops. This was a beautiful  display of basil.

And lovely slicing tomatoes. This stand had two huge piles of them, that were being quickly snapped up.

I was most excited to see the sweet corn! That means Summer to me. This was a white corn and 3 ears went home for dinner. It didn't have a variety name. The two other farms that had corn were both selling "Bodacious", the commonly grown sweet corn in this area.

Berries continue to be abundant at all the stands.

Green Beans have arrived as the Peas fade out for the season.

These bundled "Chipollini" Onion were so pretty and a rare variety to see for sale.

These "Early Laxton" Plums were almost gone. This stand also was sold out of the first peaches and apricots.

These were the first peppers that I have seen for sale this year. Another sign of Summer.

Locally grown cantaloupe. No small feat there. Very impressive, especially this year!

Flowers at the market have transitioned to mid-summer varieties as well. There were lots and lots of beautiful lilies in bloom, both oriental and day-lilies.

And you can't talk about Summer and plants without having lavender in the discussion.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Barn Swallows - Part 2

Ten days ago, I posted about our many swallow families that we have this summer. Just this week, most of the Violet-Green Swallow babies have left the nests and the houses are now empty. The Barn Swallows, however, are still feeding and growing. And we learned in the last week that we don't have 3 babies like we thought- but there are 4 as you can see. The beautifully crafted nest that seemed so big when the parents built it is now filled to the rafters. Yesterday afternoon I discovered 2 of the babies out of the nest, 1 on the ground. Thankfully all 3 outdoor cats were inside at the time. I grabbed a ladder and after a bit of chasing returned both to the safety of the nest. Hopefully they have learned their lesson!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A New Tree - Sort of!

Back on June 6th, I took part on a wonderful bus tour to 3 unique plant nurseries. At Cistus Nursery on Sauvie Island I found this great little Acer and decided that he should come home. Luckily it just fit in the storage area underneath the bus and made it home unscathed. Sadly, for the next 7 weeks, it has lived in its big nursery pot. Almost every day we put it out into the sunshine and at night it has returned to the safety of the shop. Finally, after weeks of planting my gardens and other distractions, we got it in the ground last night. Unfortunately, like all new trees on our property, it will need to spend its first couple of years "behind bars". The deer are just ruthless to young trees, eating all of the leaves and rubbing the bark off the trunks.
Here is what its nursery tags says; " Acer shirasawanum ' Aureum' A lovely full moon maple with a similar habit to that of Acer Circunnatum, the vine maple, but more tolerant of sun - all but full afternoon sun - with delicate golden leaves that tint orange then become vibrant orange in autumn, the tree growing to  8-10 feet in time. Decent drainage and regular summer water for best appearance. Frost hardy in USDA zone 6. " I am most excited about its Fall color potential. We have planted trees now that give us great Fall red and yellow color, but we need some orange - my favorite Fall color!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Blackberries - An Update

I was on a walk this morning and noticed that the wild blackberries are for the most part done blooming. Now most of the flowers have been pollinated and the berries are starting to mature. We definitely won't be having any July berries like we do every once in a while. I am hoping that our wet late May and June will translate into larger berries. Every raincloud has a silver lining!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Big Garden Inventory 2010

For last week's Tuesday Garden Party post, I gave the inventory of the vegetable bed up next to the house. Today I will give a complete inventory of everything growing down in the big garden. As you can see in the above picture, what this garden lacks in sunshine, its setting makes up for in beauty. It is situated on a gentle, downhill slope. Behind the back fence and the rows of ash trees is a large seasonal creek. The garden is surrounded by a 6 foot deer fence with 2 feet of barbed-wire on top of that. What really makes this garden special is the fact that I am its second "caretaker". The original owners of the property, Howard & Dorothy, gardened here their whole married lives so someone has had a garden here for at least 60 plus years. It's a neat thing to be part of that continuity.

As you enter the garden, the first five rows have bush beans, cut flowers and tomatoes. The poor flower seed was planted so late I don't have a lot of hope for blooms this year, but we shall see.

The large middle section of the garden holds the dahlia plants. It feels so good to have them all planted now and growing well.

At the far end of the garden I have my pole beans, cantaloupe, squash, and morning glories. So here is a recap of everything planted this year:


Bush Bean (58) - "Hutterite Soup" - Seed Savers Exchange
Bachelor Button - "Polka Dot Mix" -  Hume Seed
Zinnia - "Persian Carpet" - Renee's Garden
Cosmos - "Kneehigh Sonota Mix" - Renee's Garden
Pole Bean (17) - "Bingo" - Territorial Seed
Cantaloupe (4) - "Canoe Creek Colossal" - Seed Savers Exchange
Winter Squash (6) - "Chimimen" - Territorial Seed


Tomato (1) - "San Francisco Fog" - Log House Plants
Tomato (1) - "Orange Blossom" - Log House Plants
Tomato (1) - "Moonglow" - Log House Plants
Tomato (2) - "Valley Girl" - Unknown
Tomato (2) - "Taxi" - Unknown
Morning Glory (1) - "Grandpa Ott" - Log House Plants (gone due to rabbit!)
Morning Glory (1) - "Blue Star" - Log House Plants
Morning Glory (1) - "Milky Way" - Log House Plants
Morning Glory (1) - "Crimson Rambler" -Log House Plants
Morning Glory (1) - "Scarlet O'hara" - Log House Plants
Morning Glory (1) - "Sunrise Serenade" - Log House Plants
Mina Lobata (1) - "Jungle Queen" - Log House Plants
Dahlias (199) - misc varieties

A row of "Hutterite Soup" Bush Beans. They seem to be doing ok in the shade.

A look down the dahlia rows. Two plants of "Creekside Volcano" are front & center.

The "Bingo" Pole Beans. Although these were planted weeks later, they seem to have almost caught up with the same variety planted up in the vegetable garden.

A hill of "Chimimen" Winter Squash. I really love the look of their two-toned leaves.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Sunflower Power

Sometimes the things that grow the very best in the garden are the things that weren't planted there on purpose. My best example of that this year is the "Gloriosa Polyheaded" sunflower growing in the vegetable bed. I did plant a row of these sunflowers last year. They did alright, but took up a lot of room and I decided not to plant any this year. By early May I saw that one of last year's seeds had somehow been planted and was busy growing. I never have the heart to pull out something that has worked that hard at growing all on its own, so I let it be ( even though I could see it was growing right in the middle of the future tomato row !). And yesterday, the top bloom on it opened. The sunflower has reached over 12 feet in height and has a stock as thick as timber bamboo. It is much larger than any of the same variety that I planted last year - of coarse. That's how it always goes. You might as well sit back and enjoy what mother nature does on her own - she does it the best!