Monday, August 30, 2010

The Rains Return

I woke up sometime after midnight and heard rain falling on the roof. When the alarm went off this morning it was raining even harder. Showers had been forecast but we received a strong Summer rain storm. It finally let up mid-morning. We checked the rain-gauge and it had just over 6/10th of an inch in it. Since it has been almost 2 months since our last measurable rain, this storm was welcome. It will do a world of good for the parched earth and everything growing in it. I have also noticed over the years that no matter how steady I water my garden during the Summer, the rain from a storm always has a special magic to it that can't be matched by hand watering. Within a week the plants look greener, fuller and just plain happier. It happens every time! So while I will be truly sick of the rain come February, today's rain was not only welcomed but enjoyed!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Look who we found today..

Tonight after dinner we discovered this beautiful turtle walking up our driveway. It was hot out, the high reaching 97 degrees today, and this poor guy was slowly working his way up the steep gravel driveway. We have no idea where he came from. The two creeks on our property are almost dry now and they both have extremely steep banks that we don't think he could have climbed out of. Needless to say, we were shocked to find him. We have never seen a turtle the whole time we have lived here.

He was scared of us and pulled in his legs and head. He had a lovely shell of browns, black and yellow. We decided that we couldn't just leave him because he was so far from a water source. I scouted out the two ponds in the area and we decided to take him down where the creek dams up and holds water on a neighbors property. We found a plastic garden trug and loaded him inside.

Once we got to the water I picked him up and set him with his front feet just in the water. He knew right what to do and jumped right in the water. He was one happy turtle!

After a few times of coming up to the surface for air he dove down and swam out of our sight. Hopefully we have found a long-term happy home for him.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Resting in a dahlia bloom

Yesterday morning I spent a good two hours down in the garden grooming the dahlias. Most of my time was spent dis-budding, pinching off the two outside buds to encourage one strong main bloom. As I was moving plant to plant down the rows I came upon this beautiful guy. Normally dragonflies are very shy and fly away before I can even get my camera out. But this one was taking a serious nap! I actually thought he had died on the bloom and tried to pick him up. As soon as I touched him he woke up and flew off.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Beans

As August marches along, the beans are finally starting to produce. While the "Bingo" pole bean tower up in the vegetable garden isn't doing very well, the tower down in the big garden  is growing well. The climbing vines have reached the top and are now twisting together. For as late a date as I planted the seed, I am pleased with its progress though I am still not sure there is enough time left before the first frost to harvest mature dry beans. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

The "Bingo" Pole bean blooms with a delicate lavender flower. Very pretty.

And the first few blossoms have dropped revealing baby beans !

Meanwhile, on opposite side of the garden, the "Hutterite Soup" bush beans are doing well too. This is the first time that I have grown this variety. It is listed as a bush bean, but I have noticed that about half of the plants have sent up a long top runner, acting like they would enjoy climbing up a pole. The other half of the plants are acting like a traditional bush bean topping out at about 1 foot in height.

These have begun to bloom as well.

Some of the larger bushes are getting quite a few beans set. You just have to lift up the leaves to find them. I sure hope that we have a warm, dry September ahead so that both my bean varieties have a chance to mature and dry.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Let the sun shine!

Another warm, beautiful day. My car said it was 93 degrees at 5:00 PM . I took the above picture a few mornings ago. I loved the way the early sunlight back-lit the "Butternut" winter squash leaves, emphasizing the beautiful veining and the curling of the tendrils. There is beauty everywhere in the garden.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Staying cool during the heat-wave

Yesterday the temperature was suppose to reach 93 degrees. Instead, we tied a record at 100 degrees. Today is suppose to be cooler, somewhere in the 80's I believe, and then tomorrow it is predicted to crank right back up near 100. While out on a walk this morning I discovered Tom-Cat in his favorite "secret" napping place of this Summer. He has made a nest underneath this two foot Douglas fir tree. It keeps him out of the sun most of the day and is strategically located 5 feet from a bird feeder! I hope you too are finding a comfortable place to stay cool.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Summer is back!

With temperatures suppose to hit the mid-90's today, it feels like Summer is really back. I finished watering everything this morning and then went on a walk down to the big garden. On the way back I ran into this guy. He was a good subject and held still for just a bit so that I could snap a few pictures.

He was busy working on a teasel plant. We have quite a few teasel growing in the ditches beside the road.

Down in the big garden I discovered that my "Blue Star" morning glory had three blooms open today. This plant had just been growing its vine all Summer, until it started to open blooms this last week. They are a beautiful pale blue, with a darker blue star and they have a very large size trumpet.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The hot weather returns..

Today the weather is suppose to push back up into the low 90's, which will be quite a change after almost two weeks of cloudy mornings and sunny afternoons that only reached the high 70's. This is particularly good news for the heat lovers in my garden - the squash and the tomatoes. The four "Delicata" winter squash plants have spent the past two weeks growing like mad and sending out runners.

It has now reached the point where many are pushing outside the protective fencing. I learned from last year's experience that the deer will leave these alone..for a while! Then one morning I will wake up to find every leaf eaten off. So I am working hard to try to corral these vines back into the safety of the garden, sometimes easier said then done!

The "Delicata" are just starting to open their first male blossoms. Their blooms are smaller than the "Butternut", not as deep, and are a star shape. Very unique and pretty I think.

For comparison, here is a female "Buttercup" bloom. I had 2 female blooms open today and decided to hand pollinate both of them. At this point I can only find two fruits total on my four "Buttercup" plants - not an impressive total. Fortunately I found these female blooms in the morning and had a freshly opened male bloom to use as a pollinator. I should know by next week if I was successful.

Here is one of my two "Butternut" squash. Sadly, it looks much more impressive in this photo than it does in real life. Right now it is only about 8 inch long. It has a lot of growing still left to do I hope.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Rose

One benefit of the cool, wet Spring and early Summer has been the continued blooming of this rose. Normally it starts with a huge flush of bloom in June and then throws off a few blooms here and there for another six weeks or so. This year it never had one single large flush, but instead has been carrying 10-12 blooms consistently. It is now the second week of August and it still looks lovely. Last year, with all of the heat, it was long done blooming by this point in time.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Time marches on through pictures

If you're like me, you tend to look at your garden once quite a few times a day. And, unless you are harvesting lots of flowers or produce, it can be easy to get a bit down and feel like "nothing is happening" out there. This is where pictures save the day! I try to take pictures of my gardens every two weeks or so. By doing this, I can easily scroll through the old pictures and see the amazing growth that is happening daily/weekly/monthly. As an example, here is a march through the calendar of the vegetable bed, so far this year.

Freshly laid out and only the onions have been planted on 04-25-10.

Now its 06-23-10 . The Winter Squash have just been set out and everything is now planted.

Three weeks later and boy, have the tomatoes taken off ! Picture from 07-13-10.

Exactly 2 weeks later on 07-27-10. Amazing squash growth. You can tell the weather finally warmed up!

And finally, two weeks later on 08-09-10. While I am still not harvesting anything yet, it is getting closer.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Another overcast day..

Another grey, overcast day today. Unlike most of the other days the last two weeks, the clouds never burned off today. It was cool out and I wore a jacket down to the big garden. On the bright side, overcast days are great for taking pictures! Many more dahlia varieties were blooming for the first time.

"Ryecroft Zoe", a variety I have been admiring for a couple of years. I am so excited to finally have it in my garden this year.

"Kathy's Choice". While this is the first open bloom, there are already 10+ other buds ready to burst. It is such an early, prolific bloomer.

"Clearview David". I love how each white petal is tipped in lavender. So pretty in bouquets.

The poms continue to bloom. Here is "Irish Miss" a dark blend.

"L'Ancresse", a simple white ball form. Again, another really good variety for bouquets.

Last, but not least, "Willo Borealis". This might be my favorite pom. I love its violet plum color.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

From Volunteer to Star of the Show

As I have mentioned in earlier posts, last year I planted a row of "Gloriosa Polyheaded" Sunflowers up in the vegetable garden. They did alright. They weren't as tall as the package said they would get and they just didn't have a "wow" factor for me. Real estate is too precious in this garden, so they were crossed off the list for 2010. However, last fall some little finch, while cleaning out the heads of seed, must have dropped a few. One managed to survive the cold winter, get itself planted in the soil, and this Spring it sprouted. I was going to pull it out, but soon it got too big and I didn't have the heart to do it anymore. As with so many things in the garden that I am not trying to do on purpose, this volunteer has performed like a rock star. It is now higher than the gutters and covered in 9" blooms. Its stock is like bamboo and it is pretty much smothering the bean tower and tomato plants that are its closest neighbors. Still, it's worth it. Nothing says Summer like Sunflowers, planned or not!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

More Blooms

More dahlias are blooming for the first time every day. This morning I discovered that "Tahoma Eldean" had opened its very first bloom. This is another "new" one for me this year. It is a single that starts with dark pink and then blends to white and then yellow in the center. Stunning!

I had three Poms open for the first time. Above, "Pacific Revival", a pom in lavender.

"Lismoore Peggy" a pom in pink. New to my garden this year. I like it!

"Bowen" pom in white. A very reliable bloomer, though it sometimes has some purple specks in its white petals.

"Purple Sparkler" a collarette form in a dark blend of purple and white. Unfortunately, a bug found this bloom before I did. Thankfully, there will be many more blooms to come.

And, no this one isn't open yet! But I really thought that its bud looked pretty at this stage. So much potential ! This is "Ryecroft Zoe" which will open to a 4-6" bloom in orange & yellow.

While the majority of dahlias still haven't opened a bloom yet, they are all starting to really branch out. I have been pinching out the center tip on most plants, encouraging earlier branching and flushes of bloom. It seems to be working well. Pictured above are two plants of "Camano Sitka".