Thursday, August 30, 2012

Signs of Fall

I took a walk around the property last night after dinner. Although the calendar still says Summer, there are unmistakable signs everywhere of Falls eminent arrival. The first few leaves on the Sweet Gums are starting to turn red.

Underneath the oak trees I found quite a few leaf galls. When we were little we called these pop balls. After they dry just a bit, they make a very satisfying "pop" sound when you step on them.

The bracken fern are beginning to turn golden yellow.

The apples in the volunteer trees are growing larger. This group has such a pretty red blush on the green fruit.

Even the poison oak is starting to change color! It turns to such a brilliant shade of red in the Fall. There will be no excuse for accidentally touching the leaves once they have turned fiery red.

The blackberry canes are getting loaded with ripe berries. I have had a lot of competition from the deer for the berries this year. They too love the juicy, sweet taste.

I found these pretty young fir cones in a Douglas Fir Tree. They look so much different than the hard, dark brown cones that you normally find fallen on the ground.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Last Rose of Summer

Tonight while I was down in the big garden, I noticed that Dorothy's Rose had opened one last bloom for the season. Since its initial big flush in June, it has produced a few sprays and single blooms throughout July & August. But after a close inspection of the canes, I am relatively certain that this will be the last bloom of Summer.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Last Week of August in the Dahlia Garden

As August slips away, the dahlia garden continues to grow and mature. Here is the view as you enter the garden gate.

And here is the view from the opposite side. I started planting first at this end, so the dahlias are the farthest along down here.

Most of the plants were topped and now have well developed side shoots. A few of the "early" varieties have their first blooms open, including this waterlily "Red Velvet".

Another view looking down the rows.

Here is a well branched "Crazy 4 Jessie" plant. It is just covered with its first flush of buds.

A close-up. This "Crazy 4 Jessie" bud is now getting its first hint of color.

This "Tahoma Alicia" is a bit farther alone. It looks like it might be a candidate to take to the National Dahlia Show in Portland this coming weekend. Will it be in full bloom in five more days?

A few dahlia varieties have fully opened first blooms . Here is a beautiful "Embrace". I have been trying to grow this variety for years without any success but it looks like I finally have some good stock this year.

The little white pom "Bowen".

This is our flower of the year at the Lane County Dahlia show this year. "RaeAnn's Peach" is a single form in red and orange. The color has been fantastic on this first bloom because it has been overcast for so much of the last few days. No sunshine equals no fading!

Another consistent early bloomer; "Lakeview Glow" a yellow incurved cactus form.

One of my very favorites is the waterlily variety "Pam Howden". A lovely blend of orange, yellow,and purple with perfect form every time.

And I can't forget this delicate white orchid "Tahoma Hope". The bees love it as much as I do.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Ring of Fire Sunflowers

Today my first two blooms of "Ring of Fire" Sunflower opened. While I wish the plants were a few feet taller and the blooms a few inches larger, I can't complain about the color. Wow, what a great combination!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Late August Farmer's Market

After a few busy weekends, I was able to make it down to the Farmer's Market today. As we approach late Summer, the produce available was certainly reflecting the time of year. It was all about hot weather crops! As they have in past years, a stand that specializes in peppers was roasting them on-site. As soon as each batch was done, they place the peppers in sealed bags to sweat and you could immediately buy a fresh bag to go. Roasting peppers over an open flame produces such a unique scent. I think it must be what the Southwest smells like at this time of the year.

Everyone had huge piles of tomatoes for sale.

And the melons had arrived too. Lots and lots of different varieties were available. There was something for everyone, no matter their taste.

These green and yellow mottled "Lambkin" melons are the perfect colors for Eugene.

How pretty is this stack of watermelon.

Peaches for sale - please don't touch!

I do love the violet color of these eggplants on the left. If only I liked the taste of eggplant! I am always impressed that anyone can ripen eggplant in our climate.

And another sign that Fall is marching ever closer..Apples!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Ruffed Grouse

Last week I was driving along our long, gravel driveway when I spotted two birds in the road. At first I thought that they were quail. As I drove closer, it quickly became clear that they were much too large to be quail. A Ruffed Grouse! We have never seen grouse on our property before. I saw the pair once more after the initial sighting and then I have seen the single female two more times. Finally tonight I had my camera. She has appeared in the exact same location each time that I have seen her. I think that she has built a nest right next to the road in the blackberries. The Oregon Fish & Wildlife website states that Ruffed Grouse like edges "edges of meadows, edges of clearcuts, and edges where brushy growth meets timber. They also like variety in their food and a dense thicket nearby for escape." This describes the habitat when my female is living.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Sunflower Blooms

Today my first "Giant Primrose" sunflower bloom opened! I have two more that are very close but this one is the first. And as you can see below, the Ring of Fire" sunflowers are starting to show some color too.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


The rudbeckia in the front flowerbed are really starting to shine. We have two different varieties and they both are doing well. The first variety is "rudbeckia triloba" commonly called brown-eyed susan. This plant is native to the Eastern united states and is a herbaceous biennial to a weak perennial. The plant height is 2-3 feet with a spread of 1 to 2 feet. This plant is in part distinguished from black-eyed Susan by having a more profuse bloom of smaller flowers that usually have fewer petals per flower-head. The basal leaves are often trifoliate.

Our plant is doing really well this year, even with the occasional "haircut" it keeps receiving from the deer. It is just covered with blossoms right now.

The second variety of rudbeckia that we have growing is "rudbeckia missouriensis", the Missouri Coneflower. Daisylike flowers with yellow petals and black center disks on branched stems. The narrow green leaves are conspicuously hairy. Blooms for many weeks in July and August and is a good cut flower. It grows to 2-3 feet with a spread of 12-18". It is hardy from zones 3-8. Missouri Coneflower has been found in only a few counties in southern Illinois and it is considered rare and state-listed as 'endangered.' This wildflower is found primarily in hilly areas of Arkansas and Missouri; in neighboring states, it is rare. Habitats consist of hill prairies, limestone and dolomite glades, and barren scrubby savannas in upland areas.While less popular than other rudbeckia, it is often cultivated in nurseries.

While our climate is very different than the mid-west, our clump is doing very well.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Homemade Seed-Saving Packets

As August slowly turns to September, many gardeners are starting to think ahead to harvesting their garden crops. Besides putting away your fruits and vegetables to save and enjoy throughout the Winter, harvesting can also mean saving seed. One of the joys of seed saving is the ability to share at no cost some of your best growing and best tasting plants.

In the latest edition of Country Living magazine, there was a "how-to" article on creating home-made seed packets. Included was a link to allow the reader to download the template and create their own packets. I just loved the design and thought that other gardeners might enjoy making a few of these packets as well.

First, here is the link to the template : Country Living Seed Template

Once you have opened the template you can save it in your favorites column on your computer. Then simply pick a heavy card-stock and load it into your printer. Then print the seed packet. After it prints you simply cut around the outside lines. One sheet of card-stock will create one packet. Then fold along the lines and bring the bottom and sides together and glue. You can then write on the front and personalize your packet. Once you have filled the packet with seed, fold down the top and seal. This would make such an easy and sweet gift for someone who has been admiring a plant in your garden. Enjoy!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Cloud Formations

As we sat outside tonight after dinner, enjoying the beautiful, warm evening, our attention was pulled upward. The clouds that had begun rolling into the area around 5 PM had shifted and split into the prettiest pattern across the sky.

It was the same formation across the entire sky. How cool! And then, as the sun set, the individual cloud "pieces" began to glow pink.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Harvest Sunday

Tonight I was able to do a little harvesting in the kitchen garden. When I was watering my plants I discovered some color amidst all of the green. Here's a ripe "Matina".

Two plants over I found an orange "Valencia" that was ready to pick.

Here's my big harvest - ha ha. I can't forget the one "Galina" yellow cherry.

On the more productive front, I went blackberry picking after dinner. Just like in past years, I found the biggest and the earliest berries down by the big garden. Tonight's picking was 2 lbs. 11.4 oz. Let the cobber season begin!