Thursday, August 21, 2008

Late summer colors

The reason I took these pictures was to figure out, yet again, how the heck my camera works. I think I've finally figured out how to take close-ups with the background blurred out - in other words, the subject is in focus and the background is out of focus. Here are the results: dragonwing begonia, volunteer morning glory, and oakleaf hydrangea blossoms.



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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Random acts of tomatoes

Someone left these tomatoes on my front steps the other day. I assumed it was my neighbor, who's been growing them along the walkway, but I spotted a few on her front steps, too. It must be someone else with too much bounty. Thanks! {Note: it turns out that it was Tanya after all, thanks!}
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This week's CSA bag from Cub Creek included crowder beans, which Cindy said had been picked too early. They're so pretty - I plan to saute them in a little butter and see what happens.

The beans
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Saturday, August 9, 2008

Pleasing foliage

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Perilla, nasturtium, begonia, and impatiens in the terrace garden.

Japanese roof iris, perilla, azalea, and English ivy

More wildlife mysteries


Some kind of spider...

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I call this a leafcutter, but I can't find anything online or in my insect book that looks like this and has that name. It's not a leafcutter ant, nor a leafcutter bee...

Verizon, not Dominion

I take it back - it turned out to be Verizon that trimmed my neighbor's trees and left the debris in my yard. The Verizon person claimed they would clean it up by the end of the week, but it hasn't happened. Pretty amazing.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Planting plans

When I was visiting Mom a few weeks ago, I asked her advice about a couple problem areas. The first is the long, narrow bed next to the walkway. It's anchored at one end by an azalea bush, which is about four feet high, so it needs something that transitions from that height to a lower height. At the moment, I have a couple place-holders: a hellebore, some Solomon seal, and a hakonechloa (sp)at the gate end of the bed. Here's a look in black and white.


After talking with Mom, I think it makes sense to plant a mix of daffodils and day lilies for color and height and ease. I'll look at one of the WFF mixes and might just make up my own mix.

Another question has to do with my longing to add another sunny garden. There's not much room for this - only in the front yard, and only in a part of it, since the maple tree takes up so much space. I was thinking about a trio of small trees or shrubs like crape myrtle and lilac once I take out the slowly declining dogwood tree, but Mom thinks I need to keep the plantings low so as not to compete with the maple tree, and I think she's right. She suggested an L-shaped bed along my neighbor's driveway and the road, and I think this makes a lot of sense. However, this will only happen in the way future, since I haven't finished planting the new beds I already have, and they're looking kind of thin.

I'm planning to expand the planting area around the maple tree, bit by bit. The other day I mulched the bare spots and ended up with this footprint.

Plans now are to plant lots of tommy crocuses this fall, and beg some pachysandra (the good kind, not the invasive kind) from Judy.

Judy has also offered me a cutting from her kerria bush, which would be great in the back shrub border. I think the one she has is Kerria japonica 'picta' since it has lovely white-margined leaves. Here's a picture of one from

I'm also thinking of one or two more sweetspires, since I love the one I have and there are lots of bare spots in that border.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The evils of Dominion Virginia Power

This may sound like the ranting of a nut, but listen to my story and then decide... I came home last week to find a pile of branches in the back corner of my yard. I intuited that the power company must have cut back my neighbor's tree to keep the branches from bringing down the wires. Maybe they'll be back tomorrow to pick up the debris, I thought hopefully.

Well, of course not. Not only were the branches still there the next day, but I discovered they had also dropped a branch from my neighbor's holly tree in the other corner smack on top of my (admittedly untidy and ill-maintained) back cutting garden. That day I got a letter explaining how Dominion would be in my neighborhood trimming trees (whoops - already happened), but not a word about how Asplundh, the nice tree company, would also pick up the mess they left behind. So I called the man who wrote the letter and left a message, but no reply. I'll try again next week.

Of course the power company has to clear the lines, but this is astonishing! The company they hired cuts down my neighbor's trees and walks away, leaving the debris in my yard? This can't be right! Their arrogance takes your breath away - doesn't it??

To be continued...

Most beautiful container contest

My own contest, run by me, judging my containers - and the winner is this pot by the shed:

This container is closely modeled on the "Red, Green and Ice" annual combination offered by White Flower Farm this spring. The 'White Christmas' caladium and 'Dipt in Wine' coleus are their suggestions. I'm very pleased and will have no compunction about stealing their ideas again next year.

The runner-up is a similar pot with pink angel-wing begonias and white impatiens and without coleus. I love the dark purple of the begonia leaf:

Okay, and the loser is this poor little pot, which has some height and a nice trailing effect with the sweet potato vine, but whose colors are muddy and not so great. It started out looking okay:

...but by now it's looking a little raggedy:

Too bad - better luck next year!

Saturday, August 2, 2008


A few weeks ago, the bumblebees were buzzing around the oregano. I'm never sure exactly what kinds of bees I'm seeing but always hope they are honeybees. Anybody know?

The voles seem to have done their dirty work and gone away. They ate the hosta 'Sieboldiana elegans,' which really annoys me, but they left the much larger Krossa Regal alone. Maybe the key is to plant larger, better-established plants? Maybe they like only the young tender roots?

I have purchased Liquid Fence Mole and Vole Repellent and just need to get out there and spray. I fear that they will be repelled only briefly, but it's worth a try.

This other-worldly creature is perched on the lip of a pot filled with coleus. You can see it better if you click on the photo to enlarge it. I ought to know what it is, but I can't quite place it. A June bug??

First of the dahlias

The dahlias I planted next to the walkway have been growing very weedily (if that's a word), but only one has bloomed so far.

The label has disappeared, so it's either Arabian Night or the unnamed one I grew last year. Isn't it perfect?? I am certainly being converted to dahlias and now wish I had planted more.