Thursday, August 30, 2007

Happy 80th, Dad!

Tomorrow, August 31st, is my dad's 80th birthday. If you met him, you wouldn't believe he's heading into his 80's. Keep up the good work, Dad. We want you around for a long, long time yet! I love you a ton.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterflies

Isn't he cute???? Last weekend, Zoey at Perennial Passion posted a photo of caterpillars like this on her blog. They were on her parsley plants. I went out and looked, and sure enough I had them on mine too. I was really happy that I had seen Zoey's post before I saw the caterpillars, because they look like ugly green worms, and my parsley plants probably would have been in the garbage about 15 seconds after I saw them! I'm not crazy about squishy, crawly things.

But thanks to Zoey they're still crawling around on my parsley, and sometime soon they should form their cocoons and then turn into beautiful Eastern Black Swallowtail butterflies.Today I counted 11 caterpillars on my two Italian parsley plants. I'm hoping they do the cocoon thing somewhere I can watch the daily progress.

But if I can't, Zoey put two of hers in a jar and is posting regularly about their progress. If you go to her blog, look at Aug 19, 23, and 24th. On the 24th, she videoed one of caterpillars shedding its skin. It is absolutely awesome! I've linked Zoey's blog here. Check it out!!

Perennial Passion

Thanks Zoey - this is VERY cool!!!

September 5th update: I just read an article that I found very informative. Butterflies come from chrysalids (chrysalis is the singular); moths come from cocoons. I had in my head that chrysalis was the process of becoming a cocoon or a butterfly (yeah, it's been a long time since I was in grade school!). Anyway, now I know!

Friday, August 24, 2007

more late summer blooms

On our walk through the garden yesterday, we found a surprising number of things still blooming, reblooming, and just starting to bloom. Maybe I'm the one who's tired - not the gardens!! Here are more photos.

dianthus (pinks)

Queen Anne's Lace
native rudbeckia or coneflower
These all started from seed brought by the wind or birds or ??
They bloom, like, forever! I love it!

plantegenia hosta
these blooms smell sooooo good!



little blue stem grass
just starting to turn burgundy and develop seed heads
the phlox are winding down, but still some color
"Hawkeye Belle"
(this rose is just covered in blooms again)
one of the dahlias

hibiscus are still going strong

mallow reblooming
shasta daisy

"Autumn Joy" sedum, just starting to show color

hibiscus bud starting to open

delphinium reblooming
(surprising because I neglected to deadhead the first blooms)
one of the caladiums in the garden

Thursday, August 23, 2007

hooray, there are still things blooming

Nearly Wild
Okay, I know this won't be popular with those of you who still need rain, but I've had enough for awhile! We haven't had the flooding amounts that they received south of us, but for the past week it has been grey, drizzly, and/or outright raining. I'm ready for sunshine. And bring back some of those 80's, too, please!

I was feeling like my gardens were done, and it's only August 23rd for heaven's sake. So this afternoon between rain showers and drizzles, I took the dogs out and we did a little garden recon. There is still color in the garden! Hooray! So over the next few days I'll show you some of the things blooming, a few of them reblooms - that's always fun!

Balloon flower

Mark has been out of town on business all week, which probably accounts for some of my blahs. I've been doing fun stuff like moving the compost pile to a new home, edging and weeding gardens (between showers - the weeds pull out really easily at least!), roasting tomatoes, etc.

Well, yes, I have had some real fun too. There has been very little wind and the grey skies have kept boaters off the lake, so I did get in a couple of wonderful kayak paddles. Tuesday I did 4.2 miles - on my own - and that felt great. Here's one of the things I love about kayaking: you go out and at some point you think, okay I have to turn around - I'm tired. And then you get back home and you realize that you have energy left! You could go out and do a couple more miles! It is just that much fun. I love it. Down side is I sit in water in mine (sit-on-top model), and very soon I am going to need some neoprene shorts. Once it starts dipping into the 50's at night, our lake starts cooling off quickly. Most of the summer the lake is like a tepid bath - not even refreshing on a hot day. But it is starting to cool down, so I'll be doing some on-line shopping very soon.

All Summer Beauty - starting to turn its fall colors

Sunday, August 19, 2007

odds 'n ends on a rainy day

"Rosy Returns" - repeat blooming daylily

Isn't this a beautiful daylily? I just planted it this spring, so not sure if it will always bloom late. I'm thinking I need to add more late bloomers, so hope it will. It's a smaller daylily bloom, but a lovely rich color.

Japanese fall blooming anemone
Japanese anemone again

I love Japanese anemone. They aren't real showy from a distance, but up close they are very pretty. I love the way they nod in the breeze. I have them in a couple gardens - in light shade and in almost full sun. They seem to be okay everywhere I try them.


A couple more of my smaller dahlias. The colors have been so rich this summer - I love them! The dinnerplates are definitely more showy, but I'm hoping I can overwinter the tubers and have them all again next year. I do have to remember to stake them as I plant them though. This year the ones in partial shade are pretty much laying on the ground.



Turtlehead is another fall bloomer that I love. The plants get very large and the blooms aren't super showy until you get right up to the plant. But they are so cute! And it keeps blooming for quite a long time. When I first bought turtlehead, it was for a shady space. But mine does much, much better in full sun as long as the ground is moist.

Brown-eyed Susans

And what late-summer/fall post would be complete without brown-eyed susans? I used to think these were too "gold" for my gardens. But now I rely on them to add bright spots throughout my late summer gardens. I can't think of any flowers I don't like, but I do have a soft spot for the prairie-type flowers.

We have had a cool, rainy weekend here. No complaints - we desperately needed the rain. But I do hope it plans to warm up again, so we get more tomatoes. I roasted and froze several batches, but not nearly enough to last the winter!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

tomato time

Several years ago I got into heirloom tomatoes. Brandywines to be specific. They're ugly sometimes, but the taste is absolutely the best ever. Three years ago, our local paper ran an article about a woman in Wisconsin who grows and sells heirloom tomatoes. She explained in the article how she roasts and freezes the tomatoes for winter use. I tried it. We loved it. We do it every year now. There is nothing like roasted tomatoes in homemade veg soup, chili, lasagna, etc.

(This year I planted Caspian Pink and Soldacki heirlooms instead of Brandywines. They taste really yummy - but I'm kind of missing my Brandywines right about now!)

The tomatoes are coming in like crazy - it's only 69 at 11 am - so decided I could fire up the oven and roast some today. Here's what I do:
First I peel the tomatoes. I just peel them with a knife because heirlooms peel really easily. If you do the hot water, cold water thing, that's cool.
Next I cut them into halves, thirds, quarters, eighths, ?? - depending on the size of the tomato. My Romas I leave whole - I cut the heirlooms to approximately that size.
I line a baking pan with parchment paper - and drizzle some olive oil over the paper - a very light coating. Then I put the tomatoes on the paper and drizzle more olive oil over them. Sprinkle some sea salt and freshly ground pepper on the top.
Roast at 425 degrees F. for about an hour. I bake them until they just start to soften and lose their shape.
Cool. Put in freezer bags and freeze until you need them next winter.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

blogger seeds

A while ago, Chris & Laurie at "Miss Flower," offered seeds from their garden to anyone who would like some. Today I received a delightful package from them!

This was the note card - a photo of theirs - what a gorgeous butterfly. And inside were the cutest seed packets I've ever seen! Thank you so much, Chris & Laurie! I love them - both the seeds and the beautiful way you packaged them up. Very fun!

Today was an outdoor day for me. Both Tristi and Beth had recently inquired how much time I put in each day to keep my gardens up. I blithely said, oh just deadheading and pulling the occasional weed during these hot summer months. Yeah, well, that is definitely catching up with me now! The gardens look like quack grass city. And I have some weird ground cover weed threatening to take over every other inch of dirt. So this morning I spent about two hours cleaning up the two lakeshore gardens. They look much better. I'll try to get some fresh mulch on them tomorrow or Thursday, and then move on to another space. My summer vacation is over!

On a happier note, we just returned from kayaking. It was beautiful out there. I am definitely hooked!
I went out Sunday night at midnight to catch the Perseids. I saw 5 gorgeous shooting stars in 1 1/2 hours. At 1:30, I decided I was too tired and came in and went to bed. Five is better than none, but kind of disappointing just the same.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

fireworks and rain, courtesy of Mother Nature

Rain, glorious rain! Early Saturday morning, Mother Nature put on quite the show here in the Twin Cities. Non-stop thunder and lightning for at least 3 hours. And 2 beautiful inches of rain. Then Saturday evening, a repeat, with another 1/2 inch of rain and about 9 pm another fireworks show to our south. This was all marred by power outages, huge winds, downed trees, etc. But at our house, luckily, just beautiful rain and quite the light show. My gardens are doing a happy dance, and so am I, as no watering for 2 whole days!!!

This is a hibiscus I put in last year, and it is blooming for the first time today. It's supposed to be a pale yellow. The bud that will open tomorrow looks yellow compared to these blooms, so maybe the longer it blooms, the more yellow color I'll get. However, I am not complaining about the white - very pretty!

This is one I showed you in an earlier post (photo below). It started out white, but now has very definite pink coloring. Look at the great layers on this bloom.

Some of my hibiscus (the new one and the dark red "Christy") have fat leaves that are green.

The other three have skinny leaves - 2 have reddish leaves and one has super-skinny, serrated green leaves. Very interesting.
I was hoping to stay up and see the Perseid Meteor Shower tonight - but we have a lot of clouds right now, so may not happen. We had a lovely cooler, less humid day today, but tomorrow is supposed to be right back in the 90's with high humidity. This has been a very hot, dry, humid summer so far. Hope you all had a great weekend!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

photos of bridge

I don't blame anyone who feels they are imaged out from the I35 bridge collapse. But my sister just emailed me the following site. It has the best photos I've seen so far. Several of them appeared in our local paper and probably around the country. These are very powerful images, and I just wanted to share the info in case you want to see them.

The verbage is in Russian, but the photos are universal.

the gardens by the lake

Finally, the last little walk-about of my gardens!! I will be happy to have this over, so can only imagine how you all feel!
First my apologies - I have a lot of photos on this post - I hope it doesn't take an obscene amount of time to upload for everyone.

I won't go into great detail about each of these. The first three are the view from the porch roof. Basically, it's what I see when I wake up every morning.
Then I just walk you down the east side of our lot - these gardens are mostly shady until you get past the river birch clump - so a lot of hosta etc.
The lakeshore gardens and big garden on the west side get a lot of sun. The 8th, 9th, & 10th photos are taken from the dock looking back up towards the house.
The big garden on the west side used to be filled with prairie type plants - purple coneflower, black-eyed susans, etc - and I'm leaning toward doing more of that again. It has good color in May, June and most of July - but right now all I'm seeing is pale purple, white and yellow. The purple coneflower gave it some punch. Along the same thought, the west lakeshore garden used to be full of monarda which I dug out because it was very invasive, but I haven't figured out what else would fill it in as nicely. We'll see...

(once again, some or all of these should click big)