Don't be fooled. Inside this thin coating of sweetness is a fiery core of total insanity.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Fertilizer Friday -- A Red Letter Day

It's also a red flower day, just about everything that's blooming right now in my garden has red flowers. (Or pink, but that's related to red, right?) I hope the pictures turn out ok, red is always so hard to photograph.

This tall Phlox is called 'Starfire.' It really glows, it's so bright.

I just love it, but one of its drawbacks is that it has lost a lot of its lower leaves. They just crisped up and fell off, leaving the lower third of its stem bare. It's unfortunate because its leaves have very nice reddish edges. I also have just the one in this bed, the front foundation bed. That bed is suffering right now from a 'One of this, One of that" look. I've already rearranged things in this bed once this year. This is the bed that I wrote about in a previous post, where I removed the sunrose that was overgrown. What I did there will be the subject of a future post. It still needs work. Maybe this weekend I'll sort it out.

Back to the Phlox. I need to buy some more this fall, I love the flowers, but I think it will look better in a grouping. And I need to figure out what I can use to hide the ugly, bare lower stems.

Behind the Phlox is a grouping of Pennisetum 'Karley Rose.' It has lovely, long pink panicles that are also hard to photograph. The camera always wants to focus on what's behind it. But I managed to get two good pics of it. Here it is in the front foundation bed.

I also have a few clumps of it growing in the back, beside the stream.

My Monarda 'Colrain Red' is also almost too bright to look at. It's really more magenta than straight red, though. I haven't seen any hummers at it yet either. I keep waiting and hoping they'll find it. Maybe when the clumps are bigger.

That bed also has Cosmos 'Dazzler' flowering. They are not as tall as I thought they would get, maybe because of the strange spring and early summer weather we had. I'll let them self-sow and see what I get next year. In my experience, gold finches love the seeds of Cosmos, and they always scatter a few around.

Finally, the Lobelia cardinalis, which the raccoons chewed on, is flowering, after being relocated away from the stream, into an area that stays moist.

Well, hop on over to Tootsie Time and check out all the other Flower Flaunters! I have found some really cool blogs to add to my Follow list there.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Fertilizer Friday -- Hey, I Do Have Some Flowers!

My garden is so new, I always go out to take pictures on Fertilizer Friday thinking there will be little to flaunt, but Surprise! Surprise! Today I do have some flowers to show.

My camera's batteries died as soon as I turned it on, and I didn't want to wait for them to power up, so I took my pictures today with my new iPhone. Keeping my fingers crossed that they look ok.

Hydrangea 'Invincibelle Spirit'

Jacob's Ladder


Aquilegia 'Songbird'

Geranium 'Ballerina'

Squash blossom, you can't see it in this picture, but there is a tiny baby squash growing behind it!

These two plants, Chocolate Joe-Pye Weed and Meadowsweet, are still sitting in a tray of water waiting to be planted. I bought them several days apart, but I really like the combination of foliage, so I'm thinking I will plant them together.

Closeup of the Meadowsweet flowers

Well, that's it for me today. Please don't forget to head over to Tootsie Time to check out all the other bloggers who have posted for Fertilizer Friday.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Raccoon Damage

At least I think it's raccoons. There's too much damage for squirrels, and the garden is fenced, so it can't be deer. I suppose it could be possums, but I'm betting on  raccoons.

For the past week I've been waking up to signs of havoc near the stream. Plants not only squashed from being sat on, but buds and ends chewed off, in some cases, plants actually ripped out, roots and all, and sent floating down the stream to the end near the pump, where they float like dead plant carcasses.

Such a disheartening sight to wake up to.

They chewed the buds, just about to flower, off one of my Lobelia cardinalis, which I had planted right in the stream, knowing how much they like boggy conditions.

I had also left a couple of plants still in pots, Japanese forest grass, in the stream awaiting planting. It looks like they played a game of raccoon football with the pots. One had no plant, and no soil either in it, the empty pot was just sitting sideways in the water. The plant was several feet away, still intact, but not a single bit of soil left on its roots.

They tried to chow down on the marsh marigold, but I don't think it was to their liking.

And they keep knocking over my little rusty duck, a gift from a friend. Poor thing.

So....I pulled the Lobelia out and planted it elsewhere in the garden, somewhere I knew it would still get plenty of water. I planted the Japanese forest grass too. Cut back the damaged leaves on the marsh marigold.

I've spent the last few days thinking about how to deal with these masked marauders. I could plant poisonous bog plants in the stream. Water hemlock, anyone? But I've seen Chester chewing on some of my ornamental grasses, and while the little rascal might be smart enough to stick with grass, and not chew on poisonous plants, I don't think I want to chance it (although if it comes down to it, I might).

I could buy one of those motion-activated water sprays, but since they're already playing in the stream, I don't think they'll be deterred by more water, unless it has the force of a firehose. And a firehose wouldn't do my plants any good.

I suppose I really should be glad they seem to like spending so much time in the stream, and haven't really bothered the veggies at all. But I'm sure at some point, they will.

Anyway, I decided my first line of defense would be to use a product called Shake Away. I ordered the ones based on fox and coyote urine from Amazon, but they won't arrive for a couple more days. I hope they work. We'll see.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Northern Flickers, Neighborhood Cats, and Nepeta 'Walker's Low'

Three Northern Flickers showed up in my garden this morning, foraging on the ground. Two males, and one female, I'm pretty sure.

The female has the plain brown head, the males have the red stripe on the side.

According to my book Birds of Washington State, "Flickers are partial to ants, which form a substantial part of their diet and serve as unwilling participants in flicker hygiene. After bathing in a dusty depression to remove oils and bacterial, a flicker will pick up ants and preen rigorously. Ants contain formic acid, which is lethal to small parasites on the skin and feathers. Many other birds use this method, but the Northern Flicker is the only one to eat ants in quantity."

Well, since I had ants in my kitchen twice last week, I say "Go, Flickers!" They didn't seem to be doing any sand bathing, but they were certainly chowing down.

Not long after I took these pictures, I heard them making what sounded like an alarm call, after which they flew up and clung to the bark on the Douglas firs. And, who comes strolling along but Chester, a neighbor's outdoor cat. Chester has been, I'm sure, the culprit in the destruction of my Nepeta 'Walker's Low', which has been chewed down to the nub.

Chester, looking not the least bit repentant

I don't mind, really. It's the nature of cats to hunt birds and if I'm going to plant Nepeta, I have to expect cats to interfere with it. They really have chewed it down, though.

But I think I may have come up with a solution that might save the Walker's Low. I was reading an article about cat deterrants, and it mentioned that cats DON'T like smelly plants like lavender and rosemary. So I went to Lowe's and bought some of both. But I didn't want just blue/lavender flowers there, so I thought, "Hmm, what else is smelly but has maybe yellow or orange flowers, that will make a nice contrast to all that blue? Marigolds, of course!"

So I now have a stinky bed, and I figure, if the Walker's Low doesn't bounce back, at least I will have something else in that bed with spiky lavender flowers.

Also, if it doesn't bounce back, I do have it flourishing in another bed, where they have left it alone, maybe because it is surrounded by lots of other plants. Hmmm......not many of them are stinky.

Here's what Walker's Low should look like.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Oh ME of Little Faith!

OK, I have to admit -- despite my intense pride over the lovely carrot I pulled up the other day, I really didn't believe that my carrot patch would produce anything of note. I don't know why, just not enough faith in myself, or maybe just knowing how Mother Nature can sometimes defeat even the best gardener.

Today I noticed that one of the carrots was about to flower, so I figured, well, time to pull at least that one! Well, it was a disappointment, small and skinny and white! So, I started to pull others, thinking, I need the room for planting something else. Well, lo and behold, gorgeous, bright orange, real, fat, lovely carrots. They even smell carroty! Having never grown them before, I didn't realize that they make a snapping noise when you pull them out of the soil. What a kick!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Look What I Pulled From My Garden!

The first carrot I've ever grown! I think it's pretty cool. It's not very big, but it's bigger than my White Icicle radishes got, they were no bigger than toothpicks. It's hard to tell from the picture exactly how big this first carrot is, but it's about the size of my baby finger. I should say it WAS the size of my baby finger.

I already scrubbed that sucker, and ate it raw!

I'm going to give them maybe another week or so, or I might pull a few every day. Can you tell how excited I am?

Friday, July 2, 2010

Fertilizer Friday -- Bleeding Heart (Yes Still!) and Others

I'm sure because of the cool, rainy/cloudy weather we have had for so long, and are still having today (even though it's July!), I still have bleeding hearts blooming -- Dicentra 'GoldHeart' -- so pretty and delicate with the gold/green foliage behind it. I'm glad it has had so long to get well established in my new garden. It's one of my favorite spring ephemerals. I have a native that is still blooming too, but couldn't get a good picture of it, because it's so dark in the corner where it's growing that the flash on the camera bleached it out.

I have lots more to show you for Fertilizer Friday, so I better get busy posting photos.

Aquilegia 'Leprechaun Gold'

And here is the reason why it's called 'Leprechaun Gold.' Not because of the flowers, which are blue/purple, but because of the variegated foliage.

Heuchera 'Snow Angel'

Fuschia magellanica

Campanula rotundifolia

My Darmera peliphyllum is starting to bloom. I bought it for the big leaves, I didn't even realize it had an interesting flower.

Here is the flower even closer.

Nepeta 'Walker's Low' with Penstemon 'Husker's Red' foliage behind.

And finally, although it isn't a flower, I did find this in my garden this past week, underneath one of my Douglas firs. Looks like it fell out of the tree. There was no trace of eggs near it, so I don't think it was in use, thank God. I need to find a few small, egg-shaped stones to put in it, or maybe a little bird figurine.

Well, that's it for me for Fertilizer Friday, a wonderful blog meme that is hosted by Tootsie at TootsieTime. Please head over there to see all the beautiful flowers being flaunted by all the people who participate.