The Sun Rises on the Garden

The sun rises around 6:45 am these days.  I captured this photo one morning before settling at my desk to work.

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Sunrise in late September.

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Painted lady butterfly on pink zinnia.  I continue to see butterflies visiting the zinnias.

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Monarch butterfly on pink zinnia.  I love the polka dots!

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The orange butterfly weed seed pods have opened up and the seeds are starting to blow away.  The purple flowers are Russian sage.

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What’s up with this leader branch on the Chinquapin oak tree?  Didn’t it get the memo to stick with the group?

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Sometimes when I am working at my desk I get distracted by the birds outside.  This was a visiting warbler of some sort in the Blue Muffin viburnum.  I was taking pictures through the screen and never got a clear shot, though the bird was in the yard for quite a while.  I think there may have been some tasty insects around, as it did not seem to be going for berries.

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The boltonia is blooming this week.  The trees and shrubs are high enough that we can no longer see it from the kitchen window.  I guess our neighbors get to look at it.  I thin it out each spring so only one or two of these big plants reach maturity.

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The petunias along the sidewalk were looking pretty this morning.  They blend in with the alyssum.

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The zucchini patch has not been very productive lately.  The big zinnia patch is right in front of the zucchini, blocking the sun.  I think the drier weather may have allowed some new leaves to grow without mildew and it looks like we are getting some zucchini that is almost big enough to pick.  The flowers promise more, it the weather allows it.

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I was watering the young serviceberry bushes and almost bumped into this spider sitting on a big web.  Scary looking, huh?

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Something has been nibbling on the few strawberries that I have.  Is it bugs or slugs, the rabbit or squirrels, or maybe a visiting raccoon?  I am always glad to come upon a strawberry that is untouched.  I tend to pick them early and let them ripen inside.

Have a great week!

Asters, Nasturtiums, and a Rabbit Chase

My New England purple dome asters are hiding partially behind the viburnum bushes.  That helps hide the leggy stems this time of year, but the bright colors can be seen across the yard.

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New England purple dome asters and solidago rugosa ‘fireworks’ goldenrod.  This is a color combination I like and have used it here and there in the garden.

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Bee on New England purple dome aster.    I love the bee’s wings.  The bees and flies definitely prefer the goldenrod today, but they are starting to come over to the asters as the orange centers start opening up.

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The nasturtiums have been growing slowly over the summer, but the dry autumn days seem to have brought out the best.  I love the intricate centers of these flowers.

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I also love the beautiful foliage of the nasturtiums, which is wet here with the morning dew.

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Yellow nasturtiums.  The jewel mix has orange, red, and yellow nasturtiums in a mix, though they were not close enough together to get a good effect of that this year.

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This is my favorite color, but the red nasturtiums have been fighting with the wax beans all summer in a mostly losing battle.

We are still enjoying the beans, so that is good!

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About three weeks ago I notice a small bunny in the yard.  It somehow got through our “rabbit proof” fence and did not seem to be leaving.  Yesterday as I was eating my lunch on the patio, the rabbit, which had grown quickly, was munching his own lunch just a few feet away, with little fear of me.  Dan, Phil, and I opened all the gates in the yard, each grabbed a mop pole and spent about ten minutes trying to get the rabbit to go out a gate.  It eventually ran out into the easement and we closed the gates.  We learned a new meaning for “beating around the bush.”  It was pretty comical and adventurous for us, though probably terrifying for the rabbit.  I am sure the rabbit will now be able to meet other neighborhood rabbits and will find many other places to nibble.

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At first when the rabbit showed up I thought, “what harm can one rabbit do with all the mature plants I have?”  I forgot about my new lettuce plants, which the rabbit quickly chewed down.  I hope he left some nice droppings to fertilize the yard!

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Last year I planted a winter garden and covered it with a hoop.  The kale plants that made it through the snowy winter are big now and we are eating the kale every day.  The leaves are small and tender, as they are on multi-stemmed plants.  We just keep cutting back the yellow flowers.  When the lettuce died with the heat we planted wax beans and finally a cantaloupe in this bed.  I don’t have the energy to dig up another bed for another winter garden so we will just keep eating this kale until the snow falls.  Maybe we can cover it with the plastic hoop and keep eating it.

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We just ate this small, yummy cantaloupe for breakfast the other morning.  A few smaller melons are ripening yet.

Random September Images

It’s that time between summer and fall.  The temperatures have been much cooler, but I have quite a few plants that bloom in the fall, so the yard is colorful.  Here are a few shots a took over the past two weeks.

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We watched the great blue heron fishing at Lake Katherine.  We made some clicking noises to get it to turn its head.

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We have had very few birds in the yard, though there are plenty at Lake Katherine.  We had other visitors though.  This chipmunk was around for a week or two, but seems to be gone now.

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Instead of birds we have had quite a few resident squirrels around, who are busy gathering, burying, and munching on nuts.  I love those fluffy tails.

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Red-spotted purple butterfly.  The butterflies continue to visit the sedum mostly.  My theory is that our sedum is so popular with the pollinators because it probably is not a cultivar.  I am not sure if that is true, but I have not seen so many flies and bees on the other darker colored sedum in the neighborhood.

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Lake Katherine had its Monarch Festival last Sunday.  On Tuesday I went for a walk there and there were still quite a few monarchs under the tent.  I am not sure what this plant is.  Anyway it was very popular with the butterflies.  They were also on the marigolds.  Yesterday as I sat outside a monarch flew by, so I am glad they are still around.

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 Back in the yard, an eastern black swallowtail visited the sedum.  I had trouble getting a good shot in the sunlight, but it was fun to see, since we have often have black swallowtail caterpillars in the parsley.

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We have three really large curly parsley plants.  I saw a black swallowtail caterpillar on one of the plants within the last two weeks.  I am hoping that the butterfly is laying some eggs here.  I have plenty of parsley chopped and in the freezer for the winter.

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I had my third basil harvest last week and made another batch of pesto.  I mixed in a little parsley, too.  The juice of a whole lemon gave it a great fresh taste.  I am eating it on crackers now as I write this!

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I decided to cut down the sunflower.  It was drooping over the neighbor’s yard and not that attractive.   That was the biggest sunflower I have ever grown.

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I took this spider web picture at Lake Katherine.  It is that time of year…  I brought in a large spider with some swiss chard this week, but managed to use a container to get it back outside again.

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The leaves are gone on the melon vine, but the cantaloupes are still connected to it and I think getting some nutrients or water through the vine.  These melons are very small, but maybe they would be edible.  We are still getting a few wax beans and there are green tomatoes that might ripen if we get some sun.  The peppers are doing well and are tasty.

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Solidago rugosa ‘fireworks’ – goldenrod.  The goldenrod is at its peak now.  I have three stands that brighten up the yard.  Just to the left of this plant are purple asters that are getting going.  Maybe I will get a picture of that next week.

Cooking:  I cooked up some vegan red lentil soup yesterday that included a butternut squash, though not one that I grew.  Good stuff, though a little spicier that I prefer.

Snake:  There have been several sightings of snakes, but they are all very small brown snakes.  Once in the middle of the compost pile and once one stopped to sun on the wood beam, before continuing into the undergrowth.

Sedum’s Visitors

The sedum is in full bloom.  I often take a break and go out to see what has come to visit on sedum’s sweet landing pad.  Talk about pink!

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Red-spotted purple butterfly on sedum.  This one had fresh, beautiful wings.  While I was taking this picture there was another red-spotted purple butterfly on the sedum that had torn, dull wings.  It looked like it had been around for a while.

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Spider hiding in sedum.  I might not have noticed this spider, but when I was filling up the bird bath I saw this spider run out and unsuccessfully try to nab a wasp that was on the edge of the sedum.  It looked like this spider had a fly in his web that he had already caught.  There are so many flies on the sedum that it seemed like a great strategy.  I have seen quite a few other spiders around the garden this week.  I only like spiders from a distance!

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Bee, maybe a carpenter bee, on sedum.  Aren’t those tiny flowers beautiful?  I can see how all the pollinators would be attracted to this area where they can just walk around and graze on the sweet nectar.

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Silver-spotted skipper on sedum.  Here you can see the open flowers on the left and the almost open flower buds on the right.

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This year I planted my pole beans at the end of the sedum bed.  In the back on the left you can see the blooming blue caryopteris, which is also buzzing with bees now.  If you want to plant a sedum bed, just visit a friend with sedum and break off four to eight stalks.  Stick the bases of the stalks in the ground and water it until it gets established.  You may have to water every day or twice a day and then slow it to just once a week.  Now I never water them.

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The bean pole structure is heavy with beans, but did not fall over this year with the added support. Almost three weeks ago I got stung by a bee or wasp on my foot while I was picking pole beans.  I am not exactly allergic, but don’t do well with bee stings so I decided to stop picking the beans, since we still have plenty of yellow wax beans to eat.  Of course the pole beans kept coming.

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Pole beans and ‘Incrediball’ hydrangea.  My first idea was just to leave the beans until they dry on the vine and then cook them like dried legumes.  However I read that you can also shell the beans before they get completely dry and it is a little like shelling pea pods.  That way you can avoid the tough outer skin, but not need to soak the beans before cooking them.  The hydrangeas were looking pretty good, so I just brought in another batch of them to dry in the house.

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I bought some ginger at an Asian market this spring and stuck it in a pot to see if it would grow.  It was slow going, but now the base is bulging some and it looks like I will have ginger to eat before long.  I am not sure what a good recipe would be….

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Here is the view from the patio, where I read and took a nap today.  The abundance of mosquitoes this year has dimmed my appetite for much gardening.  I am keeping my eyes on the ‘fireworks’ goldenrod in the back center of this picture that is just starting to turn yellow now.

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This is the time of year when I really enjoy that flowers along the walkway to the garden in the back of the yard.  The yellow mums have been blooming since I planted them in the spring.  The orange zinnias are getting going and there is always a lot of alyssum.  A few petunias and hosta flowers add a blue touch and in the front I still have a few coreopsis tickseed blooming.

Time to cook:  We have a tiny cauliflower that grew from a shoot after we cut out the big cauliflower.  That will go into the weekly stew of garden vegetables.

Rainbow, Raptor, and Road Trip

Here are a few images from this past week.

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There was a full rainbow in the neighborhood after a rain storm this week.

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There were three of these raptors flying above our neighborhood for a while this morning. They could be hawks, but my guess was turkey vultures.  I don’t have the skill to identify birds at a distance like this. I was excited to see a bald eagle in a tree while driving home from Minnesota yesterday.

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Turtle sunning at Lake Katherine, surrounding lily pads.

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Last week the grasshopper was green, but this week it is looking more yellow/brown.  Is this the same grasshopper in the beans?

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This is the poinsettia I bought last Christmas.  I put it out in the spring and it has fresh new green leaves.  Will these leaves start turning red around Christmas time?

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I picked up these mums last week.  I was going to put them in the big planter to replace the cornflower, but the cornflower did not want to pop out easily, so I just put it in its own planter.

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We were in Minnesota over the weekend and on the way home we stopped for a first time visit to Giant River Bluffs State Park.  At the top of the bluff we looked out at the Mississippi river near Winona Minnesota.

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We went on a hike through the prairie on top of the bluffs and saw quite a few monarch butterflies.  Dan shot this photo for me.

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Dragonfly on dried coneflower.  Back at home this dragonfly caught my attention.  The colors seemed different from other dragonflies.  A little research led me to the eastern amberwing dragonfly, but I am not sure.

Vegetables:  We have a lot of tomatoes I need to do something with.  I have made two batches of spaghetti and one batch of tomato sauce, but the freezer is pretty full.  We have a lot of wax beans that need to be cooked, too.  So I guess we will have something with tomatoes and yellow wax beans!  More tomatoes are coming, so if they start to get out of hand I can bring them to the food pantry on Tuesday.  I pulled out the cucumber vines today and in the process found four very nice cucumbers.  I have been eating about one a day, so no problem there.  The melons are coming along nicely.

The Big Sunflower

This past week I took pictures of the big sunflower as it progressed.

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The sunflower is 11 feet tall.

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Gradually the parts of the flower opened, from the outside edges toward the center.

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There are soldier beetles, bumble bees, and honey bees working the sunflower.

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Another sunflower close-up with pollinators.

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At this point the sunflower started to bend over with the weight of the flower.

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The pollinators wrap up the pollinating.

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Now the sunflower is really heavy!

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Sunflower seeds are developing now.  I will be watching to see when the goldfinches start on this flower.

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On a visit to Minnesota this weekend I saw this giant sunflower at my sister-in-law’s house.  It just came up from a seed that fell from a sunflower last year.  This year it morphed into this multi-stemmed flower.

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I think this is a hoverfly on the sunflower.