Blue

The garden colors I planned for my garden were purple, yellow and orange.  Over time I have come to have many more colors all over the garden, but I still have a lot of blue/purple flows blooming this time of year.

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Baptisia australis – blue false indigo

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Close up of Baptisia australis – false blue indigo

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blue iris

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Clematis ‘Jackmanii’

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Blue columbine

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Blue hill salvia

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May night salvia

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Ajuga ground cover

The yellow and orange follows are getting ready to bloom soon!

Cauliflower, Broccoli, and Strawberries

We have been eating lettuce for a while, but yesterday we cooked up some soup with our first head of cauliflower, and we need to harvest the first head of broccoli today.  We have been eating a lot of strawberries this week.  Actually Dan reached his limit of strawberries, but I still have room for more!

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This cauliflower was a lot smaller than the ones last year, but probably about 7 inches across, so big enough.  The soup we made also had asparagus and mushrooms from the farmer’s market.

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It looks like I need to pick this broccoli head for super.

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Potato flowers.  I planted red potatoes this year, but these potatoes came up from whatever we missed getting out of the ground last year.

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Backing up you can see the same potato plants on the left, next to some flowers  – Penstemon digitalis (foxglove beard tongue), a native plant.  In front are wax beans that are getting crowded out by the potatoes.  I can always plant some more wax beans, if I get around to it.

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Tomato flower.  These are “Amish paste” tomatoes, that were so good last year.

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I have been picking one to two pints of strawberries a day.  Rain and heat help.

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Strawberry rhubarb sauce.  I have made three batches this year.  I realize how much rhubarb I threw in the compost pile the past years…  Of course, it requires a lot of sugar, but other than that there is no cost to me.  I have been enjoying it with some yummy ice cream.

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Our neighbors cut down some weed trees, and with them the raspberry canes.  Raspberries come on second year canes, I believe, so they are growing back for raspberries next year.  And now we have some growing on our side of the fence, the right side, too!

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I think this is oakleaf lettuce.  We pick leaves off and more grow back.  We have romaine lettuce and some baby kale for salads and smoothies, too.

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A few flower pictures, too…  Blue hill salvia, max frei geraniums, and penstemon digitalis.

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The alchemilla lady’s mantle plants have been big this year.  Behind them the catmint is blooming.  On the right in front is the caryopteris and the baptisia australis is in back.  I could get rid of some of these plants, but I don’t have to pick weeds here, or at least I don’t see them, when the plants are big like this.

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Straight through the opening in the last picture – the spike speedwell royal candles are blooming and the gaillardia are getting going, too.

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Geranium ‘rozanne’ with lady’s mantle in the background.

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The joe pye weed on the right is starting to get tall.  Last year I pinched them back.  I think I will not pinch them back and leave them with some supports this year and see how tall they get.  In front are white foxgloves, liatris getting ready to bloom, and foliage of the turtlehead flowers.

Sightings:  A chipmunk that seems to be under the hostas or the irises.  The rabbit persists.  We are learning to live with it, but give it chase now and then.

Memorial Day Garden Snapshot

With plenty of rain and heat the garden is growing quickly and a lot is in bloom.

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Baptisia australis – blue false indigo.

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The blue irises that started to bloom today are close in color to the blue indigo.  These fell down due to the heavy rains today.

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This dark red iris looks nice under our red/bronze crabapple tree.

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One of the ground covers by the patio is blooming and attracting pollinators.  It is probably some sort of sedum.

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In this mostly shady spot on the north side of the house the ajuga and hostas have been at their peak this week.

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Here is another shot from farther back of the ajuga, hostas, and the aruncus dioicus goat’s beard, which is getting ready for its white blooms soon.  Just beyond the goat’s beard and only slightly in the picture is the blue muffin viburnum.  The window is my office window, where I can look out and get a little distracted….

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The other day at least two baby robins fledged and one of them ended up outside my office window, making hungry noises.

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Over the next few days I watched the babies quietly “hiding” in various places around the yard.  This baby is in the blue muffin viburnum outside my office window.  A moment later the dad arrived to deliver a grub.  I believe father robins stick with the young robins for a few weeks feeding them and teaching them to hunt, while mother robins go off to incubate some more eggs.

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Also in the blue muffin viburnum dentatum was a ladybug, a beneficial insect.

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Lily of the valley.  I picked one to enjoy the fragrance.

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Geranium ‘Max Frei’ opening up to the morning sun.

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We noticed a lot of little plums getting started on the American plum trees for the first time!

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Chive flower.  I threw some chives in an edamame and avocado salad this week.

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Romaine lettuce.  The rabbit ate the spinach and swiss chard, but has not touched the lettuce yet….

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I think this is a chipping sparrow…

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Not sure what kind of birds these are, but they looked cute sitting on their oak branch as evening approached.

August Snapshots

The late summer flowers are starting up now.  There is always something to keep the bees buzzing.  The weather has been a little drier now, but with a few occasionally showers to keep things somewhat green.

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Facing west you can see the tall sunflower, which is getting ready to bloom.  I got a packet of sunflower seeds in the mail as a promotion, and of all the seeds I planted only this one grew.  Right now it is between 9 and 10 feet tall.  In front the sedum is getting ready to bloom, but right now the caryopteris, right in the middle of the picture, is busy blooming and attracting many bees.  Behind is the spice bush, which had a hard year, but is growing back up from the base.  The Baptisia australis – blue false indigo has set some big seeds which are cool looking.  On the left the catmint was cut back mid-summer, but getting ready to bloom again.

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Caryopteris and bee.

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Seed heads of Panicum virgatum ‘Rotstrahlbusch’ – switch grass.  In the background you can see the big seeds of the blue false indigo.

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In another corner of the garden the hydrangea macrophylla foliage has been great this summer, but with just one flower.  Now that the plant finally seems happy, maybe I will get more flowers next year.

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Here is a close up of the hydrangea macrophylla.  My understanding is the alkaline soil produces pink flowers and acidic soil produces bluer flowers.  It looks like I have a little of both colors here.  The soil is alkaline, but it is planted right by the three arborvitae, so maybe they make the soil a little more acidic…

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Comma butterfly on Joe Pye weed.  It looks like I captured a soldier bug in this picture, too.  I tried to get a picture with the butterfly wings open, but the wings opened and closed too quickly to get a picture in focus.  The Joe Pye weed has turned brown now.

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I love dragonflies.  It was a windy day and this dragonfly, a widow skimmer, was hanging on to this grass stalk as the breeze blew.

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Bumblebee sleeping or resting on pink zinnia.  It was just laying on the flower, but when I got very close it flew away.  Maybe it was a cozy bed.  This bee seemed to be more yellow than other bumblebees I have seen in the yard.  I am doing my best to provide habitat for native bees.

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It looks like we have fewer acorns in the Chinquapin oak tree this year.  The squirrel was in the tree this week and that prompted me to see if I could see any acorns in the tree.  I just saw one or two with a quick glance.

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A week or two ago I put the rest of all the onion bulbs that I bought in the spring into the ground.  They came right up, so I will either have green onions that are big enough to eat soon, or if they overwinter, I will have an onion patch in the spring.  Also the lettuce and kale I planted last week germinated right away in the cool wet weather, so maybe we will get to eat that before cold weather comes.

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I planted three tomato plants this year.  In front is ‘gold medal.’  The red ones are ‘Amish paste.”  I also have a nice cherry tomato.  I made a big batch of our favorite spaghetti sauce and froze a few buckets.  It looks like we will have to cook up another batch to keep up with the tomatoes.  Or maybe I will have some tomato salads!  The flavor of the Amish paste is excellent.

Damselfly, Birds, and Irises

Bees, birds, and various bugs are more active and fun to take pictures of this time of year.

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I saw a lot of damselflies in the grass meadow.

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The dove couple love to hang out at the birdbath and socialize.  They don’t really jump in much, but they take their time preening and pretending this is their territory.

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Dan also got a shot of the goldfinch couple at the birdbath.

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We were so excited to have a robin build her nest in our crabapple tree.  Yesterday morning we had the ladder out and did not see any eggs in the nest, but maybe there are some today.

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The irises are the big show this week!  The robin is near the top of this crabapple tree.

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Blue iris

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Ant on chive flower.

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Dan turned the compost on Saturday.  It is not quite ready yet, but moving along.

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Dan was my big helper this weekend.  Here he stood to stretch his back!  In front is baptisia australis – false blue indigo, and the leaves of the chinquapin oak and the hydrangea.

Ajuga, Baptisia, and Columbine

April showers have brought May flowers and a lot of action from the spring perennials.  ABCs: Ajuga, Baptisia and Columbine.  I know I am mixing scientific and common names here, but that is pretty normal in my garden.  Whatever name I can remember is what I call the plants around me.

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I have ajuga reptans – bugleweed – growing along the north side of the house in the shade.  It is really vibrant now and the bees have been enjoying it.

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Baptisia australis – blue false indigo.  Both the blue flowers and the tender green leaves are so pretty now.  This is a native Midwest plant.

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Just before the thunderstorm last week I grabbed a three-legged, round stake and put it around the base of the baptisia to keep it from bending or breaking during the storm.    It held up well.  Last year I did not do that and it was messy after the storms.  In front is catmint – nepeta ‘walker’s low’, which should start blooming soon.

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Columbine has spread all over the northeast garden bed.  The large clumps are so cheery, but each spring I have to pull up a lot of baby columbine plants before they crowd out my other plants.

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Bee on Columbine.  I am not sure if this is a carpenter bee or a bumble bee.

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I have a few of these lavender colored columbine flowers blooming now.

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 A close-up of a chive flower that I planted under the American plum bushes.

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The lily of the valley are blooming now.

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During this long weekend I did not want to work too hard, but yesterday was a beautiful day, so I got out and pruned the dead flowers and branches off the lilac bushes, since this is the best time to year to trim them up.  Meanwhile, my daughter sat nearby and we discussed a term paper for her summer class.  What a beautiful weekend we are having!

In the background you can see the purple ajuga as well as the lily of the valley plants along the fence.