Blooming Flowers and Biting Mosquitoes

It has been a raining summer and the mosquitoes are winning the battle.  A lot of flowers are blooming in the garden now.  If some of the pictures are not the greatest it is because each picture comes with a mosquito bite!  The garden has a lot of places where mosquitoes can congregate under a lot of foliage.  It doesn’t seem so bad if we walk on a trail somewhere else.


The Joe Pye Weed – Eupatorium ‘Gateway’ – is starting to bloom.


A few pink hydrangea flowers are blooming on our small bush.


Hydrangea arborescens ‘Incrediball.’  I wish I had gotten a hydrangea with smaller blooms that were not so heavy.  Last summer I had good luck with drying them, though.


Hydrangea close up.


We have had three Kniphofia – red hot poker flowers this year.  Maybe a few more will continue to come…  The blue flowers on the left are spike speedwell.  The Russian sage is starting to come on strong.  On the left is miscanthus ‘morning light’ ornamental grass.


The liatris spicata and the Shasta daisies are blooming at the same time.


Bee visiting liatris spicata – blazing star.


I spent a little time deadheading these mums today.  It has been too cold and wet to do it before, so it was a bit of a job.  The alyssum reseeds itself every year here and there in the garden.  It is easy to pull out wherever I don’t want it.


Swamp milkweed.  I tried planting regular milkweed from seed this year, but have not succeeded so far, though I am still trying.


This is the only picture I have of some bee balm that is getting going in our little meadow.


With the rabbits and all the mosquitoes we ended up cutting back some of our little meadow to give some room for a little hickory that a squirrel planted in a good place.  We will see if this hickory catches up to the taller bitternut hickory we planted in the front yard.


The first pink zinnia calls to the butterflies.


The dill is flowering.  Dill is good food for the black swallowtail caterpillars.

Native and non-native plants:  I planted a lot of flowers before thinking about incorporating more native plants into the garden.  So I have a mixture of both.  Often the native plants really attract the pollinators, though some non-native ornamentals do well, too.

Cooking:  My cooking this week included these ingredients from the garden: broccoli, cauliflower, collards, kale, bok choy, onions, red potatoes, small eggplant, parsley, oregano, thyme, a few strawberries and blueberries, and 5 wax beans that the rabbits missed.  With all the mosquitoes this year I have not been too upset to have the rabbits eat the pea and bean plants.

Rain, Reading, and a Clearwing Moth

It is a raining weekend.  There is a flood advisory out for the area.  Luckily our land is high and flooding has never been an issue.  Here are a few photos I took this week.

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This hummingbird clearwing moth has been visiting off and on at the butterfly bush.  It mimics the hummingbird, but is a moth and when I see it in the yard I check the tomato plants for tomato hornworms.  I love seeing the big green caterpillars chewing away, but they usually don’t last long with all the parasitic wasps in the garden.

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I usually ignore the hosta plants, but they are blooming right outside my office window now, so I had to go out and a picture in the dappled light.

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I was trying to capture the big bees that were visiting these hosta flowers.  This was a two mosquito picture.  The mosquitoes chased me inside before I got the picture I wanted.  I put caladryl on one or two mosquito bites after each trip out to certain parts of the garden.  If I don’t scratch the itch goes away in a few hours.

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We had three inches of rain in about 12 hours with another inch or more predicted for later today.  This morning the water was covering the patio.  It all went down quickly, though.  So much of our plant material has deep roots that open the ground up a little and draw the water down into the soil.

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My summer reading included this very interesting book – 40 Chances.  The topic is finding solutions for hunger in the world and deals with agriculture and philanthropy among other things.  It was interesting because I am an organic gardener, but the author farms in Illinois with GMO seeds and is not organic.  Nevertheless he seemed aware of the need to replenish the soil and concerned with the needs of small farmers and subsistence farmers who may not have access to modern equipment and chemicals. I thought it was a well-rounded book with a lot of practical insights.

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This is the book I am working on now – Farmacology.  The author, a doctor, talks about similarities in the biological needs of the body with the biological needs in soil.  I have not read it all but am enjoying it so far.  We are always trying to eat in a healthy way and I appreciate getting a variety of views on how to do that.

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This is what we had for lunch.  We eat a lot of one-pot meals.  Included in the meal from the garden are the first red potatoes, a big turnip and the turnip greens, yellow wax beans, green peas, kale, cauliflower leaves, swiss chard, and a small eggplant.

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Juvenile American robin and sedum.

Vegetables and Berries:  I picked the first small zucchini and a few cherry tomatoes.  The Jimmy Nardello peppers are green and eventually will be turning red and very sweet.  We still have a lot of turnips and cauliflower to eat!  We are still enjoying a handful of raspberries every day and the birds and I are still working on the mulberries, though the blueberries are all eaten.  Each year we should get a bigger supply of blueberries and that is fun to think about…