Central Virginia Organic Gardener

"And 'tis my faith that every flower enjoys the air it breathes." - William Wordsworth, 1798

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Burgundy Okra

Okra photos by the author, use by permission only.

Oh, my, this is one plant I will definitely grow next year.  I ordered burgundy okra seeds from Pinetree Garden Seeds (www.superseeds.com) last winter.  I really like okra, but have not grown it in a few years,  Well, this okra is not only beautiful, but the pods are very tasty.  It is easy to grow, as long as the huge plants get sufficient water (it was a dry summer).  I had one plant grow over 5 feet tall!  The deep red stems, red-veined green leaves, red fruit and absolutely gorgeous flowers make it a natural in the back of the flower border, too!  Did you know that okra is a member of the hibiscus family, as is cotton?

Have you been getting your seed catalogs? Planting season will be here soon!
Happy gardening!


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Hopi Red Dye Amaranth

I grow plants for beauty, for consumption and for art.  I am a botanical artist, and I like to draw unusual subjects.  I planted Hopi red dye amaranth a few years ago and the plant has been busily reseeding in my garden (easy to pull out, though, if it is in an inconvenient place).  This plant can be very large, up to 4 feet tall.  The leaves are greenish-burgundy, with reddish flower stalks (made up of thousands of flowers). The Hopi people used its seeds as a food dye, mainly to make cornbread pink in color.  Amaranths are a large family of plants, and their seed is edible and has a good amount of protein. Leaves are nutritious, too. Garden cultivars include the well-know "Love Lies Bleeding" planted in old-fashioned flower gardens:   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amaranthus_caudatus
Here is a pink cultivar:
Coral Fountain Amaranth at the Hudson Valley Seed Library in Accord, NY

I grew this plant to try to dye wool (the color is not light fast, though) and to draw.  When I draw, I start from a living subject, but then use reference photos as reminders.  Here is a reference photo:

Photo by S.R. Vrana

For more information about amaranths, go to:

Happy Gardening!  And Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Tomato Musings

It is getting near Christmas, and I am listening to holiday music. We have four, measly, poorly-ripened tomatoes left from the garden that likely won't taste very good.  The season of craving that homegrown, sun-ripened tomato has arrived.

You know how how people in a state or area with decent tomato-growing conditions say their tomatoes are the best?  In Virginia, many counties claim their 'maters have no equal, are the ultimate in tomato-ness, including Hanover, where I live.  And I grew up in New Jersey where the same claims are made.

Why is this?  I have a theory.  When you bite into that perfect homegrown tomato in July, to what are you comparing it?  Perhaps you are comparing it to those nasty, styrofoam-like, tasteless red orbs purported to be tomatoes that are sold in the grocery store year round.  Those things are often grown in Florida (terrible conditions for tomato growing), picked green and artificially ripened in a warehouse flooded with ethylene gas.   Gross!  They taste nothing like a good tomato...or even like a marginal homegrown one.  So, any homegrown tomato that is ripe, and has never been refrigerated, is infinitely superior, whether it comes from Jersey, Virginia, Delaware or North Carolina...or any zone good for the solanaceae. Oh, and sometimes when you buy tomatoes at a farm stand, they have been refrigerated or chilled.  Nothing ruins their flavor faster.
I just about never buy off-season tomatoes, choosing to add beets, carrots, olives to my salads and sandwiches instead. 
And "I'm dreamin' of a red tomato...just like the ones I used to know..." 
Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Pokeweed: Friend or Foe?

Why is this pokeweed in a vase?

Gosh, I hate pokeweed.  Or, perhaps the more accurate word is "hated."  You all know pokeweed:
That large, though somewhat handsome, plant, huge taproot, that sprouts like a hydra if you break it off when removing the plant.  Pokeweed is also poisonous and the berries stain (thanks birds!).
I actually drew it:

Hum, so why draw a plant you "hate?"  OK, OK.....As I said, the plant is handsome, and the green, rose and purple berries are stunning.  And maybe I don't hate it so much, after all, because the berries are favorites of some cool birds, like mourning doves, bluebirds, catbirds and mocking birds (I can listen to mockers sign for a long time, trying to identify their songs).  Indeed, these birds feed heavily on pokeweed berries.

Yes, I know, too much is too much.  How to remove pokeweed?  It is good to wait until after a rain, when the soil is saturated. This helps loosen the roots' grip on the soil.  Young plants can usually be pulled out by hand. Established plants need to be dug out, getting all the taproot.  Quite a chore.  So you might think of letting a few plants stay in a corner of your yard, for the birds!

One more image for you: look at this speckled-leaf cultivar of pokeweed at the Denver Botanic gardens!  Wow!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Pine Straw

Like many of you, I have been buying wood chips/mulch for the paths in my flower garden.  This is despite the various concerns about mulch: it breeds artillery fungus that can permanently stain houses, it robs the soil of nitrogen as it breaks down (not such a problem in paths), it can encourage voles and it costs money!  So, I have started doing what I should have been doing all along: using the free mulch that drops from my pine tree and the trees of neighbors.

At first, the pine straw (some call it pine tags) is fluffy, but it soon packs down (I walked over it a few times).  Like wood chips, it might encourage voles and take up nitrogen, but it is free and I don't have to drive somewhere to get it, load it, unload it and spread it.  Plus, I already rake it up every fall.  Win Win! And, after it packs down, it looks pretty good,  It likely will not last as long as wood chips, but I easily renew it every year.

Happy Gardening!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Happy to see me?

(Warning: this is rude)

So, is this a mutant persimmon or is he happy to see me?

Happy gardening!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Persimmon Update

I have written about my Ichi Ki Kei Jiro persimmon before (a fuyu type).  The tree is fabulous: beautiful in fruit and in fall. and very productive.  Nothing really bothers it.  This year I estimate I got over 150 persimmons from one tree (and I planted two more last fall!)  You can purchase this tree (a small tree) through the good folks at Edible Landscaping (http://ediblelandscaping.com/buyPlants.php) (they also have other fabulous plants).

Fall persimmon foliage

The fruits from fuyu persimmons, unlike the native American persimmon, are not astringent and are eaten while still firm, like an apple.  They are seedless, crispy and sweet.  And. when you dehydrate them, they are amazing!
A bowlful!

Candy in the dehydrator!

As my friends know, I studies for my certificate in botanical illustration so I could document my garden.  Here is my persimmon drawing:

Happy gardening!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Field Trip: Denver Botanic Gardens

I recently had the opportunity to visit the Denver Botanic Gardens. I have been to a bunch of botanic gardens, but the Denver Gardens is a standout.

Display of bee houses at the DBG

Why is it a stand out?  There were three characteristic that I noted.  First, the planting beds in the garden were full, there was no space for weeds to invade and no real empty spots.  Second, someone has paid a great deal of attention to the plant architecture, that is, the height, spacing, color, texture and form were perfect, sometimes in total harmony, other times pleasant surprises.  Third, there were some real show-stopping plantings, for example huge pots full of flowering brugmansia (Angels' trumpet) and towering castor bean plants:

The garden has many, themed garden rooms and a great conservatory.  If you go, plan to stay all day!
Some more "eye candy" for you:

From top left: Chihuly glass "tree," perennial walk, tropical bromeliads, desert garden and the brugmansia.

From top left: colorful flowers, the stunning staghorn sumac, potted sedum, 2 photos of Chihuly glass on the lake.

Boat on the lake with Chihuly glass

And, for the veg gardeners, nice chard! 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Growing Cotton

I have written about growing cotton before.  Now I want to post some photos from a good friend who grows it too (she got me started!  And here initials are JT, too!). This year, she grew black cotton. No, the actual cotton is not black, but the leaves and unopened boll are deep red-purple, a color often referred to in the horticultural world as "black." The blooms are a pretty shade or pink, unlike the cream-tinged-with-green-and-pink of the blooms of the standard cotton plant.  Handsome plant.
Eye candy time!
Top left, clockwise: a black cotton plant next to a regular cotton plant; bright white cotton coming out of a newly opened boll; a beautiful cotton flower (cotton is a member of the hibiscus family) and: the unopened boll.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

NEVER prune in the fall!

A great explanation of why you should never prune trees and shrub in the fall.  Put those pruners away until winter!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Gardening with Nature

Even though I feel I have been gardening thoughtfully, with the environment in mind, I have been re-thinking aspects of my yard and garden.  Here are a few examples.  I had wanted to remove what I thought was a "scrubby" tree from my backyard, until I learned it was a native wild cherry that was a host for many native insects (they can't eat or nest in most imported, exotic plants). I learned about the severe decline of the monarch butterfly, so I started its native host plant, the common milkweed, to plant in a new flower bed I am constructing.  I had already gotten rid of most of a half acre of grass, which requires too many inputs of chemical and water to justify growing. and, of course, I use no artificial fertilizers, pesticides, etc.

Would you like to go to a more natural style of gardening?  Here are 15 ideas for an "Ecobenefical Landscape:"

[this is an endorsement of these  ideas, not necessarily this consulting company].

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Hudson Valley Seed Library

This past weekend I went to Accord, NY, to the Hudson Valley Seed Library, 
a farm that specializes in growing organic and open-pollinated heirloom seeds 
( http://www.seedlibrary.org/about-us-hvsl/ ) that was started at the site of old 
camp resort in 2004.  This is the time of year when plants are harvested for seed
or have already been harvested.  It was odd, from a gardener's perspective to see
so many of these plants gone to seed! It is always an embarrassment to me to see
lettuce, for example, gone to seed in my garden!  And, of course, I try to pick 
my veggies at the best point for eating, which is usually far earlier than the seed
production stage!
In the photo collage above: red zinnias going to seed, center top (counter clock-
wise): red lettuce seed heads, de-seeded squash in the compost pile, onions drying and
eggplants being allowed to mature to form seeds.
This company also sponsors a yearly contest for artists to design some of their seed

This might inspire me to use more open-pollinated plants and save my own seed!
Happy gardening!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Commercial Potting Soil

I know, a very exciting photo, of dirt!  This is a nationally-available brand of potting soil with fertilizer and I have finally gotten fed up with it.  I am now starting to make my own.  Why?  Mushrooms.  Huh?  I have been using this and similar soils for outdoor container plants and house plants.  Lately, my house plants have been sprouting various fungi!  Which I think is not so good for indoor air quality, especially for those with allergies.  Why is this happening?
Well, turn over the bag and read the ingredients.  Many of these potting mixes list "forestry by products" " forestry products" or "wood chips."  You can even see some in the photo.  Wood chips take awhile to decompose and often sprout mushrooms and fungi in order to break down.  They provide zip in regard to plant nutrients, except, perhaps, over the very long haul.  They are there so the forestry industry can get rid of excess, undesirable wood waste.
Another reason to dislike these products is the harsh, chemical salt fertilizers they contain.  These are like feeding your kids on white sugar, not healthy at all.
I am now making my own potting soil, a mix of worm compost (other well-aged compost will do), peat or coir fibers and perlite.  I think my house plants and I will be the better for it!
Happy gardening!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Carnivory in Action

A wasp stuck in a pitcher plant.
I sometimes see small insects stuck in the pitchers of these carnivorous plants, but seldom ones as large as this wasp.  I watched him for awhile, and he (she?) just cannot get back up, the feet keep sliding down, towards the pool of digestive enzymes at the bottom.  However, bees and wasps are often able to chew right through the side of the pitcher and effect an escape that way.
It's a plant eats insect world out there!
Happy gardening!  Though the heat and drought are pretty bad here in my part of central Virginia...

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Keyhole Gardens: Link

Now this is a very cool idea, keyhole gardens!  From : http://www.inspirationgreen.com/keyhole-gardens.html

The basic idea is to have a center well for composting, and water also goes into this well.  The cut allows for easy access to the center well.  A great idea especially in dry areas and to conserve water in general. Thanks, VS, for sending me the link!
Happy gardening!

Sunday, August 17, 2014


     I wrote a brief note about basil blight last year, secure in the knowledge that it had not spread to Virginia.
But is has. To my house.
     Basil blight is a fungal disease that will kill your basil plants and spread to other basil plants through fungal spores released into the air.  I like to sow basil seeds several times a season to keep a good supply of fresh, young leaves on hand.  I ran out of seed and recently purchased new seed from a large, commercial seed house.  The plants looked great at first, then more and more sickly: pasty yellow and brown leaves.

I wondered if it could be blight. When I turned over the leaves, this is what I saw:
     See the gray patches on the backs of the leaves?  This is the grayish fungus called basil blight.  The remedy? Bag up and throw out the plants, soil and pots.  I feel lucky I don't have this in the garden (I hope I caught it early enough before it spread).
     If your basil gets puny looking, checks carefully for a gray, sooty fungal growth on the backs of the leaves and toss it out ASAP!  I wrote to the seed house, we'll see what response I get,
Happy gardening!  May your basil stay healthy!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Woody Basil

Plant in the background is past-its-prime basil, in front are new plants.
See the difference?

Over the course of the growing season, basil reaches a "woody" stage, at the time it begins to flower.  Though the leaves are ok to use in cooking at this point, they are smaller, begin to turn yellow and brown, and their full basil flavor is diminished.  This happens even if you regularly shear the plant to stimulate new growth.  So, I buy extra seeds of basil and, every three weeks, I start a new pot or two.  This keeps me in fresh, young basil leaves all summer long!  The spent basil gets dumped in the compost heap.
Happy gardening!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Green Wave Mustard

The most reliable green in my central Virginia garden, Green Wave Mustard, is available from a variety of sources.  This old-timey green a favorite in the south, is sweeter raw when young, nutty and luscious when cooked, and is slow to bolt, a very good characteristic for our hot summers...and it can be planted in mid-summer, as long as your provide sufficient water to germinate the seed.  My favorite way to cook it? Caramelize a sliced onion in 2 T of good olive oil with a pinch of salt, add 2 or more cloves crushed garlic and cook a minute, add 4 or more cups of the mustard greens, and let them wilt well. Then add 2 T balsamic vinegar and serve! Delicious!
Happy gardening!

Friday, August 1, 2014

It's that time of the year!

It's that time of the year, when you come home from a week's 
vacation and everything has ripened at once!  Time to get out
the canning kettle!  
Photo, top left, clockwise: lavender touch eggplant, with a 
few cukes and zukes: assorted tomatoes; a cushaw squash and:
yellow bell peppers grown in containers.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Cucumber Success!

One-day's harvest, July 1, 2014

I recently posted on the methods I am trying this year after two years of cucumber failure. To be fair (to moi) the failure was because I was too busy to get a decent garden in and tried to directly sow my cucumbers. Before I could deal with them, the cucumber beetles struck and the plants wilted.  This year, I started the plants in peat pots. planted them in vole-deterrent cages, covered then with floating row covers, and, when it was time to take the covers off, I sprayed them with a kaolin clay spray (the trademarked surround).  So far, SUCCESS!  The two varieties I planted were Alibi cucumber (a greenhouse type) and Muncher (a pickler) ordered from Pinetree Garden Seeds ( http://www.superseeds.com )  And both are delicious!
Happy gardening!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Truth in Labelling

Lovely hot peppers, no?  Only one problem: they are grown from seed from a packet labelled
"Jalapeño!"  I have had minimal problems with mixed up seed packs before...I expect
this pepper is way more hotter that a Jalapeño!  Guess I need to send the seed company a note!
Happy gardening!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Need a soakin'

It has been dry here in central VA. Here is the pattern: we get a prediction for a good chance of rain and...as I watch the radar online, the rain clouds skirt my town.  Time to drag out the soaker hoses!
I hope you already know that overhead watering is very inefficient, for this reason: most of the water is lost to evaporation.  Very little of it actually goes into the ground.  In addition, when you use a sprinkler in your garden, much of the water goes onto the paths.  Soaker hoses, which emit drops of water across their length, are far more precise and are better at getting the water where you want it to go.  My mistake this season was I did not lay the hoses when I was doing the initial planting:  this would have saved me a lot of grief. Laying hose while planting is easy, but laying it around large existing plants is tedious.  When you do use a soaker, leave it on for two or more hours.  You will use less water, use it more efficiently and your plants will reward you!  Soaker hoses are not expensive, last for seasons and are a good investment.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Pretty, but Invasive: Purple Loosestrife

On a recent trip up north, I again noticed the plant above in wetland areas, especially in the NJ wetlands. Very pretty, this plant is the highly invasive purple loosestrife,  Lythrum salicaria.  The sale of this plant is banned in many states, but I have seen it for sale at flea markets, yard sales and small-scale, charity plant sales or swaps.  AVOID IT AT ALL COSTS!  Loosestrife infestations are costly to manage, hard to eradicate and actually decrease the sites available for nesting water fowl.  (If you see this plant, differentiate it from the native Winged Loosestrife, Lythrum alatum, before you eradicate it. "As compared to the native plant, purple loosestrife has wingless stems, a larger size, and slender willow-like leaves that often have hairs" from:  http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/31778/#ixzz36FN21Y7O )
 For additional information, go to: http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/wq/plants/weeds/aqua009.html

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Field Trip: Lily Pons Water Gardens

Lily Pons

Top left clockwise:  Formal display garden, lotus pond, water lilies for sale, 
lotus bloom, slender cattails.

The lotus pond and garden store in the background
From:  http://www.lilypons.com/our-garden-store

I have been purchasing from Lily Pons Water Gardens (named for an opera star born in 1898) since I had my pond built 4 years ago.  I was pleased with the plants and materials I purchased and, on a recent trip up north, I took a short detour to visit.  Lily Ponds is situated on 250 acres in Adamstown, MD. The garden center is in a colonial building on the property (see second photo from top) and is full of practical and ornamental items for the water garden. Immediately outside the garden you will find long, narrow ponds from which you can select plants for purchase.  Immediately behind the building, under shade of a lean-to, are the tanks holding koi and other aquatic creature for sale (Lily Pons started under another name to sell ornamental fish).  Surrounding the building are production ponds stuffed to the gills (pun?) with water lilies, lotuses, large and dwarf cattails and other amazing plants.  Their large koi pond is home to koi of all sizes, and you can buy a bag of fish food to feed them in the garden center building.  In addition to production ponds large and small with beautiful flowers and plants, there are many display gardens scattered around the property, plus picnic spots in sun and shade.  If you are in the area, or are a water garden fan, pack a picnic lunch and visit!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Must Protect The Pond!

We are having some work done on our house.  Right by my precious pond. So, time to protect it!  In the past, after work was done, I found things in it that likely did not blow or fall in (e.g. cigarette butts), so this time I want, at least, the visual signal of "no trespass" or "leave it alone!"  It will look ugly for a couple of weeks, but, it will hopefully protect the plants, water and stone walls.

Happy gardening!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Pond Update

This is the prettiest part of my yard (despite the ugly shed door).  My pond has really matured. Installed 4 years ago, the plants are thriving, and frogs and birds have made it their home.  I planted the pond shelves and beds around it to have changing color schemes: pink, purple and white in spring: white and red in late spring: yellow, red and orange in summer and fall.
Happy gardening!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Container gardening

I have written about container gardening before, and my use of containers in vegetable and flower gardening has only increased since.  The photo above is an example of one area, on my driveway, where I have containers (I likely have 50 outside right now).  Here is what I grow in containers:
1. Tropical plants, like bananas, that I want to overwinter and grow again next year.  These plants are either brought into unheated shelter, like my garage (for example, plants that grow from bulbs and die back) or live out the winter in my heated, but cool, attic under florescent lights (citrus, bananas, coffee, mangoes, hibiscus, Indian curry leaf tree).
2. Plants I have not yet planted that need a temporary home.
3. Plants that I will use in my botanical drawings (in the photo above I have white milkweed, mullein, and cotton plants for this purpose).
4. Peppers:  for some reason, bell and hot peppers do better for me in pots than in the ground.
5. Plants that look lovely in pretty pots: dwarf Japanese maples, voodoo lilies, and "Snow on the Mountain" dwarf pine.

Some containers I use are are more utilitarian (for annual veggies), other more ornamental (for permanent plantings).  A few tips with containers:
-Unglazed terracotta pots dry out fast, they wick away moisture.  Plus, they may crack if left outdoors over winter.
-Annual veggies, like tomatoes and peppers, need all the growing space they can get: do not fill the bottom of the pot with styrofoam peanuts, gravel or broken pottery.  If your soil is good, they don't need extra drainage.
-Saucers under pots can cause root rot.  One sign of over-watering is guttation:  this is when water drips from the leaves: it is the plant's attempt to get rid of excess water in the soil.
-Plants that winter outdoors in cold climates need protection, as do ceramic pots. Perennials need a generous-sized pot, lined with bubble wrap on the sides (not the bottom) to protect the roots from freezing. Draping or wrapping the pot with burlap also helps protect the pot and provides further insulation for the roots.
-When you bring pots in for the winter, check for bugs. I douse the soil with a BT solution (it's organic: a naturally-occurring bacteria that kills insects) to kill fungus gnats and I spray the plants with commercial insecticidal soap spray.
Search this blog for other postings on containers!
Happy gardening!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

An Experiment with Surround (tm)

I am sick of cucumber beetles decimating my cucumber crop just as they really get going.  I had some difficulty finding an organic method to prevent or discourage them (after all, most organic methods reduce or control pests, don't fully kill them).  This year, after two years of no cucumbers, I first covered then with floating row covers, a barrier method that allows the plants a good head start before the cuke beetles arrive. Even though these are "greenhouse" cucumbers (they set fruit without pollination) eventually they grow too big for the cover, plus the covers should be removed during scorching temperatures (as we are having now). So, to further control cuke beetles (which spread cucumber wilt that kills the plants), I sprayed with plants with Surround, a trademarked barrier spray made of finely milled kaolin clay (think kaopectate- same stuff!) that discourages the critters from feeding.  However, it does turn the plants sort of white. One concern I have is that this may reduce photosynthesis too much, but it is an experiment, so we will see.  I will have to reapply after a heavy rain.
Cukes with Surround
I am also experimenting with my eggplants: first row covers, then Surround as they get too large for the covers.  Note I sprayed half of each plant, to see if the Surround really reduces flea beetle damage (they eat tons of tiny holes in the leaves).
Keep posted for the results!
Happy gardening!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


A female vole can have 100 offspring per season and, boy, do we have voles.  I have tried trapping (and releasing) them and vole repellents, both with minimal success (though circling vulnerable plants with gravel in a ring a few feet down surrounded by daffodils seems to work).  I have written about voles before.  These "meadow mice" live underground and tunnel through your yard and garden.  Unlike moles, which create obvious mounds in your yard and do not eat your plants, voles leave no obvious tunnels, just round holes, and do eat your plants. Voles have dined on my root crops, destroyed my snap peas, eaten a tomato plant (I found only the above-ground part of the plant, all the roots were chewed off) and gorged on hostas.  So, here is one solution: I build vole barriers from 1/4 inch garden cloth/wire fencing.  I plant the vulnerable plants right into these baskets into the ground, back fill with soil.  This gives the plants a chance to grow and really seems to deter the voles.  At the end of the season, when I pull out the plants, I find that the roots grew very well right through this mesh.  And I save them to use next year.  If you are making new garden beds, you can line the entire length of the bed with garden cloth to stop the voles!

Above: Vole cage in the making

Another creature to deter?  The bunnies who love nothing better than to eat emerging bean plants!

Beans under garden cloth/fence 

For what other creatures do I use the "barrier method??  Why, cucumber and flea beetles, of course:

Floating row covers over hoops to deter chewing insects.

When the plants are large, I remove the covers to allow pollination.  I will spray members of the squash family with Kaolin clay (sold under the registered trademarked name Surround)(this acts as a sort of barrier too- insects do not like the gritty surface)  which keeps these beetles from chewing the leaves and spreading viral wilts.  I might try it on my eggplants too, though they grew so huge last year, the flea beetles hardly bothered them!  These row covers often last two seasons, sometimes more, but might need a little patching (duct tape to the rescue!). I have heard that old, white sheer curtains can be used as well!

Happy barrier-method gardening!

Sunday, April 20, 2014


Judy here, again channeling my "Inner Bunny," the nickname of a college friend who could not hear a song without shouting "that's my favorite song!"  So, here's my new "favorite plant!"  from the family of sedums...

  Sedum rupestre

 Sedum grisebachii

"Sedum passalong":  passed from my childhood neighbors to my mom to me!

Sedums are very forgiving of hot, dry conditions and are thriving tucked into the rock wall around my pond.  They are also the easiest of plants to transplant and divide, just pluck off part of the plant, stick it into the soil and water.  They provide color, flowers and some, like the one in the top photo, Sedum rupestre turn orange in the fall and winter!  Sedums, however, do not respond well to foot traffic, so put them out of the way.  If you want to figure out what sedums you have, there are sedum identification guides online [for example: http://www.sedumphotos.net/main.php], but it is a big task.  
Happy gardening!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Oops! Be careful out there!

OK, maybe this is a "do as I say, not as I do" kind of post,  but a moment's inattention can have harmful consequences!  I read somewhere that most accidents happen in the home, and I am guessing that more than half of these happen in the yard and garden.  So far, I have been pretty lucky.  Just a few injuries to date:  I fell out of my apple tree while pruning it (luckily, I did not have the pruning saw in my hand at the time); I've banged my head numerous times on low tree limbs, mostly just getting small bruise, once a small cut; I "pruned" off the tip of a finger while deadheading some daffodils...and so forth.  This last one was a doozy:  I tripped and fell...onto a rock wall, breaking my fall with my chin and left hand.  Here are some of the factors in my fall:
Exhibit #1:  Tunnel-Digging BobTheDog

Exhibit #2: Tunnel-Digging Fluff (with the evidence on her paws and chin!)

Exhibit #3: Ill-Fitting Faux Crocs

Exhibit #4: Rock wall with Some SHARP rocks

And lastly, exhibit #5:  a beautiful, warm day after a dreary, cold, long winter, and the pent-up desire to garden!

Luckily, no broken bones, just bruises, a swollen left hand and 7 stitches on my chin. (Thanks to the PA who stitched me up- she did an excellent job!)
Be careful out there!