Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Ah ha--this is what's destroying my Dahlias!

My urns flanking the garage are in dire need of a fall remake.

The dahlias have been diseased all summer.  I was waiting for the last one to bloom, so I knew what color it was and then I planned to cut them all down to the soil.  The last one bloomed this weekend.
I discovered it's an orange dahlia. I can now mark it when I remove it for winter storage.  When I took a close up picture, I noticed these little black specs:
Are they aphids?  Are aphids the evil destroyers causing this damage?
I just removed all the ugly leaves last week and now the leaves I left look just as bad.

The nasturtiums are also looking bad.  I was gone for two days last weekend. When I came back the nasturtiums had gone downhill.
I am tired of nasturtium's demands--constant removal of yellow leaves, cutting back spent blooms, etc.  If I miss one day of watering, the leaves turn yellow.   I think it's time to get rid of them. 

I am going to try to revamp these containers for fall.  I will show them to you after I do that.  In the meantime, please let me know what the bugs are!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Huge Dahlia Work Containers

The planters I did at work turned out to be nothing like what I imagined.  I could not find any cannas to buy, so I brought in some of my own cannas and dahlias and calla lilies (already finished).  I had to take an educated guess (lots of time spent searching my blog for planters with the plants I wanted). I thought I planted the bold Tropicannas with dark striped leaves and purple Rembrandt dahlias.

Instead I got yellow daisy-like dahlias and green-leaved cannas...and boy, did I get them! Whoa, these plants must be on steroids!
I wanted the canna to dominate, but it is almost hidden by the dahlias.  It does have a nice flower when you get up close:

  The pink petunia is 'Bubblegum'.

Do you love the 'Fireworks' fountain grass?  I do!  Actually you cannot tell the difference between it and the regular purple fountain grass as most of the foliage is hidden.  I just love the soft hanging tails.

I bought some of the same grass for my own planters and they have barely grown. I hate when what I plant at work, looks better than the same stuff I plant at home. :(

The Persian shield is also dwarfed by the dahlias. It is so small that I could have eliminated it--ditto for the purple coleus next to it.

The Ipomea (sweet potato vine) is on the side and you cannot even see it from the front. I don't mind that. I kind of like it not taking over the entire front of the container. I have to keep cutting it back or it would be halfway out in the driveway.

Here is what this container looked like when freshly planted in May (you can only see the annuals as the plants I brought from home have not yet come up):

and I was worried that this planter was not full enough! :)

Yesterday I was looking through my wardrobe pics. I fill huge totes with off-season clothing and then I forget what I have.  I found some pics of this grey/orange outfit that I would like to wear again:
Unfortunately I cannot find the clothing!  I think I will be searching the basement totes this weekend.

Thursday, August 23, 2012


That is the name I decided to call this combination of all beef Frankfurter and loose meat hamburger served on hot dog buns.

We both loved them!
I cooked up a few pounds of the burger and froze the rest in two containers to use later for chili or spaghetti.  You know my motto....cook once eat three times (minimum).
Look at this tree...
August is not even over and it's already changing into it's fall attire.

Speaking of fall attire, I just ordered this new jacket:
I think it's my first clothing order since the end of June.  I am quite proud of myself. :)  I think this one can be worn to work and also for more casual weekend outfits.  I am a huge fan of 3/4 length sleeves.  They are great for summer air conditioned rooms as well as for winter heated rooms. They also leave just enough bare arm to show off some wrist jewelry.

I am already thinking of Halloween decorating.  I pulled up my "Halloween" inspiration file and made a collage to inspire me:
I would really like to make those cookies in the center.  DH loves frosted sugar cookies and these look pretty easy to decorate.

I also want to replicate this Edgar Allen Poe Raven table I did two  years ago:
Those candy corn sugar cookies would be great in the 3-tired serving dish. 

I seem to remember buying a bunch of Halloween items during the after holiday sales last fall. I will have to check my Halloween label to see what I bought. Don't you find your blog a handy way to remember things? 

 I can tell autumn is almost here. I am feeling the urge to decorate my dining room table. I have not done much of that in since my Valentine's Day dinner party.

Are your maple trees beginning to turn colors yet?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Caprese Bites

I can't even tell you how much I love these.
Pop the one bite wonders into your mouth and enjoy the burst of savory summer freshness.
They are nothing more than a freshly-picked (from my neighbor's garden) tomato, a square of fresh mozzarella cheese and a sprig of my own basil with a sweet balsamic drizzle.
What a perfect appetizer for a summer deck party.

 Even though it was just me and DH last night, it was worth the little effort to make this prelude to our  dinner of grilled chicken and pasta salad.

I happen to love this brand of balsamic vinaigrette on these mini morsels:
but you can use any other dressing you like.

For the full experience, you really do need to use fresh mozzarella cheese, which is a delicate-flavored soft cheese and comes in a round shape like this:

You can buy it in most supermarkets.  Dedicated turophiles make their own. But I have found that the supermarket stuff is just fine for those of us who do not have the time (nor the desire) to go to such lengths. 

Turophile:  Turo is derived from tyro, the Greek word for cheese, and, of course, -phile means "lover of."   So a turophile is a lover of cheese.  This is my new vocabulary word of the day. :)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Just Discovered a Flower that Has Yet to Bloom

I just noticed some buds on one of the toad lilies that I planted this year.  It's always fun to find something new when you think the season has ended.

I also have another one of those weird double calla lily flowers like I had last year.
It is blooming way later than the others did. . . strange, but I like it with the yellow-centered orange dahlia behind.

These red Rembrandt dahlias are among my favorites:
 They are a very successful Breck's purchase from a few years ago. 
 I like the short stems, full pom pom shape and purple centers.
I have separated them a few times and now have quite a few of them.

It's been feeling like fall around here.  It's just 49 degrees right now!  We have been trying to spend a little time each afternoon  on the deck to enjoy the last few days of summer weather.
I will probably begin cutting down plants this week. It's a HUGE chore for me, so I like to start early.  Any of you started doing that yet?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Dahlia Garden Bouquet

I made a dahlia garden bouquet today.  I had planned to make many other garden bouquets this year. Once again the time zoomed by and I did not make more than two the whole season.

This bouquet has a bit of almost everything left in my garden.

A bit of Lamb's Ear...

some phlox... even some daylily seed pods...

a few sprigs of Sedum Autumn Joy, three hosta leaves, 3 Buddelia flowers, some chartreuse coleus and some silver artemesia.

Together all these bits from my garden turned into this dining room table bouquet:

Now I am off to put the second coat of paint on a picture frame.  It was on my "to do" list for this weekend--truth be told it has been on my weekend "to do" list quite a few times.
 I am so happy that it will finally be done!

After that I plan to sit on the deck for a short time to enjoy all those butterflies before I have to get ready for a family event later this afternoon.

All in all it's been a great Sunday. Hope yours is, too.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Scarecrows and liatris added to Planters

Thanks for your visits the past week.  We have been out of town for 5 days, so that is why you have not heard from me.  I had a couple of posts scheduled.  I hope to get around to visiting everyone soon.

When I removed the hostas from the deck planters, I also removed some liatris (gay feather).  I put a couple in this whiskey barrel on the deck.

They go nicely with the Buddelia (butterfly bush in the background).

I cut off the ugly dahlia leaves from the garage urns this morning.  I was left with a lot of bare stalks, though there are new dahlia leaves coming out near all the spots I cut.  Still I needed something to fill in the bare spot--I went to the basement and brought out some scarecrows to fill in the space.
 This dahlia is way too tall and I plan to cut it shorter as soon as the big bud on top blooms.  It is the only bud I see and I want to know what color dahlia I have in this urn. I can't for the life of me remember.  I also stuck some liatris in this urn. Can you see it?  Here is a close up:

Here is the second urn flanking the garage door:

and the close up of the cute little scarecrow:

I also added a scarecrow to the porch planter.

  The pink Park Princess dahlias in this container  really looked bad, so I cut them all the way down to the soil.  I also had to remove a few Cordayline leaves as a fuzzy worm was eating them.  I picked off and stomped on 5 fuzzy worms crawling on the leaves.

See the sedum Autumn Joy at the bottom of the picture?  It's only the beginning of all the SAJ's I have in this front garden.  Take a look:

There are even more on the opposite side of the driveway.  Can you see the hint of pink? In  a few weeks it will be a mass of pink (and bees!) in this area.

Friday, August 17, 2012

I Seem to Have More Butterflies this Year & the Neighbors have a Bumper Crop of Veggies

Every time I walk near the butterfly bush, at least a dozen of them flutter upward. 

There is always a humming bird moth or two as well.
I have seen humming birds, too. I just have not caught one on camera yet. While I am excited by all the flying pretties, DH is excited because he is about to pick his first tomato.
He has four plants and they are all doing well. I forgot what these little ones are called. That is the extent of our vegetable garden. :)  Fortunately my neighbor has a bumper crop of delicious cukes and has been keeping us supplied for the past three weeks.  Neighbor #2 came over yesterday and said they will be leaving for a week and could we please go over and help ourselves to their tomatoes and cukes as they don't want them to go to waste while they are away.  Of course we are happy to help.


Monday, August 13, 2012

New Hosta Garden all Planted

A few weeks back, I spent considerable  effort digging out this shady garden that never really looked good.  It was full of daylilies that I removed.

The area has been sitting bare until I had the time to remove all the hosta from these deck planters (pic taken two years ago).
I know they look pretty good here, but they really only look good for a few weeks after they come up each spring.  It is too sunny in this area and the leaves always burn.  They have also been here for a few years and it's time to rejuvenate this area.

Today was the day.  They were not easy to remove as the following picture will show.
We had to remove a layer of logs to get the shovel down deep enough.  They all came out in one big mass that took two of us to carry out of the planting box. Now we are left with this ugly  mess. 

We will fix it all up soon enough.  It was great to have perennials planted that just came up every year with no effort from me.  Now I hope it will be fun to come up with something different to grow here next year.  I think I will go back to annuals since the planting space is so limited.

I hacked them into manageable clumps, then planted all of them in this new hosta garden.  You can see the burned leaves on some of them.  Can you imagine how much it would have cost if I had to buy all of these plants?  It really pays to have a well established perennial garden.  I did not spend a cent to redo this area.
It was a lot of work!  I am happy to have finished this much today.  Rain is predicted tonight and that will be perfect as I was too pooped after all the heavy digging and lifting to drag the hose out.  I will probably use a pine needle mulch in this area.  I am not a fan of mulch in my other gardens because I move things too frequently.  But since I don't plan to plant anything else here, the mulch will work to hold in moisture for these water lovers.  Since the pine trees in this area will be dropping pine needles anyway, that will be the perfect mulch.

5:45pm update: DH has already put it all back together. I went around the deck and grabbed a few containers to stick in:

Now that was much easier than I expected it to be!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Help with Dahlia Disease

For some reason my three containers in the front of the house all have diseased dahlias.  Here is one of them:
 It doesn't look too horrible until you get a tad closer.  And then............Whoa, it looks bad.

Do any of you know what this disease is?  Will I need to toss out the dahlia tubers?   I am planning to cut this one all the way down tomorrow.  At the moment I have no idea what I will do to make it look decent until October.  I guess that's my challenge for the weekend. :)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Few Deck Pictures

First of all, my sympathies to AZ in Phoenix, who had to live through a 117 degree day yesterday! I hope I never experience temperatures anywhere near that!!

This year I did not decorate the deck as I usually do with pillows, quilts, rugs, etc.  If I ever have a leisurely weekend home, I may still get a chance to do it. Here is what the undecorated deck looked like at 8:00p.m. on August 8, 2012:

This is a closer view of the Tropicanna flower that I showed you yesterday.

I always enjoy the pink 'Park Princess' dahlias.

This framed planter has really filled out.

 This is probably about as good as the planted crates will get this year.  I expected the top to have a crown of white calla lilies, but that did not happen.

Only one white calla lily bloomed and it came out at an angle instead of on top.
Everything else in these crates performed as expected and I am very happy with this corner. I will definitely be using the crates again next  year.

I hear the most lovely sound outside --raindrops hitting the windows. It's still dark, so I can't tell how much it's rained, but anything is appreciated.

Have to get ready for work now. I have another full day. The Food & Beverage Director and I will be meeting with the bride of our next wedding. It's the most unusual (and expensive) wedding we have done --all individual food station set ups--and we want to make sure to get it right!  I am sure it will go off beautifully, but it's always a bit stressful until it's over.
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