Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Before & After

I was putting picture files on a CD today and came across these before pictures of the woodland area in 2001. It always amazes me to see the difference a few years and a little effort can make.

OK, maybe my memory is not so good -- it was probably more than a "little" effort since I dug it all out with a shovel.

And here is the same area yesterday.

Oh, the Sweet, Cuddly Critters I find in my Garden

Monday, August 29, 2005

There is a pre-autumn chill in the air these days. It stays dark until almost 7:00 a.m. now. I miss going out to the deck before 6:00 a.m. with my morning coffee prior to leaving for work. The container plants are fading fast and it won�t be long before the perennial beds are ready for their winter hibernation. Soon the humming birds & the monarchs will head south.

Today I snapped this picture of a tree at work turning its autumn colors. On one hand I am sad to see these signs. On the other, I will be happy to have the time to do something other than tend to plants. I give it my all for about three or four months, and then I look forward having the next 8 months off to focus on something else.

I have been making a few notes of what worked and what did not (I have a computer file called"Flops 2005"). I also have a file called "Moved or Changed in 2005" to remind me of where I moved plants so that I know what to expect next spring. During the winter months I will occasionally look through the pictures and make notes of what I want to do in 2006. All winter I will leaf through my dozens of gardening magazines and books. At some point I will make new throws and pillows for the deck furniture. By January, I will be getting antsy to dig in the dirt. I will start frantically searching the net for garden blogs in warmer areas so that I can get my fix.

The weeks will drag by-oh, so slowly-- until it is finally time to start it all over again.

I love gardening.

Word Verification

I have decided to enable the word verification for comments.
Here is the explanation for it taken directly from Blogger's help files:

What is the word verification option?
The "word verification" option can be found on the Settings Comments tab for your blog.

If you choose "yes" for this setting, then people leaving comments on your blog will be required to complete a word verification step.

What this does is to prevent automated systems from adding comments to your blog, since it takes a human being to read the word and pass this step. If you've ever received a comment that looked like an advertisement or a random link to an unrelated site, then you've encountered comment spam. A lot of this is done automatically by software which can't pass the word verification, so enabling this option is a good way to prevent many such unwanted comments.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Take a Bow, DH!

I did a lot of gardening work today (after almost two weeks of hardly doing any). I edged the beds in the woodland area, moved about 8 black-eyed Susans, a white phlox, a barley-surviving butterfly bush, and 3 hosta. It felt good to be digging in the dirt again.

After a few weeks of adequate rain, my garden is looking very, very nice (if I do say so myself). DH cut the lawn today, so I took a new picture of the arbor beds to show off his grass (he loves it if I mention his contribution on my blog!). He does do a great job and he knows how much the green lush grass contributes to the overall look.
Did you notice that the Sedum Autumn Joy is beginning to turn pink?

Butterfly Bush Against the Sky

Just look at that sky--it is a simply perfect today in Northeast Michigan.
Peaceful view of the rock garden from the deck.

A Smorgasbord of Butterflies

Doesn't anyone know what this butterfly is?

I have been getting a lot of butterflies on the deck lately. They must be starting their migration. I liked the monarch on the orange zinnia. I am not really "up" on butterfly names, but I think the black one is 'black swallowtail". I have no idea what the other orange one is. Does anyone know?

Cardinal Flower

Here is the cardinal flower in relation to the full bed. (the first pic made it look much taller than it really is)

Friday, August 26, 2005

Sedum Autumn Joy on a Christmas Tree

I thought I would post something a little different today. I have spray painted sedum AJ gold and used it on my Christmas tree as a filler (as people use baby's breath). I did this in the spring after the Sedum had been sitting outside over the winter. The stalks MUST BE VERY DRY so they don't mold.

I was cutting it all down and I thought, "Gee, what if I painted this gold and used it as a dried flower?" Some of it I painted while it was still in the ground and some I cut down first and put on a sheet. It was sort of fun to do and another way to enjoy that wonderful Sedum Autumn Joy!

Here are the results:

The Finished Tree

Black and Blue Salvia Guaranitica

Sandy (My garden) said she had just purchased salvia black and blue and was asking if anyone else had it. Well, I do and here it is. It is growing in a whiskey barrel and is about 2 feet tall. The blue & black colors are outstanding and the humming birds just love to sip daily from the long spikey flowers. I haven't yet really fallen for this one, though, it would be a nice background for something yellow. I have red geraniums in front of it, which is also nice. This is the first year I have grown it. It is perennial in zone 7 and above. Has anyone over wintered this one? If so, how?

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Will You Bee Mine?

Plant I.D. Help Please

Does anyone know what this plant is? I am pretty sure it is a heliopsis. It seems that somewhere I saw it called "perennial sunflower", but I am not sure. I got it years ago from my sister-in-law, Annette. It has been known since as "Annette's Flower". I do really like it. It grows kind of like a shrub and as long as it gets enough sunlight, it blooms until frost. I would really like to know its proper name.

Is this it?

This is my first cardinal flower. Hmmmm.....it is a beautiful red color.

At the moment that is the only good thing I can say about it. LOL.

I am sure when it spreads and I have a nice little mass of these, I will like it a lot better. I do hope they spread fast! ???

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Disabled Anonymous Comments

I am sad to say that today I disabled the ability of anonymous comments. Now a person will have to be registered with blogger to post. I did this to eliminate spam commenters. I have noticed on a few other blogs comments that appear to be from spammers (advertising comments). I thought I would take action before I get slammed with them. I have read where some bloggers had hundreds of them. These spammers often use automated equipment to keep posting over and over again. I noticed a new feature of blogger that I could turn on which requires a person to type in the words they see in a box before they can comment. This is just to make sure there is a real person making the comment (the automated software cannot read the box). I did not turn this on because I do want to make it as easy as possible for people to comment and I thought this might turn people off. If I ever do have spammer problems, I will have to resort to that feature. It is so sad that we can't enjoy this little hobby without spammers ruining our fun, isn't it?

Already Thinking of Next Year

I really liked this radical raspberry coleus when I planted on June 24.

Now I LOVE it and really do not want to lose it. Do any of you save your coleus inside for the winter? I know I can take cuttings, but what I really want is to save it large like it is now and bring it out next spring and have it look just as big and more beautiful. Is that too much to ask? In other words, can I just pull this guy inside and keep it all winter or do I need to take cuttings and start all over? Except for two Christmas cactus that were gifts, I have no house plants (believe it or not!). I really don't have much sunlight to grow them and I don't want to be bothered with them during the winter. But now and then (like now) I get the crazy notion to try to save a plant over the winter (the odds are good that next year I will not be able to find this one any place in my town). Usually I last about one month before the mess of dying leaves, etc. is just more than I can stand and I pitch the plant. Will coleus make a big mess during the winter?

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Best Ever Chocolate Brownies

We went to a family picnic today. I made lemon bars and "the best ever cocoa brownies", which were indeed the best I have made, if not ever, at least in a long time. They were fudgy moist and just yummy. I got the recipe someplace on the net, but can't remember where. If anyone is in the mood for brownies, I think you will love these. The lemon bars were also very good, but next time I will double the filling as I like more filling.

Cocoa brownies have the softest center and chewiest candylike top "crust" of all because all of the fat in the recipe (except for a small amount of cocoa butter in the cocoa) is butter, and all of the sugar is granulated sugar rather than the finely milled sugar used in chocolate. Use the best cocoa you know for these fabulous brownies.

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter (I used salted)
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey's)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cold large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup walnut or pecan pieces (optional) (I used a mixture of walnuts and pecans plus I threw in about a cup of white chocolate chips)
Special equipment: An 8-inch square baking pan

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line the bottom and sides of the baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.
Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl in a wide skillet of barely simmering water. Stir from time to time until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth and hot enough that you want to remove your finger fairly quickly after dipping it in to test. Remove the bowl from the skillet and set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot. (I just put it in the microwave and heated 20 seconds then stirred, then repeated another 20 sec., etc. until it was melted)
Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with the wooden spoon or a rubber spatula. Stir in the nuts, if using. Spread evenly in the lined pan.

Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 20 to 25 minutes. (I baked for 30 minutes) Let cool completely on a rack.
Lift up the ends of the parchment or foil liner, and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Cut into 16 or 25 squares.

Lemon Bars

2 cups flour
2 sticks margarine or butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups granulated sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup flour
6 Tbsp lemon juice – (I used 1 ½ fresh lemons – also used the zest) I also added a few drops of yellow food coloring
2 Tbsp powdered sugar

Combine the 3 crust ingredients and press into a 9 X 13 pan. (mixture will look very dry, but just pat down and bake. The butter will melt when baking) I also used a little larger pan, whatever size a lasagna pan is.
Bake at 350 for 20 minutes;
remove from oven. Combine the filling ingredients and pour over top of the baked crust. Return to oven and bake for an additional 25 minutes at 350. Remove from oven and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Cool and cut into squares.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Now I Pay The Price

for the beautiful apple blossums in May.

What a daily mess!

Those blooms lasted about three days. I will be picking up apples for about 6 weeks.

Obedient Plant

To me this plant is a "plain Jane" perennial. It has few pests or diseases and is a reliable bloomer, but it has no WOW factor. The flowers are attractive, but very tiny. The plant gets 3 - 4 feet tall. It does bloom late in the season which is a plus for those who need late summer/early fall interest. It spreads readily so you want to plant it in a large area where this feature would be a plus. Below is a large patch not yet blooming (just to show you what the full plant looks like). Does anyone else grow this? What do you think of it?

1st Bloom

on the butterfly bush

Raindrops Keep Falling

In between downpours I snuck out to the deck and snapped a few shots.

Red Begonia
Thomas Edison Dahlia
Saturated Coconut liner

Friday, August 19, 2005

Where is Everyone in Blogland?

I have been out of town for most of the week (it was nice to hear that a few of you missed me!).

Today I was looking forward to reading all the new posts in my favorite garden blogs. But it seems to have been a slow week in the blog world – like me, very few were posting this week. There were not enough new posts to finish my first cup of coffee. I had to resort to checking out the food/recipe blogs (which I do enjoy, but this time of the year the gardening blogs come first). Since I had not read the foodies in a while, there were many new posts I had not seen.

It has been raining here for the past two days with no relief in sight until Monday. My grass has gone from burned out to green and lush in the past few weeks. It looks almost as green as Sandy’s!

The deck, on the other hand, looks a bit shabby. All that water & wind has played havoc. Flowers have been pelted with rain, whipped around by the high winds and are an all around mess. At least I have not had to water. They have survived with very little assistance from me for most of the week. Well, I am off again to see if there are any blog updates since this morning.

Disappointing Dahlia

I eagerly awaited the bloom on this new dahlia "Peaches and Cream'. I am a little disappointed. I expected more vibrant colors. The colors are actually quite muddy and dull.

Peeking Thru the Canna Blooms

Saturday, August 13, 2005

The canna has finally begun to send up its blooms.

Hibiscus with Morning Glories

Look at the morning glories that grew up into the hibiscus. (They reseeded themselves from last year). Just look at how much this barrel has grown from when I planted it in late May.


The Globe thistle is blooming.
I love round flowers..
Echinops likes full sun and will do quite well in poor soil. It does not require much water. The foliage is not particularly attractive - has quite a "weedy" look. It has spiney picky leaves that tend to turn brown at the bottom well before the plant blooms.I think it looks best if you can hide it in the middle of other plants.
Ever since I saw the snake last week, I do not go into the garden areas unless I have thick high shoes. These babies are serious gardening footwear - LOL.

A Different Combo

This bed caught my eye today when we were leaving the farmer's market. It is just geraniums with 4 clumps of purple fountain grass in the center. Very bright, but I like it.

Deck Changes (again)

After we had fresh tomato and lettuce sandwiches for lunch, I set to work changing the deck. I decided to move my glider from the hosta garden to the deck. I decided to do this last week, but I had to have DH around to help carry it, so today was THE day. This was a major change which necessitated moving a lot of heavy items. DH helped with all the heavy stuff and then he cut the grass while I played around with the new arrangement. I really like how it turned out. (click here to see the area before the change)

Bargain at the Farmer's Market

I had a nice day today. I was working outside at daybreak - I separated the big red daylily and some liatris (I was shamed into doing something with the liatris when I saw Sabine's beauties in bloom), moved a perennial cornflower that needed more sun and a little clump of painted daisies. About 8:00 am DH and I went to the local farmer's market where we got a couple of nice big tomatoes, some pattypan squash and some fingerling potatoes. It was "garage sale" day at the farmer's market and I bought 11 old quilt squares for only $2. I will probably make pillows out of them this winter to use outside next year.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Here is something for you puzzle lovers. It is a perennial word scramble. Once you unscramble all of the words, there is a little message from me at the bottom. It's a little tough unless you really know your plants. I made it up a year or so ago and had it on my web site. I just found it while searching for something else and thought I'd throw it out here - someone may find it a bit entertaining. You will need to double click the puzzle to bring it up larger and then print it. Have fun.
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