Monday, August 31, 2009

Walk Along This Path

Yesterday's overcast morning was perfect for deadheading in the garden, and it offered an opportunity for taking a few photos of blossoms which still abound. (today the camera worked)

Just walk along this one path: to the left is a charming collarette Dahlia which astonishingly towers overhead; to the right Verbena bonariensis seeded and stands at the borders edge; and Penstemon 'Midnight' continues to send forth blossoms.

As we continue forward, Perovskia atriplicifolia (per-OFF-skee-uh at-ry-pliss-ih-FOH-lee-uh) or Russian sage graces the path's edge. This full sun lover with its aromatic habit of gray-green leaves and lavender flowers is practically maintenance free. Cut it back hard in the spring to about 6-12 inches and watch it grow and see what it attracts.

Looming overhead are the white ruffled flowers of Hibiscus syriacus 'Diana', and just beyond at the path's end is Rosa 'Mozart' which offers a second flush of beauty.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Kodak Z1012 Malfunction

Friends came for dinner and a visit last evening and the tomato-mozzarella-basil salad was not only quite palatable, but very colorful and worth a photograph; however, all the photos I took yesterday morning and evening, including that of the beautiful varieties of tomatoes, have disappeared from my camera, with the exception of two (2) garden shots! Upon discovering that this morning, I was a bit put out, but that is just the way it was.

Fearing that my little 3-year old digital Kodak might go kaput, we decided to purchase a new one last December when they went on sale, a Kodak Z1012 with a 12x optical zoom, and we have been fairly satisfied with the quality of photos and the camera until the last several weeks.

Let me first say it eats batteries, but the more important issue is the zoom has been malfunctioning the past several weeks, and on occasion the camera has difficulty closing. It simply freezes. I wonder what Kodak will do about it.

Oh yes, the two garden shots:

This near-full blossom of the Eucomis 'Sparkling Burgundy' ...

and the Echinacea and Sedums

are what I have to offer from yesterday.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Daybreak Over The Valley and Bruschetta

Today we continue with our to-do's. The past several weeks have been busy with harvesting garden vegetables, especially the tomatoes which are producing like gangbusters. Besides eating them each day, I have put away many quarts in the freezer. I used to process jars in a boiling hot water bath, but have found that the majority of our winter usage is for soups and stews, thus blanching for a minute or two, quickly rinsing in cold water, removing the skin and core, quartering and placing them in quart freezer bags, is a quicker process and serves our needs quite nicely.

My husband helped yesterday by cutting up pounds of the smaller cherry and Sungold's for Bruschetta. Recipes call for removing the skin, but we do not due to the size of the tomato we use. He cuts each into half, then quarters, then into tiny bite size pieces; I add fresh chopped garlic and basil, just a smidgen of Kosher salt, ground pepper, a touch of olive oil, and sometimes a tiny bit of balsamic. Served atop a grilled piece of our favorite multi-grain bread (with a little drizzle of extra virgin olive oil), and we can actually make it a meal in itself. Here is a recipe from for Bruschetta with Tomato and Basil that gives you a guideline and an idea as to how it looks. Um, um!

So for now I am ready for an exciting day... I'm headed out to help a friend can dill pickles. Have a great one and see you soon.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Geranium 'Ann Folkard' and Eupatorium rugosum

Geranium 'Ann Folkard' always finds her way moving in and around and about, intertwining and mounding among the various plants in the garden, and that is what I love so much about her. Neither the Japanese Painted Fern (Athyrium niponicum 'Pictum') nor Eupatorium rugosum 'Chocolate' (White Snakeroot) seem to mind the snuggling effect.

Magenta with a black eye and stunning yellow to chartreuse foliage, it complements E. rugosum with its handsome chocolate-purple young foliage, veining and underside.

Here, I wrote about Eupatorium purpureum, but as it wanes, E. rugosum will delight all summer long and continue to do so into fall. As most other flowers have faded, this charmer will begin blooming late September, sending forth a bouquet of tiny white flowers atop these 5 foot shining deep purple stems.

Although it prefers moist shade, it has adapted handsomely to light shade and only one 30-minute weekly watering in our garden.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Heat Warnings

Excessive heat warning by mid-morning is today's forecast and a high of 99 degrees. Yesterday we experienced the mid 90's as a front moved in and held the coolness from the Pacific at bay. There is no movement.. neither plant nor animal stirs, and even we shall quickly pick a few tomatoes and then return indoors. But first, a few bloomers for your enjoyment: Dahlia 'Fascination', Eucomis 'Sparkling Burgundy', Oriental lilies... Stargazer.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Eupatorium purpureum

Eupatorium purpureum (yoo-puh-TOR-ee-um pur-PUR-ee-um) or Joe Pye Weed adds fluid structure to the garden as it gracefully bends and sways amidst the bay and oriental lilies. The 6-foot tall burgundy stems support the showy arrangement of domed purple-mauve flowers and arrangement of whorled leaves. The eupatorium prefers moisture and can be quite unruly, but has adjusted and is well behaved in our drought tolerant garden.

Beneath the Blue Atlas Cedar, a lone purple sedum proudly stands.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Beautiful Bounty and Countryside

Fresh fruit and vegetables, there truly is nothing like it. This morning we harvested this cornucopia of color from our garden.

Last Saturday we picked 25 pounds of blueberries at a farm just down the road and froze them in individual baggies... blueberry bran muffins you know, and earlier this afternoon we headed toward the peach farm.

What a gorgeous day to enjoy the expansive cumulus cloud formations and countryside.

A shipment of grass straw ready for Japan?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Will It Rain?

The birds had been frantically scurrying about in this mornings garden, but are now absent from view. What took me outside in the first place was the sighting of the Cedar Waxwings about which I spoke only yesterday. Not a very good picture from this distance, but at least I know they are here. It does seem rather early, but they know best.

I waited to see if others would return. Instead this fella appeared close by, checking out the dogwood and became curious as to who was beneath him.

Indeed he discovered and showed me the new cones forming upon the Cedrus atlantica 'Glauca'.

A glance to the west and south has me hopeful that these lingering dark clouds do foretell and deliver that which we would be most grateful.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Madrona, Arbutus Menziesii

Arbutus Menziesii (ar-BYOO-tus menz-ESS-ee-eye) or our Pacific Madrona (aka Madrone) is a majestic tree which flourishes all along the west coast from British Columbia to California. A rather fast growing and drought tolerant evergreen, some tower nearly 50 feet in the outlying perimeter of our garden and they thrive upon the dry rocky slopes, the place to which they seem best suited.

They seem to prefer being left alone. Seeds stratify naturally and freely outdoors and seedlings emerge throughout the garden. Transplanting them is generally unsuccessful, and allowing them to grow in the wild seems to be our preference as well, for they do create a bit of a mess.

Beautiful and fragrant panicles of white bell-like spring blossoms fall to the ground as do the cluster of red berries in late fall, and currently many of the once glossy dark green leaves have turned brown and the earth beneath has been blanketed with a massive carpet.

We admire their year round beauty, and from afar they command my attention this early morning as the suns ray begins its caress upon the rich and warm sienna flesh. The bark peels away with maturity leaving a smooth green surface.

An exciting time of year approaches: the Cedar Waxwings will soon descend upon us as the red berries ripen just in time for there picking.