Saturday, July 16, 2011

Blast of Annuals, Full Out Perennials

I am counting down the plants that have finished blooms, like fireworks finished their show. It's frightening to see that most of them have or are blooming now, with few left to go!
Perennial bed, rock walls:

At this time of year, there is little soil to be seen, with plants pushing up against each other. This keeps weeds down, at the very least.

I grew these container annuals from seed and the color combination worked out better than I had imagined - White osteospermums and "Blue Morn" hybrid petunias:

The sloped bed rock garden is planted with a succession of perennials, with masses of Dianthus deltoides (pink flowers) and common thyme (lilac-colored flowers) forming a haze of color:

The lilies are starting their showy blooms - this one is the Asiatic lily "Lollypop", a nice bicolor bloom:

One of the many variations of color on the biennial Dianthus barbatus (Sweet Williams) that have strewn their progeny around my flower beds:

Winds and rain try to pull the delphiniums down, but they still tower over the perennial beds (and I need to get out there with more stakes):

The show of flower colors and excitement about our recent fantastic feast on swiss chard has led me to impulse purchases of seeds online. Oh no! That's supposed to be a gardener's winter activity. Perhaps I need to go and do more weeding instead...

We had a couple do some of their wedding photos in the yard today. Congratulations to them! It was the best excuse for some frantic lawn-mowing and edge trimming this morning.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Naturalizing Flowers and Beginners Zucchini

Resident-lawnmower-man sawed down the winter-ravaged globe cedar a few weeks ago and left me with a stump. I was thinking about a blog-reader's comments and remembered that their roots are mostly a fibrous mat, so I got out there with a serrated plant knife and a spade and got the stump out. This left a bit of a hole in the driveway perennial border and not much to fill it with. Fortunately, we got out of town and picked up some peat moss, which will lighten the cow manure I already dumped in the hole. I planted a new little peony and a new Rozanne hardy geranium and filled in the rest with transplants from around the yard.
Here are the results:

I added some spiral vertical supports and the metal obelisk to support some clematis vines that previously grew on the sides of the cedar. I'm still not sure what else to do with them, as the Clematis mandschurica is mostly dangling in the breeze off the top of the spiral support posts.

This plant was hanging around in the border, but I don't know what it is. If it is a weed, it's being well-treated with fertilizer, cow manure, and regular watering.
Mystery plant:

I like to try new tomato varieties and felt the need to also grow an heirloom variety this year. "Black Plum" got set back by some cold weather in the first week of June (when I should have kept it indoors), but is now appearing to thrive, though with the most compact and congested growth habit I have ever seen in a tomato. It barely rises over the height of the side of the container, yet is starting to make flower buds.
"Black Plum" heirloom tomato:

Here's one I really like - the container zucchini! It is producing finger-sized zucchinis at this very moment. Now if only the pumpkin plants would do the same. I think the seed came from Thompson & Morgan, who has a selection of vegetables intended for containers. I still want to get "Tom Thumb" lettuce, but it was sold out this spring.
Container zucchini:

Among the group of self-seeding naturalizing annuals/biennials in the yard, the Sweet Williams are well-loved. They were absent in last year's garden because the severe winter in 2009 killed off the 1 year old plants, but the seedlings of 2010 are now flowering in a colorful, sweetly-scented show. I love plants that don't need to be planted, but just show up on their own. You can easily start these by spreading some seeds in the garden.
Sweet Williams (Dianthus barbatus):

Raised beds -- Blue delphiniums blooming at the back:

The annual corn poppies (Papaver rhoeas) started blooming last week. I am amazed how thick they come up, having seeded themselves freely. I hoed many plants into oblivion all spring and early summer, but they still are packed in their raised bed. I have a mix of colors and enjoy spotting my favourites with the white picotee edges.
Corn poppies:

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Boreal Cabin Flora and Fauna

Our family headed out to our cabin on Lac La Ronge for a night this weekend. The weather was nice and the mosquitoes were thick at night. If there is any good reason to have an indoor toilet, it is to avoid needing to opening the door at night and letting in the mosquitoes. Unfortunately, we only have an outdoor toilet (and spent half the night killing mosquitoes). However, we do have a dog who is more than happy to escort people to the outhouse.
Morning on the lake:

We live amid the Canadian boreal forest, the flora and fauna of which I have tried to learn a bit about. I really can't name many of the trees, but I find the flowers and berries not to hard to identify (and I'm sure that there will be an iphone app for that soon too).
Corydalis sempervirens:

There's a good reason that C. sempervirens may be familiar to some gardeners. Dicentra (bleeding hearts) and several other varieties of Corydalis are kept in perennial gardens and are all members of the Family Fumariaceae, the fumitories. One other corydalis that might grow in a northern garden is golden corydalis (zone 3), though the lovely blue and purple-flowered corydalis are listed for zone 5 and are unlikely to thrive.
Our only form of mosquito control at the moment, found sleeping on our screen door:

The solitary screen-bat disappeared by morning, fortunately, because we had to remove the screen. Some animal (bear?) had shredded the bottom half of it last fall, probably in an effort to raid our cabin for imagined food. We also noticed high-pitched squeaking coming from the space between the brick chimney and the exterior wall. The space is entirely outside the cabin, so it is okay that a colony of bats has decided to live there. We would just like them to eat MORE mosquitoes. In case anyone worries, there have been no rabies cases in the north so we aren't particularly concerned about that either (vs. my father who was bitten by a rabid bat several years ago in southern BC). We also felt sorry for Kona in the middle of the night and brought her inside to escape the mosquitoes.
Kona, the husky-malamute:

For the first time, I saw a beaver swimming in the lake outside our cabin. You might say that I musn't get out on the lake very much. That is true, since I have a garden to tend to and I like my hot showers in my house. I wouldn't have noticed the beaver, except that I heard a tremendous splash from inside the cabin, like someone dropped a large stone in the water. Then, I noticed a brown head swimming away from the concentric circles of disturbed lake water. He slapped the water a few more times, but speedily swam away before I got outside with my camera. Next time, loud beaver.