Saturday, August 28, 2004

28aug04 Its a Chrisalis (opinion)

More rain. Vibrant brick wall display. I love August.

It’s a chrysalis. Will the sense of wonder ever cease, seeing those perfectly made green shapes, where yesterday there was a black and yellow striped caterpillar.
This transformative process has been going on for eons. In the mind’s eye it seems old hat, dusty and so last year. Yet there is that chrysalis, a new act of incredible creation. Like the movies, music plays from somewhere as the newest generation of smooth mysterious spaceship gets stumbled upon by the good guys. How does the caterpillar, who was blind and only lived to chomp leaves, make music. The floppy, comical youngster has come of age. It is an awesome thing. I am both humbled and awed by the creation.
Being a parent is like that. We dropped our daughter off at college two days ago. The transition is hard for us all. She said it is like she is playing Barbie. Painful process for us and at the end a beautiful butterfly emerges. Have you ever looked at the eyes of an insect. The alien space analogy works for both insect eyes and our own teenagers. Our children are of us and from us. They are also beyond us. Privileged to participate in the act of creation, we are. Agents of the creation, maybe. Like the chrysalis, the process is beyond us to understand and control.
Many aspects of this ceation will undoubtedly be explained as science keeps learning about hormones, the double helix. We are caterpillers blundering about blind, chomping on leaves, courting disaster with arrogant surity of how clever we are. Every single act of God has so many reasons, so many results.
Even so, we are of the earth and cannot be separated, cannot seperate ourselves, from the process. Time moves on. Damage we can do, ever bigger damage as understanding grows of this and that piece of the puzzle. We could stop repeating the mistakes of the past. War and atomic bombs and stuff are not inevitable, we choose to make these. Scorching the earth is not required in the commandments of the great religions.
The little chrysalis, God willing, will spend the winter in Mexico or Florida. It will return next year, if all goes well. I will be here, will let the Milkweed grow. Will get to play a small part in creation, like a child playing Barbie.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

26aug04 Monarch caterpillars

the Monarch caterpillar is moving around the top of the aquarium. Clever me, I put the screen on so it has to pupate inside the aquarium. Last year I had to look all over the place for the caterpillars. They like to crawl all over the place and pupate wherever they please. This year, they will not be allowed to pupate in an inconvenient place.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

24aug04Love in a Mist, Plant starts

24aug04 Love in a Mist, New biennial seeds.

I found and opened an older pod of Love in a Mist. The seeds were green, not yellow and orange, and they were large. I wonder if they are viable yet. I have to keep Love in a Mist deadheaded to get blooms, but have two seed pods allowed to get brown that I haven't opened yet.
Middle of July I planted some perennials and biennials. New England Aster and Hyssop and a lovely Sweet William, thinking they would get full size by fall. It is almost fall. They are too small to put in the open garden. The panic I felt at what to do with them was all in my head and over.
I have considered the concept of massing them or using them as edge plants. For the winter I will keep them in flats, assuming they don’t get too big, in protected nursery areas. Come spring, I can do new edging and masses.
Planting masses of plants is new to me and comes with starting seed. Nursery buying limits a gardener. It limited me to one or two plants because of the cost.
Starting biennials in July is not a totally new concept to me. Mother gave me Fever Few (from the Mum family, I assume) on an old, brown flower head in July, told me to scatter them where I wanted cute little white flowers all summer the next year. They started out small the first fall. The next year, they would bloom in early summer. This year, the light bulb went off when I was deadheading. If I deadhead them, they will not go to seed, but start their patient, persistent, flower to seed process all over again and I could have white flowers into the fall, because these are cold hardy, like Mums. I love plants. They just keep up their share of necessary hormones and make seed, no depression or shrunken hypocampus for them. The gardener is privileged to steward the process, God willing. Gotta go.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

21aug04 Pansies Sprouted

I love it when everything gets wet. Pansies sprouted in the night.
I planted Aug 4. They sprouted in two weeks and three days. I will have some yellow large Pansys and Purple Johnny Jump Ups, the purple ones have reseeded themselves every year and are origionally from Mother’s garden.
I planted some Stella Doro Lilies too.

22aug04 Sunflowers


I planted Moulon Rouge Sunflowers a few years ago. Ever since lovely red has been splashed in the sunflowers that kindly plant themselves in the front bed. Beside the garage a few of Paul’s sunflower sprouts found themselves growing last year. This year we have a cross taller than Moulon Rouge and redder than the large yellows. It is so true that sunflowers cross easily.
They have so many beautiful curves leaves. Sunflowers too, are easy. If you don’t want them so tall, just cut them off and they will flower from lower leaf nodes. they keep up flowering until the frost, if you can bear to deadhead them. I rarely do this because birds love them so, but when they get too top heavy, I cut off the flowers, but leave most out for the birds.
I have yet to drive by the old Ford office building on Rotunda this year. I hope they let the field go to Sunflowers again this year. Last fall, it was spectacular yellow faces everywhere. The birds had a feast.

Friday, August 20, 2004


Rain, Rain, Rain

I planted Lily seeds from Praire Sunrise and Cranberry Lily. I also planted some of the little bulblets that grow on the side of the Turk's Head Lily. I like Turk's Head because it blooms late in the season.
This rain is perking things up. Late in August, after the dog days, Annuals get lively and put on a last hurrah. Black Eyed Susans join in. We have pockets of color to keep us happy until the Mums get going. Gotta go.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

18aug04 Gallardia, Cottonwood, Iris, Vegetable harvest.


It was dark and cool all day until I went out to work, when the sun came out.
I transplanted 3 Cottonwoods into a pot for bonsai work. I have not succeeded with Cottonwoods as Bonsai as yet. Since the cottonwood next door blew down and Allen had the other one on his property putdown at the same time he had trimmers in to cut the thing up, we don’t get so many lovely cottonwood seeds in gossamer floating around like snow in June. I’d like to have some babies from those trees, so I will bonsai them. I will try not to be giddy and forget to water them until they expire.
I put 3 of what I believe to be Gallardia out in the front. Rosemary and Cottonwood and Gallardia were all in a dish, waiting all summer for me. I intend to put the Rosemary in pots to sell at Noel Night.
I put Iris in front where the Yuccas came out. It is the Iris we found in the backyard when we came to look at the house May 1989. I loved it and the large backyard, the rest is history.
The little Monarch caterpillar is 1/2 inch long. I got him another milkweed plant to chew on. I love watching them transform to butterflies.
The weather is definitely feeling like the end of summer. I harvested some Zucchini and have great paste and cherry tomatoes growing out of the compost pile. I tied them up. The first Brandywine came in to ripen today, it is mildly orange and large and juicy. I brought it in so nothing would happen to it, I think it will ripen to red in about two days.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

17aug04Mums,Lambs Ears,Toad


There was an American Toad on the cement outside. It was a baby, about two inches long. It was finding a lot of bugs out there. I assume this because I was and I wasn't even looking for them. It sprinkled, but no rain yet, so I watered. I transplanted more lettuce. It is a challenge to find places for it all since we have bunnies out in the garden I have to grow it in protected places.
I transplanted Mums this afternoon. The Mums were dry and the ground was dry. I started these Mums in June while pinching back a third of the stem, as per Mum protocol May 1, June 1, July 1.
I stuck the tops onto a flat and a pot that were empty. They spent the summer out behind the garage where they were put temporarily until the party was over. I meant to get to them, they dried out and almost died a couple times. Always a drink brought them back to life. Now when there isn’t much going on in the front, I have Mums.
I noticed some Mum seeds in a catalogue and would like to grow some rather than buy the hybrid over fertilized plants over at the nursery. The bought ones don’t hold up in my garden. I have some white ones my neighbor gave me and two kinds from the local perennial exchange. Fever Few is actually in the Mum family and it seeds itself, and I spread it, all over the garden.
I read about a woman who is so serious about Mums, she starts new every spring by rooting them from her old plants. This process seems sensible to me now, it used to sound like too much work. The garden can get out of control all summer but when it runs down and there is not much going on at the end of August, Ta da, put in some Mums. They go on even after frost.
I put some Lambs Ears top shoots in a flat to root. After a few years they grow too much stem and have to be renewed. I am fond of Lambs Ears, as an edging plant they work quite well. With Lambs Ears on the job, digging up the edge twice a year to make it look nice is not imperative.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

15aug04Rain Gardens at Church

We finally got some rain. I did landscaping at the church yesterday. I went back today to water and found it had rained there. Then it rained here, after all the cool days waiting for rain, it finally came.
Hosta and Decorative Basil and Yucca and Lambs Ears and Sage and Marjoram and Thyme and one Lavender is what I put in. Also a couple of Hosta on the north side.
Landscaping is different than the sort of exuberant gardening I like to do around my house. For one thing the gardener tends not to be around every day so it has to be plants that can more or less get along on their own. Plus there needs to be a plan so more people can participate in the implementing of the garden. We have made a start in planting a few things in order to see what happens.
I did a bit of watering today and while at the spigot, I noticed that down spouts still go into the underground sewer lines. Hopefully that will be outlawed in the next few years. I want to make rain gardens. There is one down spout that flows under the parking lot. It will be a challenge ot figure out what to do with that water. I have identified a bare spot next to the parking lot that gets so much run off that grass will not grow there. That would be a great place for a rain garden. It is quite narrow, but it might work. I had better make a master plan and get it approved by the building and grounds committee before I start trying to find funding for these rain garden projects.

Friday, August 13, 2004



Compost. I would get around to going on about compost sometime. I may as well get it over with because I think about soil health and sponginess all the time. I think about it as I walk the dog and see other people’s gardens. I think about drainage. I think about rain gardens and soil absorption.
I have drips going today too. Lilies, especially day lilies would have enjoyed more water. Or they would have enjoyed richer soil, soil that retained and absorbed more water.
I am giving them a slow drip to get down to their roots today.
The Lilies ought to be planted in dish places where water will run during a rain event. The dishes ought to have compost. Last year was a very dry year, and lilies looked bedraggled at the end of the season with lots of yellow and brown leaves. They don’t look well this year either, but we had a good season for rain. Lilies are not from here Asiatic lilies- well I guess we know where they are from and day lilies are from ___--. There is a native lily- Turks Head Lily. I ordered some from a catalog in Maryland, so I don’t suppose I got the real deal from Michigan. My Turks Head Lily has little nodes on the stem underneath the flower. I’m guessing these are new bulbs that will start new Lilies soon.
I have begun making little compost piles all over the yard, I still have a big one behind the garage, the little ones are so I don’t have to carry the weeds so far. I can go out and tug a few weeds at getting tomato time or cutting Basil time and toss them in a chicken wire round. In a year or two, the weeds will be rich soil with effective microorganisms and I can move the round down to the next spot. I put the rounds on places where there are weeds, Buck thorn plants I don’t want, but don’t want to use round up. If a weed is in too hard it can’t be pulled it up even after a rain, it needs to be smothered.
I want the soil all over the yard to be like it is under the compost pile. It is friable and absorbent. I have tomatoes growing out of the compost pile this year. These tomatoes are super tomatoes. Squash that grows out of the compost pile is green and verdant and never has any bugs. Why should I save this happy state only for the compost area. I hope effective microorganisms and organic matter can make spongy soil all over the garden.
II have three Day Lilies From Hughes garden. It is not there anymore, Mr. Hughes and Mrs. Hughes died some years ago and their children sold off the business. Mr. Hughes grew new varieties and sold them. His field was his large front yard. You could go and pick out your Lily at blooming time. My Lemon Lily is variety Parry Sunrise. It has a very small blush and it is slightly ruffled on the edges.
I ought to dig more compost and carry it out tot the beds in the front yard. I have not yet figured out a way to make compost out in front, I do mulch out there. Gotta go.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

12aug04 Water, Hosta, Iris

High in the low 70’s Low in the 50’s. I keep looking for the scattered showers weather people are talking about.
I thought I’d wait until it rained and softened the ground to dig up Hostas for the church. Today I dug them up anyway and now have many Hosta plants to take to the church. The dirt is so dry, clumps of it stay right on the plants making them nice packages. I hadn’t been paying attention to how overgrown the west side of the house is. The Iris was getting too crowded. I cut off the roots and the tops about half way so they’d be easier to replant. The buggy, old parts went into the compost. I think the Iris invites the bugs to eat old rhizomes when the gardener neglects to separate them and make room for new growth.
The ground was too dry to dig up the large bed of day Lilies I want to take out. Good thing, as I might have overdone, been stiff in the morning.
The transplants needed water. I dragged out a hose to use on the spigot over there. It brought memories of my mother watering. She set the water flow to a trickle then put the hose to soak for a long time. I recalled her stopping in the middle and running out to ”change the hose”. I did the same for the transplants and then started in on the rest of the garden. I think it is good to give dry things a good soaking. The ground is so dry that water runs off at first. Now after a slow trickle of hose water, rain water should there be any, will soak in.
I found two cucumbers whenplacing the hose.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

11aug04 More transplanting


Nice weather, breezy high 60’s and low seventies.
More transplanting lettuce and broccoli and Kale.



Around 70. Storms keep threatening and we have clouds. Last night lightning flashed across the sky, but we got no rain and it was hot and clammy like before a thunder storm. No storm yet.
I’m waiting on a storm so I don’t have to drag the hose out to the back and water the transplants and tomatoes. This summer reminds me of summers when I was a kid. I remember Mother used to keep the house closed and the curtains drawn and she didn’t like us to go in and out and let the cool air out. I liked to go in and out. If you went out and got hot, you could enter the cave like house, slam the screen door and feel the cool. If you stayed in, it got clammy. If you stayed out, it was hot. It was a relief when high and low pressures commingled and a storm front came through and the rain cooled everything off.
Scott liked Allen’s well kept and neat garden, it is next door and organic and productive and well organized and planted by the signs of the moon, better than my homegrown exuberance. Dale used to like delineated and organized gardens better too. It surprised me when he thought I trimmed too much in the front beds. He has gotten used to surprises coming out of all that exuberance.
I like both styles. Allen’s garden is more for farming and getting maximum crops form an area. My garden is more for feeding a small group with more and varied types of crops over a long period of time. I have herbs and many kinds of Alliums and lots and lots of insects. Monarchs too.

Monday, August 09, 2004


Sunny, mild.

Transplanted broccoli, five lettuces. Found some circle fences. I wonder if I could borrow some of Allen's cool boxes. I have a lot of broccoli and Kale and lettuce that would like a home.
It is that time of year. Dale asked me if I wanted him to get dinner cause I have swollen glands and am tired. I didn’t, there is too much good in the garden to eat. We had a salad with avocado and green beans from Sue’s garden and a pepper and carrots and paste tomatoes that have started coming along. I squoze a lemon and cut up some dill and put on some flax oil and mustard. Then mixed. I warmed some cooked noodles and black beans in the microwave, put some parmesan on top. It was too good.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

9aug04 Mind on fall

Nice weather for working.
It got a little hot in the sun. I was heading for the west side of the house. I plan to take out Day Lilies and divide Hosta and scatter 4 O’Clock seeds over there, but didn’t get there today. I ended up clearing out in the front garden, digging up Yucca and Ajuga for the church garden, and generally tidying up. I pulled a lot of that little blue flowered weed and trimmed Lemon Balm and white New England Aster so it will grow more compactly. I trimmed Malva and Calendula, edged a little and put in some Lambs’ s Ears on the edges.
It was too much for Dale. He likes more exuberance than I left growing. It will grow back cccome fall and not look so sad and droopy, but new. As an experiment, I trimmed the Purple Geranium, a perennial. It has been getting some new growth. I wonder if it gets trimmed more, will it bloom. I have never gotten fall bloom from it, so I am watching for that. I put some pots in the empty spots, 2 filled with Petunias and one of the exuberent Pelargonium filled 16” pots.
In back I pulled up Mint and weeds, trimmed Thyme and Marjoram, cut out Old Raspberries and trimmed ones that are too tall. The compost piles are getting tall. There is still time to cut back and see some fall growth. Mint and Lemon Balm and many tall perennials flop and get new growth from their roots. Old growth can be cut and composted, helping the new along. I didn’t cut all the Mint flowers off, because the bees love them.
Scott came today to pick up his trees. He got one of the Gingkos that I started from seeds found in Dinky Town when I visited my sister. I gave him some potted Elms and a Peach for Bonsai. Also some Mint.
When Mosquitoes got obnoxious, I put in some time on the apron, in lieu of a dog constitutional. I repotted some Cyprus Alternifolia and Baby’s Breath that was pot bound, put some Impatiens and Coleus in water to root and bring inside. Rooted some Pelargonium and got started on indoor gardening. I will have more window sill space this year.
I found some Monarch eggs on the Milkweed. I have put three in an aquarium. I located screen for the top so as not to have the caterpillars pupating all over the place like they did last year. The screen will keep them in the aquarium. It may be harder to photograph them, but they will be safer.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

7aug04 Plans, Winter hort.

75ºsunny back to watering pots.
I found a kale eating caterpillar today. They are hard to spot because they are the same color as the cole plant and they spend time on the back and the stem. I felt bad squishing it. Not because of the loss of it's single life, but because of the butterfly effect. Also it reflects badly on my own understanding of the ecosystem in the backyard, I wasted food for some other creature. I squished it anyway.
I saw a Yellow Finch on the clothes line today. Felt good to have the thing there to hang up laundry and for the Finch. I still don't know how to decorate the whole large cement apron behind the house. It looked awsome for Patricia's party with two large tents. I need a space to start seeds etc, a place to grow lettuce and cole crops away from the bunnies. Is a tent use and a growing space incompatible?
Some of this years pots are awsome and not too exuberant. I love the one by the back door with Impatiens and Coleus and Pelargoniums. Atomic Snoflake, considered a scented geranium, grows into a cascade over the side. It gives the effect of cup running over, rich and flowing. The 3 pots full of geraniums that I kept in little pots on window sills for winter and massed in 14" pots early in spring are awsome, full and showy.
I need to start some little pots of geraniums for window sills soon, summer is getting on. I gotta have most of the fall stuff done before we go away in Sept. It is fun to cut and arrange scented geraniums because they smell so nice and you can smell them on your hands later. They are slower to start than other geraniums and the ones I pulled up and put in a bag didn't survive like the regular geraniums. Maybe because they were on the porch and got too cold. Also I must not forget the one blue geranium I started from seed that survived the cold snap this spring- can't leave it outside to freeze. I started 8, one made it.
I will put some peppers in the window sill pots too and some tomatoes, even though these will get white flies and aphids in February. Often they survive enough to be the first to bear come summer. Some year I'll figure out an environment that will make them so happy the aphids won't have a chance or read about a spray that is nontoxic and easy to use. The meijer dish soap I used this winter killed peppers.
I am considering putting each plant in it's own little container and put the little containers in the window sill pots, then filling in with soil so as not to dry out so fast. Will it make things easier to transplant? Stay tuned.
It's Saturday, Prarie Home companion tonight. Gotta go.

Friday, August 06, 2004

6aug2004 English Ivy

It was cold enough this morning that it was like fall so I worked on fall projects. We have English Ivy growing on the front wall. I planted a little piece from Alma’s garden years ago. Every five years or so, I have to trim it out drastically. I do not understand why it hasn’t taken over the whole world. It is unmowed on two sides where it will send out trailers that will leaf out where they find some sun. I took a 3 ft x 6 ft slice off the wall and got two house sparrow nests out. I don’t have the heart to actually go in and steal the eggs of the house sparrows, but I see them playing rough with Wrens and don’t want them to take over the world. I root for the Wrens, but know the House Sparrows are the more obnoxious and will run out Wrens, who don’t favor living up by the house anyway.
A Papa wren made a nice nest in a bird feeder up by the house one year. He looked quite proud of himself, but though he sang and sang, no Jenny Wren came to share the nest and he finally abandoned the project. I am not to know why, if it was the proximity to the house, or some Wren reason.
I haven’t decided if I am going to take all the Ivy off the wall and let it start again. I want to, but am afraid that I will go on vacation and come home and go into the wrong house if I take it all away, it has been there so long. The houses around here were built in 1963. They are almost ticky tacky and they all look alike.
When I get done with the Ivy, I plan to divide the Hosta and pull up the White New England Asters and the Tiger Lilies. I am thinking of a tall perennial to put against the wall along with the beach plum I’ve had in a pot for two years since ordering it from Millers and another fruit tree or two to espalier along the wall. Guerny’s is selling Kiwi plants for 15 a piece, but I’d have to trellis to grow it. I’d dearly love to grow Kiwi. Maybe Pear or Cherry or Crab apple. The apple tree espaliered along my west fence might make more apples if it had a pollinator.
A bee got in my shoe while I was pulling Ivy. It couldn’t get out again and got mad and stung me. Gotta go.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

5aug04 Jacaranda,low temps

05aug04 Jacaranda

I took the jacaranda to the porch. It is going to be in the high forties tonight. This is very unseasonable, I was hoping to get these plants to bloom. I bought the seed in hopes of having nice blue flowers for Patricia’s graduation party. I gather they are very tropical and only bloom in very warm temps so I didn’t want to put them off.
I transplanted some kale and some Hyssop. These little seedlings will get too exuberant before you know it. Mostly it was too wet to do anything else but collect compost tea for the pots that get tired without a pick me up this time of year.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

4aug2004 Pansy and Love in a Mist seed

Rain rain rain.

I planted a flat of 1/2 yellow and 1/2 purple Pansies. I took the seeds from the plants growing around.
I often wonder just how dry the seeds need to be in order to be viable. If a person waits until the seed pod is really brown, often it will scatter the seed while the gardener is busy elsewhere. Some of the pods I took today had green pods and still white seeds. Some were brown and already open. Pansy seed pods have some sticky stuff inside them after a rain.
I plan to keep these pansies until the spring. Pansies take a few months from seed. Maybe they will be ready for show this fall. I started the yellow pansies to show off during Patricia's graduation party in June. They first bloomed a few days after the party. They have been blooming all summer and I have grown to like them. The purple ones are volunteers from Lillian's garden. They have volunteered in my garden for years.
Love in a Mist has beautiful balloon seed pods not round, but have space points with little points at the top. Inside, they sport rows of shocking orange seed when still green. Gotta go.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004


Election day! and hot. Thunder storms last night so it is too wet to do anything outside but dream. Just as well, Tuesday is housecleaning day, and I am very distractible.

Linda and I were over weeding the decorative bed in Phenix Park to make it pretty for the association picnic on Sunday. It just occurred to me, they named that park phenix because it is a former garbage dump. Yes my children played there, it became a dump in the 50’s when people didn’t even think of chemicals and Chemistry major meant you played with a chemistry set in the basement. The park has a number of strange sink holes as the garbage settles. The bed needs edging.
I need to edge around here too, later today if it is not too hot. I got some Calendula seeds over at the park. These calendulas are so nice and compact and well behaved, I think they must be hybrids. Still, I think I’ll try them next year.
I found some more containers around the house and put in some more Kale. I don’t grow it out in the yard for the bunnies, but dearly love it. It freezes especially well. Fish love lettuces. I have enough lettuce in flats, away from the bunnies, for excellent salads. It is time to start flavored vinegars. The garlic tops are ready. It is well past time to clip the Thyme and Marjoram. I will have to clip them and wait until they come back to put them in vinegar. The basil is ready and then some. I have dried some, but wouldn’t basil vinegar go down well. Garlic and basil it is. I will try some Mint vinegar and some Lemon Balm vinegar too.
Mint and Lemon Balm have been stars in the beverage dept. this summer. I put the herb and some lemon or lime slices in a pitcher and fill with water and leave it in the refrigerator like they do over at my sister-in-law's house. Lemon mint water goes down easy on a hot day when I come in dehydrated from the garden.
Gotta go vote, bye.

Monday, August 02, 2004

2Aug04 Side garden, Forsithia, Willow, Lialac, Cranberry, Cherry.

Hot Hot Hot. 79.6 in the shade at 11:00 am.

I looked at the side garden on the west. White New England Asters are overcoming the day lilies. Iris is all over the place. Hosta is in need of dividing and the English Ivy is escaping it's limits. All way too exuberant and on the way to weedy. Still looks good from a distance but I don't imagine it does much for the neighbor's attitude in the morning as they pass by.
It will be a project to dig it all up and redo, but it is in need. I will line the entire 35 feet with the hosta and sew about the Four O' Clocks that faithfully grow along the foundations and seed themselves. This plan worked in the front half of the side bed, no reason it can't work in the back half. I'll need a saw to get after the Mock Orange. I read in the manual for housing code that all vegetation must be 1 yard away from the electrical box, I will have to move the Lilac. I also have an unruly Forsythia by the chimney.
It is an absolute must to have Forsythia, Lilac, and Pussy Willows on the property. They tend to get rather large and unruly, I still want the common varieties, not some shrimpy hybrid. I like to bring sprigs of these antiques in the house come February to honor the ancestors and celebrate the turning of the year. Other than that, all my shrubs are to be edible. The Montmorency Cherry I put in front last year made a few little sour cherries that Lily found and shared with me. Memorable.

I did end up moving the low creeping cranberry that was supposed to be a ground cover under the cherry. It was just about to expire from lack of water. It is recovering in a pot. Cranberries probably like acid soil too. Maybe it'll go in with the hops. I need to find a damp place for it to spread.
My Pussy Willow is being bent all around a metal frame to make a garden seat. I don't know how much it would support without the metal frame now after three years. The frame is from our cement sink in the basement, the kind nobody uses anymore I would have kept the sink but Dale had to have a wimpy plastic one and he did the plumbing. This idea of living chairs I am trying. Willows are fast growing, most are nonnative and probably invasive. Still, I like the trellis-ness of them and have a few, mostly in pots, just in case a willow is wanted. They are easy to start and a good source of plant hormone. It is said if you soak green willow stems in water, the liquid is filled with plant hormone. I haven't used this because stuff roots well enough without hormone, but some things like my Bay Laurel, have rooted only once though I have tried many times with pips in a flat. Future project.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

1Aug2004 Loostrife and Liatris

Sunny, hot. Thermometer in shade reads 76.1ºat 1:00. Radio says 86ºhigh.

Liatris was what our table was labeled at Charlie and Amanda's wedding last night. There was a singele stem of purple in the vase. It looked alot like Purple Loosestrife from a distance. Debbie found our table for us. Liatris is native -good, and can be mistaken for the more widely known Purple Loosetrife, the invasive that takes over watery places, ditches and crowds out native environments like crazy, making a monoculture where most everything starves.
Interestingly the root of loosestrife comes from lose through the greek Lisis meaning loss or sudden change and strife or struggle according to my Merriman Webster 1970's addition. Loosestrifes in general and Purple Loosestrife in particular are lythrums, family Lythracea. They are related to primroses. Purple Loosestrifes sure do take over and mess up disturbed areas.
I am intrigued, want to gain understanding as to how to go the other way from disturbing environments to regenerating them gradually, one step at a time. It is an up and coming subject. I saw the area out at Kensington Park where people, seeing how much area Buckthorn can take over and make sterile and Walmart-like, took out the buckthorn by sawing off the trees and using Round Up to kill the stumps. Seems a simplistic answer for a complex problem. I haven't been back there to see what they have done in such a wide, bare area.
It is important we don't mistake Liatris (Liatris Graminifola, often called grass leaved liatris) for Purple Loosestrife. It it does have little rhizomes but is not invasive, reproduces mostly by seed. Liatris is a daisy relative (Compositae) and comes in both purple and white. Considered a wild flower, I want this plant in my mix.
Summing up; Liatris-good, Purple Loosestrife-bad. That's all.