Monday, July 21, 2008

Weekend Bits and Bobs

Tonight we have a bit of a potpourri of shots from Saturday and Sunday at Casa IVG ... I don't really have an organized theme here, but if we're lucky, maybe one will emerge! Just some pretty mundane pictures of a Saturday and Sunday spent outside in the garden, weeding and planting more of the remaining perennials in the front Boulder Bed.

ARACHNOPHOBE ALERT! If you're seriously freaked out by spiders, you should just cruise by photo number 4 (there, Manny, I warned you!)

The dainty purple flower depicted above is a Toad Lily (Tricyrtis hirta), though I've lost the tag with the specific cultivar, so if any Toad Lily fans out there know the cultivar (iaBoy, can you help out?), I'd appreciate hearing it, so I can definitively ID it. Now, aside from being positively lovely, it's really playing a little trick on us, by blooming pretty early for most Toad Lilies (who come into their own usually in September when everything else is done blooming). I planted this particular plant last year in the bed with the primroses (it's right behind them toward the back) and it's really happy where it's growing. Not only did it winter just fine with several feet of snow over it for months on end, but it was up pretty early, bringing some of its offspring with it, and we discovered yesterday that more are on the way. At first, the main plant came up, swiftly followed by an offshoot that has been growing quite rapidly, and yesterday Fernymoss was weeding a bit around it and discovered that it's also putting out a long runner from the base of the plant, which he carefully covered with a bit of dirt so it can do its thing and produce yet another offshoot. Toad Lilies are wonderful colonizers for whom only the meanest gardener (and I don't meet too many of those!) would begrudge them the space they seek to occupy.

Our original plant in the Woodland Garden is currently over 4 ft tall and really gearing up for a spectacular show this year, along with the two other new ones we put in near it last year. Just be patient, and you'll be seeing lots more of them come late August or September. To my mind, Toad Lilies are one of the best kept secrets of the garden, because they're easy to grow (in shade only however!) and spring into action in the garden by producing their delicate orchid like flowers just when everything else in the garden has pretty much packed it in for the season ... and they bloom right up to (and sometimes after) frost! Perfect for deeply shaded, moisture retaining spots in the garden, where they multiply faithfully after the first couple of years. And there are so many varieties that there's bound to be a cultivar for every taste!
This is a view of where I was toiling in the heat and humidity yesterday, weeding out and rescuing that clump of Calendula that had been overrun by all sorts of weeds. Once I got the area cleared (which itself took quite a bit of time), I planted a couple of small rows of Zinnias by the Calendulas, and some Four O'clock seeds here and there, in the hope that they will take off again somewhere in the garden this year, even if they don't get enormous by fall, at least we'll get some blooms and with any luck, visits from the Sphinx Moths! I planted two Salvia nemorosa 'May Night' nearby, as well as one of my new Hibiscus moscheutos 'Luna Red.' I placed it more or less in line with the 'Lord Baltimore' you can see in the background of this shot (near the front of the line with the Porcupine Grass in the distance). While 'Lord Baltimore' is quite stately, reaching heights of 5-6 ft, 'Luna Red' is one of the newer, bushier cultivars that spreads more, but usually tops out at about 3-4 ft (like the 'Disco Belles' and 'Blue River II' cultivars). Discerning gardener eyes will also spot quite a few other things in this shot ... like the Rue (Ruta graveolens) blooming behind the Coneflowers, a few Calendulas, and in that big pot (hidden from street view) there are three 'Carmencita Rose' Castor seedlings just peeking above the top of the pot. We had some annuals in the pot last year, and never got around to dumping it or moving it, so we just decided to pop a few Castor seeds in it to see what might happen this year ... yeah, one of our many garden caprices that may or may not work out!
Though Queen Pepa (approximately) was spending most of the afternoon indoors due to the heat and humidity, we heard her plaintively asking to join us out front, so when we decided to take a break for a late afternoon beer, she came out to keep us company, lounging obediently on one of the front steps. I mentioned recently how much of a treat this is for her ... I think it's the equivalent of getting to eat at the grown ups' table for her, because she rarely gets to run free in the front of the house (because our street does have a fair amount --but not insane-- of traffic). So these are special moments for her when she gets to join us on one of our breaks from weeding and planting.
And then, along came a spider ... which literally did sit down beside her, though Pepa was largely oblivious to it, which was probably fortunate for both of them! Fernymoss IDed this as a "thin legged wolf spider," one of the rare species of spiders who don't spin webs. This is clearly a female with her brood (thus the fluffy looking abdomen -- make sure to click for the large version) who happened by. Apparently the females of this species drag their egg sac behind them until the little ones hatch, then they all clamber up on her back and ride around with her until they are big enough to take off on their own.
Mallow Mania continues unabated around here, with the above shot being the most current bloom from one of my tropical species, 'Brilliantissima Red.' Though the late afternoon light doesn't do it justice in this shot, it's a lovely deep red flower that can arrive in profusion as the summer progresses. Unfortunately I missed the first 'Erin Rachel' bloom of the summer because by the time I actually noticed it, it was getting too dark to take a photo. But she's finally recovering from her winter slump and gearing up for more glory in the sun ....
This hollyhock may look familiar, as it's the one I showed a while back, growing in the truly wild back corner of our lot (along with the Monarda, Baptisia, Coneflowers and Phlox). It was looking particularly pretty to me today, so I had to shoot it! Don't worry, no flowers were harmed in the creation of this post....
If you remember my herb garden post from a while back, I had showed some of the emerging Basil seedlings, well this is how they looked late this afternoon as I wandered around the back looking for likely suspects to include in this hodge podge post. Aside from needing a good weeding, I also want to thin it a bit (my sister wants some plants, so I'll likely dig a few for her) and give it a good pinching to promote bushier growth. It smells great already, and I'm finding it hard to be patient for the arrival of the first tomatoes with whom it makes such a great companion. One of my favorite tomato season salads is a simple dish of tomato slices, with shredded basil and balsamic vinegar sprinkled over it. And if I have Nasturtium flowers at the time, I throw some of those in as well, and that's (as Alton Brown would say) Good Eats!
Talk about needing patience! This is the 'Bush Celebrity' tomato I have planted in the herb bed just behind the house. This particular variety never gets as big as other 'regular' varieties, but is a great tomato to grow if you're limited on space you have for them. They'll even grow happily in a big pot on your patio or terrace, which, if you decide to go that way, make sure to sprinkle some Basil seeds around the edges to keep them company. Basil should always accompany tomatoes nearby as they are perfect companion plants! In the garden and kitchen as well!
And finally, here's our corn patch today. Yes, it needs a good weeding, but we haven't gotten back that far yet in our never ending weeding sessions ... notice the bricks, tomato cage and stakes? Well, when I first went out back today, I was horrified to see about half the corn laying on the ground, beaten into near submission by those storms we had last night. Fortunately, they weren't snapped, so Fernymoss just hopped in and propped them all up with bricks, rocks and whatever we could find to give them support. The onions also took a bit of a beating, but that's less serious where they're concerned ... And now, I hear thunder in the neighborhood as we prepare for our next round of storms tonight. There are some really nasty ones moving in from Nebraska currently and I actually hope they miss us (supposed to arrive around 2:00 a.m. here). These storms have been producing high winds, large hail and torrential rains, and I think we can do without that. Yes, we needed rain, but with what we've had since Thursday night, Saturday night and now tonight, we can take a few dry days for things to recover a bit. I've really got to get working on that storm diverter to send them down Gail and Annie's ways when we've had our fill, but I'm not making much progress on it. Sorry, my Southern Garden Friends!

To conclude, I'd like to give a hearty shout out to Mr. McGregor's Daughter, a garden blogger in the Chicago area who has a fantastic garden and blog that demands to be visited. In perhaps one of the most informative and useful posts I've read this year on a garden blog, last week
she detailed her method of eradicating the vile, pernicious and downright infuriating bindweed, the scourge of our (and others') gardens. I encourage any of you reading this who don't know her blog to stop by, at least for this post, The Squirrelhaven Method of Bindweed Eradication. You'll be glad you did!


Anonymous said...

I have planted soybeans in between my corn plants. They soybeans are now taking the place of the weeds, which works great.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Your tomatoes are looking good. I enjoy the 'this and that' kind of blogs. Kind of like walking next door and just visiting and talking garden stuff.

That spider is...ugh, words escape me. I tolerate them outside. Indoors they are a problem. It's not like they will crawl quietly on a paper and let you carry them outside. No, they scamper up your arm or jump on your shoulder. I have the 'Miss Muffet' syndrome:)

Gail said...

I stopped by Krogers today to shop and they were offering a tasty red Hibiscus moscheutos out front. Oh, was it tempting! But I have learned to read the small print. I said... "Hardy Hibiscus, Keep moist". Ah, the kiss of death for plant acquisition at Clay and Limestone...but for just a moment...a post with a photo of the big red flower flashed into my imagination.
Your garden looks wonderful. I love your coneflower! I don't see any petal damage at all! The porcupine grass is perfect back would be a great neighbor to have.

You need big umbrellas to protect your plants from the rain!


boran2 said...

Bits and pieces: Glad to see that the storm made famous in your video didn't leave things too badly. Love those Mallows. You Iowans certainly do grow some big spiders out there. I can't wait to see that corn develop.


Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Interesting idea Anon ... I'm not sure we'd have the space or the use for the soybeans, but they'd certainly serve a good purpose by giving off extra nitrogen to the soil!

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Marnie,
The tomatoes could be producing faster in my opinion, but we did get them in late due to the bad June weather. They're catching up now with all the heat and humidity. Sometime soon ... :-)

I'm generally fine with spiders unless they're a dangerous kind (we don't have too many of those around here), and we only ever see Wolf Spiders outside. We just thought it was a photo opp that literally walked up on the step and posed for Fernymoss!

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Gail, how could you resist?? It could do well in the same conditions as your Kopper King, they're both the same species, just different varieties. When they're established ... after the 1st year, they're amazingly drought and heat tolerant. I bet your KK would love some company, hehe ...

About the front garden thanks... it's finally getting there bit by bit. We had another heavy rain come through late (I slept through it) last night and pounded the corn down again. Fernymoss has Tues off, so he said he's going to go out and stake up every plant. He (and I too) is intent on having corn this year no matter what!

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey B2,
You could be doing mallows too you know ... they have a wide growing range which surely includes you. About the spider, it really wasn't that big (had some zoom going on there), maybe about an inch? And she moved fast, considering the brood she was toting around!

As for the corn, see my reply to Gail about that ... another minor setback!

Shady Gardener said...

Your weekend was busy and it seems as though very much enjoyed! (By all 3 of you!) :-)

Great photos. Wish I were better with the cooking end of things around here (to be able to justify growing herbs) but life can surely get busy, can't it? My little front bed that I created this Spring has one new butterfly bush, two rhubarb plants, 2 tomato plants, three parsley plants (2 of them for the black swallowtails!), a nice row of carrots and alyssum. :-)

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Shady!
I've been really lax on the cooking too for way too long, but when I've got good fresh stuff from the garden to work with, I love to make Salsa and other stuff, and having sage just outside the house for Thanksgiving is always a good thing!

It sounds like your small new bed should be a lovely one, though I'm still (and always) a rhubarb HUH? Person. I do like the leaves and the weird flowers, but I've hated the stuff since I was a kid, though my sister lusts after rhubarb, lol. Funny story: when we first moved here, we had a couple of wild rhubarb plants growing in the back yard, one just behind the house. They got huge, I mean like 6 ft tall! I ended up having to dig around and saw off the root of the bigger one, and then dig again the next year. Whew, they finally went away after no small amount of work!

olivia said...

Oooh ... that basil looks so good!

(And wow! shot of the spider ... gave me shivers!)

Annie in Austin said...

There can never be too much basil, can there? Mine's in a couple of containers and we've already pinched off the tops for salads... one batch of pesto would wipe out the whole crop unfortunately.

I like the hodge-podge post, too - especially since we've met rather recently... and now I have hopes the small passalong toad lily in the shady border will make quirky, interesting flowers this fall.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey Olivia,
Did you get some planted this year or at least get some plants for your deck? I hope so... ours is smelling really good and the little patch of cilantro nearby is almost ready to start using too. :-)

Wild spider, eh? We wondered what that weird bulge was until we looked at them up close and read up on the wolf spiders in a field guide. Those mamas sure do a lot of work for their broods!

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey Annie,
Do you grow yours from seed? If not, you should get some and you could plant successive patches over the summer in your climate. They love the heat you know...

Did you just plant that toad lily last year? If so, you should get blooms this year, even if only a few. I was surprised that this one actually bloomed a couple of times last year when I had just put it in. Our original (Old Colonizer) is now over 4 ft tall and still growing! We'll have those just outside the dining room windows later... ah.

Annie in Austin said...

Yes, IVG - Basil hasn't done well in the ground here, so I grow it in a few containers, sowing seed a week or so apart. It can take heat, but not full Texas sun - mine's got afternoon shade.
A friend gave me the division of Toad lily a few months ago. It's still alive....that will have to do for now!


Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

I don't know how I missed this post! Sorry. I can ID your Toad Lily - that's Tricyrtis 'Gilt Edge' I have that one, but it hasn 't started blooming yet. Thanks so much for the shout out!

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