Sunday, August 28, 2011

Evening primrose

Following from my last post about the need for a color infusion into the late summer garden, my mind was going back to the bordering-on-neon flowers that my mother used to grow.  She always kept a small patch for favorite wildflowers, among them tall yellow-blooming evening primrose Oenothera sp.  I started doing a little on-line research about evening primrose and learned that most available are short biennials grown from seed.  That's not what I was looking for!

So I was delighted the next day to literally stumble across the tall variety lining the trail through the Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge in Concord.  Oh, the unexpected joy of serendipity!

The banks were thick with evening primrose.  I'm still confused about their habitat: my mother would grow them in partial shade and on-line accounts indicate a preference for drier soils; these however were flourishing in exposed wetlands.  More research is in order.  And, eventually, perhaps, a supplier of plants as well as seeds.  (Our rabbits are enjoying anything grown from seed way too much these days.)

Even if I never figure out how to grow them in my own yard, I'll know where to go to find them in the wild.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

White out?

The garden in August needs a jolt of color.  Sure, salvia, echinacea, and rudbeckia are sparking and sizzling, but way too much of what's in bloom has no charge.  Why do white flowers lack that electricity?

This isn't an intentionally white garden, like the White Garden at Sissinghurst. I suspect that the heavy representation of the color here results from two thoughts that pop into my head when selecting plants: "Oh, white goes with everything!  That's a safe choice" and "White flowers could brighten up a dark corner of the garden."  The overall result appears just as uninteresting as these lines of practical thinking would indicate.

Flower whites, clockwise from upper left: Argyranthemum frutescens "Vanilla Butterfly," Achillea sp, Phlox panticulata "David," Shasta daisy, Clethra alnifolia "September Beauty," Hosta "Guacamole"

The balance of "how much white in the garden is too much white" has been tipped. White should be used either sparingly or exclusively, and in this garden it's neither.  I do like crisp, cool white flowers, but next year, I'll need to think about how to replace some of those daisies and achillea with colorful Phlox panticulata varieties like "Sir John Falstaff" or "Russian Violet"--or even a few annuals.

The recent rain has also sprouted some not so welcome flushes of white.  Powdery mildew is rampant on the peony foliage, and tiny earthball fungi are popping up on battered areas of the lawn.

Fungus whites: Powdery mildew and earthball fungi
Yes,  need to get those whites out!

Monday, August 08, 2011

At last, rain. And lots of it.

After a day of torrential downpours, the garden is breathing mist.  Or maybe my camera just got wet when I was caught in a shower.

It feels this steamy, anyway.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

A watched tomato . . .

Maybe it's driven by my appetite for raw fruits and vegetables or maybe because I am impulse-control challenged, but for whatever reason, it seems like the "Sugary" grape tomatoes have taken an eternity to come to the table.

The plants started fast out of the gate, but then lingered and shilly-shallied and dawdled over ripening.  Why go red and be picked when you can be a unbothered green?

Way back in May, six plants went into two pots over Memorial Day weekend.  In less than three weeks, there were lots of blossoms.

Followed by fruit just a week later.  And then the pace slowed. The tomatoes hung on the plants, staying green.  Occasionally, one would just drop off, unripe.  Meantime, the plants themselves are starting to look exhausted.  Come on, tomatoes, get red!

At last, our harvest started coming in this week. After waiting 66 days, the crop was so welcome that the first sweet batch was almost all consumed right off the vine. But there are more still ripening . . . of course.