Saturday, May 26, 2012

Spring in the Backyard

I'm doing a bit of a cheat here. Today is July 25, 2012, but I'm dating this entry by the date the photos were taken, May 26. This is before we got socked with outrageously high daytime temperatures. The lily garden was lovely and serene.

The backyard looked fresh and green.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

What's happening in May 2012

This morning was a bit chilly but I opted for breakfast on the porch anyway. It suddenly occurred to me that I hadn't updated the blog in a while, so I grabbed my camera phone and took some pictures. The plant on the table is a jasmine, lovely and fragrant. The other plants are Lloyd's cactus gardens--and I use the word garden quite loosely in this context. He swears that most of the plants are not dead but only resting; I'm thinking the "Bless my Garden" sign ought to have RIP added.  (Don't forget to click on the photos to enlarge them.)

Now that you've seen the overview, let's take a walk. In the first photo, we're standing with our back to the shed. The tall light green plants are witch hazel. The small one in the middle is a miracle child. I've given him the last rites twice, but thanks to my procrastination, I didn't pull him  up. Both times, he's come back. The other two have been slowly gaining over the past 3 or 4  years. I've forgotten when they were planted.
This area behind the shed still has a fair amount of leaves. One of the projects I want to get completed this summer is digging up the area between the shed and the Bartlett pear to make a mushroom farm. I  have a newspaper clipping by the computer, an ad for a place that sells morel mushroom seed. The clipping is so old that it has yellowed. Meanwhile, this area is out of sight from the house, so at least it doesn't detract from the overall look. I can taste those morels now!
In the foreground of the photo above  you can see part of the kidney-shaped bed by the double oak, aka the kissing tree because the two trunks meet. To the right of the photo below is the part of the bed that was well weeded last year, and to the left is the section that wasn't touched. I've been weeding there this year, but it still needs work.
Buddha went out to the lily garden yesterday. The lilies are begining to bloom.
This is the view along the north fence. The ugly debris is the remnants of the surprise lilies. The spiky plants nearer the fence are day lilies. The bed needs to be weeded and mulched. It's on the list of thing to do. The surprise lilies are going to be dug up, to be replaced by grass.
The next photo is looking back across the yard to the south fence. Notice the clematis on the lattice on the left. Had I known it grew from the ends of the branches, I'd have pruned it radically. As it is, it looks like a green toupée sitting on the fence. I debated pruning it now, but it looks so happy there!
Precious is surrounded by greenery. The columbine just left of her  had already finished blooming by the time we got back in mid April. The speedwell is supposed to like sun, but its little purple spears seem healthy enough in this deep shape. You can see autumn leaves that still need to be cleaned out. I'm not too fanatical about cleaning them up if they aren't impeding growth. I am, after, all, going for a naturalized feel back here, even if the beds are pretty well organized.
The may apples in the center bottom of the next photo are beginning to pass their prime. They didn't wait for May this year and none of them made the lovely white blossom that would have turned into the apple. A friend who lives near Chicago said that hers did the same. Maybe it was the unseasonably warm early spring that threw them off.
Check out the holes in the next photo, Squirrels. They don't seem to be storing anything in them. Maybe they're getting a head start on harvest season ... or maybe Lloyd's feeding them too much and making them complacent.
And here we are back where we began, at the screened porch, where my breakfast is still waiting for me. The hostas in front and the ferns at the right will be moved to the back of the yard. I'm not sure what foundation plantings will replace them. When I get the space cleared, I'm sure something will clamor to move in! 
So much for the walk-about. I'll try to do better next time and not be so long winded!

How green are my dahlias?

I planted some dahlias in the past month only to see the leaves turn yellow. I learned that this can happen with too much watering or not enough nitrogen or a fungus in the dirt. None of these seemed to apply. In fact, a dahlia from last year that weathered the mild winter, is perfectly green and healthy looking. It's in the bottom right corner of the second photo. I took these photos to the nursery where I'd purchased the plants. They offered to give me new plants, but theirs also had yellowing leaves. They then offered to refund the price or give me other plants.

I opted for new plants and chose some lantanas. They're not the dahlias I'd hope to have along the front walk, but they will grow bushy and green and have some nice color while we wait for the mums to bloom in the fall. I made a discovery while pulling out the dahlias, which I'd planned to toss away. You can see in the top photos that there are some tiny dark green leaves along the stems. They seemed to be new growth. In hopes that the yellowing was the result of overwatering sometime during their little pot lives, I've moved them to the back yard. Three of the ten are planted in the space along the fence that has seen two years of tomato failure.  
 The other seven are now in one of the squares that also holds two more hearty dahlias that survived the winter. I know they're too close together, but I'll fertilize them well. If they live, they live. If not, well ...

It's been a month since I last posted. I took some progress photos this morning, but I'm going to put them in a separate post or this one will get way too long. While I'm working on the next post, take a look at the lavender in foreground of the photo above. It survived the winter and is growing heartily. The tiny flowerlets are just beginning to open and are already fragrant and attracting hummingbirds.