Wednesday vignette

Art, Flowers, Wednesday Vignette

abstractartveronicastrumJoePyeWeeddogwood24Aug2016

Sometimes I roam my garden or other places with an eye for the impression of colours, textures, intersections, shadow & light, how things move together, where the edges meet or don’t.

*

“I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.” ― Claude Monet

*

Some other Wednesday vignettes this week:

 

yellowsquashonvine12Aug2016

Don’t leave the garden untended in August …

Edible Gardening, Harvest

…. or you will end up with cucurbits of gargantuan proportions. Fair warning.

The summer squash grew from nothing to its pictured extent in 5 days. The largest is 15 inches long.

The gourds by the composter — volunteers — have been stealthily increasing their girth for a month, millimeter by millimeter, but the moment my back was turned, they ballooned into Tweedledum and Tweedledee. And Tweedledoo — there are three of them that I have discovered so far; I’m afraid to look under any more leaves.

gourd plants when they were small, 3 weeks ago

gourd plants when they were small, 3 weeks ago

 

Even some of the cucumbers (see above) are zeppelin-like, though a couple retain their photogenic, market-ready dimensions.

svelte cucumber

svelte cucumber

 

*

Tomatoes and squash never fail to reach maturity.  You can spray them with acid, beat them with sticks and burn them; they love it. —  S. J. Perelman

conservatorywhitecrapemyrtleGinterRichmond17July2016

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden – again!

Art, Collector Garden, Field Trip, Flowers, Foliage, Insects, Public Gardens

When in Richmond, I like to visit the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, only a mile or two from the Amtrak train station. A couple of weeks ago, I visited for the 3rd time and spent six hours there; I never ran out of things to see and places to explore. My other visits were in April and September, so a mid-July visit was all new.

There’s a Lego exhibit on display there now (through 18 Sept), with 27 insects and other animals (and a machine, a person and a plant or two) made entirely from Legos, popping up all along the pathways and in the gardens.

LegoGoldfinchfoodcloseGinterRichmond17July2016

*

The butterfly exhibit in the Conservatory had re-opened a day or two before I was there, after a bad storm in mid-June damaged their glass home. I guess the resident butterflies were sent to the Smithsonian butterfly pavilion (which I’ve visited and which is also great), but there are new butterflies in the Ginter conservatory, and adults are breaking forth from cocoons every day. It’s an amazing place to be, though very hot, especially on a day with temps in the 90s.

inside conservatory, (Butter)flies Alive sign

inside conservatory, (Butter)flies Alive sign

ButterfliesLiveOnlyWithYourEyesGinterRichmond17July2016

Butterflies You Might See! sign ... I saw the White Peacock being born, and I've seen Paper Kites here before

Butterflies You Might See! sign … I saw the White Peacock being born, and I’ve seen Paper Kites here before

New butterflies:

Great Owl butterfly:

There were lots of monarchs … and more to come!

swallowtail

swallowtail

Julia butterfly:

Buckeye, I think:

The Clipper (Parthenos sylvia):

A Clipper with closed wings?

creamwhiteblackbutterflyGinterRichmond17July2016

The Common Morpho:

 

*

And then there are the hot neon tropical gardens, the orchid and cacti rooms, the many woodland trails, the water features including a lotus bridge and a floating island, healing gardens, the tea house, a rambling children’s garden, a tree house, and a fountain garden. So much to see and do!

Bright colours!

salvia, marigolds, crape myrtle

salvia, marigolds, crape myrtle

Button flower (Gomphrena) and canna lilies

Button flower (Gomphrena) and canna lilies

hot tropicals

hot tropicals

French marigold 'Bonanza Deep Orange' along pathway

French marigold ‘Bonanza Deep Orange’ along pathway

double Zahara Cherry zinnias

double Zahara Cherry zinnias

hot tropicals

hot tropicals

orange zinnias and purple flowers

orange zinnias and purple flowers

tropical plant

tropical plant

Orchids and Cacti:

cactus and houseplants room

cactus and houseplants room

star-shaped cactus flower

star-shaped cactus flower

agave in cactus room

agave in cactus room

Red-headed Irishmen cacti

Red-headed Irishmen cacti

orchid house wall

orchid house wall

orchid

orchid

orchid house

orchid house

and other things in and around the conservatory:

yellow water lily

yellow water lily

textured water platter

textured water platter

purple water lily

purple water lily

palm tree inside conservatory

palm tree inside conservatory

The conservatory itself, visible from many spots on the grounds:

brickpathsorangeflowersconservatorylongviewbestGinterRichmond17July2016 conservatorygardensGinterRichmond17July2016 conservatoryGinterRichmond17July2016 conservatoryskycloudsmeadowGinterRichmond17July2016

Healing and meditation gardens:

MeditationgardensignGinterRichmond17July2016

mortar and pestle in Healing Garden

mortar and pestle in Healing Garden

part of Meditation Garden

part of Meditation Garden

echinacea in Healing Garden

echinacea in Healing Garden

white zinnias, statue, in Meditation Garden

white zinnias, statue, in Meditation Garden

Fountain gardens and other watery spots:

fountain garden, crape myrtles

fountain garden, crape myrtles

fountain garden

fountain garden

lotus plants

lotus plants

cloudsreflectedpondGinterRichmond17July2016

bluegill swimming

bluegill swimming

dragonfly

dragonfly

floating dock

floating dock

pitcher plants

pitcher plants

pondviewLegokoiJapanesemapletreeGinterRichmond17July2016

turtle on shore

turtle on shore

rudbeckia along water

rudbeckia along water

Treehouse and children’s garden:

overview of part of children's garden

overview of part of children’s garden

view of tree house, pond

view of tree house, pond

view from window of treehouse

view from window of treehouse

three-bin compost system

three-bin compost system

anise hyssop and blue bottles in children's garden

anise hyssop and blue bottles in children’s garden

The rose garden:

overlooking rose garden

overlooking rose garden

pavilion near rose garden

pavilion near rose garden

'Knockout' pink roses

‘Knockout’ pink roses

The tea house, where we had a great lunch:

tea house

tea house

cherry limeade at tea house

cherry limeade at tea house

shrimp southwestern salad, avocado quinoa salad, cherry limeade at tea house

shrimp southwestern salad, avocado quinoa salad, cherry limeade at tea house

Asian screens

Asian screens

pond by tea house

pond by tea house

Woodland paths and trails:

shaded pathway

shaded pathway

stonewall with entry

stonewall with entry

woodland bridge

woodland bridge

turtle seen on trail

turtle seen on trail

elderberry and Queen Anne's Lace

elderberry and Queen Anne’s Lace

one of several bird's nests seen

one of several bird’s nests seen

trees and green along trail

trees and green along trail

and assorted other goodies:

sculpture

sculpture

SheWasARealLiveTomatoJakebrickGinterRichmond17July2016

song sparrow singing

song sparrow singing

white hibiscus

white hibiscus

conifers, yucca

conifers, yucca

echinacea and brick wall

echinacea and brick wall

Goldfinches in echinacea:

pathneongardenGinterRichmond17July2016 planterbrickstonewallslightbestGinterRichmond17July2016 EarlytoBedFertilizequotebrickGinterRichmond17July2016

 

asclepias, perovskia

View from the end of the month: July

Seasons, Landscape, Flowers, Edible Gardening, Foliage

Here’s what’s going on in my patch of land in northern New England as of 31 July (or really, 1 August) 2016:

It’s raining as I write, and we got soaking rain on Friday night, too. Temperatures yesterday and today are topping out in the low 60s. It actually feels odd not to set aside an hour to water my garden every day; I think the last time I did was five days ago.

The down side to not watering daily is that I am not noticing the garden’s activity as closely. When I took a swing around the garden this morning (in the rain), I found a couple of huge yellow squash that weren’t there, at all!, last week.

very big squash ... 12", 11", and 8"

very big squash … 12″, 11″, and 8″

I also harvested a bunch of smaller squash, a healthy batch of green beans, and a few tomatoes.

harvest!

harvest!

I’ll get the garlic in when the rain stops in a day or two. One happy surprise: an actual cucumber on the vine!

first cucumber!

first cucumber!

Of course, the most abundant of my edible plants is one I didn’t plant, a gourd of some sort that sprang up again next to the compost. It’s not taking up valuable real estate, so I let it be, curious to see its fully fledged fruits. (It is starting to block the gate, which is making me a bit nervous about its intentions.)

giant volunteer gourd

giant volunteer gourd

volunteer gourd fruit

volunteer gourd fruit

On to the rest of the photos, taken in the last week or so. Let’s start with the veggie garden this time:

VEGETABLE GARDEN

Squash, tomatoes, green beans, arugula, basil, and chard are all harvestable. Scarlet runner beans are starting to flower, and the cosmos from last year re-seeded everywhere. The butterfly mix is starting to bloom, beginning with annual bachelor’s buttons.

intersection of flowers in veggie garden: cosmos, borage, vanilla marigolds, bachelor button from butterfly mix

intersection of flowers in veggie garden: cosmos, borage, vanilla marigolds, bachelor button from butterfly mix

another flower intersection in veggie garden, with scarlet runner bean bloom, re-seeded cosmos, bachelor button, plus some lemon balm photobombing

another flower intersection in veggie garden, with scarlet runner bean bloom, re-seeded cosmos, bachelor button, plus some lemon balm photobombing

crocosmia petals on Swiss chard

crocosmia petals on Swiss chard

crocosmia, cosmos, borage, buddleia, chard, holly ...

crocosmia, cosmos, borage, buddleia, chard, holly …

partial view from inside vegetable garden

partial view from inside vegetable garden

another view inside veggie garden, with squash, tomato, basil plants, and crocosmia

another view inside veggie garden, with squash, tomato, basil plants, and crocosmia

*

SIDEYARD

Both part of and apart from the vegetable garden … Right now, asclepias incarnata (a kind of milkweed) and crocosmia (a bulb that’s come back strong each year since planted in 2013) are stealing the show, but echinacea, vervain, bee balm, and phlox are all shining, too.

echincea and Intensia Neon pink phlox

echincea and Intensia Neon pink phlox

great golden digger wasp on asclepias incarnata 'Ice Ballet'

great golden digger wasp on asclepias incarnata ‘Ice Ballet’

asclepias incarnata blooming outside veggie garden

asclepias incarnata blooming outside veggie garden

a riot of red crocosmia

a riot of red crocosmia

vervain and bee balm, with one orange zinnia peeking in

vervain and bee balm, with one orange zinnia peeking in

buddleia (butterfly bush) bloom

buddleia (butterfly bush) bloom

*

SHADE GARDEN

shade garden in rain

shade garden in rain

shade garden, patio, back border in rain

shade garden, patio, back border in rain

'Francis Williams' hosta

‘Francis Williams’ hosta

pink filipendula bloom

pink filipendula bloom

*

BACKYARD

It’s all about the veronicastrum (culver’s root) right now. Coming soon: Joe Pye weed.

veronicastrum, echinacea in back border, bent down by rain

veronicastrum, echinacea in back border, bent down by rain

veronicastrum et al., in back border, bent down by rain

veronicastrum et al., in back border, bent down by rain

phlox 'Wendy House' and veronicastrum

phlox ‘Wendy House’ and veronicastrum

great black wasp on veronicastrum

great black wasp on veronicastrum

swallowtail on veronicastrum

swallowtail on veronicastrum

echinacea 'White Swan'

echinacea ‘White Swan’

phlox paniculata 'Jade'

phlox paniculata ‘Jade’

Joe Pye weed buds

Joe Pye weed buds

*

SUNROOM BORDER

Mostly ornamental except for sage, lavender, thyme.

skipper butterfly on lavender

skipper butterfly on lavender

goldenrod allowed to flower in sunroom border. Dianthus, salvia 'May Night,' and comfrey also seen.

goldenrod allowed to flower in sunroom border. Dianthus, salvia ‘May Night,’ and comfrey also seen.

echinops (globe thistle), with sedum and dianthus below

echinops (globe thistle), with sedum and dianthus below

*

FRUIT GUILD

The two semi-dwarf ‘Red Haven’ peaches have no fruit this year, but last year’s self-seeded fennel is going strong, and the four Asclepias incarnata plants (a milkweed) are just starting to bloom.

lots of fennel, first anise hyssop, purple sand cherry shrub

lots of fennel, first anise hyssop, purple sand cherry shrub

fennel blooming

fennel blooming

'Summer Pastels' yarrow

‘Summer Pastels’ yarrow

asclepias incarnata starting to bloom

asclepias incarnata starting to bloom

*

FRONT YARD

Mostly ornamental, with two blueberries, some culinary oregano and thyme. The hostas, bee balm, and geraniums are up to bat now.

front border with hostas, bee balm, etc.

front border with hostas, bee balm, etc.

'So Sweet' hostas

‘So Sweet’ hostas

'Johnson's Blue' geranium and 'Gold Standard' hosta

‘Johnson’s Blue’ geranium and ‘Gold Standard’ hosta

closer look at 'Johnson's Blue' geranium and 'Gold Standard' hosta

closer look at ‘Johnson’s Blue’ geranium and ‘Gold Standard’ hosta

'Gold Standard' hosta eaten by deer but still blooming

‘Gold Standard’ hosta eaten by deer but still blooming

bee balm

bee balm

sedum 'Hab Grey'

sedum ‘Hab Grey’

'Halcyon' hosta in bloom

‘Halcyon’ hosta in bloom

crocosmia against weeping 'Jade' crabapple

crocosmia against weeping ‘Jade’ crabapple

*

And this lovely slug on the door mat yesterday:

lovely slug

lovely slug

Come back in August!

*

“People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us.” — Iris Murdoch

partofshadegardenwithlamium30June2016

View from the end of the month: June

Flowers, Foliage, Landscape, Seasons

(Let’s see how long I remember to keep this monthly ritual going.  My record is not strong.)

Here’s what’s going on in my patch of land in northern New England as of 30 June 2016. It’s been a month with little rainfall, the 9th month in a row of sub-average precipitation. I am watering my veggies, annuals, and new perennials and shrubs just about every day (or my amazing friends are, when I’m away), and soaking every plant and garden bed about once every four or five days. Rain, where are you? I still have rain in the rain barrels from the 2-hour intermittent thunderstorm the other night, but it’s going fast.

*

BACKYARD

garlic scapes

garlic scapes

bench garden, with penstemons, anemone, and herb box

bench garden, with penstemons, anemone, and herb box

patio, weeping spruce, comfrey, anemone, juniper, herb box, shed

patio, weeping spruce, comfrey, anemone, juniper, herb box, shed

dwarf Alberta spruce, weeping Norway spruce, and juniper in between ... also a little lemon balm, comfrey, and thyme

dwarf Alberta spruce, weeping Norway spruce, and juniper in between … also a little lemon balm, comfrey, and thyme

harvestman spider on sage in back yard

harvestman spider on sage in back yard

comfrey close

comfrey close

'Oracle' sedum flower ... the plant looks awful, the flowers still bloom

‘Oracle’ sedum flower … the plant looks awful, the flowers still bloom

persicaria 'Painters Palette' and a salvia

persicaria ‘Painters Palette’ and a salvia

veronicastrum getting tall ... some buds ... should be flowering soon

veronicastrum getting tall … some buds … should be flowering soon

veronicastrum bud

veronicastrum bud

part of the back border, with angelicas, sedum, phlox, persicaria, willow gentian, miscanthus grass, hydrangea and so on

part of the back border, with angelicas, sedum, phlox, persicaria, willow gentian, miscanthus grass, hydrangea and so on

angelica, filipendula, hydrangea, phlox, etc. in back border

angelica, filipendula, hydrangea, phlox, etc. in back border

'Bail Day' hydrangea ... usually just foliage, but occasionally it flowers (later in summer)

‘Bail Day’ hydrangea … usually just foliage, but occasionally it flowers (later in summer)

a new 'Bravado' echinacea given to us by spouse's vanpool driver

a new ‘Bravado’ echinacea given to us by spouse’s vanpool driver

blurry bleeding heart ... all the others finished a month ago, but this one persists

blurry bleeding heart … all the others finished a month ago, but this one persists

tiarella really spreads!

tiarella really spreads!

my beloved 'June Fever' hosta

my beloved ‘June Fever’ hosta

*

SHADE GARDEN

All ornamental and probably my favourite space in the yard.

Japanese painted fern

Japanese painted fern

volunteer green hosta, Japanese painted fern, 'Blue Cadet' hosta

volunteer green hosta, Japanese painted fern, ‘Blue Cadet’ hosta

'Peach Blossom' astilbe

‘Peach Blossom’ astilbe

Japanese lantern, hostas, Rodgersian, astilbe, et al.

Japanese lantern, hostas, Rodgersian, astilbe, et al.

Rodgersia in bloom a few days ago

Rodgersia in bloom a few days ago

*

SUNROOM BORDER

Mostly ornamental except for sage, lavender, thyme.

border with salvia, dianthus, 'Jingle Bell' penstemon, sedums, sage, comfrey, etc.

border with salvia, dianthus, ‘Jingle Bell’ penstemon, sedums, sage, comfrey, etc.

lavender stem

lavender stem

spreading sedum 'Spirit' with dianthus and echinops (globe thistle)

spreading sedum ‘Spirit’ with dianthus and echinops (globe thistle)

my favourite salvia, 'Purple Rain'

my favourite salvia, ‘Purple Rain’

*

SIDEYARD

A mixture of edibles — elderberries, hazelnuts, cucumbers, squash, basil, lemon balm, blueberries, dwarf cherry, lavender — and ornamentals (for us; edible perhaps for someone else) — lady’s mantle, Bowman’s root, bee balm, vervain, crabapple, lilac, echinacea, various milkweeds, zinnias, calendula, amsonia, various phloxes, asters, snapdragons, honeysuckle, Fineline, dwarf Alberta spruce, anemone, bloodroot, masses of violets, Russian sage, crocosmia, gladiolus, hydrangea, rose, holly, daylilies, butterfly bush …

lady's mantles, Bowman's root in rock wall

lady’s mantles, Bowman’s root in rock wall

hazelnut

hazelnut

elderberry flowers

elderberry flowers

blueberries

blueberries

'Antia Kistler' phlox, lemon balm, lilac, holly, milkweeds, echinacea, etc.

‘Antia Kistler’ phlox, lemon balm, lilac, holly, milkweeds, echinacea, etc.

milkweeds

milkweeds

And some lovely weeds in the lawn:

hawkweed in lawn

hawkweed in lawn

self-heal (prunella) in lawn

self-heal (prunella) in lawn

white clover in lawn

white clover in lawn

*

VEGETABLE GARDEN

Radishes were pulled out weeks ago for bush bean seeds. Arugula and romaine continue apace. Chard is coming along, as are peppers, tomatoes, and basil. Squash is looking good, but someone ate all the little squashes off one of them. Cucumber lags but I’m hopeful. Scarlet runner bean foliage is always so hardy looking. The peas are the real star here; I planted them on 19 March and they were ready to start harvesting about 10 days ago. Nothing compares to fresh podded peas. I love it that some borage and cosmos plants self-seeded from last year (neither blooming yet, but borage is about to).

sungold tomatoes

sungold tomatoes

squash plant so far uneaten, with five squash on it

squash plant so far uneaten, with five squash on it

squash plant that someone ate

squash plant that someone ate

rows of peas

rows of peas

so many peas! this is our second week of them

so many peas! this is our second week of them

arugula

arugula

romaine lettuce

romaine lettuce

'Provider' green bean seedlings

‘Provider’ green bean seedlings

a lot happening here: butterfly mix seedlings, scarlet runner bean seedlings, a cosmos that reseeded from last year, a new vanilla marigold flower

a lot happening here: butterfly mix seedlings, scarlet runner bean seedlings, a cosmos that reseeded from last year, a new vanilla marigold flower

*

FRUIT GUILD

The fruit trees in the guild are two semi-dwarf ‘Red Haven’ peaches, but they haven’t ever had much fruit in their 5 years here, and none this year as far as I can tell. I used to have three or four high-bush blueberries planted here but moved them this year to more sun in the side yard, where they are thriving. I also moved a very spready tansy to the back-of-the-yard shade, where it’s also thriving; nothing can deter that thing.

What’s here in the guild now are lots of chives and strawberries (very spready), ten or fennel plants that self-seeded, some dill, two male/female winterberry shrubs, a lovely sand cherry, a (new) bog myrtle, ‘Summer Pastel’ and white yarrows, a heather (in its third and final location in the yard), four Asclepias incarnata plants (a milkweed), the ever-seeding lemon balm and anise hyssop, ‘Carolina Moonlight’ baptisias, a bunch of Sweet William flowers (biennial) left over from past years’ Butterfly Mix seeds, some yellow flowers also left over from the Butterfly Mix seeds, and some self-seeded borage; and this year I planted some nasturtium seeds, ‘Provider’ green beans, a little more Butterfly mix, an epimedium, and a tricyrtis (toadlily). This bed has yet to discover its true mission.

fruit guild

fruit guild

Sweet William flowers

Sweet William flowers

harvestman on Sweet Williams

harvestman on Sweet Williams

yellow flower from previous year's Butterfly Mix

yellow flower from previous year’s Butterfly Mix

nasturtium seedlings

nasturtium seedlings

green bean seedlings

green bean seedlings

'Summer Pastels' yarrow

‘Summer Pastels’ yarrow

row of fennels (fennel is very hard to photograph!)

row of fennels (fennel is very hard to photograph!)

earlier in the month, with the 'Carolina Moonlight' baptisia in bloom

earlier in the month, with the ‘Carolina Moonlight’ baptisia in bloom

*

FRONT YARD

Mostly ornamental, with several leucothoe shrubs, an andromeda, a Nishiki willow tree, a caryopteris, asters, large rhododendrons, peonies, blue baptisias, amsonias, lupines, five sets of hosta trios, four varieties of sedums, geraniums, irises, red catchfly, a few kinds of dianthus, some annuals … and two blueberries, some culinary oregano, and various thymes (culinary and not). A Northern spicebush, two stick-like ‘Roselow’ crabapples, a dwarf ‘River King’ birch, and a small red ‘Emperor’ Japanese maple are in the front yard, along with some sedums and an ice plant near the road. And planted by someone else (besides the large rhodos and peonies) are the tall blue spruces, dark and light orange azaleas, daffodils, Japanese barberry, euonymus shrubs, a tulip poplar, and a nice kousa dogwood shrub.

part of front border

part of front border

part of front border

part of front border

'So Sweet' hosta, leucothoe, annual cuphea, pasque flower

‘So Sweet’ hosta, leucothoe, annual cuphea, pasque flower

'Gold Standard' hosta, amsonia, geranium, 'So Sweet' hostas, and small highbush blueberry

‘Gold Standard’ hosta, amsonia, geranium, ‘So Sweet’ hostas, and small highbush blueberry

amsonia

amsonia

'Rozanne' geranium starting to bloom

‘Rozanne’ geranium starting to bloom

dark pink peony

dark pink peony

light pink peony

light pink peony

pink dianthus

pink dianthus

'Hab Grey' sedum

‘Hab Grey’ sedum

yellow calendula flower

yellow calendula flower

pink geranium

pink geranium

'Johnson's Blue' geranium

‘Johnson’s Blue’ geranium

Silene 'Lumina' (catchfly)

Silene ‘Lumina’ (catchfly)

Northern spicebush (Lindera benzoin), with Japanese maple behind. This spicebush bought locally survived the winter, while the two mail-ordered from the south didn't.

Northern spicebush (Lindera benzoin), with Japanese maple behind. This spicebush bought locally survived the winter, while the two mail-ordered from the south didn’t.

*

“I like this place and could willingly waste my time in it.”

― William Shakespeare

 

angelicabud1Aug2011

A lot going on with the angelica

Collector Garden, Edible Gardening, Insects

I noticed that the angelica plant, standing about 6 feet tall in my back border — either Angelica archangelica (European angelica) or A. atro­purpurea (a native North American variety) — is a hotbed of insect action.

This morning (and afternoon, when I checked again), there were at least two different spiders and two different looking ladybugs on it. In the afternoon, one spider was eating a small fly, and I saw two more of the same size fly on other umbels. The pictures are rather poor, since the creatures are small and moving, but you get the idea.

spiderladybugsonangelicacollage29June2016

I bought an Angelica gigas (Korean angelica) last week so I’ll have one in bloom again next year; the blooms on that variety should be deep burgundy!

Angelica is a very cool plant. It’s a biennial: the first year it grows a bit, the second year it grows a lot and usually flowers, but sometimes it doesn’t flower until the third year. After it flowers and seeds, it dies. Mine have never self-seeded in my garden, but recently I saw a whole field of them, nearby in Vermont, so it can happen.

It’s quite a sight, a field of these sometimes-seven-foot-tall plants topped with round spheres.

I think it smells amazingly good — sort of medicinal, sort of alcoholic, sort of floral —  but not everyone does. It’s been used for centuries as a medicinal herbal, for varied and interesting conditions and purposes, and it was part of the official English plague remedy because it supposedly could “cure any illness, from toothache to the bites of ‘all venomous beasts’.” You can candy the stems, which have a “unique flavor … difficult to describe except by listing its components: musky, bitter, celerylike, aniselike, slightly sweet, fresh.” I tried to grow it several times when we lived in inland Maine and each time an animal dug it up and ate the roots. (Don’t eat it or use it medicinally if pregnant.)

More info

<< Banner image is an angelica bud from May 2011. >>

 

milkweed tussock moth caterpillars

If you Plant It

Insects, Permaculture

How brilliant and terrifying nature can be: These buds on my asclepias incarnata ‘Ice Ballet’ — a white swamp milkweed — appeared Friday.

asclepiasincarnataIceBalletbuds25June2016

Yesterday, I took this photo of one of the two red and black bugs on that milkweed. (Not easy … they scurry back and forth to the other side of the leaf or flower when they sense a presence.)

milkweedbugonmilkweedbuds25June2016

milkweedbugupsidedownonmilkweed25June2016

 

The bug is called Oncopeltus fasciatus … large milkweed bug.

HOW do they know? Did they grow from larvae laid here last year by their parents and bide their time waiting, waiting, for the buds to appear? Did they sniff the air from miles away and smell the scent of goodness wafting their way? Were they created from whole cloth on the spot the moment the buds shown forth?

*

Here’s a photo from last year, same critter on the flowers and buds in mid July:

milkweed bug

milkweed bug

And also from previous summers, a few to show that other insects visit it as well:

swallowtail butterfly underneath, great golden digger wasp on top

swallowtail butterfly underneath, great golden digger wasp on top

great black wasp

great black wasp

milkweedtussockmothcaterpillarsonIceBalletasclepias22Aug2015

Northern aerial yellow jacket

Northern aerial yellow jacket

*

(Even in late October, asclepias is a show worth watching:

releasing seeds in October)

releasing seeds in October)

*

Really, how do insects get to plants so quickly?

I had an aphid infestation in my lupines this spring. I kept waiting for ladybugs to visit and eat them but no such luck.

But it does happen that insects that both eat my plants and prey on those that eat my plants can show up before the dinner bell finishes ringing. It’s one premise of integrated pest management (IPM), organic gardening, and permaculture, that predatory insects can control herbivorous insects, especially given polycultures (not monocultures) and insectary plants; it’s embedded in the 5th permaculture design principle, Using Biological Resources (see #2, Pest Control).

“One of the maxims of the new field of conservation biological control is that to control insect herbivores, you must maintain populations of insect herbivores.” ― Douglas Tallamy

Tallamy’s comment seems paradoxical, but he means that we need some insect herbivores (i.e., crop pests) to keep populations of predatory insects fat and happy so they will remain on the site.

*

This handy page lists plants to grow (insectary plants) to attract various beneficial predators, including lacewings, ladybugs, miniwasps, hoverflies, braconid wasps, ichneumonid wasps, tachnid flies, and damselbugs. The plants can primarily be summarised as umbels (Apiaceae) like angelica, anise, carrot, chervil, cicely, cilantro, dill, fennel, lovage, parsley, Queen Anne’s lace; composites (Asteraceae) such as daisies, asters, marigolds, chrysanthemums, zinnias; and mints (Lamiaceae), which, besides the mints themselves, includes lemon balm, bee balm, basil, rosemary, sage, oregano, thyme, and lavender. I grow most of these all over the yard.

*

This short blog post, at Wandering Upward, explains how ants, aphids, parasitic wasps, and fungus all interact as prey, as predator, and in mutually beneficial relationships. Kind of fascinating.

*

And to answer my original question, how do insects — plant-eating and predatory — show up so fast?, apparently it’s a bit of a mystery, but scent, visual cues, eggs laid on the host plant, and learning may all play a role. And some plants “cry for help” (release volatile chemicals) when being attacked, calling on what we (and they) would consider beneficial insects to save them!

*

Everybody says they love Nature, but nobody ever invites her over to their yard. We mow plant life to within an inch or two of its life, relentlessly spray toxic chemicals to kill all the bugs, be they good or bad, and then wonder where all the birds went. — Neil Diboll, Prairie Nursery

easternpaintedturtlelilypadheadonHeritageGardensSandwichMA23June2016

Heritage Museum and Gardens – Cape Cod, MA

Art, Field Trip, Flowers, Foliage, Public Gardens, Trees

While on Cape Cod last week, spouse and I visited The Heritage Museum and Gardens in Sandwich, mainly for a behind-the-scenes antique car tour — they have about 40 in their collection, made from 1899 to 1962 — but also to see the gardens.

There is a lot to like about these gardens at the end of June, even though many of their signature plants — hydrangeas, rhododendrons, daylilies, fringe and Franklinia trees — weren’t blooming:

  • the garden isn’t overwhelming in scope or size (100 acres) yet has a good variety of plants, most of them labelled;
  • there’s art in the gardens — “Natural Threads” was the fabric-sculptural exhibit when we were here;
  • there are both a labyrinth and a maze;
  • there’s a pond and a waterlily pool & fountain (my favourite);
  • we saw plenty of frogs and eastern painted turtles, and heard song sparrows singing their hearts out;
  • we didn’t have time to check them out, but there are several wooded trails around the property;
  • there’s a fun sensory play area (“hidden hollow”) with a tree house and stations for making music, building things, engineering things, splashing around in water, painting, climbing, making forts, digging in sand, looking at things with magnifying glasses, etc. — which we did have time to check out.

Here are some of the highlights. Visit if you get the chance.

I especially enjoyed the (mostly) shade gardens in the windmill area:

path through windmill garden

path through windmill garden

silver-spotted skipper butterfly on a borage flower

silver-spotted skipper butterfly on a borage flower

song sparrow singing

song sparrow singing

heuchera with hostas

heuchera with hostas

astilbe in bud

astilbe in bud

excellent pairing of chartreuse hosta with Japanese painted fern

excellent pairing of chartreuse hosta with Japanese painted fern

blue and green-with-yellow-border hostas

blue and green-with-yellow-border hostas

masterwort -- a new one for me, and then today I found it in a plant sale and bought one!

masterwort — a new one for me, and then today I found it in a plant sale and bought one!

The maze was fun, and the first of the fabric art sculptures was there, titled Modern Dance:

'Modern Dance' Natural Threads art

‘Modern Dance’ Natural Threads art

clematis in maze

clematis in maze

From there to the herb garden:

herbgardenstonefountainhouseHeritageGardensSandwichMA23June2016

And then to the labyrinth; there were many trees in the paths, and the path itself was mostly shells:

labyrinth in sun-shade

labyrinth in sun-shade

“Just at present you only see the tree by the light of the lamp. I wonder when you would ever see the lamp by the light of the tree.” ― G.K. Chesterton

trees in path

trees in path

Nearby was more art (‘We Weave Our Own Web’) and an eastern painted turtle making its way through the woods’ edge:

turtle

turtle

"We Weave Our Own Web" Natural Threads art

“We Weave Our Own Web” Natural Threads art

From there to the sundial (in the daylily garden, though very few were blooming yet), then the waterlily pond and fountain, with many frogs, eastern painted turtles — including a teeny tiny one — and flowering lilies:

sundialthroughtreesHeritageGardensSandwichMA23June2016

"Dance Ballerina Dance" daylily

“Dance Ballerina Dance” daylily

lilypondfountainbHeritageGardensSandwichMA23June2016 triopinkwaterlilyflowersHeritageGardensSandwichMA23June2016

yellowwaterlilyflowerbHeritageGardensSandwichMA23June2016 easternpaintedturtlereflectionHeritageGardensSandwichMA23June2016 twosmallonetinyeasternpaintedturtleslilypadsbHeritageGardensSandwichMA23June2016

I mean, that's tiny!

I mean, that’s tiny!

easternpaintedturtlecHeritageGardensSandwichMA23June2016

big green frog

big green frog

another frog

another frog

lilypondfountaincHeritageGardensSandwichMA23June2016

Next past a swath of astilbe and some foxglove to the pond:

swath of white astilbe

swath of white astilbe

foxglove

foxglove

the pond

the pond

wooded path near pond

wooded path near pond

Then to Hidden Hollow, an enchanting play area for little and big people alike (I pumped some water and poured it on a wooden stove):

Hidden Hollow play area (from above, in treehouse)

Hidden Hollow play area (from above, in treehouse)

Hidden Hollow treehouse

Hidden Hollow treehouse

There were several of these percussion instruments to play

There were several of these percussion instruments to play

part of the "Splash" water play area in Hidden Hollow

part of the “Splash” water play area in Hidden Hollow

One of several little boxes along the path, which gave clues as to what was inside.

One of several little boxes along the path, which gave clues as to what was inside.

I wondered if a real arachnid would be inside, but it was the stuffed, furry variety.

I wondered if a real arachnid would be inside, but it was the stuffed, furry variety.

I liked this evergreen planting, and this waterway, and especially this Natural Threads art — crocheting a web in a tree:

evergreens

evergreens

a waterway with flowers

a waterway with flowers

my favourite of the Natural Threads installations: Keeping Up Appearances, made of crochet.

my favourite of the Natural Threads installations: Keeping Up Appearances, made of crochet.

Isn’t it beautiful?

There’s also a cafe (PDF menu), with a nice summer berry salad, a green salad, sandwiches and wraps (meat and vegetarian), quiche, clam chowder, a vegetarian Mediterranean flatbread, and wines, beers, sangrias, iced tea, lemonade, plus desserts, muffins, potato chips.

We were so busy enjoying the garden and cars that we didn’t even get to the museum proper or the carousel or costume exhibits. We’ll have to return.

birchpinetreesMascomaLakeNRT28May2016

Northern Trail Walking: Enfield to Lebanon NH

Field Trip, Flowers, Foliage, Rail Trail, Weeds, Wildflowers

We walked another 5-mile section of the Northern Rail Trail in Grafton County, NH, this past weekend, from “downtown” Enfield to the Ice House Road in Lebanon and back.

trailmapYouAreAtIceHouseRoadNRT28May2016

Had a bit of trouble finding the parking, but mainly because we are unfamiliar with Enfield. We parked by this red building, then as we began walking came upon some official rail trail parking.

whereweparkedinEnfieldredbuildingNRT28May2016 MunicipalRailTrailparkinglotsignEnfieldNRT28May2016

There was more to see than I expected — within a half-mile, we came upon a couple of morel mushrooms right by the trail! One was already molested, but the other stood tall. (Photo a bit blurry, sorry.)

morelmaybemushroomNRT28May2016

*

As always, there were quite a lot of what some folks call weeds along the trail, but as usual, many are quite beautiful when you really look at their structure, colour, texture, patterns.

Dock, with lots of little jewelweed seedlings:

docklittlejewelweedseedlingsNRT28May2016

The non-native greater celandine (Chelidonium majus), whose sap can be quite irritating and quite bright yellow:celandinemassNRT28May2016

Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), a very hardy vine: VirginiacreeperNRT28May2016

Red clover (Trifolium pratens), lovely in leaf and flower, and edible, particularly favoured in teas:

redcloverfoliageNRT28May2016 redcloverflowerNRT28May2016

A vetch of some sort (probably common, Vicia sativa, but we have six kinds in NH), usually found twisting its way around anything in its path in meadows, suburban gardens, and edge habitats like this one:vetchNRT28May2016

A grape vine … Someone on a Facebook plant forum thinks it’s Vitis riparia, River or Frost Grape, a native.

grapevineleavesNRT28May2016

I had to get this one identified; apparently it’s a Nabalus (rattlesnake root), though which one is unclear:NabalusRattlesnakeRootNRT28May2016

Reddish stem:

NabalusRattlesnakeRootredstemNRT28May2016

You see these Canada mayflowers (Maianthemum canadens) everywhere in the NH woods — until you don’t:

CanadamayflowersNRT28May2016

These sarsaparillas are common, too, though I’ve noticed that only about one in ten has flowers (shown with red clover foliage); I can’t tell whether it’s Wild (Aralia nudicaulis) or Bristly (Aralia hispida).

sarsaparillaleavesbloomsplusredcloverNRT28May2016

The leaves are non-descript, but the flowers look a bit like sweetgum balls:

sarsaparillabloomscloseNRT28May2016

There are a number of small-yellow-flowered wildflowers along NH trails and in woods. This one is called winter rocket or garden yellow rocket (Barbarea vulgaris):BarbareaVulgarisWinterRocketNRT28May2016

Some bloodroot foliage was still visible; these bloomed over a month ago here:bloodrootfoliageNRT28May2016

Buttercups en masse:buttercupsNRT28May2016

*

Then there are shrubs and plants that many consider invasive, like Tatarian honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica), introduced from China in 1845, and Morrow’s honeysuckle (Lonicera morrowii) from Japan in 1860, which is considered invasive in southern New England and which often interbreeds with the Tatarian variety. There are also native, non-invasive varieties, like Bush honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera), but I believe these two photos are not that species (look to be Morrow’s honeysuckle):

honeysucklefernsNRT28May2016 pinkhoneysuckleNRT28May2016

This is autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellata), a gorgeous plant that smells heavenly when in bloom, is a nitrogen fixer, beloved of birds (when it fruits) and bees, and used to make jams, but it is considered invasive many places; note the greyness of the leaves:

autumnolivebranchflowersleavesNRT28May2016

Near the beginning and ending of our walk were stands of Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica), a particularly invasive plant here and elsewhere; the leaves are heart- or shield-shaped, the flowers are pretty and aromatic, the stalks are sturdy and hollow like bamboo, but boy does it spread; it’s been said to grow through 2″ of concrete:

knotweedstandNRT28May2016 knotweedleavesNRT28May2016

*

Some other interesting plants along the way:

Jack in the pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum):

JackinpulpitNRT28May2016

Some sort of sedum (stonecrop) or possibly a FALSE! Stonecrop (Phedimus spurius) — who knew?:

sedumNRT28May2016

This is definitely a false Solomon’s seal (Maianthemum racemosum); one way to differentiate it from a true thing (a Polygonatum) is that the false has a flower cluster on the end of the stem (and later a cluster of golden berries on the end), while the true has the flowers, and later dark berries, dangling on the underside of the stem, at the base of each leaf. In the photo, the flower cluster of one false Solomon’s seal is resting on the leaves of another:falseSolomonsSealbNRT28May2016

This is sensitive fern (Onoclea sensibilis), so called because it browns and curls at the thought of a frost:

sensitivefernNRT28May2016

Had to get this one identified by the good people on Facebook; it’s pink corydalis (Capnoides sempervirens)

pinkyellowtippedflowerCapnoidesSempervirensPinkCorydalisNRT28May2016

This is sweet-fern (Comptonia peregrina), which I find noxious smelling but apparently I am in the minority. The catkins are the male flowers (female flowers are much smaller and round or oval).

sweetfernComptoniacatkinsNRT28May2016

Behold, the fringed polygala (Polygala paucifolia)! Also called gaywings and fringed milkwort. It can also appear in a white and a blue form, neither of which I’ve seen.

fringedpolygalaflowerfoliageNRT28May2016

A double flowered columbine; there was a stand of pink and white flowered plants near Ice House Road:doublefloweredpinkcolumbineflowerNRT28May2016

More of the same:doublefloweredpinkcolumbineplantNRT28May2016

A sweet little mullein plant (probably Verbascum thapsus) enjoying some shade under the bench (not that it needs it — it seems to grow in any conditions and the flower can be 6 feet tall):mulleinunderbenchNRT28May2016

Veronica (aka speedwell) growing in the parking lot:

VeronicaspeedwellsmallblueflowersNRT28May2016

*

Really enjoyed on this hot day walking on the trail between rock ledge that had been blasted:

stonewalltrailshadelightcurveNRT28May2016 birchtreerootsgrowingfromstonewallNRT28May2016 stonewallbestNRT28May2016

*

And seeing these cuties, chipmunk and some kind of skipper butterfly on a sumac:

chipmunkNRT28May2016 skipperbutterflymaybeonsumacNRT28May2016

*

Finally, a few views of the lake, trail, and other trail sightings. Hope you enjoyed the walk!

stairstolargetreeNRT28May2016

twocycliststrailNRT28May2016

Art inside a tunnel:artinsidetunnelNRT28May2016 woodensignEnfieldNRT28May2016 boardedupRValongtrailrearviewNRT28May2016 bridgesslatsNRT28May2016

Rope swing!:ropeswingMascomaLakeNRT28May2016

Saw a great blue heron here, twice, but it flew each time:pondhouseNRT28May2016

Mile markers, with distance on one side to White River Junction, VT, and on the other to Boston, MA:milemarkerWRJ10NRT28May2016

Boulder etched with the date 1893 and other things I can’t read:engravedstone1893NRT28May2016

Mascoma Lake on a hot day:MascomaLakeviewNRT28May2016