Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Status quo

Not much worth blogging about lately.

We DID get .6" of rain on Monday which was a blessing.  While it does help filling the water barrels, it doesn't seem to benefit the lawn or shrubs.  The humidity is sooo dry (30%s), that the breeze evaporates water as soon as it settles.

My poor crabapples in this bed are really suffering.  Come Fall there really won't be many leaves left to ... well .. fall.  The trees have been dropping leaves all summer. :-(

The zinnias are doing well.  They are drought tolerant, although this year I've had to water.  They are getting pretty mildewed.  Funny.  I thought mildew was a moisture problem?

No real projects to report, garden OR household.  I'm so without motivation this season.  And while the temps have been cool for the past couple of days, there's high 80s and even 90s for the weekend.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Hurricane Isaac brings us some rain early next week.  We could use a serious soaker.

I DID make a nice find over at the ReStore depot yesterday.  I was looking for more snow fence, but instead stumbled on this little (60") solid (not tubular) metal bench.  It was buried under a pile of wet cardboard and a couple of nasty couch cushions.  Lucky me!  It's solid, well built and extremely comfortable.   It was a sale day, so I got it for only $15.  All it needs is a little touch up paint and 2 colorful lounge cushions and this should fit just fine in the front shade garden. 

Otherwise, it's just status quo here.  I guess no news is better than bad news.... :-/

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

What's in a name?

A rose would smell as sweet..... etc.

But try taking that (description only) to a nursery to find more!  Ha!

White berries in August
When I moved here in 2002, I was told that a certain shrub along the driveway was a type of viburnum.  Which type?  Unknown.  Both of the previous owners were deceased by that time.

Occasionally I would do a cursory search on the web trying to identify the shrub.  No luck.  I never could find a viburnum with white berries.

But (as my last post suggested) every now and then I get - very Very focused.  And, with this season's drought and heat driving me into the house for hours, even days at a time, I decided this week that it was time to find that viburnum!

Every day I've searched.  And by search, I mean looking at pictures of viburnums.  Lots of pictures.  Hundreds of pictures.  I read fast and can examine pics even faster.  Search after search - Google, Bing, Ask, etc.

There simply no viburnums with white berries.  *sigh*  So this morning I decided to change my search to 'shrubs with white berries'.  I went through a plentitude of pics.  Fast. Faster. Faste.... *whoa*  Wait.  Backup.  There.  Look at THAT!  And THAT looked good.

I spent another 20 minutes cross checking pics, data, nurseries, etc.

Well.  Son of a gun.  I'd FOUND IT!  (Only 10 years later.)

My brain got a nice bath of endorphins, which helped take my mind off of my burning eyes.  I picked up my half-empty coffee cup, went outside, stood in front of the bush, saluted it with the cup and called the 'mystery viburnum' by name:

Dogwood in bloom - late May

DOGWOOD?   The heck you say!

Yeah.  Dogwood. Who knew... ;-/  Ya just can't believe everything a realtor tells ya.

*sheesh*  Gray twigged dogwoods (cornus racemosa) are native to NE USA and Southern Canada, this drought/deer/heat/cold resistant 10-12' round shrub is an absolute MUST.   So much so that, with the new-found info, I've collected a handful of ripe berries and will wintersow them next spring.**  I mean, really.  Who wouldn't want a more of these incredible, no care/no worry bloomers in the garden?  Especially when you finally get to a first-name basis. *heh*

How do YOU use the internet to ID plants?


**  OR ... I could just dig up some of the dogwood shoots sprouting in the lawn and pot them up! (The tall one *may* be a red-twigged from a neighboring shrub.)

I'll be watching these closely...  

Monday, August 20, 2012

Persistence pays

For those of you who have been following (vegetable page) my obsessive driven insane  determined efforts to wrest some sort of cuke harvest this summer in SPITE of the deer and drought and heat and beetles, I will only say...


This lovely basket of fruit was picked this morning.  Here are 3 short ones (SpaceMaster (bush)), 3 long ones (Bush Champion) and 1 long one from the deck vine.  While the SpaceMaster are okay, next year I will have more of the Bush Champion - the fruit is long and crisp and slender.  I never dreamed such a small plant could produce such full-sized and tasty cukes.

Now -- lessee....    Cuke sandwiches.  Cuke salad.  Maybe even some cold cuke soup.  Yum!

See - I'm NOT crazy.  Honest.  It's just that - sometimes - I get really Really REALLY FOCUSED.  8-/ 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Deer deterrent

Remember the salvia bed back by the asparagus?

How I would throw nylon net over the Yvonne's and Blue Bedder salvia every night to thwart the deer?

How I would remove the net during the day so hummers and bees could get at the blooms?

And how, one day, the deer came during the DAY and ravaged the bed?

Well, by keeping the net over the bed 24/7, most of the plants have rebounded and started to bloom again.

Trouble is, having the net on during the day is driving the critters crazy.  The bees are smart enough to find their way UNDER the net.  Alas, they can't find their way OUT.

The hummers, meanwhile, get nothing. :-(

What good are flowers if you have to cover them up just to save them from the fracking deer?!

I remembered from somewhere (reading? conversation? forum?) that deer don't like uncertain footing and getting poked in the eye.

Hmmm, the footing around here is as sound as it gets - baked hard and easy on the hooves.

But - poking in the eye?  Well then  ...  let's try THIS! 

We'll try the porcupine approach. *snark*

At least now the GOOD critters have a chance to get at the blooms.  Keep your fingers crossed.

Monday, August 13, 2012

The bare facts

... about the lawn, that is.

Some of you have been concerned.

And rightfully so.


It's sure not pretty.

I sincerely doubt that it will be okay after some decent rain.

I'm afraid there is going to have to be a lot of reseeding.

It's been so hot and dry that, as you can see, there aren't even any weeds to speak of.

I've found a few bits of crab grass, but only in the flower beds.

No dandelions, no thistle, no henbit.  If there is any clover, it's gone back to roots.

Some places, like in the last pic, it's just bare dirt.

We'll just have to wait and see when the rains come back.

As for the grass clippings, there really weren't many, but I've used them all.

While I've had concerns that using mulch would prevent rain from reaching roots, I don't think it really matters in these applications.

The asters in the first pic are so drought tolerant they are amazing. (Deer tolerant? Not so much...) So today I pulled up the henbit that was under it and applied clippings instead.  Better to have the clippings shading the roots than the henbit sucking moisture from them.

In other places I've just put the clipping on parts of beds that have no plants this year (either the deer ate the plants, the early March sprouts were subsequently frozen to death in April, or moles so demolished the root system that things just up and died).

In the last pic (one section of privacy fence bed), is kept mulched because even hand watering does very little for these poor annuals.  The crabapple is taking whatever moisture is available out to the drip line.  So keeping these subrotundas, zinnias and marigold mulched is the only hope for them.

But, truly, at this point it doesn't matter.

It just doesn't.

Eventually the clippings will break down and, hopefully, add tilth to NEXT year's gardens.

That's the plan, anyway.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Sea change

** Sea change (transformation), an idiom for broad transformation drawn from a phrase in Shakespeare's The Tempest  (Wikipedia) **

A slowly spiraling low pressure system moved in and on Friday we were lucky enough to receive another .45" of rain.  While it doesn't sound much, it makes it the 5th week in a row where we got SOME rain.  It has kept the rain barrels topped, if nothing else.

But the REAL change is the temps.  Yesterday (Saturday) it never got past 65F and it was cloudy all day. Today it's only going into the high 70s and more of the same (high 70s, low 80s) for the next week.

The lawns are still suffering and there are whole patches down to dirt.  But change IS happening - most noticeably on the tomato plants.  Blossoms!

Something else.  Friday afternoon I decided it was time to give the lawns a mow.  I'd not done a full mow since (waaaait for it)  - June 7th! A couple of times I did circle the house (out to 10 feet), but that was it. Anyway I set the mower to its highest cut and evened out the shag. I knew temps were to dip and the clouds would help keep the clipped grass from too much shock.  All things considered, I judged mowing now wouldn't stress the lawn too much. (Others had the same idea. Across the road another neighbor started mowing too.)

Then on Saturday the next door neighbor's lawn got cut (high like mine) and then something I've not seen in almost 2 months :  bagged clippings!

They are sparse and full of dead leaves but welcome none the less.  I'll make good use of them.

I don't expect to mow again for several weeks.  There is still a drought, the grass is mostly dormant, and there's no need to stress it any more than necessary.

But between the rain, the cooler temps, and the heady fragrance of mown grass, it makes this gardener think more of Autumn than August.  And after this hellish summer, I'm all for these below average temps.  They can stay as long as they want.  Meanwhile, I'm actually enjoying wearing jeans and T-shirts vs. shorts & sleeveless (even if for only a day) and, before you know it, I'll be cooking HOT meals.  Yep, you just can't stop me. I'm a wild woman. ;-)

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Rain, rain - come and play!

A thunderstorm (mild) came through overnight and I found .4" in the rain gauge this morning.  What a blessing!

Then, as if that weren't enough, I watched this morning's radar, noticing another set of squalls were going to pass to the north AND south of us.

I practically WILLED those 2 squalls to bridge the gap and hit Stark County.

Encouragement: C'mon.  You can DO it!  You KNOW you WANT too.  You're such a NICE looking radar splotch.

Derision:  What's the matter?  No spine?  Afraid to come to Canton?  You some kind of WHOOSIE water?

Pleading:  Oh please Please PLEASE!  There's no more forecasted for over a week!  Give us a break!

Well, I don't know which approach worked (I switched through them pretty fast), but by golly the squalls ballooned up between them and Stark County got rain for almost an HOUR.

My raingauge gained another .7" !!  YAY.

In hopes, I'd set out all my extra containers on the deck to catch runoff from the arbor sheers.  Every one of them filled (about 15 gallons total).  The 4 garage rainbarrels runnethed over.  The 2 drums at the shed topped out.

And still I couldn't just let it go.  I grabbed a yard tub and put it in front of the 4th garage drum and let the overflow fill it too.

Waste not, want not, I figure.

Meanwhile, now that things have quieted down, I'm sending good thoughts to that brave little storm, that nice little storm with just a bit of thunder and lightening but no wind.  Just the best darn little storm ever.   Gooood storm......

Hey - whatever works. :-D

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Ultimate solution

I've been trying to save as many plants as I can from the deer.  For the past week to 10 days the plants have not been browsed and have rebounded.  The kale grew new leaves.  Yvonne's salvia filled in.  The climbing beans threw out new growth from the stems twisted around the bamboo rods.  Even the bedraggled phlox in the arbor bed has begun to bloom.   A respite.

But this morning -- carnage again.  The kale, beans, salvia, phlox.  Ravaged.  Enough.

I pulled out the beans and kale and the salvia in the veg bed.  The phlox?  It'll come back next year.  I have been covering 2 patches of Yvonne's (one behind the privacy fence & one back next to the asparagus bed) with nylon net at night.  Those are doing okay (well, let's just say they aren't dead). [Monday update: sometime during the DAY the deer came and ate all the plants in the bed by the asparagus.  I hate deer.  With a passion.]

Thank goodness for the bird bath bed.  As I  'let go' the back beds, I find solace in this bed in front of the deck.  Between these perennials and pots of annuals (and the lush growth of the bin cukes), I get to actually watch something GROW and BLOOM.  Here my watering pays off.  (And nighttime draping with nylon net.)

This bed never got a lot of attention before as I was always focusing on the big beds in back.  This year, though, I've had time to tweak this area and right now it's looking very nice.  And as these flowers fade, the mums will start blooming.  Something to look forward to. 

All through June and July I'd used up tons of energy, railing against the dying of the light (deer, drought, heat, wind).  But now I've switched gears, pulled back, let go and have gone gentle into that good night, settling for my driveway zins, the birdbath bed and all the bench and deck plants.

I haven't given up.  Nope.  This is just a strategic regrouping to save resources.  And my sanity. :-P