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Tangled Branches: Cultivated

happenings in and around my zone 6b gardens in northern Virginia and in central Virginia

Thursday, July 31, 2003

Weather: gray, cool and humid all day; a little drizzle around noon, but otherwise no rain

Birds: just saw a hummingbird around the butterfly bush again

Chores: weeded and deadheaded this morning

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Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Weather: coolish today, some clouds

Pruning: had 2 more pine trees cut down today. It's looking a lot different in back now.

Shopping: Went to Cox Farms to get sweet corn and came home with sweet corn, plants and potting soil. All plants were 50% off, so I got a Fuchsia 'Gartenmeister', a Cuphea purpurea 'Firecracker', a pastel yellow and peach Lantana (no name), and a funky Coleus with begonia-shaped leaves (also no name). Due to the cool, rainy weather the plants were still in very nice condition. I may have to go back and get some more since they were so nice. I see that everybody is getting into the act with branded plants. The Cuphea was labeled a BallFloraPlant, and the label informed me that propagation is prohibited.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Birds: Saw a hummingbird twice in 15 minutes or so around the butterfly bush (Buddleia 'Lochinch'). The first time I just watched it - it stayed several minutes. The second time I was in the house and happened to look out and see it, so I grabbed the camera and went out. I got too close trying to get a good picture though, and scared it away. It stopped at the butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) before flying off in the trees. Then just after that there was a goldfinch on the feeder, so I thought I would try to get a picture of him. No luck - scared him away by getting too close too.

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Wildlife: Just a few minutes ago, saw a hawk make a half-hearted attempt to attack a squirrel. This was not the usual Cooper's or sharp-shinned hawk. Checked Peterson's Eastern Birds, but didn't find anything that I thought looked exactly the same - closest was immature red-tailed hawk. Anyway, the squirrel was on a tree trunk, and didn't look all that scared. They had a stand-off for a few minutes (the bird was on the ground), and then the bird flew at the tree trunk, missed the squirrel and flew back into the trees. Then it came around for another try, but by this time the squirrel was farther up in the tree. The hawk flew to a tree branch and sat there a while, then several crows came around, scolding and flying at it. Then the hawk flew off, and now all is quiet, except the crows are still around.

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Monday, July 28, 2003

Weather: humid; started to rain about 1 pm and has been raining very lightly off and on since then.

Chores: weeded, deadheaded, topped off the lasagna bed containing Euphoria, Tricyrtis etc.

Planting: removed Hosta 'Frosted Jade' and Galium 'Victor Jones' from the planter they were in, which was clogged with roots and wouldn't drain anymore, and planted them in the lasagna bed between the Echinacea and the Buddleia 'Lochinch'. Transplanted the Coleus seedlings to 3 and 4 inch pots. Should have done this long ago....they will look good by October.

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Saturday, July 26, 2003

Weather: another nice day, more humid than yesterday though.

Wildlife: saw a hummingbird again this afternoon. They are getting downright common around here. Also learned about hummingbird MOTHS. I had been seeing this critter around the butterfly bush, but I assumed it was some kind of bee. I guess other people assume it is some kind of hummingbird. But it is a clear-wing moth. Actually I see a lot more of this moth around the butterfly bush than I see butterflies or hummingbirds. And I saw a hawk this morning up in one of the remaining pine trees. My best guess is that it is a Cooper's or sharp-shinned hawk.

Bird Feeder Notes: The goldfinches are looking very pretty now, and I see them around the Nuttery bird feeder all day long. Just now saw some house finches (or purple finches, hard to tell) on the feeder - have not seen many of them since the finch disease outbreak around here. Also seeing lots of woodpeckers on the feeder - the downy woodpeckers will get inside the cage, although they don't like it much. The red-bellied woodpecker can reach in far enough with its bill to get to the seeds. The cardinals try to get the seeds, but just can't quite do it. They can pick some seeds off the "floor" of the feeder if any are there. I now have it stocked with just sunflower seeds.

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Friday, July 25, 2003

Weather: another very nice day - sunny, warm, low humidity.

Wildlife: just now saw another hummingbird. It investigated the fading morning glories before moving on. That's two I've seen this week. More than ever before. Noticed a lot of fireflies out last evening - I had just been thinking that I had not seen many this year, so maybe they are just late (like everything else this year).

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Thursday, July 24, 2003

Weather: thunderstorm Tuesday night with quite a lot of rain, but no rain since then. Very nice day today - relatively cool and breezy; left the windows open all day.

Chores: weeded, deadheaded, moved containers around.

Pictures: added a few more closeup pictures of flowers, taken with the macro setting on the camera. Tried to take some pictures of the garden as a whole, but the sun was too bright and they turned out washed-out. Back to reading the camera manual - there must be a way to fix this. Or just wait a few hours until the sun is less intense.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Weather: rained a few drops yesterday afternoon and this morning; the lawn is starting to turn brown in back now.

Chores: weeded, deadheaded, weeded, deadheaded, watered containers, etc. etc.

In bloom: the summer annuals started from seed - Nicotiana, Cosmos, Cleome, Morning Glory, and Torenia - are starting to bloom nicely now. This is the first time I have grown Torenia - a nice little plant - makes a pretty good alternative to Impatiens for something that will bloom in the shade. It also comes in cool colors (blue, purple) which are not available in Impatiens. Daylilies are just about finished now. Clematis has started to bloom again.

Bugs: Japanese beetles are out and hungry. They are eating my poor, barely-surviving banana plant. This is the first time I have seen anything do much damage to the banana plants. And of course they are eating the roses, as usual. Think they may also be eating the redbud tree by the side of the house. Saw a swallowtail caterpillar on the dill plants - the plants weren't doing all that well anyway, and I like the swallowtail butterflies, so it can stay where it is.

Birds: saw a hummingbird just now poking around the Asclepias tuberosa. First time I have ever seen them interested in that plant. I saw one earlier in the summer near the Hosta 'Big Mama' which was blooming at the time.

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Saturday, July 19, 2003

Weather: no rain to speak of since last weekend - sprinkles on Monday morning and Friday afternoon, and that's all. The longest we have gone without rain for a while.

Pictures: took a few pictures of some of the nice garden sights. You are not getting to see the weeds, and flowers that need to be deadheaded.

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Friday, July 11, 2003

Weather: we had a pretty big thunderstorm last night - took a few power hits, but the electricity was off just long enough to mess up a lot of the clocks in the house. I think it has rained every day since Monday.

Wildlife: just learned this week that a bear was seen in our neighborhood on June 6. A bear was captured in Vienna on June 9, but it is unknown whether it is the same bear. Just another example of wildlife getting the upper hand. Also, voles (I think they are voles) are eating my hostas again, roots and all. They eat only the ones I really like - this time it was 'Gold Standard'. I found some dead leaves on the ground and started looking around and found a tunnel right to the roots of the Hosta, or I should say where the roots of the Hosta were - nothing was left.

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Thursday, July 03, 2003

Weather: rain yesterday afternoon and evening from Tropical Storm Bill; still overcast this morning.

Wildlife: saw a squirrel building a nest yesterday in the holly tree just outside the bedroom window. There was a similar nest there before, but I thought it was never occupied. I guess we now have a homeless squirrel population with all the tree-cutting going on around here.

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Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Weather: starting to get a bit cloudy, but was otherwise a nice day today - cooler and less humid than yesterday; we had thunderstorms overnight but not much rain.

Planting: finished another lasagna bed in the woods and planted the last of the plants I ordered in the spring from Plant Delights Nursery - Rohdea japonica, Heucherella 'Sunspot', Selaginella moellendorffii, Carex morrowii 'Ice Dance' - and a few seedlings (Torenia 'Clown Burgundy' and Coleus 'Pineapple Wizard'. Also planted the last of the Nicotiana 'Domino Antique Shades' seedlings in an unfinished lasagna bed in back.

Chores: topped off the mulch on some of the lasagna beds I made in the spring. Started to cut down/pull off some of the dying daffodil foliage.

Wildlife: saw a big red-bellied woodpecker on the Nuttery feeder just a few minutes ago. Saw a black swallowtail butterfly on the Asclepias tuberosa (so-called butterfly weed) - the butterflies around here don't seem much interested in it. Just now there is a black swallowtail butterfly on the Black Knight buddleia butterfly bush.

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