Tangled Branches: Cultivated
happenings in and around my zone 6b gardens in northern Virginia and in central Virginia
Friday, September 21, 2007
Takin' a Break
We're having out of town guests for the next several days, so I'll be scarce around here. If I get my Garden Bloggers' Book Club post written by the end of the month, I'll consider that an accomplishment.
Monday, September 17, 2007
Anniversary/Bloom Day/Photo Tour
In two weeks, we'll celebrate the first anniversary of our retirement cottage in central Virginia. That is, it's supposed to be our retirement cottage, but the spouse is dragging his feet on the retirement thing. We'll continue to stay there on weekends for the foreseeable future, but neither garden (NoVA or CeVA) gets my full-time attention. Nevertheless, I'm pleased with how the vegetable garden (dare I call it a potager?) turned out this year. So, trying to kill 3 birds with one stone, this is an early anniversary "neighborhood" photo tour of how the garden looked a week before Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. I posted these pictures on Picasa last week, but didn't get around to writing anything here.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Autumn Joy or ???
Inspired by the 'Autumn Joy' comments on Carol's Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day post, and my own comment on Blackswamp Girl's post about her 'Matrona' sedum, I ask: why grow 'Autumn Joy' sedum?
Update: Apparently there isn't a way to display the "other" answers from poll respondants, except for me to sign on to polldaddy.com and view them. Ya get what ya pay for. So I'm placing all the "other" responses in the comments.
Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day: September Slacker's Edition
OK, I shirked my Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day duties yesterday and instead took advantage of the glorious fall weather to go gallivanting around the countryside - eating cider donuts and trying to work them off. When we got back home, I invented a BHT bread salad for dinner. The basil is still blooming, by the way.
But I took a few notes in Northern Virginia on Thursday and I think this is the last act of the flower show there. A couple of things bloomed and disappeared in between August 15 and September 15 - Cyclamen hederifolium and Zephyranthes candida. I'm hoping they'll return, since we finally got some good rain on Friday. The Japanese anemone 'Honorine Jobert' found that drought was not to her liking, but she may show a few sulky flowers by next week.
Newly blooming since August 15 are (links are to my photos):
Garlic chives (Allium tuberosum) (note to self: research the use of the flower buds in Chinese cooking)
Magenta-purple aster (survived the bunny attack!)
'Autumn Joy' sedum, aka dryer lint flower
'Vera Jameson' sedum
Boltonia asteroides 'Snowbank'
Solidago 'Fireworks' (I hesitate to include this, it's just barely started blooming)
Eupatorium rugosum 'Chocolate' (ditto)
Still here, but it's time for them to get off the stage:
Morning Glory 'Star of Yelta', and would you believe that this flower makes...
Salvia guarantica 'Black and Blue' look washed out?
Rudbeckia 'Gloriosa Daisy'
Gazania 'Daybreak Mix'
Salvia coccinea 'Coral Nymph'
Asclepias tuberosa (just a few tiny florets left)
Hibiscus syriacus 'Blue Satin'
Passiflora incarnata (now with fruit!)
Torenia 'Duchess Mix'
Coreopsis verticillata 'Moonbeam'
Alyssum 'Navy Blue' and 'Snowdrift'
Caryopteris x cladonenesis (I never noticed that the tiny petals are exquisitely fringed)
I'll do the central Virginia ones in a separate post, maybe tomorrow.
Labels: in bloom
Monday, September 10, 2007
Bellingrath Gardens Hot Purple
This rather sinister looking photo shows the secret to a wickedly hot Thai stir fry dish I concocted on Saturday. The pepper is 'Bellingrath Gardens Hot Purple', and it certainly looks like it could be closely related to the Thai chile peppers known as prik (or prig) kee noo. Apparently, Prik Kee Noo is so beloved in Thailand there's even a pop song. I haven't any idea what the lyrics mean so I'm just guessing, but the video is cute.
Saturday, September 08, 2007
Fungi, Flowers, Firmament
The tomato tide has turned, and I can get back to exploring the woods and fields.
Starting with the last rain (August 26), mushrooms began popping up everywhere. Ordinary-looking mushrooms, mushrooms that look like molded plastic foam, inverted mushrooms, and these storybook mushrooms. I haven't the faintest idea what any of these might be, and I don't intend to taste any of them, but I noticed that some of them had been gnawed on. And there was a kind of dried-porcini truffle-y odor about, but I don't know where it was coming from.
The woods' edge has surprised me with some very pretty wildflowers lately. This one is a beauty. Truly. It's called Virginia Meadow Beauty, and the entire plant is attractive. The opposite leaves with prominent veins form a very regular pattern; the fruit capsule is an interesting urn shape, and the bright yellow stamens/anthers are very striking against the soft magenta-pink petals. In another spot, grows her cousin - the Maryland Meadow Beauty. Not quite as pretty, perhaps, because the flowers are much lighter in color. Maryland seems more compact and bushier than Virginia, but that may be because my spouse weed-whacked Maryland earlier this year.
Then there's this thing. I know it's an Aureolaria (formerly Gerardia?), but I'm having a hard time getting the species. It's apparently quite tasty, because most of the leaves have been chewed off one of them, and also some of the flower stalks. I haven't gotten a really good picture of it yet, either, but this is an open flower that's fallen to the ground. This genus is said to be parasitic on the roots of white oak trees, but I'm wondering if it's more of a symbiotic relationship than parasitic. Need to do some reading about this.
A couple more woods' edge plants now in bloom are the very tiny Curtis' Milkwort and a Lobelia which may or may not be L. siphilitica. The inflorescence doesn't look as dense to me as the pictures I've seen of L. siphilitica, and some of these are very tall (close to 5 ft. where they're growing up through some small sweet gum trees). So I don't know yet, but I'll spend some time with the field guides and try to get a positive ID.
Up in the field, there are bright yellow billows of a Bidens, either aristosa or coronata, or maybe both. These were aflutter with butterflies yesterday, and they have the same honey fragrance that I've noticed in my 'Fireworks' goldenrod. There are patches of Eupatorium coelestinum or Blue Mist Flower, and nature provided a pretty combination with magenta legume that I've not identified.
Those are the wildflower highlights. Some of the tree leaves are starting to turn, but I don't want to talk about it yet.
We enjoyed our evening beverage last night by starlight. The Summer Triangle and Milky Way were high overhead, and I saw 3 shooting stars in about 20 minutes.
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Enjoying the Harvest
I have an old cookbook entitled Too Many Tomatoes - a Cookbook for When Your Garden Explodes, and that about sums up what I've been doing lately. One of these days, I'm going to write up my thoughts on the tomato and pepper varieties I grew this year (so I don't forget by next January), but until then I'll be writing up what I'm cooking with them. The Striped Romans yielded a great fresh tomato puree for Gazpacho last night, and some fresh red mildly hot chile peppers provided a little kick and depth of flavor that made it really outstanding. Some of the same peppers went into a gussied-up version of pepper and egg sandwiches, but I haven't written that recipe up yet. Soon.
Saturday, September 01, 2007
September arrived on a cool breeze. Another sign of approaching autumn. While weeding last week, I saw the tiny white flowers of some type of cress - one of my earliest spring weeds - and thought how spring and fall are sometimes mirror images.
The aphids are thick in the spring, and now they're back.
One day in early spring, the crocus flowers bloom amidst a few thin leaves. One day in early autumn, the rain lilies bloom amidst a few thin leaves.
The birds move north in the spring, and now they're beginning to move south again.