Thursday, August 29, 2013

Where's Waldo?

Do you want to play a little game?

Can you find and identify all the little creatures in these photos?  (Most are bugs, but not all!)  Give yourself a point for every creature you find and another point for every one you identify.  You may click on the photos to enlarge them.

Answers and scoring are at the bottom of the post!














#1 One point for finding the Ladybug, one point for identifying the Ladybug,
one point for finding the aphids, one point for identifying the aphids, 
Bonus point if you found the ladybug nymph, another bonus point if you knew what it was.

#2  Crane Fly (one point for finding, one point for identifying)

#3  Soldier beetle  (one point for finding, one point for identifying)
Bonus point if you found the second one!
Another bonus point if you knew soldier beetles eat aphids and grasshopper eggs.

#4  Cat (one point for finding, one point for identifying)
Bonus point if you identified it as a tuxedo cat.
Five bonus points if you knew this cat's name was Hershel.

# 5 Praying mantis (one point for finding, one point for identifying)

# 6 Dragonfly (one point for finding, one point for identifying)

# 7 Bumble bee (one point for finding, one point for identifying)

# 8 Carpenter Bee.  Looks very much like a Bumble bee, but the black body and black spot on its back gives it away.  (one point for finding, one point for identifying) 
Bonus point if you knew the difference between, and correctly identified, both the bumble bee and the carpenter bee.

# 9 Praying mantis (one point for finding, one point for identifying)  
Bonus point if you correctly found and identified both this praying mantis, and the praying mantis in #5.  Yes, there are a lot of praying mantis in my garden this year!

#10 Hummingbird  (one point for finding, one point for identifying)
Bonus point if you identified it as a ruby-throated hummingbird.

#11 Long-legged fly   (one point for finding, one point for identifying)
Bonus point if you knew that these eat spider mites.

#12 Grasshopper  (one point for finding, one point ((and my sympathies)) if you knew its identification)

40 total points possible.

Now let's see how you scored!

If you scored:

  0-1 points         You are a Blind bat.  You need glasses!  Make an appointment to see an eye doctor today!

  2-6 points         You must be a Bug squasher.  Put down the bug spray!  Either you just started gardening, or you're afraid of all bugs!

  7-12 points        Anyone can see you're a Butterfly lover.  But it's time to learn about other bugs that may be beneficial, just not as pretty.

13-19 points       You're right in the middle.  You already know so many creatures, but there's millions more to learn!

20-24 points       You're a Bug lover.  Your garden must be home to many beneficial creatures.

25-29 points       You've got Eagle eyes.  You are quite observant of your surroundings, and notice all the many creatures in it.  I bet you rarely ever walk through a spider web!

30-35 points        You've earned the title of Insect whisperer.  You are on your way to becoming an entomologist!

40 points             How did you know the name of my cat!?!

So, how did you do?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Innocencia Vigorosa

'Innocencia Vigorosa', the tag said.  I thought to myself.  Vigorosa - sounds like vigorous?  Innocencia - for the white blooms?  "I could use a white, vigorous rose!"  So, in the cart it went, and off to my garden.

That was several years ago, and I have not been disappointed in this rose.  I'm not sure that Innocencia Vigorosa was named to mean a white, vigorous rose, but that's exactly what it is.

Look at all the buds!

Innocencia Vigorosa

It is a big bloomer, but not a big bush.  Innocencia Vigorosa (also known just as Innocencia) grows only to about 2 ft high by 2 ft wide.  The best part?  This rose is very resistant to blackspot and rust, and the foliage is always beautiful and dark green.  I have two planted in this 12 ft long bed, in front of the rose Lions Fairy Tale.

This rose is a part of the Vigorosa collection from Kordes.  They have one in almost every color imaginable.  Their website says "These are more robust, healthier and more floriferous varities which will delight every gardener."  I believe they're exactly right!

If you're looking for a small but beautiful and vigorous white rose, I would definitely recommend this one.  The name says it all!

These photos were taken earlier in the year, but Innocencia Vigorosa is starting to gear up in my garden for a fabulous autumn show.  I can't wait to see it!

Friday, August 23, 2013

A Full Moon(flower)

When we first moved into this house, I asked Mr. Holleygarden to string wire up along the porch columns and across the top of the porch.  I planted moonflower vines (Ipomoea alba) that twined and grew up the wires, draping the porch in a romantic curtain of heart-shaped leaves and large white blooms.  It was that year that I saw my very first hummingbird moth.  It was extending its long tongue into one of these large flowers, and at first I thought it was a hummingbird.  I was mesmerized, and watched it for a long time.

But when winter hit that year, the vines died, and I became frustrated with climbing a ladder in order to remove the brown, crispy vines from the wires.  I asked Mr. Holleygarden to remove the wires, which he dutifully did, and I didn't plant moonflower vines the next year.

Moonflower (Ipomoea alba)

I missed them.

But, even though I have promised Mr. Holleygarden that I'm almost positive that I probably won't want him to remove the wires again, he has not been keen on putting the wires back up.  Even a man as patient as he has his limits!

Of course, I could put up the wires myself, and actually I have all the supplies.  It it on my To-Do list.  Actually, it has been on my To-Do list for the past several years.  But I'm really not sure I'll want them there permanently, and I don't want to have to take the wires down once I've put them up!  (I and Mr. Holleygarden think alike on that.)

Anyway, this year I have been growing moonflower vines on the obelisks in the East bed.

Earlier this summer, when the vines first began to grow.

Here's why I like them:

They are so pretty!  Heart shaped leaves, and a star in each bloom.  And the flowers are HUGE!  (In reality, about 5 to 6 inches across.)

Moonflowers open at night, and they really do shine in the moon light.  They would be a perfect choice for a moon garden.  (I can see them from my bedroom - the perfect spot for a night-opening flower.)

Before they open, they look like swirls of ice cream.  Here, they reseed a little, but nothing like the morning glories, which are quite invasive.  (Your area may be different.)  And the seeds are very easy to save.  (I soak my seeds in water for 24 hours before planting, and they usually all come up.)

Unfortunately, they are not perfect.  They grow very, very, very long.  Very long.  Got that?  Very long.  (In reality, about 20 ft.)  Mine have become a bit wild!

They are not only taking over the obelisks, but the entire bed!

I'll be spending the day cutting back the moonflower vines so my roses can breathe.

I don't think I'll plant moonflower vines on these obelisks next year!

There really is an obelisk under all those vines!
Hmm... I guess the hardest part about growing moonflower vines is figuring out where to put them!

I'm joining Tootsie Time for Fertilizer Friday - Flaunt Your Flowers.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Garden Book Reviews August 2013

Do you want a garden book that gives advice on almost every page?

Classic Garden Design
how to adapt and recreate garden features of the past

by Rosemary Verey

is full of advice.  For instance, this is the very first sentence in the first chapter of the book:
"Paths, alleys and walks are the skeleton of the garden."
Just this one sentence can give me hours of thought.  And this book is full of those types of gardening wisdom.  It's these little sentences of advice that makes this book special to me.  It makes me think about and see my garden in a new way.

There are chapters on different areas in the garden.  Herb gardens.  Knot gardens.  Rock gardens, etc.  And don't think classic means formal.  She talks about cottage gardens, and even has a chapter on The Wild Garden and Meadow Gardening.  But I have found that even in the chapters that I would normally skip, I read them anyway, because I find so much useful gardening information in them.

She gives loads of practical advice such as how to cut back the roots of a box-edged vegetable garden so that the roots don't interfere with the growth of the vegetables, or of adding Iris reticulata in the corners of beds so you will remember where they are planted.  She explains the phrase 'divers coloured ribbons' in a knot garden.  She even gives specific advice on plants, such as using 'Queen of Night' dark tulips together with 'Desdemona' ligularia, as "the dark tulips look spectacular growing through purple-leafed sage".  Plant suggestions, of course, need to be researched in order to determine if they grow well in your own particular climate.  However, most plants can be easily substituted with a similar one that grows in your area.

But it's the little sentences of gardening wisdom that make this book so special to me.  Sentences such as:
"In a hot climate succulents are the equivalents of alpines."
"Near the house and in small gardens, pots should be moved around frequently so they will always look their best, in fact they should be treated more as flower arrangements."
"Scent is as important as flavour to our senses, let us have plenty."
"...the untold pleasures of having a garden which is pleasing from all the windows of the house, one which you can walk round at every season of the year and find something beautiful to appreciate, a garden full of surprises."
"From spring to autumn there must be colour, and in winter they should have form."

After re-reading her section on Beds and Borders, I realized what has been bothering me about my Walking Garden.

The Walking Garden

She states: "In a border, height will be consistent."  After studying border pictures, I realized I had too much height variation, and that the Walking Garden would look much more pleasing if the heights along the back of the borders were more uniform.  I need to cut back my roses in order to achieve this consistency, and just that one small tweak will give my Walking Garden a much more relaxing feel.

Just needs a little tweak here and there

Of course, the more of this book that I read, the more ideas I have.  After reading this sentence,
"Once you start thinking of planting your vegetables in a decorative way, in patterns of colour and texture, you will not only enjoy working in the garden far more but you will also hate to see any bare patches, so you will always be infilling and planting."
I just may have to re-work my vegetable garden, too!


Now it's your turn!  Please join us on the 20th of every month with your own Garden Book Review.  Any book with a gardening influence qualifies.  As always, please take the time to visit each of the other participants, too!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Overlooking for Bloom Day

I have found that no matter how bad the garden as a whole looks, there is always a section or two that brings a smile to my face.  Right now, it's the main rose garden.

I especially love the area around Madame Berkeley.  The lantana blooming next to her loves the hot weather we've been having, and obviously, Madame Berkeley doesn't mind it, either.  She always seems to bloom during the hottest months of the year.

Madame Berkeley

There are other roses blooming in this bed, too:

Gruss An Aachen
Look closely and you can see a grasshopper!

Carnival Glass
Christopher Marlowe

The rest of the garden is suffering from a lack of attention:

The lantana walk has turned into a more-grass-than-lantana walk!

So, I've trained myself to overlook the ugly:

The grass has overgrown its boundaries, and the edges between path and flower bed are lost.

and to look for the joys:

Pat Austin with a new-to-me Verbena 

I'll overlook the weeds and grass invading the beds:

While I take the time not to overlook the blooms:

Innocencia Vigorosa

Soon, I will finally be able to dedicate my time to garden work, and I'll enjoy every minute of it.  I have a new area, started this spring (then abandoned this summer), that needs to be completed.  Weeds to eradicate.  Hedges to trim.  And dreams to dream.

In fact, I've already started dreaming about the tweaks I'll make to my walking garden (below).  A book I've been reading has given me some ideas - I'll share more with you on the 20th in my Garden Book Review meme post.

The Walking Garden

Oh, I can't wait to get back out in the garden!

But I'm expecting more company to arrive tomorrow.  So, I'm joining in Garden Bloggers Bloom Day a little early.  And I'm overlooking my garden's liabilities for just a few more days.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Another Lesson in Patience

Upon my return from my last trip, my husband greeted me with these words:

"Your garden looks terrible."


I am aware.  I'm embarrassed to even admit I have a garden.  One would never guess that underneath those weeds, a garden exists!  But, that's life.  Sometimes gardening gets put on hold.

If you have to be an on-again, off-again gardener, like I have been over the last couple of months, it can become quite discouraging to see all your hard work disappearing under a sea of weeds.

So, how do you whip a garden back into shape?


Well, this is how I'm going to do it:

1) Mow.
I can't see where the grass paths end and the weedy beds start, so mowing and string trimming will be first on the list.  It makes a big impression, and looks like I have accomplished something.  And the neighbors will be happy.  So, mowing comes first.

Madame Berkeley surrounded by lantana and calibrachoa (million bells)

2) Weed.
It seems that every grass that's been invented has taken up residence in my flower beds. Along with numerous other weeds.  I will slowly and methodically go bed by bed pulling weeds and removing grass.  Actually, the beds that are established and have been weeded well for several years are not bad.  It's the newer beds, where the weeds are fighting to gain their territory back, that look so very horrible.  Since the weeds grow so fast, I won't take the time to cut down dead daylily stems, deadhead roses, or cut off dried yarrow blooms.  I will concentrate all my time and effort on weeding first.

Hosta in front of pink crape myrtle bloom

3) Go around again.
When the beds have all been weeded (whenever that may be!), I will then go around bed by bed again, doing the maintenance chores I didn't do when working in these beds before.  This includes all the cutting down, cutting back and dead plant removal that I didn't get to before.

Iceberg rose

4) Go around again!
This time, I'll do one last weeding, and finally finish the mulching that I started this spring.  This step always seems so easy, but it always takes longer than I expect.  Hopefully, I'll get finished before next spring, when I'll start this chore again!  ;)

Sunflowers in a container.  I've been waiting all summer for them to bloom!

Do I have any other advice?

Yes!  Don't forget to stop and look for the beauty in your garden.  A bloom here and there, even if they are surrounded by weeds, are still gifts from your garden.  Take the time to find these joys.

If you have help, enlist it.  If not, do what you can, and remember that just as gardens are not grown overnight, getting one back into shape will not happen overnight, either.  But that's part of the beauty of a garden.  It will wait patiently.

Rose of sharon (Hibiscus syriacus)

So, it seems that the gardener is not the only one that learns patience.  The garden practices it, too.

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