Sunday, July 27, 2014

Question Mark???

No, this isn't an English Lesson!

This butterfly is named the Question Mark (Polygonia interrogationis). A strange name for a butterfly. It got it's name from markings on the underside (I wasn't able to get a photo of the undersides). I was lucky enough this one landed for a few seconds so I could get a few photos of him.

Question Mark Butterfly

There have been quite a few different butterflies around, but I still haven't seen any monarchs. My friend, Karen (I featured some photos from her garden in last week's issue of my blog post on Gardening Friends!), sent me this beautiful photo of a butterfly that she recently spotted in her garden. I think it's some kind of fritillary, maybe a Great Spangled Fritillary or a Silver-washed Fritillary.

Photo by Karen Liscum

Personal Seasonal thoughts. . .
I like this time of year, and not just because it's summer, but because it's almost like the peak of summer. We've been fortunate in that we've had rain often enough that everything is nice and green and very healthy. We have had several summers where this time of year the rains have ceased, and we have had to water our gardens to keep them from suffering during extended droughts. And if the droughts last quite awhile, the trees start to dry up and their leaves start crinkling and dropping their leaves early. Several perennials are still going strong and the blooms are beautiful.

Another thought for you - enjoy the robins singing in the morning and during the day. It won't be long now (maybe just a few more weeks) before they stop singing their beautiful songs. You might still hear them chirping, but their song will end. I wonder why they only have a spring song? Maybe something to do with the mating season? I don't know. . . thoughts to ponder.

I found the information from this link on Robin Notes:

Q. How do we tell whether a robin in our yard in early spring is a migrant or a territorial bird?
A. It's usually impossible to tell by their appearance unless they have been banded or color-marked, except for one lucky thing. Male robins from Newfoundland and Labrador are darker than other robins, with almost black backs, brighter red underparts, more noticeable striping on the white throat, and a bolder eye-ring. People farther south in Canada and the U.S. may notice the difference when they spot one of these, and then they'll know for sure that these are the northern race rather than their own breeding robins. Many magazine photos of winter robins show these brightly colored ones, which make a lovely contrast against snow-covered branches and orange berries.
But there is another difference between local and migrant robins. Male robins that intend to remain in your area will sing their territorial song. Robins that are passing through will occasionally sing, but not as often, especially at dawn, and usually they remain fairly quiet.

I think this is a Song Sparrow (photo at right). He has been serenading me all summer.

And thought I'd share with you photos of some of my daylilies that are currently blooming -

And -

More info on daylilies: Daylilies Frequently Asked Questions

"And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these."
New American Standard Bible
Matthew 6:28-29

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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Gardening Friends!

One of Barb Smith's garden areas.
Last week I had the opportunity to visit some of my friends' gardens in the Pulaski/Richland (Oswego County, NY) area.

The day was just perfect and the flowers were amazing. I am very thankful to Barb Smith, Karen Liscum, Jan Tighe, and Sandy Leinbach for allowing me to share with you some of their beautiful garden areas.

Spiny Bear's Breeches (Acanthus Spinosoa)

It was very interesting to see how perennials perform planted in different areas. Some plants were growing in shade that I didn't think would do well at all, but they were doing just fine. And other shade plants were performing well in the sun as well. It was also good to see how the flowers are used in different combinations, and how they can enhance the observers view by their location, color, and texture combinations.

The first garden we visited was Barb's. Barb has very large perennial gardens and all very well tended. Barb is a Master Gardener and is very knowledgeable in the field. The perennials were well spaced out to grow to their maximum conditions.

One of the interesting plants at Barb's was the Bear's Breeches. That was the first time I had seen it other than photos, and I was fortunate in that it was in bloom. I have always pictured this plant much taller so I found it very useful to see how it looked compared in to the other plants. It will grow between 3-5 feet tall. It will not flower very well if it is in too much shade. What was a surprise to me was that this perennial is rated for Cold Hardiness Zone 7-10, but yet it was flourishing in our Zone 5 area.

Two of Barb's Japanese Irises. Japanese Irises bloom later in the season than the Tall Bearded Irises, and they have a flat top.

This yellow flower pictured above is a foxtail lily or desert candles (Eremurus) which is almost at the end of it's bloom. Another flower seeing for the first time for me. For more information on the foxtail lily click here: Care of Foxtail Lilies

Barb Smith's side garden in full view.

The next garden we toured was Karen's. Karen has a lot of shade and a few sunny areas, and has done a wonderful job of maximizing both areas. The shady areas were very cool, restful and relaxing.

Karen uses a lot of beautiful garden decorations and I loved her different bird baths. She had several miniature bird baths as well which were adorable.

One of her miniature birdbaths.

Karen is using several varieties of coral bells (heuchera) and hostas in her shade landscaping as well. They really add a dramatic impact to her shade gardens especially with the all new colors that have recently been introduced.
Coral bells (heuchera)

Karen Liscum's retaining wall garden.

The next place we stopped by was Sandy's. Sandy has extensive shade areas, and her new hosta beds were amazing. For being new garden beds, the hostas were settled in great and were thriving. I wish my hostas looked that good. She also has quite a few daylilies planted around her house, but many of them were not blooming yet.

Photos from Sandy's:

A view from Sandy's front yard overlooking her side yard.

The next place we visited was the home of Jan Tighe. Jan has several different gardening areas as well including vegetables and berries.

Mystery flower- none of us knew what this flower was. If you would like to identify it you can respond to this post, and thank you.

*July 22, 2014: Mystery flower solved! Thanks to lala (see comment section below) for helping us identify this flower. It's in the same family as lamb's ear. I never would have even guessed that. The name is "Hummelo". See link Lamb's Ear Hummelo

These astilbes of Jan's were at their peak and just beautiful. They really added a lot of color to that area of her yard.

One of Jan's borders in her back yard.

Trellis leading into Jan's backyard.

If you are new to gardening, one word of advice I would like to give would be to smart small. Don't jump head-over-heels trying to do a big undertaking because you might get discouraged. Start with a small garden area and if you find after a year or so you are enjoying it then expand your gardens or add another area. Gardens are a lot of work: weeding, mulching, planting, transplanting, watering, etc. I don't want to discourage you, but I'm actually Encouraging you! Start small and take the time enjoy it!

If you have friends that enjoy gardening and haven't visited them in awhile ask to come and visit them to see their gardens. I'm sure they would be more than willing to share them with you and would enjoy your company as well!

Hope you enjoyed your tour 
of my friends' gardens. 
Thanks Barb, Karen, Sandy and Jan!

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Would love to hear from you.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

July Blooms!

I was going to do a post on annual flowers for your gardens, but there are so many beautiful perennials blooming now that I think I'll share with you what's in bloom now.

The foxgloves are finishing up, but some buds are still hanging on. If you have a new foxglove that you planted this year and it flowered and died, DON'T throw it out or cut it back. It's forming seeds for next year's plants. This plant usually only lives two years, it's considered a biennial. The first year it comes up from a seed and forms a small plant, but does not flower. The second year it comes up, flowers, produces seeds and dies. So if you haven't destroyed your foxgloves before they went to seed you should have plenty coming up in your garden next year.

Yellow Loosestrife 

Yellow Loosestrife (Lysimachia vulgaris). There are different forms of loosestrife, and the yellow form is not invasive (at least in our area of Central/Northern New York). However, different plants may be more aggressive depending on the soil conditions and the location where you planted them. Some forms of invasive loosestrife are the purple loosestrife and the gooseneck loosestrife. The purple loosestrife has been known to take over wetland areas where native wetland birds nest and forage for food. The yellow form, as pictured at left, is aggressive, but it's easy to control. Depending on which state you live in it can be considered an invasive species. When your plant is spreading out farther than where you want it to go, you can just dig up some and either plant it in another area or share it with friends. It blooms from June through August, but mine just started blooming (early July). My friend (Charlotte F.) shared this with me.

Cluster Roses are blooming

Low growing campanula (possibly Blue Waterfall)
I planted the low-growing campanula (pictured at right) with some small hostas and heuchera (coral bells) at the edge of our small patio. I wanted to keep the plants around it short so you don't feel like you are in a small enclosed space. I think campanula might be of the variety Blue Waterfall. I tried this campanula in a sunny area and it didn't do as well. When I moved it to this area, which is partially shaded, it took off. After it blooms you can cut back the flowers and it may re-bloom for you. It makes a nice ground cover that is not invasive.

Campanula glomeata

This is another variety of campanula bell flower called Clustered Bellflower or Campanula glomerta. It will grow from 8" to 23". It is native to Europe and it is naturalized in the US. It will grow in just about all soil types except wet areas. It can be a very aggressive plant, and the flowers are beautiful. Just be careful where you plant it or otherwise you'll be digging up seedlings every year to keep them from taking over. Another plant shared from my friend Charlotte.

Clematis. Quite a few of the clematises are in bloom now. I took these photos are from a friend's garden (Sue O.). They look beautiful on her white fence.

Yarrow - a hot pink variety
Yarrow. The yarrow is blooming now. Yarrow is actually a herb. It's very easy to care for. Plant them in full sun. (In some places they might be aggressive, but they haven't been too bad where I planted them.) They do best in well drained soil. And the DO NOT need to be fertilized. Just water them when it is very dry.

Yarrow - this one might be called Paprika (a red variety)

Blooms of Mock Orange shrub (not my shrub)
I have a mock orange that I planted several years ago, and I'm about ready to dig it out. It has never bloomed for me. It probably doesn't get enough sun where it's planted. Maybe before I throw it out I'll cut it back and transplant it somewhere.

I purchased the amaryllis (pictured above) when I was in Florida this past year. It was a very large bulb. I planted it when we got home and it just finished blooming. Now that it's done flowering, I'll cut back the flower stalks when they start to droop (this bulb produced two stalks), and leave the green leaves on the plant. Then just continue to water it throughout the summer. I leave it in the pot it's planted in. The leaves will turn yellow and dry up in the fall. Then cut the dried leaves to about 2 inches. At this time of year I'll stop watering the plant. You can dig up the bulb, but I have left it in the same pot with good results. I'll put it in my basement during the dormant period and in spring I will bring out the bulb in the pot and start watering it again. This bulb is not cold hardy and will not survive our cold winters. They will only survive in Hardiness Zones 9-11.

Giant Hogweed
Noxious Plant - Giant Hogweed. The following information was published in (Syracuse) The Post-Standard/Stars on Sunday, May 11, 2014 by Carol Bradford, Columnist.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has set up a giant Hogweed Hotline at 845-256-3111 for the 2014 season.
Giant Hogweed is a non-native, invasive Federal Noxious weed that grows abundantly in some areas of Central New York, especially to the northwest of Syracuse. View a map of known locations at Hogweed is the largest herbaceous plant found in New York. It can grow 14 feet tall, with leaves 5 feet across, and flowerheads 2 & 1/2 feet across. Contact with sap can cause severe burns, permanent scarring and even blindness if it gets into eyes.
Funding has been made available by New York State and by the United States Forest Service for monitoring and controlling the weed. If you want to know how to identify it and what to do if you spot it, consult Giant Hogweed - NYS Dept of Environmental Conservation. The hotline is also a place to ask questions, report sightings and get help identifying the plant.
DO NOT TOUCH A PLANT IF YOU SUSPECT IT MIGHT BE GIANT HOGWEED.  It's especially dangerous to people who are doing fieldwork or trimming roadside vegetation. Giant Hogweed spreads by seed and via people. Don't plant it on purpose. 

Here is a video report from Michigan on the Giant Hogweed.Giant Hogweed YouTube Video reported from Michigan

     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Red Admiral butterfly

Red Admiral butterfly

"Help us to be ever faithful gardeners of the spirit, who know that without darkness nothing comes to birth, and without light nothing flowers."
~May Sarton

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I would love to hear from you.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Happy 4th!

Mexico, NY
The Fourth of July!!!

What great memories it stirs up for us. Parades, family picnics, fun at the beach and fireworks! But one of the most important things you see on July 4th is our American Flag. What does it stand for? Our nation! With all our freedoms and rights.

I can remember learning about proper flag etiquette as a Girl Scout in middle school. We also learned the proper way to fold a flag. And "The flag, when being lowered, should never touch another object or the ground. It should have waiting hands to receive it." In the Girl Scouts, after an event, the flag would be lowered ceremoniously.

When a flag is so worn that it does not serve as a proper symbol of our country, it should be burned in an appropriate manner. Most American Legion Posts regularly conduct a dignified flag burning ceremony.

Normally, the flag should be displayed between sunrise and sunset. If displayed at night it should be illuminated.

Oswego, NY
Some of my cousins live in Belgium. (I know you're thinking- they beat us in FIFA Soccer in the 2014 World Cup Games!) The first time they came to the United States, they said that one of the things that impressed them the most was how proudly we displayed our American flag. That so many people display the flag whether in governmental offices, places of businesses, schools, and homes. Everywhere you go, people display their flag.

Henderson Harbor, NY

We are all so proud to be a part of this wonderful Nation! Hang your flag with pride and care for it with respect.

Oswego, NY

Youngstown, NY

The Pledge Of Allegiance

I Pledge Allegiance to the flag
of the United States of America
and to the Republic for which it stands,
one Nation under God, indivisible,
with liberty and justice for all.

"You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but its patriotism."
~Erma Bombeck

Carlowden Golf Course, Denmark, NY

Link to A Lesson for Americans by Mike Dalka
Link to Flag Etiquette: US Flag
Link to: The Star-Spangled Banner

Photo by Theresa Perry

Have a safe and enjoyable 4th of July!
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