Under the Dragon's Breath

July is here with the steamy breath of a dragon. To do any gardening I must wait for clouds to hide the white hot sun. Earlier this week we had a couple of days when I was able to begin a mid-summer spruce-up, pulling weeds and giving plants a dose of my summer tonic, consisting of 2 tbsp. of epsom salts and 2 tbsp. fish emulsion per gallon of water, applied to the soil around the plants. It takes a few days to get through the whole garden, and I did not make it. I wait for the next dip in temperatures. Anything below 90 degrees is close to refreshing.

Here is a tour of my garden that you can enjoy from the comfort of your home. Though a virtual tour is very limited and lacks so much, at least you won't be sweating at the end of it.

I will begin with the front garden, which is very green. The pastel lavender blooms are crape myrtles:

The following image gives a good view of the front lawn and how the garden wraps around it. The woodland garden is located in the little valley on the other side of the driveway, seen in the distance. Lawns get a lot of negative press, but I love our zoysia lawn, which is maintained with organic fertilizers, applied twice a year. The birds love it, too. 

Touring the garden is not just about plants. I caught this Silver Spotted Skipper sipping nectar from our little Tutti-frutti Butterfly Bush, a small sterile shrub that blooms prolifically through the summer, as long as I keep it dead-headed:

These coneflowers are also a favorite of the pollinators, though I did not catch any butterflies or bees visiting them this time:

Hydrangea paniculata 'Limelight' is an outstanding bloomer. I have never been disappointed in this shrub, which grows to about 8 feet. It likes more sun than other hydrangeas. I can see it from my kitchen window, and it gives me a lot of pleasure:

Here are assorted plants growing the large stone planter in front of the house:

More flowers in various places around the garden:Clockwise from top left: Eucomis; Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle'; Campanula (Balloon Flower); Indigofera - this is a spring bloomer, but a few flowers persist; Agapanthus; Rudbeckia (Black-eyed Susan).

Once in a while I have to post a photo of Stump World, a twenty-five year old oak tree stump, which is a world unto itself, providing habitat and nourishment to untold numbers of little critters:

Here is an image from the edge of the woodland garden, looking out onto what I call the lower front lawn, limey green and full of interesting shadows:

And at last a look into the woodland garden, deep green and mysterious, a fascination of leaves of all descriptions:

Blessings to you all!    Deb



Foiling Birds and Aliens

"No, you don't!"

Earlier this week I walked outside to see a chickadee on a tomato plant and a cardinal on a blueberry plant. More birds were waiting in nearby trees to see what happened to the reconnaissance team.

I have over three acres of land with many trees and shrubs planted specifically with the birds in mind. In fact, not far from my vegetable garden are two serviceberry (Amelanchier) trees with berries that taste much like blueberries. The birds are welcome to them. Also, earthworms and many tasty bugs thrive in soil that has been improved with rich organic mulch and compost. These critters provide a hearty meal to any hungry bird.

But my veggies and blueberries are off limits.

It was time to do something about it. Pronto. I shooed the birds away and thought about the problem. I had a couple of ideas.

First, I retrieved my old rubber lizard from the front garden and put him on the path that separates the tomatoes from the blueberries.This very old rubber lizard has been gnawed by dogs and tossed around by children. The dogs are long buried and the children are grown. But for all his chewed and missing body parts, I am still fond of him and he has a welcome spot in the garden.He is a scary creature, and I hoped any bird would be afraid of him. But in case the lizard wasn't enough to deter my flying friends, I had another plan to foil the birds.

I cut thin strips of aluminum foil and wrapped them around branches of the tomatoes and blueberries, very much like icicles on a Christmas tree. I think lots of shiny foil flapping in the breeze should intimidate any bird.Lou looked at my garden full of fluttering strips of tin foil and told me it reminded him of the science fiction movie "Signs," in which the main characters used aluminum foil hats to keep aliens from reading their minds. 

It is working. So far neither birds nor aliens have eaten any more of my tomatoes or blueberries. Though truthfully I can't say for sure if it is the lizard or the aluminum foil that is more effective. What do you think?


For a refreshing interlude from summer heat and to get another look at the lizard, you may also enjoy this post: A Snowy Monster and Other Things in My Garden