Category Archives: cleome

Love Zinnias…Mildew and All

One of the main goals

Of my garden

Is to have cutting flowers

All season long.

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And because the foundation

Of my garden

Is perennials

I rely on self seeding annuals

To fill in the gaps between

Perennial bloom cycles.

It starts in the spring

With Poppies and Larkspur

Then comes the heroes of summer

Cleome and Zinnias.

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Poppies, Larkspur and Cleome

All manage to return on their own.

They just show up and bloom their hearts out.

Zinnias return on their own

But to a lesser degree.

So I have to plant Zinnia seeds each year.

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The good thing about that

Is that I can time them…a bit.

I want zinnias blooming in the fall

Just as the Monarchs migrate to Mexico.

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Photo Credit “Devra” Mitchell

So I don’t plant the seeds

Until June.

I pull up the Poppies and Larkspur

After they go to seed

And plant Zinnias in their place.

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In my neck of the woods

I have until July 4th

To accomplish this.

Zinnias do have one bad characteristic.

They are prone to mildew.

Which is another reason

Not to plant them too early.

Spring rains will do a number on them for sure.

Since summer is the dry season around here

It’s perfect for growing zinnias.

We’ve had 7 1/2 ” of rain

In the last 3 weeks!

Mildew has arrived.

The plants are really ugly

But the flowers are the same

Sunny happy faces that I love.

They are perfect cutting flowers

Playing nice with all kinds of other blooms.

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It’s another life lesson of nature.

A crusty outside

Often accompanies

A loving heart.

Gail

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Filed under Bouquets, cleome, Fall, Garden Planning, Gardening, Gardening;Perennials, Larkspur, late summer garden, Poppy, Seed Catalogs, Seeds, self seeding annuals, Uncategorized, Zinnia

THE SPIDERS ARE COMING

On Friday I commented

That I hadn’t seen a single

Orb Weaver Spider this year.

Well, I must have some sort of

Internal bug clock

Because Saturday morning I walk into the garden

And presto.

Not one,

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Not two

But I find four young orb spiders

Spinning their zig zaggy web.

 

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I love this harbinger of fall.

They have fascinated John and Debra

And me

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And the girls next door for years.

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Their presence is just one sign

That the season is winding down.

This happy bug is another sign

That fall is on it’s way.

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Signals

Signs

Something’s coming.

Watch.

Observe.

Learn.

And enjoy.

Gail

Here’s what all was blooming in my garden this week for the Sunday arrangements.

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Filed under Bugs, cleome, cockscomb, Dahlias, Fall, Flower Arrangements, Hydrangea, late summer garden, Orb Weaver Spider, Praying Mantis, Sage, Uncategorized, Zinnia

DOG DAYS ARRANGING

Since I garden in the southern great plains

There are things I’ve come to expect

In late summer.

Grasshoppers come to mind.

 

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Photo credit Debra Mitchell

Humidity is definitely a factor.

And it is often accompanied

By heat.

As I look out onto my garden.

I almost feel like I need to apologize

To the brave plants

Basking in the heat of the day.

Yet, some plants seem to not just survive

But thrive.

I can’t take credit for too much planning

But I do know I want cutting flowers

All through the growing season.

So there is some intentionality

To my methods.

And as a result.

When I went to cut for my Sunday church bouquets

I was pleased to find plenty to pick.

So how does this work?

If there’s a star in my garden

All season long

It has to be Annabelle Hydrangea.

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I have a hedge of five planted at the east end.

They have bloomed since late May.

Starting with fluffy white blooms

And maturing to the lime green that I love

Since it goes so well with many other flowers.

I’ve cut them all season

And they still have lots to give.

That’s why I’ve added them to the corners of my garden house.

And last fall in a front bed.

I even wanted a hedge of them in front of our new fence

But lost out to John’s desire for more Crepe Myrtle.

The next jewel of late summer arrangements

Is tall garden phlox.

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If you cut it back in the spring

The blooms will be delayed until early July here

And they will still be going strong in August.

These two flowers alone

With their big blousey blooms

Are a great foundation for arrangements

Large and small.

Cleome is another gift this time of year.

It’s a funky flower that brings interest to both the garden

And arrangements.

CLEOME OR SPIDER FLOWER  - FULL SUN - 3 ' - 4'  - SELF SEEDING ANNUAL

Cockscomb is just beginning to come into it’s own.

So start cutting and don’t stop

Or you’ll have a cockscomb only garden before you know it!

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Now fill in with some blues and purples in the Veronica family

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Add Zinnias

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Maxmillion Sunflowers

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And Dahias.

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And you have a “Dog Days” arrangement

That will make you smile each time you pass by.

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Like much in life

I can’t change the heat of August

But I can find joy in the blossoms

It produces.

Take care,

Gail

 

 

 

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Filed under Bouquets, cleome, cockscomb, Dahlias, Flower Arrangements, Garden Planning, Gardening, Gardening;Perennials, Hydrangea, late summer garden, Maximillian Sunflower, Tall Garden Phlox, Uncategorized, Veronica Spicata, Zinnia

IT’S A JUNGLE OUT THERE

This has been an unusual summer

On many fronts.

I’ve been gone half the summer.

Two weeks here

A week there.

Grand kids will do that to you

I’ve learned.

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Not that I mind

I don’t.

But I’m not used to flitting around

Like that.

Then there was August.

Days turned into

Weeks of mid-80’s

And there was the rain.

In a month when it might not rain

At all

We had 6 inches!

So…

Combine my absence

With cool temperatures

And gentle rains

And what do you get?

A jungle.

The Cockscomb is officially

Growing out of its mind.

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Zinnias have popped up

Everywhere.

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The Asters are blooming,

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And Cleome is still going strong.

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Then there is the crabgrass.

If you don’t pull it.

It just keeps growing

And growing.

I think I’ve filled

Four poly carts

With the stuff.

Yesterday I managed

To get about half way through

The weeding process.

With a little deadheading

Along the way.

That’s really all there is

To do out there right now.

That and enjoy Mother Nature.

Yesterday was a tough day

To be one of these.

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Not sure if it’s a moth

Or a butterfly.

First one was eaten for lunch

By a Praying Mantis.

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Then this Orb spider

Had another one

For dinner.

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I was still

In the garden

At dusk

When the locust chorus

Began singing

A familiar song.

Fall

Isn’t it yummy?

Gail

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Filed under Bugs, Butterflies, cleome, cockscomb, Dead Heading, Fall, Gardening, Grandchildren, late summer garden, Nature, Orb Spider, Praying Mantis, Rain, self seeding annuals, Uncategorized

SUMMER LOVE

There’s something about the flowers

Of late summer

That I love.

Maybe it’s because they are sturdy enough

To thrive in the normal August heat.

With the cool days

And unprecedented rain

We’ve been having

This year’s August garden

Is lush.

Out of control really.

The cockscomb is doing it’s usual thing.

Blooming EVERYWHERE

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Zinnias are beginning to bloom.

They didn’t get planted till around the 4th of July

So they are just now kicking in.

 

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Endless Summer hydrangea

Are putting on new blooms.

While their cousin Annabelle

Has never stopped.

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And Cleome is still going strong.

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The thing that I notice

Is how different each of these flowers is.

Their forms.

Their needs.

Their appearance.

Yet when you put them together

In a simple vase.

They not only

Play well together

They encourage one another.

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How can you not love a garden?

Gail

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Filed under cleome, cockscomb, Hydrangea, late summer garden, Perennials, Rain, self seeding annuals, Sunflowers, Uncategorized, Zinnia

ARRANGEMENTS

One of the joys of having abundant flowers

Is sharing them.

I don’t have a lot of exotic plants.

But I have flowers.

And fall brings arm loads

Of late summer’s glory.

Cockscomb is the staple

This time of year.

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And the beginning

Of every arrangement I make.

If you cut it long

You’ll have lots of branches

To hold other less stable stem in place.

And the color

Just oozes a fall feeling.

I’ve nominated myself

In-house florist

At church

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As well as Loaves & Fishes.

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They are willing to indulge me

And let me bring flowers each week.

Since friends drop vases by

When they clean out their cabinets.

I always have a good supply.

You can create reasons

For other flower fairy gifts.

This week included

A “thank you” bouquet

To a fellow L & F board member

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And a “hello” bouquet

To a new family

Moving on the block.

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It’s a simple way

To keep the cockscomb

Trimmed away from the path

And to share the glory of the season.

Someday when life slows down.

I’d love to do this all the time.

Enjoy the week.

Gail

“I must have flowers always and always.”

Claude Monet

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Filed under Bouquets, cleome, cockscomb, Hydrangea, late summer garden, Uncategorized, Zinnia

PASSING IT ON

I consider myself very fortunate to have a garden.

It’s the place I go to work

Get sweaty

And think things through.

Or as my dad used to say

“To think the long thoughts.”

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Lately it seems I need that place

The “long thoughts” are occupying my mind

Much of the time.

Perhaps it’s a stage

Or my age

Or summer

When my schedule is a little freer

Than the rest of the year.

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One thing I do know

Is it’s important to pass this along

To the next generation.

As a toddler Elliott was by my side

In the garden

Then like all kids

He grew to want and need more freedom

And began to roam the neighborhood.

There were days in junior high

That I thought I had failed

To teach him to love the soil.

Not so

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He’s grown into quite a capable gardener

Growing vegetables for their family

And flowers for Kristina to arrange

And share with friends.

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I’m certain Elliott’s time on the farm

With my parents

Contributed to his deep appreciation

Of this earth.

So is it nature

Or nurture

I’ve wondered

As the next generation has come along

These past two years?

Can a child being raised in the center

Of a major city

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Grow into an appreciation

Of the earth

And the things that can be learned there?

Even at two

It seems we have our answer.

Both Harper and Henry

Love being outside

Constantly wanting to check in on

Sally the salamander.

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Who lives in the valve box

Of the park’s sprinkling system.

Or helping with Jojo’s “work”

In the yard.

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Henry seems especially interested.

So perhaps it’s both.

Being born into a family

With dirt under their fingernails

On both sides.

Carrying the name of family members.

And watching their parents

Love and appreciate nature

And the gifts that God has given us all.

Gail

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I’m home from vacation now and will get back to regular gardening stories soon.

Thanks for indulging m

 

 

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Filed under cleome, Gardening, Gardening Mentors, Gloriosa Daisy, Grandchildren, Uncategorized

RAINDROPS ARE FALLING ON OUR HEADS

 

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For several years now we have been living under “extreme drought” conditions.

Going back to the summers of 2011 and 2012

We’ve been below normal rainfall.

And those summers were hot….really hot.

Last summer got better.

A little more rain.

A little less heat.

Then came the summer of 2014.

What a gift.

Mild temperatures.

Crisp morning.

And rain.

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During June it was as if we lived in Camelot.

Remember the line?

“The rain never falls till after midnight.”

Well that’s where we’ve been living.

Camelot.

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OK, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch.

Especially since Camelot is fictional.

People kept saying

What till July.

So when July came

And it got cooler

We were amazed.

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Last week we got several days of rain.

Alternating between hard driving rain

And soft gentle misty drips.

With mornings in the low 60’s

And days struggling to hit 70

We were in heaven.

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Humans love these days.

But gardens

Well gardens come alive.

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It’s amazing to me the difference that rain makes.

I know it’s a fact

Given the extra nitrogen that comes with rain.

But I am amazed each time

I walk through my rain soaked garden.

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There’s something about standing in rain.

Soaking it in

From the roots

To the tips of the last petal

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Letting the goodness that falls from the sky

Wash over an entire garden.

We are all attuned to the weather these days.

For good reason.

It takes drastic swings

And is entirely unpredictable.

Perhaps we need to take a cue from the garden

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And stand in the rain

Soaking in the goodness

Experiencing the renewal it brings.

To all kinds of lives.

Gail

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Filed under Calla Lily, Clematis, cleome, Cosmos, Dahlias, hollyhocks, Mandavilla, Oriental Lilies, Rain, Tall Garden Phlox

HALF TIME

If you count the days between
The last freeze of winter
And the first freeze of fall
You will find that we are at half time
Of the gardening year
Here in zone 7
So is the season half over?
Do we just maintain from here on in?
Cup half empty.
Or do we revel in the days to come?
Cup half full.
If you look closely
You’ll find that some things
Are just beginning
Or beginning again.
For instance.
I don’t plant my Zinnias
Until the Larkspur and Poppies
Have died and made room for them
So they are just beginning to bud out.

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The Arugula on the other hand.
Has gone to seed
Giving me a second crop.

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Which is great
Since I’m a fan of Arugula
Tomatoes are ripening on the vine
Except for the ones my nighttime visitors
Have dined on.
But volunteer tomatoes
Are just beginning to bloom and set fruit.
And because we are having a great summer
Eight inches of rain in July!
The roses are budding and blooming.

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Dahlias are equally happy

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And Cleome has re-seeded itself

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After those dastardly harlequin shield bugs a few years back.
Earlier in the spring I cut the tall garden phlox back
And it has paid me back with lush blooms.

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They came a little later
But it was worth the wait.
And of course the Cockscomb
Is beginning its takeover of the garden.

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And Peg spends endless hours in the garden

Doing what we have dubbed

“Bugging”

She loves the hunt.

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So here we are at half time
Enjoying the view.
Yes, there is much that can be done.
Much that actually needs to be done.
But for now I’m just taking it in
Knowing that there is much more to come
Much more to give.
Gail

PS. If you have extra garden produce please drop it by Loaves & Fishes Monday, Wednesday or Friday 9 – 12 or call for special drop off times. With kids out of school we are seeing more and more people in need of food. And what’s better than fresh garden produce shared.

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Filed under Bugs, cleome, cockscomb, Dahlias, Gardening, Gardening;Perennials, Harlequin Bugs, Larkspur, late summer garden, Perennials, Poppy, Tall Garden Phlox, Tomato, Uncategorized, Vegetables, Zinnia

MARY, MARTHA & BUMBLEBEES

 

It’s been a glorious week here for gardening.

Imagine.

Mid-July

Three days of rain.

Slow soaking

Drenching

RAIN

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Cool crisp mornings

And bike riding evenings.

Which, of course, leads to weeding.

The ground is soft and willing

To let the weeds go.

What joy.

All of this means that I’ve spent the week

Crawling around my garden

Pulling weeds.

It’s amazing the difference a week can make in a garden.

And I only spent a few evenings

And Saturday there.

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From my ground level vantage point

I’ve noticed that this year

It seems that lots of Bumblebees

Have decided to call my space home.

During this morning’s sermon on Martha and Mary

It occurred to me that Bumblebees are the blend

Of these two sisters

That Andrew, our minister, was encouraging us to strive for.

 

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They are known for their Martha like busyness.

Buzzing about all day.

Even major pieces of music have been composed

And played and played

About the busyness of the Bumblebee.

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They have work to do

And they do it.

Constantly.

Or maybe not.

I’ve noticed this week

That they also rest.

I have found them during the middle of the day

Being Mary

Nestled into an east facing Hollyhock blossom.

Sheltered from the afternoon sun.

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I imagine that they sleep there as well.

But the place I most often find them

Is fast asleep in the spent blooms

Of the Disco Belle Hibiscus.

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I have a habit of walking through my garden

First thing in the morning.

As I walk I often deadhead a bit.

Popping off spent blooms here and there.

But I’ve learned  that morning is not the time

To deadhead these perennial Hibiscus.

Here they start blooming around the 4th of July.

And if you deadhead consistently and properly

You’ll have some blooms through Labor Day.

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And these are BLOOMS.

The size of dinner plates.

But they only last one day.

And as they close their petals

At the end of their single day of glory

They create a soft cocoon.

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That Bumblebees consider

A perfect bed and breakfast.

They seems to have struck

A balance in their life.

Doing the work that God created them to do.

And just “beeing”.

Enjoy the week in your garden.

Gail

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Filed under Bugs, Bumblebee, cleome, Dahlias, Dead Heading, Gardening, Gardening;Perennials, Hardy Hibiscus, hollyhocks, Larkspur, Uncategorized