Thursday, May 27, 2010

Mantis watch

We have a bronze fennel plant next to the back door. So far this year it's between 3 and 4 feet tall, with feathery new growth starting as a darker bronze shade that turns greener with age. The top bits of foliage have scattered light green dots that might be aphids. Also hanging out in the upper foliage are young mantises. As of Monday there were six of them visible, all brownish, perhaps up to an inch long, with flat backs. This morning I see two. Already they are larger, greener, and now intermittently adopting the characteristic mantis posture: thorax raised, front legs lifted and folded. Their brown and green shading blends into the fennel nicely. I'm not worried about the aphids (if that's what they are) but I do wonder about the whereabouts of those other mantis siblings.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


This planter was 20% off some number of dollars and was the only one with no petunias, which are irresistible to rabbits. The begonias are handsome (not so pink as they seem in the photo). I do wish that I managed to get more accurate color, and that I was more skilled at getting multiple photos positioned effectively.

In other gardening news, here's the veg garden: 2 tomatoes, each in a pot; 3 peppers in one pot; some herbs. There is also a bit of kale, as well as some chard, off to the right.

We are managing a succession of bloom pretty well. Even after the rain the peonies are lovely.

Dreamland Pink

Believing that one can never have too many zinnias, and that hot colors are best, I returned to my nearest garden center yesterday in search of reinforcements for the spindly seedlings I planted earlier. The selection was still a bit thin, but I did spot several packs of the Dreamland series labeled as to color. Wrongly labeled, as it turned out. For example, this promising orange blossom was nestled in a pack labeled "Dreamland Pink". The other buds in the pack were not so far along as to declare their specific colors, but still far enough to hint that those colors will all be different. Now I'm even more curious to see the colors of the packs labeled "State Fair Mix" that I planted earlier. I wouldn't be surprised if they all turned out to be pink.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

In the yard today

The peonies and Siberian iris are blooming. The sweet woodruff I brought home from Maine traveled well and is blooming next to a small pink astilbe beside the front steps. The 3 echinaceas I planted in back last year are coming up nicely. I've added mixed zinnias, cleome, white alyssum, and a few snapdragons here and there to fill in some gaps, plus half a dozen little dahlias (figaro). I grew up with a family prejudice against dahlias but these had the right size, color, and adaptability for a spot in the back, and unlike petunias might not be tasty to rabbits.

Last weekend included a big cleanup effort in the back corner, battling invasive vines and rearranging some day lilies. Today the anti-vine effort moved to the front but there is still a lot left to do. I had intended to cut down any and all honeysuckle until I saw a female hummingbird breakfasting at the vine that's climbing the viburnum. Now it seems heartless to cut it all down!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Spring planting

The first few days of May found me in Maine helping with the repurposing of two former vegetable beds. The idea was to fill them with Bluestone Perennials' preplanned perennial garden of 60 or so plants (2 dozen varieties). The included plan showed a layout for a bed 32 feet wide and 5 feet deep. Some adaptation was required to fit the plants into the 2 beds in the foreground of the photo, each 5 feet wide by 15 feet deep, as viewed from the house. We planted 3 sedums elsewhere and divided the remaining plants into 2 groups of mixed heights and colors, arranging them by height in each bed. Some were familiar (asters, for example) while others were new to me (aruncus, echinops). It will be fun to see how they develop.

French Cemetery

While in Maine recently I visited the French Cemetery, so called not from any national or linguistic identification but from the family associated with it. Old cemeteries appeal to me as hints of a place's history and as examples of popular design. This vault door, overhung with spring flowers, faces away from the road and in the general direction of the sea.

An 1846 stone memorializes Captain Sherman, "Drowned at Sea". A single rose adorns the 1859 grave of 18 year old Maria L., "Also two Infant Children".