Saturday, April 30, 2011

Walk about before chores

A few things have changed since we left for Texas a week ago. I'm taking the next week to try and get the garden in shape fro the coming season. I find a big push now makes life easier inthe middle of summer. The unseasonably cool weather continues here outside Chicago.

Let's take a walk...

The Magnolia is in bloom, sadly it is a gray day, I hope to get some pictures with the sun shining. My neighbors don't seem to mind that I plant the Daffodils and Grape Hyacinth (Muscari) in the lawn. It's my excuse not to have to cut it until almost June.

I like the Lilliputian perspective.

The Shasta Daisy buds are still tight.

I very much like the sedum family, they are hardy and have so many forms. This one is in the "red bed."

Speaking of Sedum, this one "Autumn Joy" is under attack at the root level. I've never seen this type of damage. I suspect the dreaded voles. The mouse traps will come out.

Another item that needs correcting is the pernicious Hops. Oh, they are nice to begin with, but once they take hold, look out!  To control them I suggest planting them in a container then burying them to nearly the  depth of the pot. Else they run wild. I suspect  taking these out will require the better part of a day.

While we were away the Bleeding Hearts have started to bloom, they are not yet tendrils heavy with fully opened blossoms, but they will be soon.

Sometimes just green is good, I liked the subtle variegation on the bleeding heart leaves as it thrust into the center of an emerging fern.

Harry Lauders Walking Stick (Corylus avellana 'Contorta') is starting to bud out.

The wild ginger will need thinning. I have about 5 big patches of it.

And finally, feathery Coreopsis (Moonbeam) is coming up.

I should get outside and get started, before it rains....

How is your garden coming along?

Until next time, Keep Digging & Eat Well!

The Gastronomic Gardener
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Thursday, April 28, 2011

South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center - Off Topic Field Trip

This has nothing to do with Gardening, so if you are not interested in beautiful wildlife, stop here and wait for the next post.

The Wife (aka the Student) was on Spring break after final exams last week. We took the opportunity to get out of town for a few days. I don't tolerate extreme heat very well so this is about as late in the year that I wanted to go somewhere warm. We went to South Padre Island, a long barrier island in south Texas that separates the Gulf of Mexico to the east and Laguna Madre to the west. Its location makes it a stopping point for migrating birds of many types.

We made a visit to the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center, and we saw some beautiful birds, and even an alligator! With over 1 mile of boardwalk, there are different habitats at the center, with birds uniquely adapted for each.
SPI Birding and Nature Center

The most common birds we saw this day were the herons, from the small Little Blue Heron to the enormous Great Blue. We watched them stalk prey in the shallow water.
Little Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

I think the most handsome was the Tricolor Heron. It stood motionless against some vegetation waiting to spear an unsuspecting fish. It was not successful while we watched.
Tricolor Heron

Tricolor Heron 2

I don't know what kind this one was, perhaps an immature Great Blue, but his technique consisted of chasing small fishes back and forth in a shallow pool. Also unsucessful, but certainly comical!

Did I mention the American Alligator?

I know it's here somewhere....

Motionless in the reeds, save for an occasional blink.

I estimate it was about 6' or two meters long. Not very big, but I was happy to be up on the boardwalk and not wading!

I heard the familiar shrill of the the redwinged blackbird. This marshland was the perfect habitat.

The Black Necked Stilt is appropriately named.

Also spotted were the White Ibis and the Common Egret.
White Ibis

Common egret

Walking back to the visitor center the Black Bellied Whistling Ducks watched us approach.

What we did not realize, was the waste treatment plant was routing the now clean water into the reserve to help provide needed moisture in the form of fresh water. I like the usage!

We come to the end of the day....

Until next time, Keep Digging & Eat Well!

The Gastronomic Gardener
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Sunday, April 17, 2011

It's OK to change your mind

After listening to several people who have more experience with Square Foot Gardening than I do, I decided to make a small change.

Those wooden slats? Yes, they mark the individual squares nicely - but they take up space and as one reader said - make too much shade.

So we popped them out, and replaced it with strong and bright colored mason's twine. We'll see if it  lasts the summer.

I got to use the template as I put in white and yellow onions.  Some (32) I put in to be larger onions and also filled two squares with them for scallions. The scallions  plant deep and you can crowd the onion sets. We did not have any luck last year with onions over at the veggie plot, I think it might be because the soil was so rocky.

I also filled 4 squares with shallots at 4 per square.

On a final note, the tulips we looked at yesterday? - Some have opened, they are not completely open but they are lovely nonetheless.

I  hope you got out into your garden this weekend and made some progress.

Until next time, Keep Digging & Eat Well!

The Gastronomic Gardener
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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Color on a rainy morning

I can hear the cardinal singing birdie-birdie-birdie and it's been raining for the last day,  and though it is quite cool, the moisture has spurred the plants, particularly the spring bulbs and ferns to furious growth.

Lets take a walk.....

The first Narcissus is blooming.

These tulips will be the most delicate cream color when they bloom. For now, I'll enjoy the green.

The water is beaded up on the sedum.

And the lilies look prehistoric as they thrust up.

The creeping phlox will be spectacular when it blooms. You can see an iris bed in the background.

The lungwort is in bloom. Some years ago a fellow gardener gave me some, and it continues to pop up around the garden, I love the speckled leaves.

The Hellebore is in bloom! Just in time - The "Lenten Rose"

This tiny tulip is one of the first that I planted seven or eight years ago. I like the way it looks with the volunteer fern.

Speaking of ferns, what a difference a few days makes!  I need to move some of these out.

The bleeding hearts are growing fast as well. These get enormous back in the shady area of the garden.

And the final shot, fern, lungwort and bleeding heart all together.

How does your garden grow?

Until next time, Keep Digging & Eat Well!

The Gastronomic Gardener
Garden blog
Cooking blog
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