Monday, July 30, 2007

Dandy Brandywine

The first Brandywine tomatoes of the season are ripe! Other tomatoes may look nicer and produce more fruit.... but none have better flavor (in my humble opinion) than these favorite heirloom tomatoes.

Pictured here on my best vintage tea towel, these 3 Brandywine tomatoes will soon become Salsa! I find they have just the right sweetness to compliment the heat of jalepenos, the spiciness of garlic, and the tang of lime......and are very juicy, as well!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Morning Visitor

This hummingbird stopped by for a visit, as I was enjoying my early morning garden time. The 'Cut and Come Again' Zinnias seemed to be the main attraction .

I get a lot of hummingbirds in the garden! And since I don't know much about them, I did a little research at . I think this a female of a species called Calliope, or maybe a Broad Tailed, which is quite similar. Does that sound right to any of you hummingbird experts? It was just a tiny little thing, with shiny greenish crown and back, spotted neck, rusty colored sides, and white on the ends of the tailfeathers.

The red zinnias seemed to be a favorite! Unlike butterflies, they don't seem to mind me getting close enough to photograph them.


"The stillness of the early morning scene enables me to take in and enjoy many things which pass me by during the bustle of the day...." Rosemary Verey

Sunflower at Sunset

I captured this photo of my 'Lemon Queen' sunflower last evening as the sun was setting, and the pink rays were reflecting off the clouds.

I was so pleased with how the photo turned out. It looks as though the sunflower could be growing in thin air. It is nearly 9 feet in order to get the flower in the frame, I had to tilt the camera so far upward that no earth was in sight....only the sky as the perfect backdrop!


It's hard to get my watering done in the evenings, when there are so many enchanting scenes such as this one to distract me. :-)

Friday, July 20, 2007

Tomato Time!

I have been watching this tomato all week, as it has gone from a blushed pink into what I think can now be called a ripe red!

This Goliath is the first of my full sized tomatoes to ripen. I snapped the photo just as the sun was coming up over the mountain this morning. I will let it ripen to perfection until evening, when it will be sliced and sprinkled with a little olive oil, garlic and basil and shared with Dear Husband.


No time is more eagerly anticipated in the garden than Tomato Season!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Rain, Sweet Rain!

After a week of over 100 degree weather, we were so thankful for the dramatic thundershowers we had yesterday, which produced some much needed rain!

Along with the lightning and loud cracks of thunder, the rain came in an absolute downpour! I took this photo from under the shelter of our front porch. You can see the rain sheeting off the eaves of the house. In the space of about an hour, we received over half an inch!


"Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving.....
Who covers the heavens with clouds,
Who provides rain for the earth,
Who makes grass to grow on the mountains."

Psalm 147: 7-8

Monday, July 16, 2007

How do you say, French Filet?

These lovely green beans are once again gracing our dinner plates with their tender, tasty goodness!

Since I started growing these French Filet type beans a few years ago, we have been forever spoiled! I haven't planted a regular green bean since then. (Although in all fairness, I would if I were still canning beans, since these are not suited for that purpose.) The Filet beans (Haricot Vert) Phaseolus vulgaris are thinner and more tender than other beans. These are the type served in classy restaurants, and for good reason.....they just taste wonderful! The variety I grow is called 'Straight'N Narrow' from Nichols Garden Nursery.


If you've never grown Filet beans, you owe it to yourself to try them! I just planted my second row for a fall crop.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Coneflower Visitation

Now that the Coneflowers are in full bloom, the Butterflies are making frequent visits to the flower garden.

Just one of the side benefits of this wonderful summer flower, which blooms it's heart out despite our hot dry summers!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Garden Uglies

Colleen from In the Garden Online has recently challenged us in her post The Good, the Bad and the Ugly to share some of our less than perfect garden endeavors, in order that it might encourage others. It's always fun to share our successes but it just plain goes against our nature to share the failures, as well. And that, in itself, is a good reason to do so. Humility really is a good character trait. Yessiree. Soooo....big goes.

The Bad

This garden bed has been a huge challenge/disappointment. It has the difficult conditions of complete morning shade, followed by hot afternoon sun. It also has poor soil which doesn't retain moisture. In the Spring this bed is occupied by daffodils, with grape hyacinths in the foreground and actually looks pretty decent. Not so in summer!

I haven't planted perennials here for fear of disturbing the bulbs, and have instead tried planting countless different annuals, once the bulbs are finished each year. But, alas, nothing wants to grow here! This year I decided to try Nicotiana, as it is listed for sun or shade. You can barely see the plants it the photo, they are so small! They have just been sitting there since I planted them in late May. This is what happens to everything I have tried in this spot. Even the not fussy Lamb's Ears in the back of the bed looks spindly and sick. I am disheartened to have this bed be so obviously empty every summer. If you have a solution for me, please share it!

Some things I probably need to try:

1. Prune out the undergrowth behind the bed, in hopes of getting some filtered light through the deciduous tree growing directly behind the bed, and the pine trees behind and above that.
2. Improve the soil with organic matter. This will have to be something purchased, as my limited amount of precious homemade compost goes on my vegetable beds.
3. Try some Sun/Shade perennials instead of Annuals. I'm thinking of trying Cranesbill. Any plant suggestions are wholeheartedly welcomed!

Whew, I made it through that one. Now on to....

The Ugly

This is a photo of the bottom part of my tomato plants. Every year in the spring, shortly after I plant them, the Flea beetles have a feast on the leaves, and they end up full of tiny holes. Later in the season those same leaves turn yellow, curl up and become unsightly. This also happens to my cukes, beans,kale, and squash! So I end up just picking off the bad leaves, which doesn't seem to harm the plants and leaves them looking much better. I am in the process of doing this now, as it seems the yellowing of the damaged leaves really starts showing up in the summer heat.

Anyone know how to rid the garden of Flea Beetles?

The Good

On a more positive note, Dear Husband and I managed to get the white picket fence painted this Spring, (We also had some help one weekend from Dear Daughter.) It was greatly in need of it, with it's peeling paint, dirt, and mildew. It was a lot of work with all the scrubbing, scraping, priming and painting but it is now sparkling again in it's fresh white coat! This photo, taken at dusk, reallly highlights the whiteness of the fence.


There, that wasn't so bad after all. How about it, Gardeners? Anyone else want to show and tell your Bad and Uglies?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Poppy Love

The Pink ruffled poppies below appear to be enfolded in an sweet's love in the garden!

These are new in my garden this year, and have been such a delight! The seed was purchased from an Ebay seller and winter sown in mid-February, then transplanted to the garden.

The color is a lovely shade of pink. The green seed head is surrounded by light colored stamens and four lavender blotches in the center of each flower.

Though most were double with ruffles (hence their name) there were also some singles, such as the one above. It seems the ones I planted in poorer soil tended to be singles.

This one was grown in one of my vegetable beds with rich soil, and is very double... with so many ruffles that the seed-head and lavender center aren't even visible!

The bees are crazy about these poppies! The above photo has four bees busily gathering pollen on this blossom, but I counted up to 9 bees on one flower at the same time. (Click to enlarge.)

Each flower only lasts only a few days, but the seed heads which follow are beautiful as well, with their bluish gray color cast.


In case you haven't noticed, Poppies are one of my all time favorite flowers! I like to try new varieties, but I think my first choice will always be the Shirley poppies because of the length of bloom time and the varied and wonderful shades of color produced from the pollination by bees. I hope to do a post on them soon!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Sunshine Squash

The squash blossoms are really coming on! This variety is new for me this year and is called 'Sunshine.' It is named so for the orange color of the fruit, but the name seems fitting for the sunny yellow blossoms, as well.

How could I resist with this catalog description?

"Vibrant orange-red color, sweet, nutty, creamy, absolutely smooth flesh. Received the prestigious All-American award for 2004. Short 6-8 ft. vines produce an abundance of 3 to 4 pound kabocha type fruits. The sweet, richly flavored flesh is impeccably refined."

Well now, I ask you.....who wouldn't want their squash to be "impeccably refined" ?!

This cute little baby squash with the dried blossom still attached isn't too refined yet. He sort of looks like he is having a "bad hair day." :-)


I look forward to the squash harvest each fall, as it is one of my favorite garden vegetables!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Red, White & Blue

Happy 4th of July to my gardening is some red, white and blue to celebrate the day!

Red Bee Balm, White Shasta Daisies, and Blue Bachelor Buttons outside the picket fence. This is a bit messy, but I like the cottage look and feel of it.

A close up of the flowers.

Scarlet Bee Balm (Monarda didyma), reminds me of fireworks. I used it in a red, white and blue floral bouquet last Fourth of July.

And lastly, a photo of our flag.....unfurled in the summer breeze.


I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Cheery Cherry Tomato

We were gone for the weekend visiting our daughter and family. Upon our return home I was pleased to find the first ripe cherry on my Sweet 100 tomato plant!

I had to exercise some restraint in order to take the photo first, before popping it into my mouth! Number 2 ripe cherry tomato goes to hubby. . . a family tradition. ;-)


Cheers for Cherry Tomatoes!!!