Sunday, October 15, 2017

Wait, what happened?

How is it mid-October already?  It's been a ferociously busy four weeks, full of PTA volunteering, scouting, camping, a monumental birthday, and the weekly rhythms of cycling and gardening. I can't really call it gardening though, more like just getting the bare minimum done before the season passes.  Throughout it all, I've had the weekly pleasure of unwrapping new hypertufa troughs that I cast over four or five consecutive weekends through August and September.  I let them cure for four weeks, wrapped in plastic and stashed under the deck, like some weird, slow bread oven.

I still get a little thrill of satisfaction when I unwrap something that I made a month earlier.  

Some of the new troughs are sold already, but about a dozen remain up for grabs.  Let me know if you need one.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Mid-September Good Things

Summer seems to have moved on without the normal 6 weeks of heat with no rain.  It's been dry, but not terribly so, and relatively cool.  The garden and I are both relived that August is in the rearview mirror.

Above is a late hyacinth bean flowering on the fence.  I look forward to the burgundy bean pods every year, and diligently collect the huge seed for the next spring.

Ilex verticillata 'Red Sprite' is having a great year, despite being grown in a hypertufa planter.

 The kirengeshoma is opening on schedule.  Although the flowers don't last long, I love their puffy firmness.  They remind me of those orange circus peanut candies we had as kids.

Hardy begonia livens up the shady side of the garage.

Thanks to Matt Mattus's suggestion on his blog, I started using organza drawstring bags to protect the dahlia buds from the earwigs.  As ridiculous as it looks, the bags guarantee that I have pristine dahlias to cut for the kitchen table, and less kids freaking out about earwigs at the dinner table.

It's cooled off enough that I've been making hyptertufa troughs for the last three weeks.  These are only some of the planters curing under the deck.  I'll start opening them next week and will deliver the sold ones in October.

Be sure to let me know if you're in the north Jersey area and are interested in a trough.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Sometimes I Make Things Other Than Troughs...(Part III)

My wife will be the first to tell you, I get weird over the winter.  When my hands are idle I go a little nuts.  Drawing helps, but sometimes I just need to make something, even if it's just a good loaf of bread.  Most winters, when it's too cold to work on hypertufa or woodworking projects in the garage, I'll make a small sculpture at the kitchen table.  If the sculpture is intricate and takes many hours of handwork with small tools, even better.

Above is a small faux-bois Gothic shelf that I made this winter and then gave away to artist friends as a housewarming gift.  The sculpture on top is gold-leafed heart made by the husband for his wife.  I love that my sculpture is the pedestal for this offering.

The sculpture is made of pine, wire and a two-part resin clay called Apoxy.  

The resin clay cures in about 24 hours so I have a pretty long open time to work with it.

The best part is underneath.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Things We Do for Love (of Plants)

We just returned from our week at the Jersey shore, where I was crestfallen to find out that cycling 30+ miles a day does not negate the effects of IPA over-consumption.  Oh well.

I did ride by this house and think to myself 'now that's a commitment to a tree'.  This homeowner long ago made a choice to prioritize the beautiful specimen pine in the front yard over access to the front door.  The lateral branch across the front entrance to the house must be only 3' or so above the sidewalk.

I wonder how that conversation went.  Maybe it was something like this:

"Honey, maybe we should trim the pine out front.  It's starting to block the entrance'.

'I dunno, dear...I kind of like it.  We have a side door, don't we?'

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Sunny Pitcher Plant

The morning sun lit up the saracennia yesterday.  The greenish-yellow pitchers seemed to glow from within.  

This pitcher plant is growing in an acidic mix of peat and sand, covered in pine needle mulch, in a plastic liner cast inside of a hypertufa planter.  The liner helps keep the alkalinity of the concrete away from the planting medium.  I drilled a hole in the liner midway up the side in order to hold a couple inches of water at the bottom.

The things we do for love...

Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Good Part of Summer

We've gotten plenty of rain the last couple weeks and the garden is pretty lush right now, in mid-July, when it's usually on the ropes as we head in to the driest, hottest part of the year.  Above, the reddish pink flower in the foreground is knautia macedonica.  The tall pink on the right is a thalictrum.  The Japanese painted ferns have colonized the Gothic planter on the patio, an example of nature sweeping aside (gently) my idea of a planting scheme, and proposing a better one.

It's coneflower week in the garden, apparently.  Yes, they are common, but they always remind me of the Midwest.  I'm happy to step outside and see them each morning.

In the front garden the coneflowers are mingling with the blue blooms of hydrangea macrophylla 'Dooley'.   I used to take this hydrangea for granted, but after no flowers the last two years I'm happy that the inevitable late spring cold spell didn't doom the flower buds this year.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Big Yellow

I've wanted to grow rudbeckia maxima for a couple years, for the height as much as the cool name.  That's it in the middle of the photo above.  I saw a couple member-grown pots of it at my garden club's plant sale last year so I bought them all.  They stayed small last year and were overgrown by the asters and other tall perennials in this bed.  I kind of forgot about them and figured they were goners after the green wave engulfed them.  I was happy to see them come back strong this year.  There are a few in this bed but one has ambition to live up to its name.

Close-up of the maxima at eye-level.

It looks great with the 'Raspberry Delight' monarda.  Maybe the other rudbeckia maximas will poke their heads up high next year and make a show of it.