Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Wordless Wednesday: When Oak Trees are Weeds

Oak Trees Can Be Weeds if They Grow in Your Garden

When Oak Trees are Weeds
Oak Tree Seedling that Sprouted in Rose Garden, © B. Radisavljevic

If An Oak Grows in a Rose Garden, It's a Weed

When Oak Trees are Weeds
Oak Seedling Becomes a Weed in Rose Garden, © B. Radisavljevic

It looks like a squirrel missed an acorn it buried. It will be fun trying to dig this up. Anyone want a free oak tree?  


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Irises Fading, Lamb's Ears Blooming, Chard and Kale Bolting

I Hate to Say Goodbye to My Irises

I have been enjoying irises in bloom since February, and I hate to see them go. Yet I can see more iris flowers dying each day. I'm glad there are still a few more buds that haven't bloomed yet. Below you can see what's left of a pale purple iris. The bending chard about to flower points to it. Above the chard a blooming Lamb's Ears plant reaches for the sky. 

Irises Fading, Lamb's Ears Blooming, Chard and Kale Bolting
Fading Iris, Bolting Chard, and Sages and Scabiosa in Background, © B. Radisavljevic

If you peak carefully behind that irsis, you can see the beginning of my tricolor sage starting to bloom. This is the first year it's bloomed for me. The large clary sage behind the iris shouldn't bloom until next month, but you never know. Learn more about clary sage and see it in bloom in my garden. Those blue flowers at the very back left are scabiosas, also known as pincushion flowers. I've often planted them in my gardens because they are perennial and seem to thrive.  

I took the photo below in a different flowerbed on the front corner of the lot. It shows the remaining light purple irises in all stages of development. You can also see the miniature roses that have started to bloom. They are later than my other roses. The yellow flowers are gazanias. They are closed today because it's overcast.

Irises Fading, Lamb's Ears Blooming, Chard and Kale Bolting
Irises Budding, Blooming, and Fading, Next to Miniature Roses, © B. Radisavljevic

Lamb's Ears in Bloom

I'd like to show you how fast Lamb's Ears grow. The shot below was taken at the end of February. Notice how short it is compared to the irises on the right, the lilies of the Nile in back, and the star jasmine in the background. The entire bed will change by May.

Irises Fading, Lamb's Ears Blooming, Chard and Kale Bolting
Lamb's Ears Next to Sidewalk, February, 2017. © B. Radisavljevic

In April I finally got around to thinning both the Lamb's Ears and the jasmine. They were smothering my Spanish sage and Sweet Williams. See Garden Tasks Finished before Storm.

Irises Fading, Lamb's Ears Blooming, Chard and Kale Bolting
Lamb's Ears Next to Sidewalk, April 6, 2017. © B. Radisavljevic

Now it's May 10, same year. Look at how the plants have grown. It amazes me how fast the Lamb's Ears shoot up and start blooming. It seems they grow half an inch a day in April. The star jasmine is also beginning to bloom. The yellow calendula to the right of the Lamb's Ears blooms all year. 

Irises Fading, Lamb's Ears Blooming, Chard and Kale Bolting
Lamb's Ears Next to Sidewalk, May 10, 2017. © B. Radisavljevic

I do love Lamb's Ears because it works well as a groundcover when I need it to smother weeds. It's also easy to pull when its fast growth becomes a problem. It looks like more will have to come out soon. All these Lamb's Ears plants have spread from other plants. I started with just one plant at this house. As it spread I planted a few of it's children in other beds. But many children also grow several feet from any I have planted. 

Lamb's Ears also have a certain graceful beauty. They lurk during the winter, but in spring they rise toward the sun and bloom. The bees use them for forage. Here's a close-up of the little flowers. Their gray leaves and fuzzy texture add contrast to the green of other plants to add interest to the garden all year round. 

Irises Fading, Lamb's Ears Blooming, Chard and Kale Bolting
Lamb's Ears in Bloom, May, 2017, © B. Radisavljevic

Books to Help You Grow Great Chard and Kale

The Chard and Kale are Bolting

The kale was just starting to flower a month ago on April 6. Now many of those flowers are seedpods. I will try to collect some, though there's probably no need. I never planted this kale. It sprouted from a seed from the mother plant across the yard. By collecting the seeds I'm more likely to get the seedlings where I want them.

Irises Fading, Lamb's Ears Blooming, Chard and Kale Bolting
Kale Flowers and Seedpods, May 10, 2017, © B. Radisavljevic

Here's a close-up of the flower. 

Irises Fading, Lamb's Ears Blooming, Chard and Kale Bolting
Kale Flowers, May 10, 2017, © B. Radisavljevic

One branch of this kale plant had started leaning over the sidewalk. Couldn't resist snapping this photo of it. 

Irises Fading, Lamb's Ears Blooming, Chard and Kale Bolting
Bolting Kale Branch Hanging Over Sidewalk, May 10, 2017, © B. Radisavljevic

Although the kale is already making seeds, the chard is just starting to flower. In the last couple of weeks the stalk has risen and you can see the flower buds on this chard plant forming. Just two months ago the main stalk and the leaves were red. (This is rhubarb chard.) As it begins to flower both have turned green, but you can still see a few traces of the red. 

Irises Fading, Lamb's Ears Blooming, Chard and Kale Bolting
Budding Chard, May 10, 2017, © B. Radisavljevic

When I went to the backyard on the same day to take a photo of the chard by the rose garden, I discovered my might I have two micro-climates on this same property. The the chard in the photo above grows in front and gets afternoon sun because it faces west. The chard plant beside the rose garden gets morning sun from the southeast. It also has the shelter of the fence and the roses from the north side. In any case, small flowers are already starting to bloom on the plant by the rose garden. 

Irises Fading, Lamb's Ears Blooming, Chard and Kale Bolting
Flowering Chard beside Roses, May 10, 2017, © B. Radisavljevic

It's the same small yard and same variety of chard, but one plant flowers slightly ahead of the other. 

I will leave you with one last photo from the front flowerbed of the chard and a blooming Lamb's Ears plant side by side. You can see how red the chard started out on the bottom part. You can also see how high the Lamb's Ears got in comparison. 

Related Posts

1st Iris This Year

Irises Are Garden Survivors

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

A Walk Through My Rose Garden in Early May

Roses Close-Up

These are two of my favorite rose colors. See more photos of these and roses of other colors on my earlier post, Roses Are Not Just Red.

 A Walk Through My Rose Garden in Early May

 A Walk Through My Rose Garden in Early May

I like these roses so much I've even made greeting cards featuring them. You can get them at Zazzle and keep them handy. You never know when you might need to use one. 

Mom Planted this Rose Garden

I inherited it. No other flower is planted in the back yard. Mom planted no roses in the front yard. I've always wondered why she wanted to keep all the beauty in back where only family and friends could see it.

When she died and I inherited the house, I was depressed. It was early March. The roses were dormant. By April the roses were blooming again and I was sorry that Mom couldn't enjoy them anymore. They helped cheer me up, though.

They are always in bloom on Mother's Day, and they remind me of her. She never had a rose garden before she moved to Paso Robles. Maybe a few rose bushes, but no rose garden.

Some of My Rose Gifts from My Rose Photos on Zazzle

A Brief Walk Through the Rose Garden

Along the fence beside the street, one sees this view. It's the most unruly part of the rose garden. The gardener never really gets it under control. 

 A Walk Through My Rose Garden in Early May

As you will see, Mom's favorite rose was the small Cecile Brunner climbing rose. It would like to overwhelm and cover up all the other roses. You can see what's left of a chard I planted in front of the roses, too. It's bolting.

The view below is what you see if you go to the corner past the last rose bush on the right of the photo above. I am looking back at the corner where the back and side fence meet behind the tree.

 A Walk Through My Rose Garden in Early May

In the middle of the garden, to the left of the photo above, you see more climbing roses. These have taken advantage of a pine tree that died and used it as a trellis.

 A Walk Through My Rose Garden in Early May

Here's a closer look at the pine tree and the roses around it. This is also the southeast corner of the rose garden.

 A Walk Through My Rose Garden in Early May

The photo below shows the view in front of the photo above, along the south side of the fence.

 A Walk Through My Rose Garden in Early May

Below is the last rose bush in the garden. It's along the south fence closest to the house.

 A Walk Through My Rose Garden in Early May

Do you have roses in your garden? Which of my roses do you like best? I'd love to have you leave a comment.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Garden Tasks Finished before Storm

Cutting Back the Lamb's Ears and Jasmine in the Bed by the Garage

Every day this spring I've walked by this poor Spanish Sage plant I could barely see because it was being covered by jasmine from above. That blocked its light. On April 5 I finally made some time to cut the jasmine back and expose the sage to the light again. 

Garden Tasks Finished before Storm
Jasmine Blocking the Light the Spanish Sage Needs

Here is the same plant when I finished pruning back the jasmine. I also cut back some of the sage. Because it's been straining to get the sun, it got very leggy, and you can see its bare branches that were hidden by the jasmine. You can also see the tiny leaves on those stems. I hope they will now grow up instead of continuing towards the sidewalk. 

Next winter I will have to do this job sooner and cut the sage way back, but this winter I had the flu all during January and then had steady dentist appointments during February and most of March. After getting my root canals done I didn't feel like working in the garden or anywhere else, and I was always playing catch-up on other work. In addition to that, it rained a lot and the ground was wet. 

Garden Tasks Finished before Storm
I pruned the jasmine that was covering the Spanish Sage and also thinned the Lamb's Ears that were trying to smother it.

Not far from the Spanish Sage was a Sweet William struggling to survive -- maybe more than one. It's hard to tell in the midst of all the jasmine and Lamb's Ears plants.  Normally the Sweet William plants that reseed return at this time of year, but this year the Lamb's Ears spread so much that they completely covered any of the seedlings trying to emerge. Although I do love Lamb's Ears, enough is enough. I will probably still have to trim more of it back. I took the photo below on March 28. I knew I had to uncover any plants under that Lamb's Ears patch, and I had to just keep pulling and pruning until I found this plant. I was hoping there would be more. Maybe there still will be.

Garden Tasks Finished before Storm

Below is a close-up of the struggling Sweet William after I pulled a lot of the Lamb's Ears away from it. I had not realized the Lamb's Ears were propping it up. It was also very leggy and fell flat. I may have to prop it up with a small stake to keep it upright. I'm hoping it will spread as time goes on. Plants have an amazing ability to recover, just as my butterfly bush did after a storm knocked it down

Garden Tasks Finished before Storm
Struggling Sweet William after I Thinned Lamb's Ears Around It.
The photo below puts my afternoon's work into context. The star jasmine is in the background against the wall. Left to right: jasmine, struggling sage, Lillies of the Nile between jasmine and Lamb's Ears in middle, the space where the Sweet William tries to gain ground, more Lamb's Ears, blooming calendulas with budding irises behind them. Between the calendula and the car, you see the low green of the gazanias with a tall flowering kale behind it next to the brick trim. 

Garden Tasks Finished before Storm

What I Accomplished in the Front Flowerbed 

If you read my last post, you saw the state of the front flowerbed before I started weeding and thinning and pruning on April 6. The Lamb's Ears were out of control, the hyssop that hadn't been pruned was brown and ugly and taking over, the oregano in the pot needed pruning, and grassy weeds were trying to overwhelm anything the other plants were leaving alone. 

The two photos below were taken on February 13. We had had so much rain that weeding was almost impossible. I was also weakened by all the dental work I was having done. After even more rain in March, by the day I started the work the state of this flowerbed was even worse. 

Garden Tasks Finished before Storm

Since it was February, the daffodils were budding. My chard on the right bottom had turned red. You can see the dead growth on the oregano in the terracotta pot. That brown clump to the left of it is the hyssop. It looked even browner when I started cutting it way back on April 6. Pruning the oregano was much easier. 

The worst job, though, was getting the grassy weeds that were taking over any bare ground they could find. Their roots are very hard to get out. They also entangle the roots of the plants I want to keep. Here they are surrounding my catmint. The catmint itself has escaped from its pot and is now also running amuck, but at least I can make tea out of that.  

Garden Tasks Finished before Storm
Catmint in and out of Pot Surrounded by Grassy Weeds

The photos show only a portion of the work that needed to be done. I was trying to finish the most urgent tasks before the storm that was supposed to hit later at night started. Here is how the area around the catmint pot looked by the time I was through. Not perfect, but good enough to scatter some old seeds around before the storm brought rain to water them. They were very old seeds, but I thought I'd see what happened. Mother Nature often surprises me. 

Garden Tasks Finished before Storm
Catmint Pot After Weeding

Below you see what the hyssop plant looked like when I finished with it. Better late than never. It will grow out again before it's time for it to bloom in June. A few green shoots are already peaking out. I did miss a couple of branches, but I'll get them after I finish the taxes. After the rain, the catmint in the pot perked up again. 

Garden Tasks Finished before Storm
Hyssop after Haircut

Here's how the front flowerbed looked after I finished working and had scattered my seeds. The rain came as promised later and all the next day, so I'm hoping maybe at least a couple of seeds will sprout. On the lower right, in front of the irises, you see a green carnation plant with the leaves of an old daffodil plant in front of it. You could not see that carnation before I cut back the hyssop which was covering it.  I had forgotten the carnation was there. I fed it. 

Garden Tasks Finished before Storm
A Good's Afternoon's Work in the Flowerbed

When I finished for the day, I took the pictures of the flower beds and then turned to get the sky toward the west. The sunset promised rain. And it came. I'm glad I pushed myself to get some of the preliminary work done before it started coming down. 

Garden Tasks Finished before Storm


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

What's Happening in my Garden in Early Spring?

There Are Lots of Garden Tasks to Be Done

We've had a lot of rain in the past two months, and the garden reflects that. The weeds are trying to take over, but I've been too busy going to and recovering from dentist appointments to do much about them. The grassy weeds are the worst.  Fortunately, my lamb's ears, which grow as fast as weeds, are helping to keep some of them at bay. Meanwhile, the bees are really enjoying the flowers that are appearing everywhere and the kale is bolting.

What's Happening in my Garden in March
Grassy Weeds Trying to Take Over the Garden, Lamb's Ears Trying to Compete

Weeding and Thinning

In the photo above you can see some of the garden tasks I'm way behind on. Weeding is probably the most important. If I don't get the weeds out of the way, the reseeding plants may not get the light they need to sprout. Some of the lamb's ears, much as I love them, will also have to go. As you can see below, they are choking the emerging Sweet William seedlings from last year's seeds. I'll also have to cut back the star jasmine that surrounds and is starting to cover these plants. Looks like I will also have to reapply my non-toxic snail bait in this section. I usually use the cheapest brand, and it works.

What's Happening in my Garden in Early Spring?
Lamb's Ears Smothering Sweet William Seedling, while both Fight the Star Jasmine, © B. Radisavljevic 

With all this weeding to be done, it's time to check my gardening tools again. If you find yourself short, this Vremi 9-piece tool set has all one needs to tackle most weeding jobs.

Bees in the Holly
The holly is in bloom, and the bees love it. I took this photo a few days ago. I'm glad I did because the gardener trimmed some of the flowers off today. He said the bees were pretty angry with him as he worked and he had to be careful. I think there are still enough flowers to keep the bees busy. 

What's Happening in my Garden in Early Spring?
Bees Foraging in Holly Flowers in March, © B. Radisavljevic

The Bolting Kale

I currently have four kale plants growing in my flower beds. Three of them are volunteers that did not exactly grow where I would have placed them. All of them are bolting now. I will probably cut the flowering stems from the weakest plants, and let the others go to seed for next year's crop. I will also have to harvest and freeze a lot of the leaves that are left.

 My top photo showed my best kale plant. I understand now why it may not have had the aphid problems the other plants had. Its close neighbors are calendula and catmint, both of which help repel or trap these pests that bother my other plants. Also, that kale in my front flowerbed gets more regular water than the other plants, and better soil. It is the only kale plant with drip irrigation. 

The kale plant below gets less care than any of the others. It sprang up between my driveway and my neighbor's yard in the bed in the middle. There is a birch tree there and gazanias cover most of the ground. It is not irrigated unless I remember to pour some water on the kale plant. How it ever took root there I'll never know, but I have used many of its leaves. You can see from its flowers that it's bolting. So are the other plants, but the flowers are harder to see in their photos. 

What's Happening in my Garden in Early Spring?
Flowers of Bolting Kale, © B. Radisavljevic

This is actually a pair of kale plants below. I never thinned them. I sometimes use their leaves, but they are often plagued with aphids. They have poor soil and no companion plants but gazanias. They do not have regular irrigation. They grow in the corner of a bed of gazania and star jasmine beside the driveway. Like the plant above, they came from the mother plant you see at the top of this blog post. 

What's Happening in my Garden in Early Spring?
Twin Kale Plants by Driveway, © B. Radisavljevic

My Favorite Companion Planting Book

 I have used this book for years. It has provided inspiration on what to plant where and been just fun to read. There are lists of which plants discourage which pests, which plants attract which beneficial insects, and which plants help each other thrive. I love the garden design ideas, such as the wheel garden and the front yard salad garden. The information is organized in a user-friendly way so that it's easy to find what you want, and you will want to read more than what you came for. I highly recommend this to any gardener who wants to avoid chemicals.

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