Here are a few garden photos. I plan to add more as I have time. These are the horses who reside in the barn next to the garden plots.




One of my sunflowers, held still for the camera by my friend Mary:


Flowers For Your Birthday!

How often I have heard the phrase "hardy mums." November is almost here, with my birthday, and I just learned that mums are the flower corresponding to November birthdays. Apparently its full name (chrysanthemum) translates as "golden flower".

I never knew of birth-month flowers until today, only of birthstones. With this new knowledge, the next time I see yet another pot of mums displayed outside a store, maybe I won't mind so much. This is especially so since I've learned there are quite a few varieties beyond the ones I usually see.

A few quick facts:

-- A natural insecticide is extracted from the seeds as pyrethrins.
-- The Chinese cultivated the plants in the 15th century BC.
-- It provides food for some butterfly larva.

Too bad my mom doesn't have these photos. She loves butterflies.

What would be my family's birthday bouquet for a year? Mum's the word in my family -- couldn't resist a pun.

Mom: gladiolus.
Dad, and my brother: also mums
Nina: rose
Nancy: gladiolus or calendula?
Steph: aster
Me: mum

Want to find out your flower or the flower of someone you care about?
There's a list on flowerwower.com



butterflies in bloom

October is nearly over and mums are everywhere.


Have A Good Weekend!

In the mid-Atlantic the leaf color seems to be reaching its climax of beauty. When it's not raining and overcast, the colors are quite gorgeous.

A widespread frost is possible Sunday overnight from Maine through the mid-Atlantic, northern North Carolina, and over to southeastern Kansas. Still, my garden plot is mostly done. I planted several types and colors of tulip bulbs, so I hope they spring from the ground next year.

My containers on my porch are still quite productive with herbs. I've been putting the containers indoors at night. I look forward to their aroma and maybe to cooking with them over the winter (dried herbs mostly).


Garden Clean-Up

This weekend is the Tudek Community Garden's cleaning. Since it's part of a public park, we want to leave a good impression, not an eyesore. It has been a good season for vegetables and flowers that like heat and can withstand dryness.

P Allen Smith has introduced his own page on youtube. Check it out for some interesting videos. The History of Halloween is interesting. Check out the black cat exploring behind Allen as he sits on his porch steps. Intentional, you think?

Some friends and I plan to visit Mt. Nittany Winery this weekend. They are having their annual Fall Harvest Wine Festival. It's free of charge. The hours are (I think):

Saturday: 10am-5pm
Sunday: noon-4pm

You may call them at 466-6373. Features of the festival are: tour of the winery/grounds, snacks, wine-tasting. I prefer sweet red wines, although slightly dry wines can be good, too. Their Raspberry and Montmorency Cherry wines sound good.


P Allen Smith on Youtube

Mt. Nittany Winery


Is This Really October?

Our recent chill after a warm spell with some days over 80 degrees was pleasant. Who knew I'd be picking a peck of plump peppers from prolific plants over a weekend in October? Or teasing tomatoes off the tethering vines?

(Well, I misused tethering; it exists as a verb, but not an adjective. I think that's called poetic or literary license.)

A few days ago I picked 4 cups of basil. So, I made a lot of pesto, put it in small containers, labeled it and put it in the freezer. If you'd like to make pesto, or just want to know what it is, here's a link to the recipe I use:

Basil pesto

Although I wasn't sure I would do it again, I did grow black bean plants this year, and I plan to continue. The pods are stringy and slightly tough, so they are best dried and emptied of the seeds we know of as black beans. My scarlet runner beans did well, too. They're one of the most attractive beans I've ever seen, with their red and white flowers that produce long light green pods. Inside are white beans speckled with black and a few reddish-orange dots.

One of my mustard green plants have turned into a small bush about a foot and a half high and 12 inches wide. The peppery dark green leaves make a good addition to a salad. The plant's very attractive in the front of my plot.

A few more lisianthus buds have opened. I've really fallen for these lovely plants that are so easy to grow.

Flowers remind me that delicacy and gentleness can succeed in the natural world, just as the more aggressive vines do. On that note, I wish you a happy weekend! If I exercise my poetic license anymore today, I may get cited by the grammar police.


Wildlife Gardening

Much cuter but not a lot smaller than a black cat, a chipmunk crossed my path a few mornings ago as I was about to descend my back stairs. I was impressed with its size, as it appeared to be about 8 inches long. It scampered away and hid from me. That little rodent is probably getting ready for winter.

An article from the Humane Society of the United States relates gardening and yard work to the winter welfare of local wildlife. The suggestions include keeping dead flowers on the plants, and letting leaves on the ground among others.

Here's one excerpt from the article:

Put yourself in an animal's position: Just when the going gets tough, potential winter food and cover sources are removed, leaving a bleak and uninviting landscape in which to survive the cold months.

Experience and some thought-through modifications of these suggestions are possible if you find dead plant matter intolerably unsightly or a nuisance. Here are a couple of my ideas:

*Make sure your compost materials are available to wildlife, not in a closed-in bin.
*Dead flower heads, petals, vines, dry corn husks, and so on have been made into attractive rustic-looking "sculptures" such as wreaths, swags, and other fall decorations. If placed outside, preferably where there is not frequent human activity to scare them away, wildlife can get to it. This means it won't disintegrate indoors leaving a mess and irritating allergies.

There's another article on the site on building and maintaining brush piles.