Sunday, August 30, 2009

The flesh of the Israel melon is cream-colored and juicy sweet. This one weighed 7 lbs.; our biggest one was 8 lbs. This has been our most productive year for melons, as we have had six melons from one plant. A couple more have been eaten, either by a mole or the resident rabbit.

We bought the seeds a few years ago at the St. Louis Botanical Garden. They had a good variety of interesting and unusual seeds in the gift shop.

Brandywine tomato and a Pink Grapefruit tomato. There is nothing better than a Brandywine tomato. It is a constant in the tomato garden every year. The Pink Grapefruit is a good tasting tomato, very mild and sweet, low acid flavor.

I think this tomato is a Golden Pineapple. By the time I get them in the house, I have forgotten which plant they came from. It weighted in at 1 1/2 lbs! Wonderful flavor, very juicy. Another constant in our tomato garden is the Snow White Cherry. They are sweet with a slight tartness that is irresistible. One plant is so productive that it is almost impossible to keep all the fruit picked.

The vegetable garden is about to come to an end for the year. The cucumber plants are finished; The squash plants have just a little life left in them. The tomato plants didn't do very well at all this year. They produced a lot of fruit, most of which either got eaten by the rabbit (if I ever catch the little rodent we will be having Hassenfeffer for dinner) or rotted on the vine. Extremely disappointing. We have had about the right amount of rain this year, but it has been rather cool, and I don't think the tomatoes liked the cooler weather at all. It is very discouraging to have seven tomato plants and still not be able to count on have fresh tomatoes everyday. Only the Snow White is doing well, but still not as well as it should be. Next year I will probably put chicken wire around the tomato patch. Hopefully I can find a way to make it look semi-attractive for they sake of the neighbors. I just can't have half my tomatoes get eaten by rabbits. They can have all the cucumbers they want, but the tomatoes are mine!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

I have all these little tags laying around that came in plants I have bought, so I'm going to make a list of them so I can throw them away. I found one in my tea drawer this morning!

Lavender Cotton - Santolina pinnata - subsp. neapolitana - planted in herb garden June 2008, 2 plants
Chives - 4 small plants, herb garden June 2008
Yarrow - Achillea Millefolium "Cerise Queen", 1 plant in herb garden June 2008
Golden Oregano - 1 plant, herb garden June 2008
Summer Savory - Satureja hortensis, 1 plant in herb garden June 2008 - I thought it was an annual, but it came back this year.
Lamb's Ear - Stachys byzantina - 3 plants in herb garden 2008
Greek Oregano - 1 plants in herb garden June 2008
Silver-edged Thyme - Thymus 'Argenteus' - 1 plant in herb garden June 2008
Prairie Splendor Coneflower - Echinacea purpurea 'Prairie Splendor' - 1 plant in herb garden June 2008
Ruby Star Coneflower - Echinacea purpurea 'Rubinstern' - 1 plant in herb garden June 2008 (I thought I had two of the same type of coneflower. I just now found out otherwise. I'm really on top of things in my garden, huh.)
Wall Germander - Teucrium chamaedrys" - 17 plants in herb garden June 2008 - bought from Mountain Valley Growers
Rose - Flower Carpet 'Scarlet'
One Lemon Balm plant
One Oriental Poppy plant
Two Anise Hyssop plants, can't find the tag; it will probably turn up in some strange place when I'm not looking for it.

All of these were planted in a mad dash last year right before I had surgery. Also in the herb garden are two viburnum bushes, otherwise known as snowball bushes; a David Austin rose 'Mary Rose', and a miniature rose whose name I can't remember.

Tiny Ghost Asiatic Lily - Lilium asiaticum 'Tiny Ghost' PP16161 - 8 plants in two bed beside wisteria tree, planted summer 2008.

Sage plants I have killed: Golden Sage, Tricolor Sage (2), Common Sage.

This year I planted a Mandevilla 'Alice duPont' in the spot where the sage plants are supposed to be in the herb garden. Apparently, this location is cursed as the Mandevilla never has more than one bloom to its name and looks like it is barely hanging on to life.

Stonecrop - Sedum spectabile 'Neon' - planted this year in the back between the rose and crepe myrtles.

Salvia - 'Red Hot Sally' - 8 plants this summer; when we came back from Vancouver they had disappears entirely. I think the rabbit ate them.

Begonia 'Bronze Leaf Rose' - 4 plants in a pot out front this summer.
Evolvulus - 3 plants in a pot in from this summer. I love these pots; we got them a few years ago at the Dallas Farmers Market.
One pot on the front porch - 2 Trailing verbena (it isn't trailing, but instead growing straight up; makes the pot look a little silly), 4 vincas, and 2 coleus plants.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Butchart Gardens

We returned late last night from a whirlwind vacation to Vancouver, British Columbia. A must-see on our short trip was Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island. The garden was born over 100 years ago in an old lime-stone quarry. Jennie Butchart wanted to make something wonderful out of her husbands spent quarry, and her dream was so successful that by the 1920's, Butchart Gardens was already a major tourist attraction. It still is; it was sometimes quite difficult to see the flowers through all the people.
Words can't possibly do justice to the garden, so I'll just quit talking and let the garden speak for itself.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Golden Pineapple Tomato

Sweet, tart, luscious. Words can not adequately describe this tomato. Click on the picture to enlarge it and you will almost taste the sweetness of summer.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Mary Rose

Mary Rose grows beautifully among the anise hyssop. I planted this one a few years ago in what was supposed to be a rose garden, but is now the herb garden. Since I haven't found a sage plant that I can't kill, I'm going to plant another David Austin rose in the herb garden instead. It should do well amidst the germander hedge where the sage was supposed to be.

David Austin roses are relatively easy to grow and smell absolutely wonderful. This one blooms repeatedly throughout the springtime and again during late summer into fall, slowing down only during Japanese beetle season. Most of the collection consists of repeat bloomers with between 50 and 100 petals.

I received a new David Austin catalog last week and am studying it thoroughly, trying to decide between dozens of beautiful roses. There are Old English roses, shrub roses, tree roses, climbers, ramblers, and even a few thornless roses. Gertrude Jekyll is at the top of the my list, as is Darcey Bussell, a rose so big and beautiful, it almost looks like a peony. I'll need to decide in time for fall planting. The David Austin website is helpful in trying to decide which variety is best for a particular growing zone.

Tyler, Texas (America's Rose capital) is home to the David Austin American headquarters, but Albrighton (UK) is home to the main garden center, tea room, and a multitude of rose gardens and sculptures. Unfortunately, it is not a very convenient commute from Missouri.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The wait is over......

Finally, we picked our first tomato, a Pink Grapefruit (plus a few Snow White cherries). We sliced it and ate it right away, even though it was slightly green. It was luscious!!! There is nothing like the first juicy tomato of the summer. Of course, in my case, it's usually almost fall before I get my first tomato. We have lots of jalapeno peppers, seen above in various stages of green, purple, and red. This is my mutant jalapeno; it isn't supposed to look like this. Next year my pepper plants will be isolated from each other.

It is official; the garden is out of control. The squash and cucumber plants are taking over the back yard, even as some of them are slowly dying. At least, I thought they were dying, but they are getting new leaves. I almost wish the cucumbers would die. I am so sick of cucumbers. I have four plants this year; next year I may only plant two. But we are still enjoying the squash, especially the lemon squash, and I will still plant several kinds again next year; maybe I'll get some more mutants.

The herb garden's glory days seem to be over for the summer. I cut back the spent flowers from the lamb's ear and the lavender cotton a long time ago. The anise hyssop and the yarrow seem to be finished blooming. I need to dead-head the purple cone flowers, but a couple of days ago we saw a little yellow finch perched on a flower head eating the seeds. I guess I don't have to dead-head just yet. The only thing left to bloom are the roses, which should still do well for quite a while, now that the Japanese beetles have moved on. The germander still looks good, even though it isn't blooming anymore. At least now I can walk in the garden without the continual humming of bumble bees. I leaned to co-exist with them but they still made me nervous.

I have killed six sage plants. Tricolor, bicolor, every color of sage you can imagine, I have killed it. Why???