Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Summer Stuff

Can't believe it has been August for a few weeks already! It is finally cooling down here to the 90's, a big improvement. .I assure you! We have had another good rain, and a few evenings with cooler temps and sprinkles. .with some showers in the forecast for the next two evenings(by that I mean more than a 20% chance). Thought I would take a minute to pen an update on my gardens.
I find that right now the garden looks better if you are crouched down low enough to block out brown grass and weeds and grasshopper ravished foliage and burnt up plants. Then things look nice! The crapemyrtle Zuni are still blooming. They offer several months of great looking blooms and color. I'm thinking about adding in a bright pink somewhere. I especially relish the colors of the Fat Albert Spruce trees now too. That glorious blue/green color. Yum! They have been planted for about 5 years or so and are mulched in with a little supplemental water from the drippers in the bed as well as the tractor sprinkler when it goes across the lawn (or the section of my yard full of weeds that I CALL the lawn). These two spruce trees have fared well through the drought.
These annual red salvia have done well next to the waterfall. I haven't tried growing them before, but I think they will pass my "can you survive western Ks climate test." They'll probably make a repeat showing next year. You also might note the spruce tree to the left behind them that DIDN'T do so well in the drought. At the end of the month, I will be replacing him with an agave plant, that will hopefully like the microclimate in this location a little better!
And not all is lost. .You may remember that a friend from work and I traded out some plants in May? This oak-leafed hydrangea has been "dead" for the last 2 months. .not a sign of life anywhere, until I pulled it out of the ground yesterday morning. A LEAF!! HAHAHAHAHA! Bring it on baby. I also see growth on several of the daylilies I snagged from her, which is hopeful. They also died completely back to nothing but 1-2 short green shoots.
These were the sprouts of what I had hoped were the Red Sun sunflowers. After I saw the first one blooming and it wasn't red, I left the rest only because it was the only promise of flowers I had left! I did notice a monarch on one yesterday. .we have been short of butterflys this summer it seems. So I was glad to see one!
This little black eyed susan vine fought with himself every day for 6 weeks after I planted him as to whether he would live or die. .apparently he decided to live and now flourish. I keep intending to tie him up to the bedframe trellis, but haven't gotten it done yet. I'm hoping that soon the cardinal vine next to it will add some blossoms to its pretty foliage.
This little guy is cute too. The boys each got a packet of sunflower mixes when they went to the Wichita garden show in March. Few of them have survived, but this one started blooming last week!! Loving it!
Here is a finally-growing clump of purple fountain grass. I was successful at overwintering my clump from last year in the greenhouse. I divided it in the spring and planted 3 clumps. It was sooooo slow to take off, but now it is settled in and doing well. I think I will dig at least one of the clumps out and divide it again this winter. Free is great, right?
The gray headed coneflowers are doing well now too. They will hope to be 3-5 feet tall at maturity, and are planted on the back side of the pond (looking from my picture window) I love the carefree look to them!
Additionally, the Mexican hat coneflowers are STILL blooming. .since June!! Loving that too! I took this photo early this morning with the pond in the background. The yellow flowers coming out of the water are yellow hearts. They are a bright spot in the mornings!
The vegetables continue to survive and in some cases even produce! I dug my potatoes yesterday. Not too many. .but exciting nonetheless. I am sure that I missed some hills too, since most of the plants had completely been eaten or died. .bet I'll find them later when they start sprouting! The watermelon are growing well though, as you may note from the extent of the vines in the previous picture (with one volunteed okra plant in the middle of them)
I tried two varieties this year. This guy is Black Diamond. .and the flesh is just green like that. .can't wait to see the inside. And judging by the little curlyque that is drying up, it won't be long before we can try it out!
This one is Crimson red. .and we grew it last year and weren't disappointed on a single melon. .they were delicious!!
Here is a bright squash bloom. This was the first year to grow squash. The greenhouse started plants died. .and I planted this one in mid June from Walmart. We have picked three off now. .and it looks like it is going to keep us busy eating squash. .I'm not sure that will be a good thing.
See the little okra in there. I planted these last year and loved them. My stand is better this year, and I am hoping to pickle a lot of them in the next month. They are just getting started, and we enjoyed a handful of them fried up the other night! This year I may try slicing them and freezing them to fry some through the winter. .If anyone knows anything about that. .let me know!
The jalepenos are getting some fruit on them now too. The bell plants are looking bad all of the sudden, and I don't know if they will produce or not. The tomato plants look sad. .but I am hopeful that the change in temperatures will be favorable for fruit set. .and at least I might enjoy some fried green tomatoes this fall, even if they never ripen!
I'm hoping to soon sow my tomatoes and some peppers to grow in the greenhouse this winter. I am considering doing cukes in there as well, but haven't decided for sure about the logistics of that.
We have been swimming a few times this week and we have our annual camping trip coming up this weekend.  So I guess we will all be ready for school to start on Monday!!
Enjoy your week!!


  1. I always loved the Mexican Hats--didn't realize they bloomed for that long. Perhaps Michigan isn't warm enough for them though.
    Love the sunflowers too!
    Glad you're cooling down a bit. We're supposed to be in the 70's all week--but still no rain. Ah, brown crispy lawns--ugly to look at but NO NEED TO MOW---Hurrah!!

  2. You should drive by our house and see the "accidental" pumpkin that is in our front flower bed! It has definitely been thriving in this weather! We better have tons of stinkin' huge pumpkins...

  3. Enjoyed the pictures - especially that red sunflower and the fountain grass. :)

  4. If I remember from my garden days, you can slice the okra, roll it in cornmeal & put it in baggies of appropro sizes. Maybe, you might pre-freeze on cookies sheets first before bagging. The dusting of cornmeal keeps them from sticking together when frozen.

  5. Thanks Cindy for the advice. .I will try that!