Saturday, October 31

My Favorite Holiday Arrives!

Wishing everyone an Enchanted, Enchanting, Haunted, and Hauntingly Happy Halloween!

Always remember to carry your shield, Perseus... or you, too, may become one of Medusa's victims! 

(Yes, those are plastic snakes braided into my hair. It took about an hour and 15 minutes for me to put them in on my own, and about 30 minutes to take them all out, with Steve's assistance!)

*Edited to add that we won the costume contest that night!  Our very cool hostess wrapped up a box of Frankenberry cereal for the second place winner, and Steve and I get to split a Magic Hat "Night of the Living Dead" sampler 12 pack. Fun!

Thursday, October 29

Late October Color

I've had this week off of work, but it's been a really busy one.  (Still neglecting my garden, unfortunately--although I should be able to rectify that oversight some tomorrow!)  No time for details, but I do want to show off some of the color that's starting to blaze in the garden this week:

Orange Pyracantha berries behind a screen of 'The Blues' little bluestem.

My tiny blueberry bush (can you see its red leaves?) surrounded by lemongrass, 'Rotstrahlbusch' switchgrass, pineapple sage, woolly thyme and Japanese bloodgrass.

'Black Lace' elderberry encroaching on the aforementioned switchgrass. (An area to fix next summer.)

Lonicera sempervirens combining more tubular flowers with bright yellow fall foliage.

'Black Beauty' elderberry, with still just a few burgundy leaves hiding behind the 'Grosso' lavender.

My new fave tall sedum, 'Hab Gray,' with yellowing leaves behind the drying flowerheads. Surrounded by 'Sky Pencil' Japanese holly, blue fescues, variegated silene, and the tiny sedum hispanicum.

Asparagus, with its yellowing foliage falling over part of the blue footbridge.

'Himrod White' grape leaves turning yellow against the burgundy of its arbor and a cool candle lantern that Mom gave me for Christmas last year. (Yikes! I NEED to get this fence painting finished already!)

The reddening leaves of my thornless blackberry.

Alpine strawberry 'Ozark' shows flowers and red leaves at this time of the year, and fall berries seem to have a little more tart with their sweet but are still delicious.  Above, 'Sioux Blue' indiangrass.

On to the front yard:

The front yard garden is almost a riot of colors... in a bad way!  But too soon we'll be left with the gray and brown-gray of a typical Cleveland winter, so I love it.

'Diablo' purple ninebark is definitely this week's show-stealer, with its blaze of red leaves backlit by the afternoon sun.

No plants seem to want to be left out of the fall show here:  Even the golden oregano is tinging pink on the edges!

I love backlit grasses, so I try to choose sites for them where they will be between me and the sun as much as possible.  Here 'Hameln' pennisetum shines against the deep fall color of my oakleaf hydrangea.

'Albury Purple' hypericum (St. John's Wort) has leaves tinged with purple year-round.  But it looks particularly great in Autumn when capped off with berries (and even a few new blooms... I think the caryopteris behind really sets it off.

Not all fall color is pretty!  Here echinops ritro is seen turning yellow--and brown and crispy--all at the same time.

I couldn't get my arm and camera out of this pic (sorry) but a single hybrid amsonia is shining brightly--along with the oakleaf hydrangea--among a neutral palette of sage and sea kale.

Another year-round shiner is 'Golden Sword' yucca.  See the hybrid amsonia to its left?  It's the same kind as the blazing yellow beauty above, so I have no idea why it and its neighbor are still green... maybe they decided to take turns this year!

A last parting shot:  My front yard garden as it looks from the corner of the driveway.  Now, off to work on doing a little more cleanup here--including adding in some much-needed "chunky" foliage in the area behind the oakleaf, to offset all of this fine-textured stuff a little better.

Hope you all are enjoying a beautiful autumn day like mine... and that you're not as behind in the garden as I am right now!  :(

Wednesday, October 21

Garden Bloggers' (Belated) Bloom Day - October 2009

Garden mum 'Hannah' (small, new quart-sized pot that needs to be planted) temporarily sited between golden oregano and Spanish foxglove foliage.

Can we file this one under "Better late than never?"  I missed last week's Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day (hosted by the lovely Carol, of May Dreams Gardens) because I was so busy at work.  As per its usual, the garden went on blooming... not even noticing the absence of its gardener, or so it seems.  While I try not to pout about that too much, let's show the blooming highlights from October:

'Black and Blue' salvia blooms get a little lost against the deepening leaves of 'Sykes' Dwarf' oakleaf hydrangea

Caryopteris and 'Hameln' in bloom above, with the spent flowers of 'Purple Knockout' salvia lyrata and 'Voodoo' sedum below.

A closeup of the mingling of caryopteris and 'Hameln'... both rather fine and frothy, but I like them together anyway.

My 'Party Dress' is falling down... what a faux pas! Luckily, it looks good against the golden oregano and Japanese maple leaves.

Red snapdragons are my favorite--so velvety and rich, especially against this unnamed (but probably 'Walker's Low') catmint.

In the backyard, there are a few surprises.  'Blue Balsam' basil is supposed to be one of the most cold-tolerant, and is so far living up to its reputation. (It's been tested by a few nights in the upper 30s!) Observant herb lovers will notice a few orange calendula blooms in the background here, too.

Chocolate eupatorium, being overrun by the sprawling 'Sioux Blue' indiangrass, sorghastrum nutens. My gypsy heuchera, 'Regina' is nestled at its feet.

The native coral honeysuckle still blooms in a messy corner with various weeds, 'Hopi Red Dye' amaranth, 'All Gold' hakone grass, scaly Buckler ferns and yellowing foliage of goatsbeard.

A single toad lily bloom remains, held delicately over the foliage of an unnamed (garden center rescue) pulmonaria.

An overview of the back bed, including the flowers and seedheads of panicum virgatum 'Rotstrahlbusch,' Russian sage, pineapple sage, zebra grass, and the amazing lantana that keeps on blooming in the clay tile planter.

Other things in bloom here still include:
hardy blue plumbago (ceratostigma plumbaginoides)
Salvia 'Caradonna'
Butterfly weed (asclepias tuberosa) seedlings
'Sweet Kate' spiderwort
'Grosso' lavender
two other kinds of basil
a couple of peppers and tomatoes (crazy!)
dark blue angelonia
'Ozark' strawberries
'Vodka' wax begonias
Parlor Maple (abutilon megapotanicum)
annual dark purple salvia
'Vancouver Centennial' geranium (pelargonium)
'So Sweet' hosta
'Sun Power' hosta (which has a lightly sweet scent)

To see what else is blooming around the world, visit Carol's post via the link above.  And now that my crazy work month is almost over, I promise to return to my regularly scheduled posting soon.  :)

Sunday, October 11

The Backyard, October 10

Today had all the makings of a gorgeous fall day:  Sunshine.  Crisp, clear air.  The crunch of fall leaves underfoot.  That level of cool where you're comfy enough in a fleece but going inside every now and then feels good--and getting into a car that's been sitting in the sun brings an instant flush of warmth to the tips of your fingers.

As you can see on the tree peony above, the leaves are beginning to flush, too, with fall color.  I noticed its reddening leaves as I quickly took stock of the backyard this evening.  Amazingly, there are still a lot of things yet to harvest there!  Some, like these 'Hungarian Hot Wax' peppers and 'Ichiban' eggplants, have been simply waiting for me to get to them:

Others, like these 'Pineapple' tomatoes, got a late start and are racing the clock to ripen before a frost does them in:

And then there are my 'Sundance' apples, which are never quite ready until mid-October.  They're worth the wait, though--as the Gurney's website promised, they have a very unique sweet-tart flavor, and there's a hint of lemony flavor in their firm flesh:

Not all of the fruit set in the garden is edibles, of course--unless you are a bird.  These pyracantha berries are the last thing to get eaten in the spring, and I'm not complaining. That means I get to enjoy them longer:

Also sporting orange are these seedpods (I assume?) on my native honeysuckle, lonicera sempervirens:

By the way, I would not hesitate to recommend this vine to anyone--and might be planting a few more of them along my fenceline.  It pretty much flowers throughout the summer, and the blue-green foliage is fantastic, too. 

Speaking of impressive foliage, it's hard to believe that this 'Black Beauty' elderberry has gorgeous dark leaves through the growing season, bears fruit (a 'Black Lace' nearby pollinates it) AND gives fall color, too.  But here you see the bottom sets of leaves (near the still-blooming 'Grosso' lavender) starting to turn a pretty wine-red:

See, autumn isn't ONLY about the fiery reds and oranges!  Other cool combos that are just coming into their own finally in the October garden include Little Bluestem and purple heart:

And the darkened, spent flowerheads of 'Hab Gray' sedum above the fine-textured, tiny foliage of sedum hispanicum:

Most of the garden IS turning red or yellow, though.  The acid-yellow foliage colors of the milkweed and hosta are should be outstanding in another week.  And the otherwise-yellow foliage of hakonechloa macra 'Aureola' is starting to look downright tropical with its fall streaks of crimson:

But it's not completely over quite yet--there's still a lot of shouting going on, in a few corners of the garden.  Like here, where the jewel-like tones of 'Sedona' coleus, angelonia, 'Black Lace' sambucus, and portulaca foliage can almost trick you into thinking it's still summer:

Bright lantana blooms add their voice to the garden chorus, too, while Japanese bloodgrass sways in the background:

Maybe the lantana is actually singing a rather surprised cover of Elton John's "I'm Still Standing?"  Because the fact that the Russian sage is blooming right next door--and providing a nice, cool foil for this definitely overgrown lantana--is a sign that it really can't be too long before the garden needs to be put to bed for the winter:

That and all of the "berries" on the branches below the lantana flowerhead, which mean that I have long since given up doing any upkeep on the "throwaway annuals" that I replace each year.

I might be adding more things than I had planned to the "throwaway" list, by the way.  There will be pockets of frost tonight and tomorrow night throughout my area, but I didn't get everything pulled, dug and put away today... and tomorrow will be another long day of work, with no real chance to play in the yard.  So we'll see how things shake out once we get through this first real cold spell.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

Thursday, October 1

Washed-Out Weekend

So here's a quick list of what I SHOULD have been doing this past weekend:
  • Cleaning up the garden
  • Painting my "plant table" so it had a few days to dry before tender plants had to come inside and spend the winter there
  • Primping and painting/sealing the window that is unfortunately located inside the tub/shower
  • Planting some of the many perennials that are sitting out on my driveway, waiting for a winter home
  • Canning more applesauce and apple butter
  • And about a hundred other chores that needed to be finished!
And here's a hint as to what I did instead:

This weekend, Steve and I joined one of our volleyball teammates, his girlfriend, and 6 of their friends on a 2-night camping trip to Mohican Reservation.  We shared some campfires, a few spirits, many hamburgers and cheese brats, and millions of raindrops.  In spite of the rain, we had a good time... yes, even when yours truly managed to tip over one of these:

In my defense, it was my very first canoe trip ever and I HAD managed to "pilot" us through a few rocks before we went right over top of the big one.  (I didn't even see that rock, honestly, until it was too late.)  On the bright side, the boat didn't crack and start to take on water a la the Titanic... and Steve had been through about a dozen canoe trips without capsizing once, so I'm happy that I was able to help him out with a new canoeing experience!  ;)

Between the canoe trip and the raindrops, it was hard to capture many photos for posterity.  But I did get some cool ones early Saturday afternoon, when Steve and I ventured off for a walk down the river. Here are some highlights:
Fern growing in a cracked tree trunk along the riverbank.

Fun photo of moss growing on a tree

Same moss, same tree, different perspective

Speaking of moss growing on a tree, isn't that (or maybe lichen?) supposed to grow only on the north side of a tree?  Both seemed to be growing on all sides of the trees scattered along the Mohican River.

Lichen-encrusted tree, with an ant.  Steve noticed him and we both admired his industriousness--it seemed like a lot of work for him to be carrying that fly carcass, and he was fairly high up the tree.  (Almost at eye level!)

Cool-looking fungus of some sort. It was so close to the shore that it reminded me of a creature that might jump back into the water at any time.

Shelf fungus. There were many of these scattered around in the trees. The largest one--which we just couldn't get a good picture of, because of the lighting--was about 9ft up in one tree, and about the size of half of a serving platter.

I assume this is some kind of a fern growing in this tree crotch--it's so pretty and airy, and I love that it seemed to "capture" the maple leave.  Can anyone give me an ID on the fern? 

A few people were fishing in one of the many shallow areas as we started our walk.  When we came back toward the campsite they were gone so we walked down toward the bank they had vacated.  While investigating the river more closely there, we discovered that they--or someone who visited before them--had created an artistic arrangement of rocks on this log:

And then I amused myself for a few minutes, trying to capture on film (or should I say on computer chip?) one of the many leaves that were floating down the river:

"Leaf in Water" photo, attempt 1. Fairly well centered, but too far away.

"Leaf in Water" photo, attempt 2. Now THIS is better... nevermind that I had to "cheat"--by taking a photo of a leaf that wasn't actually moving in the water--in order to get such a good close-up!

The only bad thing about having fun and ignoring your "To Do" list is that it doesn't magically get shorter while you're away.  So all of those items still need to be done--and the undone table-painting came back to bite me last night when I had to bring in all of my houseplants as the temperatures dropped.  Boo.

So maybe I'll get a few things crossed off of my list this weekend instead... that is, if nothing more exciting comes up in the meantime.  :)  Have a great weekend, everyone!