Sunday, October 23, 2016

Super-boom black walnuts

I will put together a post soon with the plants I saw on our trip to New Mexico, but for now here's a quick update on the Half Acre: black walnuts, OMG. A strong advocate for edible landscaping I may be, but I'd never advise anyone to plant a black walnut tree on purpose unless you have a large property and you stick it in an area where no one needs to walk. But our 112-year-old house came with such a tree right next to it; it's probably 100 feet tall and does cast shade, so we've put up with it. There's another one in the Way Back pretty much along the side property line. We gave up long ago on cracking and eating the nuts, delicious as they are, because of the mess and effort involved, and when they fall each year we dutifully clean them up so we can stroll safely in the yard, piling them somewhere out back to the delight of the resident squirrel population who enjoy shopping in supermarkets.

In ordinary years this takes one or two days of sustained effort in September or October. But this is not an ordinary year. Black walnut trees vary in nut production due to weather conditions and also, I think, just natural cycles; we usually get a heavy boom year followed by a light year. This year is a super-boom (in more ways than one - the sound of walnuts hitting a roof from a hundred feet up is... well, let's just say it's good no one here suffers from PTSD). I'd say (based on cleanup effort) that we easily have three times the usual boom-year number of nuts. Perhaps this is appropriate considering other aspects of 2016, but it is no fun. So here's what I've done THREE TIMES NOW:

Just some of the piles out there. My tools are landscape rake and flat-bladed shovel. In light years sometimes I'll get bending-over exercise picking them up by hand, but that wasn't an option this year. We need to reseed the lawn anyway...

Here's the growing pile out back:

I'd say it's currently two feet high and ten feet long, and will be added to when I trundle more back there today. And, since I neglected to photograph the pre-raked ground near the house, here's what I have to walk on to get to the pile out back, from the other tree:

Eventually I'll rake those too, but near the house is a higher priority, to avoid ankle mishaps. I should note that danger comes from above, too (though we're down to a couple dozen left in the tree); in all the years we've been here I've actually only been hit a few times (including yesterday, a graze to the arm) but I used to send the kids out in bike helmets when they were little.

Oh, and the new deck? We were really smart to choose brown. (Did I mention how much black walnuts stain?) This is after just two days of not sweeping:

I don't think we considered what a high percentage of the walnuts would land on the deck, or the porch roof (including the far side of the roof, which bounces the nuts down on the patio beyond, which is also where we hang out laundry). It's been push-broom territory out there. Like shoveling snow (brown dirty snow). And all the pots out there have been full of nuts all summer (heavy crop means a lot of early drops). Garden beds, too (need to clean those out by hand). Other plants have been damaged due to branches falling (many more than usual, and in calm conditions). We suspect walnut fall in a windshield crack on one of the cars; we've also lost less expensive things like the rain gauge.

But it'll all be done this week! Then on to the next chore...

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

GBBD - is it fall yet? Please?

I've missed some Garden Bloggers' Bloom Days this summer due to travel and so forth, but I have had flowers! And still have them, though things in general are looking pretty tired what with the absurdly hot (and recently dry) weather. I hear we'll be having temps in the 90s into October - well, thrills.

As usual in the worst part of the summer the weeds took over, but I have noticed the results of my work earlier in the year clearing and planting new areas. Yes, knee-high grass and other undesirables snuck in when I wasn't looking, but it took very little time to clean up in the places I'd paid attention to earlier in the year. Next year: even more mulch, and getting the ground covers in. The filled-in areas have hardly any weeds at all except for the #^*@@!! morning glory.

I'll start back there in the Food Forest Thing, which also includes a lot of herbs, native plants, and whatever else I feel like growing. One goal next year is to put in a lot more milkweed. I did have seed for both tropical and swamp types this year, and the tropical was planted in a fairly timely fashion and has done well:

whereas I just put in the few surviving swamp milkweed plants a week or two ago. And apparently some monarch butterfly found them and laid eggs, because they are getting chomped.

Which I think is terrific, except that they've completely defoliated one of the plants and are likely to do the same to the next; I hope they've rooted enough to come back next year.

Some of the other plants currently blooming in my yard (the others didn't photograph well):

Orange cosmos


Blurry hardy begonia, but I like the light through the leaves

Cup plant (Silphium perfoliatum) is done blooming but had a great display
Black-eyed Susans

Bad photo, but this is balsam

One of many zinnias

Ceratostigma plumbaginoides

Mint, in the sea of mint
And the things that are not flowers:


Aralia racemosa, so glad I put this in this year
Also, this is a rather successful (if unfinished) pallet garden considering that I haven't watered it at all:

And I got a bottle tree (shrub?) for my birthday:

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Chanticleer, mid-July

We were at Chanticleer on Friday (which was a good reason not to be posting about my own garden for GBBD). My third visit, and took my husband and son for their first. Just as lovely in July as other times, and we managed to hit a period that wasn't too hot - or at least it was less humid and with a nice breeze.

Mini-meadow behind the mansion

Help, I've fallen

...or am drowning...

The succulent craze finds the ruin

Framing (1)

Framing (2)

This oak has very odd acorns
Silver theme in the gravel garden

View of the Serpentine, which is corn this year

Mickey Mouse cactus!

Great combo of Russian sage and Verbena bonariensis

At the bottom of the hill the ruin is on top of



All the following from the Tennis Court Garden:

Nice idea for top of a wall (or banister)

And that's all the photos, though not everything we saw by far. Now back to the far less lovely and much more weedy garden at home...

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Boy, it's hot out there

So here are a few cool-looking flowers.

Nicotianas - reliable and nice-smelling if difficult to pronounce.

This must be Allium flavum, which I presumably planted.

My new sea holly (Eryngium).

This has turned out a spectacular mix of bachelor's buttons. Some are even blue.

White borage - very cool but difficult to germinate, and I frankly like the blue ones better.

This is a blue one, about to flower, with smoother-leaved elecampane behind it, and also in the frame sage, holy basil, chives, and horehound.

Interesting leaf combo - purple basil and bright green Jewels of Opar, which I'm looking forward to seeing flower.

Marigold in a different kind of pot!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Color bursts in June

June, at least if you "design" like I do, is all about bursts of color in the garden. Here's the driveway side of the house currently:

with the magenta and purple spiderwort, and a bright yellow daylily echoing the fading foliage of the celandine poppies (which should not be there at all, but that's a project for later). There's also some white astilbe and a crazy wild black cohosh, not quite blooming yet, for which I am actually going to reorient the path, since we are whapping it aside every time we walk by.

There are also orange zinnias in front of the spiderwort:

which work surprisingly well.

It's cheating to include these for GBBD, since they are done blooming now, but I also had martagon lilies ('Russian Morning') over by that house wall a week ago:

So far those and the black cohosh are the only plants that have successfully survived total smotheration by bleeding heart hedge and then risen above it to bloom. I'm getting more of them!

Pretty nice combination (in a more subdued way) out by the mailbox too:

This is where lamb's ears are actually useful, and they work with the creeping sedum, the tall sedums in bud, and the bit of thyme in the top left.

There are brodiaeas out there too, and roses:

The 'Bonica' roses were spectacular in first bloom this year - dying back somewhat now, but completely covered not long ago.

A few of the other flowers in bloom right now:

Rose campion (used to have more of this! Where did it go?)

Stokes' aster

Orange daylily of the common type

Cool mix of bachelor's buttons (grew from seed, along with the zinnias)

Motherwort, in one of the wilder areas

And not my personal garden, but a few cool things from the demo garden yesterday:

Arugula flowers
Giant mullein we're letting grow in a fruit bed

Shallot flowers, as pretty as many ornamental alliums (although I should cut them off to enhance the root development)
Hope everyone has a colorful Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day!