Slowing Down

10/9/14
goldenrod Fireworks

     It is definitely fall here, with temps in the high 30's two nights last week.  We had to turn the heat on.  By next week, I'll get out the winter blankets.  But fall is generally nice here in northern Virginia with warm, sunny days.  The leaves are just starting to turn on the trees.  I did some cleaning out of my side garden.  I took out all the fading zinnias that were only supposed to get two feet tall, but ended up being four feet tall.  Now the goldenrod fireworks bush is finally visible.  There are still a few late blooms in the side garden.  Here are a few photos of what is still blooming.


The side garden is looking kind of bare with the zinnias gone, but you can see the goldenrod bush now.  
 
The marigolds are doing well.

There is one late bloom among the stand of black-eyed Susans.

A few short blooms are still appearing on the buddleia bush.

After pruning all the dead branches on the midnight salvia, it produced a few flower stalks.

In an out-of-the-way dark corner in the back yard a lonely hosta just flowered.  I rarely go back to this corner.  I planted this hosta in this bare space in the spring and promptly forgot about it.

The grass is full of black walnut fruit that has fallen from the black walnut tree in the back yard.

In the garden surrounding the electric box the milkweed pods have opened.

Some of the seeds from the milkweed pods have been blown into the scotch broom bush nearby.

The deer are intensely foraging now and have eaten some stems off my jumbo begonias that line the front of the house.  They never bother them until October.

     Fall is nice here, and it can be warm until mid-November.  The one thing I really miss is the birdsong of summer.  I don't know a lot about birds, but yesterday when I was walking the dog, we passed a tree where a bird was trilling away for the longest time.  It was the first time I hear extended birdsong since August.  It made my day.  I decided I was going to put a clear bird feeder up against my kitchen window, so I could see birds close up this winter, and hopefully learn a lot more about them.

Summer Turns To Fall

9/21/14
mums in side yard garden

     Fall has arrived here.  After being in the 90's the first week of September, the temps in the last two weeks have been below normal.  We've been down in the 40's at night.  But on this last weekend of summer, summer weather returned.  It is supposed to hit 90 today.  Fall is beautiful here with warm, dry, sunny days.  I planted some mums in the side yard garden to replace flowers that are no longer blooming.  But there is still blooming going on in most of the yard.


The lavender is still blooming in the side yard garden.

The glossy abelia bush is loaded with blossoms

My goldenrod (Solidago rugosa) Fireworks just flowered last week.

In the electrical garden, surrounding the electrical box, the milkweed plants are full of milkweed bug beetles.

The coleus in my deck pot is full of blooms.

Since I cleaned out a lot of the cosmos from the garden, the Japanese anemones are much more visible.

A photo of one of two annual vinca (Caranthus roseus) plants that reseeded from last year.

The pink dogwood tree is full of red berries that the birds love.

The loriope plants have lots of purple blooms.

The back yard garden
 
     The back yard garden that surrounds the patio is lush and full of flowers and plants.  I wish it could stay this way all year.  At the first frost all this will be gone.  Sigh. 


Summer Returns

9/1/14
zinnia
     Now that it is September, summer has returned.  It was a very cool August, but now that it is meteorological fall we have a week of above 90 temps.  It was 96 degrees here yesterday.  Why couldn't we have had this in August?  We were at the beach for three days last week, and it was downright cold with temperatures in the 70's and 20 mph winds. 
     Like a lot of other gardeners, I haven't seen many bees, moths and butterflies in June or July, but I have seen more in August.  They love my zinnias.  I saw no monarch caterpillars on the milkweed plants, only one milkweed tussock caterpillar.There is a lot going on in the back yard garden.  Here are some photos of what's blooming.

hosta

     My biggest hosta just opened its flowers this week.  Blooming has been over weeks ago on all the other hostas.

garden angel

     My garden angel is overshadowed by the cosmos that have taken over part of the garden.

cosmos

     The cosmos which are about five feet tall are on the wane now.

zinnias

     I have a nice stand of zinnias in the back yard.  I hadn't originally planned for zinnias in the back garden, but I had seeds I wanted to use up.

Japanese anemones

     One of my favorite fall flowers, Japanese anemones, are flowering now.

hardy begonia

     I love the leaves as well as the flowers of my hardy begonias, which have just started to bloom.

black walnut fruits

         The black walnut tree is full of fruits that will drop in October.

Yoshino cherry

     Almost all of the Yoshino cherry trees in the neighborhood look like this tree in my yard with most of the leaves gone.  I don't know why they are so stressed.

     I am going to enjoy this week of hot weather.  I dread the coming winter after hearing The Old Farmer's Almanac prediction for a colder and snowier than normal winter here in the mid-Atlantic.

Last of Summer Blooms

8/17/14
crepe myrtle
   



 While we were gone on vacation, there was a lot of activity in the garden and yard. The crepe myrtle tree bloomed just as we left.  The side and back yard gardens are lush with blooms.  Here are photos of blooms in the side garden.














black-eyed susan
     The rudbeckia, or black-eyed susan flowers, are doing well despite being eaten after emerging.

butterfly bush
     The butterfly bush has filled out nicely after suffering severe winter damage.

zinnias
     The zinnias, one of my favorite flowers, are gorgeous.  I plant seeds every year so I can have fresh cut flowers in the house.

cosmos
     In the back garden, the cosmos that reseeded have taken over about a quarter of the garden.

vinca
     Some vinca from last summer that also reseeded showed up in a few places.

loriope
     Some of my loriope plants have started to flower.

impatiens
     I couldn't resist showing another photo of the beautiful standard impatiens in one of my patio pots.


     The Yoshino cherry trees all over the neighborhood have lost more than half their leaves.  Isn't it a little early for that?  The acorns started dropping off the oaks a week ago.  There is a hint of fall in the weather.  We have had temps in the 50's at night and 70's and low 80's during the day for the last two weeks.  And it is only mid-August. The local meteorologist said our temps have been below average 45% of the time this summer.  I hope this doesn't mean we are going to have a bitterly cold winter like last year. 

Vacation Highlights

8/3/14
Buffalo/Erie County Botanical Gardens

     My family and I just returned from a driving vacation through New York  state.  I wanted to share some of the sights we saw on our trip.  We stopped at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Garens.  The photo above shows the Victorian conservatory opened in 1900.  It was designed by Lord & Burnham, and the design was based on the famous Crystal Palace in Kew Gardens Palm House in England.  It is a national historic sight and is incorporated into a Frederick Law Olmstead-designed park.

     The cacti and succulent collection (which I will detail in another post) was my favorite among all the collections at the botanical gardens, which included palms, ivy, bonsai, medicinal plants, orchids, tropical plants, epiphytes, ancient rainforest plants, a rose garden, a shrub and perennial garden, and a children's garden.
A Penwiper plant, part of the succulent collection.

     We visited the Corning Glass Museum, where they have items from at least 400 BC to today.  I did not realize there were so many kinds of glass:  painted glass, etched glass, stained glass, and more.  We saw plates, bowls, glasses, windows, tables, chandeliers, paperweights, eyeglasses, jewelry, sculptures, bottles, vases and much more all made out of glass.

A painted drinking glass.

A modern glass sculpture.

Another stop was Niagara Falls, roaring with power.

A Maid of the Mist boat takes poncho-clad passengers up to the base of the falls.

We took a cruise on the still-navigable Erie Canal.

We went through two locks on our cruise on the Erie Canal.

Another stop was at the sight of the renowned 1969 Woodstock music festival.

The hill where the festival attendees viewed the stage, which was on the left corner of this photo.

On the way home we stopped in Philadelphia to see the Liberty bell.

While in Philadelphia we also toured Independence Hall.

     It was a very enjoyable vacation.  Next post I show you what was going on in my gardens while we were on our trip.