Sunday, July 22

Cottage Garden 8

I just spent a little bit of time in my garden, inspecting the plants for bugs, and I was greatly rewarded. Found a few other things, as well, as noted in the pictures:

My first dahlia in bloom.

The hydrangea that was supposed to be blue that ended up pink and has now faded to green. Hmmm . . . Happily, I still like it.

Ripening Romas.

More tomatoes. I think these are beefsteaks??? They are huge already, and just packed onto the vine. Beautiful!

And this, the dreaded bugs. (Sorry, this is difficult to see due to the blurriness of the photo. My camera limits me too often. I love it, except for real close-up shots.) This is a cutworm loaded with eggs/larvae or something. I feel very fortunate to have found this one when I did, gross as it is! I asked my brave husband to dispose of it. (We both hate killing things.) I'm hoping he stomped on it, but he asked for a can of bug spray. So long as I never see one hundred small cutworms marching toward me, I guess it doesn't matter the manner of disposal. Ugh, ugh, ugh!

Cottage Garden 7

It's been too long since I've posted anything, as life has been too busy. I now have the china cupboard almost done, and already have some of the china in. It looks so nice! I'll take a picture when it's done, and post that. By the way, the bottom portion of the cupboard makes an excellent place to take pictures of the kids. We had a lot of fun with that. On to the gardens, though:

Ageratum in the pot on my back deck. Photo taken July 8.

I bought a bunch of perennials at a "buy 1, get 1" sale. Also, I was happy to find a kiwi vine. I thought they all grew on trees. And I didn't know there were hardy varieties. So this was a great discovery! If I get some kiwi on it, I'll be even happier! I have to figure out where and how to plant it now.

One of the first zinnias. Photo taken July 8.

What remains of the shorn tomato plants: stalk and fruit.

The first tomato ripening. Photo taken July 8.

A strawberry plant I bought for Sophia.

One of three very large cutworms that made quick work of a couple of tomato plants.
(As an aside, I should tell you that my next degree will be in "creatures that kill a garden".)

(And the next degree will be in hardscaping.) I'm already wishing I'd built up the bed with more soil before putting plants in, but it still looks so much better after adding the rock border. I'm learning as I go.

The pot on the back porch. Photo taken July 16. Dahlia buds clearly visible; zinnias in full bloom. Ageratum being eaten by little lime-green inchworms who covered themselves with flower pieces as a disguise. Very crafty, but after all the damage they did to the ageratum, I surely discovered them, and took an insect spray to them. It's starting to recover now. Had I not found this when I did, the ageratum would surely all be eaten by now!

Another zinnia. Photo taken July 16.

A lime-green zinnia with a lime-green bug. I love this color of zinnia! Next year I'll plant more. They don't seem to grow as well as the pink ones or the purple ones, so I'll plant LOTS of seeds in hopes of a few more than the ONE I got this year. About this bug. I thought it was beautiful! It seemed harmless enough, so I left it there. Big mistake. -- Lots of holes in the zinnia a short time later. Aren't there any bugs that are GOOD for a garden???

Thursday, July 5

Cottage Garden 6

Well, the gardening has hit a low spot, in my estimation. It just looks UGLY. The tomatoes are now officially taller than me, and they've outgrown their cages or stakes, and are taking them down. This morning I found one plant twisted over and lying on its side, with the cage ripped right out of the ground and all twisted up as well. The cage is useless, but so are the stakes, as another plant is about two feet taller than the stake and is flopping over. Where it's tied to the stake, it looks like it's being strangulated.

And then there are the aphids. UGH. I found out about a "natural remedy" for them of dish soap and water, sprayed on. Well, it burned up the leaves. So today I "sheared" my plants of the dead leaves, and now they look utterly despicable! It's like a poodle on a bad hair day.--You wish it would crawl under the bed and quit embarrassing you. So with my tomatoes. And they're on the front of my house, in my front flowerbed. Ugh, ugh, UGH!

I found a very fat cutter worm on another plant. I just can't step on them to kill them. So I deposited him with his tomato stem on the other side of the driveway, along with the dead leaves I'd clipped off of the other tomatoes. Maybe HE'LL eat the dish soap and die! But then, probably not.

One fun part of the gardening that I did today was to buy a kiwi vine and a strawberry plant. The strawberry plant has long tendrils hanging off of it, so I put it in a hanging basket on the arbor where my clematis is growing. I bought the strawberry plant for my daughter, who adores strawberries. (I told her she could plant whatever she wants to plant in the raised bed garden that we're going to make for next summer, and she is choosing strawberries and ice cream. I'm happy to oblige her on both, but I don't think ice cream grows in hot gardens, sadly.)

Another good point is that I found two ferns at Kmart yesterday, $5.99 each. Mum bought me one of them. I've been looking for ferns all summer, but couldn't bear to pay ten dollars each. So when we found them at $5.99, I knew I was bringing them home. I have to get some hooks up on my porch, and hopefully tomorrow I'll see them hanging up. (The ferns are lush green and THICK. At that price, I would have expected half-dead plants. I've got a job to keep them looking so good!)

The zinnias are now blooming! And my dahlia has a bud! And the glad bulbs are sending up 6-inch shoots of green already. (But the cursed tomato plants still claim only green tomatoes!) Bare spots are starting to fill in, too, but I feel like I planted everything in the wrong spots this year. I've been slowly hacking away at the grass to enlarge the garden, and I bought some potting soil to "fix" the dirt with. I'm going to steal some sand from the kids' sandbox supply, and mix it all together. Hopefully this will make for some better drainage -- and happier plants -- in the garden. I'm looking forward to the day that I can pull out the tomato plants and move everything around so that it's a little more pleasing to the eye.

Ah, the woes of first-time flower gardening! With tomatoes, no less!