Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Correction! and Some of This and a Little of That

Another busy week since I last posted and there has been precious little time to spend in the gardens. Fall is here and can be seen in the fading flowers, in the leaves turning and falling from the trees, and felt in the wonderfully cool nights. So much needs to be done outside and inside, as my house has suffered from massive neglect. I am sure, though, that many of you feel the same time constraints-I empathize with you. Somehow we will get it all done, we are super women after all, and what doesn't will wait for us.

Thank you to all you wished me Happy Birthday. I was really touched and it made the turning of another year older much more bearable. Rose took me to a long lunch and we sat outside in glorious weather catching up on family and of course gardening and blogging. Life long friends, we have shared much over the years and now find it so wonderful to share the world of blogging as well! My hint worked,(I can be shameless at times!) and she gave me a beautifully illustrated guide to 'Butterflies and Moths', by Paul Opler. It is a great size to carry when on a butterfly safari. Actually, the granddaughters were here this weekend and we were able to identify several from the book. They(and I) were amazed.

Now, for some clarification. In my last post, I identified this as a butterfly chrysalis and wondered what would come out of such an unusual looking cocoon. Thanks to Lisa who was the first to correctly identify it. It is a BAG WORM chrysalis. If you see one. throw it into the trash! Here I thought I was becoming somewhat knowledgeable about the world of butterflies. Nope-it's back to Butterfly 99 class! (99 is a class for people who are not up to speed in a certain subject) And yes, there is a picture of the moth and the chrysalis in my new book.

Back to my birthday for a minute-this is a bouquet my daughter and her girls gave me. It has been lovely to have it where I can see and smell these glorious roses. Now, a week later, they are still pretty and not one of them is drooping. Thank you girls for giving me such a long lasting taste of the flowers I would love to be able to grow.

There are a few new blooms at Dragonfly Corner. A different morning glory has started blooming in the wildflower patch I planted. I like this almost-pink-but-just-a-shade-darker-maybe-mauve color. It certainly brightens up the edge of the dismally gray deck.

This is the area where I planted several packets of zinnia and wildflower seeds. My thought was that they would brighten the area. Of course when I planted them the tree nearby didn't have it's leaves yet and I planted in what I thought was a sunny area. Another error in judgement in the garden. It is a shady spot only getting very late afternoon sun. They have grown like little troopers though and have bloomed in spite of my mistake. If you look at the upper right corner, you will see Thomas the cat standing on a rock inspecting the flowers. He is the town cat who graces us with his presence a few times a week. Of course if you happen to have a little extra cat food, he doesn't mind taking it off your hands. Thomas does show his appreciation now. He will let us pet him and he loves to have his head scratched.

We had been dry for more than a week when I found a few of these in our back yard. Different than I have ever seen, they are the purest white and have a very rough looking skin- most mushrooms have such smooth skin.


And what would a post from me be without the 'Heavenly Blue' morning glory? Still blooming! I checked back and the first blooms appeared on Aug. 26. Everyday it blooms and by noon the blooms close up and die. The next morning there are dozens more taking their place. The number of blooms from this one plant must be in the hundreds! The buds just keep forming and the vine is still reaching out and entwining itself on more of the dead sunflowers. See the ornamental plum tree in the background? I fully expect to find the vines growing up that tree in a few days!
For all the complaining I did about it not being a moon flower, it has surpassed anything I have ever grown in my gardens. Well done Morning Glory! Well done!
I hope you all have a wonderful week of gardening!
****** Updated Sept. 24-8:30 pm
After some good natured coercing :) I have decided to save some 'heavenly blue' seed. This is what I found when I googled collecting seed....
Bag seedheads to capture ripening seed; collect seedhead/pod when flowers fade; allow to dry; Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds; remove and collect seeds; properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored .
If you would like some, I have set up an email for this blog and you can reach me by using it.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Beauties and One Beastie!

It seems no matter my intentions, I am only able to post once a week these days. While that may be more than enough for you who read my blog,(!) I am missing the more frequent interaction with my garden blogger friends. Someone has said that during the long dark days of winter we will all have more time and I suppose that will be true. But there sure won't be as much going on in the gardens.

I don't have many bloomers now, just a few struggling to hold on against the shorter days and cooler weather. What is there finally got a good rain last Sunday. We had just shy of 5". The basement got a little damp and we had some big puddles in the yard for a while, but the ground soon soaked it all up. The grass is now green again and the dirt and debris is all washed off the patio. Our mini-drought seems to have broken. But, my goodness, didn't Ike do a lot of damage and bring an enormous amount of rain to a lot of places! My prayers are with those who were really affected.

The lack of blooming flowers at Dragonfly Corner has more than been offset by the critter world. I found this chrysalis on a most fitting spot-the butterfly bush. It looks like a piece of dried moss. Wish I knew which butterfly it will be.

The praying mantis that lives in the container by our back door was doing a little exploring the other day. when I went to take his picture, he turned his head and looked right at me. The garden has been full of these this year. I tried to take a picture of one eating a painted lady butterfly, but it turned out sooo bad-even for me. The mantis moves so slowly-he seems to be the sloth of the insect world-makes me wonder how they ever catch anything.

This is the first of these kind of butterflies that I have seen this year. A tiny blue-gray with just a dot of orange behind it's body. They are so delicate looking. The yarrow is doing well. It was a pass-along from Rose this spring.

I think this is a skipper moth of some type. The zinnias are still attracting lots of bees and butterflies.

A lone late cone flower being enjoyed by a painted lady. I have noticed a lot of the cone flower seed heads are looking like they have been picked clean of seeds. I hope the birds are enjoying them. Soon, though, I am going to have to get out there and start clearing some of the mess out of the gardens.

This is the container by the back door-the residence of the praying mantis. I had pansies in this til in July some time so it got a late start. But I have been very happy with the plants in it. Most were bought on clearance and picked with little thought other than SALE! The tiny leafed vine is a perennial whose name I can't remember now, but has survived for 3 years in there with no special care. The white is scaevola, 'whirlwind'. I have fallen for this plant! No dead heading, no wilting when dry, grows quickly and just looks so fresh all the time. I am going to find more places for this next year. There is also a angelonia angustifolia, 'dresden blue' in there and again I'm very happy with it. No dead heading and it hasn't gotten 'leggy'. The dark leafed plant is alteranthera, 'purple knight'. Another one I am going to use more of next year. There is also a caladium bulb in there which is on the back side. It's a pink and green leafed one and doesn't really 'go' but the bulb was so long in coming up, that I had forgotten I planted it with the pansies. As for my other containers, most of them are looking pretty sad. Lack of rain and the end of the season has taken hold of them. Another project I need to do-clear most of them out.

And finally, I will leave you with a couple more morning glory pictures. It is still blooming and still growing! There are dozens of buds yet and each morning it puts on such a show. All my neighbors have been over to admire it. So yes, finally, I have learned to love it for it's self.

I hope you are enjoying your gardens!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Fall Is In The Air!

This will be a note sort of post-not a lot new here at Dragonfly Corner. But I am getting tired of looking at my last post, so I am sure you are! I have worked some extra days this week, had a couple of doctor appointments, (more on that another time) and have been trying to get a little fall cleaning done. In other words, time has been in short supply for enjoying the garden, taking pictures or writing posts. I did want to share a few things with you and writing gives me a good excuse to sit for a while. I did manage to finally put a picture in my header. Wendy suggested I use the moonflower-aka 'heavenly blue' morning glory. It is still blooming and I see no end to the buds.

Fall is here. Or at least these butterscotch mums think so. The temperature dropped to 48 degrees last night so it is on it's way. This is one of my favorite colors for this time of year. Makes you think of football and pumpkins doesn't it?

There are very few cone flowers left. This one is still attracting moths and butterflies. I'm not sure, and this is not a great picture, but I think this is called a wolf moth. Most have gone to seed like the one on the right. I had thought about cutting the heads off to save the seed and cleaning up some of the stalks, but one of the bloggers(can't remember who-sorry) has suggested leaving them for the finches and other birds to enjoy. Sounds like a great idea to me!

The 'teddy bear' sunflowers, courtesy of Cheryl, are still blooming. These have been a delightful flower. They have bloomed all summer long, the blooms last for weeks at a time and the butterflies and bees have loved them. I am going to save some of these seeds for myself.

Speaking of butterflies-the zinnias are still blooming and attracting more than their share of butterflies. The 'painted ladies' have been thicker in the gardens this year than I can ever remember. It could be because of the zinnias. I have really enjoyed them this year and plan on planting more next year. Maybe I will even use some for cut flowers. This year, I couldn't bring myself to cut any of them.

I was a little disappointed at this picture. The caladium leaves are a much deeper red than shows. I have the container sitting in front of the morning glory and the contrast is striking. In the past, I have neglected to dig my bulbs up for the winter thinking it was just as easy to buy new the next spring. This year, I plan on at least trying to save them. (and still buying more next year!)

You may have seen a spider like this on Gail's blog a while back. It's a Argiope aurantia-female. In the comments, several different names were mentioned. It seems this species covers a wide area and there were lots of local names for it. My grandmother always called it and 'educated' spider I think because of the z's it makes in the middle of it's web. What ever you call it, I call it yucky! There are several of them around the house and in the gardens. Now, having been converted by some of you bloggers, I let them stay and do their thing as long as they do it outside. Now if they try to come into the house....
Fall will be a busy time for all. The gardener has much to do to get the garden ready for it's long winters nap. Have I started yet-no. Have you?
Enjoy your gardens!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

September Brings.....

Since I have not posted in a few days, I have a variety of things to share with you. I always thought the older you got the more life slowed down. I can remember when our girls were young and in school, we had ball games and girl scouts, 4-H and school activities almost every night of the week. Those were also the days when if I wasn't working 2 jobs, I was putting in 10 hour days. And on top of all of that, there were meals to fix, groceries to buy, laundry to do and the always present house to clean. I longingly thought of the days when the girls would be grown and time would be my friend giving me days on end to do what I wanted. It does not happen that way! Well, at least I haven't found that time or those days. Let's just say life seems to be getting busier and I seem to have little control over it. So bear with me dear bloggers, I am having a pity party for myself.

Now, back to gardens. Have any of you noticed these small mounds of dirt in your yards or along your foundations? They started appearing in our yard and along the front edge of our patio about a week ago.

It took me awhile to figure out what or who was doing the digging. I finally saw the culprit but had no idea what it was. After much Googling I found what I was looking for.

The picture is not mine-it's courtesy of the Internet as is the following article.

Ground-digger wasps (GDWs) are very large (slightly larger than a green hornet) passive-aggressive wasps that "build" their nests in dry, unfertilized earth. They are typically large and black-bodied with yellow stripes on their back-end. When fully grown, they measure about one and a half inches (or more) in length with about a one and a quarter-inch wide wing span.
You'll know you've got ground-digger wasp nests in your lawn or garden when you see small granular mounds of dirt piled up anywhere from two-to-five inches in height. At the base of the mound of granular dirt will be a finger-sized hole with a "path" of dirt leading out from it.
The nests will be sporadically built throughout your lawn or garden, but will typically be in the driest areas and/or under longer grass/weeds or under growing flowers. GDWs do not like, but can live in, moist soil.
In the Northeast US, the life-cycles of a ground-digger wasp is about one month beginning in mid-July and ending around mid-to-late August (depending on where you live, their life-cycle may start earlier or later). They go from young adults buzzing about play-attacking with each other, to full-size adults in about two-to-three weeks.
While VERY menacing looking, they are passive stingers---meaning only if VERY threatened will they attack and sting. You'd practically have to start digging into their nests while they're flying about for one to come at you and sting you (so, don't do that!). Otherwise, they tend to buzz about to check you out and to scare you away---AND they probably will the first time you encounter them. Know that they'd rather get on with their business of killing cicadas up in the trees than sting you.

I also read that because this is the year of the 7 year cicadas, we are seeing a lot more of them than usual. And while I don't want to harm them, I am afraid for the little girls when they are here. So not sure what we are going to do.

On a much more pleasant subject-dragonfly corners is a flutter with butterflies. We have Monarchs!

And still more larvae on the butterfly weed.

A beautiful 'Buckeye' posed just long enough for me to get a picture. They do like to flit around. Lisa showed one on her blog and I found out the name. I am learning so much from blogging.

So far this one is unknown to me, but I am sure someone out there knows it. (Rose and I still have not been to the book store to get our identification books!) (Hey, my birthday is coming up...hint hint!)

I told you I had lots to share...

On Saturday, Hubby and I drove to Greenup, IL and found a little winery. They were just starting to pick their grapes. We walked some in the vineyards among the vines that were hanging full of glorious, beautiful purple fruit. Oh and the wine was good too!

We had 2 visitors this weekend. Our youngest granddaughter and Thomas. Thomas is the cat who occasionally comes by our house for a petting and a bowl of cat food. He doesn't stay long and wouldn't dream of coming into the house even though we would like for him to be 'ours'. As for the granddaughter-she spent the night and kept us very entertained.

The foxglove I planted way last spring has finally decided to bloom. I actually thought it had died-I remembered planting it in a different spot! It's a wonder I didn't pull it out as a weed.

I thought I would show you the moonflower-morning glory again. Each day it seems to have more blooms than the day before! It has long since out grown the lightening rod and has spread through the sunflowers, over to the barrel and is now climbing the Sheppard hook several feet behind it. Aiyana was the first one to give me a name for this morning glory. She says it is called heavenly blue. Very appropriate name don't you think?! She also said that while she would love to have this bright blue in her dessert garden it is banned in Arizona. Oh my, I think that means this is very invasive! I will have to be very diligent next spring in pulling up all it's seedlings. And all of this because I wanted a moonflower!
The rains have missed us all month and we are very dry. I remember telling you that about August I get really tired of watering containers. That is still true, but I made myself stick with it for the entire month. Now, however, I am more than ready for the plants in those containers to go on to the great beyond in plant heaven!
Hope you are enjoying your gardens!