Summer 2020

As you all know, the summer of 2020 has been anything but normal – for us humans. But the garden has her own rhythm and schedule. We have not been able to work the garden, but I have stopped in a few times to keep the roses at bay, and harvest a few columbine seeds. Here are some snapshots I took on those visits.

On June 25 (below) we still had a few roses blooming. The rest of the garden was coming alive too. As buds turned to blooms and veggies went to seed the bee activity began in earnest. The cover crops filled in nicely too. Our yellow Evening Primrose made a nice hedge along the fence, the hollyhocks began their show. Peas planted early bloomed and by now have gone to seed, the yellow calendula and daisy flowers of feverfew round out the garden regulars.

About a month later (below), on July 23 the mid-summer plants and flowers were in full bloom. Hollyhock and crimson clover, our cover crop, put on a show. The leeks and onions with their globe shaped blooms attract pollinators galore as they go to seed. Our three cardoon plants with artichoke/thistle shaped blooms looked so cheerful next to the fence, and make a great photo op with the wagons in the background. We had soft pink bloom of soapwort, sweetpeas, bachelors buttons and the orange daylilies to round out our rainbow of blooms this year. The apple trees were working hard at the back of garden too, setting fruit for a fall harvest.

Just last week, August 24 (below) I stopped in once again. After a nice hot, dry summer there are plenty of seeds for us to collect this fall. The grapes are ripening nicely too. It has been interesting to see how the garden has done on it’s own. There are plenty of weeds – but since most aren’t that photogenic you will have to take my word for it!

We have a regular group that works the garden every year. The hardest part about the pandemic has been, for me, and for many, not being able to connect with one another. I look forward to the time when we can all meet together under the sun and work in our little garden, gossip and get caught up on each other’s lives. Until that day comes we have our memories.

Annual Rose Report

June is for roses. This year’s bloom has been different. There wasn’t as many people to witness and visit the garden, and we have had record cool and wet weather in early June.

Walking through the garden on June first, it was a sunny day and the mid-blooming roses were out in full force.

And our helper insects were present as well. (below) They were active on the roses and the hops vines.

We love checking in on the Ladybug larvae each year, and consider them a good indicator of the health of the garden. They do a pretty good job for us on the aphid population, since we don’t use any pesticides in the garden.

Just yesterday we came back to tackle our resident giant – the Old Cardinal rose. He didn’t have a lot of blooms this year, I think owing to late pruning last year. Even though we aren’t working in the garden on a regular basis because of the Stay Home orders, a few of us came out to do this necessary work. If this rose isn’t kept in check it will take over the world! (And of course we were so beat after finishing the task I forgot to take an “after” picture….. next time I stop over I will get that shot for you).

Because of the size of this plant we frequently find nesting material woven in the branches. Sometimes we see eggs. This is the first time we have seen the baby birdies. They weren’t discovered until we were half done with the task, so we placed the nest back in the recesses of the bush and waited to see if Mom returned. She did come back as we were leaving.

As quiet as the garden is, nature makes sure to keep things going. Volunteer borage, calendula, a cabbage plant in the herb garden (and a baby bunny) and Love in a Mist beginning to bloom.

Our next visits to the garden will be for seed collection. In the right photo are leek plants going to seed, providing forage for local bees. The white blooms on the left are from the cover crop we added earlier in spring.

That’s all for now. Up next will be an update on the “after” photo of our giant rose, hopefully photos of the cardoon in bloom, and whatever nature reveals to us on our next visit to the garden. We hope you have a safe and peaceful June – see you soon.

Quarantine Quiet

Everything here in our Oregon County is still closed, but the garden is standing quietly growing as it always does. It’s rose season right now, and the roses are just beginning to put on their show.

I spent a few minutes walking around, listening to the echo’s of past work days in the garden. Besides the garden, I miss my friends. Margueritte, Kathy, Karen, Cindy, Kath, Barb, Rhonda, Jean, Beth, Jeanie, Laura, Bruce and all the others that have worked in the sun with me over the years. We will all return, though probably not this season.

My walk reveals the plants that we left growing blooming and forming seeds. We will be back in the fall to harvest for planting next year. We put in a cover crop to help enrich the soil and discourage weeds from settling in. The Calendula are growing well in that bed, too.

I even attempted a short video of all the activity in the sage. I added music too and posted it on Facebook. I am not a videographer, but I hope you can get a sense of the scene from this short clip.

In these strange times I find that it helps to have something to think about, and focus on. For me it’s my garden, and the gardens I care for outside my home. I hope that you also have something that keeps you centered, that you stay well, and that we can see each other soon.

April Flowers

We are in the midst of Stay Home orders for COVID-19. But the flowers in the garden don’t care. They bloom without us, and don’t miss us a bit. But I miss them. So I drove to the garden yesterday to check on things and take photos of our unique Columbine flowers. This year they didn’t disappoint!

There is so much variety and diversity growing side by side in the garden.

I was not alone in the garden – there were bee’s aplenty busy working the blooms for pollen and nectar.

Poet’s narcissus was one of the first daffodils to be cultivated. Ours have multiplied to two good sized clumps. I love this flower, because it signals the beginning of the spring blooming season.

Of course there were other things to see in the garden too. I found a nest in the back of the garden, and the cardoon is looking beautiful along the fence. The gooseberries are filling in nicely and the Chinese forget-me-nots are taking over right now!

Finally, the veggie garden. We won’t be able to cultivate anything because of the Stay Home orders, but the leeks and beets and orach will grow without any care. We need them to go to seed for harvest in the fall. We had potatoes in as well. All these crops can grow unattended and with minimal water during the summer.

In a few weeks the roses will begin to bloom, and I will head over to take a look. It’s nice to know that in times of uncertainty our garden remains, and waits patiently for us to return. Stay tuned and stay well.

A New Year Begins

Our garden year began today with our first workday. Six of us showed up on this beautiful sunny day to tame the roses that live on the main rose arbor. In all there are five roses that share that space: Two moss roses, a Centifolia, a multiflora rose and Silver Moon, which is just an overgrown rambler.

Silver Moon blooming in 2019

Everyone got some trimming, but it’s the multiflora and the rambler that take the most care. If you prune too little there is way too much vegetative growth to deal with when the season is in full swing. If you prune too much there won’t be many blooms to enjoy in May and June. Of course only time will tell if we did it right this year!

We also walked around the garden beds to check out what’s growing. We have Leeks, Beets for seed, and the biggest surprize was the Cardoon!

The three plants are lined up along the fence, just soaking up the mid-winter sun. I can’t wait to see the blooms later this year!

Putting the Garden to Bed for the Winter

The morning cleared off and left us with a beautiful sunny day, perfect for garden work. We cleared the beds, did a little weeding and harvested what was left of the potatoes and some squash. And our bumper crop of celery.

Then out came the wheelbarrow, and we covered the bare earth with straw. This will help suppress the weeds in the coming months. When spring arrives we’ll rake it off, fluff up the soil and start all over again!

Of course everything isn’t ready to go to sleep quite yet. Our peas decided to give us another round, and many of the annual flowers are still blooming. We will keep the beets and the leeks – hoping for seeds next spring.

Next is a little bit of fall rose pruning and relocating the compost bin. Check back later to see what’s going on in our garden.