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Garden journal - all of 2004

 

view into the back yard on Friday
March 21, 2004. It's spring! So the snow from those two storms that blew through this week should be gone soon, to make way for that most delightful array of spring flowers we've been waiting for throughout this long winter. Hopefully my diary entries from here on out won't show any more snow :-)
Seen blooming so far: Aethionema cordifolium, Helleborus niger, a few crocuses, and a lone snowdrop.
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amid the dead stalks from last year's garden, cheerful crocus brighten the scene
March 26, 2004. One week later: no snow left to be seen! The garden is waking up, for sure, although early spring bulbs are still the only real attractions. We raked all the dead leaves out of the driveway bed (a real dead-leaf magnet) to expose all the new greenery that's showing its tips.
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Tulipa humilis 'Violacea black base'
March 27, 2004. The first of my tulips is blooming! A species tulip, with an amazing, almost unreal candy pink color. The temperature today is amazing too - my boys managed to get themselves soaked with the hose for the first time this year (many more such episodes will follow).
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The only hybrid hellebore to bloom in our garden is still a young specimen
March 28, 2004. What a wonderful day to be out in the garden - I may even have a mild case of sunburn! Spent most of the day wandering about, admiring tufts of emerging foliage, taking a few pictures, and digging up plants to pot up for the sale in May.
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April 02, 2004. It's been chilly, drizzly, and windy for a few days now. The poor seedlings I've taken up from the basement to live outside are not so happy with me right now - and nothing is in a hurry to bloom until the sun starts coming out. Spring, I thought you were here!
In the meantime, check out the collage of new foliage emerging.
 
April 06, 2004. Two days of temperatures not getting above 45F with gale-force winds and nights into the lower 20s isn't helping our garden! The freezes nipped the star magnolia in the bud (as usual), and that pulsatilla that wanted to open up on Saturday still isn't so sure it wants to expose itself...
 

I love that little purple tuft in the middle of the yellow center
April 07, 2004. The pulsatillas are finally blooming! They wanted to, badly, since last weekend, but didn't want to brave the fierce weather conditions. Today was warmer, and FLOOP, they all opened up!
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April 08, 2004. Another of my favorite species tulips is blooming! This is Tulipa eichleri, with an intense red/yellow coloring, growing in our rock garden.
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one Magnolia stellata blossom among many
April 10, 2004. Ah, only a few star magnolia blossoms got destroyed by last week's freezes - the rest of them are now in glorious bloom! Even as the garden comes more and more alive, I get anxious about the plants that haven't shown signs of life yet - but I know it's too early to give up on them.
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Apricot blossoms in the early morning
April 17, 2004. It's been a typical spring week - some rain, some stiff breezes, some freezing temperatures, and some warm weather. Luckily, the warm weather arrived in time for the weekend. Several fruit trees (apricot, peach, nectarine, weeping cherry, sand plum, Bradford pear) have started to bloom, and the garden is definitely greening up. Soon it will be time to get out the lawn mower (once again, I'll be the last one in the neighborhood to do so...)
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Flowering quince (Chaenomeles 'Toyo Nishiki') in glorious bloom
April 18, 2004. The first hot day of the year - Amy would say too hot. Warm enough to venture into the pond for the fun task of scooping out the built-up muck, with fish swishing around my feet. Also lots of plants thinking about coming into flower, and lots of potting up to do for the plant sale. Just three weeks away, so much left to do!
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April 22, 2004. Each of our children has his/her own tree, planted on the occasion of their birth. For Lily, we bought an 'Elizabeth' yellow magnolia. This week, we got to see its flowers for the first time. And it's a fitting tribute to Lily!
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May 02, 2004. It's that busy-busy-busy time of year - not even time to put in journal entries here! Lots more is blooming (watch the "new" entries on our plants page). Unfortunately, our computer connection is on the blink, and I can't upload photos for right now - hopefully, we'll be back in business soon... Quick highlights: our Eastern redbud is blooming for the first time (after about 5 years!), as is our red dogwood. The plant sale, coming up next weekend, is taking a lot of time (wish I could find the right size pots for all those digups!). And Lily likes to eat dirt (as did her brothers).
 

now I understand why they call it shooting star (or Pride-of-Ohio)
May 09, 2004. The plant sale is over! It was fun, it was a success, now back to the business of gardening... The garden is getting more and more of a delight to walk through, with new plants coming into bloom every day, and surprises around every corner. The best surprise so far, though, were the shooting stars (Dodecatheon meadia), which made an appearance after four years in waiting.
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Western red columbine, Aquilegia formosa
May 10, 2004. This is the time that columbines shine. I ventured out into the garden early this morning, camera in hand, and found three different species that were just clamoring to be photographed. They must be among the most photogenic flowers in existence!
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Our first clematis, 'Ramona', is still a favorite
May 16, 2004. It's officially no longer early spring - our clematis are blooming! It's been a frantic week, trying to get all the seedlings and leftovers from the plant sale put into the garden, with temperatures soaring into the upper 80s and not a drop of rain until an overdue thunderstorm last night. The garden is starting to fill up (like every year around this date) - the empty places to put all these seedlings are dwindling. So once again, I'll wind up stuffing things into places they really shouldn't go. I live but don't learn, it seems ;-)

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of our several bearded iris varieties, this is the earliest one to bloom
May 21, 2004. It's iris season! We have Siberian iris, Dutch iris, German (bearded) iris, and blue flag all vying for our attention in the garden. Let 'm duke it out, we say! We especially love the ones around our pond.
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Virginia rose covers our back yard island's front hillside
May 31, 2004. High season for flowers! The irises are mostly done, but penstemons, cranesbills, roses, phlomis, and dozens of others have taken their place. It's almost a full-time job just trying to catch them all in bloom on our garden strolls :-)
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the prickly pear cactus burst into bloom just yesterday
June 12, 2004. Today saw the overhaul of the older half of our rock garden, which had gradually turned into a near-homogeneous tangle of thugs - Myrtle spurge, Dragon's blood, acre and Kamtschat sedums, Snowcap arabis, prickly pear and emerging everywhere, bits of yucca returning from roots (the mother plant was removed last year. We added more vertical dimension (more rocks!), creating more pockets for individual clumps to grow - and made a sizeable offering to our compost bin.
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A common or clouded sulphur, taking a rest in the lawn
June 20, 2004. One advantage of roaming around the garden in search of nice plants to photograph is that I often have my camera ready when other unexpected photo ops occur. Sometimes it's the kids, but lately it has often been butterflies who've found themselves eye to eye with my digital. In honor of the many forms of animal life in our garden, I've created a page just for them. Mostly butterflies so far, but stay tuned for more...
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Hypericum frondosum 'Sunburst' flower
June 28, 2004. Summer is here, and what could possibly be sunnier than a golden St. John's wort flower? The phlox are also starting to bloom, and most of the spring bloomers are done. We hope the dog days hold off for a while...
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Luxury Lace has smaller, refined flowers
July 02, 2004. The weather is warm and muggy - thank goodness for daylilies to make up for the stickiness! Although a few daylilies bloom earlier, July is really when most of them take off in our garden.
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blue blob with breathing tentacles
July 05, 2004. Intruder alert! A big bold blue object has been spotted at Lush Gardens. Read more about it on page 3!
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July 21, 2004. Mid-summer slump! If it weren't for the composites (coneflowers, sunflowers, and the like) and annuals, the garden would be just a sea of green with dead flowerstalks as proof of the demise of the spring and early-summer perennials. On the up side, the vegetable garden is at peak productivity, with purple runner beans, yellow crookneck and zucchini squashes, red onions, leeks, wax and bell peppers, and of course tomatoes all weighing in - and weighing me down on the walk back! The raspberries are done, the blackberries are starting (but sour). Interesting bugs galore - always something to see!
 

this large moth mimics a bumblebee, so predators will leave him alone
July 22, 2004. Still exploring the wonderful world of garden insects. I came across this snowberry clearwing moth resting on my hardy hibiscus yesterday evening. For a larger picture, visit my critters page.
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July 24, 2004. One more birthday checked off, and what do I have to show for it? An arbor, that's what! It looks kind of bare for now, but by next year we hope to have some healthy climbing roses clambering up and over. We extended the back yard island, and hope the bench will at some future time give a view into a new "garden room" (for now, the view is of the blue blob, see below).
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ribbit!
July 25, 2004. Yay! First frog of the year spotted in our pond. In the past week, I had noticed a few times a certain splash as I approached the pond, and started hoping... Frogs never seem to spend (or survive) the winter in our pond, but they show up mid-summer to live until the end of the year. They are welcome guests!
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August 07, 2004. In the ongoing War on Grass, another skirmish was fought between the monocot armies and the dicot brigade today. Under the inspiring commandership of yours truly, the dicots scored another victory, claiming a strip of an average of a foot wide along the back side of the back yard island.
The extra room will give the large plants in this garden area, including coreopsis tripteris, Missouri goldenrod, big bluestem grass (which fought valiantly among the dicots!) and lespedeza thunbergii, some room to spread out.
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zzzzzz.....
August 08, 2004. It's been marvellous weather the past two days, and downright chilly in the mornings. Today, on a morning walk through the garden, we encountered this sleeping little bumblebee on a heart-shaped morning glory leaf. Peace, man!
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Tricyrtis hirta, the taller of the two species
September 01, 2004. Fall is on its way - our toad lilies are blooming. Both Tricyrtis hirta and Tricyrtis macropoda opened their first flowers within the last few days. Soon the asters and Korean mums will follow, to start the fall garden for real.
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Chinese praying mantis - phone home?
September 04, 2004. Benny found a praying mantis! We were all happy to find it, and then we found two more in different parts of the garden. Amy likes to pet them. We hope they like it here, and stick around.
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Colchicum 'Waterlily'
September 05, 2004. Today all of a sudden it was dreary and cool - and it felt decidedly like fall. No doubt summer's heat will revisit and today will be temporarily forgotten - but another harbinger of autumn is here to stay: the first colchicum is blooming. These showy flowers arise from a large bulb - its leaves emerge in spring, and fade by summer, so that the solitary flowers always come as a surprise. Also today, I finally made my annual trek, Max and Ben in tow, to Point Phillip Perennials, and returned, as always, with a wonderful haul of perennials and some shrubs; most will be new to our garden, a few are replacements of old favorites that we'd lost along the way.
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Meadow katydid chirping from up high in our empress tree
September 12, 2004. This time of year, the air in the garden is alive with the sounds of all the crickets, katydids and cicadas. For the longest time, I was frustrated in my attempts to find the source of all these sounds. But today, finally, I located a few of the noisemakers. The one pictured here is by far the noisiest: his sounds carry all through our garden. More crickets and katydids can be found on my hoppers page.
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Aster lateriflorus 'Lady in Black'
September 29, 2004. After two weeks vacation (spent in the Netherlands, which gave me the opportunity to admire my parents' garden), we returned to a garden which had taken a decidedly autumnal turn. In our absence, Ivan had dumped enough rain to overflow our wheelbarrow, drowning lots of plants; many late-summer perennials have given up for the season; and a few trees are starting to color up. The only new flower color belongs to the asters - the Purple Domes in the side garden, and the Lady in Black in the back yard island.
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October 06, 2004. The lawn was laced white with frost this morning - by this afternoon, the basil will be a bunch of mush. See you next year, Summer!
 

Crocus speciosus ssp. speciosus
October 08, 2004. Autumn crocuses are so small that they tuck into tight corners, and are easier to forget about than their larger cousins, the colchicums, which bloom around the same time. And that's not bad - I like to be surprised by pretty little things. All of a sudden, there's the first one, on a single flower stem emerging directly from the soil, without leaves. The Crocus speciosus in this picture, with its sky-blue color, seems almost out of place in its place in the garden, already littered with fall debris and surrounded by plants that are starting to show their autumn colors.
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October 09, 2004. Berry season! Besides the ones pictured at right, belonging to a Washington hawthorn, we've spotted them on winterberry holly, pyramidal yew, euonymus burning bush, viburnums, and crabapples.
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October 12, 2004. Hunting for katydids to photograph this evening (they were cagey - I didn't find any), I spotted a lone blossom in our peach tree. Poor thing thinks it's spring!
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facing a bright future
October 24, 2004. Now that the vegetable garden is almost devoid of edible material (leeks, chard, and brussels sprouts remain), I could no longer procrastinate on a long-postponed project: finishing the fencing around the garden in an attempt to eliminate the forever messy look. Grass would grow tall next to and into the fencing, out of reach of our lawnmower. Now, with a base of patio pavers running underneath the fencing, that will hopefully not recur next year.
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Krispy Kream offspring?
October 26, 2004. Mushrooms are popping up everywhere! Fascinating structures, and as with the plants, weeds, and insects before, observing them up close, especially with a camera, makes them just that much more interesting. See more of our garden's fungal lifeforms on their own page.
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Buddha and duck contemplate autumn
October 30, 2004. As the lush summer foliage recedes, the hard objects in the garden become more prominent once again. In our garden, that includes an oddball collection of garden żart?. This morning, I just wandered around taking snapshots of the various items, and put together a garden art page to celebrate their whimsy.
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dig those shades
October 31, 2004. This year, Indian Summer coincided with Fallback day. The weather was warm but breezy, so that a great many of the remaining leaves gave in to gravity. Max thought raking them into a pile was the height of cool, and who am I to disagree? It was also the perfect weather for the very last lawn-mowing exercise of the year. Now I feel like just settling down and listening to some Beat Happening...
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promise...
November 07, 2004. Most of the trees are bare by now. Only a few perennials are still stubbornly refusing to stop blooming, but for the most part the garden is a wash of fallen leaves. But today, I looked down and was glad to see a flower forming on a stinking hellebore. I've tried to grow them several times, but this is the first instance where they've stuck around long enough to bloom!
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November 13, 2004. No more doubts - the cold season is here. We had a freeze down to 18°F a few days ago, and only a few trees are stubbornly holding on to their foliage. The naked weeping cherry was quite striking silhouetted against the clear blue sky today. The bird's nest that was once so perfectly sheltered now sticks out in plain view.
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Fothergilla 'Mt Airy'
November 22, 2004. I love the smells and rich colors of the fall garden - and this year, I'm choosing to ignore the fall cleanup needs, in favor of just strolling through with my camera. To commit to pixels the fiery reds of this Fothergilla, for example. It's still a small shrub - can't wait to see it aflame when it gets larger!
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December 05, 2004. The shivery season is the best time to admire the twisty patterns of Harry Lauder's Walking Stick Corylus avellana 'Contorta', that's why we grow ours right next to our front walkway. The bark has a clean sheen to it, and the catkins still look fresh - and neither are obscured any longer by the mass of mid-green, pleated foliage of summer.
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December 06, 2004. Looking for floral color in the garden right around now is a pretty futile effort - but wait! There's a Scotch harebell still looking pretty in blue. In its dimutive way, it's been going all season!
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December 18, 2004. After several nights of temperatures dipping into the mid-teens, the pond has taken on a more solid characteristic. The waterfall is still running, for now. We just hope that our denizen below isn't getting too cold - shivering with the fish, but always a friendly wave...
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Last modified: March 21, 2004
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