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Garden journal - all of 2005

 

Sea thrift shows off green-and-purple foliage
January 01, 2005. Happy New Year! Today was unseasonably warm (walking around without a coat, trying out my new electric chipper-shredder), although we've already had several nights down to 2F this season. Armed with my camera, I went around snapping pictures of plants that are still growing green, in preparation of an article about evergreen plants that will hopefully materialize in the near future. It's amazing how many plants still have live foliage, even as dreary as the garden looks right now.
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January 10, 2005. I'm knee-deep into seedstarting, by now. So far, I've started over a hundred varieties, mostly in baggies, and a handful have germinated. This evening marked the first new entry into my detailed seedstarting results for the year, for Anemone multifida. Many more will follow - stay tuned.
 

January 15, 2005. Another walk through the garden today. We still haven't had any snow worth speaking of, and have had three times the expected amount of rain recently. I fear for the plants that require good drainage. But I know I can count on Christmas rose (Helleborus niger) - its buds are already pushing upwards. Once again, it will probably be the first flower to bloom this year.
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January 20, 2005. Snow at last! It took a while to get our first significant snowfall for the year, but today it was nice and white. Not enough to constitute much of an insulating blanket against the icy-cold temperatures, but more is coming this weekend...
In other news, I got a call from the Parkland Garden Club who asked if our garden could be on their annual tour. Sure. I guess I'll be busy around mid-July.
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when you're done shoveling, the scenery is quite enjoyable
January 23, 2005. Er.. What happened to our pond?
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January 30, 2005. At last count, four shoplights were employed (working 12-hours days, in fact!) in this year's seedstarting operation. Most seedlings are still small, but the number of varieties germinated is increasing rapidly now. At the height of the seed season, I'll have about ten shoplights going. I'm in the process of updating my seed-starting and baggy method pages - you'll be noticing more information and photos trickle in.
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February 05, 2005. There's no time like the present to procreate. At least, that's what these cattails are thinking, busily shedding their white fluff about. As if we don't have enough white fluffy stuff...
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February 20, 2005. It's been nice weather this weekend. Chilly but sunny - ideal for late-winter cleanup. Lots of plants are already showing their intention to re-emerge, but only one is blooming: our Dale Darley heath, which shows its flowers somewhat demurely throughout winter. Some years, we don't even notice, but on a day like this, it's just what I need to get into the spirit of the new season.
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March 05, 2005. And the winner of this year's first-to-bloom contest is.... giant hyssop! Every year, some seedlings decide to grow so quickly under the lights that they surprise me by blooming right there. Not a magnificent display, but good for a cheerful late-winter note. Next year, I'll start the seeds for these later.
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March 12, 2005. Spring is really coming! Never mind the fact that we had a few more snowshowers this past week - the opening buds on the pussywillow say it all. Soon, I'll be spending my weekend days outside, admiring all the new growth.
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March 15, 2005. And once again, it is crocus time! Peeking up through the evergreen foliage of candytuft right along our front walkway, they make everybody who walks past them smile. Our other crocuses haven't started yet, but they can't be far behind.
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March 18, 2005. Didn't I tell you the draba and Christmas rose wouldn't be far behind the crocus? Well, they were both blooming today. The draba, pictured here, ever so tentatively, and the hellebore a bit bedraggledly - but I'll take any flowers I can get at this time of the year.
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March 24, 2005. In what was hopefully winter's last hurrah, we got just a little bit of wet snow overnight. Enough to give the little iris that was peeking up a white hat. By the afternoon, the snow was all gone.
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March 29, 2005. Typical early spring weather - a couple decent days over the weekend, followed by a day of drenching rain yesterday, and a wee bit of sunshine today. I can't resist sharing the buds on the lenten rose with you (even though I did the same last year). On the weekend, I got a little start on potting up plants for the sale later this spring, and got the plants for sale page updated for the new season.
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April 01, 2005. Another balmy day, prompting me to leave work early. New flower of the day: lungwort. Most of ours grow in our shade garden, which is colder than other garden areas. The pulmonarias there are just pushing through the soil, but a few others we set in the orchard last year were already blooming - with the characteristic mixture of blue and pink flowers.
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depressed area near our orchard turns into a soggy mess
April 03, 2005. Sure, spring is supposed to bring variable weather and a good bit of rain - but this weekend has been ridiculous. Drenching rain all day yesterday, heavy thunderstorms booming through the night - today, the garden is a mess. Note to self: don't set plants requiring "well-drained soil" in this area.
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April 06, 2005. Today was the first warm day of the year - mid-70s, shorts required. The garden hasn't quite caught up with the weather yet, and still looks more like a sea of brown than a sea of green - but more and more bits of beauty are peeking through. Today, the bright blue windflowers and, right on schedule, the first of the pasqueflowers. The sea of green will be here soon...
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April 09, 2005. Felt like summer today - got a good sunburn, too! I can't keep up with all the flowers popping up. Earlier in the season, I can't wait to present every single one on this page, but by now, it will be a sampling. Like today, the first rock cress flowers, in a corner of the rock garden.
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April 15, 2005. Tulips are coming into their own, and gardening is in full swing! This week I gave the garden a present - a pickup load of mushroom soil. Only slightly stinky, and candy for hungry plant roots looking for a treat. As a matter of fact, you can see a bit of the stuff behind the three pearly sisters in the photo. Most of my time seems to go into potting up plants for the sale, now three weeks away. I'm running out of places to put all those potted plants...
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April 17, 2005. I didn't think I'd be saying this during the drenching downpours of two weeks ago, but - we need rain! After two weeks of warm, sunny weather, the garden is already getting crispy, especially in areas where the winter mulch layer was disturbed or removed. The myriad of plants potted up for the sale need frequent watering. I guess it's the same thing every year. In the meantime, more and more of the garden is waking up.
The best kinds of violas are those that appear unexpectedly in tucked-away places - these here are growing out the the stacked-rock wall of the lane.
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April 23, 2005. We got the rain I'd been hoping for (and then some!) - this afternoon, with the soil nice and moist, the sun almost peeking through a few times, and the gentlest spring breeze, was about as good for gardening as it gets. The weeping cherry in the side garden, which has been blooming for a bit now, is dropping its petals to a nice effect, providing a snowy cover to the pathways beneath. The garden feels like it's alive as a whole now, rather than a random collection of early risers. This weekend also brought the first lawn-mowing exercise of the season (and with all this rain, I'll be making my rounds again soon).
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April 30, 2005. Lilacs! And somehow, everything seems just right for them to be blooming - we've had cooler spring weather in recent days, with drizzly rain. The garden has finally filled in to the point where there's more green than brown, with lots of color and even more promise. Preparations for next week's plant sale have shifted into high gear. I have no idea how I'll fit all of those plants into our garage...
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May 05, 2005. A few clear nights this past week, with frosty results. The photo shows the prettified grass (and weeds!) early this morning. The tomatoes, set outside to harden off, haven't suffered too much - their corner exposure must have protected them.
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May 07, 2005. Coming out of the busiest two garden days of the year: my plant sale, and the day leading up to it. Seems like more work every year. Good fun, saw a lot of familiar faces, and sold a good many plants (but more leftovers than ever - that's what I get for going overboard on potting up plants for the sale). Then this evening, we discovered a nest of baby bunnies, right by the kids' swingset (talk about a curious choice of safe haven!). I never knew quite how odd-looking they are in their first few days of life. I guess we'll be sacrificing some plants and veggies to the babies this year...
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May 16, 2005. First time bloom for dwarf globeflower, with its bright yellow buttercup flowers over attractively curvy bright-green leaves. Downright voluptuous. Other plants which are showing off their flowers for the first time in our garden include ringflower and spurless columbine. It's an exciting time of year! In other news, wife Amy rescued an Eastern painted turtle that was crossing the road, and released it into our pond. We haven't seen it emerge yet, but we figure it's feasting on the plethora of fish hatchlings.
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May 22, 2005. As much as I like thalictrum (meadow rue), it was a bit odd that perhaps the most common species, T. aquilegiifolium, wasn't featured in our garden. We grew it once, years ago, and it only lasted a year. Now, after several attempts from seed, we finally have several blooming plants. I'm also looking forward to seeding T. dasycarpum and T. lucidum do their thing this year.
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May 28, 2005. Well, the bunnies have all left their shelter (and are busy nibbling on all of the seedlings I'm still distributing around the garden), and the turtle shows himself occasionally but is so skittish that we haven't been able to observe him up close yet. Meanwhile, the garden is full and lush, and little surprises jump out of every corner. Such as this Primula cortusoides, which I grew from seed last year.
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May 29, 2005. This morning, my boys and I walking in the back orchard area, little Benny was the most observant one - he spotted a half egg shell laying on the ground. Our scouting work turned up the source: a robin's nest in an arborvitae, above our heads. The camera, when held up high, was tall enough to peek in, though.
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June 05, 2005. A lovely rainy day on Friday, followed by a hot and steamy weekend - feels like summer has started. And the oriental poppies sure seem sunny enough. They'll be gone soon enough, so we enjoy them while they last.
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June 08, 2005. So far this year, I hadn't noticed much insect life of interest - then today, all of a sudden, three species of damselfly were chasing each other around the pond! While the photo here isn't the clearest shot, it has the distinction of being my first successful attempt at capturing one mid-air. I'll be trying to identify the new damsels, and will put up their photos on the Dragons and Damsels gallery.
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June 10, 2005. Ah, strawberries... In my book, the best fresh eat from the garden all year, and it looks like a good crop this year - more fruit than the bugs and birds can get to, so there are plenty left for us. Not that many make it inside, when three kids help me pick them...
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June 14, 2005. Found myself eye to eye with an Eastern pond hawk today. The most brightly colored dragonfly I've seen around the yard so far, and the closest-up I've gotten for a photo shoot.
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June 18, 2005. All my recent entries seem to involve wildlife... We've known for a while that a chipmonk lives in the rock border to our pond, but sightings were limited to a quick flash. Today, there he (she?) was, right on top of the waterfall, taking in the sunrays. Cool critter.
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June 26, 2005. Hot today - got above 90F. This was the preferred view of the garden (and our littlest man, Ben).
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calm as can be, on its favorite shasta daisy
July 02, 2005. Got a new camera yesterday - a slight upgrade from my old Canon A70, an A95. So of course I went hunting for creatures willing to sit for a photo op. As luck would have it, I found a butterfly I hadn't previously encountered: a banded hairstreak. Still not sure the new camera outshines the old one, but you be the judge - from now on, new photos posted here will come from the new cam.
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July 04, 2005. The garden's bounty is coming in. Strawberries and snow peas are done, the sour cherry is picked clean, but carrots, zucchini, and black raspberries have started to produce. And this year, at last, it looks like we'll have a crop of apricots (albeit somewhat bugridden ones). In previous years, the fruits had always succumbed to brown rot, but somehow they escaped this year. Keeping my fingers crossed...
Tomatoes are still at least a week away, beans, peppers, eggplants, and blackberries even longer.
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July 11, 2005. The garden tour is fast arriving, and lots remains to be done to get at least the worst eyesores out of the way. My dad, visiting from the Netherlands, helped by de-weeding the patio. I don't remember it ever being so tidy!
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July 17, 2005. Yesterday was the long-anticipated garden tour. About a hundred gardeners from around the Lehigh Valley and beyond paid a visit. They found plenty of interesting plants (the sea holly and acanthus generated the largest volume of inquiries), and by far the messiest, least orderly garden on the tour. Also the only one with prominent child-play features. So we credit our garden with increasing the overall diversity of the day's attractions. Thanks for visiting, and thanks to the Parkland Garden Club for organizing the event.
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the largest butterfly to visit our garden
July 24, 2005. We've come to that part of summer where insect life sometimes upstages the flowers in the garden, which have taken a step back in exuberance since their peak in June. That was exemplified today by my first sighting of a monarch butterfly in our garden. And sure enough, it was heavily favoring the milkweeds around our pond. Although I'm hoping for offspring, I didn't spot any eggs.
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July 31, 2005. Can your tongue do this? This Peck's skipper is just recoiling its proboscis after a good drink from a verbena flower. Just like last year, the skippers just appeared in droves one day in late July - they'll be with us for the rest of summer.
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August 07, 2005. Time and again, Ma Nature proves to me that she's a better garden designer that I am - not that that's hard to do, mind you, but Ma has a knack for tucking just the right thing into the right crack, nook, or corner. Like here, where she's liberally sprinkled Dahlberg daisies in our patio's cracks. Makes me smile every time I walk by.
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August 10, 2005. The 'Axminster Streaked' balloonflowers are in their third year, and are blooming for the second time. Last year just a few flowers, this year a bunch, on upright plants completely unlike the 'Sentimental Blue' variety that grows all around are garden. I'm still charmed by the randomly streaked flower patterns.
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hiss!
August 12, 2005. Mama, she stuck her tongue out at me!
Well, strictly speaking, it's not a tongue but osmeteria, the defensive organ that this caterpillar of the black swallowtail is deploying in hopes of living long enough to become as pretty as its mommy. That's fine by me, so I left her alone, sitting on a stalk of dill in our vegetable garden.
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August 18, 2005. We're smack dab in the middle of tomato season. I don't engage in all the efforts that coax tomatoes to bear fruit by the fourth of July, so we usually get our first near early August - and they keep on coming after that! We've settled on Early Girl (a medium-sized red tomato) as our variety of choice, but this year I started Garden Peach from seed I got in a trade. And wouldn't ya know, it really does look like a peach: soft orangish-yellow in color, with a slightly fuzzy feel. It's good to try something new once in a while.
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September 03, 2005. While maneuvering my camera into position to take some pictures of this meadow katydid that was chirping away in the garden, he decided to scuttle right onto my thumb, and didn't mind a joint photo-op. When my wife commandeered him, he was none too pleased and bit her in the finger. So now I know that katydids can bite. Truly, something new every day.
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September 14, 2005. The Parkland Garden Club surprised me this week with a thank-you gift for participating in the garden tour in July: a small hypertufa planter, with a dainty little plant that, until further identification efforts prove otherwise, I'm calling a small heronsbill. I'm charmed by the combination - thanks, PGC!
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October 09, 2005. After weeks and weeks of barely any rain, and the development of a seriously drought-ridden garden state, Ma Nature finally delivered yesterday. And boy, did she deliver - with a record-shattering foot of rain. Parts of the garden were raging torrents, and all of the garden was a puddle. Unfortunately, the basement didn't stay dry either, so that my seed-starting area is in serious need of an overhaul. I guess one was overdue anyway...
 

October 23, 2005. After not paying much attention to the garden through a vacation to Florida and a business trip to the Netherlands, with most of the intervening time taken up by persistent rain, I finally ventured out today. Most of the garden is in a pre-autumnal state - not quite losing leaves and turning fall colors yet, but definitely winding down, without much to excite the eye. Notable exceptions: the fall crocuses showing their bright blue naked flowers, the lily-white Japanese anemones, and the 'Sheffield' Korean mums - which look positively summery!
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November 05, 2005. I guess I should really be putting up a photo of colorful fall foliage given the time of year. But with today's warm and sunny weather, it seems like the garden really wanted to show off the last of its flowers. There are still plenty of them - anemones, rudbeckias, chrysanthemums, linarias, fall crocuses, geraniums, and campanulas are among the late-bloomers. But the most surprising entry in today's show was Clematis 'Ramona', in glorious bloom, with new buds even. Maybe that's my garden's way of telling me I've been hiding inside too much - come out and smell the flowers!
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November 06, 2005. Okay, today I'll present you with the fiery foliage I so cruelly withheld yesterday. The leaves belong to a young specimen of Acer tataricum ssp. ginnala - I'm looking forward to seeing its autumn display when it grows to a more noticeable size.
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this redbud's leaves dropped almost overnight
November 12, 2005. What a difference a week makes! A few nights of freezing temperatures, a couple of blustery days, and bam! - trees that had most of their leaves last week are bare to the bark.
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November 20, 2005. This past week, we had several nights of temperatures going down close to 20F. Only the hardiest of flowering plants are still displaying their blooms; this stock is trying hard...
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December 04, 2005. The story of a weekend: Saturday, even though it was a cold and windy day, we went out to clear expired plants from part of the garden (just the front yard, which we try to keep somewhat presentable; we prefer to leave the sticks in place for the birds in other areas). Hence the overflowing left bin of our composting area. Then overnight, we had a couple inches of snow, making the garden pretty in white. Even the compost bins...
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Last modified: January 01, 2005
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