Showing posts from October, 2014

Autumn Colors

Things really look like autumn around here: leaves turning colors (and some trees completely having lost their leaves already) and mums in bloom. We haven't gotten frost yet so the annual flowers are still going, but they don't look as vigorous as they did six weeks ago. Here are a few scenes from my gardens:

Hope your own autumn scenes are easing the transition to the non-flowering months for you too. It looks like we might have frost this weekend, but I hope nevertheless that we all have a few more warm days to enjoy. Thanks for reading! -Beth

A New Google Earth Aerial Photo!

I've been waiting for over a year, hoping since last fall that Google Earth would soon have a new aerial photograph of our property, and I finally noticed one has been added! The last photo had been taken in September 2012, and we have made some significant changes to our gardens and added several new areas since then. I could hardly wait to see what the changes would look like from the air, and the new photo clearly shows all the major changes we've made this year and last year.

The changes can be seen if you compare the two photos:
The Kitchen Garden and chicken pen, lower left, hadn't been laid out yet, although the lumber for these was waiting on the edge of the driveway in September 2012.

The Gazebo, bottom right, wasn't in place until Spring 2013.

The new West Island and North Island, to the left of the house, were laid out and planted in Spring of this year.

One of the two ash trees behind the house was removed this spring and the border on the north side of the hous…

Booksale Fever! New & Old Garden Books for Winter Reading

Last Thursday afternoon my husband and I drove to the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines (the largest and capital city of Iowa), to attend the Planned Parenthood Booksale, a twice-annual sale of used and donated books that is one of the largest used booksales in the United States. I have been attending this sale since my parents took me as a child (over 30 years of attending now), and I love buying used books, so it's one of my longtime, favorite traditions.

Waiting in line for the sale to begin, the rush inside when the doors open, then seeing the books all arranged on tables just waiting for you to peruse them: heaven! The sale has over 400,000 items (!!) and this year it had an even larger selection of garden books than usual. I always rush to the garden book tables first, and it takes me almost a hour to look through just that subject (even when I'm trying to hurry, lest someone else snag the best books). I put the ones I think I might want into a handy shopping cart that…

Autumn's Surprise Posy

I was walking around my Pond Gardens yesterday and happened to see that my dianthus 'Sweetness' are blooming again, despite the fact that they are an early summer-blooming perennial:

Here's what the dianthus looked like at their peak in early June, with 'Prairie Breeze' Buck roses (I grew the 200 or so dianthus from seed in 2012 and they are still going strong, despite my clay soil):

Anyway, I was quite delighted to find even a fraction of their earlier blooms repeating this late in the year, and the fragrance is still every bit as delicious as it was before. So I picked a selection from the mixed variety and brought them inside for a miniature posy bouquet (it's only about 3" tall in the vase). The spicy-sweet scent is just the thing I need at this time of year.

This is time to enjoy the late flowers in our gardens. You never know what might surprise you by blooming when you least expect it.

Thanks for reading! -Beth

An Autumn Scene

This sugar maple tree at the southwest edge of our property was so beautiful the other day that I had to take a few snapshots of it. The colors were nearly at their peak, and rain and wind hadn't yet ripped off the leaves and mashed them into a wet mush on the ground (which usually happens right when the leaves are looking their finest in the Midwest).

I installed the tree bench several years ago, and it's a lovely spot to sit and look out across the fields (planted this year in soybeans, which are turning yellow at harvest time). It's an especially nice vantage point from which to watch the sun set in the west. In the summer, the leaves provide cool shade at midday, and in the fall, it's a warm place to sit in late afternoon, while munching on an apple from the nearby apple tree.

It's unfortunate that such scenes are so fleeting, but like flowers, summertime and youth, they can be breathtakingly beautiful while they last, and lovely to hold in your mind after they a…

Harvesting the Basil for Delicious Pesto

I finally finished harvesting some basil to freeze for use over the winter. A packet of basil seeds can yield more than you know what to do with in August and September, but there's nothing like enjoying pesto in January, when fresh basil costs $4.00 for a few leaves. Frost is around the corner, so it's time to harvest some to put by for colder days.

I picked the leaves over two evenings. The first time was about an hour before sunset, and I was stung on my finger by a bumblebee that had secreted itself under a leaf (ow!). I leave the flowers on just for the bees, so I can't blame them, but it still hurt. So the next evening, I waited until after it was dark to cut a large shrub at the base and brought it to my front steps to pick the leaves off by the front porch light. That was almost worse, as a number of disgusting slugs had taken up residence on the underside of some of the leaves because night had fallen. I didn't even know I had slugs here, but the ones I saw wer…