Sunday, June 30, 2013

Birch Tree with Purple Flowers

A clematis climbs this birch tree to "give" it flowers.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Hummingbird Nest

Can you see it? Mother hummingbird was nearby, keeping an eye on me.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Fungal Invasion

Two examples of fungus from the University of Idaho Extension diagnostic lab today. On the left, a type of fairy ring fungus in a lawn. Notice that the grass blades are spotty and dying from the top down. On the right, Cytospora canker on an evergreen. Lawn treatments are available. The tree infection is tougher to control.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Clay Soil - It's a Good Thing?

Most of our region's soils are clay-based. While re-doing some foundation planting over the weekend, I discovered several deposits of clay. It's kind of a nasty word for those who have been trying to improve this soil condition for years. And it really does take years of incorporating organic matter [compost]. But there are benefits to having clay soil that shouldn't be overlooked.
Clay soils hold moisture. That's important in our arid climate. Clay soils also have reservoirs of minerals and they attract and hold minerals. That means less fertilizing is needed for most plants because minerals are already available. Clay soils are stable, so plants get a better "grip" through their root systems. Downsides: when they dry out, they are like trying to chip through pottery. If they become too compacted, roots can't penetrate and minerals are not available. In addition, when compacted, tiny areas for air circulation are cut off - and plant roots need those little pockets to access oxygen. The soil should be amended for optimum plant health. Dig down about 12 inches and break up the clods of clay, mixing in compost and maybe a little manure. A rototiller is handy for this, or when putting in a new plant, do a one-foot square by hand - taking the approach of improving soil a little bit at a time. Bottom line: Don't despair about clay soil. It has benefits and can be improved.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Cute Critter Home

Snuggled at the base of a neighborhood tree.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Orange Rose Survivor

I've enjoyed roses in the landscaping for years, but my enjoyment is tempered this year by the loss of so many plants to bacterial cane disease. I also know that eventually, I'll probably lose them all - except for the mini roses, which seem impervious to the disease.

Summer Squash

Not much of a plant yet, but already, a flower has opened on one of the summer squash plants. I've struggled with squash, pumpkins and cucumbers this year because cut worms have been prolific. The first flowers on squash plants are usually "males," and only the female flowers bring fruit.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Yellow Rose Survivor

Another rose that has survived the bacterial cane blight curse.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Oriental Poppy

Not as many poppies on the plant this year as last, but they're still extra-showy.

Monday, June 17, 2013

A Dead Rose to Me

My sweet lavender rose was another victim of bacterial cane blight. I thought maybe one cane had survived, but as you can see, it was a a root stock cane. At least it's giving me some interesting color in that corner of the yard.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Compost Pile Progress

I started composting last fall, using just a wire mesh "barrel." I think it's healthy because I have volunteer tomatoes and bindweed growing in it just fine. I had hoped the compost would be finished at the end of June. It won't be, though. Now I'm thinking August - meaning almost a full year of cooking.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

She's Back

The leucistic female yellow-headed blackbird that visited the yard last year is back. The photo on the left is her appearance this week. On the right, her photo from May 15, 2012.

Friday, June 14, 2013


Heliotrope is a new garden adventure. It's growing in a small pot. The plant has a vanilla floral scent that's common in perfumes.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Yellow Rose with Just One Cane

All but one cane on this rose bush was lost to bacterial cane blight this year. But I'm happy to see this precious rose this morning.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Pink English Rose

I don't have many roses left, after bacterial rose cane blight hit my plants. But this pink English rose is still thriving.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Snow Peas in Bloom

It won't be long now and we'll be eating fresh snow peas.

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Directions Said: "Be Mean to this Plant"

I purchased this at Hilda Packard's spring plant sale. She said don't fertilize or water much, so I didn't. She was right. This hardy geranium is thriving on neglect.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Welcome to the Garden Little Green One

A tiny "celebrity" tomato is growing up in the garden. I hope we are eating a few tomatoes in about a month.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Ladybug Outbreak

Most folks are seeing more ladybug larvae, and ladybugs, than usual. It's likely connected to a plentiful food source: aphids. Because we had an abnormally dry spring, aphids were a problem much earlier than usual. Aphids are a ladybug favorite. This collage above shows ladybug larvae in various stages of morphing into beetles.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Honeybee on Sedum

This yellow-flowering sedum was popular with honeybees over the weekend. I use sedum as a "living mulch," in dry-ish areas of my landscape.