How Mary's Garden Grows
Mary, Mary, (who is hardly ever contrary), has a garden in zone 7a, Virginia and has decided to journal it here. So, step through the gate, stroll through the garden, plant yourself on the bench and sit a spell!
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Monday, November 26, 2007
First, a peek through the dead or dying trees on my property's edge to some gorgeous fall foliage in the borrowed landscape beyond:
We have a tendency to think of October as being the big fall-foliage month, but really, for central Virginia, early-mid November is the better time for peak leaf color. And frankly, many trees hang on to their leaves until late-December/early-January, at least around my yard, which makes raking in time for the municipal leaf pickup a challenge. Last year the giant leaf vacuum machines showed up on the day after Thanksgiving, which was a total waste of time and a huge frustration for me and my neighbors. If ever there's a good time to rake (or use a leaf blower, if so inclined), it is during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend when folks have an extended amount of time at home during daylight hours. So, the city workers showing up on Friday morning before folks have had a chance to rake is as frustrating as houseguests showing up for a party a day early, before one has had a chance to cook or clean. This year the city has apparently wised up and they're waiting a week or so....
In addition to the changing and falling leaves, I've enjoyed the annual return of my little crop of autumn crocuses, with their tantalizing saffron-coated stigmas:
I never have the heart to disfigure them by removing the stigmas, even though saffron is worth its weight in gold. I suppose if I were a gourmet cook I'd feel differently.
It's raining today, moisture that is definitely needed to help refill our parched aquifers after the summer drought, but it makes for a dreary Monday, and will no doubt hasten the descent of red, orange and yellow leaves from branch to ground. I'm always sad when there is no more color on the trees.
But I do like snow. Here's hoping we get some this winter!
Saturday, August 11, 2007
When the weather gets like it has been this past week, (highs > 100°F, lows barely less than 90°F), I tend to hibernate inside the house, and let the garden fend for itself, for better or worse. I did harvest the few remaining 'Sweet 100' grape tomatoes on the shriveling vine, and they were delicious, if sparse. I think I'll plant two or three of them next year.
Since I'm currently working from home, I can go days without leaving the house. Who wants to walk out into that blast-furnace of heat and humidity? Not I.
Mercifully, today is much more moderate -- temps only in the mid-80s. A welcome break of blessed relief.
When I am working from home, sitting at my desk I do have a nice view:
I can see Mimosa flowers from the (dis)comfort of my desk chair. And sometimes I even see hummingbirds flitting from one fuzzy flower to another. And the occasional hummingbird moth. All without having to open the front door or even get out of my chair.
I love my skylights.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
If you're familiar at all with the mid-Atlantic region, then you know that our soil is predominantly red clay, a particularly unforgiving dirt.
So, if you have a home you only visit on weekends, with a yard that's 100% red clay and sits in blazing sun and gets very little summer rainfall on its fast-draining, very steep, 30º slope, what do you plant in this difficult landscape?
Why, ornamental grasses of course:
They planted this yard about five years ago, and it has filled in quite nicely, I think. In and among the grasses they also have Knock-Out Roses, Stella d'Oro daylilies, Cannas, Crepe Mytles, Buddleia and a Japanese maple. When it's all in bloom, it's really quite lovely, but even when all you see are the different greens of the grasses, shrubs and trees, it's very pleasing to the eye.
My brother and his wife are close friends with a couple who own a garden center in Cary, NC, (just outside Raleigh), and their friends laid out the design and picked the plants and helped them put it all in one weekend. I wish I had friends like that, (but perhaps a little closer to home)!
When we take the pontoon boat out around the lake and look at what other people have done with their steep slopes, you see a lot of expensive retaining walls, many of which are nothing short of butt-ugly. We're talking $100K eyesores. Those folks hired contractors with little sense of design, which is a shame when you're spending that kind of money.
Probably the loveliest landscape I saw last week was this very Italianate planting:
These folks obviously hired an incredible designer. I really love the contrast between the tall evergreens (reminiscent of Italian cypresses), the shorter, heavily pruned shrubs, and the graceful rounded forms of the grasses. Nicely done. That's what good landscape design is all about.
Next time I'm at the lake, I need to remember to take pictures of the eyesores, to better illustrate my point.
Monday, July 09, 2007
I did find more ripe tomatoes:
And Black-eyed Susans:
And the bumble bees going crazy over the chaste tree:
It's very hot and dry, but life goes on.
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
Monday, July 02, 2007
Saturday, June 30, 2007
Friday, June 29, 2007
before I promptly ate it, (the top one).
I then strolled around, taking pictures of what's blooming today:
(I'm not a big fan of orange, but who could hate this cheery bloomer?)
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Hurry Up and Ripen!
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
And it was good. Reeeeeealllllly good. Delicious, in fact. Warm and sweet and so much more flavorful than anything you'll get in a grocery store. Well worth sweating in the heat for. I'm so glad I got to it before a bird or squirrel did. I will need to monitor that plant closely for the next couple of months, and grab the ripe ones as they emerge.
As a rule, I don't grow vegetables, because the amount of sunny real estate I own is just too small and precious, in my mind, to give up for anything but flowers, food for my soul. And let's face it, vegetable gardens require a lot-lot-lot more work than a perennial bed. Definitely more work than my lazy self is willing to commit to in the heat of a Virginia summer.
But every few years I'll stick a cherry tomato plant in the ground, usually of the very delicious "Sweet 100s" variety, for the sole purpose of eating the ripe ones right off the vine, while out in the yard for some other purpose. And I'm always glad I did. Rarely do any make it into my kitchen, but for the time-honored practice of standing-in-the-garden-and-eating. Yum.
I will try to do better in upcoming weeks about getting a picture of a tomato, before I actually eat it.
No promises, though.
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Friday, June 15, 2007
Monday, June 11, 2007
My Garden in Pictures
And finally, I've got some kind of huge, freakish fungus growing in my oak tree bed:
It would be pretty, if it weren't so creapy.