Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Most Rewarding Part of Vegetable Gardening-The Harvest

It's August already and I've waited patiently all summer for the chance to harvest these beautiful, delectable vegetables! There are not many more rewards for me than to be able to walk out to my vegetable garden and pick organic vegetables to feed myself and my family. As I began gathering this morning, I was so giddy inside to see a rainbow of I snapped a few shots to share. From left to right: A sampling of herbs (sweet basil, flat-leaf Italian parsley, purple ruffles basil),"Green Zebra" tomato (a new heirloom for me this year), "Purple Cherokee" (new heirloom for me this year), "Viva Italia" Roma tomato, "Celebrity" tomato, "Black Cherry" (new heirloom for me this year), "Sunsugar" tomato, "Green Gem" zucchini, & "Big Bertha" bell pepper

Another angle of my cornicopia of veggies

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Belated Garden Blogger's Bloom Day-August 2011

This summer has been a whirlwind of activity and emotions, from the death of my mother-in-law to some very personal challenges! Lets just say I cannot handle another repeat of this summer! As a result of these experiences I've had to let my blogging time fall by the wayside temporarily. I know I'm a day late posting my GBBD post, but better late than never I guess.

Just when my garden is looking a little tattered and worn out, these beautiful "Limelight" hydrangeas steal the show for late summer color and look stunning well into the fall. They really hold up well in our dry climate in Utah, unlike most bigleaf hydrangeas that need constant humidity and more mild temperatures.

This daylily has about spent its blooming cycle this summer. Only a few more blossoms remain to bloom.

In the vegetable garden, my "Yukon Gold" potatoes are flowering. I just planted them July 1st to be harvested this fall.

These are two of my "Celebrity" tomatoes. As you can see we've had our share of crazy thunderstorms as indicated by the hailstone scars on the green one. Ummm! There is nothing better than a home-grown tomato!

I decided to plant a few more Heirloom tomatoes this year. This variety is called "Black Cherry." It's delicious!

As delicious as the "Black Cherry" tomato is, this cherry tomato, "Sunsugar" is like eating garden candy. Many of my neighbors have planted this variety after sampling these tomatoes from my garden. If you love cherry tomatoes, you better plant this one!

This is the last of my Shasta ("Becky") daisies to bloom.

These zinnias have been outstanding performers this summer. If I could figure out how to keep the earwigs from devouring them, I would be a happy gardener. I'm going to try some organic methods that I read about online.

The zinnia variety I planted this year is called "Dreamland. " They are a dwarf-type variety that has held-up well in our 50 mile-an-hour microburst winds.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

GBBD June 2011-A Bouquet of Beauty

Where do I start? June is by far one of the most beautiful blooming months in my area of Utah. I wish I could post all my photos, but I'll try to restrain myself and only post a sampling of the beauty around here. That's why gardening and photography are a perfect match...because photographing this beauty freezes time for a moment and helps me appreciate and re-live it all over again (maybe during winter...heaven knows we need it with our endless winters here). My first subject to display is my 'Sarah Bernhardt' peony Paeonia Lactiflora. Isn't she a beauty? She just opened yesterday, just in time for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. I would say that was PERFECT timing.

Peonies are so BEAUTIFUL! They have a short blooming time span, but they are well worth the wait each year. I've been anticipating their blooms for weeks now. Now I need to add to my collection. I can't have just one with all the gorgeous varieties to choose from.

For the first couple years my peony bloomed, I watched these beautiful blooms unfurl only to be disappointed when the stems flopped over from the weight of the flower. This year I wised-up and staked the plant as it was growing. As you can see in the image below, I placed three bamboo stakes close to the plant, and in three sections, tied twine around the entire plant to help keep the peony together and support the weight of the blooms. The leaves covered the twine quite nicely. My idea worked perfectly, and I love the organic look of the bamboo stakes.

These baby peonies are waiting patiently for their time to bloom.

Next is my beautiful clematis, 'Little Duckling'. It's on the east-facing side of my home and it seems to like it there. My Japanese maple is reaching its branch out to steal a little attention in the shot too.

Thought I would zoom in for a closer look so you too could appreciate the detail.

Since taking this photo a few days ago, there are even more blooms open today. Each day this month is a gardener's adventure watching to see what will bloom next!

I don't own a wisteria vine, but this tree called 'Purple Robe' Idaho Robina Ambigua 'Idahoensis' locust comes in a close second to the wisteria. It's blossoms remind me of a cluster of wisteria flowers, and even the leaves look similar to wispy wisteria leaves.

Idaho Locust Robinia x ambigua 'Idahoensis'

Not sure about the variety of this columbine. It's my neighbors.

I think old-fashioned bleeding heart 'Dicentra spectabilis' is an interesting perennial. Its name suits it well. I was reading recently about good companion plants for bleeding heart. They are hosta, false spirea, and ferns. Try tucking a few of these plants around your bleeding heart.

Coral Bells Heuchera Sanguinea 'Snow Angel'

Ornamental strawberry ground cover grows well in full sun as well as part sun.

Salvia leucantha 'May Night'

If you are trying to attract pollenators like honey bees, they love this stuff.

My husband and I planted this Dwarf False Spirea ('Sorbaria sorbifolia 'Sem') just a couple weeks ago. Even though it's not blooming yet, I thought I would post a picture of it. The leaf structure reminds me of a fern and the pinkish tipped new growth gives the plant interest. Apparently it has white blooms that bloom all summer.

Over by my mailbox I've planted guara (Guara lindheimeri 'Perky Pink') with a few zinnias tucked around for more color. The guara has not bloomed yet but gets wispy wands of pink flowers. Even better is that guara is drought tolerent and is a very hardy plant here.

Pretty chives blossom in my garden. Chives are an herb that is hardy in my zone 5 area and will return each spring.

Baby romaine and rosemary planted in my concrete block raised vegetable garden.

This is another view of my vegetable garden. Growing right now are my snow peas, garlic, tomatoes (in my wall-o-waters), herbs, and lettuce. I used bamboo stakes to trellis my snowpeas with string attached for the peas to have something to climb onto. It's working very well.

Closer view of snow peas...white marigolds and lobelia are planted to soften the edges and attract pollenators.

This romaine mix has been delicious! It's so attactive too with its speckled, burgandy, and chartreuse leaves.

The next few photos of the bearded iris' are gorgeous. Unfortunately I do not know the varieties because a neighbor (who has since moved) gave them to me when she divided them one year. I'll have to investigate I guess.

Hope you've enjoyed viewing what's been blooming in my garden. Happy gardening and happy GBBD! Go visit May Dreams Gardens to check out more garden blogs.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

My PERFECT Spring Day!

Today has been as close to a perfect day as anyone could ask for. Just look at this beauty! The sun was shining, the temperatures were in the mid 70's, a little breeze was blowing, and the sky was absolutely amazing! Who could ask for anything more? I wish all you blogger friends could have experienced this day with me.

My children know that the blue sky with white fluffy clouds is my FAVORITE sky. It's a little piece of heaven and makes me happy. I just laid on my lawn and soaked in the warmth.

This view of the mountains is from our driveway. As you can see, we've had our share of snow this winter and spring. There is a lot of snow still yet to melt which is causing some flooding issues in our state (Utah).

This shot was taken from my backyard, looking out toward the field behind our lot.

And more beautiful was so picturesque. Unlike where I grew up in Louisiana, where we practically live in forests, we have BIG open skies in Utah, which makes for many colorful sunrises and sunsets.

I even spent time playing with my daughter's puppy cause he loves to go outside.

Awe, isn't he so cute?

My black-eyed Susan vine, 'Lemon Eyes' loves the sun as well and hopefully will fill the obleisk with loads of blossoms.

I even had time to plant zinnias for a "pop" of summer color.

More zinnias (Dreamland mix)

My 'Goldflame' honeysuckle (Lonicera heckrottii) is just beginning to the sweet scent of honeysuckle!

My fountain garden is still evolving into something that I've envisioned, but it's not there yet. The climbing rose is leafing out, creeping phlox is beginning to fade, the daylilies will eventually bloom to give this bed some much needed color, and the honeysuckle my husband and I just planted should help fill in some of the empty space behind the aborvitae that's taking its own sweet time to grow. I think I need a trellis for the honeysuckle. Now I'm on the hunt for two.

Got my west-facing pots soaking in some much needed warmth and light to help them fill in the empty gaps.

I decided to plant mint this year since I enjoy cooking and garnishing with it. Because I've learned that mint can be invasive, it's planted in its own container so I won't be pulling mint babies from my garden for the rest of my life.

I'm hoping my honeysuckle will be happy with its new home in my fountain garden.

Lobelia and marigold fill the holes around my raised bed garden to soften the hard edges of the concrete block.

Just planted sweet basil in my of my favorite herbs to cook with. My family loves the pungent scent of basil too.

Purple ruffled basil has more of a licorice flavor, but I'm giving it a try this year.

Flat-leaf Italian parsley is a must-have herb if you like cooking with fresh herbs.

I'm so happy to report that my snow peas, yes I said snow peas, are beginning to bloom. They've only been planted since mid-March. With our crazy weather, who knows what I'll harvest from my garden this year!

As I reflect upon this perfect spring day, I am so grateful for that I can experience it with all five senses (sight, touch, smell, taste, sound). Gardening would not be as tangible without them. As I enjoyed this day, a song that I sang as a child played its melody in my head. I thought I would share it with you so maybe you will appreciate it as well.

Whenever I hear the song of a bird
Or look at the blue, blue sky,
Whenever I feel the rain on my face
Or the wind as it rushes by,
Whenever I touch a velvet rose
Or walk by our lilac tree,
I'm glad that I live in this beautiful world
Heavenly Father created for me.

He gave me my eyes that I might see
the color of butterfly wings.
He gave me my ears that I might hear
The magical sound of things.
He gave me my life, my mind, my heart:
I thank him reverently
For all his creations of which I'm a part.
Yes, I know Heavenly Father loves me.