One gardener's observations, discoveries and random thoughts whilst simultaneously worshipping and dallying in a Cape Cod garden. "A garden," said Ralph Waldo Emerson, "is like those pernicious machineries which catch a man's coatskirt or his hand, and draw in his arm, his leg and his whole body to irresistable destruction."

Changing Weather

The rainy night passed and morning came to Not Wisteria Lane. It was not a sunny morning, but there were blue patches of hope appearing amongst the lingering cloud cover. While the garden is looking a bit overgrown and now a little bedraggled and rain-battered, there were still plenty of surprises and discoveries.

First, allow me a moment to crow about the corn in the Three Sisters garden. It’s at least as tall as me (5’11”) now and the beans are nicely working their way up the stalks. One of those stalks is actually a few inches around. I am totally impressed.

I wonder where the credit is due, but there are so many factors. First, we must not discount the position of nearly full sun. This patch is actually seriously shaded in the morning hours, but gets strong sun from about 10 a.m. to about 6 p.m.

Second, there’s some nice soil in that part of the yard, plus it was supplemented with a big harvest of seaweed and saltgrass and other shoreline debris I collected at Rock Harbor and spread over the top back in April.

Third, there’s the soaker hose weaving its way just underground through this bed, which has resulted in it’s having been well-watered down at the roots where it counts most for a plant.

Fourth, in addition to the seaweed and all, the corn has also received a feeding or two of organic fertilizer pellets over the season and is additionally receiving the benefit of the nitrogen which its bed-mate, the pole beans, are fixing in the soil as they grow.

I also wonder if the corn being planted in raised mounds has an impact. No doubt, such a situation seems like it would cause the soil to heat up and encourage hearty root growth. Like I said, it’s probably a convergence of all those things.

I do see a few ears forming here and there, which is kind of exciting. That sort of balances out the fact that I went looking for zucchinis this morning and couldn’t find any. After the great rush of flowering last week, I’d have hoped for something…I wonder if my bunny friends have been nibbling on flowers again.

The morning glories are continuing to be a fun and ever-changing show in the early hours of the day, especially as the later plantings begin to bloom and different colors mingle together.

These new purple ones–there seems to be just one vine of this particular shading–aren’t flowering heavily yet, but I still get excited seeing them. What a color!

One of the larger sunflowers with the giant drooping faded flowerheads has now decided to present a few smaller side blossoms and the first one unfurled this morning.

On a gray day like today especially, it’s easy to see where they got their name. It almost seemed the flower was coaxing the sun to come out of the clouds.

Although the clouds were thinning out, there was still a lot of darkness in the sky to the north.

The storm we’d received the severe warning about on TV last night actually moved north across the Upper Cape, around Sandwich area, so we only saw some distant flashes of lightning…and there were a few showers on and off throughout the night.

Since I had noted the direction of the storm on radar (I’m such a weather geek, eh?), I didn’t shut down the computer, as I said I was going to do and would probably have been a smart move, just the same.

While mostly sitting back and enjoying the late night Olympic coverage [oh, man! I’m watching tonight as I blog, too…and swimmer Micheal Phelps just won his tenth-ever gold medal!! Woo hoo!], I was also keeping an eye on the radar. It was fascinating to watch the storm (even in the limited color range my monitor currently allows) pass over land and then blossom into a much bigger business as it crossed the waters of the bay.

On the animated radar map I was watching, you could see little bits of storms swirling in a larger funnel pattern, all centered around the Cape, with that intense storm at the heart of it.

By the time I woke this morning, it had all solidified into a large storm over the waters north of the Cape and it looked like it might actually swirl back down over us again. That didn’t happen; it went north to Maine instead, but the dark clouds in that direction made it seem a little uncertain early on.

There’s a long shot of that hanging basket of lantana. I really way the tiny flowers change colors as they mature, so that their compound flowerheads are ultimately patterned with different colors. I gave them a sniff last night, after some discussion on the subject in comments. I don’t find they have any particularly rich or notable fragrance…just a sort of pollen-y pungence, if that makes any sense.

I’ve always been quite comfortable admitting to you all that I don’t know lots of things about plants and gardening. One of the persistant mysteries of the last few years of gardening (and actually most of the three year history of this blog) was the identity of the white flowered plant below.

I had discovered it in the meadow at our old house, where it’s seedling self was growing shoulder to shoulder with the coneflower rudbeckias, then also seedlings and some purple siberian iris (which the bunnies mowed completely this spring).

It looked like an interesting plant and in the orchard garden’s partial sun it grew to astonishing heights. True, it’s tiny white flowers were a bit of an anti-climax, but the butterflies loved them and I thought they might have been Joe Pye Weed, if not for the color of the blooms. Now I have learned the two plants are indeed related.

Today I learned this is called common boneset, or eupatorium, and it is an important species in the butterfly life-cycle, so I’m glad that I’ve welcomed it and taken some “on the road” with me.

I have a newly-discovered fellow blogger to thank for the information, as well. Recently I joined Blotanical, which is a sort of MySpace for garden bloggers. You may’ve noticed the widget in the right column that links to random other garden blogs out there on the internet.

I haven’t had as much time to explore the whole community as I might’ve liked so far (but limited exploration has brought delightful discoveries every time!), but today discovered some lovely photos at Nature Remains, where Nina had captured one of those unexpected Cycle of Life moments in the canopy of this plant, which she called boneset. I won’t give away what she saw…you can check that out for yourself.

Plus, there’s a blackberry cobbler recipe!

The agastache has grown into a tidy little plant this year, about two feet tall, its flowers wonder fully purple and long and attractive to some industrious bumblebees.

Here, the agastache – or hyssop- is joined by some allyssum, marigolds and a single pink bachelor’s button.

It’s doing very nicely in this location and looks like it will remain sort of tidy this year, though I imagine next year it will get very tall, if it continues to be happy with its accomodations.

Everything in the garden is looking a little wild these days, owing to the queen anne’s lace and evening primrose I’ve given free reign to. The queen anne’s, at least, I planted as close to the fence as I could. They tend to have a bit of a boarding house reach, though.

The evening primrose actually seeded themselves in, growing often in the front areas of the garden, where it might be tidier to have lower growing plants (although the allyssum, at a foot tall, are barely cooperating with that plan, either).

Second generation daisies on weaker stems lean over into the picture, with a variety of marigolds rising from the chaos of the nearly-hidden floor of the jungle. And out of the chaos appears a crazy tangle of super-producing cherry tomatoes!

In another part of the garden, this plant of white garden phlox has begun to bloom.

Hey, since I know you’re just dying for an update, I’ll let you know it’s now been 25 days (20 hours, 54 minutes and 5 seconds, but who’s counting? Not me. QuitNet does that for me.) since my last cigarette. I remain grateful to the makers of both Altoids and pretzel rods.

According to my habit before quitting, I have not smoked 388 cigarettes…and have now added nearly three days onto my life.

Eccentric Old Gardener of the Future, here I come.

I went to work via Brewster this morning. Since it was a gray and spattery morning, it seemed not unreasonable to think I might be able to actually approach the shoreline and that proved true. I was, in fact, easily able to find a spot to park at Linnell Landing’s small permited lot so I could take a look at the storm clouds over the bay.

The air was sharp and salty with the sea as I stepped out of the car, the bay churning with chop from the storm moving off to the north. God, I love that smell

An intrepid bunch of beach and boat-goers were clearly not going to be deterred by a little spritz of rain, as you can see. As the day went on, their faith was rewarded, as the clouds did clear away leaving a beautiful afternoon behind.

This north-facing beach looks into the curve of the Cape’s landmass, toward my more usual stomping grounds at Skaket and First Encounter Beaches and Rock Harbor, so it offers an interesting perspective.

This wonderful place is cleverly called Linger Longer and is a private home located just to the west of Linnell Landing. They must have had a most fantastic view of the storm as it moved across the bay late last night. Sunrises and sunsets and even the Cape’s most dismal days must look beautiful from there.

Sometimes I wonder if I wouldn’t cheer on the wholesale collapse of society for the opportunity to live in such a place.

As I said before, the sun burned through the clouds which didn’t drift off on the breezes and I found a great day just beginning to fade as I left the office around dinnertime.

Naturally, I couldn’t resist a drive-by Rock Harbor and watched for a few minutes as the tide rolled into the harbor and up the boat launch ramp.

This evening, I spotted a blue heron in the pond at the end of Not Wisteria Lane, as Emily and I enjoyed our night perambulation, but was camera-free at the time.

Then, as we passed around the loop that brought us facing to the west, Emily put on some speed (she likes to get past Snoopy the noisy Min-Pin’s house as quickly as possible) and only because a neighbor called a warning did I realize how close we came to colliding with one of the broods of turkeys who were crossing the road just ahead of us.

Em seemed not to notice them, as further along, a terribly portly black pug we’d never seen before came out of his house to bark at us as we passed. But we only missed the mama turkey and her six youngins by about a foot! I went back with my camera when we’d finished our walk, but they were long gone by then. The heron, too.

Here’s another look at my favorite, the marine heliotrope. Oh, how I wish I could figure out some way for you to smell it through your computer. It is just amazing. Perhaps its just my memory, but I am thinking that I can smell it drifting through the open window on the night air…and its just heavenly.

So the day turned out pretty right, after all. In fact, as I finish this (11:54 pm), the moon is setting in the southwest and it looks like it may be a nearly perfect night for some Perseid meteor gazing and just in the nick of time!

Here’s another one of those orange sulphur cosmos flowers. That towering monster in the background is one of the latest sunflowers, climbing toward the sky and currently topping six feet.


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