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."

Archive for the ‘insects’ Category

Mid-September Garden Report


Even though we’ve got half of September crossed off the 2009 calendar, it still feels mostly summery around here.   But  I know how quickly the seasonal wheel turns and there are plenty of projects I’ve got in mind for crossing off my mental list before things get cold.  Now’s the time to get gardens in order for next spring, after all.


The driveway fence garden is looking pretty good.   Here’s a look from the driveway side, so you can see the way the allyssum’s billowed out so far past the brick edging of the garden bed.

For reference, the red mum planted in the center of the bed is seated snug against the inside of that brick edging, so that gives you a sense of how far the allyssum’s grown from seed planted throughout the season.  Pretty cool, huh?

This bed’s in pretty good shape now.   The imperial mums are budding heavily and meanwhile, the yellow rudbeckia are blooming heavily.   That’s just one plant, but it grew sort of floppily in the rains of June and I never staked it.


The effect is working quite nicely know, since the one plant has spread itself through everything else growing in that bed, so it looks like a bit more than just that one.  Surprisingly, the shasta daisies are still blooming a bit, too.  Usually they are well finished by September.

No complaints, though…but not much to do in this particular bed.  There are already tulips planted here.  I might add some grape hyacinths if I can find a nice supply of those, but otherwise, this spot’s in good shape.



The garden bed on the south side of the house is looking pretty good.  Many of the perennials are finished and I’ve pruned them back, so now their green framework serves as a background for the zinnias and things I seeded in back in the spring.  Here’s some ageratum, with an assortment of button zinnias, from the same packet of seeds as those growing in pots on the deck garden.


That, by the way, is thriving in September’s cooler temperatures.   The large zinnias I’d all but written off (and was this close to ripping out of their window box) by the end of August have made a remarkable comeback and are happily in bloom, as is pretty much everything else I’ve got out there.

The dwarf cosmos are blooming heavily now, the cardinal climber flowers and morning glories seem to alternate days, although sometimes bloom simultaneously.   The cool temps have resurrected the violas and pansies and it looks like the fuschia is starting another big bloom before the season winds down.


Everything there continues to provide me more than enough to keep tiny arrangements here and there in the Nest, to scent the air and pretty things up.

All that’s pretty enjoyable, but I also know that I’ll need to start preparing for the winter months very soon.   The asparagus ferns potted up with the cosmos can be repotted and brought indoors for the winter.   Same with the fuschia and the hibiscus and the marine heliotropes.   The windowsills will be crowded, of course, but that’s part of the fun.


But all that madcap blooming shouldn’t distract me from the tasks at hand, and this past Monday, I turned my attention off the deck to the back yard and the next garden bed in line for a makeover.


Here’s the before shot, as seen from the deck of the Nest that morning.   Most of what was growing in there was unmown grass and nothing particular spectacular or interesting, otherwise.  You know I hate to throw around that “weed” word, but aside from the bamboo (a non-spreading variety), there wasn’t much I considered to be of value.

That’s just fine by me, since what I was looking to do is to open up some space for some potted things on the porch that needed permanent homes and also to have some open real estate for dividing projects tentatively scheduled for some upcoming gardening days off.


The other pieces of the puzzle of this particular bed are an underground wired electric outlet on a post, disguised with pieces of driftwood to look like a tree stump, the wooden frame to support a grindstone which is too heavy to take out of the barn, and a little concrete statue we call alternately Mayan Guy or The Monkey God.

Once I got my tools arranged, a water bottle filled and a portable radio set up and tuned in, I got to work, outlining the bed and then carving the grass into manageable clumps for removal with my shovel and long-handled fork.   There was another of those nice steady breezes blowing, which kept the sun from seeming too warm (and its not too warm this time of year, anyhow).


I spotted these two insects en flagrante and at first assumed they were f**king yellowjackets, took a photo and gave them a reasonably wide berth.   It wasn’t ’til I looked at the photos inside on the computer that I spotted the longhorn antennae and realized my mistake.  The good folks at tell me these are locust borers.   So who says you can’t learn new things?

Aside from some weeding and a smidge of digging, this was my first full-blown project since the surgery and although I did realize right off I needed to work a little more carefully than perhaps I used to, it was nice to get back out there and really do something.   It was a lovely day and sometimes a day with work for one’s hands can be handy for sorting through the contents of one’s mind.   Time in the garden always seems to put things in perspective and while I may not be cured of my neuroses and over-thinking, at least it was good to have the day to work and sing and laugh and think and cry and dig and plant and stuff.   As a special bonus, I was even buzzed by a sweet green dragonfly.  It’s all good.


In the process of excavating, I found a few flat stones of reasonable size which had been laid down in front of the outlet/stump, but then covered with at least a few years of grass grown up and died.  I held those aside to lay out with some bricks into a nice “landing” area in front of the outlet, which I thought looked kind of nice.

When the project was all done, I added some new creeping thyme plants, since I know they will grow between the bricks and stay nice and low even if the bed goes wild in the future.

Also, I know the thyme will escape out into the lawn, which I always think is pretty sweet.  Not only are the tiny pink flowers nice in the lawn, but I like the fragrance when you walk on it, too.

The hardscaping part of the project was done by early afternoon, just in time for lunch.   Afterwards, I organized the things I planned to add to the bed.   There were an assortment of new iris roots sent from my gardening pal in Baltimore, the potted Montauk daisy left behind by the former tenants, and the lupine seedling I started last winter from the stand at Fort Hill.   Next I seeded in some of the blue columbine seeds from Butch and some red columbine from Theresa (thanks again to you both!).  They should give me all I need to eventually grow some lovely purple ones!


For good measure, I added some seedheads from a few different rudbeckia varieties and queen anne’s lace.   I think eventually it’ll be a sort of wild bed that may be somewhat low maintenance.  We’ll see.

I’ve just begun the project of finding rocks to edge the bed with, like with my older garden beds.  It always looks good, and makes mowing around a little easier.   Fortunately, the glacier left them all over the place, if you know where to look.

Technically, then,  it’s still a work in progress, but it looks much better already.   And just look at how happy I’ve made the Monkey God.



Late June Garden Report


With a sigh, we tell you that it’s raining again on Cape Cod this morning.

We did have a few days of sunshine (and on Saturday even enough heat, finally, to break the fan out of the closet) and I’ll get to that in a moment, but with that day and a half of nice weather, that brings our total of sunny days this June to about seven.   The roses are developing blackspot.   Lots of other things, owing to the nice spring that preceded Rainy June, are blooming a little early (and thanks to the rain, sort of briefly).

I try to remain upbeat and positive about this – all the cruddy weather is giving me plenty of opportunities to continue on doing stuff inside the Nest, which is kind of fun.   But I wouldn’t mind a little more time for walking or biking…and I’ve abbreviated some of my gardening plans thanks to the nearly-perpetual rain.    Still, perspective is key, and I am (for now) safely away from the shoreline of the Atlantic, which was pretty well ravaged by last week’s nor’easter.   And we aren’t the only ones to have been impacted by the storminess and the rains.

Of course its hardly all doom and gloom.   The catawba (AKA,  catalpa) tree in the backyard has come into bloom this weekend.   I’ll try to get you a better photo of the blooms, which are sort of distinctive and orchid-like.   I may need a step-ladder, though.




Meanwhile, as I mentioned, the sun has shone recently and we enjoyed it as much as we could in the limited time it was with us.   There was time to deadhead all the pansies and marigolds and things which had become sodden and melty-looking…and also time for some fresh blossoms to open up in the warm golden light.   The pollinators couldn’t have looked happier in the morning sunshine, flitting about the deck as they moved from planter to planter, collecting the best of each blossom.  In other news, it appears that the baby robins from under the deck have fledged and are gone.  Oh, how quickly we grow up!


Oh, one correction I need to offer.   Last week, when I wrote of potting up a red, white and blue arrangement in advance of next week’s July Fourth celebrations, I referred to the blue component as convolvulus, which is wrong.  I believe that’s actually the name for morning glories.   What I actually planted – and I want to be clear on this, since it’s a fantastic little annual for container planting – is Evolvulus Glomeratus.   Since I planted it, it’s begun to bloom a little.   Here’s one of it’s pretty blue flowers, to help convince you that you really ought to pick one up for your garden.

I don’t have too much else to say this morning.   In lieu of any Pride Celebrations (I was glad to hear NYC’s were not rained out this weekend, a minor miracle.   BTW, have you read this?), I’ll leave you with the rainbow of flowers we enjoyed during our all-too-brief, but delightful flirtation with the Sun.












Nature Calling

Thinking back on the weekend and my evening walk to the beach with Patrick, I can’t believe that we stopped to slip our noses into any variety of rosebuds along the way and came away with disappointing results nearly every time…but never thought to stop for a sniff at the pink roses in the front yard here at the Nest, which are quite fragrant.

Java and Birdie have both posted about insects recently, and they reminded me that I’ve had a few encounters of the bug and insect variety in the past week or so, which I’ve been remiss about sharing with you. I’ve uploaded each one of the following to in hopes of learning more about each of these…and as always, I’ll try to update as information warrants.

As we began the painting project in the dining room on Saturday, we discovered two of three of this kind of spider. This one, I’d say was maybe almost the size of a quarter…but it’s possible it’s grown larger in my memory, too.

Each one I managed to coax into a plastic cup for transport outside, where they were tossed gently off the deck, once I’d checked to be sure no Miss Muffet sat below.

This nasty lookin’ little buggy is, of course, an earwig. They always give me the creeps, though they are, apparently, mostly harmless.

This jumpy little spider dude lives in my car, or at least that’s where we recently encountered one another. He seems to enjoy running around on the ceiling in my Saturn.

I’m wondering how jumpy I should feel about him being in there, since he seems to be good at hopping and jumping, himself, darting back and forth overhead.

I’m not sure what this gangly thing is. Of course, I see them every year, are they some kind of mayfly or midge or something. It was a couple inches in length, at least, and we crossed paths a while back, the night I painted the bedroom Cape Cod Gray.

I was a little concerned for its welfare, as I hadn’t discovered it until after I’d begun painting, but it managed to stay clear of the wet paint, but was never far away from wherever I was working as I made my way around the room.

Of course, these encounters with Mother Nature are all pretty harmless. My friend Heidi writes me this evening from Texas:

you know we had a little dust up here right? Ike? Or did the news not cover it so much because Bush is from here and it wasn’t Katrina? Or was it? Have a look. We are about 80 miles away from Galveston and we still have neighbors waiting for power. Some did get flooding and some more got trees though their houses…the mosquitoes down there are the size of your hand and outnumber the people about a thousand to one!

And it occurred to me that I really haven’t been hearing very much about the wrath of Hurricane Ike. I mean, I watched the CNN coverage when the storm hit, but I haven’t been in the loop about much of the aftermath…and I’m not sure if that’s just me being off the grid as far as TV what with the unsettled nature of Life just lately…or if it really isn’t getting much coverage because of the idiocy of Sarah Palin as a Vice Presidential candidate or the bail-out of the collapsing Wall Street…which I certainly HAVE been hearing enough about.

And so in case I’m not the only person out of the loop on this one, here‘s the link Heidi sent along to some of the absolutely amazing and awesome photos coming from Galveston and Houston in the wake of this powerful storm.

Kinda makes an itsy-bitsy spider not seem like such a big deal, you know?