Sunday, July 21, 2019

Mosaic Monday #37: Pottering, Patience and Poppies

Poppy that came by way of wildflower seed mixed
in with grass seed
How I adore pottering in my garden.  Examining the plants closely - are flowers imminent?  Is this sprout a non-desirable or a specimen to be nurtured?  How can I improve the look of the landscape?

Since my last garden report, my knowledge about the plants has exploded.  I have fought off a few infestations.  We've made improvements to the drainage system as a result of rain and hail storms.  Perhaps most importantly, I have become adept at reminding myself that we are in this for the long haul, this garden and I.  One day's disappointment will not be remembered a few years from now, when the garden has been transformed through patience and perseverance.  So, here's the State of the Garden, July 21, 2019.

I must start with the poppies. Last fall, when we scattered the 30 pounds of grass/wildflower seed, I knew not what to expect.  Imagine, then, my delight when red poppies began to bloom!  I especially felt redeemed because I had painstakingly weeded these areas and ensured that these fragile-looking sprouts were not disturbed.  Voila!  The poppy.

I always tear up when I think of my husband's
grandfather, and how he always called me "Flower"
It seems that they begin the classic red color and fade as the days pass - hence, the pink poppy above.  At the first sight of the red poppy, I immediately thought of my husband's grandfather, who fought valiantly for his country and returned home safe and sound.  Many were not so blessed.  How fitting, I thought, that we should have red poppies in our prairie garden! 
The red poppy is worn in many western nations as a symbol of 
remembrance of those people who lost their lives during WWI
and other military conflicts
Well, I am not sure anything can quite follow that act, but we shall Keep Calm and Carry On!

Most of us are familiar with this kitchen staple.  What I didn't know is that rabbits also find it tasty!  Head Chef has co-opted some chives for his cooking, and I am puff-out-my-chest proud.
"Volunteer" chives are coming up around the main plants

Have you heard of penstemon? I first encountered this western United States native during our first hikes in Glacier National Park 13 years ago.  Found in many colors and sizes, all penstemon share tubular flowers on spikes.  This prairie plant thrives in hot, sunny conditions, and another common name is beardtongue.  As you can see in the collage below, this variety features large purple flowers.  Its stalks are thick and strong - maybe that is how it earned its name.


This penstemon is much more delicate, with abundant stems and smaller flowers.  In early June, I discovered black aphids on the burning bushes, which prompted a close inspection of ALL plants.  I pulled open some yellow penstemon flower buds due to their gnarled appearance, and found small white caterpillars inside.  Another one of these plants had such an intense aphid infestation that I took the radical step to remove all flower heads.  Over the next couple of weeks, I fought black and green aphids by removing parts of plants, spraying others with soapy water, and scattering Sevin on others.  It only took about three weeks to declare victory.  Next year, I will be mindful to start checking for the little devils sooner!


This is as good a time as any to write about de-fence, and no folks, I am not referring to football.  Over the winter, I read somewhere about stringing fishing wire and cans between posts in order to fend off deer.  This idea is based on the notion that deer are creatures of habit - they follow the same routes every day to feed.  Since the deer can't see the fishing wire, walking into it will knock down the cans and make enough clatter to scare them off.  Even one time is probably enough to ensure your garden is not part of the breakfast or dinner buffet!

Wild Alyssum
I am pleased to report that we have not had deer in the garden until very recently, but neither have we had the cans knocked down.  Maybe just the sound of the cans clinking in the wind may have been enough to put them off.  (I have joked to some guests that these are Hillbilly Wind Chimes!)  Recently, we've had some deer activity on the southeast slope, which did have a gap in the defense to allow access to the firepit.  I have since reinforced this area and we have not had any recurrence.  Stay tuned for further reports.

Isn't this just a delightful name for a plant?  I surmise that the color of the flower, plus the fact that the flowers last for weeks, inspired the name.  I should have three of these in my garden but only one has come back with vigor.  The other two have only one small sprout of the blue-green leaves.  In mid-June, I fertilized them without much effect.  Maybe they will get a sudden spurt on with the warmer weather we are having.

The bedstraw shot up quickly, and showed growth away from the base.  Unfortunately, two of the plants fell victim to either nibbling or aphids, which has affected the blooms.  My consolation here is that we have many native bedstraw plants around the property that I can draw on if need be.

This shrub is so named in reference to its flowers, which look similar to those of oranges at first glance, and are purported to have a perfume akin to orange flowers and jasmine.  This spring, I was pleasantly surprised by the vitality of the leaves, since last summer this was the shrub that browned up quickly in the face of no rain.  The flowers are reminiscent of oranges, but I am not catching the scent.  And now that the plant is blooming, the leaves are browning.  Perhaps this is the normal cycle.  But the butterflies do not seem to mind!

I was skeptical about this plant at first - the basal leaves over-winter well, and therefore it's hard to determine if any growth is taking place in the spring.  But by June 2, it had new leaves and had already started to form flower heads.  A week later, it had fully bloomed, and I am sold on it.  It has a rounded, symmetrical look, and tall purple flower spikes - a striking plant!

Initially, only my landscaping design with the names of the plants helped me to distinguish the Nodding Onion from the Chives.  However, as both plants start to develop flower heads, you can tell the difference at a glance - the buds on the chives stand straight, whereas those on the Nodding Onion droop.  A member of the genus Allium, the Nodding Onion is also known as the Lady's Leek - I love that name!!!

Near Many Glacier, July 2018
This plant is the opposite of the Salvia - sprawling and disorderly.  But I can embrace disorderly in exchange for the prolific and stunning blooms!  (Fertilizer on the two scrawnier plants did not seem to have much impact - maybe they are meant to be skinny!)  The plant gets its name in areas where fields are filled with them … they "blanket" the field in blooms.
You can imagine my dismay the morning I saw a small bunny hop over to it and start to nibble away.  While the deer defence system is pretty effective, warding off rabbits and Columbian ground squirrels is almost impossible unless you take the impractical step of installing chicken wire around every plant.  In the future, I am confident I will have a garden with more than enough for everyone to have a nibble, but for now we have had to take some dramatic steps with these nibblers (and no, I won't go into details here).

I was unfamiliar with this plant, but it has earned a place of honor in my garden - the foliage has a unique color and texture, and when blooming, it has an understated elegance that befits Montana.  It was one of the first plants to bloom, and it has lasting power that impresses even work-aholic me!

As I journaled about these 2 plants, it took 4 weeks for me to realize I was mixing them up.  Clearly, my hand-drawn landscaping "map" was not very clear!  The leafy aster has some basal leaves and quickly devotes it energy to producing tall stalks that will eventually bear flowers.  This was another set of plants beset by green aphids; soapy water was quite effective to eliminate them.

The aspen fleabane is a shorter, bushier plant that produces abundant blooms.  I am fascinated by the narrow, plentiful petals that radiate out from the head of the flower.  I must admit (but don't tell the rest of the plants) that this is now one of my favorite plants in the garden - it is fast-growing, has required no protection from critters or other special treatment, and has stunning flowers. 

Yes, the rewards of patience and pottering (verb particle: to move around without hurrying, and in a relaxed and pleasant way).

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  1. Such a pretty poppy, amazing garden and beautiful, beautiful flowers. No wonder you love gardening so much!

  2. gardeners we kid ourselves thinking that we can duplicate nature like that beautiful sight at Many Glacier! Thanks for hosting.

  3. Wow your post is amazing - filled with so many gorgeous blooms

  4. Oh your garden looks beautiful, Angie! I love all the poppies! We also sowed a wildflower prairie mix and it is now blooming. Thank you for hosting!

  5. Glad you are enjoying your gardening! Everything is now in it's prime down here. But I'm still waiting for my Black Eyed Susan vine to flower. Kit

  6. Indeed a fantastisc combination in the title... I love especially the poppies.

    And... how lovely, I posted in a same way of our walk through tue Nature on the River Schmutter.

    Happy MosaicMonday

  7. Loved your reference to poppies as a symbol of the men who died in WWI. Reminded me of the powerful poem by John McCrae:

    In Flanders fields the poppies blow
    Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
    Scarce heard amid the guns below.

    We are the Dead. Short days ago
    We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
    In Flanders fields.

    Take up our quarrel with the foe:
    To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
    We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
    In Flanders fields.

  8. Thank you Angie - the red poppy is such an important reminder. Love seeing your 'wild' flowers.

  9. Beautiful garden, you surely are gifted with a green thumb. Happy mosaic Monday

    much love...

  10. Hello, I just love the poppies. The view of the wildflowers and mountain in Glacier is gorgeous. Pretty butterfly and beautiful flowers. Thanks for hosting MM. Enjoy your day, wishing you a great new week!

  11. You have a lovely garden, Angie, and your selection of plants is wonderful. I spend a lot of time in our garden, but it is only one in a suburban lot - however, it does have a huge variety of plants - flowers, herbs, shrubs and a few seasonal vegetables.

  12. So many blooms! I love the poppy and the story behind it. How meaningful they are.

  13. Red poppies are one of my favourite flowers. We have them in our garden and of course they play a prominent role in the Anzac Day commemorations on April 25 every year.

  14. I love yellow flowers ... little spots of sunshine on earth ... so the blanket flower has to be my favorite.... (I think my choice has something to do with the fact that back when I gardened it was in a rainy climate). I admire your knowledge and the fact that you’re using Montana native plants in your landscaping ... and I love that you can embrace the volunteers, like those chives! Thanks so much for hosting.

  15. Wow! Your flowr photos are very very beautiful. I also enjoyed to look for wild flowers at Dolomiti in Italy.

  16. I wish i had more time for gardening. Someday. I grew up with wild poppies where I grew up in Anchorage, Alaska. They came every may-june. So beautiful!

  17. How wonderful to know so many of the flowers that are native to that area. I'm constantly learning about the flowers here in Florida and just got a new wildflower book. Love all the lavender colors this summer! Happy MM! Oh...and I love that deer fence! Hugs!

  18. What a wonderful garden report! It warms my heart.

  19. Pottering, I like that word. That's what I like to doo, too, Angie. Potter in the garden, potter away at the art table, potter in the kitchen. Oh, to do pottery so I can say I potter as I pot. Okay, now I'm going overboard, which happens when I like a word.

    I love your flowers. Penstemon hss a familiar ring. I might have planted a purple one last month. We shall see. Until I took over Mama's gardens, I had no clue pottering in the garden was something I would enjoy a lot. Live and learn. :-)

  20. So nice to see what is happening in your garden, love the poppies, we call them Flanders Poppies here for ovbious reasons! Lovely to see plamts I know and plants that are new to me. The idea of a flower meadow is wonderful. The deer fence is a great idea, what ever works!! Bunnies are always a garden challenge, I am so happy we do not have them here.

  21. it was like going to gardening school. A lot of info. Orange blossom is my very favorite fragrance. Now Linden trees are competing for that award here. Good to know about the deer. Know how to deter bunnies? They are kamakazi to come in the yard with a 60 lb hunting poodle.

  22. Good luck with critter control. I love the idea of Hillbilly Wind Chimes.

  23. You have beautiful flowers in your garden Angie. Me too am fond of those modest blooming treasures. Cat mint self seeds, so it is easy to get a meadow of it. I loved your penstemons too, they are a new plant to me. It is frustrating with animals, the Finnish bunnies have never eaten my chive :) Different diet?

  24. Hi Angie what a beautiful garden you have ,lots of pretty flowers,love the idea of the hillbilly wind chimes,lol,hope you have a lovely day my friend xx

  25. Your flower shots are beautiful!

  26. Superb garden, and there was a Butterfly, you can't beat it.

  27. Who can blame those poor animals? You set out a beautiful, colourful,fragrant buffet of culinary delights and then you tell them it's for you only. Just kidding! Nice thoughts about poppys Angie.

  28. You are quite the garden lady now, I am impressed. We are going to need the Latin names for next week if you want to continue to impress. I love flowers both cultivated and wildflowers. I just don’t know the name of any of them except for roses. I have roses nailed. And am pretty good with tulips as well.

  29. Very impressive garden report. You are doing great and the results are stunningly beautiful.
    Enjoy the day and thanks for sharing.

  30. What a beautiful pink poppy. Haha … you say pottering, I say puttering. Whatever you call it, it’s fun and rewarding … although it never ends!

  31. SO beautiful! I love to see your garden photos. Loving those poppies and that butterfly :)

  32. Lovely floral photography in mosaic presentation ^_^

    Happy Day to You,
    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

  33. this post must have taken forever to put together - but i really enjoyed it. secondary to my birds, whom i adore, i love my flowers. it is nice to wander through someone's garden and have them educate you on "what's "growing" on"!!

    beautiful flower, gorgeous images, the pink poppy was my favorite!! yay for wildflowers and pollination!!!

  34. Your garden is just gorgeous! I an quite befuddled by gardens, at least mine! I plant seeds and don't see them for a couple of years. Or, it's winter here, but some anemones I planted a few seasons ago are coming up!
    I have learned to just enjoy what shows up :)

    My Corner of the World

  35. Thank you for sharing us education, please kindly visit mine :D


  36. Your poppies grabbed me! I planted quite a few varieties of poppy seeds a few years ago and none came up; I must need to start them in pots. California poppies I have better luck with, but I'd love to have other species.

    And so many of your other plants are familiar to me: I have penstemon in my garden, mock orange, blanket flower, and many kinds of salvia. I have bedstraw, but only the unwanted weed type!

    I like what you say about your "knowledge of plants exploding." This is the time of year when so much new information is coming to us in the form of sprouts and stems and blooms. Thank you for sharing so much of what you've seen and learned; I will have to check back here for more!

  37. Very pretty, especially the poppies.

  38. Loved seeing your beautiful flower garden! I ahve cat mint growing in my front garden and it's prolific!

    You will see that perennials will spread every year. Our garden looks so full this year even after hail storms and rabbits and deer nibbles. I did lose my potted rosemary herbs to frost unfortunately, but I bought a new plant and began again.

  39. Your garden is spilling over with pretty flowers. I love penstemons; always flowering month after month down here. The fragrance of orange blossoms is heavenly. It seems to me there is always some critter that just wants to munch on flowers. Angie, in a couple of years your garden is going to be a vision splendid.


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