Sunday, September 8, 2019

Mosaic Monday #44: Gardening Galore

Blue flax - from wildflower seed scattered last fall
I have so much to share with you, dear friends.  The ongoing transformation of my garden.  My burgeoning knowledge about the plants in this region.  The challenges of gardening in the woods with critters of all kinds. My embryonic plans for next year’s garden.  Are you seated comfortably?  Then let’s begin.

In my previous garden posts (June 9 and July 21), I have featured 70% of my formal plantings.  Today you will see the remainder, again through collages illustrating their progression since the snow melted!  (Click on the collage to make it bigger.)
I always thought of Goldenrod as "common" - but it has
"grown" on me - LOL!
Bee Balm was in my June 9 post, but before blooming
Coreopsis - in the upper middle photo, the plants are 
barely visible.  They exploded into my most prolific plant,
all by self-seeding.  I transplanted many of them just to
make the flower bed look a little more shapely (lower middle
 shot is "after").  This is also the plant most plagued by deer.
Aster - far right plant was drastically nibbled by deer
earlier this summer - silver lining?  Abundant flowers
on the ends of multiple stems
Prairie coneflower - I love this plant.  Began blooming in
mid-July and is still full of color.   Knock on wood, deer
don't bother it.
Goodland apple - I wrote about the apple trees in my
June 9 post - at that time, they were still in flower.  The
Goodland has 12 apples.  We beefed up the protection on
this tree after the 1 small apple on the Honeycrisp 
disappeared.  Suspect?  Chipmunks.
Scarlet Gilia - given its delicate nature last summer, I was surprised it returned at all.
I have since learned by observation that it does not grow back from its base, but only
by self-seeding - we must have over 140 "volunteers".  I have also learned from visiting
the nursery that it will not flower this year but next.
Russian Sage - another love.  As you can see, it grows back from its base and becomes
this sprawling web of purple.  And the deer don't bother it.
Black-eyed Susan: another plant that returns only via self-seeding.  It takes a keen eye to spot
these "volunteers", and some patience to see how they develop before deciding to keep or
to pluck.  Shortly after the last picture, deer came along and ate this bloom and several of
the buds closest to opening.  Grrrr ….

Speaking of deer – perhaps it is obvious that our “deer defense” system has ceased to be effective.  I guess those clinking beer/cat food cans are now music to their ears!  Few plants have been immune to their affections, but the coreopsis below the mudroom has been nibbled almost every night for the last month.  Good thing I have a lot of it – I have deliberately left some sections uncovered in the hopes that the deer will focus on those.  Friday we installed an “Animal Repeller” – when it senses an animal, it emits a high-pitched noise, and if at night, flashes a strobe light as well.  So far? Mixed results since I do have deer tracks this morning.  Might need to move it slightly.  This has also taught us that we need to change up the defense system.  Cans for a period, then sparkly ribbons, then the repeller, and so on.

Black aphids also returned to the pearly everlasting and the yellow penstemon in mid-August.  The good news?  The Columbian ground squirrels have gone into hibernation!!!  At least one less threat to deal with!

As you can see from some of these pictures, the “formal” landscaping is quickly outgrowing its defined boundaries.  I am torn between a desire for “order”, and the joy of nature doing its thing.  Just given my personality, this will be an ongoing tussle, but I am determined to encourage a natural garden, so “disorder” is the preferred condition.  This means allowing many plants to grow until I can figure out what they are – the benefit is less weeding (at first)!   Each time I realize I have a new volunteer, it’s like a instant shot of joy. 
It is much easier for me to accept “chaos” in our “prairie”, which you may recall was planted with a grass seed/wildflower seed mix last fall.  It’s the gift that keeps on giving – I can almost always find something new out there. 
Clockwise from upper left: Larkspur; Coreopsis variant; Lupine; Purple Coneflower; Blue Flax; Black-eyed Susan
I learned that Blue Flax flowers last less than 24 hours.  I took the above picture in the morning and I was glad I did!

It seems each day brings new learning for me, and from a variety of sources.  Most of it is plain observation.  For example, the aster plant that was significantly pruned by deer produced the most flowers.  And once a plant is flowering, the deer don’t eat it.  And I have been amazed (and pleased) that most of our plants are as advertised – they thrive even in our dry conditions.  Of course, the Web is a superb source of information, but sometimes you need a fellow human, and in that case, the Center for Native Plants has been a god-send.    While the wildflowers have been easy to identify, the grasses have been much more difficult.

I called Hooper’s Garden Center (which provided the grass/wildflower mix), and they gave me a list of grasses that was included in the mix.  I studied each of them, even sketching diagrams in my garden journal, and teaching myself about grass anatomy.  Unfortunately, most of them did not seem to match the grasses outside.  I reached out to a friend who works for the Forest Service, and he recommended two sources: the book “Plants of the Rocky Mountains” and the Center for Native Plants in Whitefish. 

I ordered the book and it was helpful to identify some of the grasses, but I still had gaps.  So, on one of my weekly trips to Whitefish, I stopped in the Center and talked with Sarah about my challenge.  She referred me to the nursery manager, Hailey.  She suggested Hailey might come out to our house (for a fee plus gas), but that she might also be able to identify the grasses just from pictures.  Sold!  That night I sent off a series of emails to Hailey, and within a few days she had responded.  Most importantly, she was able to tell me that only one of the grasses is highly invasive. 
Lower middle is Cheatgrass - highly invasive.  Fortunately, I only found two small patches of it - pulled it up
carefully - trying not to spread seeds - and threw it away.  Only three of these matched the list given to me
by Hooper's.  Go figure!

While I am enjoying the plants which are blooming in the garden now, half of me has already turned my attention to next year’s garden.  At the end of July, seeds were ready to be harvested from both columbine and blanket flower plants.  Since then, I have also collected the following seeds: aspen fleabane, lupine, chives, goldenrod, nodding onion, aster, coreopsis, rocky mountain penstemon, red poppy, bee balm, coneflower and yarrow.  It gave me great joy yesterday to give some seeds to a friend who recently moved into her new house.
At least half of my seeds are to be planted in the fall, so I am creating to-scale drawings of each of my flower beds, including all the volunteers.  This will allow me to decide where to augment the landscape, taking into account size, color and the time frame for blooming.  I would like to make sure that every flower bed has something in bloom at all times.

Red Osier Dogwood
In early August, we transformed the area near our “address rock”.  Our neighbor on the hill had previously given us nearly 20 rocks, and had carefully arranged them in a semi-circle using his tractor.  After driving by it numerous times, I decided for a different look, and he willingly came down the hill with the tractor and re-arranged them in real time.  And gave us a scoop of dirt.  And dug a hole for a dogwood we plan to place there.  What a pal!  The barter system is alive and well in Montana; he was happy to help us out in exchange for the water he has been able to access from our well head throughout the summer! 

We will be adding some top soil to the area, and then fall seeding will begin using the design you see below.  The Red Osier Dogwood will go in the hole – it is meant to provide some contrast with the pines, and to anchor that end of the flower bed.  A few transplants, such as juniper, will complete the fall planting and we will let Mother Nature do her work until it is time for spring planting of the other seeds.  I am so excited to see how this develops.

Re-focusing on events closer on the time horizon, I wanted to get a jump on the deer and/or the elk that might take a shine to the apple trees and maples. (You may remember my post from September 29 last year, when elk had seriously pruned one of my maples and also nibbled the apple trees.)  Not this year, my friends – we bought taller caging material and put it around both maples and the apple trees. 
Soon we will harvest the apples to prevent them from attracting bears.  And frost might nip away at my flower pots as early as next week.  But in the meantime, I will relish all the beauty that they have to offer.  

Welcome to Mosaic Monday, a weekly meme where we get together to share our photo mosaics and collages.
Please include at least one photo mosaic/collage in your post.
The link will be open from 1 p.m. Sunday until 11 p.m. Monday (U.S. Mountain time).
Remember to add the link to your Mosaic Monday post and not the one to your blog.
Please link back to this post so that your readers will be able to visit and enjoy more wonderful mosaics; taking the MM blog button from my sidebar is an easy way to link back.
As host I will visit every participant and leave a comment so that you know I stopped by.
Please try and visit as many other blogs as you can, especially those that join in later, so that everyone's creativity can be appreciated fully.
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  1. Just beautiful! We have most of those flowers in spring. Isn't it funny how the same wildflowers will grow in such different climates? But very little is blooming here now. I occasionally see a clasping coneflower blooming on the side of the road, but most things, including grass are dormant here now. We have the dreaded cheatgrass too and too much to pull by hand, but I keep trying. I need to make a wick applicator to target those.

    I got a kick out of your deer comments. We have never lived where there are deer before and at first, I thought it was so neat that they came right up to the house. That was before they ate my prized twist leaf yucca down to the ground and ate all the leaves off my water lilies. lol

  2. ... a 50 year career in the nursery/landscape business has taught me that some areas are better left to Mother Nature, the master gardener. I have a home in the Adirondack Mountains and I leave it up to her to decide what to grow.

  3. Wow! I am impressed. What great plants and your plan for your future garden looks wonderful. I am curious how soon we'll get our first frost. I have geraniums I will need to bring in. I fight for the debate in my soul over natural or an orderly garden myself. So I let my beds go natural and my pots are Have a great week! Kit to the south

  4. Everything is so beautiful and you're doing an amazing job complimenting Mother Nature!

  5. My goodness this IS a wide variety of blooms of all sorts. Your passion for gardening is monumental. Unwitting the critters that want a piece of these efforts is challenging, indeed, but you’ve got some good ideas.

  6. How wonderful to see your plans. I think I might have a Russian Sage plant on our property. This is a learning year for us for sure. You have some good plans. We have the use of our son's tractor right now and it's amazing what can get done with the proper equipment. We have cleared a lot of brush and moved a mound of bark that was left in our side yard by the previous owners. I enjoyed all your photos and mosaics. Happy September to you! If you ever travel to Colville (70 miles north of Spokane)you have an open invitation to enjoy an evening at our country bungalow.

  7. Wow you did put a lot of stuff on the blog. We have lots of deer here also as we are surrounded by woods acres and acres of woods. Huge tree farm. We have 14 apple trees and share with the deer. They clean up the windfalls and we get the ones on the trees. So far it has worked pretty good. Same the the bear/bears. We only accasionally see scat so we think just one. I like how you have taken pictures of the different seasons of plants---fron just coming through the eart and finally blooming.
    Enjoy Fall

  8. Thank you Angie for sharing your gardening areas. Love your garden mosaics and photos - a work of love.

  9. Gardening galore indeed! LOVE all your pretty flowers and plants. I rather love it when flowers escape from their boundaries. =) Your Goldenrod rather reminds me of the Australian Wattle tree. Your garden is coming along beautifully.

  10. Hello, Angie! Your flowers and gardens look beautiful. It is a shame the deer do so much damage. Good idea to harvest the apples before the bears eat them. Beautiful mosaics! Thanks for hosting MM! Happy Monday, wishing you a great day and happy new week!

  11. Everything does look so beautiful at this time of year. It's fun to learn the names of plants and I love when you say, you can always find something new when you look around. That makes it fun. And challenging to keep the critters out...they like it too! Our posts go together pretty well again this week! Hugs!

  12. Your garden looks delightful, Angie. As a fellow gardener I can definitely say that it looks as though you have put a lot of work in it! But, as they say, no pain, no gain and you have a gained a lot.

  13. I would love to have a prolific garden like that. Our city lot only allows for a few containers. But, I'm still enjoying a few tomatoes and jalapenos.

  14. wow your garden is coming along and looking fabulous. We certainly don't have problems here in my garden with elk, deers and bears! I certainly wouldn't want the bears! Happy gardening and thank you for hosting. I've been away the last 8 weeks and it is taking a little while to get back into the swing of life.

  15. Angie, your garden is sure to reward you with wonderful growth and blooms given all the care you are taking with it. It's too bad the deer like to munch on SO VERY MANY things! My garden is a mixture of organized and natural plantings - some volunteers I remove, others I let grow where they want. It's a balance, for certain!

  16. That's some serious caging around your trees! Hope it works!

  17. I love your garden, Angie! I let unknown things, including what friends say are weeds, grow so I can decide if I like them or not. I like your plans for the new plot with the huge rocks. This year, I'm going to experiment with fall planting for the spring. So I say right now.

    Hmmm,what I thought was flax growing in the yard is not when I compare it to your flax. I wonder what the blue flower was.

    One tree of green apples look like yours, but I don't think they're goodlands, which is the first time I've heard about. Mama planted seeds from an apple she ate in 1987. The apples are great for pies.

    Do you deadhead the Black-eye Susans? I got a pot last Fall and planted the flowers in the ground in April. They have a long bloom. A couple weeks ago I snipped off the dried blooms, hoping they may bloom again before winter sets in. Maybe I should've deadheaded earlier. I hope they grow and increase in number next year.

    It's fun talking about gardens. :-)

  18. Gardening is a real adventure for you and I’m loving each chapter as you share! I remember reading once that a natural , native garden was harder in many ways to maintain than a perfectly ordered one, because of the uncertainties. ... Each of your mosaics is lovely and I am especially fond of the last the pinkish flower on top center a flax? It looks sort of like the blue one in your first picture. I love both colors .

  19. Gardening is a wonderful thing to do, I enjoy it so much and it seems you do, too!
    Thanks for sharing sooo many photos and details.

    My Corner of the World

  20. Love your garden journal. Mine is just a running calendar of garden activities. - Margy

  21. Your gardening is impressive. Deer can certainly be a problem. I've seen them eat roses, thorns and all!

  22. I love your plans. I haven't done much of that, preferring disorder!
    I hear you about the deer.

  23. Hi Angie wow what an awesome post your garden is amazing,hope your day is a good one my friend xx

  24. Absolutely stunning Angie. All of them are brilliant, especially the video.

  25. Wow! fantastic post and beautiful nature photos and sketch ^_^

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

  26. So many beautiful flowers in your garden despite the challenges of beasties that seem to eat everything. It is always a wonderful surprise she plants self seed. We have some here that have become a bit invasive so have been pulled out. Your garden will be stunning when you get flowers all year round.

  27. Angie, you are surely becoming an experienced gardener. You have learned so much since you moved to Montana. You flowers are gorgeous as are your photos. Thanks for sharing your adventurous story, I enjoy it.

  28. Wow, you are really into he seeds and plants and such. You will be a resource for others very soon.
    How cool to have a generous neighbor with a backhoe to help you with the rocks. I only took one landscaping course and what I remember most is the instructor saying that if you are going to use rocks, use big ones. I think you did.

  29. Wonderful flowers and plants … I thoroughly enjoyed your mosaics.

    All the best Jan

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