Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Digaplexis and hot summer days ~

It has been mercilessly hot this week, temperatures reaching 100 degrees everyday. This makes it very difficult to get much done in the garden. I am continually amazed that any plant can survive the heat, but surprisingly some continue to do so.

 I have found the best way to cope is to get out early, around  6:30 am before it starts to heat up. I work in the garden a couple of hours, come in and eat breakfast and then collapse until it starts to cool off in the evening.

 Even Miss Twiggley's routine has changed with the season, sleeping during the day, stalking the house at night, looking for bugs to play with and when she really gets bored, leaping on the bed and attempting to get me to wake up and play.

I do get other tasks accomplished but the hot weather is so energy sapping that even inside chores seem to take longer. A good book and a nap seem to be the best way to while away the hot afternoon hours and I am fortunate to be able to do so - but not without a little guilt.

But in spite of all my complaining things are happening in the garden. It is really too hot to plant most things but I did find this wonderful Digaplexis plant that I couldn't resist. It is a cross between garden foxglove and perennial isoplexis canareiensis. 

I had first seen these last year but they were quite expensive and in large containers. I found these this week in gallon containers at Home Depot and I simply couldn't resist. They are also available at Annie's Annuals. Foxgloves are one of my favorite flowers and any improved variety would be great especially if they turn out to be perennials in my climate zone.

I have decided to situate them in a partially shady area where they will get filtered sun. It is too hot to plant them now but it is supposed to cool off a little at the end of the week so I am waiting until then to put them in the ground.

These are so pretty I really hope that they grow well for me, if so I will definitely be getting more next year.

Wish me luck!


PS.  The flowers in my header are Oakleaf Hydrangeas. These were cut as fresh flowers. Oakleaf hydrangeas grow well for me, much better than other hydrangeas which I never seem to have enough of. Until this year I hadn't thought of trying to dry them but I had them in such abundance that I gave it a try and they dried perfectly. I think they are going to make a lovely addition to dried bouquets. If you have some you might want to give it a try. I just dried them by the hanging method - away from light, in a closet.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Planting for summer color ~

It was a beautiful and cool morning. A bit overcast with the sun occasionally peeking through.

Perfect for what I had in mind...

cleaning up, and planting out new summer annuals in one of the back borders.

Otherwise, out with some old and in with some new.

I have lots of perennials planted here: roses, mums, salvias, iris, lambs ears, and gaillardias to name a few, but I like to mix in annuals for summer color. Many plants needed to be tidied up, cut back and dead-headed and all of the altromerias, which had finished blooming needed to be pulled, along with the spent spring annuals.

I planted several dozen of the zinnia seedlings I had started last month, Echinacea, some Nicotianas I had also started from seed, and for a bit of brightness Rudbeckias. I love rudbeckias they are so cheerful and do well in our tough climate.

As you can see it was quite a mess, but I all got cleaned up, planted, fertilized and the walkway swept before I came in for the day. Now I just hope it lives up to the picture I have in my mind, with gardening you never completely know what you are going to get, each day is full of surprises.

Thank you for visiting.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Ants be gone!

For the past several years I have been at war with ants. Argentinian Black Ants to be precise. With cooler weather the problem abates, but the minute the temperatures warm up they are back again. Nothing can be left out, I even have to refrigerate Miss Twiggley's dry cat food

Image result for argentine ants

 I have worked very hard to build up the population of good bugs and propagators in my garden and every time I was at my wits end with an evasion of ants and was picking up the telephone to call an exterminator I would look out of a window and see a beautiful butterfly flit by, a buzzing bee, or birds at the bird feeders. I just couldn't risk endangering this.

So, I have been trying natural remedies and I have come up with two solutions that in combination seem to be working.


 Diatomaceous earth, a benign white powder is excellent in getting rid of ants outside; it simply dehydrates them. I have been sprinkling it around ant hills at the perimeter of my house. So far it has completely destroyed all of the ant nests I have used it on. I will leave some nests in the far back  of my garden because I believe in the diversity of insect life in creating  a healthy garden.

Inside the house where I can't physically reach the ant nests I made my own ant bait - the ants simply ignored the commercial products I purchased. I tried several recipes I found online all using a combination of borax and some type of sugar/syrup solution. Borax is the killing agent and the sweetner was the attractant. This failed to attract my seemingly gourmet ants.

Then I realized that they really, really, liked wet cat food, the cat food of choice ironically is also Miss Twiggley's - Meow Mix. I used cat food containers with a bit of food left in and mixed in the borax. This is the same 20 Mule Team borax that is used for laundry, I just happened to have an old box in the garage. I added a little water to thin it. The nice thing about the cat food containers is that you can partially close the lid and the ants can still get in.

I made up a couple of these traps, putting one in my pantry and one under the sink. For a couple of days it was a bit yucky because in order for this to be really effective you have to let the ants come, feast, and take the food back to their nest to kill the queen before they die.

As of now, I am ant free! I love when persistence pays off. I wish I could give you the actual measurements I used but it was a bit random - I tried to add enough borax to kill but not so much that the ants wouldn't eat it.

  The bait is not poisonous but I would still make sure it was completely away from any pets or children.

This is probably the strangest post I have ever written but I thought this information might be helpful to others that want a environmentally safe way to deal with their ant problem

I hope you have a wonderful and pest free day!