Hot and dry

Just drove back from the cabin. Its hot and dry but the garden is still thriving. 

It probable helps that most of my flowers are native plants and are commonly seen in the ditches and the fields nearby.
This is one of my favorite parts of the garden right now. We used to have 4 wild plum trees here. They were wonderful healthy trees but I had to make a tough decision. Wind plums have wickedly long thorns and who ever mows the lawn had to be very careful around these trees. And skunks were visiting the trees and eating fallen fruit and bugs. Now I don’t have a problem with the wild life but I do have a large dog that can’t resist wanting to play with animals that come in the yard and after a couple of bath sessions late at night when the play wasn’t friendly– I reluctantly  agreed to cut down the plum trees.

In its place we planted a butterfly garden. We spot butterflies and hummingbirds in this garden daily. The flowers here not only smell good but they hum with all the insect activity.this bug looks a little fierce and I will have to look it up and see what it is. I looks like a wasp of some sort – over an inch long and jet black with a beautiful blue on its wings. There were several sipping nectar on the swamp milkweed that I planted for the monarchs. It looks scary but I didn’t see a stinger. I dead headed the coreopsis blooms and froze them. No dyeing this week – it is so dry that the county has issued a warning about fires even in a fire pit. They also banned fireworks last week in Sauk county. So I will wait and hope for some rain.I know that this is not a native plant but I couldn’t resist it when I was at the nursery – it is a black pearl pepper plant. It is sold as an ornamental but you can eat these if you like super  hot peppers. The plants are beautiful with purple and green leaves and the gorgeous purple flowers turn into dark almost black peppers that have a lovely shiny surface.

There are a couple more herbs tucked into this garden – basil, lemon verbena and pineapple sage. The pineapple sage has the most wonderful fragrance and the humming birds are crazy for the long red tubular flowers in the fall. And if you like lemons the verbena is the lemony-est(if that is even a word). It makes the best jelly too.

This is woad that I planted this year. It is thriving despite the drought conditions. It only gets watered twice a month. This is weld and it is growing like a weed(snicker) This might be madder. I am going to have to try to find a picture – – it is the only seed that I got in a seed swap for dye plants that didn’t germinate very well. But I am not worried 2 weeks ago I didn’t see anything here so maybe it is a slow sprouting seed and maybe when I get back to  the cabin in 2 weeks I will see more plants. But I still have some more seeds in reserve if I need to replant.And this is going to be a surprise because I neglected to write down what I planted. If I had to hazard a guess I would say passion flower??? (Peg – you probable recognize this).
All in all I would say that cutting down the plums and adding this butterfly garden was a great idea. Thanks Marty! (sorry that I was so stubborn about this)
I also planted some black hollyhocks 2 weeks ago and saw 4 seedlings up. I can’t wait to be able to dye with this next year. It makes a wonderful bluish gray dye. I can’t wait to see the dark purple blooms. I grew them before but didn’t have any come up this year in that dark purple. I have one dark red plant and the rest are white and pink. Other gardening news is that the Japanese beetles are not as bad this year. This is what I found in my traps after 2 weeks. Yea- I know it looks like a lot but this is nothing compared with last year. And the neighbors have them a lot worse than this. They are emptying their traps every day and the bags are half full or 6″. I only have about an 1″ of bugs in my traps. I really think the nematodes did the job. Another ongoing project in the garden is this area. I made another big mistake about 5 years ago and planted a grass from the nursery. And it spread like wild. Don’t get me wrong I liked the grass – it was about 5′ high and was a nice screen to give us privacy but it wasn’t supposed to spread. It was taking over and crowding everything out. It had gotten so out of hand it was invading the neighbor’s lawn. So last fall we made a decision that it had to go. But it is an ongoing battle. Some weeks I don’t know who it winning. But this week it looked like I had the upper hand so I decided to spread some mulch on the bed and maybe this fall I can seed some wild flowers into this area. Now there are 2 other areas that also need to be mulched and I just spotted some of this evil grass coming up in another bed. ARRRGGG!
Don’t make the mistake that I did – ask if the grass you see at the nursery is spreading or clumping. And then don’t believe the answer(like I did) – write down the name of the plant and then come home and find it on the internet. And then maybe… buy it.
Whew all this gardening is exhausting — this is a picture of Meva from this morning after 2 days of helping in the garden.
We didn’t work all day — we did manage to get out on the lake and do a little fishing. I didn’t catch much but the tickler caught enough for our fish fry tomorrow. And they were all big fish – crappies that were 10-12″ and a perch that was almost 10″. Panfish and potato pancakes – a feast fit for a king.
So that’s the news from Lake Redstone. What’s happening in your neck of the woods?


  1. Peg said,

    July 13, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    Hi I’m not sure about your mystery plant; I thought it might be Love in a Mist but just looked at mine and don’t think so. It looks herbal; does it smell? I could be wrong, but I think your weld might be the madder and the one madder is the weld! At least that’s how I labelled them in my garden . . . Your garden is beautiful and I want some fish and pancakes!

    • whatzitknitz said,

      July 13, 2012 at 3:09 pm

      arrgg I must have mislabeled. I actually drew a little chart so I will go back and look again.
      Love in a mist that is the name I was trying to think of- I knew that you would know. thanks sis

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