Autumn Garden Journal #1

Since Casey retired we’ve expanded our bird-feeding operation quite a bit.  We’d had our feeders on the east side and really couldn’t watch the birds from there.  When we moved one of them around to the south, I was inspired to bring  all the feeders out where we could sit in the dining room–which has full windows to the east– and watch the birds empty them from our rockers.

At nearly the same time as this vision occurred I bought Sharon Sorenson’s book, “Planting Native to Attract Birds to Your Yard” and it seemed to be a sign that I should plant around the feeders with natives.  You’d be surprised what’s Not native and I already owned a few…  My Jane Magnolias are not native, meaning the birds don’t actually get nutrients from them, but they love to use the branches to perch and use it in all seasons to take their turns at the feeders.  Daisies are another non-native that I am over-run with, but I moved them to the Rose and the North Garden.

Sticking with her recommendations about new buys, I bought a maple-leaf viburnum and planted near the back.  Unfortunately, it had a sudden attack by viburnum beetles in August.  We caught it pretty early and put it in a large pot and babied it, so I think it will be all right.

I also picked up some black-eyed Susans (rudbeckia) and purple coneflower (echinacea), two of my long-standing favorites, though I killed quite a few Susans when I didn’t divide them for a decade or so.  Because I had no place to plant them permanently at the time, we crammed them together around the bird-feeders.

And so the time came to make my vision manifest.  I drew it up on graph paper and got Casey’s approval.  Then I brought out the bricks and used them to mark out my ideas.

I dug up the poor susans and coneflowers  and called in my Muscle.

It all came together like this…

It’s a work-in-progress, to be continued, but my Original Goal has been accomplished…

The view from the dining room should entertain us year-round…

Just in time, we have some rain!! It will take a lot to make up for the drought we’ve experienced, but it’s a start…


Keep on Growing…



Snappy Shots

The West Front Flower Patch…

The Edible Garden…

No rain has helped us to keep the gardens hydrated through these hot, muggy days, so that’s been my major accomplishment for the week.   Our local Shriner Fest started Wednesday and I’ve been distracted by the Air Show and my Favorite–Ultimate Air Dogs.  After I do some lavender-trimming and day lily dead-heading, I’m heading back down to the Riverfront for More!!!

Enjoy your day and drink water, drink water, drink water..!

Excerpts from the Garden Journal

I keep–or try to keep–a written journal of each gardening year, especially for marking my planting and harvest times.  I also try to keep track of what worked, what didn’t, and just how much work it took to get it to work!!!   I usually start out strong, chronicling my seed-starting and planting precisely, then trail off once I’ve gotten to the just maintenance part.  Last night I caught up with my journal after a 2-week hiatus.

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I did it again—neglected my garden journal.

Everything has grown like crazy–temps summer-like and humid.

Front porch:  wicker planter and houseplants out 6/13.  Fountain is cool.

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Hydrangeas —  cut back to clear window 6/12  and now rain has front blooms on the ground.  Need to cut them all back.  Blooms cut from back are drying on front porch.  Laid soaker hose.

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North Garden —  added daisies, pruned and trimmed, put riprap around edge, added soaker hose.

Butterfly/Bird garden (east) —  Lovely!  Added a flat dish hummingbird feeder and hung all 3 from trellis.  Read an article that said this may discourage bully-hummers, but..?  Planted honeysuckle at N end of trellis—hoping to train it to cover top.  Added soaker hose.

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Daylilies —  Huge (will need to be divided this year).  Not sure I appreciate them enough for the work of constant deadheading the slimy blooms.

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Pineapple Sage –okay.  Holly — good.  Soaker hose to all .

West (front) garden.  Saw a mom goldfinch land on a coneflower, shadowed by her young’un.  She tried another and decided finally on a large, more open bloom down the way.  Baby followed and she showed him how to munch the seeds from the flower, then flew up to a branch to watch proudly as he/she fed like a pro.    Black-eyed Susan vine growing like a weed and the Moonflower Vine is Alive!!!

Edibles— I do believe I’ll have ripe tomatoes by the 4th of July!  Almost lost the bush zucchini, but I covered a broken spot with dirt and it looks like it’s surviving.  fingers crossed.  3 of the ca wonder peppers look crappy, others okay.

It has rained the last 2 days and today’s high is predicted to be 97 degrees!!!   Sounds extremely sticky, so I’m glad the pool is up now.   Olivia and I are headed over to Henderson for lunch and to check out the Handy Blues Fest.

Stay cool, wherever you are!


There’s not much time to work in the garden, but my tomatoes, green beans, and yellow squash are growing well without much attention.  Don’t ask about the peppers and zucchini.  We’re about to harvest those sweet cherry 100’s, and the better boys are better than ever, ready for the 4th!

2014 in the Sonnystone Gardens

Just a picture post…  I thought that would be easier, but I find I’m unable to edit what pictures I add to such a large gallery…  I’ve tried 3 times to no avail.  So there’s another lesson:  sometimes you don’t get a do-over.

But sometimes, you do…  I’ve got plans for 2015…

The growing…

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Well, that seems like the fastest season ever—my grandkids came and went like a storm…a good one that drops rain just where it’s needed and leaves a rainbow on its way out…  The first evening they were here, back on July 8, I helped them plant a couple rows of zinnias.  We pretty much dropped the whole package in a little trench and the seedlings were up within a week.  They seem to be on hold now, and I’ll thin them out soon, but I have the faith to see them as blooming reminders of our creative powers, at any age.



Out on the newly-screened front porch, we had a clear view of the bees and birds as they perched on the coneflower and daisies.  It was a good time to learn how important those players are in the botany of desire—and the essential lesson that bees are not aggressive, stinging, bad guys, but rather just the opposite.

I’m headed back to school next week—Next Week!!   There are a few holes in the garden that I’ll fill in with beans, peas, and spinach, but most of the work now is being done in the kitchen…tomato salads, pesto, and grilled peppers and squash…

The tomatoes are prolific right now, so I’m currently dedicated to eating them, but slicing and/or eating them like apples isn’t quite enough to keep up with the abundance.

Here’s a recipe I fixed yesterday, gone today…  It’s from an old article from 8/4/00 titled, “Too Many Tomatoes?  Make Salsa!”

The Mediterranean:  Chopped tomatoes, artichoke hearts, olives and Capers, with red wine vinaigrette.

I will be making this little gem today:

Greek Salsa:  Chopped tomatoes, chopped cucumbers, black olives, feta cheese, with red wine vinaigrette.

The red wine vinaigrette is simply half red wine vinegar, half canola oil (or olive if you like), garlic, oregano, basil, or other fresh-snipped herbs, pepper and mix.

Try this one, too:

Corny Bean Salsa:  chopped tomatoes, corn kernels, black beans, minced Jalapeno peppers with cilantro-lime dressing.

The delicious dressing is made by mixing up a half-cup lime juice, half-cup canola oil, and mixing in granulated sugar, garlic, and chopped cilantro to taste…



blossoms…and porch progress

I managed to get outside Monday and re-pot some struggling plants, and just in the nick of time…a big wind blew in Tuesday and dumped a boatload of rain.  The plants didn’t mind, and the humidity temporarily subsided.  The bugs are really overwhelming this year.  I’m already scratching several chigger bites and the lightning-bugs (do you call them glow-worms?  fireflies?) arrive en masse every evening to brighten up the yard.

In case you don’t follow me over at Sonnystone  (why not?  see link above), I should explain that we are in the process of screening in our front porch.  My husband took off last week to get it started and got a lot done, but it all came to a grinding stop as he returned to work 10-hour days this week.  He does, however, have a 3-day week-end, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it will be all, mostly, done by Sunday so I can sit outside without being drenched in deet.  Mosquitoes love me and I react with  large, itchy, welps.  Naturally, this task has rather obsessed us—him, as he has designed and constructed it all by himself, and me, as I try to help by staying out of his way…

He’s being very careful with his ladder as he works in the flower garden… the blooms seem to enjoy the company…

I’ve harvested the first crop of green beans;  cooked them up last night and served them with a bowl of cherry tomatoes from our husky reds.  We’ve got several yellow squash growing, our dill is nearly ready, and I’ve got to seriously trim the basil…

I’d better get as much done as I can before the porch is finished…I have a feeling I’m going to be lazy there!