Greenwalks

Gardening where the sidewalk ends

Molasses July 10, 2010

Filed under: bugs,flora,summer — greenwalks @ 10:19 am
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That’s the speed of my blogging, blog reading, and gardening this summer. Or slower. More like a wet bee, one of which I found on some lavender I cut and brought inside in the rain last week. Luckily, I have not been stung too frequently in my life, so it wasn’t a big deal to let the bee crawl on my finger so I could take it outside to transfer it to a flower (Campanula persificolia) for some drying-out time.

Soggy bee

It didn’t sting me, and when I went back later to check, it had gone, so I hope it was able to fly away.

The rains have gone, the sun is here, the garden is taking care of itself by necessity and if I can water every couple of days, usually as the sun is setting after 9:30pm, that’s life in the big city.

How is your garden growing so far? Do you have time to actually enjoy it? I hope you do!

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Parsley Peculiarity May 18, 2010

Filed under: bugs,herbs — greenwalks @ 8:23 pm
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Please pardon my absence, May is my crazy month. Three family birthdays, Mother’s Day, the school auction, and a few more biggies tossed in there for good measure, all in the first 15 days of the month alone! I am still recovering.

Of course, all of this means that I usually start the gardening season way behind. I finally got around to weeding and readying the small veggie patches and while I was furiously ripping stuff out, I accidentally knocked the central stem out of my biggest overwintered parsley plant. So, I brought it in for a lazy-gal’s bouquet.

Parsley "bouquet"

It was in the house for a day or so before I noticed this:

Spittlebug foam on parsley

Spittlebug! Ew. Well, not ew exactly, since I don’t think I’ve ever seen what’s inside all that foam. There are quite a few of these guys out there at the moment – they mostly seem to hang out on the lavender stems, but apparently parsley is good too.

Spittlebugs lay their eggs in the fall, the eggs overwinter on stems and leaves, then the nymphs hatch out in the spring and produce their characteristic protective foam as they feed on plant stems. In the home garden, they are apparently more unsightly than truly problematic, but they can cause serious damage to agricultural crops if infestation is heavy. If you don’t like yours, just give them a blast with the hose and it should at least knock the foam off, if not the bugs. And when they are done eating and transform into leafhopper-looking bugs, the foam dries up and we can forget about them again until next spring.

What is the weirdest critter that ever came into your house with something from the garden?

 

Why I Keep the Asters October 28, 2009

Filed under: bugs,fall,flora — greenwalks @ 10:06 am
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The asters that reseed vigorously in my parking strip garden are tall, leggy, often in the wrong place and prone to rust late in the season. But I keep them anyway. Do you know why?

Asters in late September

Here’s another look:

Bee on aster blossom

Yes, for the bees. Most of the blossoms are gone by now (these photos were taken back in late September), but since there aren’t many flowers on the street still blooming at that time of year, I like giving my buzzing friends a last little taste of summer before it’s time to close up the honey shop for the year.

Do you have any plants you keep around mostly for the wildlife to enjoy?

 

You Know You Haven’t Gardened in a While… September 13, 2009

Filed under: bugs,flora — greenwalks @ 7:22 pm
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… when you put on your gloves for the first time in ages, feel little tickling on the back of your hand, ignore it for a bit, feel it again, peel off your glove and…

A LIVE, WRIGGLING EARWIG FALLS OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Then you attempt to contain your instinctive shrieks and curse words since you know the neighbors are out on their patio, and instead you do the most insanely uncontrollable flapping, hopping full-body shudder dance you have ever done in your life. The favorite gloves will now be consigned to occasional use, as they are now suspect and will always be The Earwig Gloves.

No, I did not take a picture, but I did find another earwig while cleaning off the porch today so I can continue my long and tedious deck-painting project. I would much rather be gardening than painting or all of the other long put-off things on the house to-do list. But first, I will need new gloves. Ew, is there anything more skin-crawling than an earwig? Wait, maybe don’t answer that, I’m sure there is. At least it didn’t pinch me!

I hope to be back to slightly more regular blogging now that summer is over and I’m no longer on all-day mom duty. We had a lot of fun and even saw a few nifty gardens during the school vacation, but the time for gardening, blogging and blog-reading (and commenting) was pretty much nil. I look forward to catching up on what you’all have been up to and seeing how your gardens grew during the season.

Much nicer than a bug photo, I hope – some cute stripy small Dahlias my mom grew this summer.

Stripy dahlia

 

Bee-autiful Poppies June 10, 2009

Filed under: bugs,flora,my garden — greenwalks @ 5:26 pm
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I have a lot of poppies in my garden at the moment, all bright (loud, really) colors, all about to have a bunch of interesting seed heads but also floppy, dried-out foliage. Many will get yanked to make room for summer annuals, a few more perennials that need to be liberated from their pots, and my growing herb collection.

While they last, though, the poppies not only put on a riotous visual show but also get the bees going nearly insane with delight. I am easily distracted from garden tasks (and they are legion at the moment, including boring endless watering since we have had no appreciable rain since mid-May – what is this, California?!) and love to watch and listen to them wander around the garden and roll around in the pollen. Here is one in the big showy red poppy right outside our front windows:

Bee in poppy

I know we are supposed to be worried about colony collapse, but I have seen a ton of honeybees this spring so maybe things are not so bad as they have been? Anyone know?

I had to hold onto this smaller poppy to take the photo, since the bee was making it wave around so much. Darker bee, maybe a mason bee? I don’t have bee houses so whoever comes to visit, they are making their own homes and hives.

Bee in orange poppy

Lastly, I don’t know quite how they got into my garden, but late spring and early summer would not feel complete for me at this point without my parking strip full of California poppies. I mention them a lot because they just make me so dang happy. The bees agree on this one too – this time it’s a bumblebee.

Bee on California poppy

We just watched the latest Mike Leigh film on DVD, “Happy-Go-Lucky.” I thought it would maybe be annoying, as his work sometimes can be, but it was one of the better movies I’ve seen in a while (click here to see the trailer). A very nuanced take on the daily life of someone who either by nature or choice is just a truly compassionate, funny, joyful person. Her name – oh, did you need to ask? Poppy!

 

Book surprise April 5, 2009

Filed under: books,bugs — greenwalks @ 10:10 am
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(We’re back from a wonderful few days at the Washington State coast, but my camera gave up the ghost midway through the vacation so I’m going to be posting older photos for a while until I sort out what to do about that. Good thing my birthday is less than a month away and a camera was on the top of my list anyway!)

My ever-observant daughter was reading picture books with her dad the other night, when suddenly she shouted “Hey look, a ladybug!” It was clinging to the top of “Beware of the Frog” by William Bee – although I’m sure the title choice was unintentional, the poor thing did look pretty afraid. (Sorry for the blurry photo – we didn’t want to scare it further by setting off a flash.)

Book surprise - ladybug!

We managed to get it outside and onto a plant – no idea how it came home in the library pile, but hope it survives to go attack the aphids that plague my broccoli and nasturtiums every year.