Greenwalks

Gardening where the sidewalk ends

Still Shining November 10, 2009

This is one for the flower-lovers (you know who you are, and aren’t).

A year or so ago, a simple raised bed appeared in the parking strip a few blocks from my house. Good soil went in, things were planted, I didn’t go past for a while, but when I was out for a walk the other day, we’re talking almost-mid-November here, I almost fell over when I saw this.

Parking Strip Flower Explosion

What are they feeding those things? The good stuff, obviously.

My cosmos are long gone, at least I think they are – maybe I should look again! These ones are not only still blooming, they are forming new buds even as the evening temps dip toward freezing.

Cosmos and Zinnias

Massive orange dahlias abound:

Lion-ish Orange Dahlia

Guess I’m not the only one who plants stuff and forgets what it’s called (this was attached to one of the massive dahlia stalks):

Dahlia Tag

I loved this tattered but still-glowing zinnia, its charms a bit faded but still cheerful on a cold fall day:

Aging Zinnia

My sunflowers are long gone too, and yet here are these, still standing proud and topping out at probably 11 ft. How they survived the previous night’s wind storm, I have no idea.

Towering Sunflowers in Mid-November

Well, mostly survived:

Broken-necked Sunflower

This gardener chose not to rip up the entire parking strip, just a small patch of sod for the raised bed. But man, you can fit a lot of loveliness in a small space if you get it right. I can’t wait to see what they get up to next year!

Just one house over, strange things are growing in the lawn…

Skeleton in the grass

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Goodbye to Summer Sun(flowers) September 17, 2008

While the rest of the country has been either pummeled by hurricanes or inundated with extreme heat, we in the Seattle area have been enjoying one of the loveliest, driest, warmest Septembers in memory. I think it has yet to rain a single drop this month, which may not be so great in the long run but, after our weirdly rainy and cool summer, is a welcome relief at the moment.

In theory, this should have kept my (volunteer) sunflowers going long into the fall. In reality, a hungry squirrel climbed them all and broke their necks, resulting in my street garden looking even more like a crazy person’s than usual.

My garden looks crazy

Okay, so the flowering/bent over leeks, empty snap pea teepee and general look of obvious neglect didn’t really help either, so I can’t really blame it all on the squirrel. I’ll just go ahead and admit that I didn’t do much in the way of garden maintenance this summer!

I finally decided it was just getting too embarrassing, though, so yesterday I went out and pulled up all the sunflowers, as well as the leeks (the latter make nice dried flowers).

In progress

(The green weed container at the top of that photo is an old pickle bucket my mom bequeathed to me – she used to get them from McDonald’s for free! No idea why they used to give them away – they don’t anymore. So it’s kind of like a treasured family heirloom. It’s sturdy as heck and doesn’t rot or rust if you leave it out in the rain.)

There were a couple of seed heads that hadn’t been completely devoured yet, although one had been partially consumed.

Decapitated sunflower heads

The entire time I was working, I could hear the squirrel up in the neighbor’s plum tree, probably doing the usual one-bite-and-drop-then-on-to-the-next routine. It was chattering and I imagined its little rodent brain wheels turning as it thought “what is that moronic woman doing with MY #%*&! LUNCH?!?” I left the decapitated flower heads out, so they’ll probably be finished by tomorrow.

Now there’s not much left in my veggie patch besides some very sad, yellow basil (I was out of town during a 90 degree hot spell, right after they were planted, so no amount of watering when I returned could bring them back to health), a few other herbs and the crazy fennel that refuses to bulb. Gotta get my winter veggie starts in before they get eaten by a snail!

Mostly cleared

The rains are supposed to begin this weekend, and Seattle will return to its normal, semi-gloomy self. We’ll all put on our Gore-tex jackets and hide indoors with our library books until next… July?! Until then, I’ll be dreaming of next year’s sunflowers.

All that's left

 

Seed Snarfer August 31, 2008

My family looked out the window this morning and saw something pretty funny. A big, fat squirrel, perched precariously on top of one of my parking strip sunflowers, was scarfing down all the seeds s/he could reach. I had noticed yesterday that some of the flowers were leaning over and thought it was due to a windy day we had earlier in the week. Guess it was the squirrel’s climbing expeditions instead.

Sunflower Squirrel

One of the stems had snapped off halfway down, so I hacked it off and brought it up to our house level so that we could watch the fun from a closer vantage point. The squirrel soon reappeared and ate the entire huge head of seeds. “It’s like it’s a big feast!” was my daughter’s comment. Guess fall must really be here.

Squirrel Things Sunflower Seeds Are Yummy

 

Volunteer Sunflowers August 23, 2008

Three years ago, I planted some sunflowers in the parking strip. I can’t even remember what variety they were, I think they were some dwarf hybrid Mexican type, petite and bronze and cute. The following year, I didn’t get around to planting any but noticed some familiar-looking volunteer seedlings in the same part of the garden so let them stay to see what would happen. They shot up over late spring and early summer to become 6 ft. and taller volunteer sunflowers!

Nodding sunflowers

They aren’t really true to type anymore, but that’s fine by me. Now I no longer bother with seeds from a catalog, just let the squirrels and birds have at them in the fall and see what comes up again next year. We can view their happy heads from the house and they seem to attract a lot of attention from neighbors and passers-by, even though they require zero effort to cultivate.

The big one