Friday, June 29, 2007

Garden Glimpses : Late June 2007

Lately I have spent little time in the garden during the day, a combination of work being too hectic, and my allergies going crazy. This is the first year I have had noticeable allergies during the summer, usually it is only February to April. I suspect the cottonwood trees - at times the fluff is coming down so heavy, it looks as if it's snowing. It could also be grasses. Anyhow, I am very pleased this year to have gotten off those awful antihistamine pills, and instead have a really effective nasal spray (Nasonex) and eye drops (Patanol), which work quite well to reverse the effects, when I do go outside.

The last few evenings, I tried instead going out between dinner and putting the kids to bed. However, I now have over 20 mosquito bites on my arms, 10 on my legs, and about 5 on my.... well, let's say those little buggers bit right through my underwear!

So with the change in weather to occasional rain, my strategy has changed to visiting the garden between bouts of rain. This sure helps with the allergies. And today I needed a break from my work anyhow, so I was out weeding in full force. In a good session, I can pull a whole large clear garbage bag of weeds in one hour. Everything grows BIG in my garden. If the weeds were edible, they would all be entree size, not just side salads!

Anyhow, from a distance (which is what most visitors see), it looks like I am keeping on top of it all. Here is a view of the back yard, the Southwest side (double-click for a larger image):

Southwest view of the garden ...and Southeast side:

Southeast view of the gardenThere is no shortage of projects in my garden. Yesterday I trimmed down many of the yellow Garden Loosestrife (Lysimachia punctata) which had flopped over. (This year, it appears an animal must have jumped or walked through it, it doesn't usually flop so much with just the weight of the rain). My project was interrupted by sudden and very hard rain, and I dashed for the house, with a small bunch of flowers to enjoy:

loosestrife bouquetI am thinking to relocate many, if not all, of these cheery yellow flowers, to the outside of the fence, in my wild corner. Perhaps these vigorous and spreading plants will eventually outcompete the tall grasses and 5' high horsetails growing out there! If you don't believe me, take a look at these specimens:

those are some big horsetailsToo bad those are not edible!

Moving back to the garden, here is a cheery patch of asiatic lilies:

orange tiger liliesAnd finally, to celebrate the first day of summer vacation, a photo of my son in his graduation hat (which one of the moms made out of construction paper), after returning from his graduation ceremony:
handsome kindergarten gradI'm not too much for making a bit deal about kindergarten graduation, but it sure was a cute ceremony. I look forward to many more - serious - graduations in future.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Red-backed Jumping Spider Discovery

My six-year-old son called me today to come and see a really neat spider. I was surprised that it is one I have never seen before (and I've discovered a lot of creatures in my life!). So I encouraged him to scoop it into his "pooter" jar until we could identify it.

It was not hard to identify. It turns out to be a Phidippus johnsoni, also known as a red-backed jumping spider. Pretty neat. All black and hairy like a miniature tarantula, with the back of his abdomen completely red. Looks poisonous, but apparently is not, it just inflicts a very painful bite, which may hurt for days. Ha ha. Handle with care.

It turns out that ours is a male, the female would have a black stripe down the back of the red abdomen.

I don't think my camera will take a picture which will do it justice, and I'm not ready to let it out to try, so here is a photo "borrowed" from a page (just in case the page disappears) which has some really good photos of both a male and female:
Kinda spooky, she looks like she's looking at your right shoulder, considering whether she should jump up, doesn't it?

And here is the original Phidippus johnsoni page which helped me positively ID this little guy - a page well worth visiting - just not before heading to bed.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Garden Glimpses: Mid June 2007

Here's a few more photos from my garden, taken this past week...

Bees on Lavendula StoechasI love the big fuzzy bumblebees on our Lavendula Stoechas (Spanish Lavender). Here's another photo:
Bumblebees on Spanish Lavender I love watching the bees buzzing from flower to flower. A few days ago, I almost got too close...
Bee in Handful of Geranium TrimmingsI was deadheading one of my hardy geraniums, and didn't notice this bee resting on one of the remaining flowers, until I had it in my hand. Good thing it was evening, he was pretty docile, and I was able to clip off the flower and lay it in the garden, before stuffing the handful of clippings into a clear bag for composting.

Damselfly on Blue Oat GrassMy daughter noticed this damselfly resting on the blue oat grass. It was getting evening, and the flash created an interesting effect, making it appear to be glowing.

First Blush of Colour on Red Currant I love this time of year, when there are lots of hopeful signs of fruit... such as this first blush of red on the red currants.

Espalier Apple Fruit My espalier apple tree is not loaded with fruit like last year, but I'm pleased to have some apples to look forward to.

Espalier Asian Pear FruitThis espalier asian pear will need to be thinned soon, to allow the fruit to develop fully. What a delight to see so much fruit this early on.

Strawberry Garden FindThe rule in our garden is that if the kids find any ripe fruits, they are welcome to pick and enjoy them, although I encourage them to show them off (and occasionally pose for a picture) first, such as this photo-worthy strawberry found by my daughter.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin