The article today has no special focus like most of my writings, but as the title suggests I want to share with you what has happened in the different parts of my garden so far this year, and what I have been doing.

My LARKSPUR bloomed, produced seed and turned brown so I pulled them up and laid them in the wheelbarrow to save some seed.  I shook the plants and then put them in the compost pile. I have at least a pint of seeds I found in the wheelbarrow.  I am also sure there will be hundreds of new plants next spring.  Since ZINNIAS bloom in less than six weeks after planting, I put them in the bed and sprinkled it twice a day.  Almost immediately they are up in response to the hot weather. 

          In my bed of giant STAR OF BETHLEHEM there is a squash (?) plant snaking its way between the stars which are now 4 feet high and beginning to bloom starting at the bottom of a big tapered bloom.  They bloom around the base and the bloom keeps traveling up so I will have flowers until frost.  Many of them will get to 6 feet. There are between 4 to 6 flowers around the circle about 2 inches across, waxy white with a black center. They are not hardy here so I will dig them after first frost. They are not paying any attention to the squash down below. 

          This spring I told you I had found seeds advertising a “pumpkin tree”. When they came, I started them in the basement.  They are now 2 to 2 ½ feet high, blooming with many 2 ½ inch bright orange flowers that are ribbed just like pumpkins. I cut one off and am letting it dry upside down in hopes they don’t fall off or change color. So far so good!!! The ad said they looked “spectacular” in winter bouquets. Now I am sad as I only started six of them.  The leaves look innocent enough but have fairly wicked spines underneath on the vines.  I removed the leaves to dry the “tree”. It is actually an egg plant and edible. However, you wouldn’t get much. If you go on the internet to the Backyard Farmer web site ( you can see what they look like. Click on the plant of the week for August 2, 2007.

          I have been taking inventory of what got damaged during “freeze week”. It is not as bad as it seemed but some plants were so harmed that it will take several years to recover.  The shrub roses were leafed out and they turned black but they finally are about half as big as last year and many less blooms. PENSTEMONS were up and blackened.  Nebraska ones that Dale Lindgren has “invented” look good but any marginal ones (zone 6 and higher) never showed up again. All the COTTONWOOD TREE cotton was destroyed so our neighborhood did not turn white. The pods dropped and crunched underfoot. 

My weeds are especially healthy this year and keep coming up.  The harm done to the plants gave them an advantage! PURSLANE is thick!!! With the rain we had, the hoed ones re-rooted and they grew fast. Glysophate (Kleen-up, Roundup) slides off their waxy leaves and only makes a dent until the 2nd or 3rd spray.  I try to pull them by the roots and drop them on the sidewalk or a gutter for a day or two, so they dry out.

          IRIS had only 1/4th the usual numbers of blooms but now the plants are growing great.  Plants on the bottom of the lily ponds didn’t even notice the freeze.  Most are in bloom now as well as the WATER LOTUS. Perhaps next spring will be a little kinder.

          Two people gave me red-leaved TROPICAL HIBISCUS. One is in a big pot, and one is in the garden.  Both are about 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide with the most gorgeous cut leaves and a few color tints here and there.  I do not think they will bloom but the leaves last longer and are even prettier. They are not hardy so can not be left out this winter.

Spider mites during this hot weather are hard on my plants.  The DWARF ALBERTA SPRUCE turned a pale color. Angel trumpet leaves are covered with specs. I bought a shotgun spray for the hose and it relieves the pressure for a few days and then more hatch out.  My yearly cicadas are hatching out and soft places in the soil are full of little holes.  I pick up their skeletons on the edges of the patio.  They don’t seem to be hurting anything.

YARROW became scraggly and floppy so I cut it back to the ground and now will get a small crop of new blooms. I have 5 colors. Growing next to it in the hell strip is SILVER SAGE, a biennial that looks its best in the first year.  It has big, very, very, fuzzy leaves that stay close to the ground. Next year the bloom stalk will go up to 2 ½ feet and tends to flop.  If I cut it off close to the ground before it seeds, most will try to grow again next spring.  Another biennial that you can do that with is the early spring blooming purple or white SWEET ROCKET (Hesperis matronalis) Some of the plants I cut off and others I save the seed and plant immediately.  They will come up late summer and fall and bloom the next spring.  Some people call it WILD PHLOX.

My little Hank dog is getting big.  He is up to 12 pounds now and when we are both out at the same time, he dashes over, turns upside down, and wants to have belly scratched. He is still a hair ball with big eyes. I have never heard him bark.

Let me close with some trivia I found. I just read in “The Complete Flower Gardener” from Burpee (publisher?) that TULIPS were used as baby cradles by the fairies.  Medicinal Botany (Publisher?) tells that a toothache was believed to be caused by worm infections. Treatment included cotton, soaked with latex from the EUPHORBIA’S (poinsettia, crotons, caster beans) and put on the tooth.  Our KENTUCKY COFFEE TREE seeds and pulp contains “cyctisine” which can cause irregular pulse, and gastric intestinal disorders. Livestock have been known to die from eating them.

Copyright 2007