even more plants

I’m still putting together my list of plants I’d like to include in our gardens.

Borage photo Borage_zpsfuofti3e.jpg

I grew Borage in the front garden at our home downstate, and it was so easy to grow, I almost couldn’t believe it. I just threw down seeds and – voila – I had a lovely patch of Borage. It has a lovely fuzzy texture, and the rather delicate blossoms are a beautiful purple color fading to white toward the center. In that zone 6 garden, it self-seeded and came back every year. I’ll have to see if that holds true here in zone 5. It also has a pretty long blooming season, which of course I love. I never tried it then, but apparently the blossoms have a honey-esque taste! It’s also supposed to be a good companion plant for spinach, tomatoes, and strawberries, which I’m going to keep in mind as I continue planning.

Iris photo iris_zpsr764vxuz.jpg

So many gardens contain Iris and for good reason. It’s a lovely bloom and even the foliage looks elegant. Of course there are a zillion variations to choose from, and I’ll likely go with whatever comes my way. I already have one passed along from my mom last fall!

Coreopsis photo Coreopsis_zps7zaryzhy.jpg

Coreopsis is a plant that I happened to start growing downstate because I found a few of them on clearance at the home improvement store. They turned out to be awesome! Some butterflies eat the foliage, and the flowers attract them as well. Speaking of which, they usually have a TON of blossoms which is really striking against the somewhat delicate-looking foliage.

Marigold photo Marigold_zpsvqem9jqf.jpg

For classic annuals, you can’t miss with Marigolds. They also self-seeded in my garden downstate, though I don’t think they probably will here in zone 5. It’s easy to save the seeds, though! These flowers are awesome companion plants and theoretically discourage mosquitoes from hanging around. Given my allergic reaction to mosquito bites, I’ll try whatever I can do keep them away.

Russian Sage photo Russian Sage_zps6d9o5zrh.jpg

Russian Sage is another plant I was introduced to by purchasing a clearance-aisle not-in-great-shape plant. I really dig the way it grows – it gets tall-ish, but doesn’t tend to droop over and isn’t a thick plant, so it provides a nice backdrop for other plants without making the area seem too crowded. It also blooms well into October and attracts bees and birds.

Penstemon photo Penstemon_zpskeoqbrri.jpg

I didn’t grow Penstemon very much – I think I got some on sale somewhere – but I did like it a lot and would like to grow it again. Theoretically it is attractive to hummingbirds!

Verbena photo Verbena_zpsa6t7ohry.jpg

Verbena is another classic that I think will fit in well in my cottage garden. It also attracts butterflies and has beautiful blossoms.

Yarrow photo Yarrow_zpsujriafdb.jpg

Finally for this post, we have Yarrow. Yet another plant I started growing downstate because I found some on clearance, I found that I loved the fern-y foliage and tiny clustered blooms. It attracts both pollinators and predatory insects (who will eat other, less desirable insects).

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borage doesn’t rhyme with orange

I planted Borage from seed a few years ago and it’s come back each year since. This year it didn’t come back very well, though – only a few small plants.

Borage

In past years it’s been really vigorous, with tons of plants growing upwards of a foot tall – these few are closer to a half-foot, maybe eight inches. One thing that’s pretty neat about Borage is that most of it flowers in blue, but occasionally you find a pink one like this:

Borage

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did I leave the gas on?

No, I’m a fucking squirrel.

squirrel eating a maple tree whirligig in the front yard

This little guy was hanging out on the front garden today, eating maple tree whirligigs. I say, eat up! Just go poo somewhere else so the seeds don’t take – we already have an army of seedlings growing out there.

Life’s been really busy the past couple weeks! I haven’t posted nearly as much as I’d planned to, so here’s to catching up.

The common mullen that I’ve let go next to the front door has gotten huge and is starting to flower:

common mullen

common mullen

I realize that mullen is generally thought of as a weed, but it’s helping keep the yucky yucca at bay (not entirely, of course, but somewhat) and I was kind of curious to see how big it might get. From what I’ve read online, it is a biennial, so it’ll die after it blooms this year anyway. Apparently if you crush the leaves, you can use the sap to treat insect bites. I haven’t tried that yet.

This week I came home from work one day to find that the twelve purple leaf plum hedge shrubs I planted had been pulled out of the ground and were scattered on the neighbor’s driveway. I suspect, though the adult neighbor denies it, that their evil spawn did it. They leave him unattended all the time and the whole family seems to be lacking in the smarts department. I would not put it past them to lie to my face. Anyway, I soaked the roots and replanted them. Hopefully they’ll still survive.

purple leaf plum hedge along the side of the house

In happier news, a bunch of the things I planted from seed up front are sprouting! We’ve got black hollyhock:

black hollyhock

(thanks to Charli for those seeds!), a large area where I mixed several kinds of seeds – white swan echinacea, creeping baby’s breath, a white flower mixture (thanks to Charli for all three of those!) and purple dark opal basil:

mixed seeds: white swan echinacea, dark opal basil, creeping baby's breath, white flower mixture

borage:

borage

and bee’s friend:

bee's friend

The edibles I planted up front are also sprouting. I’ve got alternating red velvet lettuce:

red velvet lettuce

and mammoth red rock cabbage along the front walkway:

mammoth red rock cabbage

I also planted some Sunberry seeds along the neighbor’s driveway, but I haven’t seen any evidence of them sprouting yet. We’ll see.

So those are today’s photos. On to older ones. Last weekend K hung the bat house on the side of the garage – it only took us a year to actually put it up!

bat house

We painted it black last year, so hopefully it will get nice and toasty and attract plenty of bats. We hung it high (it’s actually over a window – which K repaired the screen in before hanging the house – he was able to insert some 2×4 pieces into the window cavity so we had a nice solid place to mount it), which bats will apparently be attracted to as well. Our neighbors have about six hundred bird baths and other surfaces in which they allow water to stand so it would be awesome to have some bats in the ‘hood to eat up all the mosquitoes that breed next door.

Lots of the veggies in the back garden are growing like mad, which you can check out on Flickr. I’m mildly concerned that something is snacking on some of my potato leaves

is something eating my potato leaves?

Ants, maybe? There’s not a lot of damage yet, but if anyone has any tips, I’d love to hear them.

In totally non-garden-related news, we’re doing a kind of neat project for the summer at the ‘brary. Our theme for summer reading is Get Creative @ Your Library, and staff members can volunteer to create something which will then be raffled off to patrons who participate in summer reading. I decided to make a Grumpasaurus, who I have dubbed Grumpasaurus II: Electric Grumpaloo

Grumpasaurus

I made him a little bigger than the original Grumpasaurus, who still lives in my office:

Grumpasauri

I tried to make G II a little less sinister-looking than the original, and I also played around with his spikes a little, making them bigger at the top. Hopefully someone will want him!

more photos at Flickr

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