Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Late July Photos

The month has been fairly kind to the lawn and gardens, even with a solid week of 95°+ weather in there.  Burn on the lawn is minimal, and the gardens responded by blooming more!

As always, you can embiggen any photo by clicking on it.

First, the general lawn shot:

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And a general around-the-curve shot of the gardens.  The cleome are doing very well, so well that I'm weeding them out and throwing them away.  Colors are drifting a bit as the generations spin on, the ones here are a light pink and a rich pink respectively.

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Here's the other garden curve in the back.  The cleome here is a rich magenta, the ultimate goal on color throughout the garden, mixed in with lighter magenta and pink ones.  Unfortunately, controlling the reproduction of cleome is nearly impossible, so I'll have to breed the colors by choosing parents to make sure that the hues are at least carried recessively.

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If you noticed the large red shrub above, it's a crepe myrtle.  Which is fairly amazing for Pennsylvania, actually.  Crepe myrtle are more of a southern state plant, but I managed by putting this on life support for several years before planting it in a well-protected and warm microclime in the garden.  This crepe myrtle is just about done with its first bloom, and I'll remove those front-hanging branches once it finishes up.

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One of the test plants in the garden this year is an Easter Egg Plant, which is actually an ornamental eggplant.  This one definitely passed the test and will be showing up in following years, although I'll probably move them to pots to show off the eggs better.  At the moment the eggs are white, but they'll turn yellow through August and orange in September.  That top egg isn't flawed, just a little dirty.

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Monday, July 8, 2013

Encap Score! And Feeding...

Unfortunately, our local K-Mart store is closing, but fortunately they were having a store closing sale.  I picked up enough Encap fast-acting lime (calcium carbonate) to apply the July liming to the lawn and gardens at 25% off.

I also drained their entire supply of K-Gro Plant Food, but that's another story, as is the rather attractive lacquer pot I bought.

While I was at it, I fed the gardens with 31 pounds per thousand square feet of Milorganite.  That will supply 1.5 pounds of nitrogen per thousand square feet, slowly, and will release through mid-August at a fairly high rate.  At that point, garden feedings tend to be more to restore the resources I've taken out this year, plus put some slow release nitrogen into the soil for the following year so the bulbs have something to eat.

Milorganite won't cause a massive growth flush, so you won't generally notice the effects immediately.  However, over a month or so, plants become larger, darker green, and healthier than they would have been, and the advantages continue to mount if you keep using it.

Some nitrogen is released even a year later, so the feeding I did today will still benefit the garden well into next summer.  And the organic material will stay behind, helping to aerate the soil, retain some extra water, and encourage bacteria and fungi.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Fourth of July Lawn and Gardens

It's traditional for me to take photos on the Fourth of July to hallmark the unofficial "middle of summer" for the lawn and gardens.  Please note, the actual middle of summer isn't until August fifth.

As always, you can click any image to embiggen it!

The lawn is doing very well this year due to the constant and very heavy rainfall we've experienced.  I irrigated it exactly once, and then only enough to carry it through until the next rainfall arrived.  The color is a touch pale, but that's normal for July and normal for heavily overcast conditions that have persisted for more than a month so far.

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I managed to get the hydrangea to bloom mixed blue and pink with a note of purple this year, but that was mostly luck.

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Overall, the gardens are doing tolerably well, but some things are delayed.  The marigold and dahlia don't mind the weather, but the zinnia would prefer more sunlight.

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Here are some closeup shots of a variety of flowers.

A dahlia with a visitor. This particular dahlia is slated to be tagged later on in the season and wintered over in the cellar.

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This is another dahlia that's slated to be saved--as it turns out, most of the bi-color and multi-color ones are.  The flowers on this look brighter in person, with brilliant cherry-red petals centered in a creamy white.

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Here's a zinnia that's actually producing large, scarlet flowers--the color is more saturated than it looks in this photo.

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