Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Leafy Canopy

I can hide under my 'Hopi Dyeseed' sunflowers these days...

'Hopi Dyeseed' sunflower (Helianthus annuus 'Hopi Dyeseed') reaching for the sky

... and for a few peaceful moments today, I might have done just that.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Guess What... Even More Flowers!

So much is blooming right now, I just cannot stop myself from continually taking pictures and posting them here.

A semi-double pink Shirley poppy (Papaver rhoeas cv.)...

... and a white one

A white-flowered form of 'red' valerian (Centranthus ruber)

The very first blossoms of Nicotiana mutabilis opening

A yellow-and-orange Asiatic lily (Lilium cv.)...

 ... and a bright red one

The first zinnia (Zinnia elegans cv.)

I overhead a neighbor yesterday saying that she did not know another garden that makes as efficient use of space as ours... I tend to think that I simply try to cram in as much as I possibly can, because there are simply always more things I want to grow. Besides, one can never have too many flowers, especially when one has to live with New England winters.

Friday, June 26, 2015


Today, as a nation, we have become a teensy bit better:

Gay Marriage Upheld by Supreme Court

And now, when I get married to the best of significant others, our marriage will have to be recognized in every corner of this country - including my home state of Michigan!

Summer Glories

The garden continues to look good, getting lusher every day.

The flowers have really filled in!

A two-tone double pot marigold (Calendula officinalis cv.)

Mignonette (Reseda odorata)

'Danish Flag' opium poppy (Papaver somniferum 'Danish Flag') - some of the flowers have the regular fringed petals typical of the variety...

... but others have whole edges; the bees love them either way

With things looking this beautiful, I cannot help but spending as much time in the garden as possible. The downstairs neighbors commented yesterday that I seem to be in the garden first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Those, incidentally, are also the times when the flowers and the light are at their loveliest.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Bees and the City

Via a high school friend of mine who has been based in Norway for the last couple of years comes an article about a great initiative to make the Norwegian capital of Oslo more hospitable to bees, which are vital to gardening and agriculture but are facing a dangerous decline almost everywhere due to pesticides and environmental degradation:

Oslo creates world's first 'highway' to protect endangered bees

Ironically, my friend is rather afraid of bees, but even she recognizes that this is something positive and worthy of support.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

'Gruß an Teplitz'

I currently grow three varieties of rose in big clay pots on the balcony, the very old China roses 'Slater's Crimson China' and 'Old Blush', which I have posted about here, here, here, and here, and 'Gruß an Teplitz', a variety variously classified as a China, Bourbon, or Hybrid Tea rose. Introduced in 1897 by the Austro-Hungarian plant breeder and rosarian Rudolf Geschwind (1829-1910) and named for the spa town of Teplice ("Teplitz" in German) in Bohemia in what is now the Czech Republic, it is not nowadays one of the more popular or well-known old roses in Europe and North America, although it is probably the most famous of the many varieties bred by Geschwind. I finally got a small sapling of it late last summer from Joy Creek Nursery in Oregon - my Hydrangea macrophylla 'Otaksa' came from there as well - after finding it to be sold out or generally unavailable at all the other mail-order nurseries that list it. Today, it finally opened its first plump, heavily scented blossom.

Rosa 'Gruß an Teplitz'

While in the West 'Gruß an Teplitz' is not a particularly prominent variety anymore, in India and Pakistan it is one of the most widely grown roses to this day. Repeat-blooming, fairly heat-resistant, and intensely fragrant, it is planted as a commercial crop in fields, with the flowers harvested and sold for use in garlands and other floral decorations and as devotional offerings, a common practice at both Hindu temples and Muslim shrines. The latter usually center around the graves of Sufi saints, both male and female, who in many cases are remembered not just for their spiritual and theological achievements but also for their work as poets in their own right or as the teachers of important poets, musicians, and even political figures like princes and princesses. Visiting devotees frequently pile roses or rose petals - usually of 'Gruß an Teplitz' - on the tomb itself; there are usually stalls selling flowers for this very purpose around the entrances of shrines, and Hindu temples similarly tend to have their own little flower markets nearby, supplying the blooms most favored by the presiding deity or deities of the temple.

Flowers of 'Gruß an Teplitz' floating in a stone bowl at a guest house in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India

If you want to read more about - or rather by - Rudolf Geschwind, you can find the two books he wrote on rose breeding and cultivation and rock gardening here and here, respectively.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Happy Ramadan!

Taj-ul-Masajid ("Crown of Mosques") Mosque in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India

 رمضان کریم
وكلّ عام وأنتم بخير

More Flowers, More Foliage

Just some more pictures from the garden and balcony, including some more flowers just beginning to bloom.

The rice (Oryza sativa) starting to look real lush, with 'Hopi Dyeseed' sunflowers (Helianthus annuus 'Hopi Dyeseed') towering over it

Borage (Borago officinalis)

A single purple stock (Matthiola incana cv.)

'Cupani' sweet pea (Lathyrus odoratus 'Cupani') - the first sweet pea to be cultivated, discovered in 1695 in Sicily by Francesco Cupani

Broadleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla 'Otaksa')

Now back to my reading. I need to get through quite a few more Sanskrit verses before my meeting with my advisor this afternoon...

Monday, June 15, 2015

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - June 2015

This is one of my favorite times of the year, as almost everything in the garden is fresh and new and just beginning to flower. Lots to show, therefore, for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day this month.

California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) and stock (Matthiola incana cv.)

Close-up of one shade of stock...

... and of another

 The very first minute flower on my Indian green chickpeas (Cicer arietinum 'Hare Chhole #2')

Red valerian (Centranthus ruber)

A salmon-colored oriental poppy (Papaver orientale cv.)

Petunia exserta

The first blossom of 'Tashkent' French marigold (Tagetes patula 'Tashkent') of the season

'Resina' pot marigold (Calendula officinalis 'Resina')

Large-flowered tickseed (Coreopsis grandiflora)

Also visit May Dreams Gardens to see what many other garden bloggers have blooming right now!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Life in the Garden

Yesterday I found the first praying mantis of the year, a tiny little baby barely as long as the nail on my thumb, scurrying up and down the rolled-up garden hose. Praying mantises are among my favorite inhabitants of the garden, and I hope to find more and watch them grow as the summer progresses. The fully grown specimen in late summer are quite impressive, especially those of the large Chinese mantis (Tenodera sinensis) naturalized in this part of the country.

Teeny tiny baby mantis

The garden as a whole, meanwhile, looks quite nice from above, or at least I think so...

Part of the garden as seen from the living room window

That is all. Have a wonderful Sunday everyone!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Flowers Flowers Flowers

The weather is finally getting hot and new things are beginning to bloom in the garden and on the balcony almost daily. There are lots of yellows and oranges right now, but pinks, purples, and whites are starting to come in.

 The regular single, yellow-and-cream form of garland chrysanthemum (Glebionis coronaria)...

... and a semi-double, pure yellow sport

White mustard (Sinapis alba)

'Day of the Dead Orange' African marigold or "Cempazuchitl" (Tagetes erecta cv.)

'Cheshire Cat' perpetual carnation (Dianthus caryophyllus 'Cheshire Cat')

The rose 'Slater's Crimson China'

The raised beds are beginning to fill out

The stocks (Matthiola incana) should be up next, along with the pot marigolds (Calendula officinalis cv.). Another variety of opium poppy is also still growing, and the 'Cupani' sweet peas (Lathyrus odoratus 'Cupani') are starting to form buds. Then there should be a whole host of further marigold varieties, raised from seed by me - 'Day of the Dead Orange' and 'Gina's Himalayan' came as sizeable transplants from Annie's Annuals - and therefore a little later.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Some Apt Thoughts on Gardening

A few days ago, The New York Times' style supplement ran a short but lovely piece on what it means to garden by the Italian writer and gardener Umberto Pasti:

Gardener, to Thine Own Self Be True

I find myself agreeing with much of what Pasti opines in the essay, and it comes accompanied by some very pretty pictures of his garden in Tangier, Morocco, which has previously been featured here and there in other publications. Here, for instance, is a short video from Veranda of Pasti discussing his garden, with plenty of footage of the place itself:

Umberto Pasti's Garden

On our spring break trip to France in March I also bought the French edition of Pasti's collection of essays on gardens and gardening entitled Jardins, les vrais et les autres at La Librerie du Jardin des Tuileries, which is a bookshop entirely devoted to gardening literature smack in the middle of one of the most touristy parts of Paris. Even with my limited French skills it is a very fun read, and it was nice to support a book shop that caters so specifically to one's interests.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

First Blossoms

The first of the summer annuals are beginning to bloom in the garden - hopefully the beginning of a long and colorful show.

Petunia 'Old Fashioned Vining'

Petunia exserta

California poppy (Eschscholzia californica)

'Peshawar White' opium poppy (Papaver somniferum var. album cv.)

'Gina's Himalayan' French marigold (Tagetes patula 'Gina's Himalayan')

Two days ago, after the last bout of rain and cold, I also planted the last batch of seeds, some cucumbers, melons, and winter squash which will hopefully appreciate being planted later rather than earlier. Last year I planted some squash and melons a month earlier, and while they germinated immediately the little plants did not really grow until really hot weather set in later in June. By the end of July, just as they were beginning to set fruit, squash borer and some viral disease finished off all of the plants within a matter of days. Maybe late planting will help prevent the same happening this year.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Starry Bloom

I finally returned last night after two weeks in Michigan, and was greeted by a fat bud opening on my night-blooming Epiphyllum strictum. It had first bloomed last October with a single flower, ten months after I had bought it. This time it is a bit more generous; I counted three spent blossoms that had opened while we had been gone, and there is still one more bud developing. The plant itself has been growing vigorously and probably needs a bigger pot soon, not least to keep it from toppling over as the strap-like stems grow ever longer and branch at odd angles in search of surfaces to which to attach themselves with tough little roots.

Bloom of Epiphyllum strictum at dawn

More soon on the rest of the plants and garden - most things appear to be doing quite well, despite an extremely dry and rather hot May, followed since yesterday by torrential rain and shiver-inducing cold.