Friday, October 30, 2009

Zinnias at Halloween

These zinnias are over 6 feet high and are quite
intent on getting into the witches brew.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Salvia officianalis. In the mint family (Lamiaceae).
Also Common Sage. From the Latin salvere, to save which
refers to its "healing" properties.
I found this one on the berm hidden among the celosia and

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Hardy Mums

In all of the gardens only one small patch
of hardy mums has surfaced and only now so late in the
year. Usually they green up in June and need to be pinched
back in July.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Leatherleaf Viburnam

Viburnam rhytidophyllum. This deciduous
flowering evergreen now over 15 feet high has inexplicably begun
to bloom outside my bedroom window. It normally blooms in May
and forms next years buds in the fall.

The background is filled with ripe persimmon berries (Diospyros).
Persimmons are the fruit of a tree in the ebony wood family.
It was known to the greeks as "fruit of the gods". The word persimmon
is from the Powhatan language for "dry fruit". The Powhatan were
a Virginia Indian tribe related to the Algonquin nation.

The fruit is astringent due to acids and tannins and is not edible until
it has over-ripened by a process called bletting. Bletting occurs after
ripening when the fruit starts to decay abd ferment. This results in a
chemical increase in sugars and a decrease in acids and tannins. If
eaten too early the fruit can actually adhere to the stomache lining
forming a bezoar. I decided many years ago that persimmons were
probably beter observed than eaten. 10-27-09

Friday, October 23, 2009


Amaranth family. Celosia exhibits fasciation
or cresting which is a condition of growth where the tip
of the stem elongates perpendicular to the vertical
direction of growth. This produces a flattened and
elaborately contorted flower head with undulating folds.
In celosia with its brilliant red color this resembles a cockscomb.

With 2 weeks of cool nights and rain the celosia is drooping.
I'll cut the heads off, let them dry, and collect the small black
seeds for next year.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

More Mushrooms

The recent heavy rains have resulted in some
nice new mushrooms in the garden.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Blackberry Lily Seed Clusters

Blackberry lilies are really iris
(Belamcanda chinensis). The small orange flowers are followed
by pear shaped seed capsules which open to reveal seed clusters
which resemble blackberries. These remain on the stem for several months.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Perennial Sunflowers

These grow in the circle with
the gigantic Maximillian Sunflowers and have been
coming back strong for years. They used to reach 6
feet in height but lately have run out of energy when
they reach 3 feet.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Solidago In the Aster Family.
Growing among the asters in the wildflower
garden is this stately goldenrod. The pollen
from this Fall blooming flower is unfairly thought
to be the major cause of hay fever. The more
probable culprit is the windblown pollen of ragweed
since goldenrod pollen is heavy and sticky and not
wind pollinated.
Goldenrod naturally contains rubber and Thomas
Edison produced a cultivar which contained as
much as 12% rubber. The tires on the Model T given to him by
his friend Henry Ford were made from goldenrod rubber.

Monday, October 12, 2009


This late blossom showed up last week from
a group of tubers that were planted in April.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Maximillian Sunflower

Helianthus maximilliani This
giant sunflower with smaller flowers is over nine feet tall.
It is three years old and despite its stout stem must be staked
because of its height. It took 2 years to establish. It is a Fall
bloomer as are so many in the Aster Family. There are many
blooms on each branch.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Bumble Bee on Celosia Bloom

Celosia - Amaranth Family. Also Cockscomb and Wooly
Flower. These red flowers have been blooming since August
and are just beginng to wind down. They are popular with
butterflies and bees which are currently swarming around them.

Bumble bees - Family Apodea, Genus Bomba These bumble
bees collect pollen in baskets of stiff hairs on their hind feet.
Their lip forms a long tube for sucking nectar from flowers
which is converted to honey in the bee's digestive tract.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Tomato from the Vegetable Garden

Solanum lycopersicum This herbaceous
plant which comes from a small yellow blossom is what
the deer were eating yesterday. I had been spraying
successfully with a commercial concoction containing
coyote urine but recent rains had diluted the concentration
making our last few tomatoes palatable to the deer.

Lycopersicum means wolf-peach. It is thought to originate
in the Peruvian highlands. It is in the nightshade family
which also includes potatoes, eggplant and belladona.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Flower Eaters for the Day 10-5-09

We find out "who's been eating my porridge",
or is it my flowers and tomatoes. This thundering
herd of white tail deer showed up this morning
after eating from the gardens with gusto. Then
they move on to check out the Frank Lloyd Wright
House (our neighbors).

Friday, October 2, 2009

Mushrooms in the Wildflower Garden

This time of year there are many types of
colorful mushrooms. These mushrooms
arose near different decayed tree stumps.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

White Heath Aster

Aster ericoides - These native perennials
grow in profusion this time of year in the wildflower garden.
The small flower heads have a daisy like appearance and their
long narrow leaves resemble those of heather hence
their name. One plant can produce up to a hundred flower