Friday, September 28, 2018

A welcome Rudbeckia

It's been great to have a volunteer Rudbeckia (it looks like fulgida) along the front path.


It's flowering much later than all of the other Rudbeckias in the front garden; they're glorious in mid-summer;  in full flower now, this individual is brightening the house side of the pocket meadow, accompanying the aromatic asters (Symphyotrichum oblongifolium) that are signature late-flowering plants in early fall.  The goldenrods are fading now, so the bumblebees and other flower visitors have switched to the asters.

I haven't had a chance yet to edit the pocket meadow for a variety of reasons, but am looking forward to tweaking its exuberance here and there.  The Joe-Pye is looking wan and there are seedlings of Silphium and Vernonia to pull, too.  Not to mention the morning glory vines rambling on the edges of the front garden (where I squeeze out the car door stepping into flopped-over, but still lovely, Salvia guarantica).

The rhythms of the seasons are always pleasing;  there's now a bit of coolness in the air in the morning, while the afternoons remain (a bit unseasonably) warm and humid. But there are hints of color here and there, foreshadowing more color to come.

I went on to post this in Places of the Spirit, as I continued to think about seasonal patterns.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Migration of ruby-throated hummingbirds

Hummingbird visiting Campsis at Biltmore Estate
This business of having two blogs is a bit of a paradox. I'm trying to post daily on my new blog: Places of the Spirit, but on topics like this, it seems more normal to be here, on my long-running blog that encompasses observations about nature and gardening.

So, here's a link to my migration post on Places of the Spirit.


Monday, September 24, 2018

Revisiting local markets and local food

Market in Vietiane, Laos
I've been fascinated by outdoor markets of all types for many years; moving to California for graduate school in the mid-70's introduced me to the diversity of the produce available in the SF Bay Area.  The Monterey Market, especially,  and the Berkeley Bowl were iconic places at the time.

I had my first brussels sprouts, among other delicious things there!  I've now experienced all sorts of "new" vegetables over the last decades, some of which I've enjoying growing (yard-long beans and amaranth, for example).

The subject of today's post on Places of the Spirit revisited some posts about "markets" on this blog. 

Click through to read it, if you'd like.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Gardening as restoration

I just posted this piece on my new blog, Places of the Spirit.   It really belongs here too, since I revisit two posts that I made: one this summer and one over a decade ago.


Our new garden in Quebec to restore and transform to a native one

Thursday, September 20, 2018

The nocturnal symphony

We both noticed how few insects of any sort were evident in Germany.  Very few pollinators, even when suitable flowers were present.

We chalked it up (initially) to being in a much more urban environment in Freiburg, but it was true in the countryside, both in the vineyards and in the Schwarzwald.  Europe is much less biodiverse than North America because of glaciation, but it still seemed quiet.

A full moon from years ago
So it was nice to come back to the nocturnal symphony that's part of our evenings in the Southeastern U.S.  Field crickets, katydids, cicadas, and tree frogs all form part of the chorus as the evening progresses.

We missed the lightning beetles earlier in the summer -- they're part of the Southeastern U.S. summer, too.

A search on "nocturnal symphony" in past posts brought up quite a few hits. 

When I was still at the botanical garden as an educator, I did full moon night hikes;  the nocturnal symphony was always something that I interpreted.

So it's special here, to hear the night rhythms, played out by insects, amphibians, and occasional birds and mammals,

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

An overgrown garden

Well, another month away without the gardeners, with LOTS of rain -- of course, the garden is overgrown.  But the pocket meadow is lush (hey, it could be parched) and the overall impression isn't too bad.

Aromatic aster and Verbena are in flower.

I've been averting my eyes as I squeeze my car into the much smaller driveway space and step out into the Salvia gauranitica that's flopping over.  Thankfully, the Solidago 'Fireworks' is in flower now, so I'm distracted by its attractiveness (and the hordes of flower visitors).

Solidago 'Fireworks'
 Ditto for the vegetable beds. 

The chard plants, planted the day before we left, are huge, thanks to the rain and the organic fertilizer I added while planting, I guess.  My chard is usually much smaller, but I liberally applied the Espoma, too, finishing off a containter.  I'm usually quite stingy with it.


The parsley and herbs have flourished, too.  The sage in the deep bed in the back is a monster.  Yikes! The cabbage whites have happily defoliated most of the kale and broccoli plants (of course), but so it goes.  You can see an example to the left of the large chive clump.  Sigh.  Even the ones that I put wire cloches over were munched.  The morning glory vines and the climbing rose on the trellises in back look awful.  Oh, well.

Thyme, parsley, chives, oregano. rosemary and sage: looking robust
 Thankfully, this won't be a huge job to shape up, but I have lots of other things to do in the next two weeks, too, including doing 4 presentations (as a volunteer).  It's really all good, as they're favorite presentations (about native woodland gardens, pocket meadows, and native plants).  And I've been away so much this last year, I wanted to cluster my classes and talks during times that I knew I would be here after all!



Friday, September 14, 2018

A reminder from the past: pilgrimage

I wrote about pilgrimage and coming home from Germany a little over six years ago:  the post talked about Jakobsweg and pilgrimage paths

I had a strong sense of pilgrimage then, in particular, as I was thinking about what to do next as I reduced my work hours.

So, it was interesting to spot this hiker this afternoon carrying a traditional scallop emblem on his pack (just like the one St. Jakob held in the sculpture shown in the above post).

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Monday, September 10, 2018

Common milkweed saves the day

A search this afternoon for a different topic pulled up this post.  I was able to share my (abundant) common milkweed with a friend, so she could feed the leaves to her monarch caterpillars.

It was nice to re-read today -- and reminded me, too, of online friendships now in-person ones.  A wonderful offshoot of the digital age.

Looking again for that post brought up all sorts of other milkweed posts, too, including one the following year, where I shared more milkweed with her again.  We had a HUGE patch in what used to be the meadow up front by the time we left our garden in Upstate South Carolina.

Common milkweed with monarch at Beaver Lake a few years back

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Edelweiss and alpine gentians

A visit to the highest peak in the Schwarzwald yesterday brought wonderful views and a great hike, which I posted about in Places of the Spirit, my new addition to writing blog posts.

But a plant-related reflection belongs here:  about edelweiss and alpine gentians.  We didn't see either, but on the peak, one of the interpretive signs mentioned both. They're certainly iconic alpine plants.


The text describes how Edelweiss was once much more common in its range (which is limited to a fairly limited elevation and soil type, according to this Wikipedia account) and now exists in protected areas.  (Overcollection had an impact).  I'm thinking I even have a framed pressed flower montage from Switzerland that includes an edelweiss flower.  (It was a birthday present from my mom when I was a teenager).

Gentians comprise a species-rich genus, with a cosmopolitan distribution. My gardening companion studied three alpine gentians in the White Mountains of California in graduate school;  4 summer seasons were spent comparing their pollination biology and life history strategies (at ~ 11,000 ft).  It was nice to go visit in summer;  not so fun in the beginning of the season, for fieldwork, when there was still snow on the ground. So gentians have been part of our botanical lives for a long time.  

It would have been fun to see one on the Feldburg, but probably the short-stemmed, dwarf species described in this image flowered in late spring or early summer.


Its common name is first described here as yellow gentian (?), but then the description mentions a much better one: stemless gentian (Stengelloser Enzian).  Hmm.  There is a yellow gentian native to the alps, but its flowers are yellow, as you'd think.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Salad for lunch

Thanks to the Freiburg farmer's market around the Munsterplatz, we've had delicious salads and vegetables. 
ready for lunch
 I felt confident that I'd posted everything I could already about this farmer's market, but it is truly exceptional, especially the Saturday version.



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