Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I'm thinking Rabbit Stew!

For quite a few days now Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" has been playing loud and clear through my mind with Elmer Fudd singing "kill the wabbit, kill the wabbit". Around this time of the year is when the Wolftrap Park is in the midst of their big summer season and often Casey and I go to see the National Symphony Orchestra perform such as Bugs Bunny at the Opera.

But I am not thinking of orchestras, I am thinking of that "wascally wabbit" because one has moved in to my garden. I have been gardening here since 2000 and have come to an agreement with the deer - they are welcome to help themselves to all the vegetation in the rear wooded half of our lot. In return I promise to only plant things in the front half that they do not like. Usually this works out just fine. I am used to seeing a rabbit or two visit my garden and usually I can be tolerant of that. But this year....well, I am ready to declare war. Or call in Elmer Fudd.

Look carefully here and you can see the pint sized problem eating the grass. I am happy for it to eat as much grass as it wants.


... right next to the steps to the front door we have what used to be a fine echinacea (coneflower) plant.

Out back we have what looks like a miniature tree felling operation where the rabbit has been "felling" the delphiniums.

Or how about here, where we can see the remnants of what were thriving parsley plants. The deer have agreed that I can plant as many herbs as I want as they do not care for them. But the wabbit? Well, it seems to love the parsley to the right and left. The dill in the center front has been mostly left alone and the mint is growing like crazy (hint to Mr Wabbit - there is more than enough mint for both of us).

On the plus side is this flower bed. I planted it ten years ago as a very pretty blue, yellow and white combination. Blue Russian Sage, yellow Heliopsis (false sunflower) and white Echinacea (coneflower). For a couple of years it was a very lovely spot. But then the rabbit thought it would be fun to eat the helopsis so there was no yellow flowers. The Russian sage quietly faded away without the yellow there to cheer it on. Pink (or to be more correct, purple) coneflower reseeded from other spots in the garden. And, lo, this year there has been a welcome return of the yellow heliopsis. I guess the rabbit was so busy elsewhere in the garden it forgot that this used to be the favorite spot.

This planting of Monarda (bee balm) has burst into bloom in the last few days. There used to be lots of white phlox interspersed here and the deer loved nibbling on that.

And finally there is this planter box. Last year a couple of "volunteer" tomato plants showed up here and despite all odds went on to produce fruit. In other parts of the garden the deer loved to nibble on the tomato plants. So a couple of weeks back, knowing it was quite late in the season to be planting annuals, I went ahead and put some in this planter box. Within a day the wabbit had pruned the annuals at each end of the planter box to within a half inch. But for some reason, this years two volunteer tomato plants were left alone as were the half dozen blue salvia planted between them. Why is this? Is it because of the decorative tiny blue birdhouses on a stem that moves? And how long will it be before either the rabbit or the deer decide to heck with it and close crop everything in this bed?

Watch this space for the continuing adventures.


Goodness, I didn't realise it has been so long since my last posting. Let me see if I can put up some of the ideas I have had in the past weeks - I had the ideas but not the time!

There are certain things that make me feel old and also that remind me I am not living in a place where my accent is native. This latter means I am not always understood when I am in a shop. And since shopping is not a favorite pastime for me I can get frustrated.

Our family has a custom of having a Sunday brunch, cooked at home, and often involving scrambled eggs. For this we crack eggs into a bowl and then get out a hand cranked egg beater to mix them up. When I was away from home in April the egg beater fell apart and had to be thrown out. I thought it would not be a problem to replace it. Wrong.

We tried a number of stores. First there was the puzzlement as to what I was wanting; "you mean the liquid in a box, right?". Well no. Then when we got that sorted out it was either "oh no, we haven't stocked those for years" or "I think we have them, let me help you find where they are" which turned into "no, we don't seem to have them any more".

I know the common thing these days is "oh, go online and get it from Amazon" but I like to support the local stores and every purchase made through the internet is one step closer to putting the local stores out of business and the employees out of work. I did go online and I could have bought the item from a few places but the shipping and handling was going to cost more than the item to begin with.

Finally, after trolling up and down the aisles in a hardware store (no, not the big orange one) we found one, this one, on the shelf. Since one was all we needed we carried it in triumph to the cash register. The clerk was unimpressed.

It does not look like it will last for very long but never mind, we can beat up our eggs until then.

Meanwhile, I was away again for the weekend with some friends and I was bemoaning the lack of egg beaters. Now I must add that none of my friends seemed to have one in their kitchen but they all remembered their grandmother having one. On the way home from that weekend a couple of my friends stopped in at an area antiques and collectibles show. I got an urgent cell phone call with an excited "look what we found! Do you want us to buy it for you?" I gave the okay and they had fun bartering down the marked price. So now I also have this as a backup.

My third shopping story has a happier note. Sometimes when I go to New Zealand I bring back a pack or two of TimTams as they were a favorite cookie when we lived in Australia. They always get eaten up promptly (the ones carried home squashed in my luggage) but with no big fuss made. So this trip I did not bring any back as no-one had asked me too. But I did get asked, once I got home, "did you bring us any TimTams?" So I felt bad. Imagine then the happy surprise we had walking through the aisles of a local shop recently to see displayed on an end shelf with a big sign saying "new product" none other than packages of TimTams.

So now we are happy. We can enjoy our old fashioned scrambled eggs and our old favorites Tim Tams all because of careful shopping.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

June 1st in my garden

Just a few days ago (it seems like it but I see it was May 19) this portion of the garden was shown as my white garden. But now, as you see, the blue larkspur are beginning to come out and in just a few days they will dominate the area.

The astilbe are beginning to bloom. These ones thankfully survived the recent double assault when the deck was first cleaned and then stained. That process puts huge amounts of water around and then the potential for stain to say nothing of the trampling.

The (somewhat) shade garden is full of blooms just now. The heuchera (coral bells) in the foreground are doing a lot better than the ones further over in the bigger shade garden. Perhaps because they do not get quite as much browsing by the rabbit or deer.

And speaking of rabbits - I came downstairs a few days ago to see this one happily munching amidst my flowers. When I first caught sight of it there was a huge branch of the stachys byzantina (lambs ear) in it's mouth. Later on when I looked closely at the area I see the fall aster planted only last year has been very closely pruned so I doubt that will survive but I'll keep my eye on it and spray it with the repellant a few times to see if I can get the plant to put on growth and make it to flowering season in the Fall.

Here is the photo of the same area of the garden that I took just a few hours ago. I see there is a gap in the edging of lambs ear - perhaps the work of the rabbit last season or , to be charitable, maybe the winter did it in - so I need to put that on the list of plants to get next visit to the garden center. As you can see my white daisy wildflowers are really in full bloom all over the garden right now.
The boxwood (Korean green velevet) planted last fall came through the winter well and have put on lots of new growth. I'm so pleased I put up that winter protection.

The first of the lavender plants are out in bloom. This one is pretty much hidden away behind the big boxwood so I had not noticed it. The iris, seen in full bloom on the May 19 posting are over the bloom period completely now. And that salvia just in front of the lavender also appears to have finished without my even noticing.

We are up to day three of very hot and humid weather with highs in the high 90s F (or mid 30's C) so working outside is not really a good idea. For a variety of reasons I have been late in getting my spring planting done this year. These trays of plants are sitting on the driveway waiting to be planted but I hesitate to do that while the weather is so humid and the sun blazing down. In the meantime I am out there watering them at least twice a day and sometimes more. A number of these plants are destined for the pots that I have on the front porch or on the rear deck including the big pots for the cherry tomatoes. That is the only way I can have certain plants as planted in the garden the deer would find them and demolish them within hours.

Another chore for early in the morning on these hot days is to fill the bird baths - and the birds are so happy after that that I often have to refill mid afternoon as there has been so much splashing going on the water is emptied out after just a few visits. The sun was already too bright in the photo above. You can see the rhubarb leaves drooping already. The white flowers you see dotted about in the foreground is native yarrow, another of the wildflowers that I let alone and it rewards me by seeding and filling in.

It is fun to look back at earlier posts and see how the garden was then. For instance my shade garden on May 30, 2010, November 5 2009 or, the very beginning in April 26 2009.

So even if I get few visitors to this blog I enjoy the diary aspect it takes on. And on days when it is too hot to be outside, this allows me to still get my garden "fix" for the day.