summer 2013

Sunday, October 23, 2011


Our backyard neighbor decided to replace a pretty wooden fence with a 6 foot plastic wall.  Really?

example of old fence   5 feet high

white plastic - 6 feet high

Listening to a fellow Master Gardener, I took some wise advice.   Betsy (our native plant go to person)  told me that she gardens for herself.  If she looks out her window, she wants to see a beautiful garden.  It doesn't matter if anyone else  (neighbors) sees  it.  Even the part everyone else sees is beautiful,  of course!

This fence was the view from my kitchen window for the last 4 or 5 months.

After staring at this plastic wall all summer, my husband and I started talking about ways to cover it up.  I of course wanted mostly native plants.  Maybe a fig tree?  (not native)    A Paw Paw?  Growing fun fruit sounded good too.

Took a ride over to a local nursery that also carries a nice selection of native plants.  Stadler Nursery.  When we pulled up, there it was, a sign that said "50% off everything!"  They meant EVERYTHING!  Walking back, we saw large groupings of plants and trees that had already been sold to landscapers.  I think this is a yearly sale that people in the business know about.  Luckily my husband was with me,  he is the money person in our family. He gave me a limit and off we went.  Here is a list of what we bought:
(Again, don't be bored, this is for MY record keeping.)

2  Dogwood trees   "Cherokee Princess"   Cornus florida     2" diameter trunks.  Good size - very heavy!
1  Oakleaf hydrangea        "Snowqueen"
1 Winterberry         Ilex verticillata      "Sparkle"
1 Winterberry   Ilex verticillata      "Winter red"
1 Winterberry  Ilex verticillata    "Apollo"     male  - need this shrub for female to have berries             
1 Viburnum   "Winterthur"      Viburnum  nudum    white flowers in spring and blue berries for birds in fall - this will also need a pollinator to set fruit (berries)  I will add one in the future if needed.

Spent only half of my budget.  Not to worry, perennials will be planted in the spring.

In time, this wall will be gone.  The dogwoods are already large enough to tower over the wall.  The hydrangea will top out at 8 feet, the Viburnum 6 feet, winterberries  6-12 feet.

We bought large plants because we don't think we will be here 10 or 20 more years to see everything mature. In the spring I will add perennials to fill in the open areas.  I already put in New England aster.  This is a late blooming perennial.  I want constant color, so I will be growing most of my perennials from seed over the winter.

New England aster.  Very important for monarch butterflies in fall.  They need a food source for their journey to Mexico.  Bees love them too.

Also, earlier this fall I planted smaller natives around the yard that were purchased at a native plant sale.

Gaultheria procumbens      winter green  a ground cover
hydrangea                          pee wee
Asimina triloba                  paw paw
Cercis canadensis              red bud
Calycanthus floridus          carolina allspice  (native further south but too pretty not to have)
Lindera benzoin                 spicebush
Chlethra alnifolia               summersweet
Comptonia peregrina         sweetfern
Itea virginica                     virginia sweetspire
Celastrus scandens            American bittersweet - a vine

Most of these are in the front yard.  We have mature White pine trees that make growing grass difficult because of the shade.  I have chosen not to fight this. Where the grass has stopped growing well, I am converting these areas into woodlands.  Understory plants and trees and mulch.  This also means no more raking or mowing leaves and pine needles.  I have planted lots of ferns this year (2 not native, japanese painted fern.)  I already have hostas established there.

I haven't made a decision about edging yet.  I have different hardscapes I laid out to see which I prefer.  The bricks have been in our yard for about 25 years.  The stone about 12 years.  I also have dead logs from trimming trees.   I hate plastic and metal edging.  I may end up just having mulch against grass - we'll see.


old log in front of Viburnum nudum

brick in front of winter berries

Now I have a prettier  view from my kitchen window.  Anyone who lives knows they spend a lot of time at the kitchen sink.  Here is my view now.

starting to get dark

Now to keep Bear out of the new mulch bed.  I have seen his face almost black from digging in the dirt!

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Fall Garden

I headed up to the garden yesterday with every intention of pulling out all the tomato plants and cleaning up the bed.  I found a bunch of healthy plants with lots of green tomatoes.  I decided to just trim up the plants so I could walk easily between the beds and give them another week or two.  Who knows, they may have time to ripen on the vine.  If not, I will pull them off before the first frost and put them in a paper bag in the garage.  I do this every year and usually I get ripened tomatoes a few weeks later.

I lost most of my tomatoes to stink bugs this year.  The cherry tomatoes held up the best.  I am getting some roma tomatoes now that don't seem too affected by the bugs.

I did find a lot of potato plants popping up.  Any small tuber left has started the process over again. I pulled them up, here is what they look like in the ground.

I have lots of fall crops coming up.  I planted kale, broccoli, turnips, parsnips, beets, carrots, spinach, lots of lettuce and carrots. I have never eaten a parsnip or turnip, but when you grow your own food, it is fun to try something different.



lettuce on left, broccoli on right

 Time to plant garlic.  Don't plant the kind from the grocery store - it is usually treated to not sprout.
You simply break off the cloves and plant them 4 to 6 inches apart and about 2 to 3 inched deep.  They will be ready around July.

garlic - now is the time to plant.
a hard neck variety - better for our climate

I was shocked to see my broccoli I planted last spring has finally given me a crop.  Next year I will research a quicker producing broccoli.  The plants I put out for the fall/winter I bought at Dutch Plant Farm in Frederick, MD.  I expect them to flower after frost.

broccoli and peppers

pole beans

I have row covers to put over the plants when the frost comes in.  It consists of lightweight white material supported by wires.  I will post a picture when I put them up.  This will help to extend the growing season.  I will also put a lot of straw mulch on top of my root crops to hopefully extend the season into winter.

Some of my native flowers are blooming again!  Purple coneflower keeps coming up.  (I cut them down after they set seed and a new flower has emerged.)   Yarrow, gaura, liatris is still going strong. Coreopsis still attracting bees.

I  went to a lecture that mentioned an interesting fact about bees.  It seems it takes 20,000 to 40,000 honey bees to pollinate an acre of an apple orchard.  But only 250 native mason bees to do the same job.  Native bees are the first out in the spring and the last in in the winter.  The honey bee was brought over from Europe. Their benefit above pollination is their honey of course :)

bumble bee on liatris



echinacea  purple cone flower

Saw a wheel bug aka assassin  bug.   A beneficial that will eat lots of bugs you don't want in your garden.

October in Thurmont cannot be matched.  Took a walk in the woods.  Incredible!