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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

All is Not Dead - In Fact, Quite the Opposite

With the severe drought we're having, I really didn't think I'd have anything to share.  But I saw a couple of unexpected surprises in the garden this evening and headed out with the camera.  As I snapped shots, I was quite astounded at how well things are doing, considering hot and dry it has been.
 Our area is on voluntary water restrictions so I've moderated the sprinkler schedule and it seems to be working.  Basically I run the sprinklers in the middle of the night twice a week, and I run them for an abbreviated amount of time, and then repeat.  So it's not using any more water than before, but more of the water is soaking in and not running down the street to the storm drain and it's not evaporating as soon as it hits the ground. 

I love it and the garden seems to like it as well. As usual, the photos will enlarge when you tap them.

In the repurposed grill-turned-planter, the vinca that I planted has put out a zillion seedlings. Not sure what I'll do with them, but I should be able to get at least a couple of plants going from this lot.

I forget what this is, and apparently didn't make a note in my garden journal (tsk. tsk)  It was looking pretty ragged a few days ago, but I trimmed off the dead bits, gave it a drink and it rewarded me with some new flowers.

I suppose I'm going to have to trim the "Scentless Star Jasmine" as we call it.  It's growing so rampantly there's almost as much on the other side of the fence as there is on ours.  Or perhaps future neighbors won't mind a vine taking over the fence?

Amazingly, in spite of being subject to benign neglect and drying out completely more than once, this petunia is still putting out blooms.  I've been deadheading and trying to keep it evenly moist this week and it seems to be thanking me.  As I was putting birdseed out early this morning, there was a hummingbird moth nectaring on it  which was neat, but I didn't get photos.

Underneath it, I almost missed this bloom on the Tropi-Canna.  It looks like there are some more blooms on the way too.

Underneath the Southern Wax Myrtle, this Dutchman's Pipe Vine languished for a long time.  Now suddenly it's growing and even flowering (see pic below).

 In front of the lattice hiding the phone and cable utility boxes, the bulbine is blooming.  I nearly lost this early in the year, so I'm thrilled to see the little blooms on it.

That's all I got photos of today in the back garden.  This doesn't include the Rose of Sharon, the Vitex and the Texas Star Hibiscus, which are all still blooming, but I thought it was time to show you the front.

Beside the driveway, this little bed bids you Welcome, and offers a view of the new house being built on the lot.

More rampant plants - this time sweet potato vines.  Does anything kill this plant? 

And when I looked closer, I spotted this daylily getting ready to rebloom (it even looks like I missed one bloom today)

 Elsewhere in the front, lots of Lantana "New Gold" (as well as "White Gold" not shown)  Can't kill this stuff either - I love it!

 Underneath the seedling Live Oak, a Guallardia "Fanfare" has been blooming for months.  I'm resisting the temptation to deadhead it and letting it reseed if it wants to.

Speaking of reseeding - last year's tropical milkweed reseeded everywhere. They seem to be doing well this year and you know what I noticed?

NO UGLY ORANGE APHIDS THIS YEAR!  Last year they were COVERED with those nasty things.  This year, not a one (YET)

And finally, one more reblooming daylily about to bloom. Please just ignore the raggedy-looking verbena. It needs trimming back, but I've been on the injured list this week and haven't done any weeding at all --- that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!

Words and photographs by Jayne Wilson, Green and Serene, Jayne's Country Garden.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Busy Bees

Stepping out the front door this morning, I noticed that the front flower bed was buzzing with activity.  

At first, I thought they were bumble bees,  Bombus sp. But as I watched, I realized there was something different about them.  Instead of fuzzy, yellow and blacked striped bodies, these had black shiny bodies. After taking these photos, I looked them up and found out they are Carpenter bees, Xylocopa sp

 There were quite a few of them, and they were loving the tropical milkweed.

Unlike termites, Carpenter bees do not eat wood, but they do burrow through it when building their nests.  They may have been attracted to the vicinity by all the construction going on either side of us...

Look at all that wood!!  They must have felt like they won the lottery!

I'm not to worried about them.  Our house has no exposed wood and I think our neighbors won't either, once the houses are finished.

And in the meantime, the bees are pollinating our garden:-)

They were hard at work in the Vitex in the back garden too.

 In fact, the Vitex was teeming with life.  Bees were buzzing all around me.  

Or are they bees?  Sure, they have black and yellow stripes, but something doesn't look right to me.

I went online to try and ID them, and didn't find any bees that look like this. Wasn't sure what else to look under and searches for "yellow and black striped insect" brought up lists of beetles.

 Anyone have an idea what they are?

Words and photographs by Jayne Wilson, Green and Serene, Jayne's Country Garden.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Change of Scenery

A couple of weekends ago, my husband and I flew up to Michigan for my cousin's daughter's wedding on the shores of Lake Michigan.

I was thrilled to get the invitation and also happy that my husband and I were in the position to be able to go.  It was a chance to meet family members I haven't seen in forever.

A little history -- I was born and raised in England and moved here in 1982.  My mum's sister, my Auntie Beryl, married an American GI on my fourth birthday (I was a bridesmaid) and moved with him to the U.S.  Auntie Beryl and Uncle Bob lived first in Tennessee and then Michigan, and had two daughters, my cousins Beverly and Connie.  It was Beverly's daughter, Christie, who was getting married.

My mum and dad flew over from England to stay with Beryl and Bob, now retired to Florida, for a few days.  Then they all drove up to Michigan for the wedding. 

Beryl's other daughter, Connie, and her husband and son, drove up from Cincinnati. In addition, Auntie Beryl's long-time friend, Penny, another English lady who she met in the "Transatlantic Brides Association," drove over from the other side of Michigan where she lives, along with three of her adult children.

It's been 15 years since I have seen many of these people, and even longer since I have seen others. So it was a wonderful reunion weekend.

 The new Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Brown

I'm only going to show you a couple of pics of the bride and groom. I know not everyone is comfortable having their photo on the internet, so I'll respect everyone else's privacy, and not post photos of them in my blog.  Instead, since it's a gardening blog, I'm going to show you some photos of the locale chosen for the wedding and the beautiful scenery in that part of Michigan.

Christie spent a long time scouting out locations for their wedding. I think she chose the perfect spot.

Michillinda Lodge is a turn of the century country estate, nestled in deep woods, on a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan.

The driveway makes quite an impression. Looking from the road to the Lodge:

Looking back toward the road:

I named my blog "Green and Serene" because that's the feeling I want in my garden (I'm still working on that!!).  Michillinda Lodge seemed to ooze serenity and I fell in love with it and would love to get back there for a vacation sometime.

All around the main lodge are many different cottages and guest houses.  Mum and dad were staying in one called "Surfside" which, true to it's name, overlooked the lake.

The view from their balcony:

Everywhere we went there were flowerbeds brimming with color. I heard that, although we had beautiful weather when we were there, they had two weeks of rain prior to that!  

Each of the cottages/guest houses had it's own character, which made the whole place just delightful to stroll through.

One day, we promised ourselves we would get back up there for a short vacation :-)

Words and photographs by Jayne Wilson, Green and Serene, Jayne's Country Garden.