Although this could very well be a picture of me finding a new treasure at a favorite nursery, it's actually an illustration by David Catrow for a children's book called Plantzilla.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

My Favorite Plant ... This Week is a Weed!

Hordeum jubatum, also known as Foxtail Grass and Foxtail Barley, rippling in the wind beside the road catching and reflecting the sun's light is an ubiquitous sight in Alaska  and brings back memories of my growing up years there.

Hordeum jubatum is a perennial plant species in the grass family Poaceae. It occurs wild mainly in northern North America and adjacent northeastern Siberia.

I thought of grass master Scott Weber  and wondered if he might need this in his garden; I certainly thought I should bring it into mine!

But then I learned about it's negative attributes.  "It is considered a weed because of this competitive ability and the dangers it poses to wildlife and livestock. While Foxtail barley may be palatable for animals in early spring before it flowers, its seed heads, when dry, are very harmful to grazing animals. The awns with upward-pointing barbs become easily attached and embedded in the animal's mouth and face, causing severe irritation, abscesses, and even blindness."  Alison pulls it as soon as she sees it because dogs and cats that occasionally eat grass can have the problems described above.

But it's so beautiful and looks incredibly soft which it isn't.

So, I guess this won't be introduced to my garden but I'll certainly enjoy it's pink tinted seed heads echoing the color of magenta fireweed blooming by thee roadside next time I'm in Alaska!
My favorite plant...this week is hosted by Loree at Danger Garden!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Alison's Wasilla Garden

Summer gardens in Alaska  seem greener than those in my neck of the woods.  Perhaps because of the cool nights, perhaps because they actually have rain in the summer.  The foliage by the side of the road is still green there while our grasses have long since set seed and turned golden.  (That's a euphemism for brown.)   Here is the first of several gardens that I visited during the first week and a half of July, the garden of my eldest niece, Alison.  Let's see what's growing in this zone three garden.
 Tanacetum coccineum with a Polemonium bloom leaning over to get into the picture.

Polemonium in white and blue.  Shall we call this the blue border?

Wanting to inspire this oak she planted to make acorns, Alison added some to show it what they look like.

And more at the base of the tree.  With such great expectations, I'm thinking the oak might get a little nervous about it's ability to measure up!
Even in zone three, bishop's weed, Aegopodium podagraria, grows well!  Hope this doesn't give you nightmares, Loree!  To read about the virtues of Bishop's weed, click here. To read a post calling it a most hated plant, click here.
This is obviously some sort of UFO communication.  

It was probably placed here by the ancient aliens!  Cool though, isn't it?

Stonehenge deux is made of really cool petrified  wood.  The black parts on them are where they'd started turning into coal. 

Bergenia is an amazing plant!  Here it is in July
Here's the same clump in November at 15 degrees (a crisp autumn day, winter gets much colder!)


Chives with one incredibly large bloom!

Iris setosa

Who needs tree ferns when these grow so tall in a single season?

Meanwhile, out in the vegetable garden.  Birches are in abundant supply and many needed to be cleared from the back of the property so...

The magic of the long days (22 hours of visible light while I was there) is that these seedlings will grow very quickly into edible sized veggies.

Here's a view of part of the front garden taken at a little after midnight, no flash and no long exposure time, it's still light so one can garden 24 hours a day in the summer.

Campanula glomerata

Don't have a clue. Do you?  It's a perennial, hardy in zone 3 and has a velvety appearance that this picture doesn't adequately convey.

Centaurea dealbata or Zweifarbige Flockenblume  in German (more interesting than two toned knapweed.)

Lychnis x arkwrightii is the plant with the cool purple foliage and bright orange flowers, a great color combination!

The rose walk.
More of that gorgeous Lychnis, it's orange color echoed by the lilies on the left and accentuated by by the purbles in the background.  I was sure not to crop out a rare sighting of Alaska's only snake, hosus waterum.

Angelica gaining height.  Won't it be spectacular when their blooms tower over this bed?

Beneath an ornamental crab apple tree is this statue contemplating the plastic apples on the ground. I asked who it was.  The answer was, "think about it."  
(It's Sir Isaac Newton) 
We do like to have fun in our gardens!  

Friday, July 25, 2014

Meanwhile Up at the Ranch...

They say home is where the heart is.  When I visit my family in Alaska, it feels like  a return to my heart's home.

The first Alison in my life, my eldest niece, only six years younger than I, (that makes her old, too!)  raises all sorts of fowl.  Bunnies again soon!  We visited for a week just prior to the fling to surprise my sister for her seventieth birthday. 

I'm always happy to see the welcoming committee!
Isn't he handsome?
And play with the cute little animals!  Much more fun to do this in the summer than when it's fifteen degrees outside and the critters mostly stay inside!

Ducklings are such cute and curious birds!

Just hanging around...

What did you find?

It's funny how ducks will find and enjoy water.

These younger babies have two mommies.  It's a long story...

This poor goose really wants babies and watched the ducklings closely while we had them out on the lawn close to her.  Since the ducklings didn't imprint on her, they wouldn't let her mother them but she would certainly try.  Maybe Alison should get a gander...

This handsome fellow welcomed the morning each day with his happy song.  Since it was only dusky for about two hours a night, I thought he might be confused but like people, the chickens get used to the light and he didn't start crowing until about 4:30 a.m.

So, you've come to visit the chicken ranch?  Let me show you some of the gals!

O.K. so there are some guys here too who are just learning to sing, how comical their song sounded!

Ever wonder what peacock eggs look like?  Silly, only peahens lay eggs but this one, well, perhaps his name is Liberace?

This cutie didn't say much but she did sleep by our bed.

In case you were wondering...