Posts Tagged: sunflower

Anticipation

Benny's Garden 28 April 2018Dear Friends:

Well now, it seems I have once again been remiss in keeping this blog up to date. Take this post for example. It was actually completed back in February. I really need to step it up and update this blog in a more timely fashion. With that said, thank you for reading and thank you for your patience!

Originally written February 7th 2018

Snowdrops — One of the first flowers to poke through in late winter.

It always happens around this time every year – right around the time of my birthday. The winds are shifting, the days are staying awake longer and the sun is warming the earth. As in all previous years, I see signs of life. Already, daffodils are beginning to poke through, the flax is greening up, irises are poking through and insects are darting about. Yet, it is still only February and just the beginning of February at that.

Spring officially returns March 21st but here, in my little Rocky Mountain garden we will be flirting with winter well into the third week of May – typically. I mean, this could be an off year but I won’t be planting anything that doesn’t like the cold until after Mother’s Day. Just like The Who once lamented … I won’t be fooled again.

The Beauty

On this glorious day of days, I am afforded the opportunity to just sit outside. I wish you – you being any kind soul who happens upon these words and reads them – could be here sitting with me now, outside under my pergola, on my dusty, dirty chair and enjoying this quiet… this solitude.. this moment with me. Perhaps I would make us some iced tea. That does sound good and I was halfway tempted to stop writing this post and go inside and make some but this white tea I have is so strong, I find the effects of the caffeine to be too long lasting. So, perhaps, if you were here, I would make an iced tea but some sort of herbal blend. Hibiscus perhaps.

Oh, the GLORY! The sun is warming my aching bones and I can feel the healing transformation. There is a breeze and it is cool but not cold. It is blowing my wind chime about. Don’t you just love the sound of wind chimes? I would love to have them all over my garden. This one above me is a soprano chime so I quite fancy a bass or alto chime to accompany it.

Already, There Is Anticipation

As each day lengthens and warms, already I am feeling it. If you are here, reading this post, you must be a gardener of some sort or at least someone mildly interested in making something of a bit of earth, or container or something along those lines. I say this because if you have any appreciation for the natural world and how it invigorates the gardener, you know what the ‘it’ is.

“It” is abstract in form and changes with each passing day. “It” is a desire, a passion, a longing and a purest form of love. “It” is what is inside me, you and well, everyone really. “It” is what makes me feel alive. “It” is the perfection of a connection that is discovered – and not by accident. In my life, there are only a few core desires that equate to need. Beyond the tangible, the “it” for me is to sink my hands inside the warming earth, letting it slip through my fingers – but not before inhaling its aroma and mold it into something beautiful. It is this love I breathe into it that produces a garden.

My friends, I thank you so kindly for reading. Please accept my apologies as always for any and all delays in between posts.

Until next time, I wish you all the very best of all things. May this day and all days be blessed. Happy Gardening!

Please enjoy these photos of my Rocky Mountain garden in February:

Daffodil shoots poking through

In two large pots under the pergola, I planted some daffodils. It seems the only plants to emerge are those planted in the left pot. I will have to fix that next year.

Evergreen snapdragons

My evergreen snapdragons. These are planted near the hose spout and stay green all year. Looking forward to the blooms!

Emerging flax in spring

Not too far away from the hollyhocks is my good old, reliable flax. It continues to spread and I could not be happier.

Emerging Hollyhocks

Hollyhock leaves near the kitchen window emerging. I should get blooms this year.

Sunflower seed head

Dried Sunflower Head — I keep all the dried seed heads around until spring.

It’s the Hard That Makes It Great

Transcending Spring

garden journal 17 August 2017As the snows finally subside for the season and the chances of evening frost have finally passed, it is easy to get lulled into a sense of complacency when it comes to gardening. All that snow has melted deep into the ground and there is no need to worry about watering. Each day of spring presents a brand-new miracle to behold as the earth comes alive. Nature’s magic is in full swing.

As spring matures into summer, the plight of the gardener becomes apparent. Clouds are rolling in. Will it hail? Or, as it was this year, there were no clouds, only baking hot sun. Then the question becomes will it rain? Our rains came late this year but I will talk more on that later. As the garden transcends spring, the true tribulations of the gardener begin.

Joe Pye Weed

Wilting Joe Pye Weed

Water

Quite simply and even more apparent, the typical garden will not survive without supplemental irrigation if you live in an arid climate – as we do in most of Colorado. I personally feel it is irresponsible to create a landscape that requires constant watering. Water is by far the most precious resource and conservation is of paramount importance. With this in mind, my garden primarily consists of plants native to this area or plants that are easily adaptable to our climate and (at times) extreme weather conditions.

Adaptability was certainly put to the test early this season. All around me plants were wilting, the earth was drying and cracking and I was losing plants. I started the habit — which continues to this day — of bringing a five-gallon Home Depot bucket with me into the shower. I position it in a way that manages to catch a lot of the water that would normally flow down the drain. Despite only turning on the water to get wet so I can lather and then again to rinse off, the bucket ends up nearly full. That is five gallons of water every day. I pour this water out on all the beds and if I am feeling generous, the grass. I gravely dislike grass. Beyond the recycled water, I will sometimes get the hose out in the mornings but I am very careful with the amount of water I apply and where.

Why Bother?

With so many things that can go wrong in a garden (weather conditions are just the tip of the iceberg), it is a wonder anyone gardens at all. I know I have personally sunk deep into my outdoor chair many times in exasperation. It is arduous work but you know something? Just as Tom Hanks said in ‘A League of Their Own’, “It is the hard that makes it great.” If it was easy and required no effort, there would possibly be gardens everywhere just like the old times — when folks didn’t mind a bit of hard, soul-enhancing, satisfying work.

Oh! The old times! There once was a time when most everyone HAD to garden. That’s right. There wasn’t always a fancy, lit up, refrigerated aisle full of ‘fresh’ produce. If you wanted vegetables – and of course you did as they are paramount to proper nutrition – you had to grow them. You had to not only grow them but harvest them and then prepare them for storage through the winter. Oh, the humanity! I speak facetiously of course but this is an honest reaction in an age when very few bother to make something out of a bit of earth.

The Rains Have Arrived

By the grace of God, the heat of June and early July dispersed and for the last several weeks we have been blessed with afternoon thunder showers. This coincides with our monsoon season but the cooler days and the plentiful moisture is so very welcome. The garden is responding in kind. The wilted plants have given way to robust, green stems and the struggling vegetables are flowering and will soon bear fruit. In some cases, they already have. For example, I have already harvested enough pickling cucumbers to create several jars of delicious pickles.

Oh, to garden! Just when you are about to throw your hands in the air and wash your hands of the whole affair, it rewards you with bountiful blessings.

The tomatoes are ripening, a small petunia formed from a seed of plantings past is flowering, ears of corn are forming on their stalks, perennial 4 o’clocks are blooming for the first time ever, ancho peppers are forming (those that were planted from seed), sunflowers are blooming everywhere, hummingbirds are flitting about the impatiens and penstemons, birds are darting from feeder to feeder and worms appear in every shovel of earth disrupted. Yes, gardening is hard work but it can be ever so rewarding!

Ancho Pepper

Ancho Pepper

As always, thank you very kindly for reading. I pray your day has been blessed.

And now, some photos from the garden. Enjoy!

thistle

A volunteer thistle growing out of an old fence post hole. Say what you will but I love the thistle

purslane

Rich in vitamin C, the versatile, tough purslane plant. Everyone should grow purslane

stemmed sunflower

Artistic shot of a sunflower

lily

I usually don’t get blooms for this lily but this year I did. Isn’t it gorgeous!

verbascum

One man’s weed — the subtle beauty of the verbascum.

sunflower in pot

Sunflower in pot near sliding glass door

sunflowers in pot

I will create a separate blog entry about this one day but seedlings appeared in this pot before winter was over. The mystery of what they were has been solved. Beautiful sunflowers!

marigold

Beautiful marigold growing in a large pot. They make for a beautiful display

African violet

We can’t forget the indoor plants! This beautiful African violet is blooming.

Ripening tomatoes

Ripening tomatoes on the vine. I am so pleased with these as I started these plants from seed indoors

Ear of Corn

Ear of Corn grown in a large black bucket. I should end up with four or five ears of corn

Summer Lamentations

20Oct2014I surreptitiously slip in softly, quietly, gliding along the winds of spring. The last remnants of cold and winter soon become just a fleeting memory.

Spring O! spring! What a vibrant, multi-colored tapestry you have woven! I offer all this precious new life my protection with my warmth and long days.

Heraldry! No other mornings compare to the aubades sung with such fervor by the growing numbers of my winged followers.

My fiery sun glowing strong provides all the radiant heat welcomed by the earth below.

Days o’ days. They are long, lazy and meandering which is the intent. The rising moon graces the sky albeit briefly before my sun chases it away to bask the earth in glorious splendor.

Life is flourishing, life is everywhere, life is inescapable, life is alive with love, passion and energy. Emerge my children and let me cradle you in my warmth. Sleep in peace secure in knowing you are safe.

Days o’ days passing without care, breeding happiness, excitement and laughter all the while. My strength continues to grow as does everything beneath me. My personal flowers, O! Flowers of faith, you are bounding each day only to ready yourselves for your days of endless adulation.

sunflowersHelianthus annuus they have called you. You are the embodiment of the season. You reach higher and higher, yearning to be closer to me. We were once one, you and me and so we will be again.

SHEER JOY! The virtues of patience have paid off and the day has come! Your blooms have opened and with each passing minute, your face sways, turning and contorting so that we may look into each other’s eyes until I drop out of view.

Beauty is fading. Your days are expiring and as the finches come to feast upon your leaves, your precious blooms begin to wither. I am fading too it seems. The solstice has come and gone.

Preparations of moving on. My freshness of youth is transforming into something more mature as I feel myself losing my reign with each passing hour, day and week.

Soon there will be nothing left of me but a memory.

Your flowers are gone now but you have procured enough nutrients to gather seed. Prolific you shall be when a new season comes around again. A year. Annuus.

The dog days are here and in protest I shower all below with a heat not as yet known this season. Fiery blasts upon the earth as I lament my inevitable passing.

The earth turns are constant. Days o’ days. I am forced to let go. The dog days are over now. The footsteps of the autumn equinox are drawing nearer until the inevitable day when we meet face to face.

Grinning shyly, I bow gracefully knowing I must be off to bless another part of the earth as a new spring in a different land approaches. Perpetual motion. As I bid the northern lands adieu, I embrace the southern lands. Cycles.

The land ever coaxing prompts me to stay as long as I can but autumn is waiting patiently and with her arrival comes the much needed preparation for another type of solstice – winter. One of shortened days and much needed rest. Autumn’s hands are careful and intentional as her winds summon the northern winds. Colder nights, shorter days. She sees winter approaching and knows she has much work to do before her arrival.

I cannot maintain my protection much longer and with each passing evening, I feel myself slipping further. Frosts have already fallen upon the land like a blanket as if to say, shhhhh, it is time for sleep.

Life is fading, drifting wearily and preparing for protection against the cold. Shutting down. Life functions become slower, disciplined and minimized to the bare essentials.

The clocks, ticking in unison all point to my hour of departure and I shall leave grandly with a fiery exit. Your pleas have not gone unnoticed; O! Beautiful creations! Let this be my final gift in honor of autumn. The fiery colors of my palette I shall infuse into all the leaves of all the plants below. Emblazoned now below the autumnal sun are the tones of earth, fire and sun setting the world alight with an elaborate fireworks display. Take solace, breathe in the cooler, stiller air, reflect and prepare for rest.

As my robust, energetic, invigorating, warm days end and new days of frost, cold and stillness begin,

Summer has become autumn
Young has become old
Then has become now

I leave you with your memories.

Images of Autumn. Please click on any of the thumbnails below to start sideshow. Thank you.

Images of the Garden in Late Summer. Please click on any of the thumbnails below to start sideshow. Thank you.

Here Comes the Sun (Doodle Doodle)

gj_dateHello friends. Before I get started I wish to thank Flora Jamieson over at Through the Round Window for her kind permission to use the photo for this blog entry. Please take a moment to check out her blog and her wonderful stained glass creations. You are a wonderful artist Flora and I thank you so much for allowing me to use this image for my blog post.

Unintended Miniature Pond

Unintended Miniature Pond

Here in the northern region of the northern hemisphere, there is a definite feel to the air that intimates autumn’s pending arrival. The winds are cooler and the recent heavy rain is something many in our state have never seen. Today for the first time in a few days, the sun meandered beyond the clouds and provided a welcome relief to the soggy ground below. My concrete bird bath converted to a planter looks now more like the actual bird bath it was originally meant to be. After taking this photo, I scooped out as much water as possible. It is funny to me that when you experience something for an extended period of time you long for the opposite. Take the rain for example. I have longed for it to rain properly all summer and then all it once it was here with a mission to make up for lost time. The clouds and damp have been constant so when the sun arrived I could immediately relate to those immortal words from John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
And I say it’s all right

Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been here

Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
And I say it’s all right

Sun, sun, sun, here it comes
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes

The rain aside, our growing season will be ending. Soon, we will have our first frost and not long after, our first snow. I can take a moment or two now to reflect on my successes and lessons learned this season. One major lesson since time immemorial for any gardener is that of creating a good foundation (soil) for which to garden. Why did that plant die or why did that plant struggle? A trowel plunged into the earth for which the plant sat languishing revealed subpar conditions. Whether it was a soil that was too wet, too dry, too many nutrients, not enough, etc., it seems I fell into the trap of not preparing enough before I planted. I thought I did enough. For example, the soil under the pine tree was meant to be good, rich soil only to discover it retained so much water and now it is no secret why I did not have daffodils or why other varieties of plants gave up the ghost.

Another victim of my carelessness was the cone flower patch. They sat in a soil too wet and too rich as well resulting in having to cut them all down to nothing and placing them in average soil with a nice top dressing of compost in hopes they will recover next year. Cone flowers are tough so thee is hope they will come back strong in the spring.
Beyond these lessons, I am pleased with my successes. First, I have Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate. I will write a feature on this in my next entry but despite hail damaging the leaves, etc., I have beautiful long strands of hot pink flowers swaying in the sun.

As I prepare for September’s tasks, I already am becoming sentimental about the inevitable changes that will transform all the greens, pinks, purples and yellows to brown and grey. The lawn will be fertilized with alfalfa meal now and once more before the first frost. Plants will soon be cut back and soon it will be time to place straw around the tender perennials such as a newly purchased cardinal flower and a salvia greggii. Their slumber will soon be here but before that I will take joy in every communion with all my garden has to provide.

The garden creates so many memories and memories are like starlight: they go on forever. I thank you all so much for reading and until next time, happy gardening and blessings to you all!

Articles to look forward to!
Patience Rewarded (Success with impatiens)
My Personal Harvest
Flanders Poppies

Now for some images of what has been blooming since my last post.

Back of Volunteer Sunflower

Back of Volunteer Sunflower

Bee in a Blanket

Bee in a Blanket

Gaura Bloom

Gaura Bloom

Marigold in Sepia

Marigold in Sepia

Oregano Bloom

Oregano Bloom

Pumpkin Patch

Pumpkin Patch

Ripening Tomato

Ripening Tomato

Volunteer Sunflower Growing Near Patio

Sunflower Growing Near Patio

Sunflower in Blue

Sunflower in Blue

Sunflower Closeup

Sunflower Closeup

Small Yellow Flower

Small Yellow Flower