Six from Saturday

I do not seem to be capable of composing a blog post after everything else on a Saturday.

1. Campanulastrum americanum

Wintersown last winter. This native plant can behave as an annual or a biennial. I didn’t fully expect this to bloom until next year. Interestingly, the two that are sending up big flowering spikes were among the second wave I planted out in spring. All of the first wave and some of the second are still just foliage rosettes.

Campanula americana (Tall Bellflower or American Bellflower)

2. Agarista populifolia, now in a trash bag

I bought this lovely native shrub from N.C. Botanical Garden plant sale last fall. It was a really good fit for a very shady area. I enjoyed its gracefully arcing, interestingly colored foliage all winter and beyond.

Unfortunately I did not realize this plant produces grayanotoxin I. This is the same toxin produced by rhododendrons and azaleas, which I knew not to plant because I have goats. (And also because azaleas are gaudy as hell)

I don’t have a regular escape-goat problem, but it does and will happen occasionally. On July 19 the goats broke through a gate. My tiny Delilah ate at least one branch of this plant. The next morning she would not eat her breakfast and was scouring. She hung on for two weeks with lots of supportive care. A couple of times she seemed to be pulling through, but she ultimately died overnight last Sunday/Monday.

I ripped this shrub out yesterday and feel horrible about everything related to it.

Agarista populifolia, very unfortunately browsed by a small goat who died two weeks later

3. Working goats

Since Delilah got sick I’ve been afraid to put Gimlet, Toddy, and Emerson anywhere other than their primary pasture.

But, I got goats to help eat brush, so I needed to be able to put them back to work eventually.

Yesterday I took a deep breath and put them in this privet, wild grape, honeysuckle, greenbrier, and poison ivy infested spot.

Gimlet,Toddy, and Emerson at work

4. Celosia argentea var. cristata ‘Tornado Red’

Self-sown volunteers this year. I wish they were more a deep red than a magenta, but I still love them.

Celosia argentea var. cristata ‘Tornado Red’

5. A view

This is such a crappy photo but it captures a view I’ve been enjoying. I like the punctuation-like structural effect of growing indeterminate tomatoes pruned and staked. This is my first year trying it and they do need more attention/care (and netting to protect the fruits from chickens/turkey), but they sure are easier to harvest and are not a sprawling monstrous heap going everywhere. I’m afraid I really do prefer a mostly neat, controlled looking garden, but lack the staff to maintain one! I was considering taking out the irises because their flowers are a disappointing sad old-dishrag-yellow, but I really do appreciate the textural contribution of their lovely leaves all summer. Butternut squash rambling everywhere in the foreground. The asparagus patch creates a nice, soft, smoky backdrop.

View toward Squash Mountain, through tomatoes

6. Spalding Labs Fly Predators, second shipment

A month and a half or so ago the flies were getting out of control and so annoying.

I’ve noticed a definite decrease in flies since putting out my first shipment of these guys. But it is a whole summer-long regimen to break the fly lifecycle and keep populations down. So this is batch two, which, unlike batch one, smelled like dirty socks. Whatever.

Spalding Labs Fly Predators

Six on Saturday is hosted by The Propagator.

Six from Saturday: native grasses update edition

It’s too far into Sunday to do Six on Saturday, but that’s not going to stop me. And all the photos here were taken yesterday, on Saturday. I was just too beat by coming-inside time to do anything with them.

First a little catch up, then a grass-heavy set of pics.

One of my pumpkin plants was suddenly very dead. I identified squash vine borer damage. I pulled out the entire section of stem and set it on fire. I thought maybe I could do this without burning the whole burn-pile, but all the holly trimmings made that impossible. Well, the upside is I was able to clean up the tall weeds around the burn pile afterward, and that corner of the place now looks a lot more tidy.

I finally got a handful of ripe blueberries that Lurkey can’t reach, my blackberry patch is looking weirdly scraggly and sad, I harvested two more cucumbers, and noticed that some tomatoes have started to form. 99% certain Lurkey is going to steal all the tomatoes he can reach, as well.

1. Under-tree clean up

The growth habit of Juniperus virginiana (Eastern red cedar) is so annoying. The branches bend downward like they are inviting the poison ivy, smilax (greenbriar), wild grape, Ailanthus altissima runners, and honeysuckle to climb on up. And if you try to go underneath to clean stuff up, you are likely to get poked in the eye by myriad bare sticks pointing downward from all the branches. I got super frustrated with this yesterday, and pruned off all the lower branches I could reach and get my loppers around. Then I cut and/or pulled out all the Ailanthus altissima runners I saw that were not completely surrounded by poison ivy. And I directly applied glyphosate to said poison ivy so I can come back later and get those runners. Pretty sure I will be breaking out in urushiol rash within a few days, despite scrubbing myself off multiple times with a rag and Joy dish soap twice during the process.

How I probably got poison ivy exposure yesterday.

2. Emerson wearing Elderflowers

Emerson ducked under an Elder tree and got accessorized on his way to the small fenced area`

3. Cinnamon Chicken in the Heimia salicifolia patch

I expected these shrubs (started from seed in spring 2019) to grow faster this year. They’ve really only started taking off in the last couple of weeks, and I need to do some trimming to encourage branching out. Last year’s seed starting theme was “Meeting new-to-me medicine plants,” and the Heimia salicifolia was part of that theme, along with Leonurus leonotis, Leonurus cardiaca, Prunella vulgaris, and Silene capensis. Missouri Botanical Garden on Heimia salicifolia:

Foliage of this shrub has been used medicinally and psychoactively dating back to the time of the Aztecs. Shamans continue to use this plant today. Leaves can be used dry or fresh for preparation of a tea (sinicuichi) which reportedly causes euphoric, time/place altered, muscle-relaxed and anti-inflammatory effects. Dried leaves are sometime smoked in cigarette form. Sinicuichi usage reportedly causes vision to become yellow tinted, hence the sometimes used common name of sun opener for this shrub. Notwithstanding some of the bizarre effects reportedly experienced by using sincuichi, this plant may be legally purchased, grown and used as an ornamental or otherwise in all 50 states.

Cinnamon Chicken keeping a sharp eye out for bugs in the Heimia salicifolia patch.

4. Elymus hystrix

The theme of this year’s seed starting was native plants, with a sub-theme of native grasses and sedges. Elymus hystrix was included in my NC Botanical Garden member seed packs, easily and quickly germinated, and looks happy around the back of the lily/peony bed. These were the last grass seeds received and the first to be planted out!

Elymus hystrix from this year’s NC Botanical Garden member seed packets doing well (with bonus Lurkey feather)

5. Sorghastrum nutans ‘Indian Steel’ and Panicum virgatum ‘Blue Giants’

Next I planted Sorghastrum nutans ‘Indian Steel’ (right) out around the bronze-foliage and yellow flower area next to the driveway. This grass will be blue-green until it turns yellow. It puts up tan-yellow flower panicles, which then turn bronze and persist into winter. I’m not sure about the timing of these colors in this area, but we will see.

Next in line was the Panicum virgatum ‘Blue Giants’, which should be very tall and silvery blue if all goes well. I had a very hard time deciding where to put these because of the size (and I gather it’s quite difficult to get rid of some of these grasses if you decide you don’t like the placement). I decided on two general areas: southeast corner of the house, and in a layer around the Guinea Fowl Spa.

Left: Panicum virgatum ‘Blue Giants’ just getting established. Right: Sorghastrum nutans ‘Indian Steel’ a month and a half farther along

6. Eragrostis elliotti

Last-planted, as a multi-day row of storms was thundering up on me. I think some of it got drowned, but what remains is starting to stand up strong and look happy.

The two sedges I started from seed are still in their winter-sowing containers. More keep popping up in there, and now we’re in a brutally hot time for planting, so hopefully they’ll be ok hanging out until a bit later.

Eragrostis elliottii just getting settled in front of Echinacea purpurea.

Six on Saturday is hosted by The Propagator, and you can see all the other, less tardy, participants for this week here.

Six on Saturday

I am too tired to write anything but the image captions

Lazarus the guinea fowl keeps watch while Bucket and Chestnut forage in the pumpkin plant
Rhus glabra
A view through the willow fedge off the back deck
It’s hemerocallis time!
Sunflower, self-sown. I’ll have to look up the name…
King of the trellis! Melothria scabra (cucumelon, or Mexican sour gherkin) has reached the top of the trellis

Six on Saturday is hosted by The Propagator.

Six on Saturday

1. Papilio polyxenes (Eastern swallowtail) caterpillar party in the Foeniculum vulgare ‘Purpureum’

I counted three on one plant.

Swallowtail party!

2. Burial of unhatched guinea fowl eggs

All three of these eggs had keets actively developing at 21 days, but they never hatched. Today was one day past the “they are not going to hatch” deadline. I carefully listened for any peeps and heard none.

There was a lot of hope saturating these eggs. Not all potential gets realized. <3

The three guinea fowl eggs that appeared viable at 21 days, but never hatched, buried today.

3. Blackberries

There is a thin strip of blackberries between what Lurkey can reach and what’s easy for other birds to get to. Some of them are ripening! Very close!

Blackberries are very close to being ripe.

4. Basil

Boris was chasing Lazarus night-before-last and they knocked the top out of one of my basil plants. I ate the leaves rolled up in slices of roast beef with cheese. I love the alternating leaf growth pattern.


5. Demanding guinea is demanding

Piper keeps an eye on me and, if I crouch down, she will often come running to see if I’m passing out Japanese Beetles. Tis the season. But here I was just pulling some weeds. (Grimace is running up behind her).

Piper the coral blue guinea fowl hen wants to know if I got any more of them Japanese Beetles

6. Fog and fireflies

We had a massive rainstorm in the mid/late afternoon, and as dusk fell, a heavy fog rose. The fireflies were not deterred.


The fog rolls in across the street with the fireflies

Six on Saturday is hosted by The Propagator, and links to other participants for today are available here.

Six on Saturday

1. Dahlia ‘Red Fubuki’ preparing to bloom

Dahlia preparing to bloom

2. Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’

I got this plant from Big Bloomers Flower Farm last summer and she is blooming for the first time.

First flower on Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’

3. Cocoa Chicken and Cinnamon Chicken

Cocoa Chicken and Cinnamon Chicken hung out under the hazel tree on Squash Mountain while I repaired the fence around the asparagus.

Cocoa Chicken and Cinnamon Chicken under the hazel tree

4. Beans

I cleaned out my cupboard a couple of weeks ago. Now I have lots of beans coming up near the compost pile.

Black, Kidney, and Pinto beans sprouting near the compost pile

5. Hemerocallis ?

This was planted by a previous inhabitant. I’m not sure what it is.

Hemerocallis (?) planted by a former resident


I am told this guinea fowl egg has now externally pipped and hatching is now in progress. I had planned to lockdown the incubator tomorrow, but had to do so tonight. I hope that opening it to add more water did not hurt this little one’s progress. I heard PEEPING when I was filling the water channels!!

A guinea fowl egg has externally pipped.

Six on Saturday is hosted by The Propagator. Visit this link to see all this week’s participants.

Six from Saturday

1. Goats at work

I moved the goats into the overgrown front paddock in the morning. Contrary to popular belief, goats are actually quite picky about what they eat and when. Usually they will not touch Microstegium vimineum (Japanese stiltgrass), but they went to town on it today.

At this point, this paddock area is basically unused and out of control except for me occasionally rotating the goats into it.

Delilah and Emerson eat Microstegium vimineum (Japanese stiltgrass) in the front paddock.

2. Magnolia grandiflora ‘Little Gem’

To say I’ve been “patiently” waiting for this to flower would be somewhat disingenuous. This is its first spring in the ground here, and, months ago, I thought the new leaf buds were going to be flowers.

Flower bud on Magnolia grandiflora ‘Little Gem’

3. Black Lives Matter

Sometimes you have to leave the garden.

I admit I got a bit burnt out on protests in protest-happy college towns and small cities a few years back.

It feels different and more important to show up in my current rural small town.

Solidarity against police brutality and systemic racism in Pittsboro

4. Extraction of yellow carpet, part 7,092,584

A previous resident put down or buried all manner of crap, presumably as a weed barrier. It was all invisible when I bought the place. I’ll have to write a separate post about all that, but one of the worst areas is this yellow carpet whose backing has totally disintegrated, leaving a bunch of loose plastic fibers to be removed from under and around all manner of roots. I’ve been slowly working on removing it, and put in a couple more hours today.

Yellow carpet hell

5. Lilium (Asiatic) ‘Netty’s Pride’

Or ‘Nettie’s Pride,’ as I sometimes see it. Just pretty.

Lilium (Asiatic) ‘Netty’s Pride’

6. Achillea millefolium (common yarrow) and Cota tinctoria (dyer’s chamomile)

These perennials have complimentary foliage and make a cheerful show when flowering.

The chamomile does get floppy and sprawly, and I meant to make an attempt at better support or trimming this year, but missed that window.

Achillea millefolium (common yarrow) and Cota tinctoria (dyer’s chamomile)

Six on Saturday is hosted by The Propagator and all posts for this week can be found here.

Six on Saturday, 2020-05-30

We’re writing this sitting outside, listening to a whippoorwill and various frogs, drinking a Wicked Weed Pernicious IPA, smiling at fireflies.

1. Dramatic elder shot

Nascent Sambucus nigra (elder) flowers against the sky

2. Asclepius syriaca (common milkweed)

I swear I saw a monarch butterfly fluttering around these today.

Asclepius syriaca (common milkweed) in flower

3. Papaver somniferum

Everything about the form of this plant is gorgeous. The way the bud nestles into the frilling leaves makes my heart sing.

Papaver somniferum preparing a flower

4. Cherries

Two cherry trees were here when I bought the place. I’ve recently discovered they were planted without un-balling the roots. In previous years, I’ve gotten two or three cherries from one of the trees. This year that tree is covered in fruits. These are the first to start ripening.

Cherries are ripening

5. What is that??

The question every guest asks. The answer: Magnolia macrophylla (bigleaf magnolia). Purchased at NC Botanical Garden’s fall plant sale.

If it does well, I won’t have a front yard any more, which is fine with me.

Magnolia macrophylla with adult legs for scale

6. Perfect curl

This is the happiest of the pumpkin plants I randomly planted in various spots.

Happy, tendrilly pumpkin plant

Six on Saturday is hosted by The Propagator. Roundup of all participants here.

Six on Saturday

I’m posting this Sunday morning, because I fell asleep while uploading the photos last night.

1. Morus rubra ‘Silk Hope’

I do not know for sure that this is the ‘Silk Hope’ variety but given that it is growing in Silk Hope and is known for ‘weedy’ qualities, I assume so. I have been enjoying snacking on these berries, regardless.

Morus rubra ‘Silk Hope’ (with Cinnamon Chicken butt)

2. Lilium ‘Merlot’ petal

A sort of homage to Georgia O’Keefe

A petal fallen from the glorious Lilium ‘Merlot’

3. Leonurus cardiaca (motherwort) in the golden hour

Leonurus cardiaca (motherwort) at the golden hour

4. A lot going on

Cercis canadensis ‘Ruby Falls’ planted this year, and given a new, real, stake today instead of the long stick I’d been using.

Asparagus flowering.

Messy, over-heaped burn pile, because after a while, I worry someone has taken up residence in the pile and don’t want to set it on fire. Also, I now worry this pile is too close to some plants and will scorch them if I light it. Also, I put fresh stuff on the pile that won’t burn; then, it rains. So this really isn’t an optimal way to deal with this material. Another thing to think through…

Lurkey lurking in the background. I think perhaps I did not see him puffed up and strutting at all yesterday, and he didn’t approach me aggressively. Perhaps we have turned a seasonal corner, and he’ll go back to being my distant gardening companion now?

Newly staked Cercis canadensis ‘Ruby Falls’, flowering asparagus, Guardian Rabbit, messy burn pile, and Lurkey lurking

5. Verbascum ‘Dark Eyes’

I had no idea tiny, decorative Verbascums existed, so I impulse-purchased this at Big Bloomers last year. Every time I think it has reached peak flower density, it proves me wrong.

Verbascum ‘Dark Eyes’

6. Snakes mating on self-heal

This was the most amazing thing… Friday afternoon I coaxed a sunning black snake out of the road in front of my house. Yesterday morning, I had a visit from a black snake in the south side yard. Yesterday evening I noticed a very strange sort of thrashing sound and movement and discovered two snakes twining together at the southeast corner of my house. Their mating lasted over an hour, and took place over and around a patch of Prunella vulgaris (self-heal), my Hamamelis vernalis (vernal witch hazel), and a young Aruncus dioica (goat’s beard) just about to flower. I basically stopped in my tracks and watched until night was falling and I needed to coop the guineas, because it was mesmerizing and something I’d never seen. I came back with a couple of guinea eggs for the pair after cooping the birds, but they were gone.

Black rat snakes mating in Prunella vulgaris (self-heal)

Six on Saturday is hosted by The Propagator, and other entries can be viewed at the weekly post there.

Six on Saturday #1

The Propagator is the host of Six on Saturday.  Head over there to see his Six and find links to the blogs of other participants.

Here are mine:

One Eryngium giganteum flower has ripened

Cercis canadensis ‘The Rising Sun’ is still quite small, but is already stunning.

A deep burgandy colored lily flower
Lilium div. 7: Oriental Hybrids ‘Merlot’ obligingly opened this morning

Salvia ‘Amistad’ purchased last year at the NCSU Arboretum is already blooming

Sambucus nigra (elder) flowers are forming

As various birbs run through the Baba Yaga Elder bed, The Skulls of Men are frequently rearranged. Serendipitously, this skull sniffs at an Echinacea purpurea flower that is forming