Friday, July 31, 2009
Gabe's Birthday Present
I already have a hard time remembering that six months ago, Gabe's Garden was just a patch of neglected lawn. Happy birthday little dood! Soon you will be old enough to *really* play here.
To celebrate, I hung up the Japanese Children's Day banner that used to be mine. Children's Day, formerly Boy's Day, is actually in May, but since few people here in the US know that, I can get away with flying the carp whenever I like.
Gabe absolutely loves the banner. He waves his arms and shouts "da!" whenever he sees it. By "da", he means "gimmie".
I was a little worried that the banner might scare off the catbird who is nesting in one of the nearby shrubs, but I watched her hop right up underneath it.
That same catbird chased off a hummingbird that showed up to drink from these bee balms. The hummingbird was back a day later - hooray! That makes three hummingbird sightings in the yard, total.
But back to the bee balm. . . dang I love these flowers! So crazy, so red, so easy to grow. It's native to the Midwest, which is native enough to suit me. And it's in the mint family, which means it is safe if Gabe ends up eating some.
This is the last of the mustard which I had sown everywhere in this garden in a sort of permaculture experiment. I had planted them to stabilize and shade the soil while the slower-growing natives got established. I had thought that I would harvest it fast enough to keep it small, but I had my hands too full with Gabe to harvest it often. The explosively-growing mustard was crowding out my blueberry bushes, and otherwise looking like an unruly mess, so I weeded it out. This token plant remains so that we can harvest seed for next year; or, perhaps, for pickles. The plant has slumped over beneath the weight of its own seeds. A baby bunny has been spotted using the fallen plant as cover.
This is another plant that has stolen my heart: common cinquefoil, potentilla simplex. It came along for the ride with the creeping thyme that my neighbor gave me. I love its unruly runners hanging over the edge stones, and the lovely texture of its five-fingered leaves.
A few years ago a friend thought she had identified the hangout of local pot-smokers when she spied some hand-shaped leaves growing beside a lake. Now I know that it was some type of cinquefoil that we were looking at, rather than some stray hot-house plant sprouted from a seed dropped from a baggie. The taller varieties of cinquefoil look even more like marijuana leaves than this variety.
Common cinquefoil is in the rose family, and judging by its leaves and runners and flowers, it must be closely related to strawberries. (Here are some strawberries for comparison.)
The black-eyed susans, Rudbeckia hirta, are still blooming, and in front of that, I have added spiderwart, Tradescantia virginiana. Surprise! Despite the arachnid-and-blemished-skin name, spiderwart is rumored to be edible.
This side of the garden is still looking a bit bare. The lavender has bloomed, and the rosemary is thriving. However the native grass called prairie dropseed, Sporobolus heterolepis, has been looking a bit cooked, and the bunnies keep munching on the native violets
The bunnies also seem to like the nasturtiums, Tropaeolum majus. Nasturtiums are non-natives that make a cheerful, colorful filler while building a native plant bed, because (around here, at any rate) they seem to be reliably killed off by the cold winters. But seeds can be collected and stored indoors for the following year if the bunnies don't eat them.
Nasturtiums are edible, and have a delicious radishy flavor that would go nicely with milder salad greens.
That's more of the prairie dropseed there by the nasturtium. It's a short clumping grass with very narrow leaves, making a wonderful texture to contrast with wide leaves and big flowers.
Here is a gratuitous shot of the bowling ball, along with cinquefoil, creeping thyme, bee balm, and a clump of native grass. (Alas, I don't remember what type of grass it is!)
Two clumps of that native grass flank Gabe's future fort. Some day, those serviceberry twigs will be a cage of thick trunks, enclosing the perfect shady spot for a little boy to plan his next big adventure.