Yeah, yeah, yeah… It’s Tuesday.
Rather than focusing on the lateness of this garden stroll, let’s focus on this: It’s Tuesday, and the heat wave is gone!
So long 100°F temperatures, and hello 80°F temperatures. It’s amazing how, well, amazing 80°F can feel after 11 days of temperatures in the 90s and 100s.
Not only is the heat wave gone, but it left with a bang. Or, rather, a crash, a flash of light, and a downpour. The storms here were fierce Sunday night. Not as fierce as June 29, but, still. Chainsaws, road closures and power outages seem to be the themes for this summer. Oh, and heat.
But, how about the garden?
It’s doing just fine:
The sweet potatoes are blooming. And, so is the ‘Globe’ artichoke:
My sister says the artichoke flowers look like big, purple sea anemones. I don’t always agree with her, but, in this case, well, I have to admit that she’s right. Don’t you expect to see a clownfish nestled down in there?
Despite the 11 days of too-hot and too-dry we just survived, the beans are thriving. They loved the heat. No problems growing or sprouting in 90-100°F+ temperatures. I planted these beans on July 5, and they started popping out of the ground yesterday. Gotta love that kind of enthusiasm for life:
And, these, I planted on June 25, three days before the heat wave attacked. They LOVED it. Fastest growth I think I’ve ever seen on bush bean seedlings:
Bush beans, by the way, are one of my favorite plants for along the border of the front yard vegetable garden. They grow quickly, which means they fill in empty spots rapidly. They tend to look great, even in the midst of Virginia’s often-unkind summer heat. They are tasty (super important). And, let’s be honest, bush beans are good lookers too. Big leaves, lush growth, and some — like these ‘Royal Burgundy’ bush beans — have a lovely purple hue to the plant and flowers (and beans!).
What’s not to love?
Speaking of beans, the ‘Scarlet Emperor’ runner beans continue to climb up their stick trellis. I’m hoping for some flowers soon:
And, if you’re looking for another great choice for the front border in your front yard vegetable garden, there’s this:
‘Bright Lights’ chard. It’s not a flower, but it might as well be. Now that the heat has broken, I need to get some more started in a few places. Perhaps right next to those ‘Purple Burgundy’ bush beans. Purple beans planted beside red and yellow and orange chard. Hmm… That could be, er, interesting. Might be worth an experiment.
If you haven’t noticed yet, I’m generally always willing to experiment in the garden. This year, for example, I’m trying a few different varieties of tomatoes as rambling ground covers. I did this accidentally with a ‘Matt’s Wild Cherry’ tomato plant last year, and it worked surprising well. So, this year, I’m expanding the experiment to a bunch of other varieties. Like, these ‘Black Plum’ tomatoes:
They don’t seem to be too upset about their missing trellis, do they?
Also, does anyone know why my redtwig dogwood is blooming now? I mean, let’s be clear, I’m not complaining. But, shouldn’t this be a springtime thing?
But, honestly, the flowers aren’t the most noticeable thing in the garden these days. It’s the bugs! Mostly good bugs: native bees, butterflies, dragonflies, wasps… The garden is humming with the whirl of thousands of little bug wings. I love it.
Some of the population explosion is surely due to the time of the year. It’s high summer, after all. But, I think it’s only fair that I get to take some credit too. Because, a lot of these bugs are here because of the plants I planted here. Natives. Host plants for caterpillars. Dense plants for cover. And, gobs and gobs of native flowers for the nectar- and pollen-lovers. I said it last year, and I’ll say it again: It’s not a garden. It’s a habitat.
After all that, you’d probably expect that I have some butterfly photos to share. Um. Nope. Sorry. I was paying more attention to the wasps and dragonflies today:
Like this little guy, perched on the label for the next-to-the-house popcorn. Yes, I planted the popcorn on June 9. Late. I know. But, look, it’s doing just fine:
Getting back to the bugs… Um. I try not to judge. But, seriously, this wasp looks like it needs to eat a bit more:
Well, ok, not really. This wasp isn’t suffering from an eating disorder. This is how it’s supposed to look, too-skinny waist and all. You see, this is a black and yellow mud dauber. A good wasp to have around, because they are really not aggressive at all. In fact, most wasps aren’t aggressive at all. Mud daubers are also fun because they build little mud tubes for their offspring. The tubes look a built like made-from-mud pipe organs. Pretty neat.
My only quibble with mud daubers is their preferred food: spiders. I like spiders in the garden, because they’re predators. Less spiders = less predators to eat the undesirable bugs. I’d be much happier if mud daubers ate cabbage worms.
Speaking of bugs and eating, it looks like a praying mantis had a really bad day:
Something tells me the rest of the praying mantis probably isn’t in one piece. It’s much too early for the ladies to be munching on their suitors, so I’m guessing this mantis ran afoul of, well, some sort of fowl. Lots of birds in the garden, and I’m guessing a bunch of them would love to dine on tender young mantis.
As for the butterflies, I’ll be sharing some photos of them soon. I’m also thinking about starting a butterflies-in-the-garden list. It will be interesting — and fun! — to compare butterfly counts over the coming years in the garden.
Monday Tuesday morning afternoon stroll for this week. How are things growing in your garden?