July Garden Update

I’ve got a fever… and the only prescription is more flowers!

We’ve got COVID – womp womp :(. Since we’ve been home isolating and I haven’t been up for manual labor, I’ve been doing a lot of daydreaming about gardening. It feels like winter to me… stuck inside, going stir crazy. To combat the boredom, I read a book on cut flower gardening (by Erin Benzakein of Floret Farm), watched YouTube videos (this, this, this, and this) on how to arrange flowers, and started filling up virtual shopping carts with bulbs and flower seeds to plant this fall. By the way, if you haven’t done so already, now’s the time to start thinking about and ordering spring-blooming bulbs to plant this fall. 

Here’s the scoop on what’s been going on in the garden lately.

Bugs & Critters

It’s July, and the garden is at its peak (check out the photos tab at the top of the page for the latest garden photos). Flowers are blooming, veggies and fruits are producing, and bugs and critters are having a heyday. The days are now getting shorter since we’ve passed the summer solstice, and with that, the rate of growth of most plants slows down. I’m starting to notice little holes here and there in the garden, either from plants that didn’t germinate, got hit by the heat/dry days we had in June, or have been ravaged by pests. Lessons I’m re-learning: I need butterfly netting for brassicas from now on, squash vine borers are the devil/I do not have the patience and vigilance to grow summer squash, and bunnies and squirrels from far and wide see our garden as an all-you-can-eat buffet. Here are a few pests I’ve seen lately:

Leaf-footed bug, a relative of stink bugs that likes to eat garden fruits and veggies

Japanese Beetles mating on my canna lilies…grrr!

The dreaded Squash Vine Borer. Killing off my zucchini plants like it ain’t no thang.

Cabbage white caterpillar decimating my broccoli plants.

Cabbage white caterpillar decimating my broccoli plants.

Tree Frogs

In the week or two since we’ve been under the weather, there has been a MASSIVE explosion in our tree frog population. Baby tree frogs are EVERYWHERE. While mowing our yard yesterday, I felt like I was playing frogger in the most literal way. I had to slow WAY down to coax the little tree frogs out of the mower’s path. As far as I know, I didn’t hit any, but some of them seemed to have a death wish. Ironically, the She Reads Truth Bible Study going on right now is Exodus, and I’m almost at the frog plague part! 

Weeds

In years past, I haven’t stayed on top of pruning like I should, and as a result, our yard ends up looking like a jungle by July. This year, I’m being ruthless with trimming and weeding. There have been a few plants I wasn’t sure of the ID, so I let them grow until I could determine what they were by leaf patterns/flowers/fruits. As it turns out, some of these very giant plants I have been nurturing and protecting are just big ol’ weeds. Oops! Here they are so you don’t make the same mistake I did!

Tech-Y Stuff

Word to the wise, if you have Google Photos on your phone, you can take a photo and use the “lens” functionality to do a quick image search for plant and bug IDs – it’s amazing. It’s also a little bit creepy because it’s Google, after all.

I’m still working on getting pictures updated. It looks like I’ll need to just re-upload most of the photos that aren’t working, so I’ll work from the current post, going back. 

Well that’s all for now! See you back on the blog soon!

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More Critters, Flowers, and Photos

The garden is looking great and we’ve had some visits from EVEN MORE critters!

Baby Bunny Alert!

So well camouflaged!

Now I know for sure why my bush beans and sunflowers keep getting “reset” down to nubs! We also have lots of squirrels, who are probably “helping” with that, too.

I’ve picked a few more stems for a small flower arrangement. Still learning how to put them together. It’s a work in progress! This one has zinnias, cosmos, and hydrangeas.

Also, the flowers are attracting plenty of beneficial bugs, like these goldenrod soldier beetles on sweet alyssum flowers and spiders making webs between my cauliflower!

We’ve got a few peppers (these are sweet banana) coming in, and plenty of blooms. Stay tuned for more updates!

 

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Back Yard Visitors

The other day, while making my morning coffee, something caught my eye out our sliding glass back door. 

We don’t often see deer around here (even though I know someone has been munching on my beans and sunflowers!), so this was a real treat! We watched this fancy girl bound and leap around ours and our neighbors’ back yards for a bit, right before a line of storms swept through.


After having my breakfast, another neighbor texted me to let me know she had found a BABY FAWN (EEKKKK!!!!) just chillin’ in the grass. I grabbed my camera, and went right over, being sure to give baby deer plenty of space. 

Can you spot the baby fawn?

Ain’t she (he?) a cutie?

Thank you, God, for these elegant and graceful creatures!

 

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Visiting the JC Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh

After a long bout of being stuck at home with sick kids, Jonah and I finally got a chance to go out on a date on Thursday! We visited the JC Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh. This garden is one of my favorites! There’s such a wide variety of things to see there. They have SO MANY different garden zones:

  • Rooftop Terrace
  • Asian Valley
  • Butterfly Garden
  • Color Trial Garden (for testing new annuals and tender perennials)
  • Elms
  • Roses
  • Geophytes (bulbs/corms/tubers/rhizomes)
  • Japanese Garden (My FAVORITE!)
  • White Garden
  • Lath House (shade garden)
  • Mixed border
  • Model Gardens
  • Paradise Garden
  • Perennial Border
  • Scree Garden
  • Southall Memorial Garden
  • Winter Garden
  • Xeric Garden

Check out some of the photos below for a virtual tour (hover over the photos for descriptions)! I highly recommend a stop if you’re in the Raleigh area. Since they are affiliated with NC State University, they always have fun programs, classes, and educational opportunities going on for all ages. Jonah and I joked that there must be a rule that academic lectures must include a pun… our favorite from their list this month was “Plant Parenthood: From Planting to Pest Management” (insert groan/eye roll here). You can see a full list of upcoming events on their site. I hope you’ll pay them a visit when you’re in town!  

 

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The Colors Duke, The Colors!

Remember this gem?

Today the Assistant Garden Manager (my oldest daughter) and I, saw a really cool sight – we watched a Green Anole change color right before our eyes! The only reason we noticed this little guy is because we were watering some plants and he hopped right onto our hose reel. When we saw him the first time, he was a brown color, blending in nicely to the compost. When we finished watering, we came back, looking for him and saw a bright green Anole in just about the same location and figured it must be the same one. 

A Green Anole right after he hopped out from some daffodil foliage.

Sure enough, as we continued to watch him, he started to get darker as he did a split on our brick siding. So cool!

Will we see this guy participating in the 2024 Olympics???

I see you, boo! He’s a regular old Sally O’Malley. What a neat little creature!

A Green Anole peeking out from under our siding.

 

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