The Natural Garden Coach

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Ailing Oak Tree Update

Notice top of oak tree?
Last month I posted some photos of the awful state of my relatively new oak tree. See my June 5 post for some gory pictures. The diagnosis from the Extension agent was bacterial wet wood, for which there is no cure. He thinks the squirrels may have made things worse and suggested I spray it down with water to remove the "slime." Doing some research on it, I discovered that if the damage is not too extensive, the tree may recover. The oozing stopped and I was hoping for the best. But as you can now see, the top is dead. I'm unsure of what to do. Should I cut that down and hope a new leader grows? Or is it just a matter of time before the rest goes?

As depressing as all that is, I'm still on cloud nine from my trip to the Seattle Bloggers Fling. I've got tons of photos to share and so it'll probably take several posts. Stay tuned!

This post was written by Jean McWeeney for my blog Dig, Grow, Compost, Blog. Copyright 2011. Please contact me for permission to copy, reproduce, scrape, etc.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

July Garden Bloggers Bloom Day

'Goldsturm' rudbeckia (black-eyed Susan)
I'm a little late for this Bloom Day (seems I only have time to blog on weekends these days). I could complain about the weather here, but I'll try to spare you. Many plants are doing their customary peak of summer shutdown a bit early. Guess the heat and lack of rain started too early for them. But my stalwart black-eyed Susans are still managing a cheerful show.

Black-eyed Susan and Eupatorium dubium 'Little Joe' (Joy-Pye weed)
Next to one of my stands of Susans (I have plenty to spare if you want some!) is this 'Little Joe' Joe-Pye weed that I was most excited to find locally this spring. Considering that this plant likes it a bit moist, it's doing pretty well. It's supposed to be a short variety, reaching only 48 inches tall (versus the 6 feet or more the usual Joe-Pyes get), but this one probably hasn't grown over 12 inches, pretty much as short as it was when I bought it. It was fairly potbound, and coupled with lack of rain, it may just want to stay this short this year. But since it's so short, I can't see it from my patio! I bought it for the butterflies so I'll just have to trust they're finding it.

'Coral Nymph' salvia and bumble
This is kind of an odd view of this plant but these plants are pretty short as well. Besides, I was going after the bumblebee shot, not the plant. 'Coral Nymph' salvia is a self-seeder in my garden and pretty much comes up whereever I let it. They've gotten shorter as the years go by, now about 10-12 inches. They're a nice filler plant though.

Heirloom 'Yellowstone' daylily and Wave spreading petunia in background
I'm loving this little daylily. It's an heirloom I bought from Old House Gardens, fragrant, from 'Hyperion' parentage, and its blooms last well into the night. OHG warned it may not bloom its first year but no problem here (maybe they say that for more northerly gardeners??). Though I'm not much of a petunia fan, these purple Wave spreaders are still looking pretty decent and are a nice contrast to the daylilies.

Poblanos with dead 'Sky Pencil' holly in background
OK, I had to show at least one casualty of the drought. Not these lovely poblano peppers but the brown and very dead 'Sky Pencil' holly behind them. I have had a tough time with some of the shrubs I planted in the fall. Probably the larger the plant, the tougher time it's had. Ah well. My husband said "Remember how in Austin you had to just let go of some plants when the drought would get bad?" That was supposed to remind me that sometimes there's not much I can do and like it or not, I got through the summer and just started over again. Guess I have no choice! It can be a bit expensive though. :-/

I hope you hop on over to Carol's blog to see what's happening around the world on Bloom Day. Stay cool (Seattle weather - here I come!!).

This post was written by Jean McWeeney for my blog Dig, Grow, Compost, Blog. Copyright 2011. Please contact me for permission to copy, reproduce, scrape, etc.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Best-Tasting Tomato Ever

Kellog's Breakfast, an orange heirloom tomato
Now I've done it. I've thrown down the gauntlet by declaring this tomato, Kellog's Breakfast, as the best-tasting tomato ever. Maybe I should quantify that statement a bit - it's the best-tasting tomato I've ever grown (and I've even grown Cherokee Purple, another fave), and it is quite possibly the best tomato I've ever tasted.

Showing off the beautiful interior
What I like about this tomato is its sweet taste and perfect balance of pulp and meat. You can see a bit of that balance in the above photo. The juice it makes is very pretty - a lovely light orange. It's got a strange name, and I've no idea where that name came from. I bought this seedling on a whim at The Natural Gardener in Austin. It's been a very healthy plant although temps in the 100s in late May/early June caused it to stop producing (and we've had the hottest June on record so the few tomatoes I've gotten off of all my plants have been quite dear). Look for it next year. And keep your fingers crossed that I can get a second crop in the fall by taking some cuttings now. It'll be a fun challenge to keep those seedlings going in this heat! :-)

This post was written by Jean McWeeney for my blog Dig, Grow, Compost, Blog. Copyright 2011. Please contact me for permission to copy, reproduce, scrape, etc.