Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Last year Rudbeckia hirta 'irish eyes', was on my list of new flowers to try in the garden. I loved it so much it made the list this year. Although labeled as a  short lived perennial, it didn't last through the winter. I have yet to see whether it re seeded anywhere as this is a plant I started this year and is one of the earliest to bloom. Deer resistant! That's what it says but I don't believe it. Should I give it a go out there? Maybe next year.

Saturday, June 6, 2009


For years I have planted patty pan squash as an alternative to the zucchini. I prefer it, not for any difference in flavor but, for its shape. It is great to stuff. Of course it isn't easy to keep the plant growing all summer because of the visit from the squash vine borer, Mellitia cucurbitae. Every year they seem to get the better of me. In the past I could be seen every day on my hands and knees removing those eggs from the plant but even so they always got the better of me. Will it be any different this year. Only time will tell.

This year the bed is protected by one of the wonderful cages D made for me. They can easily be moved from bed to bed. However, I am fully aware that the moth may have been over wintering in the soil ready to fool me again. Lets hope I did a good job of removing all those pupae. When the borer hits I like to get the plant out before the larva has the chance to pupate. Another idea is to grow a trap crop. Have I seen the adult this year? No, but I guarantee there are some flying around desperate to get through the mesh. Incidentally, bees have mastered getting in and out, which is a great help. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

GERMANDER, Teucrium chamaedrys

Ever since I snipped off a few stems at a friend's garden I have had germander growing in my garden. It is one of the easiest plants to root. Just take a stem, remove the lower leaves and stick into the ground in a shady spot. You'll never need to buy this plant again. It is a low growing shrubby perennial. Chamaedrys means 'ground oak' and the small leaves are similar to oak leaves. It thrives in poor soils, and the small purple flowers are attractive to bees. Although it prefers full sun it will grow with only morning sun.

In my English garden I use it as a low hedge in the circular bird bath bed. It grows against the brick edging. By regular trimming I can keep it to about 10". This year the plants received a major renovation. A few years ago I was away from home throughout the summer and the plants, with no attention, grew lanky, growing over themselves. I was quite nervous to cut it back severely but that is what I should have done. So this year I cut every plant back down to the ground. If it survived, great, if not I would replace it. It survived, although it will need to fill in again with new plants in some places.

I also use it in a less formal setting in other parts of the garden, although always at the front of the bed. Here, without trimming, it is allowed to flower. After flowering the plants are cut back for re growth.