Archive for June 2008


I hope you can see the dragonfly here---she was a little too far and too fast for me to get a really good portrait of her. This is my favorite type of dragonfly that visits my pond during the summer months. I just love the big black spots on the wings! I don’t see them all the time, so when I finally identified it I was surprised to learn that it is a common whitetail dragonfly (female), Plathemis lydia.

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Kid Speak

I had a visit from a young neighbor the other day, and as she was walking through this little side garden (bare legged, bare footed and all of 3 1/2 feet tall) she exclaimed, “This is messy!” Her mother started to soften the comment with, “Well . . .,” but I jumped right in and set things straight: “It’s not messy, it’s fluffy!”

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Mellow Yellow

Yellow is the signature color in my landscape. I use it to visually tie one garden to another throughout the entire yard. There are yellow flowering plants for every season and every micro-climate. The color is such a great complement to our blue, blue Colorado sky. I also find that clear, lemon yellow is a great mixer with almost any color palette. Although masses of yellow may be too vibrant to be considered “mellow”, a little bit is always “quite right.”

Here are just some of the yellow flowers blooming in my garden this week:

Photo above: Missouri evening primrose Oenothera macrocarpa
Giant silver mullein Verbascum bombiciferum
Yellow flowering pine-leaf penstemon Penstemon pinifolius 'Mersea Yellow'
Red-leaf honeysuckle vine Lonicera japonica 'Purpurea'
Rosa 'Topaz Jewel'

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Some Like it HOT

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Hot, summertime weather means living and cooking outdoors on the patio. It’s time to crank up the grill! Yesterday I was bound and determined to make a sauce to go with our grilled spare ribs, but didn’t have the key ingredients advocated by most recipes - ketchup and brown sugar - so I improvised with what I had on hand. Oftentimes simple recipes are the best, but when you want a rich, complex sauce it’s time to get creative and start building layers of flavors. This recipe was inspired (obviously) by Mexican cuisine. I hope you’ll give it a try and let me know if you enjoy it.

Jocelyn’s Chipotle-Chocolate BBQ Sauce
1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
½ disc of Ibarra Mexican chocolate*, coarsely chopped
3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced
¼ cup apricot jam (or other fruit jam-cherry would be good too)
2 Tbs. honey
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbs. brewed coffee
¼ tsp onion powder
¼ tsp dried oregano, crushed

Combine all ingredients in a heavy saucepan. Cook over low heat until thickened, stirring occasionally, about 20-30 minutes. Use as a basting sauce while grilling pork or beef, and/or serve on the side for dipping. Enjoy!

*this is not sold as candy, but for cooking and baking.

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After the rains....

Wow, we have just finished a long week of rain here in Vancouver. It feels more like April than June but hopefully the weather is turning around.

Ilse, our wonderful SPEC employee, that keeps things running in the office.

Tomatoes are starting to form...

Our vertical food container.

We moved the tomatoes in order to give them more room to breath and better access to sun.

Insect mimicry....this fly looks like a bee.

Alyssum flowers have a rich honey perfume. They are a great living mulch and also attract beneficial insects to your garden.

Topsy Turvy - the upside-down tomato planter. This is our first year of using this technique. So far so good.

Our snow peas taste wonderful!

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Orange You Glad?

Orange is the color in my garden now. This bright, vibrant hue screams “Ready or not, here comes summer!” All of these plants do well in my sunny, xeric garden.

Above: Bearded iris, Iris germanica

Atlantic poppy, Papaver atlanticum
Sun rose, Helianthemum nummularium
Horned poppy, Glaucium flavum

Orange flowers look their most vibrant when paired with blue flowers (complementary colors opposites on the color wheel). Many of the speedwells (Veronica spp.) are in bloom now too, and make wonderful companion plants.

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soggy spring

After a hopeful planting a couple weeks ago, we have had one of the coldest springs in recent memory, but still the noble plants have held on -

above - our 2nd square foot plot after May 23 planting
below - 2 weeks later

In this plot - (along the back) cucumber, tomatillos
Marigold, Fennel, Onions, Onions
Eggplant, Cauliflower, Cauliflower, Eggplant
Beets, Pepper, Pepper, Radishes
Poppies, Pepper, Pepper, Nastursiums

We also planted nine varieties of tomatos, lots of basil, some winter squash and summer squash, and two kinds of beans, which have sprouted, and will soon be off and growing for the bean teepes.

Teomi beside the fava beans planted last fall - aren't they gorgeous?!

Over the next two Sundays we will harvest the lettuce (some greens are going to seed!), do some weeding that's overdue, and try to squeeze in a few more seeds.
Join us!

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Meet . . . Caragana!

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Peashrub is the common name for the genus Caragana; tough, adaptable shrubs for home, commercial, or rural landscapes. They range in size from the very large (12-15’ tall) Siberian peashrub (Caragana arborescens), to the dwarf (3’x3’) pygmy peashrub (Caragana pygmaea). All prefer full sun, are quite drought tolerant, and feature yellow flowers in May. Leaf color and texture vary per species and variety.

I believe that the peashrub in my photographs is C. arborescens ‘Lorbergii’, purchased as lace-leaf peashrub. There are several planted along my property line and they create a gauzy, light green screen---just right for privacy but not wall like. And they are still blooming!

The first photo (above) was taken May 11th. This photo is from yesterday, May 31. The foliage now predominates, but if you look closely, you can see some yellow flowers.

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