Monday, November 17

Coyotes in the Garden

This photo was taken at 6 am in the morning a few feet from my front door

I have lived in Maine, Michigan and Ohio, and never have I come face to face with a Coyote in my back yard. Portland Oregon would have been the last place I expected to see one. I live less than 21 blocks from downtown!  In the past two weeks I have spotted them so many times that I have started to tell them apart. I think I have seen 4 different ones. My first sighting was when I was walking up my driveway. By chance I glanced back to see an animal looking at me. I could not make out what it was, but thought it looked like a German Shepherd puppy, or a large fox. I was told by a friend that most likely it was a coyote and not a fox.

If you look, there are two of them. The one on the right ran up the driveway and back down

I know this photo is fuzzy, but if you look closely you will see that there are two of them, less than a few feet from my front door. Yikes! I was told to call the department of wildlife. Turns out they no longer take reports. They were really nice, and told me that they are thriving in the city due to not having a predator. They said to make sure all food sources were removed, keep my pets on a leash and to make a lot of noise as they are scared of humans.

They like to sniff the grass

Did they really say they were scared of humans? One morning I decided to shout at them. They looked up at me and continued to sniff my grass aggressively. I am assuming they smell my dog. Another night they did run, but just behind the bushes where I could see their skinny brown legs. Once I got inside they proceeded to come out and, yes you guessed it, sniff the grass aggressively.

This is the railroad land behind my yard where they probably have a den

Over the fast few weeks I have become an coyote expert. They mate for life and live in families. In the city they have a 3 mile territory. They followed the railroad tracks to get into cities from rural areas and they like to sleep by the freeways in the daytime because there are no humans walking about. I have both a railroad and a highway behind my yard fence in the wild railroad land that I have turned into a guerrilla gardening project. Maybe the garden could be attracting new rodents? 

Rumor has it that one of our neighbors could be feeding them. No wonder they don't seem scared. Did you know that some coyotes have mated with wolves? They are called Coy wolves. One funny story involved a neighborhood coyote elsewhere. What did they find in his den? Lots of dog toys he had stolen along with golf balls. I have begun to come to terms with the fact that I share the garden with coyotes. I just will not garden between dusk and dawn. I also make sure to check the bushes to make sure that I don't see any brown skinny legs.

Monday, October 20

Flowers in Lake Placid Village Part 3

 Before we talk flowers, I want to show you this view from the 1980 Olympic Arena. What a great view of the international flags with the mountains off in the distance. Our campground was somewhere in those mountains. If you look very carefully, you can see the outline of the ski jump a few miles away.
 Now back to the flowers of Lake Placid. I thought this grouping in a pretty container was very interesting combination of flowers and colors.
  I love these this container filled with all yellow even better! I especially love those petunias so much I want to find some for myself next year.
  These two shop windows have lovely plantings in rustic stone boxes.
Below is a shot of some flowers planted near the Olympic arenas- what a pretty combination of white, pink and yellow.
 These black-eyed Susans overlook the commemorative plaque for the Sonia Henie Ice Fountain.
  This clock and stone planter, to me, typify the charming style of Lake Placid.
 And another beautifully planted stone garden near the arenas and vistor center. I love the unique combination of flowers planted alongside a spruce tree.
  Another day of our trip was over. We shared a pizza as the sun set on the Olympic village of Lake Placid.
Next stop....the King's Garden at Fort Ticonderoga.

Saturday, October 18

Australian Garden Update

Last May, my cousin in Australia shared some garden photos with us. Australia was enjoying autumn then, and the garden season was winding down. Five months later, when northern hemisphere gardens are ready to be put to bed for the winter, Aussies are back in the garden! My cousin was so kind to send me some spring garden photos to show you. Enjoy!


Kiwi Fruit


Broccoli and Cauliflower

Thursday, October 9

Portland Japanese Garden

Said to be one of the most authentic Japanese garden outside Japan. The Portland Japanese Garden is set on 5.5 acres and it is open all year-round. Tours are offered April through October. Tours are free. 

The Strolling Pond Garden

Beautiful Crane garden sculptures

Sand and Stone Garden

Hill top view of part of the Sand and Stone Garden

Path to the Tea Garden

The Zig Zag bridge leads to the lower pond full of beautiful Koi

Monday, September 29

Flowers in Lake Placid New York Part 2

When in Lake Placid, reminders that this is the place Olympic history was made are everywhere as you can see in the photo below. Olympic rings on the building watch over the pretty black-eyed Susans and the village itself.
 This store displayed the prettiest begonias looking like they were just growing out of the wall.
  When I took a closer look I discovered the secret to this effect- bags filled with soil! Clever!
 I love the combination of flowers in this planter.
  These stone planters give a definite feeling of being in the Adirondacks.
  A log cabin theme gives a whole new look to traditional red geraniums. Very cozy.
 Stay tuned for part 3 of Lake Placid.....

Friday, September 26

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Thursday, September 25

Fall Prep in the Garden-Portland, OR

We have had a wonderful start to fall this year. It has been the warmest fall I can remember, with daytime highs still being in the 90's. Nevertheless, I know the cooler weather will arrive soon, so I have been trying to get my community garden ready.

My Kale is doing well. I grew these from seed this spring.  It is one of the plants that over winters very well in our mild, but rainy winter here in Portland, Oregon. I am waiting to harvest the leaves until after the first frost. I hear that Kale taste the best then.

This is my first year over wintering cabbage, so I don't know what to expect. I did notice on this visit that the heads of the cabbage were covered in something white. I suspect they were eggs. I was able to remove them with a quick spurt of water from the hose, but I am  not sure if that it is all it is going to take to avoid a  major moth infestation. I kind of doubt it. Has anyone overwintered Cabbage before, or know how to naturally get rid of the moths?

Here are my Broccoli plant starts. If you look closely you will see holes in the leaves from the moths. It is not as bad as it is on the Cabbage plants. I love Broccoli, so I hope there is some left for me to eat. In my other bed I have planted Carrots, Turnips and Brussels Sprouts from seed.

A view of one of my beds in the community garden. The beds are long and narrow.  Half the garden plots are assigned to individual gardeners and the other half are community beds. 

Here is a photo of a potted Dahlia in our garden. I love this pink color. Dahlias seem to very well in our climate. I remember growing Dahlias as a child in our garden in London, England. 

Don't our community garden Pumpkins look great this year? We thought we were growing Squash plants until another gardener told us they were Pumpkins. They look so much alike at first,

If you look closely you can see a wasp on this sunflower. We are growing these Sunflowers for the seeds. They line the garden fence.

Tuesday, September 23

My adventures with growing melons-Portland, OR

This year we had an exceptionally hot summer. Even as I write this post in mid September, it remains in the 90's. One great gardening bonus is that it has contributed to my bumper crop of melons. To be honest, I have never  had a melon grow to full maturity, because our summers just don't get that hot for that long. Sure, we have been known to get 100 plus weather, but never for a long stretch of time.

I bought just two melon plants this spring just because they were on sale. The second reason I bought them was to cover the bare soil in my guerrilla gardening plot. You can cover a lot of soil with a melon or squash plant, and they are so easy to pull out in the fall.

At first it felt like the plants were growing at a snails pace. I felt like nothing was happening growth wise until late July. Then there were no flowers to be found for a long time. Still, I left them in place. It was not until mid August that I noticed the first melon hiding under the massive leaves of my rhubarb. 

It almost seemed like it had appeared out of no where. My next problem has been knowing when to harvest them. My first melon was quite a disappointment. It looked good on the outside, but inside it was a pale yellow color and looked like a squash. The taste could only be described as bitter.

For the weeks following I was on an intense hunt for information on how to tell if a melon is ripe. Frankly, it just made me more confused. This week, I took the chance and cut into my second melon. I was so nervous that the second melon would be like the first that I kept putting off this task.

Now I am happy to report that the second melon is ripe and sweet. Joy! I have 3 much larger melons out there right now. As you can see, it is a yellow watermelon. I have been asked if it taste like the red kind. Yes, but less watery and more sweet.

My advice, although I am no expert as far as melons, is as follows: Wait until the area where the melon is touching the soil is the same color as the rest of the melon. There was a white spot in that area on the melon that was not ripe. After a few more weeks that white spot had disappeared. 

Friday, September 19

Flowers in Lake Placid Village New York

Lake Placid, famous for Olympic history, is a friendly village in the Adirondack Mountains of New York. On one overcast day of our trip, we headed into the village for some skating and sightseeing. My daughter figure skates and she was lucky enough to skate on the very rink where the United States hockey team won the gold medal in 1980. Not only does Lake Placid do sports in a big way, but the mountains surrounding the village are breathtaking, as is the lake. It's a destination with something for everyone.
No matter where we go, I'm interested in the plant life. So, as we window shopped in Lake Placid, I snapped photos of plant displays that caught my eye. Every town seems to have a little different spin on the traditional plantings, containers and window boxes, with a hint of their own unique regional flavor.
 This garden is planted at the entrance to the Olympic center where you'll find both the 1932 and 1980 arenas, as well as the Olympic Museum. The speed skating track is next to these buildings and far off in the distance is the ski jump- a scary looking thing that makes one wonder how such a sport is even humanly possible!
After my daughter skated, we spent some time walking around Lake Placid. I thought the plantings were exceptionally nice, like this cute planter with a tiny picket fence. 
Then the theme is repeated on a corner with an arborvitae, daylilies, hostas, alyssum, and Johnny jump up flowers (violas).
Next, we came upon this nicely planted courtyard with a distinctive Adirondack flare.

I think this is my favorite planting in the courtyard- very woodsy and rustic.

What to do when it is just too Darn hot to Garden?

It has been a very hot summer everywhere. From what I have been told it is normal to get 100 plus days from the months here from  May to Oct...