Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Seeing Yellow - Rudbeckia

My garden is bright and sunny at the moment. The yellow from my Black-Eyed Susans lights up the flower beds, even on overcast days! Known by the botanical name of Rudbeckia, they are a wild flower in many parts of the United States. There are about 20 species, which include annuals, biennials and perennials. I started with only one tiny plant about 20 years ago. Since then I have divided it many times. My plants are growing all over the neighbourhood! My DD told me that her garden is now covered in them too. And her neighbour also has a whole garden full because of the plants which she gave her a few years ago. I don't know what I will do with all these plants next year. I guess I'll just put them into pots in early spring and set them out by the road for friends and neighbours to help themselves. This is Rudbeckia fulgida Goldsturm.

The next photo is of Rudbeckia hirta. They look very similar to the other Black-Eyed Susans, the R. fulgida Goldsturm, but this one is an annual or perhaps a biennial. It might have come to my garden from the fields and ravines around us. The flowers look the same, but the leaves are very narrow on this plant and it grows tall and lanky. The other Rudbeckia in my garden are more compact. Their leaves are rounder and the plants don't grow quite as high. The R. hirta come up all over in my garden, but the R. fulgida Goldsturm only grow in the established areas or where ever I plant them.

A few years ago I planted a couple of plants in my front garden, right by my front door. These have taken over. They are about three feet tall and blooming like crazy! They are a happy welcome to visitors to my house. These plants are often called cone flowers because of the dark centres which form a high, round centre. Goldfinches love to come to my plants and eat the seeds out of the cone-shaped centres once they have ripened.

Family: Asteraceae. Genus: Rudbeckia. Species: R. hirta and R. fulgida Goldsturm.

Common Name: Black-Eyed Susans.

Friday, August 21, 2009


There are at least 65 species of phlox. Some are annuals and other are perennials. There are also some creeping phlox that bloom in early spring. The ones I am showing you here are the upright, perennial phlox. These plants were in the garden when we moved into this house. I am not 100% sure, but I think the ones I have are Phlox paniculata. I have divided mine many times (by root divisions) and I have given many plants away to friends and neighbours. I have also moved them around in the garden. They have taken over in several locations.
Phlox are a herbaceous perennial. They are very easy to care for. In fact, they almost care for themselves. Once they are established, they will continue to come up each spring. They like some extra water if the rainfall is less than an inch per week during the summer. It is best to water them in the early morning so that the plants can dry before dark. One of the most common diseases of phlox is fungus. Watering the plants later in the day might lead to fungus growth. The leaves will turn white as if covered by dust. Although unsightly, this does not seem to harm the plant however and the following year the fungus is gone and the plants are fine. Phlox attract butterflies and hummingbirds. One of my primary reasons for having these plants in my garden!

I have three different colours of phlox. They are all perennial and grow up to 3 or 4 feet. The white ones are growing in the very back of the garden and are in deep shade now that other plants have grown up around them. I will have to transplant those next spring or I might lose them. I could not get a photo of them because they were too far back. I also have a light pink one that is very pretty. It has a darker rose colour in the centre of each flower. This plant is still small. I planted it a couple of years ago. This one is definitely a P. paniculata.

Family: Polemoniaceae. Genus: Phlox. Species: P. paniculata
Common Name: Phlox

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Two Colour Quilt Tutorial

A few people emailed me and asked for the pattern to the blue and white lap quilt I made for my mother. You can see it here. I decided to put a little tutorial on this blog, because I do not have a pattern as such. I learned to make this quilt at one of our Bee Nights. It is a great way to use up scraps because pieces can be as small as 3 1/2 inches by 2 inches. This quilt is lap sized and will measure about 36in. by 48in. Block size is 6 inches finished.

Once you have decided on the colours you will be using, cut the fabric into 2 X 3 1/2 inch strips.
You will need 192 of each colour group. In my case, 192 pieces of red fabrics and 192 pieces of off white fabrics. Start by sewing two of the background or light fabric strips together. You can strip piece these if you like. You will need 48 blocks. Press seams to one side. It does not matter which way the seams are pressed. If you are using only one background fabric, you could make this unit by cutting a 3 1/2 inch square and eliminate this seam.Now sew a red or colour strip to each end of the first unit. Iron seams to the red or colour fabric.

Now piece a light strip and a colour strip end to end, like so. You can chain piece these also. You will need 96 of these. Now stitch these units to the rest of the block. Always have the red or colour piece at the top left of the block. That way you won't get them confused. The bottom strip has the red or colour piece at the bottom right, like this.

Sew 48 blocks like this. Each block should measure 6 1/2 inches square. (finished 6 inches square) To layout the blocks rotate every second block so that the red or colour units form a sort of cross or star-like pattern. I have laid these out so you can see the 'cross' but I would not recommend sewing them together in blocks like this. Rather, I suggest sewing them together in rows. That way you can make the seams all go in one direction on each row and blocks will butt together more easily. Good luck with your quilt. It is a very easy pattern. If you need any more information, just leave me a comment and I will get back to you. Oh, yeah, I almost forgot. It is also good to have a helper like Oscar!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Evening Primrose - Oenothera

Although we have had a cool, wet summer so far, my plants seem to be happy. I have been taking photos, but have not had time to post them all. Here is one that has already finished blooming.

This is my evening primrose. It is a herbaceous perennial. This plant was one of the only plants in the garden when we moved into this house. I have transplanted it often. Some years I have a lot of them and in other years, like this year, they have been crowded out by other plants. I hope to have more room next year and then I will place these in a better spot.
The flowers on Evening Primrose open in the late afternoon. They have a long history of culinary and medicinal uses. The young roots can be eaten as a vegetable and the young shoots as a salad. The plant has been used to prepare an infusion which is supposed to have astringent and sedative properties. It has been called "King's cureall", because it was used for everything from gastrointestinal disorders to asthma, whooping cough and to treat wounds and bruises.

In the following photo you can see the unique stigma with four branches, which forms an x-shape. Only certain bees are able to pollinate this flower. And given that it only blooms in the late afternoon and evening it would seem that it would never form seeds. But this does not seem to be a problem. It is easy to grow and its bright yellow blooms are a delight. There are about 125 species in this genus, but I have no idea which one I have.

Family: Onagraceae. Genus: Oenothera.
Common Name: Evening Primrose

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Lammas - Festival of the Harvest

"If you think in terms of a year - plant a seed, if in terms of ten years - plant trees, if in terms of 100 years, teach the people." - Confucius

As I sat on my DD's back deck this evening I heard the sound of drums. The sound grew louder and louder and I realized that it was a procession of people, led by a drummer, walking slowly up her street to the end and then continuing on up into a wooded area. All this was happening just as the sun was going down. The drums stopped and I could see a large bonfire burning through the trees. After about 20 minutes, the 'parade' made its way back down the street and disappeared into some tents that had been set up at one of the houses on the street.

I had no idea what it was all about, so when I got home I decided to do some research on my computer. I discovered that today at sundown the Celtic celebration of Lammas had begun. Lammas is an Old English word meaning Loaf and (maesse) meaning Festival. This is a time to celebrate the Festival of the First Fruits of the Harvest. It is also called Lughnasadh which is pronounced, Loo-nah-sah.

It starts at sundown on July 31st and ends on August 1st. Originally a Pagan ritual, it is a time to gives thanks to Mother Earth for the year's harvest. The days of summer are coming to an end. Sunlight hours are getting shorter and the weather, cooler. It is a time to bake bread and share it with friends and family. I like the idea of this festival. Being ever mindful of the Earth which sustains us, I am surprised that I had never heard of this celebration before. I am glad I was at my DD's house this evening, because I have learned something new. I think I will bake some bread tomorrow and maybe make a doll out of corn husks to mark the occasion. And be thankful for all the things that come from our earth to sustain us and give us life.

"Faith sees a beautiful blossom in a bulb, a lovely garden in a seed, and a giant oak in an acorn." - William Arthur Ward