When a tree falls in the woods…

…and no one’s around to hear it, does it make a sound?

That’s how the old philosophical question goes. But whether or not it makes a sound, the tree still falls, and that’s what matters. Only in our case, it was just a branch. That fell. Okay, maybe we need to go back to the beginning. (It’s not a very long journey.)

Friday evening after dinner, we gazed out upon the garden as we often do. It was then that we noticed something out of the ordinary. Basically, it looked as if a tree had unknowingly sprouted, full-sized, from the back bushes – where we have a small flowering tree that’s been overtaken by honeysuckle and pokeweed. Upon further gazing, we saw that it wasn’t a tree at all, but a huge branch from the adjacent tree, and it was completely covering our back barrels of tomatoes.

Oh dear.

We quickly set in motion. Upon finding shoes and heading out back, we pulled the giant branch away and onto the lawn. Fearing the worst, amazingly, we actually got the best for which we could hope. None of the tomatoes were severely damaged. Whew! The bulk of the branch, which was a good two feet around at its base, had fallen into the bushes. Three tomatoes plants on the end were most affected, having been covered by the branch’s zillion small, leafy branches, had been saved by their cages, one of which we tried out best to hammer back into a circular shape.

Of course, during the mess, no one thought to take a picture. Phooey. Then again, when saving plants, taking pictures is the last one’s worries.

We did manage to take a picture of what remained of the branch after being stripped of all other branches. It looks much less impressive in this state.

Anyway, much of the weekend was spent dealing with the large branch, stripping it of it’s small branches, whittling it down into pieces that could be easily disposed of, as well as trying to figure out why it had come down, and if any other branches were in danger of falling.  As of today, we’re so far, so good. Nothing else has fallen. And terms of the branch falling in the first place, the only thing we figure is that it might have been due to a squirrel’s nest that had been nestled at the base of the branch. Maybe it had allowed for excess moisture to seep into the joint, which gradually weakened it. Since the branch came down, we’ve only seen one of the pair of squirrels that we usually see. There was nothing in the remnants of the squirrel’s nest that was still attached to the branch, so we’re not sure what happened.

Meanwhile in the garden generally, everything else is just coming along like plants do. We’re still harvesting bunches of tasty string beans. And we also got our first cucumber of the year! Mmmm. There’s nothing quite like garden-fresh cucumbers. It remains to be seen if we’ll get enough of them for pickling. In addition to the one that we picked, a few more were growing nicely. It’ll probably be another week or so still before they’re ready to harvest.

Thankfully, none of the trees in our yard cover the garden proper, but still, we’re keeping our fingers crossed that all the branches on all the trees stay put. That single large branch caused enough excitement for the rest of the summer!



Spring showers have brought forth summer flowers

In the not too distant past, we were wondering if we were going to have a repeat of the terribly wet and rainy summer we had last year. Right around the turn of spring into summer, it was raining at least once a week (or, at least, it seemed that way). Now in the throes of summer, we’ve yet to see any significant rainfall. That’s not to say its hasn’t rained, but it hasn’t rained enough to keep the rain barrels full. And as soon as it does rain, we use up whatever water collects almost immediately. So we’ve had to turn to supplementing our watering routine by pulling out the garden hose. We’re not sure we’ve paid as close attention to the weather ever as much as we have recently. Because with each promise of rain, we wait and watch.

But we’re keeping the garden as happy as we can make it. And over the past couple weeks, we’ve seen an abundance of flora pop up from all corners! We’ve highlighted our marigold extravaganza in past posts, but this time we figured we’d devote a whole post to them because they are quite something. But before that, other things are starting to flower up like the cucumbers:

Look close, and you might just see some teensy cukes as well!
Look close, and you might just see some teensy cukes as well!

And the zucchini:

Someday we'll get up early enough to get a shot of the a bloom when it's actually open.
Someday we’ll get up early enough to get a shot of the a bloom when it’s actually open.

And our day lilies are doing their thing:

They practically surround the house now with orange!
They practically surround the house now with orange!

But really, we’re here to talk about marigolds. Of all the flowers that we’ve attempted to grow from seed, we’ve found marigolds to be the easiest, hardiest, and most friendly of them all. The don’t need a ton of coddling or care; just keep them watered and they’ll become flowering powerhouses! The blooms last for several weeks, and new ones are always popping up. They’re also excellent at attracting pollinating insects, which is mostly good for the vegetable plants.

As we showed in our planting maps, we’ve planted a number of different marigolds throughout the garden. While many have taken off, some haven’t. For example, we invested in a very pretty variety called Harlequin and planted it in several spots throughout the beds. So far, it’s a complete no show.  On the other hand, the bright yellow Jaguars and the red and gold Tiger Eyes have completely brightened up the back yard. Just take a look!

Yellow Jaguar marigolds along the end of the "tomato jungle."
A band of yellow Jaguar marigolds along the end of the “tomato jungle.”
The Tiger Eyes are blooming in droves!
The Tiger Eyes are blooming in droves!
And they just keep going...
And they just keep going…
...around to the other side of the stone bed...
…around to the other side of the stone bed…
...and then back to the beginning again!
…and then back to the beginning again!

Heading out front, our sidewalk flower beds aren’t quite as filled in as we had hoped. Well, with flowers that is. The weeds in them seem to be doing just fine. It’s not great, and we debated abut pulling them all up (the weeds, that is), but then they’d end up looking very sparse. So, this year we’re calling them our “green flower beds,” and have been reconsidering what to do with them next year. (Like transplanting day lilies into them.) But here’s what they look like at present:

The left bed.
The left bed.
And the right bed.
And the right bed.

Looking at a few of the marigold clumps, we’ve got a couple varieties going strong. What hasn’t popped up at all is the Harlequin variety, as we already said, as well as a white variety called Snow Drift. (We planted them in the same bands as the violas and there are none to be found). But what has appeared is very lovely.

We’ve got at least one French Vanilla, also a white marigold variety:

It’ll look akin to a mum once it fully blooms.

And then we’ve got an assortment of French Dwarf and Citrus Mixed:

The French Dwarf marigolds have a layered puffy look, while the Citrus Mixed have broader and flatter flowers.

And then we also have this:

Well, sometimes french vanilla is a little yellow in color…at least in ice cream.

We’re not 100% sure that the puffy yellow marigold is a French Vanilla (as they’re supposed to be white), or some hybrid, or a an odd seed that got mixed into the packet. It’s definitely a very tall and lanky marigold like the French Vanilla. And it’s surrounded but a similar crop of plants that all look like they’re going to have yellow flowers as well. It’s hardly anything to complain about — we’re just happy that a handful of the flowers survived and are in bloom!