Archive for the ‘Flowers’ Category

Of Geese and Crocus


For some reason I’ve been noticing the geese more this year. I watch them in Grand Prairie Park near our home and in the sky where they are busy honking and rallying to fly south for the winter.

The other day I was walking through the park and saw over a hundred Canada Geese in the park on the other side of the pond. They were honking now and then but more so they were softly talking to one another. Then I noticed they were lining up along the water’s edge. Each line had about 15-20 geese in it. They formed these lines parallel to one another from the water’s edge backward. Soon the entire flock was lined up.

Within a minute the first line began to honk and babble much more and then flapped their wings a bit. Then that first row lifted off in perfect unison, flew over the pond to the north and banked to the left to head southwest.

About the time the first group was banking the second row started talking and flapping and it took off and repeated the same flying pattern. Each successive row of geese took off in this manner about 30 seconds apart.

Finally, growing impatient I suppose, the final four rows took off in one group. By the time they had banked the entire group formed the familiar V shape and headed south by southwest. Once in the air their honking was louder and more of them seemed to be doing it.

I’d never seen this behavior before in geese. But then I am not sure I’ve watched such a large group take off. It was fascinating and beautiful.


Yesterday I noticed that the crocus have broken ground. They are just nudging up. This seems very early for them. I recall seeing them come up in early January or even late December – but never before a day after Thanksgiving.

It has been unseasonably warm of late, is that why? Or is this another sign of climate change? If they grow as fast as usual we are likely to have flowers by Christmas.

Fall Faces

On my walk the other day I captured the photo on this post of three fanciful faces peaking over the fence at a nearby home. I love it.

I love fall itself. I love the turning leaves and the crisp air. It is an enchanted time of year with the changes happening.

Happy Gardening,

Dan Murphy


Blossom End Rot

I’ve had blossom end rot attack my tomatoes in past years though most often it is not a problem. This year it is. One of my varieties, Big Boy, is supposed to be particularly vulnerable to it. I’ve lost about a third of my tomato crop to it so far.

Blossom end rot is when the blossom end of the tomato fruit turns brown and watery. You can cut it off but the entire tomato is often mealy.

My research indicates that inadequate calcium is the culprit. This often occurs because of erratic watering. I’ve been trying to water either every other day or every day during the recent hot period. I did not mulch my garden this year and I suspect that is also a problem – the soil is giving up moisture to quickly to evaporation.

From one on-line source I learned to make a slurry of pelleted lime and water. After mixing the slurry for a long time I then added it to the plants at the ground. I will report back on how that goes.

Today’s photo are my wife’s Morning Glory which is in full growth and bloom. It greets me every morning as I go out the door.

Happy Gardening,
Dan Murphy

The Garden in June

The weather has turned hot very quickly since summer has officially begun. We are seeing highs in the 90sF.

The past week has been a busy time for planting in the garden. I’ve added herbs to the herb garden area and to some containers. The green house is now empty for the first time since early spring. It is too hot in there now for things to do well.

The large garden box (D) is empty except for some marigolds planted around the edge. That box will remain fallow this year. It has never been fallow so needs a season of rest.

The law looks better than it ever has. I have learned that despite advice from the water conservation interests in this heat one must water the lawn at least every other day to keep it green and lush. It is a small lawn so I do not feel so badly about the water usage.

I hand water the vegetables, containers and herbs. I usually water containers daily in this heat and vegetables can usually do fine with water every other day or every third day.

Everything is doing well. The latest basil plants from the green house are a bit pale but are already deepening in color with more direct sun in the box.

We have been eating the Boston lettuce, it is still tender and very flavorful. You just cannot get that flavor from store bought produce.

Happy Gardening,

Dan Murphy

Interesting Facts About Zinnia

I found this interesting blog post about zinnias and wanted to share it with my readers. I hope to plant some zinnias this year after reading this.


Zinnias are beautiful colored flowers belonging to the Asteraceae family.
Zinnias represent friendship and they were named after Johann Gottfried Zinn, a German botanist.

Although they are popular cut flowers, the Spanish considered them ugly and small. They even named it “mal de ojos” (sickness of the eye). Zinnias were also named as “poorhouse flower” because they are easy to grow and so common.
Zinnias are native southwestern United States and South America.
Zinnias come in a variety of colors: white, yellow, orange, pink, red, lilac, purple and multi-colored. They are very easy to grow and can be grown from seed. Zinnias prefer a well-drained soil and should be planted in full sun. My beautiful zinnias bloom from mid-summer until late fall. Zinnias can have single, semi-double or double layers of petals.

Zinnias can be sown directly in the garden. Do not forget to water them well every week, especially…

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Everything you’d like to know about Zinnias can be found on a post to Garden of Eady.

Zinnias are native to the southwestern US and South America. They come in many colors and sizes. They like well drained soil and lots of sun.

They flower from mid summer to late fall. They should be sown directly into the garden. They need to be watered especially when they are young. For best effect they should be planted in a mass. They respond well to dead-heading.

Zinnias attract butterflies and of course bees.

I plan to put a few zinnias in this year for late summer and fall color.

Happy Gardening,

Dan Murphy

Apple Tree Garden

Apple Tree Garden

Apple Tree Garden

For all the years we have lived here the space below the apple tree in the back yard has been a challenge. It is shaded most of the day and the soil is high in clay. I’ve not wanted to dig too deeply there for fear of injuring the tree’s roots. At times it has been covered in bark dust and at times has been a weed patch.

This year we decided to beautify it. It has also become a memorial garden. Here are buried the remains of the three pet rats that Braeden and Dannica loved so much. And here lie some of Dannica’s ashes. It is a very special place.

The burials are marked by a large cement stepping stone. The entire area is encircled with rounded river rock. I added a generous amount of new soil and compost and we planted a number of flowers.

This tree was a special place for Dannica. As a child she would climb into the tree and sit in the branches. The tree has always provided shade and beauty to our yard. It also provides small delicious apples, some years more and some years less.

The birds love the tree. I do not spray it so it is full of bugs which the birds love. Many of them also like the apples. Blue jays, sparrows, starlings, canaries, even humming birds have spent much time there.

Since we have flowers there now it gets watered often and the tree has been happier this summer than ever before because it is getting so much water. It has greener and healthier foliage than ever before. It is loaded with apples.

Below its branches is the little Apple Tree Memorial garden. It shall never be neglected by us again.

Happy Gardening,

Dan Murphy




South of the garden shed is an area heavily shaded by the neighbor’s large tree. This is where our compost pile is, a small wood pile and the two rain barrels that collect water from the shed roof. This area has become somewhat over grown with weeds. Its complete transformation is a project for later this summer and for another post.

Suppressing much of the weeds that might grow there is a vine that was planted by nature. It covers an area of at least 75 square feet including most of the wood pile. The leaves are a pleasant green and it has small white flowers followed by small dark berries.

I was not sure what it was and thought about propagating it elsewhere in the garden because it seemed to grow so easily. My dear wife looked it up.

Turns out the vine is a variety of nightshade (Solanaceae). This is a large family of plants that include potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and eggplant. There are over 2700 varieties of these plants including tobacco and petunias. They all contain some alkaloids. This is a poison and means that all these plants contain some poison.

In fact when tomatoes were first introduced to Europe they were seen as poisonous and not eaten. We have learned that the nightshade family vegetables are usually safe although when potatoes turn green they can be poisonous.

In the wild form growing in our yard the plant is particularly toxic to farm stock. The berries are also poisonous. A few can kill a child. The most toxic form of this plant is belladonna which is used as a poison and a medicine.

We have decided that this is one plant our yard can do without and so soon it will be removed. Having a highly poisonous plant in the yard may be a topic of conversation but is not worth the risk.


Happy Gardening,
Dan Murphy