The sunflower farm

Boy… time sure does fly when you’re not paying attention!

I was about to tell you about our visit to The Sunflower Farm, but then, poof! and 3 weeks had gotten away from me.

There’s an actual festival here each summer, but I’ve yet to brave the heat and the crowds to attend. As it is, no matter how mild you think a particular day is, once you’re out in the middle of that ten acre field, it’s hotter than blazes!

The farm itself is beautiful and is a picture-maker’s delight. I first heard about the place because so many photo groups visit it. I go to pick flowers, tho.

I’m not sure there’s anything more cheerful than a field of sunflowers, except maybe for the bees and birds that visit it.

: )

I wondered aloud to the farmer if they sell the leavings for birdseed.

Nope, but they sometimes hunt the doves that are drawn to the seeds in the fall. That’s okay, too.

There’s plenty to photograph, here. Red (and green) tractors, old farm tools and a beautiful hummingbird garden. There’s even an enchanted forest nestled on the back of the property. And if you want directions to the little local place that sells the best homemade strawberry-cream cheese fried pies, just ask!

Plus, you get to keep as many sunflowers as you can carry away for $15.

: )

That makes for many old mason jar bouquets.

Violets: my nemesis

I’ve been trying to grow them for years; this is my latest victim picked up at the local hardware store. We only have north and south facing windows, so it sits on my south-facing desk, soaking up the winter sunshine.

Growing up, my mother had her beloved collection of violets displayed on the dining room windowsill.

Anyone have tips to share to prevent the untimely demise of yet another African violet?

Gardening in a furnace

“One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it provides.”–W.E. Johns

Finally (!) I’m starting to feel overrun with tomatoes. Luckily, it’s the cherry tomatoes that are first to bear and those disappear easily enough. Better than half of what’s ripe at each visit is devoured before I even leave the community garden with the day’s harvest. I munch away while I water and while I weed. Makes all the sweat seem so much more worthwhile somehow.

: )

I planted a bunch of heirloom tomatoes… Rutgers was the first of the “big” tomatoes to ripen, but I haven’t tasted one yet. Each one I’ve brought home has mysteriously disappeared before I got a bite! The first of the lovely pink Brandywines is almost ready… those are a favorite and will be hidden away in my purse, if necessary!

The heat of the sun here is something else… like gardening in a furnace! I’m surprised anything survives, really. I’m approaching this first summer as little more than an experiment to see what’ll grow and how well. Cucumbers did well, but the vines have turned to dust in the last week. Just as well… I was getting a bit overwhelmed with them. The summer squash looked beautiful and I got half a dozen that I still need to cook, but the plants were overrun with bugs. I’m still waiting on the peppers. I also planted tomatillos for the first time… anyone know anything about them? Lots of flowers, but no fruit set. Curious.

I spend some time at each visit just wandering around the garden, enjoying being around growing things. I think that’s what I like most about being there. I love to see what other people are growing and how well their vegetables are doing. There’s a couple of beehives maintained by students… those are fun to look in on. Plenty of bluebirds and towhees, too, keeping the bugs at bay.

It’s supposed to be 106 this Saturday… you’ll find me somewhere shady, for sure.

A craving, satisfied

As the peak of summer bloom approaches, a foray into the local botanical garden offers something that feels like meditation. With the familiar heft of my camera in hand, I am occupied with wonder. There, just there, tucked into a sunny corner of the demonstration garden, a patch of lavender is busy with bees…

Last summer I was craving a Lensbaby; I will likely spend this summer making many mistakes in learning how to use its wide-angle and bendy-action to best effect. I hope you’ll enjoy seeing in a new way along with me.

Raiding my brother’s garden

I made a late morning visit to my brother’s house; I wasn’t really expecting to find him at home, but

the welcoming crew assembled to greet me as I stepped from the car…

and the garden sentry was especially suspicious of my motives,

but look at the bounty he’s charged with safeguarding!

I nearly tripped over this young member of the pest control crew…
(what funny curly feathers, btw!)

but this was my prize!
So Kev, those couple perfectly ripe tomatoes you thought the squirrels had stolen…
that was me!
; )