Friday, August 31, 2012

Last Day of AugustColour, 2012

My sunflowers have been being attacked nightly by raccoons, breaking off the tall stems. I've picked them and left them around the yard for the birds and bees to find them. Above, a circa 1920s Amethyst and sterling thistle brooch of my grandmother's finds a home on one such sunflower.

A small arrangement of dahlias and a marigold from my garden. So far, all of my tall dahlias are yellow again, sigh, but the mini plants I bought for containers are white and that pretty yellow and red bicolor.
This purple Tradescanthia is going on four years old now. I winter it over in the attic along with my geraniums and begonia "annuals."
Untouched by the raccoons, so far, in the garden, is this fantastic nine-foot sunflower.
The south side of the vegetable garden fence is adorned with yards and yards of morning glory vines. I can't wait for them to start blooming. I have morning glories on three sides of this garden. I had to plant them inside the fence so they wouldn't be eaten by critters.

These are some of my tomato plants this year. I've lost seven or eight, but I still have about 12 going strong. They're mostly golden cherry tomatoes and red plum tomatoes, but I'll take what I can get. My brandywines and other heirlooms didn't make it through the season. I love them, but organic heirloom plants just aren't strong enough to withstand today's onslaught of small creatures and insects.

 A few of my tomato plants have reached six- and seven-feet tall. They're called "indeterminates" which means they keep growing until they die. I keep staking them and they keep growing taller.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Nantucket Beach Plums

Freshly washed wild beach plums on their way to becoming a deep, dark, and richly flavored homemade jam. Photo by Nancy Wolff.

My friend, and fellow blogger, Nancy Wolff, posted one of her cool family recipes at her Prudent Living on the Homefront blogsite. It's for jam made from beach plums, (Prunus  maritima) a species of native fruit that grows along the shoreline in revered, and secretive(!), spots. I loved the colors in the photo above; it just said "artandcolour" to me.
  • Click over for Nancy's easy-to-follow, well-illustrated and step-by-step instructions for Beach Plum Jam, here. And as always, the Prudent Living on the Homefront blogsite is featured in my "Blogs and Websites of Note," at right.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Emphasizing Super-Saturated Pixels

Instead of trying to ignore the pixels in a low-resolution digital image from an aging camera, I've just gone with them, embracing them as the reality of the situation. I've saturated the colors and sharpened the pixelation a bit. Above, an orange zinnia in the garden.

Fresh and aging copper sunflowers in the west side of the vegetable garden.

An extreme closeup of the fly in photo posted above this one.

Pink zinnia.
The almost Spirograph-like center of the newest, and last, sunflower to bloom. You just can't take a photograph of them without bees or butterflies feasting on their nectar!
A honeybee unfazed by my presence. He's actually pulling out seeds as gathers nectar.
Yesterday's haul—A medium-sized white tomato, a "normal" red tomato, plum and yellow cherry tomatoes. I made a great yellow sauce from these tomatoes—the red sort of faded and the yellow stayed strong. I didn't add anything but fresh basil, salt and pepper, and the finished sauce was as sweet as honey. I froze it for one of those sad and cold winter days, lol.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

MoreColour, More!

Sometimes my little digital camera "freaks out" and can't process the colors correctly. This is one of those happy accidents. Magenta cleomis, black-eyed Susans and their foliage just wreaked havoc with the digital information. I like it though—very artandcolour!

Beach Rose hips. These seed pods are just as attractive as flowers, in my humble opinion!

One of my giant sunflowers this year. This stalk is 8-9 feet all and very popular with the birds!

A beautiful hydrangea from the beach area. The subtle blues and lavenders are just gorgeous.

Bright magenta Beach roses (Rosa rugosa). They are single-petals instead of the multiple-petaled roses most often seen, but have a very saturated color and delicate shapes that move easily with the frequent shore breezes.

Dueling Butterflies! My thistles must have been particularly fragrant this morning. There were two or three butterflies competing for the same flowers! There were bees flitting all around gathering nectar, too. I really love watching my gardening hard work pay off for the wild critters as well as for the beauty of the flowers. Above, a white Cabbage Butterfly and a Painted Lady.

A more realistic color view of the Cleomis and Black-eyed Susans seen at the top of this post. The tall sea grass planted with them is a great touch.

One of my first dahlias has finally flowered.  And it's yellow. I REALLY hope that all of my plants aren't yellow as they were last year. I SHOULD have orange, hot pink, purple, white and some variegated versions, if the tags are to be believed. Last year they all turned out to be yellow. I really want some other colors this year! They're all late to bloom this year too. I hope we have a very long Autumn!

One of my Green Zebra tomatoes. The only way to really tell when they're ripe is to touch them. They'll be a bit soft when ripe. So far this one is rock hard!

One of my Jack-in-the-Pulpit seed pods. Even at this stage they add a lot to my flowerbeds. To see a Jack-in-the-Pulpit in spring, click here.

I'm fascinated by the "ladders" of plum tomatoes. They're great fun to watch grow and ripen. Look at the various colors in this one stem!

My giant "normal" sunflower plant. Even when the blossoms droop and die, I leave them on the stalks for the birds. They love them. I've had more Goldfinches this year than ever before.

The darkest Sunflower has opened up more blossoms. I love the rich mahogany coloring!

My Tardiva Hydrangea has twice as many flowers as last year—two. I only had one flower last year. Let's hope for exponential growth next year, lol.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sunflower of a Different Color

Besides my traditional yellow/brown sunflowers, this year I have three or four other varieties (they're not all blooming yet). This dark copper one is really striking. It's about six feet tall, versus the eight or nine foot tall "regular" sunflowers, but none the less beautiful. I'll have more photos of them all soon!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Lavender Blue, Dilly, Dilly

A beautiful little vignette this morning in fellow Pink Gardens' resident, and friend, June's, apartment. Such a perfectly shaped rose, and the lavender contrasts beautifully with the bright orange zinnia from the cutting garden. The hand-hammered pewter tray adds colonial Connecticut warmth to this photo.

The snowflake-like flower of my Dill plant. Seeds will form in these little yellow flowerets and I'll save them for next year's herb garden.

The late, great, Burl Ives, singing Lavender Blue, Dilly, Dilly. A classic!

Bonus Photo:
This morning's haul! I went out to weave my morning glory vines, they're growing about six inches every day now, and I found all this ripe fruit in my vegetable garden. There were a few golden yellow Sun King cherry tomatoes, three small Cherokee purples (more of a reddish brown with olive green tops), a dozen bright red San Marzanos and a nice, plump green Bell pepper. I always pick some basil tops when I'm out there. Basil is such a natural accompaniment to tomatoes.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

From Sweden With Love

Well, she "went and done it." My personal friend, friend of this blog, and photographer extraordinaire, Lisa Mikulski has moved to Sweden! She wakes up in Göteburg these days, and this Swedish sunrise greets her each and every morning from her new bedroom. I miss her, but am so happy that she has followed her heart and has begun a great new chapter in her life. Her fiancé, Tapi, has welcomed her with open arms, his huge Swedish heart, and two adorable kittens. She has been gracious enough to send me some photographs of her new life to share with you, dear readers. Thank you, Lisa!

In her own words and photographs, Part 1:

The exterior of the newest hotel in Göteborg, the Clarion Post Hotel. One of Tapi's and my favorite "get away" spots. The interior of this place is just magnificent. Comfortable and yet breathing taking in its design, the Clarion makes its home in the old post office on Drottningtorget. Designed by Ernst Torulf, the building is a Neo-Classical building which has been designated as a historical building by the Swedish State. The architects for the Clarion, Semrén & Månsson state on the hotel's website, “This is without doubt one of the most interesting projects in Gothenburg to work on. It features all the challenges that an architect can be required to face,” says Magnus Månsson, Professor of Architecture and CEO of Semrén & Månsson. Big leather armchairs and cosy couches, one can park themselves in a darken corner and enjoy a glass of wine or a cocktail for a romantic interlude. The hotel also hosts creative gatherings, business meetings and boasts a roof top pool. I have so many photos of the interior of this place but I leave it to those who are interested to visit the hotel's website for more. I highly recommend a visit to the Clarion for anyone coming to Göteborg.  Website in English:
Kungstorget translated means King Square. A window shot of one of the restaurants there, it's reflection of the square, and the menu selection. The prices you see on the menu are in Swedish Kronor. I rather like this one. :-) 

Hang me Out To Dry: A street image from around Kungstorget.  

Göteburg. Swedish architectural details.

Ohhh… you have to love the Swedes. This is a window display at a local bakery on Korsgatan embracing the August excuse to party known as kräftskiva. A crayfish party. Traditionally held during the month of August, it is a summertime eating and drinking celebration where party goers wear silly hats, decorate with paper party favors, sing drinking songs and consume high amounts of alcohol. Kräftskiva is only held during August because crayfish are only allowed to be harvested during that month. (I want a crawfish-shaped bread! -casey)
Cute! The traditional Swedish Dala Horse. 

Stay tuned for upcoming Parts 2 and 3 ! For Lisa's earlier posts here at casey/artandcolour showcasing her amazing photography  click here.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


My San Marzano plum tomatoes, ripening on the vine. I like this combination of just-about-ready red, just-starting-to-ripen yellow, and leave-me-alone-right-now bright green.

Roadside Queen Anne's Lace. I think they look like snowflakes magnified. I've said it here many times before, but these are also wild carrots. When you break a stem, they smell just like carrots, and if you pull them up, the tap root looks like a big, beige carrot.

I have six sunflower plants this year. They're in the vegetable garden where I can wire them to the fence as they grow. This is my smallest one, barely 4 feet tall, but with this perfect bloom.

Wild snapdragons, also known as Butter-n-Creams. They're adorable flowers, not very tall. I've moved a few into my flowerbeds, but they seem to prefer the sandy and dry roadsides.

My thistles continue to attract "wildlife" to Pink Gardens' yard. Here, a honeybee partakes of the thistle's sweet nectar. Hummingbirds love them while they're flowering like this, and finches and other small songbirds like them as they dry out and their seed "fluff" escapes from them.

One of my very few healthy Zinnias. I planted several flats of them this year, in both the cutting garden and the flowerbeds, and most of them were gobbled up by chipmunks and rabbits. What few remained outside of the fenced in vegetable garden, where my small cutting garden is located, were moved there, but they're not flourishing. I'll have these bright orange ones, yellow ones and a few pink ones, but I bought about nine different colors to begin with. Very frustrating!

"Sun King" yellow cherry tomatoes. These are incredibly sweet. I've enjoyed these the most this year. Of course, with the exception of the San Marzanos, I've only had ONE other tomato ripen, a small Purple Cherokee. I've lost six entire plants so far to chipmunks or what-have-you, even though they are in a fenced in garden. Others have just withered and died, while others have thrived and reached six feet all but aren't really producing flowers or fruit. Not a good tomato year!

Wild morning glory! These grow in the same place as the wild white beach roses all around the yard. They're a bit smaller than the cultivated version, but they require zero care, lol. They also don't have as many flowers, but on the other hand, they bloom earlier than the "regular" ones. I won't have any blue, pink or purple glories until September, and these white ones are blooming now.

One of the many dragonfly varieties in the yard. I think these red ones are the most friendly. They'll land right on my arms and hands as I prune my tomatoes or weave my morning glories. Above, this cutie is resting on a sunflower leaf.

Neighbor Rick's bright red cherry tomatoes. These are nice and sweet, too.

Cross your fingers! This is a really nice and plump Cherokee Purple ripening on the vine. This heirloom variety isn't very bug-resistant, and being organic, they seem to be weaker overall, too. They tend to get soft spots which then rot. Chippies love to munch on them, and I've tossed five or six into the compost heap so far, while only picking one to eat.

One of my most classic "pairings" in Pink Gardens' yard, and one I'm most proud of, is this old-stock sedum next to those 250+ year old granite steps. I found these sedums struggling in the woods where there must have been flowerbeds decades ago. They were only about 6 inches high, and I wasn't actually sure they were sedums. The leaves looked like sedum, but it was fall and there were no flowers or dead flower stems. I dug them up and moved them into the sun and now I have about two dozen very healthy dusty-rose colored sedums. I love this old plant next to the ancient stones carved into steps so many years ago. The steps are five feet long by three feet deep and roughly handhewn. I'm positive they're remains from an earlier house on this property. New Englanders are famous for reusing whatever they can. And so do I!

This is my tallest sunflower, so far. It's eight-nine feet high with this foot-wide flower and almost a dozen more buds to come. It's leaning against the recently vacated wren house. Several wrens fledged two weeks ago, and it seems odd to go into the veggie garden without hearing their squeaks now!

Our granite peace bench, or "piece" bench as we pieced it together a few years ago from items found around the property, is now my "triage" bench. Those four terra cotta flower pots are nursing plants back to health... I have spearmint in one, pinched from a friend's plants. I brought a few small stems home for iced tea, but they rooted in the glass before I could use them so I planted them and they're doing really well! I also have a small dahlia in a pot—chewed off right above ground earlier this summer by the chippies, but now thriving again in that pot. Next to that, the tallest spindly plant is a dill "volunteer" that just appeared in the veggie garden this year. I had a few dill plants last year, but they all died before I could cut them and dry them, so I really didn't expect them to drop enough seeds to come back. But this one did, right where I was going to plant tomatoes, so I potted it and it's doing OK. And I also have a small geranium in the far right pot. I winter my geraniums in the attic and they've gotten really big. But first thing this spring, the damn chipmunks started mowing them down. Just stem after stem after stem. I've never seen them do that before! This is the top of one of my old geraniums. I rooted it in water and planted it in this pot and the critters have left it alone. I suppose most people would just toss these things in the garbage, but I love a challenge and love to "bring back" plants most people wouldn't bother with. It's really one of my favorite things to do.

This yellow zinnia plant is one quarter the size of the bright orange one, and the orange one is half the size my zinnia plants usually reach, but I'm hoping to have a few nice arrangements by mid September anyway.

One of my favorite wildflowers, Goldenrod. This one is near the boardwalk in town. It's not quite open yet, so it's this lovely chartreuse color. When the small buds pop open, it will be that beautiful bright golden yellow they are known for. I'm going to have a banner year with the ones in my yard. I've been dutifully pinching them back every two weeks since spring. They are about three feet tall now and VERY bushy. If you don't pinch them, they get about six feet tall, but the stems only have one flower cluster, like this one leaning over. Mine have turned into "shrubs" and will be very thick with flowers. Best part is, since they're technically wildflowers, and I've dug them up from the woods and roadsides, they didn't cost anything and because they didn't cost me any money, the chipmunks and rabbits won't touch them, lol. They only go for the new "store-bought" perennials and annuals!

Finishing up today is this pretty planter in the center of town. I believe those are the newer variety of petunias known as "wave" petunias, and don't require dead-heading like the old tried and true species. They flower profusely, too. It's paired nicely with white Alyssum here.