On warm summer nights here in Ontario, Canada, we’re treated to a wonderful display of blinking lights flitting along the tops of the shrubs. These fireflies or lightning bugs (Photinis pyralis) are a staple of spring and summer evenings in many parts of the world, including eastern North America. Only the male flies — the females’ wings are too short for flying.
Also in the frame above are Saturn (at upper right center), Antares, the brightest star in Scorpio (just below Saturn) and Mars, the brightest object in the field of view (at far right). Photo, taken on July 10, 2016, is a composite of 15 images layered to show all of the firefly trails.
Photo Details at link
If you enjoy the antics of hummingbirds, be sure to include a few Baja red fairy dusters in your garden. Their bright red, tufted flowers provide year around color and nectar, although the showiest displays are from spring through fall. Baja red fairy duster has ferny green foliage, and an open irregular form that lends itself well to natural landscapes. Mature plants might reach a size of 4 to 6 feet tall and wide. Baja red fairy duster can be used in full sun or part shade, and is tolerant of most soil types. Temperatures below 20° F can cause some twig damage. Any shaping or pruning should be done in the late spring,but be careful not to overdue it, as heavy pruning will inhibit flower production!
Baja fairy duster (Calliandra californica) is a must have for the desert garden. There is so much to love about this shrub.
Welcome to Ramblings From a Desert Garden…
Calliandra californica (Baja fairy duster), is an evergreen, woody shrub which is native to Baja California, Mexico. In Spanish, the plant is also known vernacularly as tabardillo, zapotillo or chuparosa. The flowers, which appear in early summer, have clusters of red stamens. The shrub is usually between 0.6 and 1.8 metres in height and has bipinnate leaves. The leaves have been described as “fern-like.” Leaves close at night time.
C. californica is cold tolerant to temperatures of 22 degrees Fahrenheit, though its roots will tolerate temperatures as low as five degrees Fahrenheit. It grows best in full sun. C. californica is very drought tolerant, needing only 10 inches of water every year. However, additional watering will encourage C. californica to bloom through summer and again in the fall.
Propagation of C. californica is done through “acid scarification” or vegetative cutting. Seed pods from this plant look like “snow peas” and when ripe, they explode. The pods are flat and about 2 inches long. After ejecting seeds, the curled open pods remain attached to the plant for some time.
C. californica attracts both bees and hummingbirds.
Along with many other legumes and leadworts (Plumbago), it is a host plant for the Marine Blue caterpillar (Leptotes marina).
In landscaping, it is suggested that C. californica is used in borders or foreground plantings, as an island accent or even in containers.
As a member of the pea family, Baja fairy duster fertilizes itself, so no fertilizer or soil amendments are needed for this relatively fuss-free shrub.
If you’ve already done the work of digging and prepping garden beds for spring and summer, why not make use of that space for nutritious veggies this fall? With a little effort, you can harvest garden goodies well into winter—even in snow!
Most garden greens and plenty of hardy veggies will thrive in cold weather, and many are actually sweetened by autumn’s dipping temperatures. Some cold-hardy plants, such as kale, mâche and spinach, will still be sending out tender, new leaves when it’s snowing outside. Root crops such as beets and carrots store well throughout the winter, providing four seasons of fresh flavor.
If you think winter gardening involves months of eating kale, think again. A wide variety of garden vegetables tolerate freezing just as well as, and some even better than, most kale varieties.
On my quest to select the top vegetables for winter gardening, I invited three other gardeners from around North America to share their favorites, based on their experiences growing in winter. All of these gardeners grow in colder climates than my own here in the Kentucky mountains (zone 6b), so if you think growing in winter is out of your reach, I hope you’ll be inspired to give it a try.
Cool-weather vegetable crops are a gardener’s best friend, although many people are still unfamiliar with them. Many of the vegetables grown in summer gardens actually do better in cooler weather when the average temperature is 50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit; light frost can actually improve some cool-season crops.
It is Now Legal in L.A. to Grow your Own Fruit and Veggies on City Land*
Ron Finley, an urban gardener from South L.A. who helped to make it a reality
By Karoun Chahinian
We’re living in a fast food apocalypse. Considering you need to make a down payment on a salad these days due to high fruit and vegetable prices, getting a fast and cheap burger for lunch has become a popular choice continent-wide.
More and more American families are struggling to afford nutritious food. One creative solution to avoid breaking the bank on fruits and veggies is Guerrilla Gardening: the act of planting produce on someone else’s land, specifically, city-owned land.
It’s weird to think that planting fruits and vegetables is against the law, but this week, the city of Los Angeles has legalized guerrilla gardening and a special thanks is owed to Ron Finley, an urban…
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Fall-planted bulbs produce the first blooms of next year’s season. The bulbs spend the winter making roots and come up early in the spring.
- In the fall, you’ll find bulbs to purchase everywhere! Make sure you buy your bulbs from a reputable nursery, garden center, or catalog. Second-rate bulbs product second-rate flowers or don’t sprout at all.
- Plant anytime before the ground freezes. In the lower South, where you may not have hard freeze, early November is a good time to plant.
- See the chart below for type of bulbs by hardiness zone. In the warmer South, note that some bulbs need to be treated as annuals instead of perennials (e.g., tulips); they’ll bloom once and then they’re done. Still, they are a beautiful sight to behold and worth it! Other bulbs (e.g., daffodils) will act as perennials and come up year after year.
- For inspiration, visit our Flower Guides which include many common bulbs.
- Ideally, plant your bulbs soon after you purchase them.
- Select a site with lots of sun and well-drained soil. Work a few inches of compost in the soil.
- Plant bulbs generously in case some do not sprout. And plant them in random order and spacing for a more natural appearance. If you love groves of daffodils and blanketed landscapes of tulips, be prepared to buy and plant a large quantity of bulbs!
- In general, plant bulbs at a depth of three times the width of the bulb.
- After planting, apply fertilizer low in nitrogen, such as a 9-6-6 formulation. If your soil’s sandy, plant bulbs slightly deeper; in clay soils, slightly shallower.
- Water well after planting. Apply mulch to keep the weeds down and hold in moisture.
- Do you have voles or chipmunks? Consider planting your bulbs in a “cage” fashioned with chicken wire.
Seeds Benefit From Careful Harvesting
After you’ve given your plants the help they needed to produce healthy seeds, you must harvest and store the seeds properly to keep them healthy until you are ready to plant them.
How you treat your seeds during harvest and storage can have a large impact on their viability and vigor when planted.
Now that it’s so easy to exchange seeds with people anywhere in the world via the internet, collecting and swapping seed has become almost a full-time job for me – certainly an obsession. Here’s how I harvest, save and exchange seeds.