Thursday, August 13, 2009

A child said: " What is the grass?" fetching it to me with hands full. ~ Walt Whitman

Here's my little bunny tail grass. This is the first time I've grown it. Remarkably easy to start from seed. I'm looking forward to using the cute little tails in fall decorations. So easy to grow in a pot or in the garden. The grass itself isn't especially attractive (it looks a lot like crab grass;) but it blooms early and stays low, less than a foot tall.

Another new plant for me this spring was Agastache Golden Jubilee. I love trying out new plants that are supposed to attract butterflies, bees or birds. So far it has not but these are very small plants and we aren't seeing many butterflies this year.

Golden Jubilee is an attractive plant with the anise scented leaves typical of hyssop. An All American Gold Medal Selections winner in 2003 it scored the highest in length of bloom and ease of growth. According to its press, it will continue to bloom all summer if deadheaded. Leave the last seedheads on for the finches. The leaves are a pretty chartreuse color (photos don't do it justice) which offsets the lavender bloom nicely. Mine are planted in the gravel garden near Walkers Low which may not show off their color to the best effect. Combined with dark or red leaved foliage, this plant would shine.

Very few agastache are completely hardy in my area but gardeners as far north as St. Paul say it is hardy in their gardens and also self seeds. Almost forgot to mention, the leaves are edible in salads (when young).

The bronze fennel is just beginning to bloom. This airy plant with the dark, thready leaves has proved to be a wonderful filler accenting other plants while remaining in the background. It was purchased for the swallowtail butterflies but again, we have had so few butterflies. I hope it is a good reseeder because I'd like much more in my garden next year.

Speaking of swallowtails, I have at least one in my garden and it was remarkable photogenic yesterday. I usually don't have my camera in hand when one lands on a particularly nice bloom but this time I did.

Can you see all the pollen on it's upper wings?

The California Poppies started from seed this spring struggled through our record cold and wet June. In July they perked up and now that the nights are warmer and the rain has subsided they are doing much better. Lovely color, low growing and attractive foliage. These plants would mix well with anything and their ferny leaves won't shade other perennials or annuals.

So far I've only gotten tomatoes from three of my plants. I was so frustrated throughout most of July because, although the fruit was big and green, it refused to ripen. Finally in late July the overnight temperatures got above the 50's and the tomatoes began to redden. As I feared the ones that had hung on the vine for so long were not edible but new ones are coming on strong.

I was excited about German Johnson but so far find the flavor bland. It does produce a lot of fruit for an heirloom, about 14 fruit on it at this time. Warmer conditions might make a difference so I may grow it again.

Celebrity isn't an heirloom and the taste is less than wonderful but it is a big producer. There are probably 20 or more fruit in different stages on this plant today.

I wanted Sweet Million and couldn't find it so I settled for Super Sweet 100. Not bad but not great. It isn't producing as it should so this one won't be coming back next year.

These tomatoes are all growing in large pots. The garden tomatoes are very, very late. I fear some of them may not produce before frost.

One more new plant, Swiss Chard. So far I've been using it in salads and haven't tried cooking it. Crispy, interesting flavor, attractive--this is a keeper that will be coming back next year.

You might enjoy visiting my fellow Rockford gardener Balisha, who wrote me a poem in response to my "Save the tomato hornworm" campaign;) Balisha has a way with words you will enjoy. I don't know if her poem has a name but I think it should be called "THE HORNWORM STOMP".


Randy said...

Everything looks just beautiful. I’m so jealous of your tomatoes, can you believe I’m original to the south, live in Alabama and can’t grow a tomato? LOL--Randy

tina said...

Very nice plants. I so must get some bronze fennel in my garden for the butterflies. Speaking of which, that swallowtail sure does have a lot of pollen!

Dawn said...

My tomatoes are doing the same thing, I have sweet 100 and I think the others are producing more! It won't come back for me next year either.
I have to remember Dill....and fennel...think....dill and fennel

marmee said...


i love trying new things too. it's always an adventure of what you like or might not plant again. i love the look of swiss chard but not the taste.
our tomatoes are all struggling because of the wet summer. the one we really love this summer is an orange flambe. they have been so delicious.
the little bunny grass is great. i love the capture with the sun shining on it.
i am looking forward to is my favourite season.
happy august to you.

Rose said...

I can't believe all the ripe tomatoes you have, Marnie! I am waiting just one more day before picking my first one--and right now I see only 3 red ones in the whole garden. The Swiss Chard looks so pretty; being able to eat it is an added bonus. I still have a packet of its seed I keep meaning to plant.

I like the agastache, and I always appreciate your evaluations of new plants. I'm going to have to check out your old posts before I order new seeds and plants this winter!

Balisha said...

I tried the bunny tails too after reading about them here. I wrote a little teasing poem for you this morning. Come over to my blog and check it out.

D said...

Marnie, wonderful capture of the butterfly. And your tomatoes are beautiful and healthy. Have you tried "Sun Gold", a small orange favorite, and oh so sweet?

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Randy, I found them harder to grow in Alabama than here in IL. You do have the benefit of a longer growing season. They don't set fruit when it's too hot or too cold (or the sky's too blue or the wind is from the east) Just kidding but they are finicky.

Tina, you'll love the bronze fennel. I'll try to collect some seed and send you some.

Hi Dawn, I just pulled up my dill, it wasn't doing well but I love the fennel.

Hi Marmee, I'll look for Orange Flambe. I used to love fall too, but now it seems like a prelude to winter which I'm coming to dread more every year.

Hi Rose, Golden Jubilee's yellow/green leaves are nice but this agastache doesn't attract insects like Blue Fortune. BF is the best! I loved the cool nights but they really messed up the tomatoes this year.

Balisha, your poem is a hoot. Doin' the hornworm stomp;) I can't imagine why people aren't eager to sacrifice their tomato crops to these cute little guys;)

Di, I've heard people rave about Sun Gold. Hope I can find it next spring, I'd love to try it.


JC said...

You answered my question ... I thought .. what do you use swiss chard in ?

sweetbay said...

Love the capture of the butterfly. It looks like it's being cradled in the lily.

A lot of people grow Celebrity here too, and it's not my favorite either. I don't know if you like the Black Russian tomatoes, but have you tried those? I wonder if they might like your climate.

Monica the Garden Faerie said...

Marnie, the bunny tail grass looks so cute--I bet if I tuck it in-between things, its ugly crabgrass-looking stage won't be as noticed... It's on my list for next year! I have my first ripe tomato--red Russian--but haven't eaten it yet. My tomato plants are short and puny looking, but they all have some fruit (or almost fruit). It's been an unusual summer.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi JC, a little goes a long way but I put it in salads.

SweetBay, the only one I've grown is Black Krim which is one of my very favorites. The dark Cherokees are really good too, but not Russian of course? I'll have to do some research on Black Russians (maybe while enjoying a Black Russian cocktail;)

Monica, tucking it in is what I was thinking too. Maybe with other grasses it would look ok.


Gail said...

That is a cute grass...How did I miss the campaign! Must search and read about it. Lovely photos...and isn't it nice to have a few butterflies at last. Have a good weekend. gail

Jann said...

We have lavender hyssop growing wild's a mint, and your agastache looks very similar (as you'd mentioned on my blog). Can you use the leaves as a mint herb? If you rub a leaf in your fingers, you can smell the mint. You no doubt knew this. ;o)

Lisa at Greenbow said...

What a delightful post. I love the photo of the butterfly with the pollen all over it. Cheers.

Sherri said...

I love swiss chard. I used to grow it every year when we lived in NJ. I love it steamed with just a little butter, salt and pepper-yummy!

BeadedTail said...

Look at all those tomatoes! Mmmm! Love the butterfly photo too!

Phillip Oliver said...

The golden agastache is beautiful. I started growing this a few years ago (not the golden variety) but it is never pretty the following year. Love the butterfly shot and your tomatoes look great. Ours haven't done too well this year.

Chloe m said...

After harvesting my first tomato and seeing major depressing hole in the bottom , I am so envious of yours!
The Agastache flowers are so pretty, I did not know they were purple. Mine hasn't bloomed yet and I am hoping it does before frost!

Susie said...

We sold the bunny tails this spring. They didn't go over very good. As you said, the grass looked just like that, grass. But I loved the little tails.

We sell the swiss chard in the fall/winter alot. It's quite popular for containers planted with pansies or violas. It does have a nice taste. I tried it raw.

Congrats on the tomatoes. At least you have some now.

Nan and =^..^= said...

Enjoyed seeing what is going on in your garden...our tomatoes have a long way to go! It was nice to see that you have some ripe ones. We also have Swiss chard...I love it, sauteed it with olive oil and garlic...

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Gail, it is nice to see the butterflies altho I still don't have many. My tithonia is blooming and not a single butterfly on it... Maybe this weekend.

Jann, agastache is also known as anise hyssop or hummingbird mint. It smells like licorice, very nice scent.

Hi Lisa, those lilies are full of pollen, if I sniff them it sometimes gets on my face;)

Hi Sherri, sounds good. I'm planting more now for fall eating.

HI BeadedTail, if you lived closer, I'd share tomatoes with you.


Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Phillip, it must have been a bad year for tomatoes all over the country. I wouldn't have any either if I hadn't bought very large ones at the greenhouse and grown them in pots.

Rosey, I think agastache comes in a couple other colors. Most of them aren't hardy in my area.

Hi Susie, I'm planting more chard now for when it gets cooler in Sept.

Hi Nan, I'll try sauteeing the chard. I have a lot of different heirloom tomatoes that still have not produced anything.


Andrea said...

I can't wait for my tomatoes to ripen. I'd love to see the cages for your tomatoes. I always struggle with a good method and yours looks very efficient.
Summer is just a wonderful time to experience nature.

Connie said...

How interesting....Bunny Tails grass and Asgastache Golden Jubilee were both new plants for me last year, started from winter sown seed. I really liked them both.
You really should try braising some of your Swiss Chard in butter and garlic....yummmm!

Anonymous said...

simply beautifully captured shots....lovely!

Anonymous said...

The Agastache Golden Jubilee that I started from seed didn't make it, darn it! I'll try again next year though, as I love the fragrance and always want to attract more butterflies. My tomatoes are almost ready to eat, and I can't wait. I hope they are tasty this year, but I can't remember what kind they are. I'm afraid they might be Celebrity Bush, and now you have me nervous! I find homegrown tomatoes to always have tough, chewy skins versus store bought. I wonder why?

Kathleen said...

Glad you had your camera and got that wonderful Swallowtail photo Marnie! Those tomatoes look fabulous. I wish my plant would do something. I have about seven green ones hanging there but not turning red either. I enjoy trying a few new plants each season too. I think 'golden jubilee' was a nice choice, although it's too bad you don't think it's getting visited like you'd wish. It looks like one the bees would enjoy? I don't grow it tho so I don't have any first hand knowledge to offer. I grow mostly agastaches with tubular blooms (primarily for hummingbirds). I've had good luck getting many to seed around and return each season. I hope yours does too. I had the same problem with the California poppies except mine didn't snap out of it like yours. I'll have to try again next year.

Kathleen said...

PS I guess 'golden jubilee' does have tiny tubular flowers, doesn't it?? At first glance it looked like "fuzzy" heads.

oldcrow61 said...

I do like that Bunny Tail Grass and it will work well in arrangements. The butterfly is gorgeous. I envy you all the tomatoes you're getting. Mine aren't nearly prolific.

ShySongbird said...

Your tomatoes look wonderful, I have grown some in pots in recent years but due to poor weather they did not do well at all so I didn't bother this year, you have a really good crop though!

Your Swallowtail is beautiful and yes the pollen is noticeable. I also loved your Californian Poppies, so cheerful! Lovely photos, Marnie

Pat said...

Your agastache looks pretty good.
Wish mine would bloom.
Fennel is an interesting plant...don't have it.
DH(Materhead) says are German Johnson was very good,on the mild side and large. Love heirlooms !
Everything is looking good.

Amazing shot of the swallowtail !!
Good for you Marnie.

trailrider731 said...

hay thanx for visiting my blog, I hope to continue to make it interesting for sure,
I look forward to checking yours out also, Love the collies!! love the critters, wish my thumb had a bit more green to it when it comes to flowers, love to grow things, but when the weather turns hot in Mississippi, i'm just about done except for cutting grass! Loofas are very easy to grow as long as they get loads of sun. I didn't even plant them this year, they came up from last years spillage!!

the best is yet to come!!!