Archive for July, 2017



The spring and early summer rains seemed to have produced an unusually healthy diversity of flowering plants and trees, along with plantings of annuals along our front path.  For the first time, significant flower beds were added to the vegetable garden, producing a nice array of new colors and forms.  We also added some statuary to the shade garden, along with some new plants.  A Hisbiscus (Rose of Sharon) finally produced multiple blooms eight years after being brought down from Cherry Hill, NJ.   Holly found lots to work with in putting together the lovely bouquets throughout our home.

click here for pictures of the flower and shade gardens



We had a very wet spring, to which Holly and I attribute much of the success of our summer vegetable garden.  Varieties of greens (lettuce, arugula, swiss chard, broccoli rabe, kale)  flourished in the spring, and garlics, onions, several varieties of string beans, zucchini, cucumbers, peppers, lima beans, basil, and tomatoes galore filled the garden in the summer, even if we’ve had to share the tomatoes with crows and rabbits (and maybe a groundhog).  Spaghetti squash, watermelon, and cantaloupe are in the works. I was more disciplined this year about succession planting, especially for beans, and that has kept us well supplied over time.  The one virtually total crop failure was snap peas, long my favorite and most prolific crop.  But this year almost none germinated, and only a handful of snap pea pods ever appeared.  I have spoken to several other growers who had a similar experience.  No one fully understands why this should be; it will be interesting to see what happens next year.  Overall, though, one of our best years in the garden.

click here for pictures of our 2017 vegetable garden



Despite a heat spell with temperatures in the upper 90’s, our friend Sue and her dog Mama Kate accompanied me on a hike Mt. Pleasant, in the George Washington National Forest in Amherst County on July 19th.  The six-plus mile hike was made particularly interesting by the residue of last fall’s forest fire in the area.  Charred bark of tree trunks were surrounded by riotous new growth, showing how rapidly the forest regenerated itself.  The views from the eastern summit were spectacular.  Along with many other unusual wildflowers, our many sightings of the Sultan’s Cap Lily were a highlight of our trip.

A lovely visit in July to my cousin Fred and his wife Kathy in Raleigh and then down at their place along the water in Belhaven.  Oh yes, and Kathy’s seeing-eye dog in the their boat.


Another trip up Humpback Rocks, this time with Dan Moler.  A beautiful day!  On a hike there two weeks earlier, Sue Rucker and I got to watch a bear calmly foraging.

Looking at the view to the east from the Blue Ridge Parkway

Having a tree in our front yard taken down (it was shedding large limbs onto the street) revealed multiple snakes living in the hollowed out trunk and limbs.  It also enhanced the view from our living room window quite spectacularly.

Back in the vegetable garden, the two types of garlic I grew this year, Inchellium Red and Music, were pulled and laid out to cure in mid-June.  42 bulbs total.


By the beginning of July, our many varieties of lettuce were beginning to bolt, but we’d been regularly harvesting kale, chard, arugula, and other greens for some time, along with a first crop of wax beans, cucumbers, zucchini (enough for six loaves of zucchini bread so far), yellow squash, and a few ripe tomatoes and peppers.