Stacking Functions Garden


1 Comment

2019 Photo Highlights

As much as I enjoy photography, I am very much an amateur. I never even purchased a telephoto lens until this year—Adam bought me a gently used one for my birthday early this spring. It made a huge difference in the shots I was able to get, especially of wildlife.

Enjoy these photo highlights of 2019. Clicking on the photo will take you to my Flickr page.

Black-backed woodpecker

This isn’t my most impressive photo but it was SUCH an exciting moment: we saw two black-backed woodpeckers at Sax Zim Bog in February. (This is clearly BEFORE I got the telephoto lens…) It was -20 degrees F and it was worth the frozen toes and fingers to see this unusual bird. Sax Zim is a birding paradise and I can’t wait to go back.

Redwing blackbird

Red-winged blackbird, herald of early spring, at Wood Lake Nature Center in March.

Sunset on Lake Hiawatha

Ice finally completely out on Lake Hiawatha, Minneapolis, April 3, 2019.

Bloodroot

Bloodroot in full bloom, my front yard, May 4, 2019.

Jacob's Ladder

Jacob’s Ladder in full bloom, my back yard, late May 2019.

Chive blossoms

Chive blossoms, early June 2019.

Bridal Veil Falls

Bridal Veil Falls, Glunflint Trail / Laurentian Divide area, northern MN, early July 2019.

Green bee on Great St. John's Wort

Metallic green bee really enjoying the Great St. John’s Wort, mid-July 2019, my front yard.

Tart Cherry!

Ready to pick sour cherries, July 2019, my front yard.

Bumblebee on hoary vervain

Bumblebee on hoary vervain in my prairie boulevard, July 2019.

Monarch butterfly landing on coneflower Taken only moments later, a monarch butterfly coming in for a landing. July in the pollinator garden is magical in Minnesota.

An August morning harvest

Harvest time, August 2019. Nearly all harvested from my community garden plot at Sabathani Community Center, Central Neighborhood Minneapolis.

Orange cosmos

Orange cosmos in my neighborhood, late August 2019. This is one of several photos that I took on my iPhone that surprised me how nice it came out. I love the colors—it was twilight so I didn’t think the photo would work at all.

Autumn Meadowhawk Dragonfly

Kicking off fall with an Autumn Meadowhawk Dragonfly, September 2019.

Sulphur butterfly

By late September the butterfly migration was well underway. One day my purple dome asters were covered in sulphur butterflies. The next day they were gone.

Leek harvest

Fall leek harvest. I love pictures that capture the true scale of things—here’s my husband Adam with some gigantic leeks. Sabathani Community Garden, mid-October 2019.

White tail deer, doe, Fort Snelling State Park

We hike Fort Snelling State Park all year round; late fall is a great time to see white-tail deer close up.

IMG_7754

What can you do for birds during the winter, really? Beyond the basics (bird feeders, leaving seed heads in your garden for them to eat), try adding a heated bird bath. We easily see 4-5 times greater numbers of birds in the winter than we used to, and a greater variety than just our resident house sparrows shown here. They are entertaining, though. I love how the female looks slightly annoyed at how the male is splashing her.

PSA: I’m not being paid to say this, but if you’re at all into photography, I highly recommend the Flickr Pro community. It’s a great and inexpensive option to back up all your photos, with lots of easy tools to organize them and set privacy levels, etc. I’ve been using it for years and I’m nervous it’s going to go away with the rest of the remaining positive and affirming places on the internet. Check out my photo page, or check out this huge Best of 2019 Group and get inspired for a great new year of photography.

Happy New Year!

 


1 Comment

In the Fall Garden

The fall garden: it’s all about greens fading into blues and grays, then contrasting with bright oranges and yellows. Lush, soft textures contrast with dry, brown twigs and leaves. In short: it’s gorgeous. Why “clean it up”? Most of this stuff will stay in place until the spring in order to shelter overwintering insects for next year.

Here’s a photo tour of what’s happening outside my door, right now.

IMG_7502

Okra plants are approximately six feet tall.

IMG_7504

Meyer lemons—I’ve never had any get this big. For some reason the squirrels aren’t interested in them this year. I am trying to come up with a strategy to make the coming winter happier for this plant without breaking the bank.

IMG_7508

Who needs mums, anyway? Fall asters are gorgeous AND beneficial.

IMG_7517

Two thirds of this composition is serendipity. I only planted the purple dome aster; the calendula and brown-eyed susans reseeded from other areas of the garden.

IMG_7526

My showy goldenrod has been covered in bumblebees—during a warm spell last week they were positively frantic.

IMG_7531

Blanketflower—slowly reseeding and reblooming all summer long.

IMG_7532

Who’s this little bug trying to hide in a calendula blossom?

IMG_7537

Zig zag goldenrod, a favorite for shade. Great hosta alternative.

IMG_7540

The spent blossoms of the big-leaved asters are taking on a puffball quality.

IMG_7543

The prairie boulevard in autumn captures that quality I was trying to describe—contrasts of color and texture that are unique to this season.

IMG_7561

Blue false indigo leaves, their black seed pods, and more brown eyed susans in the background.

IMG_7566

Zinnias are a little obviously non-native at this point, but so pretty.

IMG_7569

Magnolia leaves starting to give it up.

IMG_7570

Fall is parsley’s time to shine. It’s very cold-hardy so I’ll keep picking it until it’s covered by snow.

IMG_7594

I love the giant spiders of September. This one’s right outside our dining room window.

IMG_7598

Bull’s Blood beets, grown for their incredibly nutritious and beautiful leaves. They’re also very cold-hardy so I don’t need to rush to get them picked and eaten.

IMG_7601

In order of cold-hardiness: collards, chard and kale. Kale withstands light frosts easily so I’m prioritizing eating up the collards and chard right now. We’re not expecting frost for at least a couple more weeks—early- to mid-October has become the norm now for first frost in the Twin Cities.

IMG_7606

A new-to-me vegetable for 2019: malabar spinach! I’ll definitely grow this again. It was so easy and (unlike so many other things) it thrived in the heat and humidity.

IMG_7613

I have several Autumn Joy Sedums in my yard, one of the few non-natives that I keep. They used to get covered in bees in the fall, but this year very few bees are showing interest, due to the large numbers of goldenrod I now provide. Sedums provide nectar, but lack certain vitamins and minerals that bees need to survive the long winter. Goldenrod > Autumn Joy Sedum. That’s really the bottom line. If these die out, I won’t fuss. For now they’re occupying a space that’s otherwise been difficult to fill in right next to my A/C unit.

IMG_7617

Anneke’s Japanese-style fairy garden had a rough summer, but still has some nice textures going on. I’ll have to bring this jade in for the winter.

IMG_7621

Jalapeños are still going strong.

IMG_7624

Comfrey. Plant comfrey only if you really truly intend to use it—it’s a great compost pile activator, and makes a potent compost tea. I can pull this entire plant out at the root two or three times each summer and it always comes roaring back. I will pull it out a final time in the coming weeks and use it for a winter mulch in the vegetable garden.

Fall is such a busy and stressful time of year, and it was a lovely break for me to spend my morning in the garden, taking these photos to share with you. Thanks for looking.