July & August Summer Flowers

Angelonia

These Angelonia’s performed well all summer. The summer started off cooler with much more rain than normal, but for the past three weeks we have had no rain and above normal temps. The flowers have for the most part done well this year. The moon flowers were all volunteers this year and have done fabulous.

Moonflower

I love going out in the late evening or before sunrise to see these beautiful, fragrant flowers. These moon flowers came up right in the middle of our vegetable garden pathways but I walk around them, I’m not going to disturb such lovely and healthy plants. Buds on the moon flowers are interesting as well.

Moonflower Bud

I love the delicate blooms of the surprise lily, the Amaryllis belladonna is always gorgeous.

Amaryllis belladonna

We have lots of butterflies that spend the summers in our gardens.

Butterfly

The vibrant red of the hibiscus is always a favorite.

Red Hibiscus

Bees and butterflies love the liatris. This is the third year for it.

Liatris and Bee

The tropical blooms of the yellow hibiscus is beautiful also.

Yellow Hibiscus

The purple bee balm I planted this spring did well and bloomed most of the summer.

Purple Bee Balm

I’m looking forward to cooler weather, the changing of leaves and the gardens settle down into the fall and winter ~

May Early Summer Flowers

Pink Bee Balm Flower

This is a new variety of Pink Monarda, aka Bee Balm I purchased this year. We have been getting more rain this spring with is wonderful for the plants, shrubs, gardens and to end the drought.  The red roses that were transplanted a couple of years ago from a dear friend are really taking off and blooming well.

Deep Red Roses

It has been cooler than usual, and this is good to get the plants established before the heat of summer hits. I always plant annual red saliva as it is a hummingbird favorite. Petunias have also proven to be popular among the bees and hummingbirds. Red colors are a natural draw for hummingbirds.

Red Annual Salvia, Petunias

Pentas are also known as star flowers. They are a wonderful flower to have for butterflies, bees and hummingbirds. They perform well all summer in the heat and do well in containers or in flower beds. They are an annual here in Oklahoma in Zone 7. The Crossvine in the background has been covered in blooms this spring.

Penta's with Crossvine

I try to have most flowers and veggie plants in the ground by the end of April, but with late freezes, I had to cover plants a few times, and haul more back indoors. These annual snapdragons did well outside on our deck all winter and have flowered beautifully all spring. That is a new moonflower plant on the left.

Volunteer Snapdragons

These yellow snapdragons were so cheery I had to add them in this year.

Yellow Snapdragon

This is a new orange flowering tropical hibiscus. I have it in a large container as they have to be brought in every winter.

Orange Hibiscus in Pot

I love the multi colored flower blooms, they add interest. This is a ruffled petunia.

Pink and white Ruffled Petunia

Pink Angelonia is a new plant for me this year. I like the look and they are supposed to perform well in our heat. To the left is a yellow cuphea aka cigar plant.

Angelonia

The gaura is always a favorite for me. It is a good butterfly plant and I love the exotic looking blooms. It holds up well all summer. I plant these in our butterfly garden since they are a perennial.

Gaura

There are so many wonderful plants to choose from, it can be difficult deciding, but if it is a favorite of butterflies, birds, bees and a hardy or proven plant for our area, then I will certainly find a spot for it in our garden.

Jenks Herb Festival & Tulsa Oklahoma Trip

Azaleas

One of my favorite activities of the year, is the herb festival and strolling around in Tulsa. We took a day trip up to Jenks Oklahoma for the festival via the old Route 66 Saturday. It was a two and a half hour drive through small towns, and past large ranches, pastures and woodland. I love the back roads, I would take them over major highways any day.

Route 66

We were able to bring one of our pooches Snuggle. We enjoy pet friendly places, including the Jenks Herb Festival and Woodward Park. Sand Springs, in a nearby town has a larger herb festival the week before but not only is it too crowded, they are not pet friendly. Jenks had a shop giving out samples of their homemade doggie biscuits during the festival, a very friendly environment.

Bruce & Snuggle Jenks Herb Festival

The Herb Festival is sensory overload for plant and herb lovers. So many herbs of every type from over a hundred vendors. It is helpful to have a small cart to put your items in because it is blocks of walking. One of my favorite vendors Wild Things Nursery was there. If you love butterflies, and are near Oklahoma, they are the people to get plants from. They have tons of helpful info about host plants and butterflies on their website too.

Arkansas River

After a few hours at the herb festival,  we ventured on into Tulsa to visit my favorite park and view the Arkansas River. The levels of the river have come up since the drought of the past few years.

Landscaping at Woodward Park

Woodward Park off Peoria Avenue in Tulsa, Oklahoma is 40 acres of beautiful landscaping, wildlife and natural beauty.

DogWood Trees nestled below  taller oaks

The park has about 15,000 azalea bushes, plus dogwood trees, flower and herb gardens, ponds, waterfalls, interesting bridges, all set among huge old oak trees and rolling hills.

Kesha & Snuggle Bridge

It is a dream for photographers and nature lovers. There were birds and wildlife all around and I even had a couple of squirrels that came and took a snack from my hand.

Squirrel coming up to me

I am a country girl at heart and an animal lover, so I enjoy interaction with all of God’s amazing creatures.

Squirrel enjoying a snack

My husband was the one who began offering a few tidbits to the squirrels. They were wild and they did not stay around long.

My husband feeding a squirrel

I took hundreds of pictures in the park, Tulsa, and also in the atrium of the Tulsa Garden Center. They have gorgeous orchids and many other flowers.

Kesha & Snuggle Azalea Bushes

It is hard to find time to get away for even a day trip but this is well worth the trip!

Spring and Summer Flowers – Container Gardening

Summer Annuals

It is already time for re-potting and planting those summer plants!! This is my favorite time of year. Vegetable gardening is very close behind. It is a yearly event, searching out those plants that will perform best in our climate, and bring benefits to God’s creatures, birds, hummingbirds, butterflies, bees, even tree frogs!!

Yellow and Pink Snapdragons

I am always researching and I pick plants that are the most benefit to nature. I have many more established plants already in our butterfly and hummingbird gardens, these plants are all going into containers for the decks.

Petunia Wave Flowers

I picked up several wave petunias, they are a hummingbird attractor and do well in our summer heat. This year has been much more of a blessing and joy as we have had so much needed rain, our drought is almost ended. The temps have been moderate, with a few cold dips. We are expecting another cold snap this coming week, and that means covering plants already planted and bringing in the many plants still in flats.

Orange and yellow snapdragons

These are some orange snapdragons I picked up at our OSU Horticulture Center, during a plant sale. They have very healthy and reasonably priced plants, many grown by students. In the background are annual red salvia, a fav of hummingbirds.

Petunias

Hummingbirds here love our petunias, so I always include those in hanging baskets. Red colors will always be the draw for hummers but I enjoy other colors as well!!

Purple Wave Petunias

This is an unusual purple wave petunia purchased from the plant sale at OSU. Pink Dianthus is in the background.

Red Velvet Snapdragons

Bright red velvet blooms of the snapdragon are always a treat, and many of my snapdragons overwintered on our deck with no coverings, they are tough!!

Annuals in Flats

The first day I set out plants, I had delicate yellow butterflies sitting on the flowers, so the butterflies are already fluttering about. I try to purchase host as well as nectar plants for various butterflies of our area to give them a complete experience. I have a lot of work ahead of me getting these plants all in their pots and I will try to post pictures later in the season as the plants are established.

April Around our Farm ~ Spring Flowering Trees and Shrubs

Oklahoma Crab Apple Tree Blooms

We have had continuous blooms around the yard with the many blooming trees and shrubs. This year is a blessing with so much extra rain, the plants are soaking it up.

Pink Flowering Almond Bush Blooms

The pink flowering almond bush is always so pretty with delicate flowers and the little transplants are blooming as well!! They have been transplanted for a couple of years now, but barely survived due to extreme temperatures and drought, even with supplemental watering.

Oklahoma Flowering Crab Apple Tree

Our Oklahoma crab apple tree is very showy this year, so beautiful, just covered with blooms, and the hundreds of tiny bees that buzz around gathering nectar.

Oklahoma Flowering Crabapple Tree

We have lost several small but nice trees over the past few years, a cherry tree, a prairie fire crab apple and the peach tree is not in good shape. I have several young transplants from the peach tree that I had started that seem to be doing well.

Cattle grazing on our grass

We have the cows back grazing on our land, they are so peaceful. I love the little calves, they will jump and play just like little kids. They do such a good job keeping the grass down, they give us free fertilizer which is excellent for the tomatoes, and vermiculture. They also eat the poison ivy off the trees which is a huge problem around here.

Male Goldfinch eating on the feeder

The goldfinches have been hanging around all winter and the males are turning a bright yellow for their spring and summer color. The females will stay an olive green all year. Gold finches love sunflowers, and I always plant extras for them.

Woodpecker on Suet

The small woodpeckers loves eating my homemade suet. We have hung some extra suet feeders out on the pergola, near their nesting areas.

Cardinals on birdfeeder

We have many pairs of cardinals this year, the females are harder to spot, they are so much darker in color than the pretty bright males. Their favorite nesting spot here is in the thorny bitter orange tree very close to our house. I can watch them feed their babies from our window. The thorns does not bother the birds and it helps protect them from predators.

Easy Way to Preserve Herbs ~ Freeze in Ice Cube Trays

A simple and quick way to save your fresh herbs for winter cooking is to freeze them. We have done this for years. It works best on only a few herbs, basil’s, rosemary, oregano and mints being several of them. The consistency will not be as crisp as fresh herbs, but they are yummy in recipes. The color stays nicely

Today I am harvesting Thai Basil and Sweet Basil. It is best to harvest before noon, after dew is dry but before hot midday sun. Any herb has the most oils and will be the most flavorful picked then. The oils are released slowly during the day and they taste better earlier!

Make sure you are getting only the top one to three sets of leaves. Harvest no more than one third of your plant if you want your herb to keep growing. Some herbs do well during the winter in a bright sunny window. You may harvest the entire plant if you do not plan to overwinter them indoors.Have a small basket to put your herbs in and begin to harvest them, pinching off or cutting just above leaf growth. I always pinch, it is faster for me and they come right off using your thumb and first finger. You may snip them with kitchen shears if your prefer. 

We have heard it is best not to let your herb go to flower, the leaves will be a bit tougher and less flavorful, but we enjoy using those flowers in our dishes as well. It adds a bit of color. There are always a few that will flower before you can catch them during the summer anyway!

Wash your herbs under running water to get any unseen small bugs or dirt debris off. If you have a lot of herbs, you may swish them in a bowl of water.

Start packing your herb leaves in an ice cube tray, make sure not to include stems unless they are very tiny because those will be tough. You may chop them, but we just freeze them whole. Put as many in a cube as you will use in one serving. I like to drop the basil cubes in tomato soup and I like it strongly flavored, so I use several large leaves.

Fill your tray with water just as if you were making ice cubes. If you know you will be using them in a soup or other recipe you may freeze them with chicken broth.

Pop them in the freezer until frozen. Remove the cubes from tray and put in a freezer bag for storage.

Mark the herb and date on it for future reference. We have snowflake bags because I bought them last year after the Christmas Holiday season at a very reduced price.Super simple and it is very fast.

Flowers are Blooming again with cooler weather

The flowers are much happier now that temps have cooled during the day and at night. It has been another tough summer for the plants with many days of highs over 100 degrees  and very little rain. The moss roses are growing in a deck planter and they do well even in the heat.

Our Siamese cat Champ enjoying being outside. I have cat nip plants nearby in planters and growing on the ground. He enjoys rolling on those. The pink and orange flowers are snapdragons that overwintered outside last year.

Our dwarf crepe myrtle is blooming very well this year. It is in partial shade. This variety grows to about 4′ tall. We have many other full size one’s around our place. They are late summer bloomers so they always put on a show this time of year.

Our native passion flower vines are always interesting and do well. They are a host for Fritillary butterflies.

This is a Gulf Fritillary Caterpillar on a passion flower. I took this picture a few years ago. Adult butterflies lay their eggs on the plant and the caterpillars eat the leaves until they are old enough to form a chrysalis.

After a few weeks, they will hatch into beautiful butterflies. The chewed leaves on the passion vine quickly regrow. The fruit of the vine is also wildlife food.

This moon flower plant has been blooming very well. Such interesting large blooms, and it is a night bloomer. It blooms overnight and closes mid morning which is why it is called a Moon Flower. Moon Flowers are annuals in cold climates but re seed well.

This is my first year to have a blue plumbago and we have it growing in a container on the deck. It has done well.

This is a few of all the plants that we grow. I have flower beds with butterfly and hummingbird plants also.

Easy to Make Vegetable Garden Trellis

This is an easy and effective way to grow your climbing plants, like cucumber, squash, pumpkins, gourds. We recycled a pop up clothes line and looped some farm fence around the bottom to give them something to climb up when they were just starting out.

We planted our cucumber seeds with a good helping of compost from recycled kitchen scraps, cattle and chicken manure and our worm castings from the worm bins.

The wires on the clothes line allow the vines to go across and the fruit hangs down which is easier to pick, and it keeps it off the ground.

We move the clothes line every season to mow and till. We use post hole diggers to dig a hole about a foot deep for the pole. If you don’t have extra farm fence or netting you can pound 4 small metal poles, one on each corner. We have used hot wire poles and rebar. Then use string or twine and tie from pole to clothesline on each corner to make a solid line for the plants to grow up. We added more poles and twine throughout the year when any plants were growing without support so they could reach the top of the clothesline.

The bees like our cucumbers too!!