Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Illumination, Late Summer Light - GGW Photo Contest

Late summer offers such a perfect introduction to fall because it slowly begins the seasonal transition with the changes in light, temperature, and even breezes. The light of the sun lower in the sky presents new shadows and a different kind of illumination than the direct light of summer high in the sky.

This will be my first time entering Gardening Gone Wild's Picture This Photography Contest. This month's theme is Late Summer Garden. I enjoy taking photos in my garden and experimenting with the camera, so, for me, it is a joy to enter. Finding the photo that would represent the theme was a challenge.  I like the colors of this photo as well as the idea of looking beyond an image in the foreground.

This photo fit the requirement for a late summer garden and the suggestion of shooting tight.

Spider webs seem to be all over the garden. I try not to disturb them, but there are times I must release one corner of the silk to pass through a path.

The late summer garden is filled with fresh blooms and fading blooms. The seedheads boldly reach up to the sky and the petals fold down and crisp at the edges.

Blooms are in transition and offer different views and lights.

This fennel in bloom photo has a gossamer-like view between the stems and leaves.

I decided on entering this photo of a clematis seedhead. I liked the lone seedhead against the fading seedheads and colors in the background.

I am joining Donna at Garden Walk Garden Talk for Word for Wednesday. The word for today is illumination, an apt word for this time of year.
©Michelle A. Potter

Monday, September 19, 2011


Today’s post is a guest post from Holly Bose at Your Gardening Friend.

In recent conversations, I've come to learn that not everyone knows what an elderberry is.  Had my mom not given us the experience of delicious homemade elderberry pies, and elderberry syrup, I too would not know of this tasty creation.

An elderberry is a very small, round, fruit berry with interior seeds. When I say it's a "small" berry, I mean REALLY small. An elderberry is between the size of a BB and a pea. The berries should not be eaten unless cooked (because of toxins), and, unlike most other berries, they require some sweetening.

The general parts of an elderberry bush are as follows:

       1. Roots
       2. Canes
       3. Lateral Branches
       4. Leaves
       5. Flowers (white)
       6 .Berry Clusters

Finding Elderberry Bushes
While you may find elderberry bushes in more than one type of setting, you're most likely to see them growing near the roadside, in ditches, along railroad tracks, and other similar locations, in wide open spaces with full sunlight.

Because these areas are not often mowed, you may find the elderberry bushes growing in the midst of other plants, weeds, and tall grasses. Even to the trained eye it can be a little challenging to spot them while driving 45-60 mph. The easiest way to find elderberry bushes is to look for them when they're in bloom. Come spring, specifically the month of May (at least for Indiana), the canopies of white blooms are a stark contrast against the surrounding greenery, and can be seen while driving down the road.
Harvesting Elderberries
After the flowers are pollinated, small green berries emerge.  As the berries mature, the green eventually turns into a medium purple, and the purple into a deep, dark, shiny purply-black color.  It is at this point the berries are ready for pickin', around mid-August to mid-September.

The best way to pick them is to break off the entire cluster of berries and place them in a clean plastic bag. Double-bagging is a good idea to make sure the branches don't puncture the plastic bag.

Once you get home, place the plastic bag of berries, including the branch stems, in the freezer. After the berries are frozen, take the entire bag and set it on the kitchen counter. Tap the bag on the counter numerous times. This will cause the frozen berries to break off the cluster. You can then place all the berries in a freezer storage bag until you're ready to make a pie. (My brother shared with me this method of removing the berries from the clusters.)

Because elderberries are an acidic fruit, canning them does not require the investment of a pressure canner/cooker. You need only a boiling pot.

Stay tuned for an upcoming elderberry pie recipe. Yummy!!!

Holly lives in Indiana with her husband and three canine children.  They live in the country, nestled in the woods, surrounded by nature.  She writes about gardening and her love of wildlife on her blog, Your Gardening Friend.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

All That Basil

By this time each year, my basil plants have grown tall and full of basil leaves. Although I harvest the basil throughout the season, this time of year is when I spend a lot of time preserving it. Basil is a very aromatic and versatile herb that can be used in numerous dishes and teas, and so I like to have it on hand during the winter for soups, pastas, vegetable dishes, and salads.

The best time to harvest basil is the early morning after the dew has dried. Try to harvest before the plant flowers for optimum flavor.To harvest basil cut at a leaf joint about three to six inches from the top. The basil will continue...[Read the rest of this post over at Your Gardening Friend...]

©Michelle A. Potter

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September Song

September's song is a lead in to autumn. The muted browns, golds, and siennas begin to color over the bright reds, blues, and pinks.

Leaves begin to paint their fall colors and slowly fall to decorate the earth floor.

Seedheads form to fatefully protect the future of blossoms in the garden.

Colorful berries form to hold seeds for the hope of renewal.

Some blooms burst forth for a final late summer display.

Hummingbirds fill up on nectar before their long migration south.

Butterflies take their time feeding and fluttering before cold weather comes.

And the Limelight hydrangeas offer a September surprise as their once white, now green, petals bring a tinge of pink.

What September song is in your garden?

I will be linking up with May Dreams Gardens for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. Visit her blog to see the September garden of other garden bloggers.
©Michelle A. Potter

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Mother Nature's Garden Lessons Learned

Over this summer season, I have learned many lessons from the garden. Each season teaches me more about plants, diseases, pests, soil, wildlife, and landscape design. Having gardened for about 30 years, I find the garden never ceases to amaze, entertain, inspire, and teach me. I think that is one of the many reasons I find it interesting and continue to make time for it in my life. The need to create is very strong in my soul, and although the garden does not fulfill all my needs in that area, it does offer great artistic challenges and beautiful satisfaction. It also fulfills my need to solve problems. There is almost nothing more satisfying than finding a natural method to deter a plant pest or prevent a disease.

No matter how much I have learned this season, the most profound lessons have been from Mother Nature herself. She has taught me some new lessons and deepened my understanding in other areas. Through her natural rhythm, she has demonstrated the beauty and delicate details of new life. Her continuous bounty and overwhelming burst of colors and textures breeds a gratitude that is deserving of contemplation. And her power and strength is not always a pleasant or welcome visitor but warrants reverence and regard, nonetheless.


On several occasions this summer season, I have witnessed and indirectly cared for several bird nestlings and fledglings.

Flying Practice with the Wrens

Growing Up...Cardinal

Sometimes it is difficult to know where the boundaries should be or when or when not to interfere in a wild bird's fate. Watching from afar and protecting from a distance is the best possible gift I can give any wild animal for whom I choose to offer care. Mostly, I watched these very small, almost featherless, beings grow to strong and capable birds that now fly through and around my garden, eating insects and providing me with periodic glimpses.

Having somewhat participated in their care gives me even more incentive to protect them and do nothing that would harm them. I feel closer to them and want nothing more than their health and happiness.


Although I have, from time to time, looked at my garden with awe and gratitude, I certainly do not do it often enough.

Garden Love

There is a tremendous amount of work that went into each garden bed, each plant's care, and the overall design. I am not a professional, by no means, but I have worked very, very hard to create a garden that offers shelter, food, and water to wildlife--and beauty and respite to us.

This year, I found some time to stop planning and doing---and sit and appreciate the garden for its astonishing resilience and unrefined charm. Most of its beauty comes from nature. I am merely the planner, the mover, and the arranger.

Respect, Trust, and Acceptance

This season has brought its share of natural disasters. Severe thunderstorms, earthquakes, and hurricanes have had their way with my garden.

Searching for the Tranquil Garden

After Every Storm The Sun Will Smile...

Besides the damage and loss, I think the worrying has been the most distressing. Feeling that sense of unease and feeling helpless are not good conditions for a gardener who takes on the role of sentinel. Regardless of what role I believe I must play, mother nature is the one in whom I should place my trust.

Hurricane-damaged Butterfly Weed
It does me or my garden no good to hold on so tightly to the way things are that I become distressed.

Young sprouts...
She is the true guardian of my garden, and it is for me to work with her--no matter what changes she decides to make.

Life does not flow along in a stale and stagnant manner, and so, the garden never remains the same.

Please take a stroll over to PlantPostings to see what other gardeners have learned this season. I am also joining in Hope Grows Day at Sweet Bean Gardening.

I am joining An Oregon Cottage for her Best of 2011 Tuesday Garden Party.

©Michelle A. Potter
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
ondragstart="return false" onselectstart="return false"