Saturday, October 31, 2009


It's been amazing to see and hear the birds. I need to learn how to post a video. I took one to catch the sound of the birds. They kept flying over in large groups, and landing together at the tops of different trees, as if they were making travel plans together. (The photos enlarge when clicked on.)

I didn't get a photo of the rabbit that dashed out of the butterfly shelter the other day, but the squirrel thought it was hiding from me.

I was pleased to see another daddy long legs of some kind.

I think these are beetles of some kind on my viburnum.

Here's a closer view of the lower one.

To see more critters, click on the Camera Critters link in my sidebar.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

It's Blooming Friday!

Katarina, from Roses and Stuff has posted a lovely collage of her blooms in Sweden, where it is now Friday. She has had snow already, too. I am pleased to have quite a few blooms, which means I did not get all of them in today's post. The sweet peas and asters come to mind.

(Added later in the day: When I thought I was looking at Katarina's Blooming Friday post, she hadn't posted it yet, so there was no theme mentioned. Later, I saw other posts, where it was stated that her them is, "A Pleasant Surprise." Well, I can tie my post into that by the fact that I was pleasantly surprised by what all survived the snow and some lows in the 20s earlier this month.)

I've mentioned that I have kept the statice and other flowers that I usually dry in the garden to enjoy this year. The 'Debonair' mum is still blooming to the left of several colors of statice.

The annual black eyed Susan and verbena (I think) are still blooming in the newest part of the curb bed.

This is a red yarrow in the older part of the curb bed. I don't know if I've shown it. The goldenrod and Jupiter's beard tended to grow over it this year. I usually dry it, too.

Jupiter's beard blooms most of the season, because I deadhead it.

I'm enjoying the different colored gazanias that are still blooming.

I can't remember which blogger, but it may have been Tina, who told me this rose is 'Iceberg'. I got it unlabeled on the sale table at a garden center. It still has a few buds and a bloom. I love it! (I didn't know what to expect, so this was a very pleasant surprise for me to see the snow didn't stop this from continuing to bloom.)

I think the sweet alysums have been the longest and most continuous bloomers this year.

The knautias are blooming again, and here is another annual black eyed Susan.

The pansies lived through the summer, and are now happy for the cooler weather.

This is the miniature rose I got for Larry this spring. It's not real photogenic, but it's pretty in person. I hope the weather holds out for the buds to open.

I had partially deadheaded this rudbeckia, because it was falling over, but left some for the birds. Larry came along and cut most of the rest of them off before I saw and asked him what he was doing. Well, now there is one more bloom on the plant. (See how my post fits in with the them? This was a pleasant surprise!)

These pansies or violas had survived either survived last winter in this pot, or were volunteers. I hope they come back next year. Look, I think those are larkspurs coming up in the pot.

All of the previous photos were taken yesterday, the 28th. I realized I didn't have any of the delphiniums, and the photos I went out to take in the rain didn't turn out so good, so I'm using these from October 25th. I am so pleased that this made it over the winter, which doesn't always happen in my yard, and is having another flush of blooms. (This was another very pleasant surprise. Nice theme, Katarina!)

It's been raining all day. It will be good for the plants to go into winter with some moisture. I just hope I can get out and get more clean up of dead annuals and vegetables across the street before it gets too cold.

Have a great weekend!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Eating Ornamental Sweet Potatoes

Last October I did a post, called, "Yes, you can eat Potato Vine, Marguerite." Over the year, I've noticed on my stat counter that the search that leads the most people to my blog is whether ornamental sweet potatoes are edible. I've invited people who don't blog to leave anonymous comments to let me know whether they tried them, but no one has. The guy who emailed me letting me know he was going to eat his, never came back to say if he liked it.

This year, I was set to experiment with different varieties of ornamental sweet potatoes to compare how they taste. I had several problems that prevented me from using good scientific methods. First, some of the tags got misplaced. Then, the day I harvested them, our grandson was over. I don't remember why, but I ended up going inside with Grandson, and asking Larry to go around to take photos of the potatoes that I had dug up and left on the dirt in their pots. Instead, he put the potatoes in sacks and brought them in. It has taken the whole evening to do this post, but I think I have figured out which potatoes came from which plants.

The photos of the plants are from July 7, 2009. The first one shows the Georgia Jet and Beauregard sweet potatoes in the wash tubs, which I've already posted the harvest of, and the reddish ornamental one in the back is Ace of Spades.

These light colored potatoes in my hand came from the above Ace of Spades plant.

I'm not sure what kind of sweet potato this is. I couldn't find it when I tried looking it up. Its potatoes were reddish, so it's something different from Ace of Spades. I thought it might be Blackie, but the leaves are not shaped the same.

Here's the potato from the above plant. I would have gotten a better photo if Larry hadn't been so helpful in picking them up.

Here is this year's Marguerite.

I only got one potato from it, probably because of all the roots from the cosmos.

Because of my experience with sweet potatoes exploding in the microwave, even though I had poked them, I decided to convection bake these at 350 degrees. I poked them, and put them all on a pizza pan, taking the smaller ones off after about 20 minutes. The others took about 15 more minutes. I had a pork roast on the shelf above them, so that could have affected the time.

The small one on the left is from the plant by the shed that had lisianthus and ageratums in it. Next, going clockwise are, Marguerite, the 2 Ace of Spades, and the larger ones are Georgia Jet, and Beauregard on the bottom.

I sprayed the potatoes with margarine, and put a touch of salt and ground some pepper on them. The reddish potatoes are from the plant by the shed. The texture was not the best, but the flavor was pretty good. Next, the Marguerite, was the sweetest of the assortment. The texture was much better than the microwaved one last year. It was my favorite on the plate. The 2 non-ornamental sweet potatoes were good, but I don't remember there being much difference in taste between them. The Ace of Spades were mild, and had good texture.

So, if you find this doing a search to see if ornamental sweet potatoes are edible, don't just stop here. There are other articles where you may find some varietes that shouldn't be eaten, but if you have some of the ones I list here, try them, and see if you like them. I would love it if you would come back and leave a comment. If you don't have a blog, you can check the "anonymous" box, and then leave your comment. Lynda, from Rustyhoe recently posted a photo of her ornamental sweet potato, and said she was going to try eating it. If you are a blogger and have done a similar post or are going to, let me know, and I'll link to it.

Oh, and I've read about saving the roots for next year. I still have some that are too small to eat. I'll have to find out how to store them for the winter.

(I did not find any potatoes under this tricolor sweet potato vine. This photo is from July.)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Misjudge of Character/I Was Fooled

Gail, from Clay and Limestone did a post on Pycnanthemum muticum, short toothed mountain mint this week, and said it can be a thug. I left a comment, referring to my other posts on mountain mints, saying they do not spread like other mints. This spring, what I thought were fallen stems from the plant I put in last year were taking root and new mint plants were springing up. I pulled them, stating that I hope the plant behaves this summer. In July, I said it was behaving.

Today, while Larry and I were doing some yard clean up, I went over and checked around the ground around the mountain mint to see if it was spreading from the base. Wow, was I surprised at what I saw!

Look how innocent this plant looks! It must think I won't look past those beautiful blooms to see what's going on underneath it.

You can see some of the little new plants springing up, and if you look closer, you can see runners, not stems like I thought they were in the spring.

The new plants look more like other mints than the ones on the parent plant. (Look at all those runners!)

The plants form all along the runners.

The plant just to the right of a younger one, has gotten big enough to look like the parent plant. To the right of it is a baptisia volunteer. (The lattice is the cover to our egress window well, by the way. We'll be putting pots of lavender and such in there soon.)

There's no doubt where the runners were coming from. Some of the runners were over 2 feet long, and the new plants were forming under other plants, where they weren't as noticeable.

There were some healthy looking roots along parts of it.

I pulled all of the runners I could see out, but will be checking to see if more are developing.

It's still looking pretty innocent, but now, I'm on to it, and will not give it so much freedom.

I was relieved to see that the Virginia mountain mint, Pycnanthemum virginianum, is still only spreading from the main clump.

Now, I'm on my way back to Gail's blog to leave a retraction to my previous comment.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

This Week's Critters

I can't remember who told me the bees would come back out when the temp was warmer. I'm not remembering the temp they said now, either, but we had a day this week that got up to the lower 70s, and others in the 60s, and I am pleased that I have seen bees.

This garter snake was on the fence by the herb garden. The hose is from the rain barrel, and I had the water going into a watering can, which I was letting overflow into the garden. The snake did not leave after I took photos and walked away, like they usually do. I was able to get photos from the garage side as well as the herb garden side. I wonder if it was drinking water out of the can.

I'm not sure what this insect on the garden side of the garage is, some kind of beetle, I think.

I'm thinking this spider and its prey were in a flower bed in the side yard.

This beetle was having a feast on the gazania bloom.

I have seen robins, blue jays, and a number of other birds this week, and the squirrels are still running about. There has been a rabbit in the back yard several days this week. I am sad that a clematis I had planted this summer was cut off at the base, just as it was about to bloom some time this past week. I'm thinking it was either the rabbit going under the deck, or Heidi trying to get to it. The birds have been flying around in large groups. There were some large dark colored birds making lots of noise in one of the neighbor's trees this afternoon. It rained about 3 inches the last few days, so the sun felt good today.

To see more critters, click on the Camera Critters button in the sidebar.