Saturday, August 11, 2007

Time to chop

The hollyhocks are done. See, there’s one lone pink one up at the top and the rest have all finished blooming and gone to seed. The leaves are all rusty and nasty looking.

Remember what it looked like before?

Now there’s a big bare spot, but maybe the liatris that I found under the hollyhock can have half a chance to grow. It’s survival of the fittest in the front bed. The amur maple was leaning on the hollyhock, and the hollyhock was shoving the Russian Sage out of the bed, so now equilibrium has been restored.

What remains of the giant hollyhock.

And speaking of giants, the common mullein grew 8 feet tall this summer. That doesn’t bode well for the coming winter. If local lore is to be believed, as the mullein grows, so goes the snow. Deer browse the tips of mullein during heavy snowfalls in the mountains and plains so the mullein must grow tall enough to stand above the winter’s snow. Actually we got blasted with snow this past winter and last year’s mullein only got about four feet tall. So much for that old folktale.

Here’s the mullein – the giant spire to the right of the arch. The finches picked all the seeds off the top, so like leftovers at the dinner table, I got rid of it.

Speaking of dinner, I finally got a tomato. Doesn’t look like I’ll have many more so I’m darned proud of this one. Especially considering I don’t really remember watering it more than a few times. It has those dark splits at the top but there’s enough juicy tomato below so that a BLT is on the menu for tonight. Time to slice.


Mary C said...

I wish I could send you some of our tomatoes. We've got quite a few, as well as cucumbers. I'm planning on taking them to work next week and sharing them, knowing we can't eat them all. I hope you are enjoying your weekend.

Annie in Austin said...

That one tomato is a wonderful color and the speckledly-hen plate is pretty cool. I hope you enjoyed your sandwich, Lost Roses. We have a small but steady supply of tomatoes in grape and ping pong ball sizes, but nothing to slice for a BLT.

The hollyhocks and mullein are hilarious looking - is it the thin mountain air that makes them grow so tall?? Maybe the plants underneath them will take this chance to bloom for you.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Apple said...

Everything in it's time I guess. Your hollyhocks were beautiful in theirs. My mullein never sent up a stalk. Are they a biennial or does that mean that I'm not getting any snow this year? BLT's sound good and your tomato looks great.

Bob said...

Those hollyhocks and mullens can get big. But they were really beautiful. I've been busy cutting back many of the plants in my garden too. Pretty soon it well be time for the fall clean up. Until then we can remember a towering hollyhock full of flowers.
All the best,BOB

p.s. both those plants were so big have you ever thought of calling them Audrey. (from little shop of horrors)

Carol said...

Seems pretty industrious to cut down the Hollyhocks and mullens all in one day. You are going to lose your reputation of being a lazy gardener if you did all that AND harvested a tomato in one day!

Carol at May Dreams Gardens

MrBrownThumb said...

Hi Lostroses,

I thought my hollyhocks would be done by now but I just noticed the two plants that bloomed in the spring are putting on another show and some other plants I didn't think would bloom have started to bloom.

Thanks for showing how far you cut them down because I'd never done it before and was wondering how far down I should go when they were spent.

LostRoses said...

Mary C, I bet everyone at work will enjoy the largesse from your garden. When the Dubious Gardener was growing veggies, he kept everyone supplied, from his co-workers to the clerk at the video store! I don't need quite such a big harvest myself (good thing)!

Annie, when I went to make my sandwich I found I had no B or L, only the fat red T. I'll have to go to the grocery store and have the pleasure of a BLT for lunch tomorrow!

The speckeled-ly hen plate came from a garage sale last weekend, so did a whole bunch of dinner plates. Like I need those, but for only 5 cents a piece I couldn't pass up those comical fat hens.

I don't know what it is about the tall plants, but they are amusing!

Apple, I'm really not sure about the mullein. I never plant them and I presume the birds "sow" mine as I never know where they'll come up. I usually let one or two have at it so I can see how tall they'll get! But maybe for you it means no snow. Doubtful!

Bob, the way those plants "grabbed" me when I was trying to cut them down I should name them Audrey! But I didn't have to shed any blood during the operation, only hollyhock sticky seedheads. As for fall cleanup, this year I swear I'm going to do it!

Carol, I actually did a task a day for TWO days. I did have to rest after though.

Mrbrownthumb, I fully expect to see a new rosette of leaves growing from those cut-off hollyhock stems. If we have a long Indian summer they'll rebloom too, though much more modestly.

It's always nice to get another show when you thought it was over!

Naturegirl said...

Are you sure ~Jack~ didn't plant that mullien!! Better check around for those ~golden eggs~!! wink hugs NG

Mary said...

Lost Roses, you have a bird magnet garden! So full and plentiful. Seeing your foliage reminds me of one of your posts before you left for Mexico. Was snow still on the ground?

Start your cutting and clearing for more to thrive in the cooler months! You have a good thing going there, girl.

I've had 8 tomato sandwiches since last weekend. I want 8 more. My salads are loaded with chunks of home-growns.

Your tomato is probably devoured by now :o)

Zoey said...

Now that's one fine looking tomato! I am dying for a big fat tomato sandwich--just tomato and mayo on toast. I love them!

I just posted about my tomato harvest--I won't be getting any sandwich from the ones I picked.

I have never heard that bit of mullein folklore. I think your mullein is about the tallest I've ever seen. I had a couple of them, but I cut them down last month so I don't know how big they would have grown.

It's too bad your hollyhocks are all finished. They were so pretty.

LostRoses said...

Naturegirl, now that would be a nice find, guess I'd better do a little searching!

Mary, yes there was snow on the ground when we left for Mexico and snow when we came back. We didn't see the pavement on our street from Xmas to about St.Patrick's Day!

Your tomato sandwich appetite is as voracious as mine. I'd better go check and see if the next tomato is ripe!

Zoey, I won't be getting many sandwiches from my tomato crop either but I sure will enjoy what I get!

When the hollyhocks and mullein start getting ratty, they go downhill fast, don't they?

Garden Lily said...

Note to self: Want a mullein too. Thanks for sharing your garden, it looks lovely. I took me a few years, but I have finally come to enjoy cutting down the spent blooms, since, as you pointed out, it allows room for the neighbouring plants to show off what they can do. That, and I have enough seedlings now for my liking, so deadheading is good prevention.

Layanee said...

Lost Roses: Isn't it gratifying to clean out a bed? Even though you miss the plants you've cut it seems very satisfying to neaten things up! I love the color of that hollyhock and I agree, the tomato on the chicken plate looks scrumptious!

Bev said...

Lost Roses - That's the tallest mullein I've ever seen, and I had not heard the folklore. Oh no!!! We just can't have another winter like last. Can we??

I'm glad you mentioned cutting down the hollyhocks because mine were looking just as you described and I worried about cutting the seed heads off. Did it anyway cuz I just couldn't stand them any more. Like you, I've had only 1 tomato so far, only a little smaller. Hope we both have some more before the first frost, which could be any time now, knowing Colorado weather??? You never know!

KC MO Garden Guy said...

This time of year every garden has holes where once stood a majestic plant that has been reduced to an unrecognizable stalks and dead leaves. We will take those stalks and leaves to the compost pile to serve as nutrients for the next generation of majestic plants.
The tomato looks wonderful. I haven’t been able to pick anything but cherry tomatoes because some critter has decided it was there job to pick them for me when they are still green.

The Pumpkin Faerie said...

All my tomatoes are rotting on the bottom before they even fully ripen. I've never had a year where I haven't had an overabundance of tomatoes so this is a first for me. I'm assuming it's from the drought. My grape tomatoes are the only thing that have done well this season.

LostRoses said...

Garden Lily, I remember in the early days of this garden, I let plants self-seed like mad, trying to fill in all the bare spots. No such worries now, and like you, I find deadheading is good! Hope a bird drops a mullein seed for you.

Layanee, I never seem to get around to it soon enough though, but it is nice to give other plants some room to grow. And that tomato was scrumptious! I picked another one tonight.

Bev, I think that's the tallest I've seen the mullein in years. But since the folklore seems to be just that, I'm not too worried! Oh, another piece of folklore - first frost comes 6 weeks after the first cricket is heard. According to my calculations that puts us at September 15. I sure hope that one doesn't come true either!

Cliff, in my more energetic and youthful days I kept a compost pile but no more! But you're right, that's a good place for those once-beautiful plants. Uh-oh, who's eating your tomatoes?

Pumpkin faerie, sounds like blossom-end rot, and you're right, it's no doubt the drought. I thought that might happen to mine too, which is why I was so happy to get a few edible tomatoes. Can't make BLT's with grape tomatoes but yummy in a salad!

Connie said...

I used to hate cutting my hollyhocks down (especially if there was still a flower or two left) but when I discovered how it stimulates new stalks to grow for fall blooms, I now do it a bit more eagerly!

jocelyn said...

Good for you! Sometimes it's hard to accept when things (like hollyhocks) are just DONE! I have a sheepish look on my face as I type this, because MY ratty hollyhocks are still standing!

I love mullein, too. I let it seed around a bit, then edit it out where it's not in an "appropriate" spot. I especially like the variety with the giant silvery leaves: Verbascum bombiciferum.

LostRoses said...

connie, you'd be amazed at the new leaf growth already! I can be really lazy about cutting things back.

Joceyln, I knew I'd get around to cutting them down eventually, and you will too! My verbascum is just an uncultivated variety but it does get those giant silvery leaves and small yellow flowers on the stalk. I should have taken a picture before it shriveled up and died!

MariaJ said...

Congratulations of your first tomato! I also got few last week but I've been quite disappointed so far. Well, it was my fault I wasnt early enough in spring. My "Hollies" are still blooming. Your Mullein is incredible giant!

LostRoses said...

mariaj, I wasn't early enough either, that's why I'm pleased to get 'any' tomatoes! Will your "Hollies" be done blooming soon?

Susan Gets Native said...

I'm surprised there are any tomatoes anywhere. Everything and everyone is so darn crispy!
Hope that BLT was great!

chuck b. said...

I have mulleins on my "to-do" list for the future. Maybe I'll get some started next year. I would like something tall and not very wide like that.

kate said...

I am in awe of the giant Mullein - that is one amazing plant! The restored order as a result of the Hollyhock demise looks great. Too bad Hollyhocks seem to succumb so easily to rust.

I've never heard the tale of the size of the Mulleins dictating snow cover. Glad it isn't accurate, or you'd be in for some pretty large snowfalls!

Your tomato looks great on the plate ... you should be proud of it!

LostRoses said...

Susan, we've been lucky enough to get some rainfall each week lately, that's keeping us going.
Oh yeah, the BLT(s) were great!

Chuck, it was actually kind of wilty when I took that picture. Normally those huge green leaves give it a bigger presence (blocking the path) in the garden.

Kate, yes the rust is pretty bad and I guess it can be controlled but I don't really mind since by the time it takes over the plant, the flowers are done blooming anyway!

I hope the mulleins are lying also!

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