Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Jack-o-lanterns, bats, ghosts and goblins... Halloween is here! Nothing says Halloween to me like the color orange. Somehow this vibrant color maintains its vigor throughout the entire month of October - like the last rays of sun from summer. By November, the days are shorter, the tree foliage is nearly gone and everything begins to look more brown.

So in honor of the last day of October and Halloween, I went on a quest around the neighborhood to find all things orange:

Orange Viola flowers

 Orange Pyracantha berries

Orange Gerbera Daisy flowers

Orange Bittersweet berries

Orange-yellow Gourds

And of course, what would Halloween be without a cheery Jack-o-Lantern to wish everyone a very Happy Halloween!

For more Halloween fun, be sure to check out my other spooky Halloween post on some very ghoulish plants. Mwahahahah!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Juniper Berries

I love this time of year mainly because of the changing colors of the leaves, but also because the berries of so many shrubs and other woody plants become more prominent.

Here are some beautiful Juniper berries: 
 The berries of this Juniper are a waxy, blue color and cluster closely together. I think the blue is so striking against the green of the needle-like/scale-like leaves.

Actually, the berries on Junipers are not actually berries at all. They are cones, growing only on the female plants. Junipers are dioecious, which means that individual plants are either male or female (unlike most other plants where male and female parts exist on the same plant). So the female juniper plants produce the berries (cones) and the male plants produce the pollen.  

Various types of junipers have different uses:
The spicy-smelling berries of Juniperus communis (Common juniper) are the predominant flavor in Gin.
The fragrant wood of Juniperus virginiana (Eastern Red Cedar) is used for cabinets, fences and pencils.
The wood of Juniperus phoenicea (Mediterranean Phoenician juniper) is burned as incense.
(Encyclopedia Britannica)

I found a recipe for making Gin on It calls for 10g of juniper berries (that's about 1/4lb) - which is a lot of berries! I'm not sure this little shrub will produce that many... nor that I would want to even distill my own either. But I think it's still a pretty cool fact!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

What's Blooming Now

Walking around the yard yesterday I noticed quite a few things are still blooming. Here on Long Island, the night temperatures are hovering around the upper 40s and the day temperatures are in the low 60s. Definitely feels like fall outside!

The Coleus is starting to lose its bottom leaves, but this variety is holding on to the upper part of the stem very nicely. I love the rich brown in the middle of the green leaf.

Amazingly these Impatiens still look great. The leaves are starting to yellow, but they continue to flower and make me smile.

The red Begonias look completely at home in the fall landscape. The red flowers with the reddish-brown stem and darker leaves look appropriate for this time of year.

I have a natural wooded area along the south side of the house. It is very pretty this time of year with the Goldenrod and wild Aster flowers blooming.

In the flower box on the front porch, I recently planted purple Ornamental Kale and some sweet orange colored Violas. I love the contrasting colors.

The yellow Lantana is still blooming nicely in the hanging container on the front porch. It's doing amazingly well considering its not getting full sun anymore.

I've freshened up the front containers with fall plants such as Mums, Pansy and Ornamental Peppers. This container also shows the lime-green Coleus and the Euphorbia "Diamond Frost"still doing well.

 These Geraniums were the best thing I bought this year. The vibrant pink with the lush green leaves were gorgeous no matter where I moved this container. And they are still looking great in mid-October!

 The New Guinea Impatiens didn't really do much this year. Maybe they didn't get enough sun. However, I'm enjoying their lush foliage for now. Especially when everything else is dropping their leaves.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Garden Visitor Update

Thanks to everyone who posted with suggestions on what the creature might be. I found another one yesterday. It was smaller and hiding under a log. Seems to have a brown stripe down the back of it. Anyone recognize it?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A visitor in the garden

I was in the yard the other day and looked down on the soil to see something moving. At first I thought it was just an earthworm, but then I noticed little arms and feet as it crawled along the ground.

I think I've got a Newt here. What do you think?

I've never seen one in the garden here and frankly, I haven't seen it since. I did find it after it had rained for several days, so maybe the wet conditions attracted him to my yard. Or maybe he just wanted to play on the kids' playground by himself!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Rose Hips

Now that summer is over and the blooms are mostly all faded here in on Long Island, its time to look for the natural beauty elsewhere. I found it the other day in rose hips.

Rose hips are the fruit of the rose bush after the bloom has died. Most people cut off spent flowers and therefore don't ever get to see the rose hips, but when left untouched, the rose bush can turn into a real beauty late in the season.

Apparently the tastiest rose hips come from the Rugosa Rose. And I read online that rose hips have a tangy, fruity flavor similar to that of cranberries. The fruits are best harvested after the first frost, which makes them turn bright red and slightly soft.

I have had rose hip tea and found it to be fruity and pleasant but have never eaten them in any form (jams or sauces). Have you? What do you think?

Personally, I'm just glad my neighbor didn't prune his rose bushes this year so I could enjoy the gorgeous hips that have formed. Thanks neighbor!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Chirp Chirp Cricket

It sounds almost romantic...chirping crickets on a warm summer evening. Well maybe in that context it is a beautiful sound, but how about one lone cricket chirping away every night... in the garage attached to your house? It's been raining here for about three days straight and two nights ago I started to hear the chirping. At first I thought it was just a lone cricket outside in the garden. But after some investigating, following the sounds, it lead me to the garage. For two days now I can hear it, but I can't find it. It's starting to drive me nuts.

We have seen lots of camel crickets in the basement and garage over the years. But these crickets don't make noise. They just jump really high!

Photo from the Flickr stream of AlbinoFlea.
 So it's not Mr. Jumpy Cricket in my garage. I believe it to be Mr. Chirpy Cricket, aka the House Cricket.
Photo from
Now I don't know what this little guy is chirping about - if its trying to communicate or it if just wants to remind me that he's in the garage. A reminder he likes to give me every. bleepin. second. ! 
I do hope the sun makes an appearance tomorrow. Everything in the garden needs to dry out a little.