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Today was as lovely a day as they come.  We had sun, a gentle breeze, low humidity, and a high temperature of eighty.  That in itself would be enough to smile about, but wait!  There’s more:

1.  Fifteen Pounds of Fresh-picked Blueberries!004

My husband and I started our day with a trip to a blueberry patch not too far from home.  We had a good deal of rain yesterday and the berries were still wet.  I didn’t want them to get mushy, so I spread them on a bed sheet on top of the dining room table, and let the ceiling fan blow over them for a few hours before I bagged and froze most of them.  Others went into a pie that my daughter helped me bake, and there are still a quart left for eating out of hand.

 2.  Cosmos ‘Pink Popsock’ in Bloom!030This is a new-to-me Cosmos variety.  They are among the shorter of the Cosmos, averaging only two feet in height.  Even without being pinched back, they have developed a good branching habit and sport multiple blossoms per plant.  I started these plants from seeds indoors back in mid-April. I expect they will bloom well until frost, provided I regularly cut off the spent flowers.  I also anticipate several “volunteers” in this space next year, as Cosmos have a tendency to self-sow.  (Update, 8/6/14–Many volunteers did indeed show up this year, and they are as gorgeous as their parents!)033

3. Balloon Flowers (Platycodon grandiflorus)037I can’t say enough good things about Balloon Flowers. I have both tall and short varieties, both in the same beautiful shade of periwinkle blue.  It is also available in pink and white.  Its bell-shaped blossoms average about two inches across.  The tall variety attains heights of just over three feet, while the shorter cultivar tops out at just under two feet.  It is a very slow spreader; after seven or eight years in my garden, the dwarf variety is only about two feet in girth.  Balloon Flower is late to break through the ground in the spring with shoots that resemble little asparagus heads when they first appear. The dark foliage is somewhat glossy and has a slight blue tint.  In my Zone 5a garden, it starts blooming in early July and doesn’t slow down until mid-August. Mine grows well in a space that receives a good deal of sun in the late morning through mid-afternoon, with the shade coming in around three or four o’clock.  

The buds give Balloon Flower its name, and children love to pop them!041

4.  Rejuvenated African Violet’s First New Blooms044In April I performed some surgery on a few sickly African violets.  Happily, it was a success, and one of the “patients” has opened its first new flowers this week.

5.  This is not a poisonous spider!

026I admittedly cringed when I first spotted this specimen, who turns out to be a Black and Yellow Garden Spider (Argiope aurantia, aka Writing Spider or Corn Spider). Given its size (two inches long!), it is probably a female.  Finding out that this spider is considered harmless to humans saved its life and made me smile!

What has made you smile in your garden today?

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