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Kerry's Garden 2009

Photos from Kerry's garden throughout 2009.

Contributors: Kerry Meyer
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Photos from Kerry's garden throughout 2009.

You hear me talk about my garden every month in the newsletter, so I thought I would show you a few photos so you could actually see what I am doing. I will periodically add new photos. To see photos of John's garden click here. To see photos of Dave's garden click here.

Kerry lives and gardens in central Missouri on 10 acres, half of which is a rocky wooded hillside. She and her husband bought their house in 2005. They now live mere miles from the small family farm where she grew up, near her hometown of around 300. Both of her grandmothers and her mother loved flowers and passed this passion on to her. She expects her garden to continue to grow as she has time to add to and improve existing beds. Kerry has a BS in Horticulture from the University of Missouri and an MS in Horticultural Science with a minor in Plant Breeding from the University of Minnesota. After graduation she lived for 5 years on the Central Coast of California before returning to the Midwest.

I was asked to include a photo of myself. The picture on the left was taken last fall at P. Allen Smith's garden near Little Rock, Arkansas. I am on the right. Allen's garden is truly incredible and it would be impossible to find a more gracious host. The photo on the right was taken at Baker's Acres, a great garden center in Alexandria, Ohio.

 December 10

On Sunday evening my brother brought me a bail of straw to use the cover my strawberries. I forgot to go out on Monday and take care of them. Over much of the country the weather turned bad this week. Tuesday it started out in the 20's then warmed into the low 40's for the day. We had rain for 5 or 6 hours, which is much better than the snowfall in northern Missouri and elsewhere. The cold front pushed in behind the rain and on Wednesday it started out around 25 in the morning and temperatures dropped all day, with a stiff wind (30 mph with gusts up to 50) making things pretty miserable. It was 9 degrees this morning, but it is sunny and in the upper 20's so things could be worse. With the rain and wind, today is the first day I had a chance to go cover the strawberries. In the photo above you can see ice frozon along the edge of the vegetable garden and the straw covering the strawberries. You want to wait until the ground gets cold before you use the straw, but it would have been better to get them covered before this really cold snap. I'm hoping they survive.

While I was out covering the strawberries I also took a couple of photos of other spots in my garden with some winter interest. This photos shows the 'Limelight' Hydrangea hedge row. Every month this summer I took at least one photo of this bed. To the left is where the flower garden is. The dried flower heads look pretty good. They'd look even better against snow cover, but I have to admit I'm happy we didn't get a ton of snow like many of you did.

The Dolce® Blackcurrant Heuchera that I transplanted this fall are also still showing good color.

And across the sidewalk the hollies are showing off glossy, dark green foliage and beautful red berries. All of my containers, with the exception of the pansies I planted this fall, have been composted and the pots are in storage until next spring.

December 3

 

This photo is from Thanksgiving weekend. A week ago 3 pots of pansies, Graceful Grasses King Tut® and Snowstorm® Blue were still looking good. A week later and we've had several nights with lows in the 20's and things look a bit different. The pansy flowers are looking a bit frozen these days but the plants look great and should come through the winter just fine. The weather on Thanksgiving weekend was beautiful. I refuse to decorate for Christmas before Thanksgiving, but the day after I was outside putting up Christmas decorations. I'm leaving the inside decorating for later, but there was no way I was going to pass up a 65 degree day with outside decorating still to finish!

  

The photo on the left shows Graceful Grasses King Tut® on Thanksgiving weekend. The plant was still looking pretty good then. It wasn't quite as nice as it was through the summer, but it took colder temperatures than I expected. It was regularly in the 30's and the plant showed little damage. It took mid-20's to knock it out. As soon as it isn't freezing cold and windy I'm going to haul it out to the compost pile. Snowstorm® Blue is still looking great today. It is under cover on the porch, which helps protect it a bit from the cold.  Even today it is still flowering nicely. The color and flower size are better than ever! I'm curious to see just how long it will bloom.

 I did get the outside Christmas decorations done. We went with traditional greenery with red bows and white lights. This is the second year we've done this. I really like the way it looks and now that I've gotten everything put together it doesn't take all that long to set it up. I'll work on the inside decorations sometime in the next couple of weeks.

Happy Holidays!

October 30

October has been an excessively wet and gray month. We've gotten more than nine inches of rain in October when the average is around three inches and we've only had nine days with sun all month. It has also been cooler than normal. Take all of that together and it has been a tough month for the garden. Plants that would have normally hung on looking pretty decent until the first hard frost have almost melted thanks to the rain and cool weather.

 

The deck has had a transformation this month. The only planter still looking great is the one with Graceful Grasses King Tut® Cyperus. While we haven't had a hard frost, we have had some very light frosts. Most of my plants will take light frost without any harm. However, the Illusion Emerald Lace Ipomoea that was an ingredient in many of my combinations is very susceptible to frost and was looking quite bad after several light frosts. So, most of my containers have been composted with some of them getting replanted with pansies for fall, winter and early spring color. I love the look of the rusty-red pansies in the oxblood colored containers. They look a bit bedraggled in the photo, thanks to rain in the morning, but when we do get a sunny day they perk right up.

 

The 'Limelight' Hydrangea bed it also looking rather bedraggled, although is does have several spots of color. The Zahara Fire zinnias are looking brown and a bit mushy.  The Profusion Double Orange zinnias are doing a bit better. They aren't looking good, but they do still have some bright orange flowers. The Agastache and Coreopsis are also still showing some color. A few new flowers have shown up on 'Viette's Little Suzy' Rudbeckia and the flower power probably would have been better if I had deadheaded a month ago. I did cut back Agastache Color Spires® Steel Blue back in August and while it isn't spectacular, it is showing nice new flowers (photo on left above).  'Moonbeam' Coreopsis has gone completely out of bloom, which is allowing Lo and Behold® 'Blue Chip' Buddleia to show off it's continuing blooms a bit better. If we have nice sunny weather this weekend, I will probably clean the annuals out of this bed, although I may wait to cut back the perennials. As soon as the bed dries out enough, I will also need to redefine the front edge of this bed - the grass is trying to encroach.

 

 The front flower bed was still looking pretty good in the middle of October when I took this photo (on left above). This is one of the beds that I want to rework and despite the fact that a number of the annuals were still looking quite good, I needed to move the perennials right away or it was going to be too late before spring. So I pulled out all of the annuals and rearranged the perennials to group three plants of each perennial together. This should give this bed better color pop next year. The photo on the right (above) shows one of the few summer containers I still have left. It is hanging on with some decent color from Snow Princess Lobularia and Superbena® Pink Parfait Verbena.

 The other bed I wanted to rework this fall was a bed I haven't really photographed this year. The photo on the left (above) shows what it looked like in mid-October. It was okay but I've never really loved this bed in the four years we've lived here. One of the challenges is that the bed is only three feet deep and since it is bordered by the porch on one side and the sidewalk on the other, I cannot make it deeper. The second challenge is our house doesn't have gutters (hopefully that will change soon) so about a foot from the porch we get a drip line when it rains. Anything planted directly under where the drip line falls gets trashed quickly. To deal with this, I plant something between the drip line and the porch and something in front of the drip line. This means that I often end up with rows of plants when I really prefer to do something a bit more free-form. However, I am making a stab at reworking this bed so I like it better.

The first step was to pull out all of the annuals and toss them in the compost pile. I then dug up the perennials in the bed, Dolce® Blackcurrant and Dolce® Key Lime Pie Heuchera in this case, and set them aside for the moment (photo on right, above). The soil in this bed has a lot of gravel in it (it is backfill from when the house was built) so I removed a five gallon bucket of gravel from the bed - it comes to the surface as it rains. Then I grabbed my shovel and turned over the soil. Once I had the soil turned over I added a wheelbarrow full of compost (it was a couple of inches deep) and then turned the bed over again (middle photo above)

 

After the bed was prepared I replanted the Dolce® Heuchera. To try and pull things together I needed a few more plants and since it was rather late in the season I didn't want to divide the plants I did have.  o I "stole" a few from other beds in my garden and used them here. Some of the plants are rather small and I'll have to see if spacing and placement is right. If it isn't, I will adjust again next year. Now I have until spring to plan the rest of the bed. I think that plan is going to include some perennial ornamental grasses, but we'll see what I end up with in the spring. I don't know if this will take this bed from ho-hum to something better or not. I'll just keep trying new things until I hit on a recipe that works.

One last photo, the continuous rain turned what could have been a spectacular fall foliage season into an average one. Peak color was probably about two weeks ago and recent rainstorms and wind have really caused the leaves to fall rapidly. You can see that the backyard is almost covered. As soon as it clears up and dries out, I'm going to rake up enough leaves to fill my compost bins and then we will use the mulching blade on the mower to shred the rest.

October 1

Fall is advancing and I'm definitely enjoying the cool, sunny days. The garden is definitely changing as the weather cools. After more than a month of almost non-existent rain we finally got close to 6 inches in the course of a week. It was just what the doctor ordered, but the rain is affecting the garden in negative ways as well as positive.

Most of the containers on the deck have gone pretty much out of bloom. I think two things have combined to cause the flowering to mostly cease. The first thing is I was out of town for a week and I messed up when I gave watering instructions to my husband. As a result I am pretty certain that everything got VERY dry one day. My evidence is no flowers and Graceful Grasses King Tut® Cyperus had a large number of pom-poms kinked over - a classic symptom that the plant had gotten dry. After removing the kinked over stalks, King Tut continues to look fantastic. I love this plant! The second reason they're out of flower is that with the short days and cool temperatures of fall (and a week filled with rain) they're not getting what they need to begin flowering again. We usually get our first frost in mid-October so time is limited for the plants in these combinations.

   

 The porch corner (photo on the left) with Supertunia® Vista Bubblegum and Superbena® Coral Red remains one of my favorite parts of the garden.It isn't looking quite as good as it did a month ago, but all things considered it looks great. As soon as I get a chance I am planning to trim back the Honeysuckle bush. It has stopped flowering for the year and I cut it back hard every fall. The front bed to the left of the front steps has good fall color from Garnet Brocade Sedum. I still want to rearrange some items in this bed. If I want to move things this fall I am going to have to get doing it. I hate to sacrifice the annuals that are still blooming to do it, but I've dilly-dallied as long as I can. Reworking my beds is next up on my list of things to do.

 

The rain, while much needed and greatly appreciated, has also hastened the decline of some of my annuals. This bed isn't looking bad, yet, but it definitely isn't what it once was. It is holding good color. Most of the perennials in this bed are staying where they are, so I can let this bed die a slow, painful death. I may move some of the Moonbeam Coreopsis to the front of the porch, but the rest should be staying where it is. The 'Limelight' Hydrangea hedge row is still holding all of it's flowers although with the dry weather they've aged to brown.  The rain came a bit too late to keep the flowers looking fresh. Now that they have more available water some new flowers are starting to appear.

 

 Every time I take the time to really look at my flower beds I find something cool. One of my favorite seed heads, in all of botany, are the various milkweed seed heads. As a child I loved to break them open and watch the seeds float away. The butterfly milkweed I planted this spring has now set seed pods and I still find them very cool. The garden spider is still hanging out in exactly the same place as she was last month. She really doesn't move much.

Snow Princess Lobularia is still looking very good, a bit battered thanks to the weeks worth of rain, but it is still flowering heavily. What a great plant!

 The strawberries I planted a few weeks ago are getting established. I should be able to pull the soaker hose anytime.

September 5

So far September has been lovely. We've been having cool temperatures with a mix of sun and clouds. We haven't gotten much rain. My garden could really use a good couple inches of slow, soaking rain.

Right now I have two favorite spots in my garden. The first one is this corner by the porch. The Supertunia®Vista Bubblegum and Superbena® Coral Red continue to look great. If you look at the middle photo you can really see how Bubblegum is using Garnet Brocade sedum as a support to "climb" higher. It isn't truly climbing more resting on the plant, but it appears to be climbing. Garnet Brocade just recently started flowering and has been a great late summer/early fall addition to the garden. The burgundy toned flowers work well with the pink and coral tones of the rest of the bed. This bed has been in color since May and has just gotten better with time!

 

The photo on the left is of one of my front beds. Garnet Brocade is adding a good pop of color to this bed too. You can see it in the middle section of the bed. I'm already thinking about how to reorganize this bed this fall. The middle photo shows two pots that started out as mixed containers, but now are pretty much Illusion Midnight Lace (Sweet Potato Vine). Next year I might try Illusion Midnight Lace mixed with Supertunia®Vista Bubblegum. I think the bright pink petunia would be a fantastic contrast to the black foliage of Midnight Lace. The photo on the right snows Snow Princess Lobularia. This plant has been amazing. It has been in full out bloom since early June when I planted it. This planter is knee high (that's knee high on me and I'm 6 feet tall) and the flowers are dragging the ground. It is brand new next year so it might be hard to find, but it is a knockout!

The 'Limelight' Hydrangeas have been blooming since early July and are still going strong. You can see some older flowers are starting to turn pink, while new flowers are still opening and looking lime to creamy white in color. The flower size is huge, as you can tell by comparing the bloom to my hand. I'm still watering once a week or so with the soaker hose. I've been really pleased with how they've been doing. I've cut a few and used them as cut flowers too.

 The 'Limelight' bed is my other favorite garden spot right now. The bed is starting to slow down a bit, but it still looks quite good. Viette's Little SuzyRudbeckia has mostly stopped blooming now and gone to seed. I'm sure that if I were diligent about deadheading it would still be blooming now. However, considering that it started blooming at the end of June and it just now going out of color I'm quite happy with how it performed. In the middle photo, you can see that Color Spires®Pink Agastache is still blooming and it started blooming in early June. I haven't deadheaded a bit and it attracts bees (which I consider a good thing), butterflies, and hummginbirds. What a great plant! Diamond Frost® Euphorbia is really going strong now (the front of the right-hand photo). The Zahara Zinnias (the orange flowers) are still looking quite good too. I'm thinking of adding a few sedum to this bed for an extra boost of late season color for next year.

 The patio containers are still doing well too. A few weeks ago we had to move everything off of the porch. It is wood and we seal it every other year. The deck is composite decking so all of the containers ended up crammed on it and I've just left them rather than moving them back to their original spots. The two teal pots that used to sit on the porch are now on the deck. One is the left-most pot in the photo on the left. The other is the right-most pot in the photo in the middle. The plants are big enough and long enough that you can no longer see the pots, at all. In fact, the plants trail along the deck. Illusion Emerald Lace is dominating them a, bit but hasn't completely taken over. The middle photo shows several other pots. Supertunia® Lavender Skies is still looking great! She is one of my favorite new plantsYou can see Graceful Grasses King Tut® Cyperus (middle and right photos) just keeps looking better. I estimate that he is at least 5 feet tall. He's really kicked in a growth spurt since I started feeding using the Proven Winners® Water Soluble plant food in mid to late July. I made no changes other than fertilizing and it took planters that were starting to look a bit worn and made them nice and lush again. If your plants start to look a bit worn, try fertilizing. It can make a huge difference.

Ok, the gardens are still looking pretty good, but I thought a wildlife update would be good. The butterflies have been abundant all summer. I've spotted at least 6 different types and I'm pretty sure that if I was paying more attention I could probably ID more than that. This garden spider (middle photo) has been hanging out pretty consistently in the front flower bed. I find her kind of pretty and since her web doesn't stretch across any place we walk I just let her be. The lizards and frogs are out in full force too. On a semi-regular basis a frog will come jumping out of one container or another when I water or will sit very still and try to blend into our porch railing (this cracks me up every time because the frog is kind of a lime green and the railing is white). 

The lizards have been common all summer, but a few weeks ago the baby lizards appeared (photo on the right). When I first spotted them they were about an inch long. They're about twice that size now. They seem to be a bit kamikaze though - they have a tendency to run under your feet when you're walking on the sidewalk. I'm always afraid I'm going to accidentally crush one, so far so good. There are two hummingbirds that I see pretty much every day. They often come and sip at the flowers I can see from my office windows. I really enjoy seeing them. All in all, the garden has been teaming with the good kinds of critters!

 I do have one tomato plant still kind of struggling along (since I'm not watering it isn't doing all that great), but the new addition to the veggie garden is a row of strawberries. I planted them on Sunday. I should get a few berries next year, but the realy payoff will be in 2011. Fall is the best time to plant strawberries, if you can find the plants. I got mine from a friend of my Mom's.

This time I am adding a bonus photo that isn't from my garden. I live near Jefferson City, which is the capital of Missouri. I recently drove past the Governor's mansion and realized that they have huge beds of Supertunia® Vista Silverberry PetuniaI had to stop and get a photo. If you like the performance of Supertunia®Vista Bubblegum, but bright pink isn't your cup of tea, Silverberry is your gal!

August 13

   

The 'Limelight' Hydrangeas are amazing right now! Last fall I cut them back to about one foot tall. They weren't as wide this year as previous years and I think they bloomed a week or two later, but the blooms are incredible. I can't believe how huge they are. I will definitely cut them back hard again this fall. We've had a fairly rainy and cooler than normal summer so the Hydrangeas have been happy. They seem to need a lot of water when they are blooming and we've been dry for several weeks, so I've put down a soaker hose. I've been using it once or twice a week for an hour or two. The idea is to really give them a deep soaking, but not to water often. They are calling for rain for early next week. I hope it actually happens, we could really use an inch or two. The color difference in these photos above is from the time of day when I took the photos. The middle photo was taken in full sun, the other two were taken as the sun was about to come up.

The bed in front of the 'Limelight' Hydrangeas is still looking fantastic, too. I've done very little maintenance to this bed. I did deadhead the Rudbeckia and Echinacea once, about a week ago - just to encourage additional blooming, although they were still blooming well on their own. I also cut back the Color Spires® Steel Blue Agastache, which was fantastic until about two weeks ago when it was pretty much stopped blooming. I'm curious to see if I get one more late flush of flowers or not. I showed the photos on the left and in the center to show the color difference between sun (left) and before the sun was up (middle). This bed has been a blaze of color since June.

These photos are a few close ups of the 'Limelight' bed. The photo on the left is from the upper end of the bed. The low growing orange plant is Zahara Fire Zinnia. The tall fluffy pink plant is Color Spires®Pink AgastacheColor Spires®Pink started blooming a bit later than Color Spires® Steel Blue, but is still going strong while Steel Blue is finished. They're both fantastic plants and I absolutely want them both in my garden, but they are a bit different. The tall golden yellow plant is Viette's Little Suzy Rudbeckia. She has been blooming strongly for weeks on end. I did deadhead her once, but she was still in full out bloom when I did and I don't think deadheading was necessary.

I haven't been as happy with this bed in front of the porch this year compared to last year. It just doesn't have as much color pop as I wanted. I am planning on giving this bed a makeover this fall. I wanted to try to add some color pop to this bed this summer, so I put two of my combination planters in it. This did help, but I still want to change things up next year.

 

The photo on the left is from the left side of the porch. This is another bed that I'm not as happy with this year versus last year. I am a big believer in grouping 3 or more plants of a type together to increase their impact. This year I didn't do that and I think the bed suffers for it. I'm not getting good solid pops of color and I don't think the eye really has good places to rest. This is another bed I'm planning to revamp for next year. The middle photo is of another problem area. This is the best this area has looking in the four years we've lived here. However, I think it would also benefit from a change. This fall I am planning on trying to rework the perennials in this bed to be much less linear. I think the bed will look better if it isn't in rows. The photo on the right is my shade bed. It has looked good for a very long time and still looks pretty good. However, it is struggling a bit from drought stress. Being planted under trees makes the drought stress more pronounced. I should probably have put down a soaker hose in this bed, but since we were getting plentiful rain I didn't bother to install it. At this late date I'm just going to let it be. The plants will suffer a bit, but they should come through just fine. I know, I should be nicer:-)

 

This area is just around the corner from the left bed in front of the porch. It is another area that I've struggled a bit to have looking great but this year I got it! The Supertunia® Vista Bubblegum and Superbena® Coral Red have mixed together and look fantastic. I was worried that  Supertunia®Vista Bubblegum would overwhelm Superbena® Coral Red, but it has kept up beautifully and the two wove together very nicely. That is one Supertunia® Vista Bubblegum  and three Superbena® Coral Red plants. 'Little Spires' Perovskia is poking up through the planting.

 

This set of pots is the tale of two sides. The side that faces the porch is now a solid mass of Illusion Emeral Lace Ipomoea and you can no longer see the pots. The side that faces the deck has a better color mix. Supertunia® Lavender Skies is holding her own, Snow Princess Lobularia is peeking out, too. I've been really pleased with these two containers.

The deck has changed a bit. First everything got moved while my husband power washed our house, then I put two of the pots into one of the beds in front of the porch. Things have also grown a lot. These two pots are also still looking great. They utilize many of the same plants from the photos above. In the background you can see Graceful Grasses King Tut® Cyperus, a very cool plant.

 

I have been trying to get good photos of Graceful Grasses King Tut®, but I think it might be beyond my photographic skill level. This plant (it is only one plant!) is about 5 feet tall and started out around a foot tall back in May. I put it in a pot with no drainage since it likes things wet. It is one of those plants I think kids would love.

June 30

 

This corner never really looked all that great last year. This year, I am really pleased with how it is filling out. The honeysuckle has been infested with aphids this year for the first time. I've been battling them, but it doesn't look very good right now. I'm considering cutting it back fairly drastically. The rest of the bed, though, looks great. Supertunia® Vista Bubblegum Petunia and Superbena® Coral Red Verbena both look amazing. The spot of blue on the left is Augusta Blue Skies Nierembergia. It is heat tolerant and has been blooming well for weeks. 'Little Spires' Perovskia hasn't started blooming yet, but it is getting close. The yellow peeking out from behind the honeysuckle is 'Irish Eyes' Rudbeckia.

The bed on the left side of the porch isn't as colorful this year so far. The colors are much more subtle and haven't really gotten into full swing yet. It is year one for the perennials, so next year they should be more impressive. Still, I think I'll try to add more bright annual color to this bed next year. It's good this year, just not as good as it could be. The daylilies at the back of the bed just started blooming and they are adding a bit of pop, as is 'Tuscan Sun' Heliopsis.

This is the bed on the right side of the porch. The daylilies are blooming well here also. Supertunia® Vista Bubblegum is adding a pop of pink but this bed, too, isn't looking as good this year. It needs more bright color, in addition to the daylilies. I am thinking I might add Moonbeam Coreopsis to it next year. The lemony-yellow would be a great addition to this bed.

  

My Snow Princess baskets are coming along. They were starting to show good color, but about five days ago I trimmed them back to increase branching. By the end of the week, they should be back in full color.

 

The shade bed continues to be one of my favorites. The hosta are looking fabulous and the Dolce® Heuchera are doing really well too. This is my oasis in the shade. I find this spot soothing and it makes me smile every time I walk by.

The new bed in front of the 'Limelight' Hydrangea hedge is looking fantastic. This is my absolute favorite bed this year. You can tell that I spent a lot of my time on this bed this spring. It should be in pretty good shape next year and I will turn my attention to rehabbing some of the beds by the porch. The billowy pink flower is Agastache Color Spires® Pink.  It was putting on a good show a few weeks ago and still looks great. The photo on the right is Totally Tempted® Cuphea mixed with Zahara Scarlet Zinnia. This combination is in two spots. Both spots are looking beautiful. They're a blaze of color from a distance.

 

The photo on the left is the center of the bed. Color Spires® Steel Blue Agastache, 'Tuscan Sun' Heliopsis, and 'Moonbeam' Coreopsis are in full out flower. Lo & Behold 'Blue Chip' Buddleia is about to start blooming and will add an extra pop of color. You can't really see it much, but my Butterfly Weed (Asclepias) is also starting to bloom. The photos in the middle and on the right, show the bed from the top.

The new bed is the first thing you see as you drive up to our house. It puts on a good show from a distance, as well as close up. The best thing about this bed is it is virtually maintenance free. So far, all I've done is plant it and weed i. Other than that I just enjoy it:-)

The teal pots are a tale of two faces. If you are looking at them from the porch, Illusion Emerald Lace Sweet Potato Vine (Ipomoea) dominates the picture. If you look at them from the deck Supertunia® Lavender Skies Petunia is putting on a show. Snow Princess Lobularia is peeking out here and there.

The red and yellow corner is still looking good. Superbena® Royale Red Verbena is looking great and Superbells® Yellow  Calibrachoa is looking good too.

The pots in the corner on the deck continue to do very well. Graceful Grasses King Tut® (buried a bit in the corner and photo on right) is really starting to grow. By the next time I take photos it should be putting on a show. It looks much better in person than it does in these photos. The two combo pots are showing off Intensia® Blueberry PhloxSnow Princess Lobularia and Superbena® Pink Parfait Verbena are also looking great.

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