Thursday, July 31, 2008

Poor Butterfly (Bush)

I used to have a nice butterfly bush. Tall, willowy, lots of flowers swaying in the breeze. Butterflys loved it.

Then something happened. Last year I cut it down in March the same way I always have, but this time it didn't grow any new shoots except for one. All last summer I just had the one little stem. It only got to be about 12 inches high but it did get one flower on top. That was it. Since it wasn't completely dead I thought that this year even if not back to normal, it would start growing a lot more. Not so. This year it did managed to get 2 new stems, about 24 inches high, now with a flower on each. Maybe next year it will be up to three. Alas, what once was, is no longer. How pathetic is this poor thing?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Oh Rats!!

Literally. Rats. Well at least one rat, but if you see one you know there's a good chance that there are more that you don't see. Standing outside this morning I saw movement on the ground over by my car which is a good 80 feet away. Watching it, I was pretty sure it wasn't a chipmunk because it looked to be bigger and it wasn't moving the way a chipmunk usually moves around. I had a sinking feeling that it was a rat. Went inside and got my binoculars and sure enough, a rat. Not a cute little gray mouse with pink ears, not even a not so cute little brown mouse....a rat.

I haven't seen any rats around here for at least 10 years. Not since the guy behind me had a wood pile the size of Texas stacked up on 3 sides of his 3 car garage. Used to see quite a few rats then. But every winter the wood pile would gradually get smaller until finally it was gone, and so were the rats. Don't know where they went but as long as they were gone, I didn't worry about it.

But now.....a rat. A big brown rat. Don't know where it came from. Maybe a kids pet that got loose (do kids have brown rats for pets?) or just a wild rat that happened to show up . I don't know. What I do know is that I don't want that rat here!!!! Nowhere near here!!!! GO AWAY RAT!!!!

P.S. The really weird thing about this is that the sparrows followed this rat where ever he went. Hopping on the ground behind it, they followed it under the hydrangea bush, under the car and even into the next yard when I finally threw rocks at it. What's up with that??

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Sometimes You Have To Take A Chance

This past May while at my local discount store I saw that they had some "Knock Out Roses" at a very decent price. I've bought plants from this store before but you have to get them early before they have a chance to kill them off, and sometimes they still die after you get them home and planted. I looked at these roses and they looked pretty healthy so I decided to take a chance and buy 2 of them. Took them home and figured I'd wait until the next day to plant them.

Next morning I went outside, got my shovel, and was getting ready to dig when I really looked at these plants. I was going to have to dig a HUGE hole. I mean I knew they were in a large container and that's why they looked so healthy, but I hadn't really thought about the fact that I would have to dig a hole for this large container. TWO of them. In CLAY. Decided to have a few more cups of coffee instead but eventually got around to it and after much digging, huffing, puffing, setting them in, taking them out, digging, setting them in, I finally got them into the ground hopefully at the right depth.

They already had buds and soon these bloomed and I thought "pretty nice". Then nothing. All of June, nothing. Not dying that I could see, but not growing either. Was begining to think I had done all that digging for nothing. Then in the first week of July a few new red leaves were beginning to show. Then more leaves and finally some buds. And now..
I won't show the entire plant because it's not the shape I want right now, but I'm not going to prune it till next year. Not taking any chances.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Good News and Bad News

Bad news. Not one single flower on the Calla Lily. Last year it bloomed on July 8th. so I'm sure that if it hasn't bloomed by now it won't bloom at all this year.
Good news. It's obviously not dead!!

Good news. Jasmine is in bloom and smells terrific.
Bad news. This has to be taken inside in the winter and I have a hard time keeping it alive until warm weather comes again.

Individual flowers almost look fake. Reminds me of sugar flowers that they put on cakes.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sunday Morning Musings

First of all I'll say that I hardly ever make mistakes, and on the rare occasions that I do, I will pretend that I didn't. But in this case since it was in black and white (see post "Patience finally pays off") and more than one person saw it, I guess I'll have to own up. All this time I've been saying Red-breasted Woodpecker when in fact it is a Red-bellied Woodpecker. There!! It's done!! Let's move on now!!!

Watching the bird feeder this morning, I have discovered that Red-headed Woody and Red-bellied Woody both like zucchini bread whereas Brown Thrasher and Bluejay do not. Both woodys will take big chunks away with them and thrasher and blue keep coming back to see what they're missing and keep getting disappointed over and over again.

Rabbit hopped by the flower beds looking for something to nibble on but decided the veronica, salvia, and stella lillies were not to his liking and since there are no petunias over there, which he does like, he moved on.

Squirrel climbed down the telephone pole and tasted 3 different clematis flowers before he decided he didn't really like the taste of them (I could've told him that before he chomped them) and went back up.

Spider webs have not been a problem this year until the last couple of days. Usually all summer long you walk out the door and no matter how careful you try to be, you get silky threads in your face, your hair, and everywhere (remember, Arizona brat?), and your car is covered and practically glued to the ground with them. Not so this year. Don't know why and don't care why, just happy about it.

Mosquitoes are a problem!! Even in the middle of the day they attack while you're trying to pull weeds out of flower beds. Simple solution...don't pull weeds. Works for me.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

It's A Girl !!

Meet the new addition to the garden family. How do I know it's a girl? Look at that frilly little foliage. Those "pretty in pink" flowers. Tell me that's not a girl.

Many years ago I had a couple of the old fashioned Bleeding Hearts. The kind that get tall and lanky and although those are nice I wasn't crazy about them once the flowers faded away. I couldn't resist this one. Forms a mounding clump 10 - 12 in. tall, 15 in. wide. Cherry pink flowers spring through summer. Thrives in either full sun or shade. What's not to like??

(The tag might say "King" of Hearts, but what do they know!!)

Friday, July 25, 2008

Classic Clambering Clematis Close-ups

I love clematis. If I had more room, I would have more clematis. I have had these for quite a few years, before all the other varieties were readily available. Now-a-days there are soooo many more to choose from it's a good thing that I don't have any more room.

The first one to bloom for me is this one. I have no idea of its real name so I just call it "Burgandy" It starts blooming the middle of May. Each fall I cut it down to within 18" of the ground because otherwise it just gets way out of hand the next year.

Blooming at the same time is the Nelly Moser. I have 2 of these but only because one package was mis-labeled. I don't remember now what it was supposed to be but wasn't. This also gets cut way down because it goes wild. Last year I cut it down again after it was done blooming, not all the way though, and it grew back and had flowers again. Not as many but enough.

This of course is Jackmanii. It's been around forever and is probably the first clematis for a lot of people back when. Last fall was the first time I cut it all the way back to 12" from the ground because it was just all over the place and falling down. I've pruned it before but not as hard. This year it's like I never pruned it. Still all over the place and still falling down. But it's usually done blooming by now and as you can see it's still going. I took this picture this morning. This camera does not do justice for the color purple. The flowers are actually a lot darker than this pic shows. The pink clematis over to the right side is only about 5 years old and was supposed to be a gorgeous double according to the package. No such luck, (what is it with packers?) so I just stuck it next to Jack to keep him company.

This is "Mme. Julia Correvon". A new addition this Mothers Day. A small, dainty flower (unlike the one who gave it to me) and it is still blooming away since May. The tag says bloom time is July-Aug. so it probably won't start to bloom as early next year.

Last but not least is the Autumn Clematis. This one gets up to 30 feet tall so I have it intertwined on a Mullberry tree. Starts blooming in Aug. and has a sweet scent but also lots of bees and yellow jackets. So be careful when you stick your nose into this one.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Camera Shy

After trying for days to get a decent picture of the orioles at the feeder, this is the best I've come up with ( I know it isn't very good but you should see some of the other ones) For some reason they are extremely skittish when they see me sitting out there, and I'm not very close as you can tell by this shot. This one you definitely have to click on.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Passion For Flowers

Since I wasn't able to photograph the unveiling of the picky little Stargazer Lily, I thought I would show the transformation of a Passion Flower that I took a few years ago. This one was happy to oblige unlike some others.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Gazing At The Stargazers

Yesterday one of the Stargazer lily buds was beginning to open. I figured I'd take pictures of it in different stages of development like the ugly duckling becoming a swan. So first picture taken at
9:30 a.m.

I would go out and check it every half hour. Nothing. Then I would wait every hour and check it. Nothing. All day long I went out and checked that ugly duckling. NOTHING. Finally went to bed at 11:00 thinking that this better not happen in the middle of the night because I would be a bit miffed. Got up this morning at 6:00 and looked out. Swan. RATS!!

There is another bud that's ready to open. Maybe this time I'll stay up all night sitting outside with my camera waiting for the magic to unfold,..... but don't count on it.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Going, Going, But Not Gone

While doing my spring clean up last year ( if you can call walking around with a cup of coffee and stomping on weeds a clean up) I saw that my pink hydrangea in the front was half dead. Like someone just drew a line down the middle. One half alive, one half dead. Had no idea what happened to it. Thinking it was biting the dust, I pruned the entire thing down to within 4" of the ground, planning on digging it out in a few weeks. But wait..... new green shoots coming out of the entire plant. The plant grew all summer, with no flowers of course, but it's ALIVE. This year....
The flowers are now turning blue. I know about alkaline soil for pink and acidic for blue, but I have used the same fertilizer for years. This hydra has always been dark pink. But it's alive and well, perfect size and shape, and lots of flowers, so I'm happy.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

A Few More Gazanias

I took all of these pics yesterday. Those colored rings just amaze me. The last flower has 7 different colors in it.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

A Few Favorite Flowers

When I planted my first gazania seeds about 5 years ago, it was a packet of mixed colors but most of them were yellow with stripes and just a few were different colors that I really liked. So I saved the seeds of those and ended up with these.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Cooling Off

After checking everybodys weather report for today, I thought I would try to cool ya all down a bit.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Oh What A Tangled Mess We Make

A chain link fence runs along the back of my yard and every year weeds, trees, and everything else my neighbor doesn't take care of (which is everything) pokes its way through and I'm constantly having to cut and prune these things trying to take over my flower beds. Thinking that if I planted some kind of vines on my side of the fence, I could block his stuff from coming through. So I decided on Perennial Pea. Vigorous growth with numerous flowers, I figured this was perfect. So in they went. The first year seemed fine, they made it up to the top of the fence and had flowers here and there. Second year they went crazy. Growing everywhich way, through my shrubs, around my annuals, everyplace except up the fence. I had to tie every stalk to the fence in order to get it to go up instead of out. This was begining to be a lot more work than cutting the neighbors weedy crap. I tried pulling some of it out. Didn't work. Couldn't pull them out no matter how hard I tried. Left them in. This year I just took one piece of twine about 6 feet long and attached it to the fence at two different spots stuffing all the vines together. Now it's a lot harder to cut the weeds and trees still poking through so I left them there too. It's begining to grow on me.
Flowers do look kinda cute in the vase, though.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A Tale about A Tail

The spreading branches of a large pine tree in the front yard made a perfect umbrella when it rained. One day during a very heavy downpour, a little rabbit decided to get under the tree in order to stay dry. A few minutes later two crows decided that was a good idea and joined him. Peter Cottontail on one side, crows on the other. Everyone waiting for the rain to stop, all minding their own business......for a while. Peter could nibble on the small amount of grass under there, but the crows had absolutely nothing to do. They got bored. One decided to take a leisurely stroll (and that's exactly what it looked like) over to Peters' side coming up behind him. Just as he was reaching out to pluck that little white tail, Peter jumped around and faced him. Crow just strolled back to his own side. And waited. As soon as Peter turned back around, here comes crow again, getting closer, closer, beak reaching out....Peter spinning around at the last possible moment, causing crow to jump backward in surprise. While I was picking myself up off the floor, the rain let up a bit and Peter calmly went on his way with tail intact. Crows flew off to find some other mischief to get into.

P.S. A few months ago the pine tree fell over. One day standing tall and stately, next morning splat. No more shelter from the rain and no more stage for critter antics. Don't be surprised if you see me standing out in the rain, in the middle of the yard on the now barren circle of dirt with an umbrella held high, waiting for Peter to come in out of the rain. On second thought, DO be surprised and alarmed and immediately call someone for help.Peter, wisely keeping his tail hidden.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Spend Lots, Get a Freebie

A lot of seed catalogues try to entice you into spending more by offering a free packet of seeds. Seeds that you don't need, don't want and are not even remotely interested in. Seeds that they can't sell because no one else wants them either. I have a whole box of these seeds. Every year at planting time I look through this box. Nope.... Nope.... Nope.... Well, maybe I'll give these a shot.

Eyes Right Geranium. Not bad for a freebie that I didn't want.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Will to Survive

On my almost daily jaunt down to the corner store, I pass a closed automotive repair shop. This place has been closed for about 4 years and is looking pretty ratty about now. The raised planters in the front used to contain a decent if not spectacular selection of perennials and shrubs when someone was there to take care of them. But since the closure the poor plants have been on their own and are slowly dying off. The railroad ties that hold the planter together have been bumped by numerous cars and are falling apart while the soil is totally dry and full of weeds and yet..... this Datura manages to survive and bloom every year. Each summer I think of coming back at night with my trowel and pail and bringing it home with me, but I know that if I try it, I'll kill it. So I'll just enjoy it while on my walks until someone else thinks they would like it in their garden and sneaks back in the dead of night to leave a gaping hole for me to see. So I decided to take a picture now even though the bloom hasn't fully opened because it just might be my last chance. This datura is white.

This is a picture of a purple datura that I started from seed a few years ago. Mine never came up the following year. I guess mine didn't have that survival instinct.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Papa Jay And The Feeding Lesson

Blue Jays always come to the birdfeeder for the chopped peanuts. They love peanuts. They will stuff as many peanuts into their mouth as they can, take them to wherever they're going and come back to stuff some more. One day I had an idea. (Yeah, I do sometimes) If they liked peanuts that much I wonder how close they would come to get them. So I went out there, put some in my hand and stood there. Blue flew over to the nearby roof, about 15 feet away, and looked at me. He then flew to a closer roof, about 6 feet away, looked at me but wouldn't come to my hand. So I put the peanut on the ground about 4 feet away and he swooped down and grabbed it. We did this a few more times and I thought "Hey, this is fun". So every day I would sit out there with the peanuts and we would both have a good time. Then one day when I went out to play, I saw that he had his 2 kids with him. All three sitting on the roof. Mmmm, I wonder how this is going to work out? I sat down on the ground and tossed a peanut about 4 feet away, he came down and took it back up to the roof and gave it to the kids. We did this a few more times and then the next time I tossed it out there he came down and just stood by it. Didn't pick it up. Flew back to the roof without it. Stayed there a minute, flew back down and just stood there again. He did this 3 or 4 more times. Finally one of the kids flew down and grabbed it. Dad flew away and let him have it. Now I have 3 jays to play with!!!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Sun, Sun We all need Sun

Since they close up at night and on cloudy days walking past this mass of gazanias is not very awe inspiring. Definitely looks like a bunch of weeds, but................... a little bit of sun and..........................

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Some garden pics

Where I sit and have my morning coffee. Nice and quiet except for the early birds, and I do mean the feathered kind.
Same area different view. I had to pull a zillion weeds before I took this picture so you wouldn't know how lazy I really am. Still to bloom are the japanese anemone, bellflower, and cardinal flowers.
Front flower bed. On tuesday morning these impatiens were totally wilted and lying completely flat on the ground. I debated about watering them because I knew we were supposed to get rain, so I held off. (I told you I was lazy) Sure enough after 1 and 1/2 inches of rain from tuesday afternoon thru wednesday morning, they perked right up.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Glutton For Punishment

He's back. After raising one family and sending them on their way, Mr. Wren is now setting up house keeping once again. He has picked a smaller birdhouse this time (because the other one is still full of the old nest) and for the last two days has steadily been filling it with small twigs and bits of stuff. And singing at the top of his little lungs. So far, he hasn't been able to entice Mrs. Wren to come back and join him. Maybe she's not quite as eager to go through this again. But he keeps right on singing, and singing, and singing. How can she resist?

Since we're on the subject....Surprise, surprise. Red breasted woody decided to turn the tables on Big Red and was chasing HIM around the yard, until of course BR landed and faced him, then he scooted on outta here. I think he was pretty proud of himself though.

And.....Had to put up the other oriole feeder since all the moms and pops are bringing their kids around. There were seven of them here together this morning. Keep trying to get a picture but can't get close enough and taking one through the window won't work this time cause the feeders are too far away. Will have to think of something.

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Sinister Landlady and the Locked Room

Shortly after N moved to a small town in WV, B and I went down to visit. She had only been in the rental house for a few weeks and still hadn't completely settled in but we barged in anyway and she graciously welcomed us. It was a large, older, kinda dark, 2 storied house with basement, but she didn't have access to the entire house. The landlady only rented out certain parts of the house and kept the rest locked. N had access to the entire first floor except for Mmmmmm. After a few hours of enjoyable reminiscing, some instigator (don't remember who) brought up the subject of the locked room. "Why won't she let you use the entire house?" "I don't know." Aren't you curious about that room?" "No." "Wonder what's in that room that she doesn't want you to see?" "She said it was some of her personal stuff." "Personal stuff as in papers?, furniture?, stolen goods?, previous tenants that went missing?" Silence. "I don't have the key" Success!!! She was willing. Old house, old door, old skeleton key lock, a piece of coathanger, bend the end a little, jiggle it in the lock, re-bend three or four more times, CLICK. "Open it." "You open it." "It's your house." Looking over our shoulders to make sure sinister landlady wasn't lurking about, we opened the door and the three sleuth sisters stepped into the forbidden room.

Nothing. A few pieces of furniture and that was it. Letdown? Not at all. It was the adventure of getting there that was the fun part. Now to lock it back up so no one will know. The real mystery here is why the landlady would feel the need to lock up some old furniture. Mmmmmm?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Patience finally pays off. Woo Hoo

After putting the peanuts in the birdfeeder this morning and watching the woodpeckers come and go, come and go, I was determined to take their picture. The feeder is located very close to the windows and no matter which side I moved to, they saw me and immediately flew away. After about 45 minutes of moving around and maybe swearing a little bit, I finally found a spot where they didn't notice me right away and managed to snap these. Not terrific but not too bad either.

This is Big Red, the king. The ruler of all he surveys, the chaser of all others, (except for the grackels, and then he's a sissy)

This is the Red Breasted. He doesn't have a red breast but can't be called red headed because of the king. He is next in line to the throne if Big Red ever decides to give it up.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Free Entertainment

A few years back I happened to look out my window and saw two of my neighbors staring at the large oak tree in the back yard. Wondering what they were looking at so intensely I wandered out and stood next to them. There on the wire holding my birdfeeder was a squirrel. Half way down the wire was a hook and Rocky had managed to get his foot caught in it and could neither go up nor go down. So he just hung there upside-down. Not squawking or bouncing about, just hanging there looking at us as we stood there looking at him. Being that my sense of humor tends to lean towards the dark side, I muttered something about stupid squirrels and went to the shed coming back with my hoe raised high above my head. The horrified look on their faces (including Rockys) was there until I put the hoe under his feet and gently pushed him back up to the branch. Ahhhh, such fun.