Sunday, September 23, 2007

A "Catch-All" Posting

I walked around the yard today trying to find things that are interesting. The gardening season is rapidly coming to a close, a few leaves are beginning to turn and some of the ash trees have dropped brown leaves. Along the road sides vegetation is becoming shades of yellow, tan and russet. The bean fields are golden and the corn is starting to ripen. There is a definite smell of Fall in the air and the sunlight has taken on a softer glow - smoothing over the rough edges of all things. This is a fine time of the year!
As usual when I'm outdoors taking pictures, the pugs can't come along. They have to be on leashes and I need both hands for the camera. Thea becomes nearly hysterical, running from one vantage point to another, trying to catch a glimpse of Mom. She is yapping like a banshee! Garm is much more stoic and only sometimes will look out the sliding doors for me. This is what they look like nearly every time:
Garm has his nose right up to the glass and is mildly interested - no big deal ...... when suddenly from the other room, in streaks a small, black, furry figure searching for Mom . . .
Look at that face!! I snapped her just as she launching into a fit of barking. You can't even see her teeth. Garm looks completely terrified. But, as I move closer to the door . . .
Instant transformation - anticipation and hope that Mom will not waste anymore time outside....
and lastly, a big, very cute and enticing smile that will surely draw me in. But, alas, it doesn't and I head off to find a few more items of interest.

This is what I call my "Charlie Brown Japanese Maple". It was a birthday present from sister Cindy. She could only find a rather sparse one at the end of the season but insisted that it had healthy new growth showing. Well, we've been watering it faithfully and keeping it out of the sun and look at the lovely new star-shaped leaves. Not sure where it will be planted but I'm going to over-winter it in the vegetable garden.

This coleus looks almost fake, as if I took a black magic marker and drew the veins on the leaves. It's called "Fishnet Stockings" and I think that's a wonderful name.
Look at how little open water there is in the pond. The petunias have really been pleasing and I'm ashamed to say that I was ready to rip them up in early Summer. Glad I didn't!
See that long opening in the oak tree? It is completely weird - the tree is hollow and you can look up and see out a hole near the top! But, it is alive and very healthy and quite large. Squirrels can get in the crack and sit at the top and peer down at us.
Both eyes have fallen into the Lily-of-the Valley foliage and hopefully I'll find them before the snow flies.
My little Bay Leaf shrub. I'll have to harvest and dry the leaves because the Bay plant isn't hearty in this zone. I tried chewing one of the leaves and it's got a really strong flavor.
Tell me what would try chewing on a gourd? I did when I was little and they are horrid and bitter!
Poblano peppers have very odd, one might say bizarre, shapes. That indention looks like it's rotting, but that's just how it's formed. It's perfectly fine and I'll be picking it soon.
Some very late bloomers in the vegetable garden. I love Snapdragons!!

Call the CSI team! Obviously blunt force trauma as cause of death...... I'll check for trace evidence.
Northern Sea Oats beginning to dry. All the little, individual "oaty" things move with the slightest breeze. I just wish it didn't reseed all over the garden. It has the deepest roots ! !
A better picture of the "Fireworks" goldenrod. What a pretty plant.
The garden is primarily white with Boneset and Sweet Autumn Clematis.
Burning bushes just starting to smolder.
Found these sedum "Angelina" at the Farmer's Market. They are supposed to become very yellow in full sun. What a nice little sedum.

No wonder the birdfeeders seem to become empty so quickly!
If a squirrel sits on those perches, the openings will close. I guess the chippie weighs as much as a goldfinch.
Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces
us, snow is exhilarating; there is no such thing as
bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.
John Ruskin
Bye for now,

Saturday, September 15, 2007

September Bloom Day

The blooming season is winding down now, but I did manage to find some pretty and interesting pictures to post. I'll start out with some that are semi-related to flowers. Let's just say the pics are about "green sh**t as a non-gardening friend of mine calls it.
Oh no!! A little buck with a taste for hostas. . . .
Fleeing from the scene of the crime. . . .
"Oh, the horror!" to quote Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now! Thank goodness it's the middle of September and not early June.
Carol is right about ivy - it takes constant vigilance to keep it in check. It was sticking up at least a foot above the roof and is also inside those railroad ties. Notice all the prunings on the ground . And see on either side of the ladder - the plants that look spiky, something like pine trees. That is a rampant grower called Artemisia "Limelight" or something with "lime" in it. Don't grow it in the ground unless you can contain it. It travels by underground runners and comes up everywhere!! Some grew under the ties and out into the lawn - talk about tenacious! It's very pretty with creamy-gold variegation and is getting tiny whitish flowers now, but beware, it will take over the world if allowed!
Here's Steve pruning the Virginia Creeper on the adjacent wall. I like it's larger maple-leaf shaped leaves better than the ivy. It grows very fast too and turns beautiful Fall colors in October. Then in just about one cold night they will all drop off. (Steve didn't want me to post this photo because of the unsafe way he's using the old step ladder. You see both of us are on the Safety Committee at work and "ladder safety" is an important, on-going topic in our meetings. This would be a big "no-no".)
Now onto the bloomers . . . .
Ravenna Grass ( Saccharum ravennae ) plumes and Coleus in bloom.
Wild Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum) and Feverfew (Matricaria) which are terrific self-sowers. They are both very pretty but don't let them go to seed - you'll find them everywhere!
Pretty wax begonias I started indoors.
A paper-like Hydrangea.
Wild little Butter and Eggs - I do love that name. It fits perfectly.
Ah, Lavender. . .
Not a good picture - the beginning blooms of "Fireworks" Goldenrod. This is a big, beautiful plant with little golden flowers down most of the arching stems. I will try to show it next week when it is in full flower - fantastic and highly recommended!
"Sweet Autumn" Clematis running amok in the Main Garden. I put this in a very bad spot and it is growing over everything by Summer's end. But I cannot imagine trying to move this - the roots must go down to China! Here is a close-up of the lovely flowers:
Gourd blossom and . . .
Gourd behind bars (actually in an empty compost bin). I think its colors are as pretty as any flower.
The butterflies and various bee species are enthralled with the "Autumn Joy" Sedum. This afternoon it was fairly crawling with them. Very neat to see.
And another harbinger of Fall - the wonderful Mum - these are two of my favorite Mum colors. . .
I don't have much luck growing them in the ground so every year I buy a number of pots to set around the steps. These will be bloomed out in a few weeks so I'll probably have to get some more for the Halloween season.
I still have lots of annuals blooming but some are looking shabby and tomorrow I'll start dumping them into the compost bins. The Impatiens, Cherry Wave Petunia, Wax and fancy-leaved Begonias, and "Lady in Red" Salvia all still look very nice. This was a very successful flower gardening year!
Sometimes success is due less to ability
than to zeal. - Charles Buxton
Bye for now,

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Pugs, Party, People and Things . . . .

This week began with a very interesting phenomenon. I was looking out the kitchen window as I was washing dishes and there was a constant stream of winged somethings flying up from just below my sight. Going out to investigate, I saw a small boulder near the the house that was covered with flying ants and wingless ants. They were swarming up out of the ground and onto that rock and flower pots nearby. I looked up on the Net and found that it was, in fact, an "ant swarm". Occasionally, when an ant colony is very healthy and it has abundant food, thousands of winged females will be produced. As with bees, only one female breeds and lays eggs within the entire colony so when there are extra females a "swarm" occurs. They all come to the surface, sometimes with the red colored workers pushing them out, (see the photo) and they all fly away. Most die, but some survive to start new colonies. This went on for hours and I happy I was able to witness it.
I have a friend at work who was born and raised in Colombia, South America and his name is Filepe. He's been telling me about South American food and on Friday surprised me with a bag of produce from a Hispanic grocery store in Milwaukee. We had just talked about the difference between Colombian and Guatemalan plantains (like large bananas) and the many varieties of bananas there are. In the bag there were the two kinds of plantains, manzans rojas (red bananas), baby bananas (mini bananas) and two mangoes. Plantains are used like potatoes in many countries and are cooked in all three color stages - green, yellow, and black. I took a yellow speckled one and sliced it up, fried it in little butter and added a touch of sugar and cinnamon. Delicious! The taste is somewhat like bananas, but not as strong. The fruit is so pretty in the deep red bowl, that I just had to include it.
Of course, Thea was very intrigued with the fruit and wanted to get in on the act.

Poor pug - she needs a mini banana!
Garm looked so sad that . . . .

Dad began to cheer him up but, someone was VERY jealous. If looks could kill . . . .

Today I hosted our multi-birthday celebration. My sister Cindy, nephew Guy, brother Emery and I all have birthdays in August and September so we thought we'd combine them into a big Family Outing (but it was at my house) celebration.
I made this 7-Layer Salad Saturday night and . . .
if you look closely, there are some bright eyes in the background checking out that delicious smell!
And here are some of the people at the party:

Brother Em and his wife Marianne,
nephew Guy and his girlfriend Erica,
brother-in-law (Cindy's husband) Kris glued to the Packer game,

Garm getting affection from Miako.( I apologize to Miako for spelling her name wrong in a previous Family Outing post. It is pronounced My-ka, but is spelled Miako.)
And Thea ignoring /being ignored by Jesse.

Just lovely present bags that sister Sue made up. She does such a wonderfully thoughtful job of choosing just the right colors and accessories for each person. And the added floral touches are so pretty. I also made a gift bag up for Cindy but was too embarrassed to show it next to Sue's. Mine looked pitiful!

Here's Susie. She loves going on EBay and getting deals on old fashioned ornaments and things. I have a huge collection of Santa figurines from Steve and Sue thought these bottle brush trees from the 50s would add a nice touch among them. She also included the Father Christmas and Coyote (they told her it was a coyote) figure to add to my big array. Doesn't Father Christmas look like he's scolding the coyote??

This is a really fun and funny gift Cindy gave me. He is a solar powered garden sculpture and his eyes light up at night! He actually looks much nicer, more real-wood-like in person. I have never seen one like that and I've got to admit he could be kind of creepy with just those buggy eyes glowing! Truthfully, doesn't he look a lot like that decidedly strange Burger King guy?

Thank you Cindy!

I didn't get any pictures of niece Kelly or Steve. There was a lot going on and I was busy with the meal and all. Unfortunately, the mosquitoes are so bad we couldn't spend much time at all outside. Just a quick walk through the gardens and then back in.
I'm glad I got a chance to see and visit with everyone and celebrate our lives together!
I love to feel events overlapping each other, crawling
over one another like wet crabs in a basket.
Lawrence Durrell - 1912-90, Balthazar (1958)
Bye for now,