Sunday, July 26, 2009

Today's Flowers - July 26

Rose of Sharon

Family: Malvaceae (mal-VAY-see-ee)

Genus: Hibiscus (hi-BIS-kus)

Species: syriacus (seer-ee-AK-us)

A bumblebee enjoys nectar from a Rose of Sharon, also known as Althea. This plant is a relative of hibiscus but, unlike most hibiscus, is hardy and is easily grown in this zone. The plant (actually a shrub that can reach eight to ten feet in height) flowers heavily and continually from early summer until almost frost. It's only bad habit, which is not too bad, is that the flowers, when shed, can make a rather unsightly mess under the shrub. I guess I can live with that; the flowers are really pretty, and attract bees and other beneficial insects. There are varieties of Althea that have white, purple or pink blooms. This one happens to be a light pink, with deep pink throats.

Here's a blossom without a bee:

Today's Flowers is a weekly Meme created by Luiz Santilli, Jr. and currently hosted by Luiz Santilli, Jr., Denise Gullickson, Laerte Pupo and Valkyrien, and may be found here. Please visit to see others' lovely flower photos. If you have a flower photo of your own to share, please join us.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Formidable Fungus

Giant Fungus
(click on photo to enlarge)

I was out and about for a while today with camera in hand. While visiting Gardening Daughter, she said "you ought to see the mushrooms in the yard next door." What to my eyes and lens should appear but a whole chain of fungi the size of the one pictured above. Lest one should think that I, and my camera, exaggerate, please note the United States legal tender quarter dollar resting on the upper section of said fungus.

I'm sure there are larger examples of fungi elsewhere in blogdom, but these were the largest ones I've ever seen.

More, later.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Walk Awash- Waskly Wabbit Wuns for Cover

As of this posting, we've had just under three (3) inches of rain since early morning, and while the area surrounding the new walk drains fairly well between downpours, it quickly becomes filled with water with each new shower. Part of the problem is that it receives runoff from the roof. The drip line was not much of problem when this area was all grass, but if I'm to have any sort of decent garden in this spot, it looks like a gutter across the porch roof is in order.

The weather forecast was a bit off. Oh, yes, showers and thunderstorms were predicted, but with total rainfall estimated to be between one-quarter and one-half inch. By 9 a.m., we had 1.66 inches, and the rain has continued through the day, alternating between sprinkles and downpours.

I've had a great time watching the birds today. They disappear into the trees, or elsewhere, during the heaviest rain, but as soon as the shower lightens to a sprinkle, they are back in force at the feeders. Even the hummingbirds will come back to their nectar almost immediately once the heaviest rain is over. I've put a small feeder in the crepe myrtle tree to the right of the new garden bed, and the young cardinals have discovered it, guided to it, no doubt, by their brilliantly colored father.

Oh: The waskly wabbit must have been under cover, because s/he has not been seen since the rain started.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Today's Flowers - July 19

One of my new Tropicanna canna lilies has graced me with a flower. It's the only one, of the six lilies I planted, to have a bloom, so far. I'm hoping that all of them will mature enough to bloom before summer ends.

I bought the lilies more for their foliage color than for the flower, but I do like its bright orange. It's a perfect accompaniment to the leaf colors.

Today's Flowers is a weekly Meme created by Luiz Santilli, Jr. and may be found here. Please visit to see others' lovely flower photos. If you have a flower photo of your own to share, please join us.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Welcome Break in the Weather

It is sixty (60) degrees outside!!! What a wonderful change! I was in the yard at 6:30 this morning, to do the weekly mowing, even if the grass was still damp. I don't like to cut wet grass, but the temperature was so right! A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do! It's the first time in weeks that the temperature hasn't already reached the 80's by that time of day.

I "broke a sweat" anyway, even at 60 degrees, but I did get all the front and back yard mowed without having a near heat-stroke. The bug-eating birds are happy to have their breakfasts stirred up. The feeder birds could hardly wait for me to leave the yard.

Mowing at such an early hour presented an interesting (for me) problem: how to mow all the nooks and crannies of the yard by walking only north-south/south-north, and east to west only. Otherwise, the rising sun was blinding!! There are some pretty convoluted mower-tracks in the grass; looks like I was under the influence while mowing. But... it's done. Yay!

I have a few chores to do at the church this morning, but this afternoon I'm going to play. The Little Rock rubber stamping group to which I belong will have it's monthly meeting this afternoon, an event to which I always look forward.

More, later.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Bits and Pieces

Not a whole lot going on since the last post. It's rained, off and on, during the last couple of days, so the yardening has been curtailed. I did manage a walk around between showers and noticed that my newly planted canna lilies seem to have settled in. There's new growth on several of them, as evidenced by the tightly curled shoot shown below.

I'm baby sitting my gardening daughter's dogs, Snuggles and Buddy, while she is away for a few days. Snuggles, about whom I wrote a couple of times last year while she being adopted and undergoing treatment for heartworms, has made a full recovery and is a sweet, sweet dog. True to her name, she does like to snuggle, and nearly pushed me off my side of the bed last night. Of course, the dogs sleep with me! The cats don't like it much, although Squeak did nest down on my other side sometime during the early morning hours.



Raccoons, again: Just before dark last night, I watched two raccoons crawl up my back fence from the drainage ditch that runs behind my lot. They hoisted themselves into the Japanese Weeping Cherry tree (some of the branches overhang the fence)and except for shaking and trembling of leaves, they became invisible to me --- but not to Buddy. I almost could not get him to come back into the house. He paced the fence line, tried to climb the Cherry tree, barked (of course), and did his own sort of grid-search across the back quadrant of the yard. I eventually just let him wear himself out and decide on his own when he was ready to come back inside. I did later see one of the raccoons walk across the top of the fence from the Cherry toward my fig tree; s/he may have supped on green figs. I don't know if the raccoons camped out in my yard overnight, or went on to greener pastures. There is an unfenced garden next door with some tomato and squash plants, just waiting to be munched upon.

That's about it. It's cooler today, but the humidity is still high, making for not too pleasant walking around outside, and the mosquitos are very pesky!
More, later.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Not Sick, Not Gone -- Been Doing Other Stuff

I haven't made any blog entries for some time, as you may (or may not) have noticed. My Arkansas sister called me night before last to admonish me. She alleged that if I had a grain of common courtesy in my system, I could have let people know what I was doing, instead of just disappearing. I apologize for my bad blogging manners.

I have been yardening (more below), and entertaining and feeding the wild life in my back yard (birds and squirrels.) My yard has been inundated with a variety of birds (I set a good table) most of which I can identify, but I need to get a bird book to be certain of others. I have several pairs/families of Cardinals; a flock of Blue Jays; too many Grackles and Starlings; cute Sparrows of various sorts; lots of Finches, plain and colored; at least one Tufted Titmouse; a Nuthatch; Brown Thrushes; Mourning and Collared Doves; Robins; and at least three individually identifiable hummingbirds.

And Squirrels!!! Too many to count! They are greedy pigs, and cause me to have to refill the feeders at least twice a day. One small individual I have named "BOB" because his tail is only about 3" long; no curl to it at all. He's really cute, but not having a balancing tail must be a real handicap. I have noticed that he is a ground feeder, and doesn't try to climb the shepherd's crooks to reach the feeders. I make sure to leave him something he can easily reach.

By the way... the raccoons that I wrote about last year are evidently still in the neighborhood, as I found some little foot prints in a newly raked flower bed a few days ago.

Now, as to the yardening: While not actually performing any work beyond weed-eating and mowing, picking up and bagging the not-wanted-bits from these efforts, (which is quite enough in this heat, even if one starts at dawn), I have been watching, managing and supervising those with stronger backs and constitutions, "those" being my gardening daughter and her 18 year old son. Progress has been spotty due to the overwhelming heat and humidity, but we (editorial, of course) eventually will get to the place we had in mind when all this started.

The first project was working at the northwest corner of my carport.


A tatty mess consisting of an old forsythia bush (which has found a new home in someone else's garden), several volunteer oak trees that were not snatched out when they were of snatching size, tangled variegated vinca vines, a badly deteriorated "whiskey barrel" that used to contain more than grass and vinca, huge clumps of violets and other various and assorted volunteer weedy things. Some curb appeal, huh? Not!


A beautiful (I think) small bed containing purple fountain grass, Chocolate Joe Pye Weed (hiding in the far back left behind a tall basil), three varieties of basil, thyme, and four salvia plants, moved from a previous planting spot, plus assorted interesting stones.

The next, and more major project, was the brain-child of my daughter who was convinced that I needed a pathway from my driveway to the front door, with plantings on either side. It's a work still in progress. I don't have a purely "before" photo, but just imagine, if you will, solid grass. The photo below was taken during the initial removal of the grass.

First Stage

Second Stage

A lot of work was involved between First and Second Stages. After the grass was removed, daughter and grandson dug a shallow trench in which to lay the stones. Lots of trial and error in placing the stones, along with some chiseling of stones to make them fit "just so." I actually did participate in the spreading and tamping of the small stones to hold the blocks in place. I have to have some ownership in the process. :)

More soil will be removed on the sides of the walk so that when the planting is done, a heavy layer of mulch can be applied without running over the boundaries. The now dirt area will contain some evergreens, some day lilies just inside the border furthest from the house, and various other perennials. It's too late in the season to get any decent annuals, but I may be able to find some pots of flowers to add a bit of color until fall.

It will be a while before I have another progress report, since my labor force is going on vacation for a week. I'll try not to mess up their work while they are gone.

Hope everyone is staying cool and having a great summer.

More, later.

Happy, Arkansas Sister?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Look around -- "happy" could be anywhere

It doesn't take a whole lot to make me happy.

Yesterday morning about 7:30, I spied a single hummingbird trying to find nectar in some of my remaining day lilies. Since I did not yet have a hummingbird feeder up, I paid a visit to my local garden store yesterday afternoon and purchased a new shepherd's crook (7') and a basic red plastic container for nectar. I make my own H.B. food, 4 parts filtered water to 1 part sugar, boiled and cooled, which I did immediately upon arriving home, and put up the feeder yesterday afternoon.

My first "happy" for today happened at 9:32 a.m. while I was looking out the window, watching the variety of birds that visit my regular feeders. Lo, and behold! There at the new feeder was a beautiful little hummingbird. He/she lingered to take multiple sips of my homemade nectar, then flew off into the trees. I'm hoping s/he spreads the news that the new feeder station is open for business.

For some time, I have had a yearning for some Tropicanna Canna Lilies, and had been searching various Internet plant catalogs. I thought the price asked was a bit steep, but had almost resolved myself to order a few bare-root plants to be shipped in the fall. However, Fate stayed my hand, and I did not "click to order." A good thing! Because...

...I had another "happy" yesterday afternoon whilst browsing the plant section of above mentioned store. There, on sale ( I love sales) were Tropicanna Canna Lilies. Since I had already picked out a perfect spot for them, I bought four of them.

Gardening Daughter visited a little later in the afternoon and said she had spied some of the same, but nicer plants (she thought) at another garden shop, and drove me to said facility. She was right! They were much larger plants, in lovely condition, although at a higher price than what I had paid for the others. I bought two, anyway.

A serendipity at this other shop was a pallet full of odds and ends of mulch, top soil and sand. Some of the bags had tears, and daughter thought they might be on sale for half price, so she inquired. Amazing! The whole pallet, as is, no additions, no subtractions, could be had for a paltry $8.50. We came home with 3 bags of top soil, 1 bag of sand, 12 bags of cypress mulch and one bag of pine bark mulch. All will be put to good use in my yard.

Daughter has just showed up at my door to help me plant the items purchased yesterday, so that's another happy! I'm always happy for the assistance.

More, later; I'm off to work in the yard!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Today's Flowers - July 5

Milkweed (Butterfly Weed) Flower Head

My gardening daughter, Jean, is a lover of all sorts of plants, especially those that attract butterflies, and more especially, Monarch Butterflies. She was overjoyed to find a Milkweed plant for her garden (evidently hard to find around here). She told me yesterday that, while the Monarchs have not yet shown up, the flowers are already attracting all sorts of butterflies.

Today's Flowers is a weekly Meme created by Luiz Santilli, Jr. and may be found here. Please visit to see others' lovely flower photos. If you have a flower photo of your own to share, please join us.