Saturday, December 23, 2006

Have a Green Christmas

Well, it is going to be a green Christmas this year. That's is always good, it is safer for those traveling. I even seem to have Christmas dandelions blooming this year, as well as the heather.

I did upload my Christmas tree photos before Christmas. Still debating about the silk chrysanthemums. I might try it again next year with silk pointsetta.

And the Yule Log. Too bad I don't have a fireplace. (Nor do my folks) I'm saving it for when I get a chipper shredder.

And the heather in bloom.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Colorado Blue Spruce

My dad has blue spruce acting as a wind break in his yard. If left, they can reach heights of 115 feet and live as long as 800 years. Especially in its native range in the Rockies. The soft, brittle wood is used for posts, poles and firewood. My dad's trees were important shelters for the neighborhood rabbits, until he removed some of the lower limbs. Now, they just help the birds and squirrels shelter.

The bark is scaley and thin. It starts off grey in color and deepens to a reddish brown with maturity. The bark flakes off in circular patches about 5-10 cm in diameter. The needles range in color from grey-green to slate blue. The needles are noticably four sided, although more in rhombic configuration. And they an inch to an inch and a half long. They have a resinous odor when crushed.

Trees have male and female flowers in different locations on the tree. The female flowers form cones which are initially reddish purple, but fade to pale brown upon maturity. The cones hang from the branches up to two years after the seeds have fallen. The scales on the cones have a wavy edge.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Leyland Cypress

First, Happy Solstice!

Leyland Cypress are a sterile hyrbrid between a Monterey Cypress and an Alaskan Cedar. Impressively, six seedlings were discovered in 1888 on an Estate in Wales. The trees had spontaneously crossbred. The owner of the Estate, Leyland and his newphew developed the trees and as a curiosity, since intergenetic crossbreeding is rare in conifers. All trees today are produced from rooted cuttings, since they hybrids are sterile and crosses do not reliably produce seeds. In fact, all of the nearly twenty occasions when the cross has been noted to occur, it was due to open pollination.

They show promise as Christmas trees because their fast growth and pleasing shape. The attractive feathery foliage varies depending on the exact cultivar ranging from bright green to gray, and appears more like an arborvitae or cypress, than the traditional firs. Although there are variegated cultivars with green foliage and white, yellow and gold tips. The Leighton Green cultivar is favored for the Christmas tree trade due to its traditional dark green color. However, these trees do lack a noticeable aroma.

Since it is a hybrid produced from rooted cuttings, it is not generally used for lumber. Leyland cypress find commerial uses outside of the Christmas tree trade as hedges and windbreaks. However, the tree grows swiftly and needs regular pruning to avoid outgrowing its space. Plus, the tree is not reasonably long-lived. They typically only last for 20-25 years.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Beware the Pink Stink

With Christmas fast approaching, Christmas tree poaching is on the rise. Between people unable to afford (or unwilling) to spend money on a tree and too selfish to go without, prize evergreens seem to go missing from people's yards and public grounds.

To combat the trend, some organizations and municipalities take drastic action. Some, like the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Washington State University, combat the poaching with odor. While the cold tends to keep the smell down on campus, in the warmth of someone's home, the treatments of fox urine or skunk oil quickly stink up the poacher's Christmas, if they can't heed the warning signs.

Cornell University and New York's Department of Transportation take a more garish approach to deter those illegally seeking free trees. They use an "Ugly Mix" of food coloring to discolor the trees. While the trees do nothing to spruce up the neighborhoods in the month until the mix fades, the trees remain to be enjoyed during the coming year.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Balsam Fir

Balsam fir is another Christmas tree favorite which is similar to the Fraiser fir. It is named after the many resinous blisters on its ash grey bark. On older trees, the bark darkens to a reddish brown color with scales. On lower branches, the needles tend to form rows on either side of the branch. On older branches, these needles develop a slight upward curve. The needles themselves are flat and may have blunt or notched ends. They also have a circular base, with a lighter green underneath. The cones are a dark purple and perched on the branches pointing upright.

The wood is soft and brittle. It is used for light structural frames when weight is a factor, and also for pulpwood. The resin was the original chewed gum. The tree itself is the least fire restistant of the North American conifers, which is reflected in the fact that the resinous fir knots used to be used as torches. The resin was also used as a medical balm for external applications.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Douglas Fir

Douglas-fir, usually hyphenated to indicate that it is not related to firs, is native to the western United States and Vancouver. It is named after the famous botanist David Douglas who introduced the seedlings to Europe. Although, the latin name is named after Archibald Menzies who first discovered the tree on Vancouver Island. It is one of the largest trees in the world and forms gigantic forests. The sapwood is whitish to pale yellow, and sometimes reddish white. The heartwood deepens to yellow or pale reddish yellow.

The leaves of a Douglas fir are flat and thin, giving a needle-like appearance. They are usually about an inch long and are either blunt of slightly rounded. The color can be yellow green to dark bluish green in color. When rubbed, they emit an smell reminiscent of camphor oil. The bark starts off smooth with transverse resin blisters. With age, this becomes reddish brown with deeply fissured thick and corky bark. The fissures form scaly ridges or flake. The branches are generally pendulous with irregular whorls.

The distinctive cones are pendulous with persistent scales. This is what distinguishes them from true firs. The cones also have unique in having a long three pointed bract that protrudes prominently from each scale. There is a Native American myth from California that explains that the bracts are the tail and two hind legs of mice who hid inside the scales fo the tree's cones for sanctuary from forest fires.

Douglas-firs are a valuable and rugged softwood that has a variety of uses especially as structural lumber. It is dimensionally stable and recognized for its high strength-to-weight ratio. It also holds nails and plates very well, and has a high performance record against strong forces such as high winds, fierce storms and earthquakes. But the most recognizable and enduring use is the Christmas tree, where its ability to retain its needles is highly valued.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Freaky Fog

I'm still trying to remember to upload my photos of my Christmas tree, but so far, no good. I did decorate it last Friday. Maybe tonight.

We had some freaky fog yesterday in the area. It remained 20 degrees cooler in the low lying areas with exceedingly low visability all day! That is not normal in the DC region. Normally the sun bakes it off by midday. And on top of all of that, by three in the afternoon, it starting creeping out of those areas. Eep. Not good to have fog for the morning and evening rush hours!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

A Little Average

Well, keeping true to form this year, after a cold snap, we're seeing temperatures in the 60s most of this week. A bit cooler today, but that's because some rain is coming through.

It is a little disappointing that our weather this year is going down in the history books as close to average. With the high highs and the low lows, it still comes out average in the end. Although, I like warm temperatures in December, I'd still prefer that we stay on a steady trend of average. That way I at least don't have to keep switching coats each week.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Turkey Wake Up Call

My turtles brumate over the winter. Meaning I enjoy a few weeks of not shoveling food down their voracious throats, it eases my costs a little bit. Other than slowing down in feeding them, I don't do anything different. They dictate when they stop eating and when they start again. It is usually in respect to the change in daylight and that period of time where I cannot convince myself that it really is time to turn the heat on again. My turtles are my companions, so I don't hide them away. They still acknowledge me when they are brumating, but aren't as perky or outgoing. (Yes, yes, yes. I know what you are all thinking, but my preception of my pets is my perception.)

But this weekend, I felt like roasting a turkey. I get this urge every now and again. I want nice cooked turkey to eat for days on end and stuffing. The best stuffing is always made in a turkey, especially using potato bread cubes. So naturally, I attempt to share turkey. And wouldn't you know it? Those little beggers felt that they could "wake up" for turkey. Back on the feeding schedule, I guess.

Friday, December 08, 2006


Well, it seems that the first snowfall of the season here in the DC region will arrived yesterday. But only in the form of flurries. That is really nice. Or would be if our temperatures were not stuck in the low 40s and 30s, with windchill dogpiled on top. I know it isn't as bad as it could be, but my poor circulation still wants better.

But at least yesterday it was good cloudwatching weather.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Toads and Infamy

A recent news article got me thinking about frogs and toads. I'll talk about the article another day. Today, I'd prefer to think about why I like toads so much. And why I must constantly fight the temptation to pick them up.

My dad always liked reptiles and amphibians, so playing with turtles and salamanders came naturally. But it was not until we moved to the tippy top of New York State (Glens Falls region) that a true love of toads sprung up. Our house was at the end/beginning of a logging road. The yard and forest in back was pine trees in sand. Fun digging. My dad had a "native shade" garden. There were tons of peepers and toads around. And they seemed especially attracted to one window well in particular. I'm not sure why, maybe it was dew collected there keeping it moist. Maybe there was a light on that attracted lots of bugs most nights, I forget what was in that corner of the basement. Maybe the toads just fell in while making a bug eating circuit of the house. Who knows. But there were always toads there.

We even kept a bowl of fresh water in there. It was only about a foot, maybe 18 inches deep, the toads could have gotten out if they really wanted, I suspect. But my dad taught us how to handle toads. How to pick them up without hurting them, and without getting peed on. It was fun. It even prepared me for Junior High School when I chased a boy around with a live toad. To me, toads were always meant to be picked up.

Toads and peepers were always welcome, they ate the terrible black flies and mosquitoes that seemed to attack every summer. And now, I welcome the toads in my yard for their diet of bugs. And I hope they eat the slugs too. They are supposed to.

But the way the toad I found in my front yard cried, has me hestitate picking them up. Also the fact that I have not seen that particular toad since. And Chytrid fungus does not help matters. I know it is in Maryland. I just would not want to be responsible for spreading a deadly fungus to any toad, let alone one that is in my backyard doing good things for me.

Also, a moment of silence to remember Pearl Harbor.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Whispering Words of Wisdom, Let It Be

My favorite Christmas tree stand was open on Monday. I did not get the perfect tree again this year though. The variety I like was under represented. But you make due. I still got a beautiful tree. It just does not trim like butter.

Speaking of trimming, I had trouble finding my nippers. I should have taken it as a sign. I really should have. I had the perfect bottom on the tree, even freshly sawed by the seller for me. But no, I got trim happy, which means I had to saw a new bottom. :( Grrr. And now the tree wants to wobble. Next year, I will let it be.

But this way the turtles have fresh cut pine tree limbs to hide in. Some good with the bad.

Friday, December 01, 2006

The Leaf Rakers

Okay, I lost the leaves on my front yard for my garden. In my defense, it was in the interest of community good will. I had delayed for quite some time, and Wednesday night, several little boys rang my door and begged for the opportunity to rake my yard. I thought they were just the little boy from next door and his friends wanting a leaf pile, when I agreed. But they were doing it for cash. It is a downpayment on the future. I don't want to be the mean neighbor lady. Let's face it, I'd rather have the neighborhood kids kindly disposed to me, rather than have them want to key my car and egg my house. It's the same thing that has me handing out candy to kids obviously too old to trick or treat.

I console myself with the fact that it was not a perfect job, nor are all the leaves off the trees, and there are plenty of leaves in my "gutter" in the parking lot. Besides, there are leaves in my backyard too. And let's face it, my grass is greener than either neighbor's. :) Especially the neighbor who fertilized.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Mobs of Robins

Well, we get one more day of wonderful weather before the monster cold front rolls over us. Although, that wonderful weather includes dense fog advisories.

The shrub roses at work are still blooming. It won't last past this weekend, but it is nice. There are also reports of cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin.

I saw a swarm of robins in the little bit of wooded area at work last night. There had to be at least three dozen of them, most likely more. They usually form flocks in winter, but are secretive berry eaters rather than earthworm munchers. But there they were, out in the open.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Decorating Woes

Well, I still had off on Monday, so I decided to get a headstart on Chirstmas tree decorations. I decided this year to add some silk flowers to the tree, in addition to garland. It would be rustic and natural. I had decided on chyrsanthemums, since I think of them as festive. Plus, I had seen a lot of nice ones at JoAnn's back in the Halloween timeframe. Silly me. My JoAnn's is too tiny to accomidate the massive Christmas displays and the normal array of silk plants. (I couldn't find the normal candles either.) Gah!

Disappointed, and hatching feverish thoughts of trekking off to a distant JoAnn's that is bigger, I settled for across town to the Michael's. Their display of other than Christmas florals was decent, but I still cannot figure out where all the chrysanthemums went. I found a few stems, but I had to pick up some carnations to fill out the colorways.

Adding insult to injury, I drove past the stand where I got my Christmas tree last year. It was not set up. There was construction on all sides of it. Some guys were stringing up lights, so I hope it does open, just later after the curb work is done. I mean, I got THE absolute perfect tree there last year. I was looking forward to another one. I hope they open by next week.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Holiday Finds

I had a good visit with my family over the holiday. I ended up going out antiquing with my dad. Or rather looking for good bargins in previously owned, Made in the USA category. Picked up a rug for my entryway, a nice pine table for my plants, a ceramic crock to help weight down my snake plant, and two ceramic planters for my poor plants still stuck in the 3.5 inch pots they came in. All in all, a good haul. Even if I am in the middle of making a crochet runner to protect the new table from the flower pot bottoms.

Weather was beautiful. I managed to stay ahead of the storm system on Wednesday. I actually saw blue sky and had to break out the sunglasses. Then beautiful 60s all of the shopping days. Traffic was voluminous on Sunday.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Heavy Coat

Well, winter weather has finally arrived. Yesterday it didn't get out of the 40s. I really needed my winter jacket yesterday. But somehow, 30s don't feel as cold before dawn, as they do in the evening. So, I broke out my winter jacket this morning. It is not going to be any warmer today.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

No Drying Here

Well, after two beautiful days, it is back to grey and drippy, and it seems that it will continue that way for the next week. Not a good thing for my sniffles.

More leaves have fallen, but there's still a few left on the tree next door. I'm still trying to decide whether I want to rake up what is down now, or wait and get them all with the lawnmower.

Some of the shrub roses at work are still blooming. It is nice to see. Even if their pansy plantings are better looking than mine. My poor pansies.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Mild and Wild

So, the weather has been wonderfully mild the last few days. Daylilies are even sneaking in an extra flowering for the year. Which is good, one burnt dinner means I need to air out the house, and air out the house and buy tons of air freshners.

Unfortunately, that changes today. There is a wicked storm system heading up the coast to combine with something coming across from Ohio. Downpours and wind advisories are forecast. Birdfeeder and pansies were brought in. Everything else should be low enough or heavy enough not to go flying. I really need to plant those new pansies. But then we're good here until Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Japanese Beetles

Eighty years ago a smallish coppery beetle with greenish highlights and white tufts around the edges arrived in Southern New Jersey. The Japanese Beetle voratious flower pest and destroyer of roses. Nothing much likes to eat them, so they mulitply rapidly. The common scent traps generally draw more beetles to your yard, especially if you don't empty your trap often enough and they cannot get in to be trapped. They also do not always make it into the trap itself, but hang around outside. Only about 75% of beetles attracted get trapped. And that's still a lot to munch in your yard. And pesticides, well, we all know about pesticides. About the only way to get rid of the beetles, is to go out and pick them off of your plants. Drowning or smushing work well. My mom always used popsicle sticks to knock them into a deli container with water in it. The lid made sure they couldn't escape if they avoided the water on the first go.

As annoying as the adult beetle is, the grub is just as destructive. It lurks under the lawn, munching away at actual grass roots. But, this is when those beetles are the most vulnerable. Applications of benificial nematodes and milky spore in the correct times of the year introduce natural enemies that attack and kill the larva. Also, dancing on your lawn with cleats or spikey sandals when the grubs are closest to the surface kill them directly, but also aerate your lawn to improve air flow to the roots which makes healthier grass.

Preventitive measures involve not making your lawn attractive to egg laying females. These take restraint as well. Grubs appreciate well, even overwatered lawns in summer. Refraining from doing more than spot watering, will wipe out the grubs. Remember, cool season grasses normally go brown anyway in summer, so watering will not green them up. Warm season grasses are genically prepared for dry summers. Also, if you set your lawnmower on the highest(tallest) level, it will discourage the females from laying in your yard. Plus, that keeps the weeks from seeing the light of day, literally, so they won't grow. Or if they do, your neighbor's won't see them as much.

Mike McGrath's article from May for the DC metro region, and the Government information site are good references.

New Blogger Beta

Okay, I gave into the hype and switched over. Only after I switched, it warned me that I can't post comments on non-Beta blogs. Bummer. Well, so it goes.

Edit: Eeeek! Sorry Blogline and other feed users!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Falling Leaves

Well, I winterized my garden Friday, which basically means I raked leaves off of my front yard and dumped them in piles on my gardens. Still plenty of leaves to spread over the hostas when I get around to it. I wish there was some activity that let you limber up all year long so that raking would not be a hassel. Hips hated me and I got a blister on my thumb webbing, despite wearing my nice gloves.

But it was beautiful and in the seventies on Friday and Saturday, I opened up the house and aired it out again. Sunday was all dreary drizzle. Gray days.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Visit Highlights

It was a good visit. It was a long visit. I think I'll suggest shorter next time. There just was not enough that we were interested in doing, that we hadn't already done before. Weather stayed dry and cool the whole time. Rain didn't start up until after he left, so we got lots of walking in.

A couple highlights though, the Smithsonean Castle had about a dozen old seed cataloges on display. Lots of neat fossile seeds and plants in Natural History Museum. I found two nice parks to visit in the future. One was the C&O Canal National Park at Great Falls. The falls on the Potomac are lovely. And the Black Hill Regional Park. Nice lake and boating there. Maybe I need to buy a one person canoe or kayak too. It would be one way to build upper body strength. Of course, I shudder to think of boating alone. My dad just trained me too well as a kid. *grin*

Thursday, November 02, 2006


Okay, so my brother emailed last night asking for directions. Then he called when I added a confirmation. It seems that I flaked out big time. His email, from a couple weeks ago, said this weekend, not next weekend. EEEEEEKKKKKK!!!!!

Thankfully, the house is still in reasonable shape, although, there are things that I don't want to leave out with his dog around that I didn't worry about with my parents'. So, I spent last night frantically doing laundry and picking up the junk. Short day and more laundry before he arrives tonight. Yes, that is really frightening.

But leave has been shifted and all arrangements have been made. The only problem is I got up normal time today, I'm going to fall over tonight. Must enforce bedtime.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Make the Light On

It was a good Halloween. Less kids than last year, but more kids that probably shouldn't be out again next year if you know what I mean. I'm going to need at least another bag of candy next year, despite the fact that I only got rid of it all by letting the last three kids have double handfuls. (They were going around after 8, they weren't going to get much candy, so I took pity.) I'm just afraid that we might get in more out of development kids next year with the new elementary school across the way.

And, as luck would have it, my porch light chose last night to burn out. So, there I was, perched precariously on a folding chair, trying to get the top off of the fixture. Lost one of the little nuts too. I'll have to see if I can find that today after work, but it went straight down beside the holly bush, I don't have much hope.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloween Treat

Well, once again, it is a beautiful day for Trick or Treating. No rain, and temperatures that don't require jackets underneath or over top of the costumes. Fabulous.

I've got hooks up for a string of Halloween lights, even if I do have to drape the extension cord out of the kitchen window.

And thank goodness I'm getting off work early today. I checked the post from last Halloween and saw that the first Trick or Treater showed up at 5:30! Yikes, I'll need those extra hours to make sure that when I turn the porch lights out, I can just fall into bed. I just hope I have enough candy this year.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Picture Catch-Up

Well, I finally tackled some of the pictures that were on my camera. Here are those fancy Italian petunias. (Ignore the grass) I like them, but they definitely aren't what the catalogs showed. I'm sticking with store raised petunias next year.

My new hibiscus, with and without sunlight behind it.

And this (chrysanthe)mum in a planter. :P

And the beginning of all the pictures I took at Brookside gardens can be seen here.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


A horrifying sight met my eyes as I pulled into the development last night. The common areas were clear of leaves. That's right, all those nice leaves were cleaned up. And I'm not even talking about being raked up into piles for the neighborhood kids to jump in. I'm talking bagging mower got all of them to be carted off to the county yard clean. :( I tend to leave the leaves alone till they are pretty much all off of the trees, so the kids can play in leaf piles. You've got to play in leaf piles as a kid.

But still, the deed was done. The landscaper's dirty deed. *sigh* Now, I just have to hope there are enough leaves on the trees to yield enough for a pile. (Which is easy to swipe from.) And hope that they are done mowing the grass for the season.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


So, I was sitting in my favorite lunch nook at work, watching the outside. The wind was gusting, and I was struck with the thought of March winds. Despite the colored leaves, the scene was more reminscent of the harsh March winds, than October. Cold and windy. Not much fall color on the trees, the leaves are all blown off.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Foliage and Hibiscus

First, what is up with Blogger? I've been having trouble posting since last week. We'll see if this gets up today. It's a good thing I don't do drafts in the blogger window.

My new hibiscus bloomed three times. Two blossoms on Saturday and another on Sunday. Unfortunately, I'm behind in downloading pictures or I'd post some today.

I missed a chance to go see the fall foliage. My friend ditched on me. Okay, I didn't feel too bad, until I found out he took his daughter up the next day. I mean he should spend time with his daughter, and they both had fun, but I wanted to go see the leaves. Well, I guess I'll just have to find time on my own. You think they'll last until next weekend? Especially with the big cool down this week and the rain?

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Oak, Laurel Oak

Okay, so the tree I've been calling a willow next door is actually a Laurel Oak. I got confirmation when a biggish branch came down yesterday in the high winds. There were little acorns on it. So, it had to be an oak. Now, in my defense, there aren't a lot of acorns on the ground or even under the tree. But it's good to have that settled.

My mum is sitting in an old concrete planter on my deck. Since it was going to get cold again tonight, I went out and scooped up leaves off of the deck to tuck in the planter to help insulate the pot. While I was doing that, I spotted a big preying mantis on the deck. She must have been trying to soak up the sun.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Well, the Asian or Harlequin Ladybugs are on the move. There were lots of them swarming the building at work and I've spotted one or two or twenty individuals around the house, outside. These non-native ladybugs are from Russia, Korea, China and Japan. It both hitch hiked on ocean going vessels and was introduced by the Department of Agriculture to control aphids and other scale insects because the native ladybugs had more than they could handle.

Normally, everyone would be thrilled to see ladybugs. Not only are they lucky, but they eat aphids. Unfortunately, these Harlequins have two very annoying habits. The first is hybernation. The local ladybugs go off into the woods one by one and find a nice secluded spot to spend the winter. No problem. Unfortunately, the Harlequins gather in big swarms and seek out cliffs to hibernate in. But North America is lacking in cliffs over much of it! But what looks like a cliff to a ladybug? You got it, buildings! Houses with light colored siding especially! If you're lucky, they just crawl under the siding. If you aren't, they could try and share your living space. And that's a lot of beetles to have as houseguests.

Which brings up the other problem. When they feel threatened, they exude a yellow-orange fluid. This blood stains just as badly as regular human blood. Not to mention the smell.

And there are people with allergies to these out of town ladybugs. Eww.

So, while it's good to know they are there and eating the aphids, there are some problems. I hope they find somewhere else to hibernate than my house.

Oh, and remember when I was lamenting yesterday about having missed out on buying more Hibiscus? Meet Carolina Breeze. Isn't she pretty?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Fog in the Headlights

Wow, the fog was really thick last night. Totally obscured the light pollution from the city. Very weird. But it was clear on the roads. Which is a good thing.

Saw a deer in the development again. Or rather a fawn, so there was a doe somewhere. Thankfully not in front of my car.

My hibiscus is blooming again. We'll see how it does with the transition to inside. Leaves still look good, despite the switch to lower UV. I really should have bought another one this summer. Maybe next year.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Good to be Inside

My hibiscus bloomed Sunday after being brought inside. The bloom lasted a little longer than normal. And a second bud is gearing up to bloom in the next couple of days. I need to trim it back and let it get bushy. But after it stops blooming.

The pansies are actually doing well inside. I haven't had a chance to plant them yet. I'm noodling around the idea of keeping a pot inside to enjoy.

More rain today. This year is the year that makes all others droughts. Year to date rain surplus is going to top 7 inches after today's rain. That's a lot of rain. And only one tropical storm in the mix. No wonder the dehumidifier keeps running.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Wait a Day

Well, I woke up this morning and there was frost. Nearly a full month ahead of last year's November 11th date. *sigh* But the leaf display has been kicked up a notch. Most of the trees are starting to change.

Yesterday I went to the local botanical gardens and took pictures. I'll get them up some day. I also stopped by Home Depot and returned the Weed Eater that was missing a key part, the plug to charge it! They are of course out of stock, so I'll have to order one over the web. *sigh* But, I did pick up two pots of pansies and a mum. Very pretty!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Anatomy of a Morning

Change alarm to 6 am.

Wake up to alarm.

Wander outside to see if first frost arrived.

Be very chilly, but relieved that there is no frost.

Go back to bed.

Well, the temperature dropped into the low 30s, but no frost. Still, the Hibiscus is inside, we'll see how the two flower buds do. I still can't believe it developed two buds while it was chilly out. The amaryllis is in too. That's just waiting for the signal to pull it up to have it bloom for Christmas. Or rather New Years, since I visit my folks for Christmas.

Last night I cut the back lawn. No sight of Perseus the Toad, but then it was too chilly for toads, and there wasn't any sun. Man, I'd forgotten how nice it is to mow the lawn and not be drenched in sweat afterwards. Although, it does seem like the grass is settling in for winter. I didn't need to empty the bagger as many times as I did. I was also very careful while mowing the strip that is going to be a garden next year. That's where I've been spotting Perseus and she might have been dug in there.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Green Leaves

With the rain this morning, there were lots of warnings on the radio about the slipperiness of wet leaves of pavement. Possibly because there were already several reports of cars that rolled over in the morning traffic report.

But despite that, most of the trees around here are green. There are only a few early birds that are beating the rush. We haven't had the big cool down to force a display. That may change this weekend, but we're kinda limited to drips and drabs most years.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Masked Bandit

My neighbor stopped me the other day and warned me that there was a raccoon in the neighborhood. She was particularly concerned because I put out birdseed so early in the morning. I'm not alarmed, I don't keep my trash outside (I only produce one bag a week.), and if I actually saw a raccoon on my deck, I wouldn't go out. My dad confirmed that there is a raccoon in the area when he walked the dog. He spotted fresh tracks in the mud.

Zeppe and I spotted the toad again yesterday. I think the one in the back yard will be called Perseus, while the one out front is Aggie. This time the toad was sitting in the shade of a dandelion leaf. That dandelion didn't get pulled. Also, no pictures, I'm trying not to harrass this toad with flash photography. There's been a lot of willpower rolls not to pick it up either. I just keep remembering how Aggie cried when I picked her up.

Monday, October 09, 2006


Well, that was a nice weekend. I finished cleaning, just as they arrived. Only thing that needed done was to change a battery in the bedroom clock, oh well. It was nice to see them. And there was ACTUALLY talk of them coming down again. Especially to tramp through the woody area out back. (It was a little too swampy this weekend from all the rain that fell Friday and Saturday.)

This is big, my parents have visited exactly once since I moved to DC in 2002. (Once before while I was moving, but that was just a great big 6 hour round trip to cart stuff.) They usually don't visit because it is a production, and there wasn't much to do because my mom's health problems would prevent going into the city because of the sheer amount of walking. (She had her hip replaced last year due to bone necrosis and still has extreme arthritis in her spine.) But they like the community and park enough to want to come back!!! Yea!

They also brought down the old wooden rocking chair that they've had since I was a baby. It needs a LOT of work, since it had been outside a season or two along the way. Not sure if I'll be able to finish it before winter comes or not. Sanding here I come!

Friday, October 06, 2006

The Name Game

It is an interesting phenomenon. Goldenrod is becoming a popular garden plant. Nurseries are actually having sales on them. Is it possible that is finally getting past the stigma of blooming during ragweed season? Have the pollen-casters gotten the point across that goldenrod uses pollinators instead of flinging it's pollen about willy-nilly like ragweed? No, not really. Nurseries seem to be hiding it's identity behind latin-fication. That's right, they're selling Solidago! Just kinda makes you chuckle, doesn't it?

Oh, and speaking of ragweed. A very limited trial of a Hay Fever vaccine has shown positive results. That is very interesting science. Especially if the treatment can be expanded to other pollens allergens. Right now, it's still showing results at 2 years. Very promising.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

A House Under the Lily Tufts

Since it was beautiful yesterday, Zeppe and I moved stuff from inside the basement to the shed, and then removed a few weeds. As it turns out, there was a toad trying not to be noticed underneath my lily turfs. I guess I should have put out a water bowl. There's definitely enough slugs, crickets and spiders for him to eat.

The squirrels are also digging all sorts of holes in the mulch. I have to pat it all back down every time I go out. And it seems that the back yard needs mowed again! I mean it should have been mowed a couple days ago, and I mowed last week! Eek!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Indian Summer

Indian summer is a meteorological term that genearlly refers to a warm period after the first frost of the year. Usually this varies depending on the region. But is traditionally in October or November. Although, some regions that lack frosts or exceedingly late frosts, call the transition period from summer thunderstorms to calm autumn weather an Indian summer.

To be honest, it's going to be gorgeous the next two days. Highs in the 80s, after lows in the 40s last week is scrumptous. Lazy, hazy, clean up the shed for company weather. Too bad it won't last past Thursday.

Monday, October 02, 2006

The Rainbow Connection

Yesterday, I was startled to hear the sound of rain, especially given that there was still blue sky and sun outside my window. A microburst had opened up. After about a minute of steady rain, I decided, I probably should check/close my windows. However, when I went to the back of the house, I spotted a rainbow! In fact a double rainbow! Wow!

Sunday, October 01, 2006


Not too much going on outside, other than opening the windows and letting the air blow through. Next weekend my parents are visiting, so there is a major housecleaning in effect. Which means the garden gets left alone. (They're not the kind of folks who would be scandalized by a weed or 99.)

The weather has been delightfully confounding the local meteorologists. Up until Friday, everyone was predicting clear and beautiful for Saturday. Then the weather blog I read changed that to a heafty amount of afternoon showers. So, of course everyone including me had plans for Saturday. But, it dawned cold and misty and overcast. By then, all the meteorologists were on board with a truly miserable forecast. But true to form, the afternoon was just as beautiful as they had originally forecast. What a weekend.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

And the Band Played On

Last night I mowed the lawn. Both lawns. They might not look like much, but the back had been neglected, and was too long to mow easily. And I ended up trampling a lot of mushrooms in the front yard that were hidden under the weeds. But still, mowing is done, for this week.

For some odd reason, there was a marching band playing for a significant length of time last night. Almost like there was a football game or something. I can't find anything in the news or the school calendars to account for it. Especially since it was still going after 9pm. That's pretty late for a school event on a school night.

And I bought two bags of Take 5s, two bags of Milky Ways, two bags of 100 Grands, and a bag of Twizlers for Halloween. While I was at it, I bought 4 little "pumpkin" gourds for my windows. Let's see them run me out of candy this year! (The fancy Reese's peanut butter cups are for me to eat between now and then. ;) )

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Autumn Decorating

Well, yesterday I did some shopping. I wanted to pick up some Halloween and fall decorations. I had intended on getting a nice wreath at the craft store, but there weren't any that really said Halloween. And I was wishy washy on the others. So, what I did do is pick up a bunch of silk flowers and container to attach to the door. I'd much rather have used real flowers, but I don't want to be changing this out for the next couple of weeks, either.

While I was there, I picked up a strawberry pot. It makes an adorable planter for pansies. I might just pick up a few more, (and a few more pansies) next week.

But aside from that, the wether system that caused all those problems in Kentucky and Missouri has been dropping rain on us all day. It cleared up just enough for a spectular sunset.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Happy Equinox!

So, Autumn is here in truth. And the temperatures are down right chilly. I've taken to wearing socks in the house, and this morning, I flipped my heat on. Now, with the new AC, came a new heat pump. And there seems to be a lot of dust in the system to smell burnt. Eww. I'm glad I only turned it on for the breif period before I went to work. I'd never have slept otherwise. I'll have to give it a good airing and trial this weekend. And, while I'm at it, I should change the filter anyway.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Starting the Clean Up

Well, I'm starting the fall clean up. I deadheaded the hydrangea and removed a few branches that had overgrown the area again. I also yanked out the Virgina Creeper. I didn't mind it there, but in order to keep it small and managable, I figured I'd better pull it up now. Besides, it was too full of insect holes to be pretty in its fall colors. I also removed a couple other weedy wildflowers before they could go to seed.

It seems that I won't have to worry about the mushrooms in my front yard, some critter/kid already turned them to mush. The shame is that it was before I got a picture.

Six more weeks to Halloween. I'd better start thinking about what I'm going to do as a display.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Fungus Among Us!

Well, it has been damp and chilly. I think I'm in the midst of catching one of those change in the weather colds. It is supposed to recover later today and be beautiful tomorrow. However, I have five sizable mushrooms growing in my front yard. I'm talking coaster sized mushrooms! It will be a real shame when we get enough sun for me to mow them though....

And I finally spotted an early tree changing color. Aside from all the trees that just turned with heat stresses. No drought stressed trees this year. But the one maple in at work has red leaves at its feet already. *sigh*

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Cool Autumn Nights

Well, the weather has changed. It is that lovely time of year when the nights are cool enough to need blankets when the windows are open all night. It is also still warm enough in the afternoon and early evening to go around in shorts. This and spring are my favorite times of the year, because the weather is just so spectacular. Whether it is the leaves changing in fall or the leaves budding and flowers blooming in spring. Good sleeping weather, and you can still enjoy the days. Beautiful weather, even when it is adding to the rain surplus. And the clouds have been stunning.

Speaking of clouds, a good book on the science, whimsy and history of clouds and cloud watching is The Cloudspotter's Guide.

Thursday, September 07, 2006


It appears that I have not been keeping up with my weeding sufficently. The side of the patio is usually easy to weed, since there is a layer of gravel there and dirt is not tightly packed. But I do have to weed it, since the people who put in the gravel, did not put in a weed barrier. Although, the downspout extender does smother a good chunk of it.

The other day, I found this:

What it is, is a very waterlogged morning glory in the afternoon. :) I like morning glories. I put off planting some, because they'd take over and reseed like mad. The only real spot to plant them, without having them climb the neighbor's fences is the shed, and I did not feel up to to creating or installing a trellis this year. But I have a morning glory!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Labor Day Rain

Well, when I woke up Monday morning, I felt that it was a shame that this beautiful, sunny holiday would probably see me out mowing the grass, because it was supposed to be the best day of the week. Unfortunately, it started clouding up. So, Zeppe and I hastened outside to do some weeding.

I've discovered that if I weed near one of the two "zones" where he likes to get into trouble, and really look at him, he behaves himself. I guess it isn't as much fun to get into trouble when you're being watched. I still don't get what his fascination with going behind the shed is. Although, he did take it as a challenge when I laughed at him looking out the gate. There is a couple slats that are bowed out, but not enough for him to get through. Not that he didn't try. I think he tried harder when I laughed.

But all good weeding comes to an end when the rain drops start to fall. Yes, early afternoon the rain set in. No picnics for me. It rained steadily all evening. Ernesto had gotten us caught up since June, and now we have a 6+ inch rain surplus for the year! That's a lot of rain!

Monday, September 04, 2006


When I went to Hershey Gardens, I came back with a pocket full of fluff and seeds clinging to the fluff. I did attempt to document the plant the seeds came off of, not that that is any indication of what they will look like. There were at least two types of milkweed in the gardens. The plant that I got the seeds from was Asclepias "Silky Gold". It probably was Tuberosa, since the sign had Milkweed/Butterflyweed listed as the common name.

I'm actually leaving the link for the bigger photo, in case you need a bigger one to go looking for the little nibbler in the middle left of the picture.

The other butterfly weed I spotted and photographed extensively, was orange, but there weren't any signs identifying it. There were a lot of caterpillars on that one. And even a shriveled up used crysalis. I'll get them uploaded in a day or two.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Eh for Ernesto

Ernesto isn't quite gone from the area, but he is over enough for a summary. He performed admirally. A good soaker rain that didn't cause too much flooding. That's because, although it was a steady rain, it was a light rain. Only 3" in the bucket over 28 hours. And it is only misting now.

Winds never got too hectic. Just a couple of good gusts. Not that I didn't fret about my siding most of the night. Although, the neighbor's tree kept making sounds on my gutter that in my mind approximated siding being ripped off. They really need to have that tree trimmed.

I don't know what would have happened if the winds had picked up. I had brought in all the stuff from my porch, since I didn't want my plants battered, but most of my neighbor's left all their junk piled out there. And they have a lot more junk and window boxes out than I do. There was a wind advisory for winds between 40 - 75 mph. Fortunately, that was just tree height gusts, but still. We lucked out, in that respect.

And my power stayed on all night! Wow! Not that there aren't enough people without power in the region today, but not even a flicker here! But then, that shouldn't be too, too amazing. I don't think I saw flash of lightning, let alone the crash of thunder the entire time. Just sedate rainclouds, not thunderstorms. And that rain back in June kept the trees from being too stressed out from the drought.

All in all, just what my garden needed.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Sunflower Disaster Zone

Unfortunately, while I was on my trip, something broke the stems on my sunflowers. It might have been a storm, but I'm betting it was some kind of hungry animal. So, I had to cut my losses, literally. The yellow sunflower was done in completely, but the red one still had one of the "branchings" upright. There are at least two flowers and a seed head on that one. Spend flowers were left on the ground for the birds, but the flowers that remained were tucked into a vase.

The only problem with putting sunflowers in a vase, are that they insist on pointing downward. So, I solved this, but sticking them on the refridgerator. Now they are pointed at me. ;)

Still waiting to see if we get more than a sprinkle today. There were supposed to be a couple of fronts move through, but it looks like they went south. It might just be up to Ernesto to bring rain to the region. Kinda worried about that though, he fizzled over Florida.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Garden Vacations

I did the annual trek to Hersheypark and hence, Hershey Gardens. Wonderful place to visit. I saw lots of butterflies and even a few monarch caterpillars on the milkweed. I also came home with a pocket full of milkweed seeds. They were about to float off.... *grin*

They finally had a book for sale about the Gardens. I've been waiting for one. I'm surprised there wasn't one for the Park, either. I mean, it is about to be a century for the amusement park.

But the Gardens were as beautiful as ever.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Brown Grass, Green Grass

So, I went out today and mowed my lawn for the first time in weeks. In my defense, first it was too stinking hot, then my dandelions died. Yep, that's right, it was so hot and dry that even the weeds gave up the ghost. But the weeds and long grass seeds have been staging a comeback, and I had to mow today. At least the front lawn. But I knuckled down and mowed the back as well. Or at least significant portions of the back. There are still areas that have yet to grow since the last trimming. So, I cheated and left them be.

My fancy petunia that survived started blooming and is doing wonderfully. Pictures will follow.

I opened up a new bag of birdseed yesterday. I bit longer than normal, but then I had a lot of stale bread and buns to go through. So, the birds have been glutting on treats. Not that they didn't still fight over sunflower seeds. At least until the squirrel showed up and stuffed them all in his cheeks.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Floriday Trip -- 6

Just two pictures this time, I've been running short on blogging time. It really is too beautiful out. However, we kinda need a rainy day or three....

Still at the extension center, there's lantana in the foreground and a little purple mexican petunia in the back.

And I'm not sure what this is. But it was pretty. Edit: It's pink porterweed.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Happy Anniversary Little Blue House!

Wow, I almost forgot. A year ago today, I got the keys to this place and started moving my stuff in. The movers did their stuff on the 20th, and I got the last of the stuff out on the 31st. Just in time to turn in the keys! :)

The actual blogoversary is the 7th of Septmeber. Why the gap? Because it took me awhile to decide to start up this blog. *wink*

Bird Bonanza!

Lots of bird spotting, of late. The blue jays are acting like roosters in the mornings. One starts getting anxious that I'll get up and put bird seed out, then the rest giving territorial calls.

Yesterday, I spotted two goldfinches in the wetlands. I went to get the binoculars to get a positive id, but they were no where to be seen. But a little small buzzy thing caught my eye. It was a hummingbird. A juvenille hummingbird! He was all fuzzy and adorable. I stood there and watched him for the longest time. He played with his tongue and his tail feathers. And even did some flapping of his wings, before he somersaulted off of the tree limb he was sitting on.

Later on, I did spot and id a goldfinch. This one was hanging upside down from a spent sunflower head eating the seeds. Positively charming.

As for the garden, I took Zeppe out and did a bit of weeding. Real shame I can't mulch the iris, the grass and clover keep trying to take over.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Glorious Weather

We are enjoying unseasonably fine weather. Which is cooly refreshing after that heat wave. My windows are open again, and I usually find myself rushing to the thermostat to remind the AC not to run. It's too nice and no need to waste electricity. I'm even cozying up under blankets at night because it get that chilly!

Now if only I could convince myself to mow the lawn in this gorgeous weather. But it really looks to brown to touch out front. Even the dandelions are looking parched out there. The back is looking better, but that also means that it needs mowed, as opposed to being something I should do. *sigh* I'd rather stick to weeding and watering.

Monday, August 07, 2006

A Sunflower of a Different Color

My second sunflower opened today. Despite them both being from the same seed packet (Velvet Queen from Parks), the two plants are totally different. The second one is a reddish brown, as opposed to the bright yellow of the first.

Can you believe that these are only two plants? I wonder if they were supposed to be like this.

And this is my little lily tuff that is getting ready to bloom.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Yuck -or- Death Comes to a Garden

So, yesterday morning I looked out and saw that the birdbath was flipped over and on the ground. Other than idly wondering what could have done that, (remember, I've got a privacy fence, so it is a bit of a mystery) it slipped my mind. This morning, I went out to do a bit of watering and tidying up, including righting the birdbath. Now, here's where it gets curious. There was a little brown bird dead beside the top of the birdbath. Eww. It kinda looked like it might have gotten knocked on the head when the birdbath got toppled. But what would leave a dead bird there? I mean, a cat might have gotten over or around the fence and knocked the top off, but to leave the bird? Anyway, I dumped the bird in the woods behind the house and tried to straighten up the plants that got smooshed. They don't seem to have broken stems, so they should survive.

My lily tuffs are starting to bloom. The black-eyed susans are attracting all sorts of pollenators. Including a Silvery Checkerspot that had a bird bite shaped hole in his wing. While I was weeding, a tiger swallowtail floated through the garden.

The weathermen claim the heat wave has broken for at least the weekend, but it is still hot out there. I was roasting in the sun. Hopefully it will be more lawn mowing friendly tomorrow. Hopefully.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Florida Trip -- 5

More from the extension center. They had a very lovely garden. And fortunately, we were there when it was in bloom.

Another view of the garden.


And crape myrtle. I like crape myrtle.

And to join the daylily gang, here's one, even if it isn't in my garden. ;) Ignore the ants.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

I'm Wilting

Well, add me to the chorus of agonies raised against this heat wave. While the official temperatures haven't broken 100 yet, the heat index is a good 10 degrees hotter than the air temp. Youch! It is only getting down into the high 70s at night, mostly 80 by the time to head into work. Not that work is a refuge from the heat. AC is turned off nights and weekends, and it isn't working very well in the office I'm shoved into anyway. *sigh* I did take in one of my snake plant cuttings in an attempt to at least improve the air quality. I named this one Louis.

Spot watering and adding to the compost pile is about all that is going on in the yard. Too hot to do anything else. Even the plants are taking a break.

100 degrees is predicted for tomorrow. :(

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Florida Trip -- 4

My Aunt is a Master Gardener and voluteers her time at the local extension center. So, of course we stopped by there before we caught the train home. And I took lots of pictures.

And some portulacas and a mystery blue flower. Edit: The blue flower is Blue Daze.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Recent Developments

I've gotten back in my garden this week. And for more than watering and being eaten by mosquitos. I mowed the back lawn and mulched my poor flowers. Maybe now they won't need watered so much. I also dead headed my hostas and removed a few spent blooms from the hydrangea. The hydrangea is still going strong.

Despite the bugs determined to eat my sunflowers, they are doing quite well. Blooming in fact.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Florida Trip -- 3

Continuing up the boardwalk and over the dune, there was the Atlantic Ocean.

At low tide, there were a lot of rocks on the shore. The tide actually lifted them up and washed the shells underneath them. There were also fossilized shells in the rocks.

On the cove side of the dune, various birds would feed at low tide, ibises and rosy spoonbills. Too bad my camera does not have a stronger zoom, or I'd have a good picture of the birds.

Back at the visitor center, the fire bush was in bloom.

Inside the visitor's center was a 9 month old baby loggerhead sea turtle. This one's name was Kiwi. She's supposed to be released after a year.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Florida Trip -- 2

Further along the trail at MacArthur State Park in Florida.

And a sea grape hanging over the trail. We even saw one with "grapes" on it!

My mom was quite amused to spot this little cactus off to one side. They didn't even have it marked in the trail map!

A "close up" view of a local butterfly. The butterflies here were really flighty and did not want their pictures taken.

A brown cuban anole partially hidden by a wild flower. These little lizards and their green cousins were all over the place down there. And well welcome to eat the bugs.

A shot of the steps leading up to the beach.

More to come...

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Florida Trip -- 1

Since I don't feel like doing normal blogging, I can share some pictures. The first place I took pictures of was John D. MacArthur State Park in West Palm Beach.

These are some mango trees on the protected cove side.

And here are some palm trees along one of the nature boardwalks.

A wild coffee plant along the nature trail. These were all over the dune.

And the pointsetta before it was bred into the one we see spray painted at Christmas.

A tall palm tree outlined against the sky.

And some more trees along the dune.

More to follow later.....

Monday, July 10, 2006

Da Funk

I'll admit it, I've been on a blogging slump. It started up when it was too hot to work outside, and to sweltering to be on the computer. Took two weeks to get them to replace it this time around. And then, in the glory of the coolness, I just don't feel like doing much. Not to mention, I've been assigned to a different location for work, which means that I'm without internet all summer. It wasn't supposed to be that way, but inertia being what it is, I doubt they will get me hooked up before I leave again. And the adjustment in working hours has thrown me off schedule completely.

Not much is going on in the garden. The nasturtium bloomed, but I keep missing them with the camera. The beebalm I tried to transplant seem to have not liked the swampy conditions and died back. The hosta are blooming away happily. While I had to take out one of the mystery plants so they could replace the air conditioner.

Thursday, June 29, 2006


I think I need to get a suet feeder. This morning there was a red-bellied woodpecker sitting on the deck and pecking away at the seed I had out. First off, a wood pecker sitting on a horizontal surface looks silly. And pecking away almost sideways to pick up the seed was even sillier.

But obviously, the suet needs of woodpeckers in my neighborhood are not being met. And that needs to change. Which means a suet cake feeder. The ants will just love me.

My hostas loved all the rain and are blooming. The one little nasturtium has put up a reddish-orange flower, which I haven't been able to photograph well. I'll keep trying. But in the meantime, here are some garden shots from last week, before the rain started. First up is my rearranged birdbath garden.

And the newly extended hosta garden, sans the purple beebalm I just planted.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Sorry Agnes

Well, records are broken and evening showers still plague the area. Had another creek in the parking lot this afternoon. Anyway, in DC, it is the wettest June on record, which beats Hurricane Agnes in 1972. Not to mention, our 30% (nearly six inch) deficit turned into a 32% (over six inch) surplus. Good for the water table, but bad for flooding.

In the midst of all this, I visited my mom last weekend for her birthday. It went swimmingly, although, they did have a power outage when she woke up on her birthday. While there, I hijacked some grown beebalm plants. My seedlings just aren't growing up. The fun part was that I dug them up in the rain, and then planted them in the rain. My poor yard is so soggy, that when I lifted up a shovelfull of dirt, the hole was filled with water. It is probably still the same today.

But still, I don't think we have to worry about wildfires from fireworks this weekend. Do you?

Monday, June 26, 2006

Soggy Weekend

Well, on the tail end of last week's heat, came a humid weekend. 100% humidity weekend. Water falling from the skies weekend. A weekend so damp and drenching, that even a Florida Hurricane blog commented on it. My little rain gauge overflowed, which means more than nine inches of water fell this weekend. Silly me didn't empty it before last night's big storm, so I don't know precisely how much rain fell.

We did not get any flooding in our little development, but the flood plane was hard at work as always. The best part about the soggy ground, is how easily the dandelions are pulled out. I mean grab the leaves and the whole root comes out easily.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Happy Summer

Happy Summer Solstice!

It's been summer here for a couple days. Temperatures are in the low 90s and there is no breeze to speak of here. Which is why my front lawn is starting to look like a jungle. It's too hot to mow. Although, it is now looking like a brightly colored jungle, since the neighborhood kids seem to have had a waterballoon fight outside my place and there are lots of bits of rubber laying about. I need to go out and pick that up.

The petunias are not happy on the deck. I can't figure out if it is the intense sun, or the dirt just drains too quickly. Two of the seedlings have bit the dust. Everything else seems good. My hydrangea is blooming away and so is the amaryllis. I think those blooms are finally dying, but the display has been nice.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Roaming About

Well, it's a beautiful day, that is probably going to hit the 90s temperature-wise. However, the sun is way too bright to take pictures. I'll get some of the new garden arrangements soon. It's hard to keep track in the mind.

Last night, I planted seedlings while Zeppe roamed about. Several petunias were added by the bird bath and the new garden by the hostas. Some dwarf morning glories and a few more sunflowers and butterfly weeds were added to the bird bath garden. I also stuck a few more beebalm seedlings in with the primroses beside the shed. Two more beebalms were placed in the extended hosta bed.

Then I attacked the weeds. I've been smothering grass by the fence with the cable with grass clippings for awhile now. But some of the grass and dandelions right at the fence think of it as mulch. So, I took my trusty trowel and proceeded to dig them out. It was amazing the shear amount of earthworms and pill bugs and spiders roaming around in that mulchy verge. You rarely think of earthworms as being above ground creatures, but there they were. Makes me glad I was wearing my gardening gloves. Those spiders did not look happy at being disturbed.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Peony Sins

Forgive me, Peony, for I have moved you. My peonies which were absent-mindedly planted in the shade are less than two feet tall. Not at all the height a normal herbacious peony should be. Since I feared that the rhisome would not be able to store up enough energy to get through the winter, I moved them out of season, so there would be time to establish themselves. As it turned out, the poor things had not really established root systems. Which is not good.

Two plants were placed in the new garden, and the other four were moved to the opposite side of the birdbath garden. They will actually get sun there. While I was moving them, I spotted two milkweed seedlings which had bounced back after whatever had gotten them. I took those seedlings out to put the peonies in. Then, I moved the birdbath to where the peonies had been, since the birds don't need sun to bathe. The milkweed seedlings went where the bird bath had been.

I hope my peonies forgive me and establish roots.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Now in Bloom

I've got quite a few things in bloom now. The lamium, the primroses, the clover, the dandelions and a few volunteer johnny-jump-ups in the front yard. I'll dig up the johnny-jump-ups this week before I mow the lawn and then put them someplace a little safer. My amaryllis opened up. It's getting a beating outside, but that doesn't seem to have dimmed its spirits.

The lantana are blooming as well. Only one cutting made it over the winter and through repotting. It is the white one.

And finally, my hydrangea is opening up. Still a lovely blue, but I think I'll have to amend the soil this year. It seems to be tending towards pink.