Wednesday, May 31, 2006

A Gentle Nudge

Earlier in May, I had transistioned my amaryllis outside, so it could get plenty of light. The poor thing suffered from sunburned leaves. Before I left on my trip, it had started new leaves, that would be more suitable for real, full sunlight.

But it seems this die back and regrowth was good for something else. A new flowerstalk! Whee! It's pushing a new flower!

That's really cool. I was thinking about it on my trip too, because I got a really nice picture of an amaryllis in bloom at the extension center. Ah, another tropical plant. :)

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Heat Wave

So, I was surprised to find out that it hit 93 yesterday, and it is expected to repeat that today. Yikes. Good thing I had reset the thermostat this morning to the AC.

Only a few casulties from my trip. Sunflower seedlings in the seed tray did not bounce back from lack of water. I had meant to put more water in the tray, but only gave it a regular watering. Everything else made it through the "drought".

I'm stymied though. Something is removing the butterfly weed seedlings from my garden. I can see eating the other seedlings, but not the milkweed. I'll have to rig up a little cage for the next seedlings.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Tropical Breezes

No, I didn't fall off the world, I just went on vacation. For Christmas, my brother and I got my mother a trip to go see her little brother in Florida. It's been 12-14 years since she last saw him. Since she was a little apprehensious about going on her own, I eventually agreed to go with her. I haven't seen this uncle in over 20 years, and had never met his wife. So, I was a little overdue.

It was a wonderful trip. Florida is gorgeous. We visited Central Florida and rambled through the palm and pine scrublands. You never think of large cattle ranches in Florida, but they were all around. It was a little far north for citrus, since they do get freezes in winter. But we did see a small grove that my uncle's brother-in-law has in his yard.

I am totally envious, though. All those beautiful tropical plants that my aunt grows in her yard! I got plenty of pictures of those and the ones around the extension center where she volunteers. She's a Master Gardener as well! I might have to get around to taking those classes one of these years. At least when I can find the time to volunteer as well....

The most shocking thing is that the 80+ temperatures down there didn't faze me all that much, while I positively wilted while mowing my lawn tonight. I'm still sweating. Then again, there actually was a breeze down there.

Pictures of Florida and my father's yard will follow, when I have time to get around editing and labeling the 250 pictures. At least most of them came out, even if I can't remember all the names. *blush*

Friday, May 19, 2006

Into the World

The seedlings I transplanted a couple days ago are all doing wonderfully. Three look like they've gotten some attention from bugs, judging by the chew marks on the leaves. But they're still hanging in there. I put another butterfly weed in the birdbath garden and two nasturtium in with the iris. Two of the iris are still blooming away. Not sure if the other ones are finished, but there are no new buds on them.

Pulled a couple weeds as well. Endless task.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Soggy Seedlings

Last night, I planted out a bunch of seedlings. Four sunflowers, three beebalm, three butterfly weeds and two dwarf morning glories. (*giggle* It always sounds weird when I say I'm planting weeds.) I think I lost one of the sunflowers, though. It did not come cleanly out of the temporary pot it was in. But there are a few spare seedlings that can go in that spot.

The worms are loving the organic soil I put in the birdbath garden. I'd dig a hole for a seedling and there were like three worms in it. Really, it was nuts. I'm glad they're happy.

Monday, May 15, 2006


I hope everyone in New England is okay. It is really scary how much rain they're getting.

That said, I'm thankful that we're actually getting rain down here. This should ease our drought conditions and bring the water table back up. Now, of course, I wasted all those gorgeous days to get a base tan and am looking at rain until Wednesday.

And some continuing pictures of my rhodadendron.

I did mow the backyard on Friday and pulled up some weeds. I need to get better about weeding.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Spring Cleaning

We had a glorious storm last night. About two inches locally. I woke up to bright sunshine. I guess it won't be overcast. The rain knocked three of the four iris stalks over. I took some twine and tied them upright to the deck stairs. Isn't pretty, but it does hold them upright.

I finally got around to Zeppe proofing the shed. Basically, I don't want him to go behind it or under it when I let him roam. Thankfully, there were some cinder blocks and pavers in the shed. One cinder block with a paver on top is blocking off him crawling behind it. The other side of the shed that faces a fence has a bunch of old timbers back there. I took out one of the timbers and used it to block off the underside of the shed facing the birdbath garden. The yard slopes, so there's a gap there. Two more pavers got propped against the ends of the timbers. I hope that's enough.

And on the plus side, my rhodadendrons are finally starting to bloom. :)

I had to hang outside the front window to get these.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

On the Radio

Yesterday, the radio station was talking about the best and worst Mother's Day presents. One woman said that every year on Mother's Day, her husband and children plant her flower garden and her vegetable garden. That is very sweet. I know my brother only planted vegetables for our mother one year. Because she made him eat them too!!! The horrors!

Partway through my rain chant this morning, the weather came on the radio. The weatherman was being teased about the rain that didn't show up last night. Then he pulled out the big numbers 4.75 inch rain deficit, to make people understand that rain today is a good forecast. Not only rain today, but chance showers Friday and Saturday. Rain is good.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Ants Go Marching In

My hummingbird feeder was looking more like an ant feeder, with the constant attention they were giving it. So, I made an ant moat for it. I saw the directions in my butterfly and hummingbird book. The idea of an ant moat is that ants won't cross water, so it will protect your feeder from them. It is relatively easy to make with household items.

1) Get a plastic cap, such as a soda bottle top.

2) Drill or punch a hole in the middle of the flat side. I couldn't find my drill bits, so I took an awl and slowly punched a hole in it. It actually took two caps to get it right. In the first one, the hole was too big. Pointy scissors might work in a pinch.

3) Use crazy glue or a hot glue gun to fasten the cap to the wire that holds up the feeder. I used crazy glue. I put some on either side. Since the wire comes up and then goes down, I put it on the longer side and at an angle, so it will hold more water when it is in the pot.

4) Add water and prevent ants.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Strange Birds

I did have the opportunity to do some birdwatching last weekend. The large graceful birds were actually swooping and enjoying thermals where I could get them in my binoculars to make an id. They were also low enough, that I could see how huge they were. The size alone pretty much confirmed that they were turkey vultures. But the red head was visible through binoculars.

They may be ugly, but they are amazing flyers. One of them was even pulling stunts close to the tree line. They corner remarkably. The thermals behind my places are amazing. There were at least four of them.

There is also a family of them that prefer to roost on my work building. It is a bit scary to look up through the glass part of the roof and see them right there. They are big birds.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Planter Woes

Well, another failure in the attempt to secure over the railing planters I want. This time they sent me the wrong item to my correct order. One of my riends might buy them off of me, because this is getting too frustrating. Regardless, I'm not going to use that company again. I'm still waiting on the refund from the first order.

Not much got accomplished this weekend. It was chilly and turned overcast on Sunday. It's been dripping steadily since then. We really need a dent in the 3 inch rain deficit.

My recently planted seeds are making a mockery of the fact that I gave the previous seeds so long. Nearly half of them have already sprouted. Yippee!

Friday, May 05, 2006

Deary Me

I unfortunately have a cold on top of my allergies, so between that and the cold meds, I am not getting much done.

I've got a few tiny petunias popping up from the seeds I planted last Friday. They are so tiny. I mean I expected small, given the fact the seeds are the size of a needle point, but not that tiny! They are not much bigger than the seed!

And my iris are blooming away. It seems all three with stalks are the same variety. Forgive the quality of the picture, the light was fading quickly from rain clouds.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Drips and Drabs

Last night I gave up on the seedlings that did not sprout. I took most of the failed seeds out. The results:

sunflowers: 4 plants out of 10 seeds
butterfly weed: 8 plants out of 10 seeds (one planted in garden already eaten)
beebalm: 7 plants out of 10 seeds
nasturtium: 6 plants out of 10 seeds
dwarf morning glories: 3 plants out of 10 seeds
cosmos: 0 for 10

The cosmos were an older seed pack, so I'm not as upset about the loss. I meant to plant them last year, then was notified that I had to move, so they never got planted. I might directly seed the rest into the garden, because I do not expect good results. I replanted 5 sunflower seeds, 3 nasturtiums of a different variety, 6 dwarf morning glories and 10 petunias in addition to the 8 earlier in the week. I'm letting the butterfly weed and the beebalm get a little more growth before I move them out of the starting tray.

My hummingbird feeder seems to be seeing activity. I didn't get one of the no drip models, but drip seems to have increased dramatically, which I am taking as an indication that a hummingbird is using it, rather than the rest of the birds or squirrels are bumping it repeatedly. But that gives the ants and wasps and bees some sugar water to drink on the deck.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Tent Caterpillars on the Move

Well, it seems to be tent caterpillar migration time. I've spotted a few of these fellows wandering about at work, looking for a nice place to curl up and pupate. I bet the local population of skinks is having a field day.

These unassuming brown moths lay a mass of eggs on wild cherry, apple, and crabapple, hawthorn, maple, cherry, peach, pear and plum trees. Although, sometimes they'll move to oak and beech trees if they eat themselves out of house and home. The silk contructs in the crotches of trees or tents stick out like sore thumbs. But what really gives away their presence is that they will wander away from the tree they "grew up" on and find a solitary place to spin a pupa. There's only one generation a year, so the trees can recover, if they aren't stripped bare by several colonies at once.

But they're still annoying, even if they do serve as an excellent food source for fish, frogs and reptiles.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Gratuitous Iris Shots

My iris are blooming, my iris are blooming! Or rather my iris is blooming, only one flower on one stalk is blooming. In fact, there only seem to be three stalks with buds up. And they all seem to be the same unknown cultivar. But that doesn't change the fact that iris are extremely photogenic.

First, we start with the buds

And various side views of the bloom

And from the other side

And from the top

Like I said, it was photogenic. Or I just like my iris. ;)

Monday, May 01, 2006

Grill Master

Saturday night I fired up the grill for the second time this year. Although, I consider this the first official time of the season. The previous was during one of those fluke 80 degree days. I think I'm going to pick up a grill tray to use instead of the grill surface that came with my grill. Meaning I'd rather have an actual grill rather than a ceramic surface with some drip holes in it.

I bought my grill right after Hurricane Isabel incidently. I had been meaning to get one, but after listening to the horror stories of not being able to boil water when it needed boiling, I decided to break down and get it. Granted, I had to wait a couple weeks, because a lot of people had this idea, and it was the end of the season.

I should break down and buy a real grill, instead of some portable campout thing with long spindley legs. But there are so many other things to buy for the garden, like a power chipper, that I hesitate to spend the money when I have a perfectly servicable grill.