Thursday, December 27, 2007

Home for the Holidays

Well, another Christmas has come and gone and I can’t help, but wonder what is in store for us in the New Year. This past Sunday, Jamie and I went to my parent’s house to do the holiday thing. My family always gathers together the Sunday before Christmas. In the past we had our dinner on Christmas Eve. Since that was the busiest day of the year for my work I never got to attend so they changed the date. It’s so close to Thanksgiving we don’t have a formal dinner, we choose to have Bar-B-Que instead. Momma cooks seven or eight Boston Butts on the smoker and boils a bunch of chicken to make hash. Lately my youngest sister has had to take over the task of preparing the meal, because Momma is getting older and it’s become too much for her to do. She’s seventy-two now and she has difficulty standing for more that a few minutes at the time. She still manages to get that big ole pot of rice cooked to go with the BBQ and hash. Even if it does wear her out… bless her heart. I’m not really sure how many of us there are anymore. I have six sisters and two brothers, most all have spouses and all have children. If I had to guess I would say there are about sixty of us now. It’s impossible to buy gifts for everyone, so we do Dirty Santa. Monday was Christmas Eve and it’s also my mother-in-laws birthday so we headed north for the day. My parent’s live in the very southern part of the state, Jamie’s live in the northern part and we live smack dab in the middle so it works our perfect for us. Our drive to the holler was a wonderful trip. It’s in the foot hills and beginnings of the Appalachian Mountains. The skies were overcast and the temperature was in the twenties so there was still frost everywhere at nine AM. As far as the eyes could see were hills and valleys of brilliant silver. It was a spectacular vision; I could see magic all around us. On our way in, we stopped at the café Jamie’s family runs and had breakfast with his mom, grandmother, and nine or ten other family members that just happened to be there when we drove up. The rest of the day was spent with his sister and brothers making Christmas/Birthday dinner for his mother. Later that evening we ate, opened presents and visited with his family. I really enjoy my visits and wouldn’t mind living in the holler at some point, even though there is absolutely nothing there other than his family. We spent Christmas day eating left over pizza and veggin’ out together on the couch watching seasonal movies. It was wonderful! It was one of the most restful days I’ve had in a long time. Hope your Christmas was great too!

This summer we were lucky enough to be chosen to host the birth of several Monarch butterflies. Below is a start to finish of the process, from the mother laying eggs to the new butterflies drying their wings. The slideshow has most likely stopped at this point if you want to see the show again click on the first image in the line and then click "yes". You can also get a description of the photo by clicking on the large image. One of the pictures is kind of blurry due to the rapid movement of the larva. It's the best of the images I took of that particular stage, that thing was wiggling like crazy.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

I Found Color Today!

I found color in the yard today! Yaaaaaaay! It amazing how just a couple of blooms can bring you so much pleasure. The garden is a disaster right now, there are leaves everywhere. The old oak next door is dropping them like crazy. I have an incessant need to keep the yard clean and I’m usually in it every weekend raking, and cleaning up. This weekend, I’ve made a decision to let it go. I’ve stayed on top the of the leaf detail and I’ve decided those few oak leaves will still be there next weekend if I decide to rake them up then. I read in a blog some where gardening is not a hobby, it’s an obsession and no truer statement has ever been made. Jamie had his finals last night and he is out of school until January and I’m looking forward to us spending time together. No homework, no yard work, just me and him time.

Below are some pictures of the Yellow Irises that are blooming now. We’ve planted so many different species this year it would be a long boring record if I listed them all for you. I’ll just post pictures as they bloom. We still have several hundred Dutch Iris bulbs that need to be planted this month. We really do need to get that done. I hate not knowing the name of flowers in our garden, so once again, if you know this one please take a moment to send me a message with the name of it. Or perhaps you can point me in the direction of an Iris Diva you just happen to be acquainted with?

Did you know that Iris was the Goddess of the Rainbow? She was also the personal handmaiden and messenger of Hera. In ancient times this flower (purple) was planted on the burial sites of recently deceased women to mark the new graves so she could find them. Iris escorted the souls of women to the afterlife and the rainbow was the path she took. Hence, the flowers were named in honor of her. I love it when a flower has a beautiful legend attached to it.

Unknown Yellow Iris

Yellow Iris

Yellow Iris3

Yellow Iris2

Alas, the mums are also nameless. I still haven’t made up my mind if they will be staying or not. When I bought them it was not because I’m a fan of mums it was because they were 95% off and I’m a sucker for a good plant deal. I’m also not above dumpster diving for a half live plant either.



Until next time...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Grandmother's Camellia

Several years ago my Grandmother passed away. She loved to garden and her yard always had some type of color in it. Her house was put on the market and before it sold I dug up three things from her garden to place in mine, an English Dogwood, an antique rose and a teeny tiny camellia. Right before she had her stroke she had broken off the tip of a limb on one of her camellias and put it in the ground to root. I found it and dug it up. At the time it was a mere six inches tall at the most. I’ve pampered it for seven years and it’s reached a size of about three feet by three feet. Every year it’s made buds but the blooms never open. They would simply fall off the bush. This year, it decided to bloom! I can hardly believe it. The flower is a beautiful deep pink with a light purple border that fades inward from the tips of the petals. It’s absolutely beautiful! I have no idea what the name of it is and I’m really hoping someone out there will see the picture and identify it. Your help would be greatly appreciated.

Grandmother's Camellia

Grandmothers Camelia

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Feeling a Need To Be Cozy

All of our outstanding plant trades are finally in and I can hardly wait until next spring. The weather has cooled down to a point that I really don’t feel it’s safe to be planting things any more. We still have some tulips that need to go in the ground. I’m sure we’ll get around to it in the next couple of weeks. I’ve worked in the garden non-stop for the last few months and I’ve reached a point where I feel I need to take a couple of weeks off to rest. We still have plenty of winter projects that need to be done and as promised I’ll be posting pictures of them as we do them.

Jamie and I have steadily been raking and shredding leaves for mulch. It’s so nice not to have to bag them up anymore. I’m thinking since we have a nice thick layer of them in all the beds that they should last thru next summer. A new friend of mine sent me a ‘Journeys End’ canna and I planted it this afternoon. Every time I rake back the leaves to plant something I find earthworms. Every thing I’ve read says that they are a good thing to have in your flower beds. The way it was explained to me is that the worms eat the leaves and then the leaves exit the worms as a nice fertilizer. We will see…

I find myself being more tired than usual lately. I suppose it could be that the constant rushing and rushing and continuous working has finally caught up with me or it could simply be my deep rooted mammal instincts coming to surface wanting me to hibernate. I’m also craving warm foods and time to snuggle under a cozy throw or blanket during my inactive periods. At any rate I’m listening to my body and getting more rest and enjoying the down time.

Wild Blackeye Susan

Wild Blackeye Susan



Friday, November 23, 2007

The Last Blooms of the Year

The cold weather has finally made it here. We dipped down past freezing last night. I went out this morning all bundled up to plant the last Canna tubers I received in the mail and some Hyacinth Bulbs. I also planted a Sprekelia, Peacock Orchid and a Caribbean Lily. I can’t wait for the show next year. The posts on the garden blog will be slowing down for the next few weeks as the garden goes to sleep. We have several projects planned for the winter and I’ll be posting pictures as we progress with them. I also be popping in from time to time just to let you know how we are doing and I’ll post a picture or two to remind you of the past summer and the spring to come. Below are no doubt the last blooms for this year.




'Red Lion'


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Pods, Nuts and Berries

Fall is the time of year when all of our plants go to seed. They produce fruits of all types, berries, pods and nuts of all natures. I took a few pictures of some in the yard. I thought it would be interesting to give you a few legends and myths about the plants pictured below. Enjoy…

The Cherokee Indians believed a miniature people lived amidst dogwoods that were a divine race sent to teach the people to live in harmony with the forests. The dogwood people were extremely kind, took care of the old and infirm and protected babies. When the Cherokee came to speak English, they began to call the Dogwood People "brownies."

Dog Wood Berries

Dogwood Berry

English Dogwood Seed

The Canna is often called the "Indian Shot Plant" because, legend has it, lead shot was difficult to come by for early Native Americans and canna seeds were used for bird shot in shotguns.

'Indian Shot' Seed Pods

Indian Shot Seed Pod

The Acorn has also been associated with couples and love divination. Dropping two Acorns into the same bowl of water will provide the inquirers with news. Should the Acorns float together then the couple will marry, the reverse being true if the Acorns drift apart. An ancient Pagan belief that is thought to be connected with the Druids tells that to carry an Acorn at all times will ensure that you are prevented from growing old. This was said to be most successful for women.



Nandina is considered the 'friendship plant'. Legend says that a Nandina beside the front door serves to listen to the worries of the head of the household.



In Greek Mythology, Liriope was the mother of Narcissus who having come to a pool to quench his thirst, saw his reflection in its smooth surface, and fell in love with it. And since he could not obtain the object of his love, he died of sorrow by the same pool.



In Greek legend, the rose was created by Chloris, the Greek goddess of flowers. Chloris found a lifeless nymph one day in a clearing in the woods. To honor the nymph, she transformed her lifeless body into a flower. Chloris asked the help of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, who gave her beauty. Dionysus, the god of wine, added nectar to give her a sweet scent, and the three Graces gave her charm, brightness and joy. Then Zephyr, the West Wind, blew away the clouds so that Apollo, the sun god, could shine and made this flower bloom. And so the Rose was born and was immediately crowned the Queen of Flowers.

Rose Hip

Rose Hip

Monday, November 12, 2007

The New Bed Is Finally Mulched

Well, the new bed is finally mulched and I am worn completely out. I walked outside this morning with the intention of only planting some white Siberian Iris and some white Dwarf Iris. I walked over to the table to spread out my rhizomes and I just happened to look up and see one of my neighbors that I’ve never spoken to in the 12 years I’ve lived here getting ready to gather up his leaves with the lawn mower. I’d been looking at his back yard thinking all those maple leaves in it would be just what I needed to finish mulching that new bed Jamie and I have been working on. Never having spoken to him before, I was a little nervous to go up to him and ask about the leaves. Finally my desire to get those leaves out weighed my fear of talking to him, it’s only been in the last couple of weeks that he’s ever even acknowledged my presence when we were both in our backyards at the same time. I walked up to the fence and asked him for the leaves and he said that I was more than welcome to them. Turns out he’s a pretty nice fellow. He even loaded the bags up in his truck and drove them around the block to my house, five 55 gallon bags full of stick and trash free ‘Silver Maple’ leaves. I had to take my leaf vacuum and mulch them up some more, but I didn’t mind. It was just enough leaves to finish that bed and it looks wonderful now! While waiting for the leaves I also planted some pretty ‘Cast Iron Plants’ that Sonny and Lewis were nice enough to share with us and I trimmed up the ‘Don Juan’ rose. After all that I raked the back yard, so I could fully enjoy the new bed free from yard debris. Since I’ve just recently posted pictures of the new bed I’ll show you the ones I took today at a later date. Meanwhile, here’s the ‘Desire’ amaryllis I found blooming in one of the other beds we made this past summer. It's slightly lighter than the 'Red Lion' I purchased from the same place.

‘Desire’ Amaryllis

Red Lion

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Our Moonflowers

It's a cool Sunday morning today, currently 50 degrees outside. I had some plants that I'd been holding inside until the weather warmed up a few degrees. We had a little cold snap and the temperature dropped down to the low thirties. I put the 'Giant Red Crinum' in the ground, along with a 'Black Magic' and 'Imperial' taro that I also received in trade. The 'Black Magic' is a tiny thing so I'm hoping it makes it okay. Right now it seems so fragile and vulnerable. Today, Jamey and I will most likely be planting white Siberian and dwarf Iris. I think we'll also plant the Daffodils today if we have time. We have bulbs for 'Ice King', 'Ice Follies', 'Professor Einstein', 'Tahiti', 'Pink Pride', 'Dutch Master', 'Intrigue', 'Texas' and 'Yellow Cheerfulness'. Meanwhile, you guys can enjoy the 'Moonflower'.

Buds Just Starting to Open

As It Starts to Open

Full Bloom


New Bud


Seed Pods

Seed Pod

Macro Moon

Macro Moon

Friday, November 9, 2007

The Scent of Lavender

Well today brought me a wonderful surprise. I had a rather tiring day at work today filled with aggravation and irritation. I was so glad to walk out of there for the long weekend. My sister, brother-in-law and their two girls are spending the weekend with me and Jamie so that gave me a little something to look forward to on the drive home. The icing on the cake was seeing a package waiting for me at the front door. My Maudie Malcom Cannas and white Siberian Iris made it from Oklahoma today. She also sent Hyacinth Bean seeds, 'Raspberry Wine' Monarda and something else that I haven't identified yet, so it was indeed a wonderful trade. Below I've placed some picture from the garden for you. It's Lavender, but I'm uncertain of what type. If you happen to recognize it please leave me a comment so I can give it a proper name.

Lavender Spike

Lavender Foliage

Un-opened Lavender

Lavender Bloom Macro

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Ixora

Jamie and I went on vacation to see friends of ours in Sarasota, Florida. While we were down there we found these shrubs. I read they are members of the Gardenia family. I'm concerned how they will react to our winters here. Hopefully they will do just fine. If they seem to make it with no problems then we will be getting two more colors of them next summer when we pass thru Sarasota again on our way to the Keys.

This was my very first picture with the new camera Jamie bought me. I use a Sony DSC-F717. I just love Macro shots!

Pink Ixora

This is the Maui Red again only the blooms have not begun to fade.

'Maui Red' Fresh Blooms

Red Ixora

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Progress on the New Bed

Well as promised, here is an update on the new bed. My next door neighbor finally got his yard vacuumed so I got a few more leaves to add as mulch. I would say at this point we are just about three quarters of the way done with the mulch.

Section I of the Tropical Bed

By next Summer I'm hoping the air conditioning unit will be at least part of the way concealed with some type of plants. I've considered putting a trellis of some sort up to disguise it too. It goes with out saying the hose will be made less visible as well.

Section II of the Tropical Bed

New Mulch

If you look closely you'll see we've added some Chrysanthemums to this section of the bed. There are also other plants that have been recently added, I'll post them in a separate blog later this week. I'll show them to you in their puny little state and we'll watch them grow in to something wonderful next Summer.

Newly Mulched Woodland Bed

Just Another View

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Blooms Are Almost Gone

I've been off from work the past two days and I've felt a little less than myself. I can't stand being couped up in the house, so I thought a walk outside might make me feel a little better. I can almost hear all our little babies yawning as they prepare for their Winters sleep. I searched high and low to see what I could come up with as far as blooms go... not a lot to see at this point. It was kind of chilly outside today, this little petunia looks like it would prefer to stay curled up as if protecting itself from the wind.

Pink Petunia

This little aster is making one last attempt to push out a bloom or two.

Blue Aster

What do we have here? This amaryllis has decided to give a November show. The Red Lion and Minerva are getting ready to bloom also. When they open up, I'll take a picture and post it on the blog.

'Apple Blossom' Amaryllis

Last but not least, the last of the Wave Petunia blooms.

Purple Petunia

Monday, November 5, 2007

My Rock Collection

Some time ago I started a small rock collection of sorts. When friends would go on vacation they would always ask, "What do you want me to get you?" Well anyone that has been on vacation can tell you how expensive it gets when you start buying souvenirs for your friends. I started telling people to bring me back a nice rock. First they look at you like you're crazy then they realize you are one less person they have to spend their money on so they say okay. So far I have rocks from Seattle, Turkey, the Hollywood sign, the Golden Gate Bridge, Puerto Rico and Sarasota. I don't know why I've developed such a interest in them, but I really like them. I decided to carry on my affection for rocks in the garden. To begin with Jamie was certain I had lost my mind. A couple of months, a couple of tons and a few hundred miles later he changed his mind. Here are some of the rocks I use as points of interest in the garden.

Gray Slate from Corridor X

This is a rock my friend Meredith brought me back from her parents house in Seattle, Washington.

Seattle Blue Granite

I found this one on a trip to see my In-Laws in Cordova, I was having a fit to get it but it was just to big for us to get at the time. Jamie and I had already put at least 800 pounds in the trunk of his Taurus. I at least had enough sense to know this one would be better left behind. We eventualy were able to load it up and bring it home. It was back breaking to move this thing. I'm certain it weighs over two hundred pounds. I used it as a driveway marker after my friend Carol made the suggestion.

Brown Slate

My friend Jimmy got these from a creek bed at a construction site. I just love the color of them.

Red Creek Rock

This one was also a gift from Jimmy. It may have to be moved to a new home next year. It all depends on how large the Banana Plant gets.

Red Rock and Yarrow

This one is one of my favorites. It always seems to catch my eye when I walk thru the back gate. I took this shot from a little further away so you get a better idea how it sits in the landscape. I really love this rock. I'm not really certain why this particular one grabs my intrest so much, I love them all.

My Favorite of the Red Creek Rocks

I really like the way irises look growing in the rock so you'll see where I have planted them in several similar ways.

Blue Limestone

More slate from Jamie's hometown, once again with Irises planted around them. Jamie loves the fact that he has part of his home at our home.

Slate and Iris

I think this is and odd combination of shapes. It makes a pretty group to me. It's all so different.

Odd Shaped Stones

This is a much larger rock than it appears. It's found a resting place under the Crepe Myrtle in the front yard. I wasn't certain if I liked this one where it is, but it eventually grew on me. Now it looks as if it belongs there to me.

Blue Slate and Crepe Myrtle

Well, that's it for the rock collection. I know some of you are saying, uuumm, they're rocks... okay... and that's alright :-) Others of you are saying Wow! That's so cool. It takes a special person to love a rock. After all were set into place Jamie was inspired to write a beautiful poem about them I want to share it with you.

O' Aged Rock

O' Aged rock!
Carved by sand and time,
Scarred by weather and colored by lime,
How strong you stand,
Moved only by the hand of man.

Inward, outward, onward and so,
With each new day your beauty grows.
Changed, charged and filled by light,
Mysterious colors so glowing bright.

O' aged rock!
Made by time, made by sand.
Wondrously created, never outdated,
You stand the testament of ages,
Not bending, but breaking as life turns its pages.

Lend me your secrets, lend me your tears,
Your life, firm it stands.
Teach me your ways so that I can,
Can too, stand strong in the face of man.

~ James Preston Lawson