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