Friday, February 19, 2010

Landscaping 101 (part 3)

The front yard makeover was underway again last weekend. Much progress was made.

The soil was tilled after removing the remainder of the plants that had been along the inside of the front fence. Only a couple of climbing roses were left in place.

This is a view of the side fence. The wispy plants which remain along the fence are bridal wreath shrubs (Spiraea prunifolia). The shrub to the far left had been in the corner at the intersection of the front and side fences.

Three Japanese ligustrum (also called Japanese privet) were planted in the corner where the bridal wreath had been, in order to provide a focal point, plus a little bit of privacy from the street.

I Love Redbuds!

Why? Because when I see redbuds blooming, I know spring is right around the corner!

Technically known as the Eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis), they are one of the few flowering trees that also tolerate shade.   I love the wispy gracefulness of the limbs, which  bare their delicate blossoms in a seemingly random fashion. With no foliage to obstruct the view, their beautiful pink blossoms are exquisite against the background of a bright blue sky!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Speaking of Snow.....

Will winter never end?  Even the lovely resort of town of DeBordieu, South Carolina could not escape winter weather this past weekend.

My son and his wife spent the President's Day weekend there, hoping for some fun in the late winter sun. Instead, this is what they found.

Five inches of snow fell this past weekend. Although beautiful, it was not expected or wanted, since they had left the blizzards that had been dumping feet of snow in the Washington, D.C. area off and on for the last several weeks.

Palm trees covered in snow! Where does the sand end and the snow begin?

Birds along the snowy beach, probably wondering what in the world was going on!

It never warmed up enough to melt the snow, although the sun finally came out.

The beach club and pool area.

A snowy boardwalk to the beach.

Confused waterfowl!

A beautiful sunrise on a cold winter morning!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Snow in Mobile, Alabama!

You would have thought a hurricane was coming. Nonstop coverage of the impending snow. But this is Mobile, Alabama, after all. The last time we had measurable snow was in December of 1996. So it is an unusual event.  My employer postponed the workday until 10:00 a.m.  Until then it was rain, rain, and more rain.  In fact, my street was partially flooded as I ventured out.  But within an hour or so, the flakes started falling!  Living and working in the city, we didn't get much more than a dusting, but I do have proof! After about two hours, poof, it was gone!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Always Save Your Pots!

You never know when you may need them again.   We didn't realize how many day lilies were in my yard. Some are beginning to show growth, while others are still dormant.

More day lilies, plus an aster and a couple of agapanthus.

Bulbs are so fascinating to me.  How can an entire plant be contained in something that just sits below the ground for months, waiting for the call of Mother Nature to tell it that it's time to start growing again?

Here are some irises and a bridal wreath, with the tiniest of buds beginning to form!

Landscaping 101 (part 2)

Last Saturday and Sunday the front yard was completely redone. Everything with a stalk or bulb was dug up and either thrown away or repotted for later planting. The pavers and bird bath were moved. It was a major undertaking. My daughter and son-in-law did the vast majority of the work.

Sweet Pea Status Report

My sweet peas are doing much better than I thought they would, considering the large amounts of rain and cold we have been having.  They have been pretty much neglected since I first planted them.  But they are determined to grow, thankfully.

I have also bought some bush sweet pea seeds which are now soaking in paper cups. They will be planted in the strawberry jars on my deck. It will be interesting to see how they turn out.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Mythological Sunday Mardi Gras

Last night saw two ladies' organizations parading.  First was Neptune's Daughters, which paid tribute in their parade to Jimmy Buffet, calling their parade theme "One Particular Harbor."
This is probably a fitting theme, since Neptune is the Roman god of the sea.

The next group to parade was the Order of Isis. This group consists of former members of Neptune's Daughters and held their first ball in 2008. Interesting choice of name, Isis. According to Egyptian mythology, Isis was the goddess of fertility, which may explain why she was the wife and sister of Osiris. In addition, she was also a guardian of the dead, and had magical abilities. She is represented throughout history as wearing a headdress which included the moon.

The Evil Weed

If this thing ever gets in your yard you are in trouble.  After searching online for a while I finally located it. It is called Cobblers peg (Bidens pilosa).  I have wracked my brain trying to figure out how this pest found my yard and the only thing that I can think of is bird seed. For two years now I've used only sunflower seeds but this pesky devil reseeds each year.  The worst part of it is the actual seed itself. If you can't pull it up before it goes to seed it's a nightmare, because the seeds stick to everything they come in contact with. I actually had to discard a shirt because there were so many seeds attached to it. Some of these plants have gotten over three feet in height. The good thing is that their roots are shallow so they are easy to pull. The bad thing is that they grow and spread very quickly.

....Came summer, and along with it, the weeds.

Summer of 2008, and I was just managing to stay ahead of the weeds. The daylilies had really grown and were beautiful. But other unwelcome visitors were showing up and making it hard to keep that neat, manicured look.

By now I had found echinacea, coreopsis, and black-eyed-susans to throw into the mix, along with some butterfly weed.  I couldn't stick to my 'plan.' For you see, I was still determined to have a cottage garden. Since it was hot, the snaps had long ago faded and I wanted plenty of color. Things were spreading out, and although they don't show quite yet, the nasty weed, the bane of my existence, was planning its evil takeover of my garden.

Landscaping 101 (part 1)

  My daughter redesigned my front yard two years ago, because she knows how much I love flowers. When she and her husband had finished it was absolutely gorgeous.  We had snapdragons, sage, daylilies, a couple of butterfly bushes, agapanthus, iris, a few geraniums, and asters to begin with.  It was so pretty.

That was in the spring of 2008, when it was still cool. The bridal wreath was blooming along the fence, the mulch was scattered perfectly, the plants were placed with room to grow, and I couldn't have been more delighted!  Then the weather began to warm up, the grass turned green, and.....

Monday, February 8, 2010

A Mardi Gras Delicacy--The MoonPie!

What in the world, you may ask, is a MoonPie? Well, it's just about the most delicious edible snack thrown from a float at Mardi Gras that you may have to pick up off the ground after covering it with your foot to keep someone else from taking it, that's what!

I'm serious.  Before the MoonPies were thrown from the floats, maskers were throwing such things as boxes of Crackerjacks.  But due to the velocity with which they were thrown, some parade-goers were actually injured by the boxes.  So the poor Crackerjack was banned in 1972.

What to do?  In 1974 the Maids of Mirth introduced the MoonPie as an alternative to the dangerous Crackerjacks.  MoonPie is a trademarked name of a bakery in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Other companies sell poor substitutes to the original MoonPie. There is really no comparison.

For an interesting excursion into the world of Moon Pies, take a look:

My favorite way to eat a MoonPie is to wait until I'm home from the parade, and zap it in the microwave for about 10 seconds, or until the chocolate icing starts to melt.  Instant smores!!

Hey, but MoonPies don't just come in chocolate, although that's my favorite. They also come in banana, coconut, orange, vanilla, strawberry and apple. Usually they are in silver wrappers with the emblem of the parading organization on the outside.

Get Your M&MS Right Here!

Saturday night belonged to the letter "M" when it came to parades. First up was the Maids of Mirth (MOM's). Typically the ladies and queen of the Mardi Gras Court are plucked from the garden of this society, which consists of Mobile aristocracy, or bluebloods.  I have searched endlessly and still cannot locate their emblem, even though they held their 61st parade Saturday.  Their theme this year is "Pardon My French." The Budweister Clydesdales also were part of their parade.  An interesting factoid did emerge from my research: the MOM's were the first to throw moonpies, way back in 1974! That is a subject for another entry, however.

Following the MOM's was the Butterfly Maidens, which was founded in 2000 and paraded for the first time in 2002. Their theme this year was "Butterflies Under the Big Top."

Last but not least, the Krewe of Marry Mates took to the street. This society is composed entirely of married couples, the only one of its kind, and paraded for their 17th consecutive year. The theme this year was "Movie Night with the Mates."

Mobile Mystics

A relative newcomer to parading, the Mobile Mystics was founded in 1993. Their first parade was held in 1995. They parade during the day, which makes for a more family-oriented feeling.   This year's parade theme was The Wild, Wild West. 

Inca Dinka Doo!

The Order of Incas, founded in 1956, paraded last Friday night. It was first founded as a non-parading society. In its early years it supported the Joe Cain procession but in 1974 it began holding its own annual parade. This society's parade is one of the most anticipated each Mardi Gras season. The maskers are known for their unbridled enthusiasm and generosity as they pelt the parade-watchers with candy, trinkets, beads, and other goodies.

It takes its name from the Peruvian Inca Indians.  The king of the organization is called the "Mighty Inca." The society's officers are dressed in costumes depicting ancient Inca Indian warriors. They ride along with their 'king' to protect him, with the emblem float depicting an Incan Indian temple of stone.

Be Sure to Dot Your "I's"!

Once again, rainy weather caused yet another parade to be delayed. The Order of the Polka Dots, a ladies mystic society, had to postpone their parade from last Thursday night to Friday.

The Polka Dots were founded in 1949. My mother belonged to this society when I was a little girl. The history of their emblem is interesting. It depicts a Hungarian gypsy queen. The emblem masker rides in a chariot pulled by Pegasus, the mythological winged horse. Nine board members of the society dress in costumes of the Greek muses, protectors of their Queen. They ride on the second float.  There are usually fourteen floats in the Polka Dots parade and they usually follow magical, adventurous themes.

Mystic Pharoahs and Conde Cavaliers Parades
Due to rain last Friday, the Conde Cavaliers paraded along with the Mystic Pharoahs and Conde Explorers last Saturday night.  Standing out in the freezing cold for three parades must have been quite an experience.

The video link above is a time lapse of the back-to-back-to-back parades.  Unless you have seen a parade in person, you can't really imagine how colorful the floats are, especially at night.

Mardi Gras Floats Are Floating (literally)!

This has got to be one of the rainiest Mardi Gras seasons I can remember in many years. I've lost track of the parades that have been rained out and/or rescheduled.  Plus it's darn cold!!!!!

I think the history of Mardi Gras mystic societies is interesting. Although I don't belong to one (too expensive) it's fascinating to me how some folks get caught up in the pageantry and partying (especially partying). After all, it's the one time of the year when it is acceptable to be drunk in public!  Mardi Gras is a big money-maker for Mobile, so I don't begrudge people who enjoy this kind of thing.  I went to every parade that I could cajole my parents into taking me to when I was a kid. My own children marched in parades since they were in the marching band of Murphy High School. 

Who dat? Who dat? Who dat say gonna beat dem Saints?

The "who dat" phrase has been around for years. The exact origin of the phrase is muddled. Some say that Southern University used the phrase first, but during the l980's the Saints took it as their rallying cry and Saints fans proudly proclaim to be members of the "Who Dat Nation."

The phrase may just possibly have its roots as far back as the late 1800's. It was apparently used in minstrel shows and vaudeville acts, and may have worked its way into the lingo of jazz musicians.  In any event, it is now a permament part of the vernacular of those who are loyal Saints fans.

And yes, the Saints did win the Super Bowl last night!