Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Taking it to the Street's

Last Friday my daughter, mother and I went to this neat nursery near Fairhope, Alabama. What a fun time we had.  So much to see, especially if you are into statuary and water gardens.  Take a look!

All of the pots were arranged by color.

There are all kinds of water plants to choose from.
What luck I had to snap this dragonfly, even though he's a bit of a blur.

Images of carefree days at the fishing hole.

In case you are in the mood for something colorful, here is a watchdog that you don't see every day.

It's Crinum Time Again!

Sometimes known as the cemetery lily or river lily, the crinum is not even a lily at all. It's a member of the Amaryllidaceae family.  It's just easier to call it a lily, I suppose, because it does resemble other lilies.

I have two of these plants. Right now one is blooming; the other has not produced any buds, but it's in more of a shady area, so that's probably the reason. 

The name Crinum comes from the Greek Krinon, which means white lily. Most of the plants have some white in their blossoms so the name seems to fit.  The stalks with the blossoms shoot up so quickly. When I saw the bud pictured above, I would have sworn there was not even a stalk in sight the previous day!

Although I received these plants as bulbs, they are apparently easy to grow from seed. The only problem with that is that it may take more than one year to mature enough to produce blossoms.

As my back yard tends to retain water after a rain, these crinum have found the perfect home.

There are between 60 and 100 species of Crinum worldwide, occurring in the United States, Africa, southern Asia and Australia.

Africa has more species that any other country.  These are truly maintenance free plants, which provide weeks of enjoyment throughout the late spring and summer months.

Jesse Owens Meets Adolf Hitler

Setting many records at the Big Ten Championships in 1935 prepared Jesse for competition in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Germany. Much fanfare had been made of Adolf Hitler's belief that the German "Aryan" people were the dominant race and would, therefore, excel at the Olympic games. By the time the games were over, Owens had won four gold medals:

The 100-meter run (10.3 seconds, an Olympic record)
The 200-meter run (20.7 seconds, a world record)
The Long Jump (8.06 meters)
The 4 x 100 meter relay (39.8 seconds)

The German people were completely enthralled by Jesse Owens, if Hitler was not. It was rumored that Hitler refused to shake hands with Owens because of his race.  This may not be entirely true, however. By the second day of the competition Hitler had already decided to no longer publicly congratulate any of the athletes. Perhaps he saw the writing on the wall.

Owens' competition in the long jump was assisted by a German athlete, Carl Ludwig Long. Apparently Owens had jumped what he thought was a practice jump, only to learn that it had been counted as his first attempt. He foot-faulted his second attempt. Prior to his final jump, Long suggested that he place a towel in front of the take-off board. It worked. Eventually Owens went on to beat Long for the gold medal in the event.

More to come....
Biographical information courtesy of

Monday, May 24, 2010

Ladybug, Ladybug, Fly Away Home!

Look at this busy beetle I discovered while weeding a few days ago.  She was hard to keep up with, weaving her way back and forth, under and over, inside and out.  Apparently I disturbed her little domicile while pulling up some stragglers in my day lily bed.

Yes, I did my homework on ladybugs, and no, they are not 'bugs.' They ARE beetles. And of the 5,000 species worldwide, 400 species are found in North America alone.

I tried counting the spots on the beetle's back, but it was hard to get an accurate number.  I think there are seven, but in this picture I only see six. Apparently ladybugs can have two, seven, nine, eleven, thirteen, fourteen, or fifteen spots. Who would have guessed?

I kept expecting her to fly away, but she just kept roaming all around in the uprooted weeds.  No doubt I must have uprooted her little house. I'm sorry.

Ladybugs are very beneficial to gardeners, since they eat aphids, whiteflies, and mealybugs, among other pests.  They live for about one year.  Incidentally, their color makes them safe from many predators, who mistakenly believe they may be poisonous.  If a ladybug is stressed, she will 'reflex bleed,' which is the release of a bad smelling orange chemical. This also repels predators.

 My camera is never far away. Were it not in my pocket I would have never had the joy of capturing pictures of this little insect. She was moving so fast at times she was literally a blur!

There are quite a few poems about ladybugs, but I like this one by Marie Fleming. It's titled 'Ladybug.'

Ladybugs all dressed in red
Strolling through the flowerbed.
If I were tiny just like you
I'd creep among the flowers too!

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?

Well, well, well.  I never know what to expect when I look out my back door. A few weeks ago I spotted Pablo, a baby possum, snacking on some leftover cat food.  Last evening, I took a glance outside to check on the kitties and got the surprise of my life.  A picture is worth a thousand words, so I'll let these pictures speak for themselves.

Baby Nanners just taking it easy while Pablo snacks.

I can't help but laugh out loud each time I see these pictures.  So cute. Live and let live.  That's a good motto to live by.

Monday, May 17, 2010

A Brief Whiff of Enchantment!

That's the best description I have for the delectable and luscious fragrance produced by the Confederate jasmine vine.

This climber has been one of the best invesments I made when I bought my house five years ago. It was planted at either end of the fence on the north side of my front yard, and has consistently provided me with the delightful greeting each day for the several weeks it blooms in the spring.

What's great about this jasmine (although it's not a true jasmine) is that it's evergreen.  The little white flowers are like pinwheels, spinning their enchanting fragrances into the air.

Contrary to its name, the Confederate jasmine isn't native to the American south  -- it comes from China!

Finishing Touches in the Bedroom

My daughter and I went to Target tonight and she found this neat rug which picks up the deep color in the picture frames and also in the green quilt at the foot of the bed.  Perfect!

My little front bedroom was missing something, even after I finished painting. I kept thinking, white sheers at the windows.  Voila!

The picture frames still need to be completed with photos! That will be the hardest part.

If Only I Could Bottle the Fragrance.....

My sweet peas are finally blooming!!! Yeah!!! The seeds were planted in January and until about a month ago, the plants were just creeping up their little homemade trellis. But now, they are bursting open with the most beautiful fragrance in the world. I cannot even describe it. Sometimes I just stand and inhale the absolutely intoxicating smell for minutes at a time.

The first buds appeared about ten days ago, and I've been watching and waiting excitedly for these precious things to open.

These seeds have been planted for so long, that when they first came up I was just thrilled to know that they had germinated, but now just look at them!!!

If it will just stay fairly cool at night for a few more weeks, I am hopeful that these gorgeous vines will really continue to put forth.  I would love to pick them, but I just enjoy seeing them on their little vines so much that I hate to. Picking should encourage more blossoms, at least it does on most plants, but I'm not sure about the sweet pea.

Did you know that there are over 250 varieties of sweet peas?  Apparently the sweet pea was all the 'rage' in Edwardian England of the late 1800's, even though they were originally grown in the fields of Sicily.  Sweet peas are associated with delicate and blissful pleasure (no doubt from the fragrance), adieu, and 'thank you for a lovely time.'

Ever heard of Gregor Mendel?  Also known as the father of genetics, he performed extensive genetic studies with these flowers, due to the fact that they self-pollinate. This makes it easy to track such characteristics as height, color, and petal form.  Seems like I remember studying about this in biology class many years ago.

Each morning I check to see what's new on the vine, so don't be surprised to see the occasional photo of a new sweet pea from time to time!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Lacy Carrot

I'm referring to the wildflower, Queen Anne's Lace, which I excitedly purchased at my neighborhood garden center last weekend.  Each year I see their QAL display next to their fence so I took a chance and inquired as to whether they had any for sale. Yes!!!! was the answer. So I bought one.

Interestingly enough, this plant is also called Wild Carrot (Daucus carota). It has a long taproot, just like the carrot plant. Introduced from Europe, carrots today were originally cultivated from this plant.

Here are some pictures of the QAL growing at the garden center.  So lovely!

The plants can grow up to four feet tall.  The flowers are tiny and white with a dark, purplish center. And yes, the plants have fruit, which curl inward to build a "bird's nest" shape. That will be interesting to watch for.

A few days after planting. So far, so good!

Well of course I had to know how this flower got its name. Which Queen Anne is it named for:
Is it the FIRST Stuart Queen Anne, who at the age of fourteen became queen to King James?
Or was it the LAST Queen Anne, daughter of William and Mary, and last monarch in the Stuart line?

Legend has it that the queen was tatting using white lace and pricked her finger. The single drop of blood formed the purple center of some of the flowers. 

Rainy Days and Sundays.....

Here it is a gloomy Sunday, with what appears to be an all day rain in store.  I need to do some housework, and in between stops at the computer I am slowly getting some things done inside.

Even my outdoor kitties seem grumpy because of the rain. Doesn't Baby Nanners look peaved?

Dahlia and Jimmie -- "when will the rain stop?"

Time for a new back door mat!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Biggest Water Bowl Evah!!!!

Baby Nanners getting a drink of water.

It's interesting to watch my cats drink water from the bird bath, when there is a perfectly good water bowl next to their food. Maybe it's because they like to jump, or maybe the water tastes better, or perhaps they secretly hope that a bird will stop by for quick bath while they are drinking.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

It's Getting Crowded in Here!

When I planted the alyssum in my strawberry jars, I naturally assumed that the bitter cold of January had killed the strawberry plants that had dried up and virtually disappeared.  So I had the brilliant idea of planting cascading sweet pea seeds in the jars to go along with the alyssum.

Well, all three are fat and happy together in the jars, and although there are no buds yet on the little sweet peas, they are growing among the strawberries and alyssum.  Now if I can just get one bloom before it gets too hot!

The alyssum had me worried when I first planted them; their little root systems practically came right out of the dirt when I transplanted to the strawberry jars.  Thank goodness for the nice cool spring, because they have really been a welcome sight right outside my back door.

Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

No, I'm not going all philosophical. I'm talking about the sweet plant that my daughter gave me a few years ago.  This woody shrub is kept in a pot on my front porch. It didn't bloom the first year. Last year it bloomed beautifully. This past winter I put it in my greenhouse because of the extreme cold.....I thought for sure it was doomed, even with the protection of the greenhouse. But, it came back!

It gets its name from the variation in colors from lavender, to pale blue, to white as the blossoms mature.  If it wasn't in a pot, it may reach a height of 8 feet, but I honestly don't know where I would put it, so there it will stay. Also known as the morning-noon-night or Brazil raintree, its a member of the nightshade family (Solanacae).

Here it is after a full cycle of blooming. It should rest for a while and then start over again.