Monday, June 25, 2007
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Saturday, June 23, 2007
Friday, June 22, 2007
Gullywasher... that's what we had last night; lightning and thunder and heavy rain for hour after hour. I forgot and left my wheelbarrow out, and this was the result... and it's just starting to storm again, with a flash flood warning for our county, and a tornado south of us. Rats... after I took this picture, I forgot to empty out the wheelbarrow.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
A Needed Reminder
I was therefore in a darkened mood as I moved deeper into the ravine, pulling garlic mustard as I went, wondering if the hundreds of hours I've put in will in the end be a lost cause; my mood was mirrored by the day, a day of low grey clouds and surly mugginess that made me sweat in my heavy protective clothing. However, just as I reached the bottom of the ravine, the sun broke through the clouds directly overhead, spilling sunshine down into the woods where I stood. At that moment a wood thrush began singing in the top of a red oak tree, serenading me with his sweet, languorous song. The sky opened up to a pure, deep blue and a half dozen meadow fritillaries began a slow, swirling dance about an old, moss covered stump in the now bright sunlight illuminating the cool, ferny seep below me.
Being a steward of nature is not work; it is a privilege... sometimes I just need to be reminded.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
You buy these cute little Japanese maples in one gallon pots and plant them in your garden... then one day you find they are the size of a garage and you wish you had a larger garden. Sigh... they grow up SO fast.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
The Garden In The Gloaming
In the fading light, eight foot tall azalea July Jewel lights up as if it was covered by glowing coals, its sweet and spicy scent ravishing in the coolness at the end of a long summer day. It is the gloaming.
Monday, June 18, 2007
Elegance in The Garden... Polygonatum Falcatum
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Aroids, Part XV... Arisama Heterophyllum
Saturday, June 16, 2007
Living in the woods is an (almost) unmitigated delight... there are a few minor glitches. Liz has invited a bunch of people from work over this afternoon, so I decided I'd just make sure leaves hadn't blown into our front door entryway. This four inch across fishing spider was splayed across the front door, snoozing. It was gently deposited in a nearby flower bed. We probably would have wondered why nobody showed up for the party.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
In Our Back Ravine...
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Dracocephalum... Little Blue Dragon
It certainly is a dracocephalum, an interesting little genus of so-called "dragonheads" from Europe and Asia. My plant is about eight inches tall and forms a loose clump; it's that awkward size that's too big for a rock garden plant, but too small and delicate to hold up in a border.
I'm a sucker for lavender blue flowers, so it's in no danger of being ousted, but it has to make do with a little spot of sun in front of an azalea... not much respect for a dragon.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Aroids, Part XIV... Arisaema Urashima
This is a Chinese Jack in the pulpit that has a nicely sinister appearance; darkish green leaves that open like a big hand, and deep chocolate floral structures with a foot long whip arising from the spadix (Jack). I have mine growing in a slightly dry raised bed in light shade, and it seems pleased enough that it's multiplying. I'm looking forward to seeing this dark beauty in a large patch.
Sunday, June 10, 2007
Aroids, Part XIII... Arisaema Galeatum
Saturday, June 09, 2007
Aroids, Part XIII
One fine spring day the next year, I was walking along the main entry path in the garden, musing about how beautiful the garden looked, when a smell assailed my nose that can only be described as akin to some creature that didn't smell too good to start with, that had now died in the bushes. On looking down, this "thing" (I wasn't sure I could call it a flower) was sitting there, looking like a kitchen utensil from Mars; it was the voodoo lily, blooming in odiferous splendor. It has a spathe that is pale lemon yellow, heavily spotted purple, and a long, stiff spadix that looks like it's made out of plastic. It later put up a tall (almost 3 ft.) stalk that is very heavily spotted, with large leaflets at the top, like a hand with the fingers spread. It has continued to bloom every year since, unaware that it doesn't belong here. I of course could have picked a better spot to plant it that wasn't right by the main path, but that's all water over the dam. I didn't plan on it blooming there in the first place, and then always figured if I moved it, it would suddenly realize it shouldn't survive the winter here.
This fall, though, I think I'll dig it up and find it a spot that's a little more out of the way... or at least downwind.
Friday, June 08, 2007
I got back from the woods at noon, had a nice leisurely lunch, then ambled out to the garden. By this time the wind was coming in gusts, and the sky had turned grey, but all seemed well; a thin line of storms had formed halfway across the state to our west, but that was over a hundred miles away. Staking a hundred lilies (as well as a few other plants) may not sound like much of a job, but it all takes time to do properly, for a poorly staked lily is worse than an unstaked lily. I was barely half done when I went back in and checked the weather radar. The line of storms was now only 50 miles or so away, and we were under a tornado watch... the storms were moving sixty miles an hour. I ran back out to the garden, and began staking like crazy. All the while a robin sat on a branch overhead maniacally singing; it was if he was singing Chirrup Chirrup Faster Faster. The clouds overhead began to thicken, then boil, and thunder was rumbling to the west. By now I was sweating in spite of the strong wind... then the tornado sirens began to sound. Strangely, they only sounded for a minute, then went silent; this was almost more worrisome than if they had continued wailing, for I had no idea what was happening. However it soon became obvious that the initial part of the storm was passing just to our west; scud clouds streaked towards this part of the storm, along with all the moisture and energy in the air, and the storm over us just fell apart... it was like letting the air out of a balloon.
So, panting and sweaty, I got everything staked and tied down, only to have the massive storm fizzle and just give us a gentle sprinkle.
This morning is clear and cool; I guess I could go take some of the Bungee cords and rope off of Uboughtwhat.
Thursday, June 07, 2007
Aroids, Part XII
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Aroids, Part XI
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
Aroids, Part X
Monday, June 04, 2007
Aroids, Part IX
Well, it is an odd plant, that's for sure. It doesn't show above ground here until about the second week of May... in spite of the fact that I am well aware of its tendency to be last out of bed (a title it shares with Arisaema candidissimum), invariably every spring I think this little Jack must have finally been winter killed, only to see it finally poke its nose above ground. It then just sits there for two weeks, then in a matter of days, shoots upwards, unfolds its foliage and opens its little flower.
Saturday, June 02, 2007
Aroids, Part VIII
I'm trying to get P. cordata spread about under some of the large Asian Jack in the pulpits, but it's slow going; this is not a plant that's exactly going to take over the garden, and it does not like to be cooked by the sun. Although admittedly there is a lot to see in our garden, I don't think we've ever had a garden visitor spy this tiny aroid on their own, but they all fuss over it when it's pointed out.
Friday, June 01, 2007
Childhood Songs, The Fate Of Wild Orchids, And Other Life Mysteries
When my brother was a boy, for a year or so he went about constantly (it seemed) singing the ditty "Cement mixer... putty, putty". Where that came from, and why a completely non-musical boy who never before (or since) has sung a tune would inflict this on the world, as far as I knew then was not known to man or beast. It was as big a mystery to me as the circus peanuts; these were sickingly sweet, sponge rubber-like candy in the shape of giant peanuts, that my Mother used to buy at the five and dime. The mystery wasn't so much why my Mother would buy them in the first place, but rather why the candy peanuts were colored yellow and flavored like bananas.
Well, both of these childhood mysteries have been partially solved in recent years. The Wall Street Journal actually had an extensive investigative article on the issue of why circus peanut candies are yellow and banana flavored. They traced the origin of the candy back to its inventor, and interviews showed that he came up with the color and flavor, but the reasoning behind his choices is obscure... he apparently just thought it sounded right. Also, the wonder of the internet has now revealed to me that the mindless little ditty my brother inflicted on us was in fact a line from a real song:
CEMENT MIXER, PUTTY PUTTY(Slim Gaillard / Ricks)Recorded by : Liberace; Jimmie Lunceford; Hal McIntyre; Alvino Rey.Cement mixer, putty puttyCement mixer, putty puttyCement mixer, putty puttyCement mixer, putty puttyCement mixer, putty puttyA puddle o’ vooty, a puddle o’ gooty,A puddle o’ scooby, a puddle o’ veet concrete.First you get some gravel, pour it on the voutTo mix a mess o’ mortarYou add cement and waterSee the mellow roonyCome out slurp slurp slurp.
However, researching this has just substituted one mystery for another... you will note that Liberace apparently recorded this song?? I cannot picture that; further investigation may be needed.
Well, this all may seem to be far afield from flowers, but here's the connection: this time of year is when the putty root orchids bloom, and whenever I think of them, that cursed song that my brother imprinted into my brain, re-surfaces to haunt me. I've been thinking a lot about the putty root orchids, because I'm worried about them. They only occasionally bloom, having to spend years building up enough energy to raise up a huge, waxy flower stalk up to two feet tall covered with brownish flowers. My concern is that in the open woods, almost every one of these flower spikes is promptly bitten off by the deer... perhaps one stalk in a hundred, hidden by brush or other foliage, survives to seed. So, what is to become of the putty roots? It's another mystery, but I'm not optomistic.