Friday, February 29, 2008

More Shooting Stars

For some time now, it has been my intention to have more shooting stars in my garden... I have not actually done anything about it, but it is still my intention.
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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Views Of Zihuatanejo

Here are views that make up a panorama of Zihuatanejo from our condo; looking west at the bay, south, east towards town, and north.
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The first two shots show some of the open air spots on the beach right in front of the town (Playa Principal ). The last two shots are of and on the beach at Troncones, a small enclave north of Zihuat, famous for artists and surfers (the last shot shows my wife Liz deciding if she really wants fish sticks for lunch).

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Since the snow is still blowing here in Iowa, here are some pictures from our recent stay in Zihuatanejo, Mexico. Zihuat, as it is dubbed, was formerly a small fishing village north of Acapulco, and still isn't too much of a big city, with 150,000 people. Being quite a ways south, the climate is beautifully warm in winter; daytime highs were 88-90, with pleasantly dry air, so it cools off at night. There are numerous beaches in and near Zihuat; at top is Playa La Ropa, just south of town; at bottom is the beach at Ixtapa, the resort area north of town. The second picture shows the bay (bahia), and the third picture is a funky open cantina on Playa (beach) Los Gatos, across the bay from Zihuat.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Garden Estrangement

While Iowa has never allowed that elusive goal of year-around gardening, it is a rare year that doesn't see me at least puttering around out in our woodland garden in all seasons and months. This year is an exception; I don't believe I've set foot out there for a month (of course half of that time I was slurping down margaritas in a cantina on the beach in Zihuatanejo). At any rate, I presently could not even enter the garden if I wanted to, as the gates are all sealed shut by ice and snow. This has led to an odd feeling of estrangement from what I vaguely recall as a pretty nice flower garden; I can't even at present work up any enthusiasm over looking through the piles of flower catalogues that arrived while we were gone.
But, March is on our doorstep; soon foolish robins will be floundering about in the snow, wondering where the worms went; the snow will then eventually melt, the snowdrops will rise from the cold, dark earth like so many little ghosts... and spring will be upon us.
We must therefore have faith... though an extra week in Mexico would have helped, too.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Returning To Reality (and other cruelties)...

Returning to Iowa from balmy southern Mexico was somewhat akin to being smacked in the face with a cold slushball; it's still full-blown winter here and the snow is getting piled so high from our driveway, that we're running out of places to put it. T. S. Eliot began his poem The Waste Land with the famous line April is the cruellest month ... had Eliot lived in Iowa, he would have known that no month holds a candle to February when it comes to cruelty.
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Friday, February 08, 2008

Here's The Shovel!

Well, so we picked up another foot of snow yesterday, and it's supposed to be well below zero this weekend. It doesn't bother me... us midwesterners are tough; we're used to it; we don't complain about it... and of course, we're out of here! Verle mas tarde... MUY mas tarde!!
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Thursday, February 07, 2008

Feeding Frenzy

Morning is like feeding time at the zoo here; first our two cats must be fed... they usually wake us up as the sun just peeps over the horizon, by repeatedly jumping up on the bed, and then jumping off with a loud "THUMP"! Then the goldfish that spend the winter in a tank in the greenhouse need to be fed. By that time several deer are peering into the house to see if everybody died or if somebody is EVER going to bring out some corn (I don't normally feed the deer, but this is not a normal winter). Feeding the deer also takes care of the local squirrels, who spend most of the rest of the day puzzling out how to get up on our birdfeeders; the birdfeeders in question of course need to be filled. Finally, it's time for peanut butter toast and a glass of V8 to feed the hungry gardener/zookeeper... and so the day begins.
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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

I Just Know I'm Going To Like This Plant...

Sometimes even before a new plant in the garden blooms, I just know I'm going to like it... this was Tricyrtis formosana Autumn Glow last year, in its first summer in our garden. It will have spotted, purple flowers this next summer, which will just be a bonus to the scrumptious, variegated foliage, which rapidly forms a dense clump.

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

No Photoshop Needed...

I've always hated those pictures of sunsets that are obviously altered so they ooze with garish purples and oranges... or at least I thought they were altered... this picture is completely untouched. This has been a strange winter; almost constantly snowing and very cloudy (with another foot of snow predicted tonight). However on those rare days when we've seen a little sun, we've had dynamite sunsets. I'm not sure whether people are to blame for this weather, through global warming, or whether it's due to some other phenomenon... I just wish whoever or whatever is causing it, would just stop it!
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Monday, February 04, 2008

They Were Here First In The Garden

One of the interesting aspects of gardening in a woodland is that a number of wild flowers were here when I started the garden, and all of them have at least persisted, and most have thrived... in fact some have made themselves quite comfortable by trying to take over one or another garden bed. One of these pioneers that has rambled about here and there, but has not been obnoxious about it, is the woodland phlox, P. divaricata. Here it is growing at the foot of my statue of Pan that I showed a few days ago, snuggling in between a heuchera and a variegated euonymous. Something I've come to appreciate is that this little phlox never looks out of place... which is a good thing, since it's popping up in quite a few spots.
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Sunday, February 03, 2008

Rhododendron April Rose

Rhododendron April Rose is one of those "sunglasses" shrubs; extraordinarily bright raspberry mauve flowers cover this twiggy, four foot tall plant. It is one of the earliest lepidote rhododendrons to bloom in our garden, and really lights things up. It is a cross between R. mucronulatum, carolinianum, and dauricum, and is a Mehlquist hybrid. I've never completely decided if I'm madly in love with it or don't care for it... on the downside, its color is hard to match up with the rest of the spring garden, it is kind of twiggy, with leaves that don't look the best after a hard winter, and it blooms so early it sometimes gets completely nailed by late freezes. On the upside, the individual flowers really are rose-like, it is covered every spring with flowers even after sub-zero winters, and it certainly does brighten up the early spring garden on gloomy days. I think it might benefit by being combined with one of the early very pale pink or blush white rhodys to tone it down a little... or, I could just wear sunglasses.
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Saturday, February 02, 2008

Wee Daffodils With No Name

I love wee daffodils in early spring... the trouble is, they've all lost their wee labels, so I can't tell you their names.
picture taken last March

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Friday, February 01, 2008

Gardener Lives Here

As I've outlined here before, the back of our house is really the front to us, and visa-versa (I don't know where that leaves the sides). Where people drive in is pretty nondescript, and few would suspect that there is an extensive garden here... though in spring the daffodils along the driveway might give a clue.
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