Archive for the 'flowers and gardens' Category

From the Garden to the Counter

The spider wort has taken over the porch border garden. Once I have a decent weather weekend I will go forth and do battle.

I’ve cut back a lot this year on growing edibles. In the past I’ve gotten carried away with all sorts of herbs and we almost never used some of them. There are others, like lemon balm, that we almost never use but since it’s thriving and happy it got to stay. 🙂 I have one cherry tomato plant and one red pepper (sweet) plant. I don’t think I have any other vegetable attempts.

parsely, dill, arugula, romaine, leaf lettuce

I was making some salads for us to enjoy in the intermittent hot weather. Aside: it’s been as crazy here as in other places in the world. For example: Wednesday it was 91 degrees in the afternoon. Saturday morning it was 41. Memorial day we did finally edge up into the 70s, but only late in the afternoon before it then started cooling down again. Here we are on Friday – HUMID and in the 70s and we’re due for thunderstorms (heads up, Honour). They are promising 80s on Saturday and – oh hallelujah! – 90s on Sunday. I’ve been sooooo COLD. Back to the salads! There are 3 types of lettuce: arugula, red leaf, and romaine. They were for my tossed salad. The dill and parsley were for the chickpea salad. Yummy!

Ready to cook. Fire pit at the ready, also 2 propane heaters if needed.

The Memorial Day weekend was, as I said, VERY cold and VERY rainy on Saturday and Sunday. Monday things finally started to dry and warm up. We had TEN PEOPLE on the deck for BBQ dinner. It was GLORIOUS! We’d not been together since Feb 2, 2020. So much hugging and smiling and laughing!! It was wonderful to be back together again. I got to show off my latest acquisition for the deck – my new ice cooler. 🙂 My sister and I had gone to an Antiques & Collectibles show back in April. This Italian ice cart caught my eye, caught my sense of humor, and I thought it would be perfect on the deck. When my husband texted back to say he AGREED, the deal was done. 🙂 He keeps saying “we’ll get a lot of use out of it” and I keep laughing and saying “oh my it is so kitsch that it is art and I LOVE it”. Seriously – it gives me such joy. I smile every time I see it. And yes – it is useful. It holds A LOT of ice. Deceptively so. We had 3 bags of ice in it for the BBQ and it looked paltry. But our drinks were cold!

No need for shade. We did light the firepit at dusk and it put out a good amount of heat and a LOT of beauty.

Only Needs Sun, Rain, and 36 Years

May 22

This was one of the very first plantings we did when we moved in 37 years ago. That fall my sister and I went to the nurseries (and there used to be many more than there are now) and we picked out 2 white azaleas, a rhododendron, and 2 Andromeda bushes. Only 1 of the white azaleas could hold its own against the rhododendron. There is an Andromeda bush (I think) still hanging on behind the white azalea. The other Andromeda bush thrives at the front corner, well away from the rhododendron. A friend has told me she wants a rhodo like mine. All she needs is another 36 years. 🙂

May 13
May 15
May 16
May 18

FINALLY!!! I Had Visitors!

Oh my goodness gracious! FINALLY! Had both my shots, passed the 2 week wait, the governor said we could gather in groups outside. Obviously the word has gotten around and I had TWO visitors this week!!! The first was the swallowtail butterfly, who wouldn’t stop flitting here and flitting there. I’m not sure which version of swallowtail but definitely a BUTTERFLY! And then as I sat outside relaxing, enjoying the warm sunny day – a Tufted Titmouse dropped by!!! (I only know THAT because TT was much more cooperative about having a picture taken. I could text it to my sister the bird expert to find out who had dropped by.) Wonderful to FINALLY be entertaining guests once more!

I Think This Is A First

Flowering vinca 🙂

Look! Purple flowers!!! I’ve had vinca vines many times in the past. I like having them trailing down from hanging pots, swaying with the breezes. I like them in my big planters lined on the front walk, ‘connecting’ lawn to flower. In all that time, however, I don’t think I have ever had them flower. I’m guessing that is because I usually don’t buy them until sometime in May, which might be past their flowering time. This year life continues to be ‘different’. No – this has nothing to do with the pandemic. This is about the seasons.

Dusty miller, vinca, mint, jasmine, and other stuff. dianthus???

The past winter was very mild. Other than some crazy cold days in February, it wasn’t that cold. I have been amazed at how many of my plants wintered over on the porch. Even my rosemary, which doesn’t make it onto the porch, survived. And thrived. Usually it hangs in there until February, then one night it will throw up its metaphorical arms and die. Not this year. I have all sorts of things coming back, which is great! What’s not so great is that for many of them I have no idea what they are. 🙂 Ah, the perennial question: Are they weeds or are they flowers?

dianthus? thyme, sage (ignore the little sign – it’s sage, not savory), vinca

Some things are recognizable- jasmine, vinca, dusty miller. The herbs: lemon thyme, sage, rosemary, oregano, chives, lemon balm. LOTS of mint. I think the dianthus is back. But there is a lot of green that I’m not recognizing.

Amazingly healthy rosemary, mint, and green stuff.

I cropped the photos so you don’t see the 2 huge bags of potting soil and the huge bag of top soil. I’ve been buying more planters and pots. 🙂 I bought seeds again this year, knowing even as I did so that last year’s didn’t work all that well. Actually, my cosmos and zinnias did – I sowed them directly into the beds. I’m going to try again with radishes. I was unable to resist picking up 2 Romaine plants. 🙂 I really need a “support group” but I want the one that tells me what I’m doing is natural and healthy, not the one that tries to help me quit.

Obligatory cat photo. 🙂 You can actually see her little face for a change because of the sun!

Not Ready for Reality

flowering succulents

Oh man, it’s January in New Jersey. We still have a pandemic. It is glorious sunshine out there but you can’t fool ME – I KNOW that we’ve reached our HIGH temperature for today. It may LOOK lovely out there but it’s 37 degrees but will FEEL like 30 degrees. Ugh. Too cold for a walk even if I could. And I can’t because I injured my back a week or so before Christmas. I have no idea how I did it, when I did it. I became aware of someone stabbing a knife into my side repeatedly. I looked to stop them but didn’t see anyone but myself. There was definitely someone sticking something incredibly sharp into my side. Turns out I seem to have an absolutely text-book case of costochondritis. If you follow that link, you will see that the authors had an interview with my then-future now-current self and got the description for the ailment. 🙂 If you are not into links, the short story is that my rib and its associated cartilage had a parting of the ways (for no discernible reason), and I need to wait until they decide to get back together. My brother-in-law (retired doctor) diagnosed me and told me to take it easy and rest. No problem, I thought. It’s the time of year when not much is happening. I’m not doing much. So I kept on walking my mile on my treadmill each day and, yes, sad to admit how stupid I am, kept doing my little try-to-get-started arm exercises. Well. It turns out that walking and arm exercises move your rib cage. I kept that up for 5 days or so after my diagnosis until I nearly passed out from pain New Year’s Eve day when I went to make the sandwiches for the soup kitchen. At that point I decided that maybe walking was NOT such a brilliant idea. Hey – you CAN teach an old dog new tricks!!

kitchen bay window full of happy succulents

I’m doing much better, I am happy to report. Last night I actually managed to sleep in my BED, instead of the reclining chair. There is only ONE position where there is no pain, which gets a bit much for all the other parts of my body, but I did make it through the night, thanks to the ever-present heating pad. The cats have been quite considerate and both they and my husband allowed me to sleep late – all the way to 9:30 this morning!! Even better – the coffee was still hot when I got downstairs. 🙂 That is one of the most wonderful things about working from home – my husband brews the coffee every morning. Even when I get up early to do the sandwiches, when I come home he has made enough that there is hot coffee waiting for me. Ahhhhh.

WC on Red Couch – All is Right in the World

White cat is doing well also. As with so many things now, having an appointment with the vet is a production. Two pages of questions to answer about the pet, waiting in the parking lot in the car until you can bring your pet to the door. You hand over the animal and go back to your car. You will field calls from the doctor as your pet is examined. Finally you are allowed to pay (I forgot to ask if my husband had to give that over the phone or if they allowed him in to pay). I had a day full of meetings and I was still not lifting any weights (see above – care and treatment of costochondritis) so my husband took her in. Another mark on the plus column for working from home. Yes WC is old, arthritic, kidney issues, thyroid issues caused by the kidney medicine but for being 18+ years old, she’s in good shape. The doctor told my husband that WC was sitting in the doctor’s lap and that WC is a “beautiful cat”. Note to my sister: Maybe if YOU told WC she was beautiful she’d stop tormenting you. *grin* WC was probably frozen in fear. Unlike my dogs, who loved the vet, none of my cats have ever been able to relax and go with the flow. I’ll never forget the time one of my girls turned and sank her teeth into the vet. He had to pause the exam while he got stitches.

Soaking up the sunshine

I may be going stir-crazy by having to stay home and inside so much, but the succulents seem to be quite happy. I brought in as many as I could fit in the kitchen bay window. On gray days, which are VERY frequent in NJ in the winter, I turn on the grow light at the top of the window. On sunny days they get a few hours of direct sunshine. They are flowering and thriving. It does give me joy and satisfaction to see them all snuggled together, very green, very happy. Once a week I try to get them into the sink and give everyone a good soaking. Three of them are quite heavy so they don’t always get the sink-treatment. Even so, they look happy to me. 🙂

October Garden

There is a rule that I have learned to follow: Never Blog When You Are Angry. I’ve actually passed through Frustration, Anger, Resignation and I think perhaps I’ve reached Indifference. All in only 3 days! 🙂 I know I don’t quite have the right frame of mind to write about hiking in Sedona. My choices were food or flowers. I decided to share the last flower photos from October.

Some of the flowers simply knock my socks off with their beauty. That pink & white closeup is of one of the Cosmos. Then there is the splendor of a stand of goldenrod.

The bugs seem to agree with me that Butterfly Weed is wonderful, but they prefer eating it to viewing it. I’m told those bugs are something like “leaf stripper” or “spine stripper” or something. I couldn’t bring myself to do a bug search. I started but was creeped out totally by the pictures. 🙂

I had a Fall Surprise! There was something growing in one of my big pots. It had wintered over. No sign of flowers but looking at the leaves, and the pot it was in, I was sure it was a flower. I waited all spring, then all summer, took off for Arizona – still no flower. At one point I’d even cut back some of the stalks since there were no flowers. I came back from vacation and there were FLOWERS! Purple with a yellow center. I think they must be some sort of mum. They are a welcome surprise and oh so pretty!

I hope you enjoy these pictures. Today is rainy and cold. Tomorrow is more rain all day and temperatures dropping into the 30s at night. That means if I’m going to bring in any plants, I need to do it now, in the rain. Sigh. Only the succulents. I’m giving up on all the others. And I’m NOT bringing in the succulent with those long, dark, HURTFUL spikes!!!

False Starwort

Yes, Ahuva, There ARE Hummingbirds

If you’ve been reading my posts for awhile (18 months or so), you know that I had no recollection of ever seeing a humming bird until I took a trip to Phoenix in 2019. My husband and neighbors had assured me that there WERE hummingbirds in NJ, but I couldn’t even picture what they looked like, much less bring up memory of having seen one. Finally last fall I actually SAW a hummingbird among my canna lilies but failed to capture the moment in a photo. 😦

This year has been extremely disappointing as far as seeing butterflies. I have a garden full of pollinator- and butterfly- friendly plants, and I’ve had fewer than 10 sightings of butterflies. Lots and lots of bee-type insects, and moths, and some scary looking wasp-type things, but very few butterflies. I was thrilled to see a goldfinch feasting on my flowers a few weeks back.

Then a few weeks ago I saw a hummingbird! It was enjoying my firecracker plant (cuphea ignea). Note to self: plant more firecracker plants next year! I was sitting on the front steps and a movement caught my eye. It moved so quickly. Thank goodness my phone camera compensates for my shaky hands and for my inability to focus well. 🙂 I snapped frame after frame. I got as close as I could, loving every moment of watching the bird. I know these photos are not great, but I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Wings faster than a camera lens

Quick Thinking

Rose mallow

Ah, my husband has gotten SO WISE in these last few decades. 🙂 He has learned that it is NOT a “soft word turns away wrath” (Proverbs 15:1) but a WITTY reply averts annoyance. Our stove – our beautiful, 2-yr old, 6 burner stove – is having a problem. One of the middle burners does not light. Not only is it not lighting but I noticed it was causing a different burner’s lighter to spark. Hmmmm. I cleaned all the burners, then turned them on one at a time to see if the difficult one would light properly. It did and was fine for a few days, but started sparking again today, instead of lighting. We stood in front of the stove discussing it and that probably a good cleaning would resolve the problem. Then my husband said “We have a warranty on this, we could have someone in to take a look at it”. Ahhhh, that famous “we”. “We” means *I* will end up calling, *I* will end up arranging my schedule, *I* will do what needs doing. I looked at him and said “We?” Pause. “We?” “Weeee?” He looked at me and grinned and said “We – Woman Extraordinaire”. Okay, he wins. 🙂 It’s really hard to argue with THAT response.

The Gauntlet Has Been Thrown

It’s getting exciting around my house these days. The mushrooms are very persistent. My neighbor is as determined to NOT have huge mushrooms in her yard. I went out the other day to assert my dominance over my yard. It was close but I believe I won. My neighbor was out, dealing with HER yard. All this rain. It’s a shame we can’t share it with California. Our grass is growing 5 inches a night, I’m sure. 🙂 The rain encouraged the mushrooms to mount a foray. Overnight – 3 large mushrooms. I have my neighbor so well ‘trained’! I pointed out the mushrooms and she said she hadn’t pulled them yet because she wasn’t sure if I’d taken pictures!!!!! Love it! I ran and got my camera, took the picture and thanked her. I told her that her yard was getting lots of exposure on my blog. 🙂 By the way – the mushrooms are gone again. We are expecting rain the day after tomorrow. We shall see what happens. Ball is in their court! Stay tuned!

Progression

August 14
August 24
August 25
August 27
August 28
August 30
September 2
September 3, after the rain. The rose mallow has opened!

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