Posts Tagged 'flowers'

Focus on the Positive

Some days it’s just very very difficult to remain upbeat. On those days I look for the brightest possible spot and stare there, whether literal or figurative. This morning’s bright spot award goes yet again to the mandevilla. 🙂 Look at that plant grow!! Not sure where it thinks it’s heading – I may have to string some rope to support that top tendril.

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I Haz Butterfly!!!

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I went out to water the plants in pots yesterday when a large dark something darted across my vision. It was a BUTTERFLY!!!! One I’ve not seen here before (I have seen Monarchs and white moths). It was huge and beautiful and it was flitting about checking out all the flowers! My garden strategy seems to be working for attracting butterflies and pollinators. YAY!!!!! It hung around for awhile on that dahlia (I guess IT didn’t mind the dark color). I had to leave so I don’t know how long it stayed, but it gladdened my heart for sure!

And PLEASE don’t tell me it is a moth, even if it is. 🙂

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Mandevillas Climbing High

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The mandevillas are LOVING this summer. Either it’s the weather or I bought superior plants this year. They have both reached the top of the 8 foot poles and are still growing. Not only are the vines and leaves growing, but both plants have been putting out an abundance of flowers. I love it! I think maybe next year I will find more room and plant more of them – maybe build a wall of mandevillas somewhere.

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The little canna lilies I planted way back in April in the pots have been very disappointing. I am FINALLY seeing one of them put up a flower shoot, but the others have only leaves, no flowers. The hibiscus has also disappointed. 😦 I’ve been putting hibiscus into the front pots for several years now, and I’d say this is the worst crop ever. I can’t even blame the deer this time – I’m not seeing any evidence that they’ve been chomping. I guess they are disappointed, too.

This green plant highlighted against the brown canna leaves is (supposedly) butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa). It’s very tall, but I don’t see a single hint of a flower anywhere. I’m pretty sure it IS what I planted, since I have 2 of them, exactly where I think I planted the butterfly weed. IMG_1501I can’t imagine this plant being at all appealing to a butterfly. I’d almost think that what I thought was the Bolton’s Aster False Starwort was the butterfly weed except that does look like pictures of the aster. If the weather ever cools down sufficiently for me to get out there and weed, maybe I’ll be able to figure out what that plant is. For now I’m calling it butterfly weed. So there.

I do love canna lilies, mandevilla, hibiscus, and gladiolas. They are so bright and cheerful. I’m disappointed in the colors I picked for the dahlias this year. They seem to be very dark, and they are getting lost against the bushes. Most of them have not yet flowered so perhaps I planted some light ones as well. *smile* I really don’t remember what I planted. I just go crazy buying plants and shoving them in the ground and hope that it will look good later when they bloom.
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Supporting the Pollinators

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I have been trying to add native plants to my garden in order to support the pollinators and to make it easier to maintain. Some things have been working and some have been a bit disappointing, but all in all I’m seeing progress. One of the new additions this year is the anise hyssop. I put 3 plants near my gorgeous rudbeckia laciniata hortensia. The pictures online look much more attractive than what I’m seeing but maybe next year it will look more appealing. On the other hand, it doesn’t matter if *I* think it is appealing – I planted it for the bees and butterflies. SUCCESS!!!!  I saw a bee feasting in the hyssop just the other day! I’ve seen a few butterflies flitting about as well, but they have been much more difficult to capture in a picture.  I’m encouraged by this bee and the butterfly sightings. More native pollinator plants next year!!!!

Midnight Muncher

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This morning was so gloriously bright and sunny that I wanted to take a few flower photos before heading in to the office. We are due for some heavy rain tomorrow and that often leaves the plants looking somewhat abused. Imagine my dismay when I saw that something had dug up my gazania and munched the tops off of them. Injury on injury – it wasn’t content with merely eating the tops, it dug up the plants!!!

Working in the garden was NOT on my morning to-do list but I got the trowel and dug new holes and patted the plants back in. Not really a first-class job but I needed to get going to the office. I looked at that and realized that they’d never survive the 90+ degree heat due for today, so I went and got the hose and watered them. As long as I was watering them, I got the front garden and the porch baskets as well.

Munched gazania

I don’t think the gazania will make it but maybe I’ll get lucky. I’d be more upset (and I was dismayed, don’t get me wrong) had I not treated myself to some more plants yesterday. I’ve spent the last 2 weekends doing massive weeding battles. One of the good/bad parts of weeding is discovering all the areas where you thought you had flowers but now have available space. I seem to spend a great deal of my time at the big box stores for house supplies. Yesterday was another visit so I just happened to stroll into the garden area to see what was still there. I picked up 3 perennial plants. If the gazania fail, I’ll put some of those plants in that spot.

rudbeckia and mandevilla

So much for marigolds repelling deer. I think the midnight muncher also attacked my dahlias. Back to dusting everyone with hot chili pepper every night. Sigh. It works, but somehow *I* managed to inhale it every time. ACHOO!!!!

On a happy note – take a look at the glorious gladiolas! Aren’t they beautiful??? And the mandevilla is climbing to the sky! I bought 8 ft poles this year for them, and I can see that’s not tall enough. 🙂 Maybe next year I should treat myself to some kind of arch in the front garden and grow mandevilla up both sides of it. If those poles are 8 ft, then the rudbeckia is at least 7 ft tall (assuming I drove at least 6 inches of the poles into the ground). I LOVE that flower! (And please ignore the evergreens in the photo below – I KNOW they are in desperate need of trimming.)

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Hanging superbells, Mandevilla twining up the pole, Golden Rod which will bloom in the fall, Cosmos, Golden Arborvitae, Gladiolas, Dahlia

What to Do in Phoenix

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I headed out to my Arizona vacation with only a vague itinerary. What I knew I wanted to do: hang by the pool, go to the spa, meet my son’s friends, see the desert, get to Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright’s desert home.weird plant 1 That left a lot of unplanned time. My Super Shuttle drivers had many suggestions for me. They suggested the Phoenix Botanical Gardens, a trip to Sedona, hiking to Devil’s Bridge in Sedona, the Musical Instrument Museum and Taliesin West. They told me that it was a shame I was there then, because I should have come earlier when the botanical gardens (and all the plants actually) would have been in full bloom. They felt that I’d not get the true flower experience. Ah well, I got there when I got there. The point of the trip was escape, and that happens when it happens. 🙂

My son agreed with all of my plans and with the drivers’ suggestions. He’d also asked his friends for hiking suggestions for us. We woke up Friday morning and decided to have a comparatively relaxed day because we knew we’d be going out at night to meet up with his friends. Apparently mead and gaming are a winning combination. There are a lot of gamers in Phoenix and now there are meaderies as well.sundial Yes – multiple meaderies. The Scale & Feather Meadery in Avondale (part of the greater Phoenix area) is brand new – just opened in May. Jumping ahead to the end of our day I will say it was great fun to meet ‘the gang’ and taste the mead. There was live music and the place was full and it was a lot of good energy. I doubt I’ll ever be a mead aficionado but it was an interesting taste test. 🙂 There is another games & brewery right next door and there was a lot of back and forth traffic between the 2 businesses. I felt young again. *grin*

botannical garden desert hillOkay, so we needed to have a non-strenuous day so I’d be able to hang with the gang. We opted for a nice big breakfast at Chompie’s. This was actually a bit of an ironic choice in a way since it prides itself on being a New York deli. 🙂 Our meal was delicious and perfect for what we wanted. We headed from there to the Desert Botanical Garden. As we approached the entrance we saw huge lime green cacti rising up ahead. My son kept saying “those can’t be real” and I said “who knows – plants are weird”. We got closer and saw that my son was correct. The cacti were beautiful Chihuly glass sculptures. We paid the entrance fee and headed in. We realized that we had hats and sunscreen, but no water. You can’t go anywhere in Arizona in the summer without water.pink flowers and a cactus We stopped at a vending machine and got ourselves supplied. We wandered off to see the sights. I have to say that despite the pessimistic predictions there were still many, many flowers blooming.

Even had there NOT been flowers, the plants were fascinating. The layout consists of different garden areas – some are herbal, some contemplative areas, native american habitats, and more. Of course there are the wonderful surrounding mountains as well. Had NONE Of that been there, it would have all been worthwhile because I FINALLY saw a hummingbird.hummingbird closeup I do not think I have ever seen a hummingbird. Or if I have, for some reason I have been unable to retain the image in my memory. In one of the very first gardens we viewed, there was a hummingbird!!! I managed to take several photos. I was so excited! There were other birds and there were butterflies, and we saw a toad camouflaged among tree roots. For me the hummingbird was the star of the show.

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Fountain with alien/possessed water advancing on my son’s foot

There was also a possessed fountain. Oh sure, there will be those of you who are going to think I’m crazy, or that I have a vivid imagination. But I know what I saw. I didn’t take video, but I took photos. I’m telling you that it wasn’t really just water in that fountain. There was something alien and it was aiming at us. You want an explanation? We sat down in the shade, on a stone bench, near a lovely fountain.hidden toad As we sat there, the water began to flow over the top of the basin. It hadn’t been overflowing before we got there. It was a perfectly normal fountain. We sat down, chatted, took some photos. And the water came over the top of the basin. It began to trickle down along the bench, following the arc of the bench. It was aiming at my son’s foot. We moved down the bench. It followed. It kept coming. Right at us. Oh I’m sure some of you would say “what is WITH you???” But I have seen B movies. Everyone in the audience KNOWS that you don’t go in the empty house; you don’t sit in the deserted area; when the insects are buzzing and all else is quiet, you don’t stay.bird nesting in cool cactus 1 And when the mysterious liquid starts seeping towards you, following you, that is the time to FLEE!!! So we fled. I turned back to look. THE WATER HAD STOPPED FLOWING ALONG THE BENCH!!!! It KNEW we had left. I was right. We went to another garden. No mysterious alien water is going to touch us!!!

From the gardens we headed to the Musical Instrument Museum. My coworker had suggested this place before I left, saying that it was fantastic and well worth a visit.cactus and flowers Since the shuttle drivers had felt just as strongly about the museum we figured it should be on our list. I have to say – it is great. We got there in time for the next tour. It’s about 45 minutes and it’s set up to orient you to the museum structure and presentations. There are also audio guides which trigger automatically as you near an exhibit. It was very interesting to see the same kind of instrument being used in cultures all over the world. There was a good exhibit on the electrical guitar – so much I hadn’t known/realized and so much that triggered happy memories. The museum is worth a post for itself, but I didn’t take any photos.yellow puff flowers I was starting to fade a bit (probably from the heat in the garden and the 3 hour time zone change). We made it to the daily performance of the Orchestrion – a mechanical machine that plays music and is designed to sound like an entire band or orchestra. As it was the day after June 6, commonly known as “D-Day” in the US, the gentleman running the demonstration played a selection of military songs. I played the piccolo in our high school marching band, as well as in the marching band from our temple. I’ve marched in blazing sun and pouring rain, at football games, in holiday parades, in celebratory parades and there is one thing they all had in common – at least one song by John Phillip Sousa. Of course my favorite is Stars and Stripes Forever, where you can hear the piccolo above everything else. So for your listening pleasure I bring you the Orchestrion from the Musical Instrument Museum of Phoenix, playing Stars and Stripes Forever. (and a little bit of The Battle Hymn of the Republic)

botannical garden cave hill

contemplation garden

2 cactus plants with flowers

Both Sides Now

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I tend to show you pictures of my garden as I stand outside and look at the house. I do love that perspective, it is true. But I also love to sit on my porch (bugs permitting) and look OUT at the world, or rather, out at my plants. Some have described my porch as jungle-like. That works for me. 🙂 I took these pictures as I enjoyed a cool, non-humid evening a few nights ago. Or maybe it was humid. I was enjoying a wine spritzer, so all I really know for sure is that I was loving my porch and relaxing. (Ignore the weeds – I do)
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