Folks – it’s November 6. In Central NJ. This is NOT the tropics. Yet my tropical flowers – canna lilies and hibiscus – are in bloom. Gorgeous blooms.
I discovered that I have a volunteer tomato plant. There are TWO huge tomatoes on the plant, and 2 smaller ones near the bottom. Either these came from my mulch that I put on the plants in the garden back in May or they came from seeds dropped by birds.
I mentioned previously that the dahlias and cosmos are in glorious bloom, and the Mexican Sunflower is doing its part as well (orange flowers on the left).
The snap dragons figured if everyone else was blooming, they wanted to join the party.
And of course the grape tomatoes needed to prove that they were as capable as everyone else of flowering and fruiting even though we have had several nights down in the 40s.
Yep, I am enjoying it all immensely. But I’m a little afraid that we’re going to pay for this weather in January/February.
After my first attempt at netting my garden seemed to have holes in it *giggle*, I decide to up my game. 🙂 I wanted to move the nets up and out from the plants, so that nothing could nibble through the netting. My neighbor mentioned that the deer had totally stripped her mandevilla plant, although to date they’d not touched mine. They (or the groundhogs) had consumed nearly all of the potato vine in the base of that pot, but not the mandevilla itself. I decided that as long as I was going to re-work the netting along the front walk, I’d do “something” about protecting the plants in front of the hedge – which is where there is no longer a pale orange gladiola.
I stared at all the different net and screen material in the store, some nylon/plastic, some wire. I chose nylon netting for 2 reasons: easier to handle and a little less obvious. I stayed with the chicken wire (as opposed to screen material) because I think that webbing is sufficient to deter the deer but still let the insects move about, and let the flowers be seen.
I wanted to drape the net over all the pots along the front walk, but not on the plants directly. I realized that I could use the plant stakes I had already to lift the net up above the plants and out to the sides of the pots. That worked quite nicely. I’ve anchored the bottom under various pots and so far it appears to be stable. It’s only been 3 nights but no obvious damage in those 3 nights.
Protecting the front garden was going to be a bit more tricky. I wanted it protected but not obscured. I needed a fence stretching across the whole front, and hope that the deer would not be smart enough to figure out they could go around the side of the house and come in through the back. 🙂 The only draw-back to the netting that I’ve noticed so far is that I’ve made it difficult for butterflies to get to the flowers. 😦 I realized this when I saw a huge beautiful butterfly on my zinnias. I’m not sure I can have it both ways – No to Deer, Yes to Butterflies – but I’ll give it more thought.
Something nibbled off the top of one of my grape tomato plants. I understand that hibiscus is to deer as dark chocolate is to Ahuva, but do NOT touch my grape tomatoes!!!! I have a lot of old netting and screen material in the garage from other projects so I decided it was time to be creative.
I had a very long piece of nylon netting that I strung over the potted plants along the front walk. Then I sprayed the netting with Repel-All. I’d like to think it worked but if you look closely at the photos you can see that there IS a big red hibiscus flower under the netting, but that flower is NOT there now. I’m going to guess that means the gaps were large enough for someone to reach in and snag the flower.
I took the screen material and draped it about the tomato cages. I used binder clips to hold it in place. It was actually quite easy to cut and attach, despite the fact that I was attempting this after returning from cocktails with my sister. 🙂 I had one little piece of leftover screen that I draped over the small hibiscus plant and anchored that by tucking it against other pots.
Maybe it’s working, maybe not. What DID happen last night was a savage attack on my gladiolas. 😦 I noticed yesterday that I had a gorgeous pale orange gladiola in full bloom. I didn’t have my camera with me at that moment and then forgot to go back and take a picture. She who hesitates is lost. There is NO beautiful gladiola this morning. There IS a bitten stalk. Sigh.
I think I’ll head out and look for some light-weight netting this weekend. I’ll drive stakes into the grass so I can raise the netting up off of the plants but still protect them. Not quite sure how to raise/anchor the side that is next to the walk. Maybe if I put stakes in the pots to lift the net UP, and then anchor the material under the pots that will be effective. I’d worry about watering through the netting but we’ve been placed under voluntary water restrictions. I’m not going to be doing that much watering anyway. *snort* I’ll be ‘watering’ with Repel-All and Critter Ridder.
We went to dinner at friends’ house last night. Before I got in the car I sprayed all the tasty plants with Repel-all. Truth to tell, I don’t know if the plants were okay when we got home again – we were both tired and went inside and to bed. It rained last night/early this morning. We’ve needed the rain. It’s been 3 or 4 weeks since it rained last. I went out this morning and the hibiscus plants are denuded. It really is a bit discouraging. I don’t want to live in drought conditions but I have to believe that the deer came by for a post-rain snack. So in that respect the rain is NOT my friend. 😦 If they’d only stick to the flowers and not eat the leaves, the plants would regenerate so much faster. 😦
On the plus side I DO have a crop of grape tomatoes! AND I took the hedge trimmer into my own hands and dealt with the hedge. I’ve hired someone to come dig up and grind 3 bushes on the side of the house for the planned central air unit. Randy came by to give the quote either the week I had Covid or the 2nd week when I no longer tested positive but was still completely wiped out. I asked him to add trimming the front hedge to the quote. I had an email from him last Friday that said they’d be here this past week, weather permitting. Let me remind you: no rain for 3-4 weeks now. They never came, they never called, they never wrote. Yesterday morning I got out my ladders and hedge clippers, dealt with the hedge, and sent an email to Randy asking for a revised quote – no hedge trimming. I guess that would count as a winning battle, right? 🙂
Sometimes during a renovation it’s hard to tell which description is most apt. Of course given that I’m still dragged-out from Covid, and I’m STILL congested with a runny nose, it’s hard to do most anything.
There has been some work done with framing and pipes since my husband and I were felled by Covid. I think it all happened on the Monday before I lost touch with reality. Ken & Chris added more pipes and connections for the new bathroom.
Yesterday John and coworker (don’t know his name) were here doing more framing – hammering, sawing, generator running, maneuvering large plywood sheets around my old, beloved chestnut bannister and railing. You know I first started to watch and then decided to turn away because I did NOT want to see it go wrong. Of course it was fine. They are pros, after all.
The HVAC person, Marcel, came by last week with Don. We got the quote on that yesterday. All told, not unreasonable. I really consider putting in central air to be a necessity. Yes I’ve lived here 38 years without it, but there have certainly been times it would have been a very nice option. Once I decided we’d do this renovation, I figured out there were 3 guiding principles.
First goal was to give my husband the 2nd bathroom he’s been wanting for years and years now. The second goal is to add the other things that we’ve thought would be nice to have. For instance a new floor. The original/current one squeaks. A lot. It’s also very worn. We’re going to use it as sub-flooring for new wood floors.
The third and very important guideline is for selling the house. Ultimately we will move and have to sell the house. We cannot sell it with the knob&tube wiring in place. We’ve been told that insurance companies will no longer insure homes with K&T and so we either deal with it ourselves before we sell or we have to factor that into a reduced desirability/cost when we sell.
Although we love our hot water radiator heating, the radiators are the old huge iron radiators. They take up a LOT of space and are not especially attractive. We’ve dealt with them on the first floor by purchasing attractive radiator covers decades ago, and removing the 2 in the kitchen & front hall as part of that renovation. But there are 5 old iron ones upstairs and we’re replacing them as part of this effort. I don’t want to hear about “ew the radiators are so big and ugly”. Incredibly efficient but ugly.
I want my windows back. For 38 years I’ve had to deal with a/c units rendering windows useless. In 2019 we replaced all of the upstairs windows yet I still lost 3 of them to a/c units. I LIKE windows. A lot. As long as the walls and ceilings would be ripped open I said let’s put central air up there. Don said it would not be much more effort to drop it to the 1st floor as well, which would be wonderful. I’d get back my dining room window. We’re going to take the window that was removed from the little room (which will now be a bathroom) and we’re going to put that in our bedroom next to the existing side window. MORE LIGHT!!!! And fresh air in season.
Today John & friend and Ken & Chris were here. Not sure what all the woodworking was about but the radiators were going. *laughing* And not a moment too soon. I had the a/c units going this past weekend. I woke up Monday morning and as I pulled up the shades I thought “is that radiator WARM???” Yep. I’d forgotten to turn DOWN the thermostat while the a/c was on. *rolling eyes* I told Ken & Chris to make sure they not only removed the radiators but turn OFF the connections from the thermostat as well. *grin*
So here we be. We are still home not working. Well, I managed to do a little something today that did not require a lot of brain power. There’s something I need to do for someone at work but it requires much more attention to detail and thought than I can muster at this point. The radiators are disconnected. There’s woodworking done. Don said that next he wants to start on the shower!!!
I was SO EXCITED and asked if that meant I should have the tile delivered so we could start designing the tile walls. Don got that patient long-suffering face he uses with me and started shaking his head saying “too soon”. 😦 I want to play with the tiles! And I’m afraid that he will tell us one day – get the tiles so we can install them tomorrow, without leaving us time to obsess and agonize and do and redo our design. 🙂
Apparently it’s going to take daily applications of Repel-All and hot chili powder to get my hibiscus and other plants to flower. I’ve had to add the zinnia to the daily treatments because I came out yesterday morning to discover the zinnia had served as a midnight snack – leaves & buds gone, just the stems left. I hate the smell of the Repel-All but hey – if this is what it takes to have flowers, stink-city it is!
We have a lot of deer in our neighborhood. There are those that love ’em, those that loathe ’em, and those of us who are conflicted. The truth is that I DO feel pleasure as I walk about town and see the deer. I feel the same way about all the “wild” animals I might see: opossum, raccoon, hawks, the very occasional fox. There is something very joyful about nature despite “civilization”.
On the other hand, as a gardener, I would really prefer NOT to have to deal with the deer. There has been so much edifice development in this area that the pockets of greenery are becoming more and more scarce. The deerhave become incredibly bold, strolling down the streets even in the middle of the day. Several times we’ve pulled up to our house in our cars, whether daytime or night, and there are deer on the lawn, and the deer don’t move. They have become totally blase about cars and people. They look at us as if to say “Hey there, how are YOU today?”
I don’t know any good solutions. Hunting? Poison? Co-existence? Barbed wire enclosures? What I DO know is that I want to have a garden and I want my plants to have flowers. I do NOT enjoy plants that consist of bitten stems and branches. There’s not much color in a bitten stem, nor does it attract pollinators, butterflies, or hummingbirds.
This morning when I walked out after waking, I was looking at my rudbeckia in the front garden. I heard my neighbor calling to me from across the street. “There’s a deer in your garden!” she called. “It’s been there for hours!” I edged cautiously down the sidewalk and indeed – there was deer sitting in a nice shady spot in the lawn. Of course I took pictures. 🙂 You can see it was unconcerned with me playing paparazzi.
I went inside to take care of the cats. I could see the deer from the dining room window. It didn’t flinch as I opened the window to let in air. As I moved about inside I noticed that the deer had gotten up and was moving around the house. I grabbed my camera and went out to observe.
The good news is that it seemed to ignore most of my plants. It did take a bite of the False Starwort, but only one bite. The evergreen hedge got a few nibbles, but everything else was ignored. Thank goodness, since it (or a friend) had already done a number on the hibiscus plants in the pots. The deer meandered across my lawn, across my neighbor’s lawn, and then headed back behind that house.
It was a lovely interlude in my morning but it was a reminder as well. I got the “repel all” spray from the porch and doused the False Starwort and the hibiscus. 🙂 Co-existence but do NOT eat my flowers!!!!
I wish I could blame the deer for the dying mandevilla – all I can think is too much water, even though that pot is open on the bottom. 😦
For about 2 weeks now, however, my ears have been telling me it is mid- to late September. The cicadas are extremely loud and out there every evening. My nose is smelling that cooler slightly moist air that means fall. The air is heavy and still. At night the temperatures are dropping into the low 70s, and once or twice into the high 60s. That is NOT August weather. The sun feels warm on my skin, not searingly hot.
According to the calendar, it is only mid-August. That means it is summer. I’m sure mid-August used to FEEL like summer. Hazy, hot, humid. Time for our week’s vacation down the shore. By now the water will be warm which means more likelihood of jellyfish. (Except THIS year, in keeping with everything else 2020, the water has sea lice. I would rather have jellyfish.)
It sounds and feels like mid-September. It is only the dratted no-see-ums that remind me it is still summer.
That’s what WordPress tells me – 12 years ago today I started blogging. That sounds about right because my SL birthday is June 26. Wow. Twelve years. So much has changed. I don’t blog much about SL anymore. I’m not even in contact with most of my SL friends, even though I met so many of them F2F. Maudlin though it might sound – they are all still very much a part of me. Very real to me even if it’s been years. My SL life was so vivid. Intense. It started me on a great path that led to a new job, a new outlook on life, a new me. I think my enjoyment of taking and framing pictures began with all those zillions of screen shots. 🙂 Prior to SL I’d been curating a haiku board on someone else’s website, but blogging my SL life gave me a whole new way to write. I thank all of you who follow me and who just drop in to visit. 🙂 Having reminisced, I know to move on and talk about cats and food and flowers. 🙂
I don’t think I have any new cat pictures to share. WC is not feeling very well. She’s spent most of today under the bed. 😦 She and GC will be 18 in August. They’re entitled to whatever foibles they care to exhibit. BC says she has no foibles. She is a work cat, she says, helping me get things done. Funny, somehow whenever she is in my lap while I’m working, my productivity rate slows.
I do have some food pictures I haven’t shared yet. 🙂 You’re probably tired of me raving about the perfect 40 minute rolls. I baked a PERFECT batch of them the other night. I also made sesame noodles and coleslaw that night. I’m wanting the wheatberry salad but that takes a lot more time and effort.
And of course the garden. There are ALWAYS pictures of flowers and plants. I get such joy from the flowers. I have 2 rose mallow plants growing in the front garden. They are a variety of hibiscus – perennial in this zone. I’m hoping that they thrive. It would be such a joy to have hibiscus flowers every year. I don’t think the colors will be as spectacular as the tropical hibiscus but I think the size of the rose mallow flower is much larger. Only time and good fortune will tell!
My grape tomatoes are ripening! The radishes are doing something, but I really think they are doing something odd, not something radishy. I am sure they are growing down and long, not round. The bits of red I can see between the leaves and the soil look distinctly oblong, not spherical. I’m giving them a bit longer. No pictures of those yet.
I had to hunt down canna lilies this year. Last year I had no trouble finding them and I noticed that the butterflies seemed to really enjoy them. I already told you my thrill upon seeing one of those tropicana canna lilies wintered over and is growing. I have a recollection that I usually head out the last week in June to get my cannas. I went out on Saturday. Unlike my usual style I’ll cut this story short. It took me over 1.5 hours to find them. 3 Home Depots, 1 Lowes, 1 of my usual nurseries and a Walmart. It was the 3rd Home Depot where I finally found some. They were not all that great looking either. 2 of them had tags indicating variety, the other 3 did not. I’m hoping they are tropicanas because those grow to 6 feet. I was planning to go online and pay whatever I had to pay to get some cannas if that last store had not had them. I was exhausted, it had started raining, the humidity was horrible and I was distraught at the idea of no cannas. There were 7 left at the store. At one point I had all of them in my cart, but then I put 2 back. I wasn’t really sure I could fit 7 in the garden (they get fairly large) and I thought maybe someone else was hunting for cannas as crazed as I was by the scarcity. I promise you a picture as they get larger.
My lovage is doing very well in its new location. The ones I left behind in the planter are not as happy. I do like the blue flowers. 🙂 Do you have any idea how difficult it is to weed around a cactus? They don’t seem to appreciate the effort I make to keep their pots clear of clover and other weeds.
My pollinator plants are doing well. I have lots of bees all over the goose neck (Lysimachia clethroides) and the swamp milkweed. No one seems to have discovered the hyssop or the butterfly weed yet. I hope the butterflies get here. 🙂 Can the bees use up all the good parts???
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.
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. I 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.