Thursday, December 31, 2009

As The Year Turns

Lowe's had bags of bulbs marked down to $5 from $19.95. Big bags - 100 daffodils; 50 tulips. The salescleark in the garden area said they have a 1 year gaurantee and I could get my money back if they don't grow. Hmmm.... I asked if the quality of the green thumb was questioned. Nope - just bring back the receipt. With that, who could say no to a sack of $5 bulbs? And then some little sacks of crocus bulbs.

I had an amarylis and some paperwhites bulbs that came with coco fiber pellets. After rehydrating with water, and using what I needed, I had leftovers that I can use for bulbs.

Freddies, getting rid of their Christmas stuff, had a couple of red galvanized containers, and a cute ceramic reen planter with a green base. Now I have the fixings for my winter container experiments.

I mixed the coco fiber with a big scoop of potting soil. Put some rocks in the bottom, then some of this potting mix. Some bulb food. Bulbs. More potting mix. Top off with some rocks. Half cup of water.

I put this container in a box, surrounding the planter with some straw. I'll give it to my neighbors for New Year's and hope it will bloom in spring!


A blanket of 3 inches of snow at the end of December.
The storm was short-lived.
2+ days, and it's still on the ground.
Temp today upper 40s.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Autumn Flowers

This is a Gazania blossom.
They bloom for a day, and then close up at night. Open next day and that's about it. I don't like them so much because they don't last very long. I hope I remember this when I buy plants next spring!

This next photo is meant to show the rain drops collected on this leaf. I don't remember the name of the plant, but it's a foliage plant.
I do like this one alot. Produced a good quantity of green under brush for the container.

I planted a couple containers of pansies, violas and mums with some bugle weed, and ornamental grass. The pansy is a tough plant from my experience. Some have lasted since spring when first planted. Lasted through the heat and all.

Origin of the word Pansy: c.1450, from M.Fr. pensée "a pansy," lit. "thought, remembrance," from fem. pp. of penser "to think," from L. pensare "consider," freq. of pendere "to weigh." So called because it was regarded as a symbol of thought or remembrance.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Needle Drop

What we have here is something called natural needle drop. This is the ponderosa pine that blossomed back in the spring and had magenta colored cones - also a natural process every couple years.

Pine trees drop needles every fall. Ponderosa's keep needles for about 4 yrs - these needles you see on the ground first appeared on the tree 2005-06. If the needle drop is more than usual, it means that 4 yrs ago was a great year for growing needles.

Sometimes needle drop happens over several weeks, or it can happen much more quickly. They say it depends on the weather. Last Sunday, I was mowing the lawn and there was no needle drop. Today, voila!

1st Blue

September 29 - First blueberry! It was sweet and ripe. This is the extent of the blueberry crop - yes, two (2) berries. But, since they usually don't bear fruit the first year, I hear, then this crop is overflowing!

Weather has taken a turn. Weekend was up to 80F. As of Monday, we have upper 40s, low 50s in the morning and high of 60ish. Today, sprinkles only.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Sunflower Status Report

The Lemon Queen Sunflower that I planted (as part of the Great Sunflower Project), have smallish blossoms, last for about 5 days or so. Then they slowly wither, dry out, and die to brown. The stems have been spindly for sunflowers. Too many to a container? Too much water? Not enough water? Or just the way the plant is? I dunno.

As they wither, the sunflower and stem start leaning over, as you can see here the 3 are headed south. I planted a wooden stake in the container and trussed them all up together. To keep the stake upright, I tied it off to the iron hanging planter in the middle of that patch of comfrey. The stems still seem a bit top heavy.

So far, only 1 seed head. The seeds don't taste like much though. I think the birds have been pilfering the seeds. This plant isn't grown for it's seed heads, apparently.

Weather today was mild, in the 70s, a bit cloudy by afternoon.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Flower Shots

I bought a new little ultra compact camera to supplement my larger one for trips and such. I am impressed by the way it handled some flower shots in the yard. Here are 3 examples. The bee is on an autum sedum which is flowering right now. For some reason, I thought the flowers were supposed to be on the orange side of the color wheel, but they appear pink to me. The bee is proof that the honey bees are still here! In fact I've had honey bees throughout the spring and summer.

Here is the interior of a petunia. This was totally an automatic pic, taken with the camera deciding all elements of shutter, etc. I cropped this to show how in focus the stamens and seed pods are.

The yellow viola I cropped to focus in on the flower. Violas have been hanging in here since early spring. They are rejuvenating now that the weather is cooling down some.

This Labor Day weekend was the first 2 days of rain in a row that we've had in some time. Today, it's about 70, sunny at the moment, with a slight breeze. Some clouds.

Grass Patch

The city replaced and moved the water meter that was installed decades ago (I imagine it went back to the 1920s--40s). It was right next to the house. Nowadays, they put them in the street where they have the right of way. The new one is installed to the left of the black car.

In the process, they had to trench from street to house, run new pipe, and refill the trench. Today, I put out grass seed, seed soil cover and watered. Hoping to see green grass before the season turns.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Flower Bed

Bees sleeping in flowers gives a new meaning to the term "flower bed."

I found this bumble bee sleeping in a sunflower this morning. The morning was cool, in the 60s. This picture was taken about 8:45 am. As the morning warmed up, bee took off and started his daily routine. At 8:30 pm, I found a bumble bee on the same flower, sleeping. I imagine it's the same one!

Turning around, I found this honey bee, sleeping in the allysum. From my limited web research, I find the bees do sleep in flowers - the male that doesn't have to return to the hive at night. Females go back to the hive. Also, found that only the female has a stinger, so sleeping bees can be approached, gently, and even lightly touched. I did not so experiment!

I learned that bees hold on with either their legs or their mandibles and tuck in for the night. The bees wings are still and they just sit there. As soon as the day starts to warm up the bees will begin stirring and again begin their search pollen or mates. Some say that the bee isn't sleeping but rather slowing down metabolism to save energy in the cool of the evening. I'm not sure how one would decide a bee is sleeping or saving energy.

I'll bet that honey bees have sweet dreams.....

Thursday, August 6, 2009

This is one of the things I like to make with the blackberries that I harvest from my yard. This is the first berry smoothie of the year. Yum!
Fresh Blackberries
Fresh Clementine orange
Fresh Banana
Frozen pineapple pieces
Frozen Lambert cherries
Some nonfat plain yogurt
Some soy milk

All measures: your choice.
With my mix, it was about 160 calories, 8g fiber, 3g protien

Monday, August 3, 2009

White sunflower seeds?

I might not completely understand how the sunflower evolves into sunflower seeds. But, this looks like it will end up having white sunflower shells.

Let's keep our eye on this one.

Weather - got up to mid-80s today. At 7pm, breezy and comfortable - finally!!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

When I went out to do my "count" for the Great Sunflower Project, I found this bee just sitting on the sunflower. I thought maybe he was dead from heat exhaustion as the temperature on Tuesday was 104 in the shade. And out in the backyard in the afternoon sun, well, it was a stunning experience. But, after awhile, the bee staggered and then perked up, flew away.

The count time is 15 minutes - watch your sunflowers and count the number of bees you see. Then report. I saw 4 wasps - they landed on the leaves and then looked like they were doing push-ups; didn't go to the blossom; 3 honey bees, and 1 bumble bee.

Here is a sunflower that is ready to bloom. Of the 18-20 seeds I planted in spring time, I have 6 strong plants and 3-4 smaller ones.

This type of sunflower produces a couple of blossoms on each stalk. They don't last long, and they don't appear to make seeds (but, I could be wrong about that). After they bloom, they sort of wither and droop.

Tuesday, the weather was horrendous - 104 in the shade. Wednesday, 100. It's been coming down a degree a day since then. Today it was 97. Night time getting down to 60s finally. I've been watering daily early morning 5-6 am, and late at night about 10 pm.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Low Tech Blackberry

The first to arrive! Sweet, lucious! By next week, I should have enough for a bowl or smoothie.

I have a blackberry patch at the edge of the back yard. Back in the early '90s, I would occasionally try to kill this patch of berries. Cut it down to nothing. Dig up parts. Eradication was my intention. But, the berries have more than 9 lives and kept returning annually.

And I love blackberries.

Made peace with the patch and now I only prune. In January. Cutting back the dead canes (that fruited last year) to ground. And pruning the rest to about 4-5 ft tall. This picture, to the left of the rr ties, showing the patch after this haircut.

Now, I harvest from end of July through mid-September. Yum!

Weather today - started in the low 60s and went to the upper 90s. A bit stifling. At 8:45 pm, it is still 89.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Mobile Gnome

And here we have the garden as it was when I finished the porch staining project. All put back together, with the little ol' gnome well hidden in the middle, a silent sentinnel for the plants.

Now, he is on the move again.

As C.S. Lewis once said, "If we really think that home is elsewhere and that this life is a 'wandering to find home,' why should we not look forward to the arrival?”

It is painting house season, and so it goes. Not only is the gnome wandering, but so too the whole garden, so that it is safe from ladders, paint and other such gear. I moved all containers out into the yard. Used the hand truck for the heavy ones.

Being in a new positions in sun and shade, I am interested in how the new placement has impact on growth or demise of the plants. The raspberries, of course, aren't going anywhere. I didn't think about painting the house when I plunked them in the ground. Will see tomorrow if the ladders can safely stretch over them to reach the end gable.

The weather today was in the mid-80s. Clear. Right now, at 10pm, it is still low 70s. They say it will be triple digits on Sunday or Monday.

Monday, July 20, 2009

February Blooms in July

In February, I attended the Yard and Patio Show and picked up some bulbs. The weather outside, at the time, was freezing! Snow still an occasional happening. It was the best I could do to run outside, dig a quick hole for them, and plunk them in the ground and run back inside. Then hope for the best.

I bought 2-3 bulbs. Two stalks did emerge from the ground, but they looked like weeds. Before you knew it, one of the stalks got clipped by the lawn mower in late April. I took steps to protect the other one. And then waited.

I arrived home from work today, and voila! Here is the first lilly blossom. An asiatic lilly of some kind. I can't remember the name. The petals aren't the fancy kind with colorful freckles. Sort of a basic looking lilly, but big - about 4-5 inches across. As soon as I snapped pictures and put the camera away, along came a bee to check out the big flower.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The sunflower blossoms first appeared on Tuesday, July 7. I came home from work, and there were 2 blossoms! The big one is taller and gets a bit more sun. They inspired me to find out more about sunflowers. The following tidbits are from my research – on the internet, so it must be true!

Sunflowers exhibit heliotropsim, meaning that the flowers and/or leaves follow the sun throughout the day starting in the East in the morning, moving toward the West throughout the day, and then returning to the East at night.

It is a native species to N and S America and was used by American Indians for an important, high-energy food source. Spanish explorers carried it with them to Europe in the 1500s. Russian agronomists were responsible for the first agricultural hybrids. These returned to the United States with Russian and German immigrants.

One of the most beneficial uses of sunflowers is in the removal of toxic waste from the environment. Utilizing an emerging technology called rhizofiltration, hydroponically grown plants are grown floating over water. Possessing extensive root systems, they are able to reach deep into sources of polluted water and extract large amounts of toxic metals, including uranium. Such a process has been utilized in the former Soviet Union to decontaminate water polluted as a result of the 1986 accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. The roots of floating rafts of sunflowers were able to extract 95% of the radioactivity in the water caused by that accident.

The composition of the sunflower's florets itself is also rather fascinating and has been studied by mathematicians like Leonardo Fibonacci (a 13th Century Italian mathematician from Pisa, Tuscany*) and Greek mathematicians alike.

The sunflower's complex mathematical structure is based upon the famous "Golden ratio" (again, discovered by Fibonacci) where the growth rate of successive numbers gives a ratio which converges on1/2x (1+/5) = 1.618, known as the "Divine proportion" or "Golden section" of geometry and aesthetics in nature.

In simple terms this means that there can be 34 spirals in one direction and 55 in the other direction, or on some larger flowers can range from 89 to 144. The symmetry and logic of a sunflower's flower structure has astounded and fascinated artists and mathematicians alike and manages to cross many fields of science in one simple... flower.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

1st Summer Bouquet

Lavender and roses (golden shower climbing rose). The lavender bush is about 25 years old, and produces every year.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Let's review.
The cherry tree at the height of our massive snowstorm in December '08. This is almost exactly 6 months ago.

"Loveliest of trees, the cherry now /Is hung with bloom along the bough...."

The tree was bursting with blossoms. Quite beautiful. About April.

It is June: Lambert laden branches. The whole tree is loaded! This tree is about 30 yrs old. This is the largest crop I've seen!

I have been successful in harvesting a handful today. The rest will be ready over the course of a week to ten days. Now it's a race between me and the birds as the cherries finish their ripening.

Monday, June 22, 2009

This is a Coreopsis Grandiflora. There are several kinds of coreopsis. This is my first year of including these in my containers. They seem pretty hardy.

I like this plant because of the way the flowers stand straight up on their stalks. I also like the way the light shines through the flowers in the afternoon.

Coreopsis flower heads have been used in the past to create a yellow dye for wool. The dried plant has been used as a substitute for coffee ... I'd have to be really deprived of caffiene to consider this option. And finally, the plant has been used as an astringent and emetic, in the olden days.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


The first of the raspberries this year. It was very good. Season ended for these berries in Dec 08. Pruned the dead canes out. Six months later - new crop coming on.

Weather on this Flag Day is in the low 70s, cloudy until about 6pm. Now the sun is shining.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

He's Ba-a-ack

The gnome's roam is over. I am getting things put back in some order. This lot is about 2/3 of the filled container inventory. Not sure it will all fit. Now that I've finished the staining job, I really don't want to put anything back on the porch!

Weather today was upper 60s with a high clouds. Pleasant.

Monday, May 25, 2009

This holiday weekend has been perfect weather-wise! In the 70s, and light breezes. Friday, Sat and Sunday. I haven't quite put the container display together yet. But, I have added to the container inventory. And I have 2 wooden crates that I stained same color as back porch; will use them for risers to get some of the up above the others.

Tamra gave me a cedar planter that she made with her Tomboy Tools, back at Christmas time. She says just put the dirt in and plant. The last of the sunflowers were looking might peak-ed today, so they were destined for the new planter. I added some creeping zinnias, and a couple of blanket flowers. I am hoping everything will work together. It is hard to imagine these sunflowers in their full growth.

When I bought the flowers for the cedar planter, well, you can't just walk out of the nursery with 3 plants in hand. I ended up with enough odds and ends to create a planter with a light pink, and green concept. I'm not so sure I like the big square planters I bought on sale. They seem to need a shrub or something. The flowers look so small in them right now.