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.