Sunday, August 31, 2008

Crinium lilies

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Crinium lilies can be seen throughout the South from mid summer on. The ones seen most often are referred to as "milk and wine" lilies as they are white with a maroon streak down the petals. This one is somewhat of a rarity as it is all wine colored. It generally puts up flower stalks several times during summer. I have forgotten where I got this but I am sure I bought it several years ago (as opposed to receiving it as a pass-along plant as is often the case with milk and wine). With almost no care it has increased in size to a nice clump, and rewards me with both beauty and fragrance. As evidence to the lack of care these fine plants require, they are often seen at old home sites where the house has been gone for many years. Keep a lookout for these old soldiers as you drive along old roads.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Don't give me Justice: I need Mercy

Wendell Berry has written in Citizenship Papers " Even justice, without mercy ,forgiveness, and love is intolerable." Sleeth, In serve God, Save the Planet has voiced similar statements. Micah 6:08 says,"He has showed you,O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love mercy. and to walk humbly with your God." Doubtless there are innumerable other statements like this that I am unaware of. It is a subject worth thought.
Where can I find the need for justice and mercy in my everyday life? When I eat in a restaurant I should give a fair tip to the waiter (waitress). She is working and has to live ,too. Mercy might provide a larger than necessary tip, or an adequate tip even if service was not so good. (She may be just starting or having a bad day.) I should give the benefit of doubt. After all, I will receive recompense based on what I did and thought, not what someone else did or thought.
When I am stopped for speeding and instead of a ticket, receive a warning (could it be my white hair?), that is clearly mercy.
Since I began mulling this topic several days ago, I have become more confused, not less. Virtually all the examples I came up with related to either legal or religious matters. The other examples seemed to fall more in the realm of kindness rather than justice/mercy.
So... what do you think? Give me some input. Posting to comments will allow me to edit and also easily make your thoughts avaiale to everyone who cares to look.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Alabama in August

Lest you forget, this is Alabama, this is August, and summer is not over yet. The soaring humidity left over from the recent rains generated by Hurricane Fay, is enough to melt a Greek statue. Even the dog has given up chasing the squirrels. She stretches her belly against the cool concrete and is thankful. The squirrels are swinging in the swamp dogwood , feasting on berries and shaking a rain of plums off the slow plumb tree. The rain brought up an abundant crop of mushrooms of every sort. I have seen several fairy rings the last few days.

It’s best not to move too fast in this weather. Do what you can in the morning and take a nap after lunch. Night is coming and it will be cool enough then to sit for a while on the porch and enjoy the cacophony of insect song

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What We Need Is Here- Wendell Berry

What We Need Is Here

Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye,
clear. What we need is here.

Wendell Berry

Monday, August 25, 2008

Anole: it's not easy being green , so sometimes I turn brown

Isn't this a beautiful creature? Anoles are everywhere around my house and greenhouse. I think they are the dearest of their kind. I have other lizards, too, but they are simply not as elegant as anoles. Their green shade is so beautiful I want to paint a wall of my living room that color. My friends gently advise against it.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Meet Dora the Explorer.She is a chihuahua (obviously). When she came to me she had another name, Ladybug. But because of her personality, I changed her name. She loves to explore out in the edge of the woods and into the deep grass. That is, she did, till she was bitten by something (coyote, fox?) . Whatever it was she was so terrorized that she stopped being quite so brave. I think she is lucky to be alive, and she was as frightened as I would have been had a dinosaur chased me.
She has been having some trouble with being housebroken (I keep her on the screened porch, but I don't want her messing up there either.) I had taken to the time honored tradition of pushing her nose in it and tossing her out. One day I had watered the plants on the porch and made quite a large puddle on the floor. I saw her when she saw the puddle and could see her alarm. She must have thought "Oh boy, I am in it now". She slowly went over and sniffed the water, then seemed to relax.
Animals are such fun creatures.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

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Pot Man (Person?)

This is my pot man constructed with a little help from my friends yesterday . I have been planning this all summer, but better late than never. It was great fun. I used some clay pots with chips, as you can see, and just stuff I had around for the most part. Mary contributed pots she found hidden under leaves, Hiram helped with the actual construction and some ideas when we came to an impasse, the hat is one that I used formerly when I took the kids to the water park. The thing on top of the hast is not a loaf of bread for emergencies, but a rock to hold hat on till glue dries. The planter you see in the background filled with flowers is an old one that was junked. I filled it with bark mulch last year and this year it is making a fine show with very little watering.
Cheers, Everyone!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

more night cereus

The origins of this plant remain a mystery, but it is in cultivation worldwide.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Night Blooming Cereus

My night cereus bloomed again last night. It usually has 2 big bloom flushes throughout the summer and an occasional blossom in between. When I go outside I know it is open: it's fragrance floats on the warm night air, beckoning pollinators that will never appear. The exquisite detail of the stamens and pistil are set off by the lavish surround of white petals and salmon sepals. The flower makes up for the other short comings of the plant. It is wildly unweildy and I usually tie mine up to an old fence to keep it from flopping over. It grows every which way, and the weight of the foliage quickly outstrips the weight of the pot. (They bloom best when they are pot bound). If the flowers open near the ground, they are a magnet for slugs and that is a sickening sight.
I got my start of the night cereus from my plant-loving grandmother who likely got it over the years she lived in Florida. That was nearly 40 years ago but I still remember Mama with joy each time that ugly plant blooms. She would call up her friends to come over and view the flowers on the night they opened, and she would pick the blooms and put them in a glass of water in the refrigerator to try to save them. It never really worked.
By the morning the flowers have become slimy mush, and no one would ever guess their former glory.
I have prevailed upon the good graces of many of my friends to come celebrate the opening of my night cereus and spend a few hours appreciating friendship and nature.
It may have been Faulkner who related a story about the street car driver in New Orleans stopping the car and all the riders went up the hill to see a night cereus in bloom. If you have never seen one, let me know and I'll invite you over when mine blooms again.

Monday, August 18, 2008

South African Foxglove

This is a South African foxglove, an annual grown from seed. It prefers the heat of summer and does not germinate till the weather starts to get pretty warm. I have grown it for about 3 years and this year have been forced to weed out some of the plants where it reseeded. It is a large plant as you can see in the shot of the entire bed. There are several in the place just behind the purple heart,but one plant can easily grow to 4 feet wide and 5 feet tall, even in poor soil like mine. I do not find their reseeding to be any worse than cleome (pink and purple blooms far right) which I always cull. I think it is beautiful and is best viewed up close.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The moon will capture your heart

Last night's moon was simply gorgeous. I am sorry I did not get a picture, but I doubt that I could have done it justice anyway. The moon rose round and faintly yellow, and I was momentarily stunned by its beauty. It is easy to see why there are so many songs, poems, and pictures about it. Tonight, before it changes very much, I recommend you take a few moments to view something more unique than any human olympic feat. It is a sight that continues whether you stop to glance at it or not. It continues through rain and fair alike. It displays for the broken hearted, the love-striken, the weary, the aged, and those whose steps spring lightly across the dewey grass.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

We had wonderful rain yesterday. I got 2.5 inches and was so happy for every drop. Thank God for it, even though it means it will soon be time to cut grass again. The earth is soft and moist and the weeds and grass come up easily after such a good soaker. If I get back to the weeding in time, the squamageria lillies may not have to fight their way through the grass. Another name for these beauties is Naked Ladies, since the flowers burst forth before any leaves appear. Too bad they smell so bad.They are totally unsuitable for indoor flower arrangements.
I am watching for both squamegerias and spider lillies (also known as surprise lillies) to begin appearing any day now.

Monday, August 11, 2008

What is this?

This looks like amber to me, and I guess in a remote way ,it is. Amber is petrified tree resin (not sap) that often has insect or other kinds of inclusions in it. The better the inclusions, the more expensive . Real amber comes from deposits in the baltics, Russia, Dominican Republic, and some low grade stuff from Kansas and New Jersey.
The origin of this is Gold Hill Alabama. I had a plum tree die. Well, actually half of it was dead and I got it cut down as it never made any plums after the first 3 years. It had a 'mummy' disease and the plums were no good. These pictures taken after the surgery, show the leaking sap from the living part of the tree. The darker blobs may be from a borer that killed half the tree. Or not? What do you think?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Purple Heart

This morning my flower bed was all abuzz with bumblebees and humminbirds. The bees may be the same ones that are trying to bore down the barn.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Farmer's Market Adventure

This past week was the next to last Farmer's Market and it started out a little less humid and a bit cooler than it had been. I loaded up an assortment of plants to take, something for every taste I hoped. It was a slow day, but after the first hour, an acquaintance from church came along, perched on the truck tailgate, and we talked for about an hour. I kept watching a cloud that got darker and larger and closer. I should have jumped into action when I saw the honey man take down his umbrella. But it was too late for me. The wind came up and big drops fell in splashes. My friend and I scurried around cramming the plants back in the truck every which way.We had about half of them loaded when I turned around to get another plant and found my friend holding up the tent with his head. It had collapsed right on him!
I laughed. What else could I do? I told him I was going to start calling him Big Bad John because he was holding up the tent while I scrambled to finish loading. This only took a few minutes but I was as soaked as I would have been if I had a hose turned on me. Water was dripping off my nose and my shoes were squishy. I took him to his car and then lit out for home.
I could not help but smile about my watery adventure. A few plants were dumped out but nothing bad happened. I was reminded of a friend from long ago who always described our escapades as adventures. This would have been a good one to share with her, but since she is far away, I was lucky to have someone else to share with. He may not have enjoyed it as much as I did , but that was his loss if he didn't.
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