Sunday, May 23, 2010

Carolina Roses



Posted by Picasa

These roses are growing in a roadside ditch near my home in Chambers County, Alabama. I also have some growing wild under a tree in my yard. They require no care, and have no blackspot or fungal problems I ever noticed. They rarely get more than 18 inches tall and spread by underground runners. Their simple beauty has a calming effect, making me think of DesideratThe universe is unfolding as it should. Carolina roses are tolerant of wet and dry conditions,part sun or full, and even alkaline soil. The only thing more I could ask for is a longer bloom time. They bloom for a short month in late spring/ early summer in SE Alabama.

Saturday, May 22, 2010



Posted by Picasa

These pastures in Chambers county, Alabama were covered last week with a yellow flower with shiny waxy petals. The second picture is my attempt at a close up but I am afraid you can only get a general idea of what it looks like. It is beautiful , but it produces prodigious amounts of seed, so is difficult to eradicate. It can actually crowd out grass and is not suitable cattle fodder so it is best to not let the Ranunculus get this far ahead of you.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Tiny Box Turtle

Posted by Picasa

I see I have posted this without explanation. Accidents happen. I had gone to toss some stuff in the compost pile and bent over to pick something when I saw this tiny box turtle hustling along in the leaf litter. I picked him up rejoicing at my luck in finding such a fine tiny specimen. I put some soil in a pan and tossed some dead leaves on top and put it in. I never envisioned keeping it for long as I am not confident in my ability to procure all the things a tiny box turtle needs to grow up into a happy healthy adult. I sprayed the soil and leaves with water each day and found a couple earthworms and a pill bug for food. I wanted to keep it till Hiram got home to see it. Today we took it to the edge of the woods and released it in an old rotted fallen tree. It quickly disappeared into the matrix without so much as a wave goodbye. It was amazing how easily that turtle could hide itself in the soil in the pan. Once I had to plow through the whole pan to unearth it.
The main thing here is that I feel so lucky to have made that baby box turtle's acquaintance. It reminded me that the world is moving, changing, and growing right under my feet with a total disregard for me. Mama turtle deposited her egg and went off about her own business, trusting the laws of nature to nurture an offspring that she could not. With one step I might have crushed the life out of the baby and never even known it.But the baby turtle knows its business, too, and it knows what to eat and where to find its food and how to drink water from a droplet held in the curl of a leaf. It knows how to hide from predators and keep out of view till it is big enough to foil most of its predators by closing up shop. Unfortunately this technique does not work well with cars which seem to be the main predator of box turtles. I do what I can by removing them from the road when I see them and keeping on the lookout when I am mowing grass. In the end I would say turtles are pretty intelligent. They know how to prosper in a world that I cannot even flesh out in dreams. Goodbye and goodnight, baby turtle, as you rest tonight in the soil and leaf litter of what used to be a tall beautiful tree. Live long and prosper. Recycling is the name of the game.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Beautiful Trees


Posted by Picasa

One a recent day I saw these 2 beautiful scenes at different places. The one with the rocks is near Ripville and I thought the careful mowing around the rocks really set them off. These are actually granite bedrocks. The bedrock is barely covered with soil in many places in the area and not covered at all in many. A friend who gardens in the area often complains about the shallow soil, as I am sure I would,too. But this is a lovely yard taking advantage of the beautiful rocks instead of cursing them.
The other tree is in a yard on County Line Road, and is so full of character that nothing more needs to be said.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Snake Tales

Today I spotted a 5 foot long chicken snake in the yard. While I was gone to get the hoe, Dora found it and started picking at it and the snake began to strike at her. She stayed far enough away to avoid the bite. I dispatched the snake with my trusty snake hoe. After it was dead Dora tried to pull it around and shake it. I picked it up by the tail to toss it away where Dora could not drag it back into the yard. On my way I saw a black(?) snake that was about 3 feet long. Coming back I saw something teeny tiny race into the leaves. I believe it was a 2 inch long copperhead.
Then about twilight I went for a walk down the road and saw a 3 foot rattler that someone had run over. It could still move it's tail a little .
Now before you snake lovers start in one me, let me state my position. I do not go out in the woods and fields and hunt snakes to kill. That is their home and I let them have it. But if I find one in my yard, at my home, I am going to kill it if I can. It's just my policy and there is nothing anyone could ever say about the usefulness of snakes or their place in nature that will ever cause me to change my mind. I just do not like them, and am afraid of them, even non-poisonous ones. I do not want to be bitten. I would probably die of heart failure.

On another topic, the weather was beautiful today and this evening when I was walking, I was just thankful for all the beautiful things around. The honeysuckle was perfuming, the birds were all twittering and getting settled for the night. The crickets began to sing and a frog began calling. As it edged on toward dark, a nightjar started calling. I am so lucky.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

China Berry Trees



Some of the pleasant fragrance in the air lately has come from China Berry trees in flower. Of course Japanese honeysuckle is in bloom now too,contributing fragrance, which may be the single redeeming virtue of that plant. But China berries, the beloved tree of my youth, wafts out fragrance calling me back. I used the large ridged seed to make necklaces and enhanced the color with food coloring. The smaller branches had pithy insides which could be easily pushed out to make the barrel of a pop gun and the seed were used for the ammo. There were several in my grandmother's yard, so there was always a ready supply. The adults as a general rule did not like China Berry trees as they are quite messy, continually dropping twigs, berries, and leaves, which had to be swept up everyday. This was in a time when people had bare dirt yards, kept that way with a hoe to dispose of any blade of grass or weed that tried to rear its head. The yards were swept weekly with a yard broom or brush broom. My grandmother had white sand in her yard, and the marks the brush broom made in the sand are still vivid in my memory. I hated to walk over the newly swept yard and would try to go around the edges till someone else had smeared the lines with footprints. Occasionally I would deliberately walk on the swept surface and look back to admire the prints of my bare feet. I wonder where she got that sand because it was definitely a top layer. Once I remember hearing her request someone to get some sand for the yard and then at some point when she was too old to do sweeping or even supervise,some one made the decision to plant grass. It was thought that grass would be less trouble. Ha! Both of these yard management techniques for yards require preposterous amounts of work. I was saddened at the though of the loss of that lovely white sand yard.
Aunt Thelma lived across the road from Granny and right near the road she had a paper mulberry tree. At the time I remember it, it leaned at a precarious angle but it had a fork fairly low so that I spent happy hours dangling in the fork of that tree and thinking my own thoughts and playing with the fuzzy leaves. (Be careful and don't rub them on yourself too much or you will start to itch!) Then the inevitable happened, and the weather laid the old mulberry over just as gently as you please. With the loss of that tree, Aunt Thelma began a search for an Umbrella China Berry tree. Only a small fraction of China Berry trees are this type. Most have a scraggly growth habit that could only charm a child. However, she did eventually did find one and planted it in place of the mulberry. It lived many years and was a beautiful tree. Both paper mulberry and China Berry trees are weak trees and often topple or split so that they do not live long. Thankfully they produce enough offspring that there are usually a few around.
The Umbrella Chinaberry is a different strain of the common one. I remember riding looking for one in someone's yard, so we could stop and ask for a sprout for Aunt Thelma. In those days there were no plant nurseries that I knew of. People got their yard plants from the wild, or through pass-along plants primarily. For years I knew the location of every one along the roads I traveled and would report back to Aunt Thelma even after she secured one of her own. They are lovely trees and I think they may not seed as readily as the more scraggly ones. At least there are none around now that I am aware of.
Both chinaberry and paper mulberry are imports from the East but have been here in Southeast Alabama so long that I think most people think of them as natives. Some places both trees are considered invasive, but in my estimation, we have far worse invasives- wisteria,climbing fern, popcorn tree,and kudzu just to begin a list.

Posted by Picasa
Blogging tips
Blogging tips