Monday, August 30, 2010

Moonvine- Ipomea alba

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I have been growing moonvine for a number of years. I have strings that run up to the eaves of the house and the vines scramble up the strings and frequently flower on the roof. This year I planted some to run on the railings around the stoop and they have been exceptionally pleasing to me. Foe several weeks I have been getting 2 or 3 blooms every night. I like having them where I can get a closer look (and a better sniff!) at the stark white flowers. I go out in the evening and enjoy their fragrance much better than when they were on the roof. The flowers are about as big as a saucer , the leaves are dark green and heart shaped, and they are certainly worth the minimal effort they need to get them going. I grow mine in big pots so I do not have to do a lot of digging. The seed are large, about the size of an English pea, and for best germination should be soaked, starting in hot water, for 24 hours. Keep moist till germination is complete and get them off to a fast start. They grow best when the weather is hot. Unlike many morning glories they are not eager reseeders and you do not have to worry about them taking over the earth. I have had 2 or 3/year to come back, but never an abundance. And a good thing that is, too, as one vine can cover a large space. They are best planted by the porch or door yard so they can be enjoyed in the evening. They really should be called evening glories as that is when they bloom. The flowers last one night and then are gone, but more will come the next evening.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Invasive Creatures

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I want to warn you about these giant Armadillos. Can you imagine the damage one of these could do in your yard or flower bed? They would make holes you could fall in and never be found!! Can you imagine hitting one of these with your car?
I saw this creature at the Tellus Museum in Cartersville, Georgia. 

Thursday, August 19, 2010

August Orchids

I have had some beautiful orchid blooms in August. I have had several of these cattleyas. But after a time , other orchids begin to be more interesting. Like the spider orchid (Brassia) below. This one has been in flower for at least 2 weeks.

Posted by PicasaPhragmipedums are related to the slipper orchids and are native to Mexico and South America. This one Phrag. Donald Russell (Demitria x longifolium) I got at an orchid show at The Anniston Museum of Natural History several years ago. This year it produced 3 flower stalks and each one has had at least 2 flowers. I am anxious to see how many I will actually get. Those long twisted petals are just exquisite!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Big Leaves

Posted by Picasa These are the leaves of the Chinese Parasol Tree or Umbrella Tree. It's scientific name is Firmiana simplex.  I picked one to press it and think about how I could display it. the tree is a fast growing thing, growing 6 feet or more in one year. It produces a nice dense shade and a safe place for birds to hide from a rainstorm if left to grow. many people who have these growing as weed trees which they keep in check by pruning every year might be surprised to learn that you can buy a 7/8 ft.tree from the Nursery at Ty Ty for only $279.75 (includes shipping). Check here if you do not believe me.

Seed Grown Lilies

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I grew these lilies from seed, starting probably as long as 5 years ago. I forgot them and left them in a shallow seed flat for over a year. I eventually repotted them into separate and larger pots, but only last year managed to get them into the ground. Seven foot is not an unrespectable height for any lily. As you see, this one is taller than my pomegranate bush. The are shorter ones seen in this picture that are also blooming, but I think  I can expect them to be sky scrapers  as they mature. If I had not planted these where they could lean on the  pomegranate bush, I am sure they would have fallen over. Being a 7 foot lily is not an easy life, regardless of their being green.
In reading a book called Farther Afield by Allen Lacy, I recently discovered that some people disdain seed grown or narrow leafed lilies (not Allen Lacy, though). I can't imagine why.This is a lovely sight and one that points up how extremely hardy lilies are. These persisted for years in spite of neglect and abuse to eventually become stately beauties. I have bought named lilies that were not this worth of growing.
I am a good one for ignoring garden advice. I had been growing columbines from seed and enjoying their delicate dancing blooms for years when I read that columbines (that is, the named horticultural giants) should never be allowed to reseed lest their  common offspring populate the garden. Well, poo on that. With that kind of advice, we Americans would all be on the compost heap.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Big Mail Box

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On a recent trip to Douglasville, GA, we passed this giant mailbox. It was large enough to put a small car in! It was eye catching, but what made me really wonder was why all the no trespassing signs on the driveway? Do they really have that many nuts like me stopping to look at this mailbox and clamor all over it? Frankly, I doubt it. I think this is more akin to other things I have seen where people wear outlandish clothes, have insane hairdos, tattoos,etc. They apparently want to be stared at or have people notice them, but when they get what they want, they act offended. However, just as I stopped and photographed this mailbox, I like to point them out and comment on their looks, in a loud voice preferably. I want them to know that I have seen them, so they can attain the notice they are begging for. It is easy to fade into a crowd. The hard part is to stand out for good and helpful reasons.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


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This dragonfly sat on this post for at least an hour. Occasionally it would fly off briefly, but return to the post in seconds. It was very beautiful, but very difficult to photograph. The camera kept focusing on objects in the foreground or background instead of the dragonfly itself. I suppose this was because the dragonfly was almost translucent. I do not know how I actually got it in focus. I did not notice at the time but it looks like one of its wings is injured.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Possum Tail Fern

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This is a new fern for me this year and I find it very hardy and easy growing. It has the somewhat unwieldy name of Scyphularia  pycnocarpa, which I will not be able to remember and will just default to Possum Tail or black grub/caterpillar fern. It grows by producing a creeping rhizome  that sprouts the leaves. the leaves are deep green and shiny, and th rhizome is covered in brown stiff hairs. it can get by with less water than many ferns and in fact during the winter when growth has slowed, it is best to water only lightly. I actually favor it over the more common rabbit's foot fern because it has more dense foliage. It seems not to get dried out tips as bad as some ferns and I think it is a good one for people who like ferns but sometimes forget to water.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Saving Old Shoes

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You've seen these old shoes before, when they were new. I have worn them to meetings, to lunches, and shopping. I have worn them to stumble over lava rocks in Hawaii, and wade in the surf of Sanibel Island. I have climbed and slid on mountain trails in the Smokies with them. My sister criticized them roundly each time she saw them, saying they were the ugliest shoes she ever saw. But they were so comfortable.
Eventually they began to look a little dingy and the sole began to separate from the shoe. I threw them in the washing machine, which helped the dinginess, but not the sole problem. For that I used super glue which only partially worked. Being reluctant to cast aside such a comfortable pair of shoes, I took them for use in the garden. They lasted a couple of months through that, then the sole opened up a mouth between it and the shoe body. That set me thinking about my Daddy. When we were kids and the sole would release from the shoe, he wired the two back together, as neatly as such a thing can be done and we were good to run quite a few more miles. This was done when the sole was still good, but the stitching holding it on had rotted, as is prone to happen when you walk through barnyard manure on a dairy farm.
In remembrance to daddy, I wired these shoes back together for a few more rounds. I enjoyed remembering how he could fix almost anything with whatever was laying around and whatever tools he had. I tend to think now of that as the mark of a farmer, a vocation I hold in highest regard.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Foot Glove

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 A couple of people in my Tia Chi class got these shoes. They are amusing to me, and do not look comfortable. (I don't really like the feel of toe socks.) the people who wear them say they are really comfortable though. The propaganda surrounding them says that it is more like walking barefoot and is therefore better and easier on your feet. The other hand says that you need support for running, walking, etc and that they do not provide any support. Well, flip flops don't provide support either but I love wearing them. They just look to me like they would be hot. I means rubber (or plastic) and nylon? How could it not be hot.  Just kick off and go barefoot. When I was a kid I went barefoot all summer so that when Sunday came and I had to squeeze back in those Sunday shoes, it was murder! I could walk over rocks and briars like they were nothing. Now a few rocks sets me to levitating. I bet they do not allow shoes in heaven.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Bouncing Bet

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I spotted this Bouncing Bet while driving along SR 147N toward US 431. But almost any delicate pink to white flower you see blooming along the roadside this time of year is likely to be Saponaria officinalis or Bouncing Bet. It is a perennial and be propagated from seed, root division or cuttings, although I would advise against its propagation. Anything that can grow that well on the roadside might be dangerous in a flower bed. And it is. It is . It can be an aggressive spreader. Another name for it is Soapwort. The leaves contain a natural soap and will lather when crushed.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Inland Sea Oats

Inland sea oats are one of the more graceful plants in the garden. They are known variously as inland sea oats, Indian wood oats, wild oats, river oats, flathead oats,upland oats, and upland sea oats
  The lightest breeze sends them dancing about.  They retain that gracefulness when  cut for dried arrangements and no special drying arrangements need be made for them. Just cut, remove foliage (or leave on if you like) and place them in a container and they will dry just as they are, going from green to a nice light brown as they dry. And cut them you should. They are aggressive spreaders from perennial roots as well as seed.I originally planted them from seed, but I would not plant them in my flower beds again. The first few years they were well behaved; then they began to spread and every year since I have fought them. They would have been fine planted in some out of the way place where they had to struggle, like maybe beside the road where good soil and water are in short supply. It grows best in shade to part sun, but will tolerate full sun if plenty of water is available.Too much sun turns the foliage a sickly yellow.

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