Saturday, December 31, 2011

Santa's Reindeer Stopped in my Yard

These log deer are getting on up in years as far as log deer. They are not in the best of shape, but they still look fine from a distance, and a red bow covers many deficiencies.  I have to prop their legs apart to get them to stand and arrange their antlers, but they still are cute to me. I keep them under shelter during the year so they will not rot as bad. They blend into the natural setting enough so that sometimes I almost think they are real myself, except for the bow. I certainly prefer them to those huge white cut outs that people have in their yards. If you click on the photo you can probably get a closer look.

Friday, December 30, 2011

It Makes No Difference Now

I woke up this morning hearing my mother singing "It Makes No Difference Now". She used to sing it when I was a child. I went straight to You Tube and found these 2 recordings of it.

Two Purple Orchids for December

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These are two beautiful orchids I saw on a recent trip to Southern Homes in Wetumpka. There were no names on them, but I thought they might be interspecific crosses. They seem to have characteristics of more than one species. But at any rate, they are beautiful.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Santa's Reindeer Stopped to Graze in my Yard

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How Did I Get So Lucky!!!

Tuberous Begonias and Amaryllis

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The tuberous begonias and Amaryllis at Southern Homes and Gardens in Wetumpka were beautiful. I would have had to have one of those pink Amaryllis except for 2 reasons: the high price and how could I get it home without breaking or bending the flower stalk.
I have tried several times to grow tuberous begonias, but without success. I guess the only way to make that happen is to grow them in a greenhouse in the winter, or have them shipped in from someplace cooler. And if they are shipped in, they are going to start downhill as soon as they get a sniff of Alabama weather. Even our springs are too hot and humid for tuberous begonias, at least the types pictured here.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Pot Lady in Christmas Mode

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The Pot Lady has changed her attire and wishes you a Merry Christmas!

Southern Homes Christmas

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The trees at Southern Homes in Wetumpka is usually a real treat, but this year they were a far cry from what they have been in the past. Maybe it was because of the economy and the store did not want to buy a lot of stuff they might not be able to sell, but the trees were a disappointment. But I did thing this arrangement over a waterfall was nice. It would look good over a door or any entry (even a garden,haHa.

Monday, December 19, 2011

My Back Porch Xmas Tree

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This is my back porch Christmas tree. I had one last year and enjoyed it so much I decided to do it again. I do not have many decorations on it except for lights. I want it to be a joy, not a chore. It is right outside the back door so I can see it when I sit at the computer or the dining table. It does not dry out as bad either since it is not inside the dry house. I have a lot of ornaments for the inside tree, some very old and fragile, many made by the kids when they were small, some we made when we were first married. I would not want to expose them to the weather on the porch, but I do like to go through them and look at them each year. as the kids have developed their own lives, they seem less interested in the tree. maybe it is because they have less time at home. But I miss the decorating and the admiring of the old ornaments that used to go on all day. Things change, and some things need to change, but probably not forgetting where you have been in your journey. Remembering keeps you real, makes you more tolerant of others, not so insistent on your own way, helps you to understand that you can survive a lot of things that at the time felt deadly, but now barely leaves a scar.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Decorations at Wind Creek Casino in Atmore

The Wind Creek casino at the Atmore Exit Interstate 65 has a beautiful Christmas lights display. I find it difficult to take pictures of Christmas lights so this is the best I can do at this time. But they were lovely. I have always loved Christmas lights and think that Christmas cannot be complete without a Christmas lights tour. do take a look at the casino's decorations. You don't need to gamble or buy anything. Just walk in and enjoy. That is if you can stand the sight of people loosing money they may need next week. The lights are on the outside though , but you do have to enter the casino to get to the outside display.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Nepenthes 'Miranda'

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On a recent trip to Southern Homes in Wetumpka, I was pleased to see several pots of Nepenthes 'Miranda". I have several different Nepenthes, but unfortunately they are not nearly as well-grown as these. I really like these plants because they are so exotic and different. They were also not cheap, about $30/pot. But knowing a bit about what it takes to grow them and how scarce they are on the market, that does not seem unreasonable to me.
I grow them in the greenhouse and try to water everyday in summer and fairly frequently in winter. The plants must not be allowed to dry out or it will usually prove fatal. after all, they are native to very jungley moist and humid areas. they are sometimes called Monkey Cups as monkeys have been observed drinking from the urns. All I can say is they must have very strong stomachs. occasionally in the greenhouse I brush against one and the liquid that fills the cups spills on me. Pu eeee! Time for a clean shirt. The cups or urns catch rain water as well as exude compounds into the water that are helpful in holding and digesting hapless insects, lizards, etc that become trapped. I want to try my smallest newest one in a terrarium as they are recommenced for smaller plants. Over time the plants can become quite large.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Pot Lady Has a New hat

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Someone thought the pot lady needed a new hat and provided it for her fall attire. Note the turkey feather.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Sunday, December 11, 2011

More Fall Leaves

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It's nice to look back on these beautiful leaves now that there are hardly any leaves left. my drive way was stunning (second picture). I wondered if the person who planted the trees in the first picture had an idea of how beautiful they would be, or just hit it lucky. Sometimes we gardeners do that, you know.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Thanksgiving Cactus

I had some beautiful Thanksgiving cactus this year. It always seems that one day I go into the greenhouse and there they are--in full bud and bloom. I bring them up to the house and put them in the window over the sink and they are beautiful for about a week or 10 days at the most. That's the trouble with these things. You wait all year and then they are just a flash in the pan. Poinsettias on the other hand last so long that you really get sick of them and stop watering them adequately or put them in a dark corner till their leaves start to yellow. Then you can sneak them out to the compost pile.  As the days grow steadily shorter, it is a fine thing to have some bright blooms in the kitchen where I spend a lot of time in December.
The other day I overheard some one talking on and on about Point Setters.I began thinking of all the ways that might be a good name for Poinsettias, like maybe the pointed bracts that make up the blooms, or that maybe they could be given to the basketball players with the most points at the end of the game. (Now that's a way we could get rid of those tired things in February!)

Friday, December 9, 2011

My Pumpkin Harvest

I've kinda let things slide here and the next several entries are from fall.
This is my pumpkin crop. There are miniature pumpkins, perhaps a type of gourd. I had saved the seed from a miniature pumpkin I bought last fall. I got them planted late, i think it was into August, and it was very dry. The little water they did get, I splashed on them with a hose. At last they began to bloom and this was the cute (some might say pathetic) result. That is a quarter for comparison.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Fall Orchid

This orchid has been blooming in the greenhouse for several weeks. You can see where a slug bit it, but in spite of that it still looks pretty. This is not the true color of the flower, but the reds and rose colors are hard to get right through a camera. I wish I knew what cultivar this Cattelya is. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011


This Mandevilla is still looking pretty after 2 nights of freezing temperatures that took out most of the other tender flowers. It always lasts well, and I think it must be quite tough combined with being on the concrete and against brick which absorb the sun's heat all afternoon and then releases it at night. It still looks relatively unscathed. The same cannot be said for the Cupheas (pictures below). Both these plants, the candy corn (first picture below) and the bat faced Cuphea (second) were burned past repair on the night of the first freeze. Both of these Cupheas are perennials that love the heat, so I expect them back next year unless something bad happens overwinter. All 3 of these plants do well (with some water) in the heat and humidity of August and flower on till frost. I will soon be taking the Mandevilla into the greenhouse, because I do not want it to truly freeze, as I am sure it would be killed. I simply wrack it off and leave anywhere from one to 2 feet of bare stem when I take it inside. It sulks awhile, then begins to show new growth about January/February.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Endless Summer Hydrangea

Endless Summer is certainly an apt name for this Hydrangea. It blooms early spring through fall, as evidenced by this current photograph of my bush. It blooms on old and new wood, unlike the old Hydrangeas that are found around old home sites. Many of us have moved these old Hydrangeas into our own yards in memory of our mothers and grandmothers, and we enjoy them as much as they did. But these... these bloom on and on and provide their cool blue and pink flowers to cool us all summer and beyond. This everblooming Hydrangea is well worth procurement price. A small plant is cheaper and is just as pleasing as a larger specimen as they grow so fast. Get one this fall when they might be on sale!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

White Wild Aster

Although this wild white aster is starting to pass peak, I have enjoyed it for several weeks. It came up in this spot and I just lazily left it. The bricks were a perfect backdrop for it. I gotta remember this. Actually these small native asters look good with almost anything, in mixed beds or cut arrangements. They seem largely undeterred by poor growing conditions and get to be 3 feet tall on the average.These asters are not bothered by the common aster diseases that hybrids are plagued with. You have to be hardy to be a wild flower. They start blooming about the time all those other yellow flowers do on the roadsides and continue well past what they can do. The only trouble with them is they do not bloom till late and they spend all summer just standing around looking like a weed.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Recovering Greenhouse

I am so grateful to Steve Thomas of Green Hill Nursery  for recovering my greenhouse. I could not have done it alone and it is certainly helpful to have someone who knows the process. He and his two helpers did and amazingly fast and efficient job.

 This is a picture of pulling the old cover off. Actually it was three layers of plastic. The last time it was recovered one layer of plastic was left on for additional insulation.
 This shows the new cover laid out ready to be put on. It was folded in half so that two thicknesses of plastic were used and a shaded blower blows air between the 2 layers.
The finished product, with 2 covers and an air insulation cushion in between and the shade cloth tied down to secure the whole thing. The shade cloth will also help ward off the destruction done by the sun to the plastic cover.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

2 Fallen Giants

This morning on the radio I heard we lost 2 recently. Any Rooney died last night. I had no idea he was so close to the end when his last piece aired about a month ago, but I am sad to loose such a curmudgeon who seemed to have no trouble thinking straight. I already miss him. I should be grateful he went on so long in apparent good health, or good enough.
The second giant that fell was a Giant Sequoia in California's Sierra Nevada on the Trail of 100 Giants. The tree was about 1500 years old. That means it started growing during the reign of the Knights of the Round table. These Sequoia live to be about 4000 years old and so was just middle aged. It was actually 2 trees fused at the base and they were about 17 feet in diameter at breast height (dbh is a standard forestry measure.) They trees looked healthy and their demise may have been caused by an especially wet peroid last winter. The soil was too soft to hold the tree upright and it just pulled out of the ground. This seems an iffy explanation to me. If it was wet weather last winter, why is it just now falling?? We are almost to winter a year later.
At any rate, the falling tree was seen by a handful of tourists and one couple ran to get out of the way. This has never happened before in the Sequoia National Forest and the Forest Service is not sure what to do about it. Some suggestions have been to cut the trail through the tree, to reroute the trail around the tree, tunnel under it, or sell it for firewood. (There are always nuts around). While the Forest Service ruminates over what to do, tourists are allowed to climb and walk over something that only wildlife has ever walked on. I wish I could go see it. The oak that fell in my own yard was an eye opener.
Here is a link about the groove.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Fawn in Yard

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This fawn spent the month of October in my front yard.. I never saw the mother and wondered if it was alone in the world. If it is, it has continued to thrive, mainly by eating my flowers and acorns I suppose. At first it seemed to be learning what tasted good and what did not. It bit off large pieces of my Penta and spit them out around the pot. It hopped into my garden bed and nibbled off pepper leaves and took bites from the pepper, leaving small hoof prints behind. It wondered through my biggest flower bed and tasted everything as it passed. At first it was very skiddish , racing away with uplifted tail when I surprised it. Now, it just cruises over and stands behind a bush when it seems me. I have not seen it in a couple of days now. I feel both happy and sad. Happy, because it must have expanded its range and moved on. Sad, because I enjoyed seeing it. I know I will probably regret not aggressively trying to get rid of it because fawns grow very rapidly into big deer and this one will probably come back next year and eat me out of house and home.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Discovernator Fact

There has been only one documented case since 1974 of a deadly Halloween treat killing a child. His father did it.

No surprises there, huh?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pink Pumpkin

This is my first time to see a pink pumpkin. The grey ones look kind of nauseated, but the pink one  is cute. If it had fewer pustules it would be better but I suppose the pumpkin breeders can work on that. I still think orange ones beat the other colors hands down though. 
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