Friday, September 30, 2011

Body and Facial Scrubs

 Growing up in a less affluent time has made me skeptical of a lot I see these days. At the risk of sounding like a curmudgeon I wonder why people can't just use a wash cloth to scrub away dead and flaky skin. Why do you need to buy special pot scrubbers and special "personal care" products that have things in them to scrape off  dead skin? I do agree that the loss of the dead top layer of skin probably does make a person look more youthful and vibrant, I just do not agree with the current thought on how to get there
 A good terry wash cloth has been good enough for millions and has served the same purpose of not just cleaning, but rubbing away unless skin cells. Products are available with different kinds of mild abrasives, and frankly it sounds like a reach to me for just something else to sell. If you are bound to have these things, recipes abound for scrubs you can make yourself, where the abrasive is usually sea salt or sugar. But my original question remains: Why?
 I think this idea of not using a wash cloth may have originated with TV commercials. I suppose it looks more elegant to splash water over your face and photograph the droplets of water flying around, but truth is, it is just not as effective a way to clean. Soaping with fingertips is not going to remove the kind of grime and cells that a good wipe with a cloth will. Maybe the idea is to be gentle with your skin, but there is such a thing as being so gentle that you do not clean it, and I guess this results in the need for a new product, leaving ye ol' bath clothe out in the cold. How would it be if you tried to clean your dishes with your fingertips, or how about cleaning the toilet by merely flushing? Clearly, that does not work.
 Stores still sell bath cloths singly or in sets of towels, so what do people do with them? Is there a black hole somewhere that eats them or do they just land in the, uh-hum, landfill.
 So get out there and start using  those bath cloths and rescue the textile industry. How are you going to clean your ears if you don't?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Deer Damage

This huge pot of rex begonia was decimated one night by deer. I hope it gave them indigestion and they remember it. Grrr. Maybe if I had a big dog that went Grrr I would not have this happening! Dora is just too little to make much of a threat. She tries though. She is smarter than she once was and does not venture into the woods sp much at night announcing her presence.
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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Life in a Drop of Water

Here you will find some photos of plants and animals found in mud puddles, pond water, and other surface waters. These are beautiful pictures and  some are very "arty". I wondered if color had been added to increase definition, but even if that is true, it just enables appreciation of these beautiful forms.
In college I took a microscope class and it produced much excitement when we looked into drops of water. The beauty and diversity of life has no end. It just keeps changing and becoming more intricate and beautiful.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Under the Bench

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It's that time of year again when I have to begin thinking about how I will get all my plants back into the greenhouse. My first task is always to check through all the pots inside the greenhouse as well as out and collect all the pots that have dead or dying plants. I set the soil aside to use again either in the outdoor beds or in large pots where I put the used soil in the bottom 1/2 to 1/3 of the pot. This clears out some space.
The second job is to pull out most of  the plants that are growing in the gravel floor of the greenhouse. It is a difficult job, because they are so pretty that I hate to get rid of them. But, I have to make room for the plants that live best under the benches, and besides, I know that by next year I will have a new crop of beautiful ferns and other plants making a jungle under there. It is sort of like getting rid of fall blooming ageratum in your flower beds. Every year after it blooms I pull up all I can find but by the following fall, I still have a nice crop to enjoy.
Goodbye beautiful ferns
And tropical philodendrons,
Goodbye miniature jungle,
Goodbye green fecundity
That springs up between rocks
And pots.
This is only a small space in our
Love affair,
Come back to me.
I will welcome you
Once more..

Monday, September 19, 2011

Salt Marsh Mallow

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I collected the seed from this plant several years ago on a trip to the Gulf. There was a stand of plants about a foot tall growing in sand. They had pretty soft pink flowers, and of course I just wanted to grow them. The seed germinated and I kept this one in a pot for several years. At last I put it in the ground and it began to really grow. I have only recently found out the scientific name  (and common name,too) and boy is it a tongue twister: Kosteletzkya virginica. It is a member of the cotton family as you can see by the flower form. Along with the name I also found out that it is a short lived perennial, living usually about 5 years, so it should be allowed to reseed around in order to keep it going. I must have had this one about 5 years. I will need to be sure and collect some seed this year because I would not want to be without it as it has been a great joy to me ever since I planted it in the flower bed and gave it some room to expand. I have seen some hibiscusy looking plants around in the bed that I do not remember planting, so maybe some of them are seedlings of this plant. This plant is about 3-4 feet wide and about 4 feet tall. This year it did not start blooming till August, perhaps because it was so dry.. It is said to like moisture but it has bloomed well without much this year.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Nocalulla Falls State Park at Gadsden, Alabama

Made the trip in August when we took a small bite out of the longest yard sale in the world. I had not been here in maybe close to 20 years. It was remodeled and a bit different from what I remembered, but still quite an amazing and wonderful sight.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Space Ship House

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This space ship shaped house is in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and if you have ever driven about in residential areas, I bet you have seen it. Someone with real imagination or else an alien built this house. I guess a lot of people stop to look, because there was a pull off in the curvy road right in front of the house. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Beautiful Rooster

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This beautiful rooster and some of his hens were pecking about in an old field where a man was selling furniture made from saplings and small branches and twigs.  The rooster was checking all around and found something good to eat, apparently, because he began crowing in a loud and long call for several minutes. It interfered with the phone call I was on at the time. Soon enough the hens came on over to see what good he had found for them, and he strutted about so they could admire him. It reminds me of a John Keats quote, "A thing of beauty is a joy forever."

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Funny Signs

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I am fond of odd signage and these are certainly an odd mix.  

Monday, September 12, 2011

Old Barn

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This is a beautiful old barn, in spite of it's obvious disrepair and lack of use. The tall weeds surrounding it tell that it is not being used. The top roof that provides a vent makes me wonder if it wads used for tobacco curing. This picture was made somewhere in North Alabama.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Weirdly trimmed tree

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I guess this tree was trimmed so as not to interfere with the power line, but a sure ugly mess was made of it. I feel sorry for this tree, as it must have been beautiful with limbs all the way to the bottom. It was just in the wrong place.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

South African Foxglove

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Ceratotheca triloba (South African foxglove) is an annual that glories in the heat of summer, and once started to bloom, continues on most of the fall. It is a different genus from the more commonly known  foxglove (Digitalis), which is a biennial that sometimes lives and blooms into the third or fourth year. It is reported to be poisonous though, like Digitalis, but all I know is the deer do not eat it. Maybe they just do not care for the velvety leaves. I have been growing them two or three years. The first year I saved seed and started them in the spring. I found out that they had reseeded in the flower bed, so I had just as well have saved my time and effort. Since then, I just let them go and come up wherever. If I want one somewhere where it is not, I move it and hoe out the unwanted ones. Mine grow at least 3 feet tall (not this year-I guess it was too dry), and branch freely. They can become so top heavy that they topple, so it's best to cage them when they are small or let them grow so thickly that they give each other support in the rain and wind.
I have forgotten where I got the seed. I am pretty sure I did not buy a plant. (I am against buying single annuals unless they are in cell packs. They are usually too expensive in single pots, and may have their lives shortened by being pot bound.) I may have collected the seed from some garden somewhere, or I may have gotten them from the American Horticultural Society seed exchange.
The AHS seed exchange is a great thing for people who really love growing plants from the beginning. I often get things I had never thought of trying and through the years have gotten some wonderful surprises. I have a Plumeria, grown from AHS seed,that has to be cut back off the greenhouse roof plastic every year. It is rooted in the ground through the bottom of the pot and will stay there as long as the greenhouse functions.
I am already collecting my seed for the seed exchange that comes early in the new year.  The seed exchange together with the great magazine American Gardener, it is well worth the price.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Turnera ulmifolia

This is Turnera ulmifolia also called by the unlikely name of Ramgoat Dashalong. Frankly, I think the scientific name in this case is easier to recall. Ramgoat dashalong? What does that mean??? On a trip to south Florida I took a cutting of this plant which was growing in almost unmixed profusion between the motel and the beach (in the dune area, if there had been a dune). It rooted pretty quickly and away it went. The dark green of the leaves gives it a healthy look, even in my flower bed which frequently looks as if it needs nitrogen. I guess if it grows in sand, it must not require a lot of nitrogen to look healthy. The bright yellow flowers are set off by that beautiful foliage and it is a perfect fit for the hot dry days of summer. I have grown it 2 years in my flower bed and it has not reseeded, but I would not care if it did. I can pull out the extras just like I do with Cleome. I overwinter a piece or two in the greenhouse just as I do with border plant. Early in spring I stick some cuttings and by the time it is warm, it is ready to go into the flower bed.
Turnera is a native of Mexico and the East Indies.

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Grancy Grey Beard in Fruit

My Grancy Graybeard (Chionanthus virginicus) was beautiful in flower this past spring, but I never expected such a fruit set! In fact, my other Grancy, even though it is older and larger and has beautiful blooms in spring, has never set any fruit. Now I have discovered the reason.  Grancy Greybeards are dioecious- the sexes are on different plants, where as most flowers have both sex organs in the same flower (monecious). So, naturally, the male plant never produces seed.
 The seed have a two stage dormancy, which means that they require two winter seasons to break dormancy or germinate. Patience is needed to grow a Grancy from seed, or else you can just wait for nature to take its course and keep a check on the ground beneath the tree for some baby plants. In that case it would be better to maintain mulch under the tree than employing the lawn mower. Grancys flower best in the sun, so it will be necessary to either mow or mulch or have some other method of weed control if it is in your yard.
 A second reason you need patience in growing Grancys is that they grow very slowly and you can expect it to take a number of years to reach flowering size from a seed. After the first 3/4 years, I despaired of ever seeing my seed grown plant bloom. I guess it began to bloom when it was 10/12 years old. My male tree was larger when I got it and bloomed pretty quickly. This is the reason most people get a Grancy of some size from a nursery. You may have to pay for all those years when you buy it though.
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Monday, September 5, 2011

Pinched Sunflower

This sunflower is one of the big headed seed sunflowers. I prefer to buy my bird sunflower seed and chopped the top out of a couple when they had passed the pretty stage. This multiple flowered  sunflower was the result. I know that pinching the growing tips out of most plants causes them to become bushier, and that taking the central flower from mums and some other flowers will result in more blooms, usually smaller. But, I have never thought of doing the same to a sunflower. It was a joy for the short time sunflowers last. I frequently get big headed sunflowers sprouting around from my bird feeding activities, so I think I will be trying this trick again to get more flowers.
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