Friday, July 31, 2015

Goodbye, July

I never got around to broad views. I stood with my camera on my singlepod -- I don't know the correct term for it but it's like one leg of a tripod -- at the ready for butterfly pictures.

The best I could do was this Skipper and the Gulf Fritillary below.
I deadheaded Tithonia yesterday, the ones I could reach easily.

At least I was in shade. I heard a hummingbird, gone before I could focus on him.

I moved to the Upper Garden to see what activity there was on Esperanza and Pride of Barbados.

Hummingbirds showed up here, two of them, fighting. I never got a pic. They're too fast. A dark Swallowtail hovered around and left. The sun was hot and I gave up.

This afternoon I was outside to cut okra and when Buffy and I got back to the door, there was a Gulf Fritillary poised over the doorbell button. By the time I slipped inside, loaded the chip back into the camera and went out again, I disturbed him and he slipped down away from the button, pausing just long enough for a single pic.

I don't know what the attraction was unless it was dust where the butterfly could pick up minerals. I was happy for the visit. I wondered if he was bringing a message?

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

10 Ways to Make Pinterest Boards Useful

Here are some things I learned while using Pinterest as a pin board for things I want to remember. Pinterest should not be static. A pin is not forever. Curate.

Alphabetize your Boards. They're easily dragged up or down and side to side to put them in order. Rename Boards that you want to be in the same alphabetical order: Greenhouse Inside, Greenhouse Lights, Greenhouse my Style and Greenhouse Peeks line up on my Boards. The same is true of Christmas Plaid, Christmas Plants and Christmas Trees, which could be grouped with other dates by putting Holiday in front of Christmas, Easter and Halloween.

Make use of Secret Boards and Likes to park fleeting ideas until you know it is something you want to keep. Putting 15 photos at one time of similar subjects in a Secret Board will prevent flooding your followers' home feeds. Go back later and move --easily done with the MOVE button -- pins to a permanent board and delete the ones that no longer appeal.

Label Your Pins. Use the edit button to overwrite what shows up from the source Make a long enough description so that you remember why you pinned this pic. I've deleted pins because I didn't look closely enough to recognize some item in the photo that was the reason for saving it some months before. If it is a recipe, list the primary ingredients. Name the flowers in a garden photo. Make sure you know how to find it again if it is something you may want to order online.

Pin ideas for projects within your reach. A painted chair is reachable. A patio that was designed by a professional and the work done by a crew of 10 with heavy equipment and 40 tons of boulders is not a DIY undertaking if you haven't the skills and equipment. If you have the budget for it, pin it. There may be just a single element that you just want to use. Be sure to note that in your description.

Have separate boards for photos that you just like to look at, kind of like visiting wealthy relatives but you are not going to move in. I have Secret Boards called Grand Ideas and Just Parking.

Cull pins. 543 pictures of ideas for a bedroom redo must be sifted through and the actual project items chosen: ONE pair of draperies, ONE bedspread, ONE pair of tables and lamps, ONE rug. Start with curating down to a very few until you are sure. OR, make a second board to move those pins that make a final cut.

Make more Boards. One board for Porch is fine. One board for Garden Path is good. A broad board like Flowers or Garden may need breaking down into Flowers: Color, Spring, Summer, Perennial, Annual, Shrubs unless you only plant one flower bed and all the flowers are in two colors.

Make a Finished Projects Board. Move your ideas to this board when you actually MAKE that tote bag or tuteur made of sticks. Show your finished item, or just describe it on the inspiration photo. You'll be able to look at this board and see progress on whatever projects you pinned. If no pins show up here, rethink what you are pinning.

Repin desirable pins that are at the bottom of a board. Making sure you have a window open with the original source, Delete your pin. Pin it to the Board again where it will now be the first pin you see rather than having to scroll down. Example: I had a pin of Ranunculus at the end of my Bulbs Board. I deleted that one and brought it to the top to join the other bulbs I ordered. I need reminders of what I'll expect in the mail in September. Then I'll need reminding to take them out of chill to pot up. Meanwhile, I can enjoy anticipation. I deleted a picture from a Garden Show that served to help chose the colors for this year's bulbs. 

Combine dissimilar items. In my zeal to make separate boards for every category, I ended up with some boards with only 2 or 3 pins and the number did not grow. I noted these boards and found some that could be combined, like Pulleys and Croquet Sets. What do those have in common? Both are wood -- actually Block and Tackle -- and they're of sentimental value, vintage. Maybe I'll put them to use. I combine separate flowers that grow together in my garden and have similar bloom times and care requirements, rather than general Perennial and Garden Bed categories.

Pin your bookmarks. Pin the first photo on a page, making sure the URL returns to the page, not just the blog. Note in the description that you pinned for the page.

Last night I was reading that 42% of women have their self-esteem lowered because of 'perfect' photos on Pinterest whose perfection they cannot attain.

Someone started a popular blog with 'Pinterest Fails' showing copycat trials where the icing on the perfect cupcakes ran off the cake or the perfect baby pose was less than desirable. Was it the fault of the baby or the photographer? Maybe it was the light.

I always think about how my mother treated the elaborate dessert with piped whipped cream that looked like a wedding cake on Good Housekeeping Magazine's cover. I passed it over as too much trouble. Mama made the basic gingerbread cake, cut it in squares, sliced bananas over each serving and added a mound of whipped cream. Sometimes you just use the elements, you don't have to make the whole show.

If you'd like to see my Pinterest Boards, they are HERE.

Note: None of this has anything to do with SEO or Marketing using Pinterest. My ideas are for using Pinterest as a personal memory tool.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

More Broods of Butterflies

There's really no need to go out in hot sun and humidity to take pictures of butterflies just like the ones that were here last year and several years before that on the same nectar plants I always grow, except that I do it anyway.

Gulf Fritillaries sharing a Tithonia Bloom.
-- as if there are not plenty to go around.

Duranta has finally squeezed out a limb or two of blooms.
I took the pruners and whacked back some 7 foot stems
in hopes that forces bloom.

Excited to see a Giant Swallowtail, I tried for a good pic.

... and tried.

... and gave up.

Spicebush Swallowtails are trying some of every type bloom.

Esperanza and Pride of Barbados offer the perfect spot for
nectaring in front of ripening corn, rustling in the wind.

It seems that new broods hatch out about every 2 months here. First butterflies show up with Azaleas in March, another wave in May, June looks sparse and then the big broods come in July. September we get the final broods except for a few that show up must any warm day year 'round.

There are some native orange Asclepias blooming across the road. I thought they were gone forever but they're back after plenty of rain this year. We mostly just see Monarchs en route somewhere else, spring and fall.

What I haven't seen are Zebras. No Longwings, no Zebra Swallowtails recently. I accidentally broke my Asimina augustifolia but there are other narrowleaf Paw paws at the edge of woods nearby. The one I broke is putting out new growth. Zebra Swallowtails usually show up to nectar nearby on Lantana.

Zebra Longwings are scarce here but their host is the same as Gulf Fritillaries of which there are plenty. Maybe I stay inside too much where it's cool and am too content to watch butterflies fly by the kitchen window.

Here's a link to Butterflies and Blooms August 2014 -- last August, same kinds of butterflies, same flowers, different pics.

I've seen Painted Ladies, Buckeyes, Fritillaries, Dogface Sulphurs, Cabbage Whites, various kinds of Skippers in addition to those above. Oh, and Pipevine and Tiger Swallowtails.

Spicebush and Pipevine Swallowtails.

Late note: I found a Butterfly meme HERE for Butterfly Bucket List.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Curcuma, Tropical Ginger

Curcumas are blooming early this year.

 Often called Hidden Ginger, for some reason the flowers are not hidden under leaves this year.

I pinned a scene from Albert Hadley's garden in Naples, FL which has the caption, "A boardwalk in the garden replaced a cement walk to heighten the tropical experience.". So, I added one of my Russian-made wood pathways.

Alpinia, or Shell Ginger in the near view.


Up close: The pink parts are bracts. The flowers are the yellow parts.

Cardamon ginger and ferns. The pitiful two-leafed plant is a Strelitzia that tries its best to make a comeback after every cold winter. If it were anything other than a Bird, I would dig and toss it. Gingers are happy in shade here.

This critter was clinging to the back of a Shell Ginger leaf. Actually it's an empty shell of a cicada.

Twenty years ago, one of my imaginary friends had a terrific web site devoted to his efforts to see what would best grow in this area. He kept detailed records of everything he planted, built an elaborate hypertufa garden and was doing quite well I thought, despite a number of losses such as we all experience. Ten years ago he let all those wonderful photos and texts go after he discovered a whole new world: Gingers. Eventually he narrowed Gingers to Costus as his focus. 

Dave owns the URL I thought I'd found him on Facebook. Turns out GingersRUs on Facebook is a group of Redheads, fond of bad jokes and puns. 

A last look at Curcuma.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Where Shall I Put the Tree Face?

The Children gave me a tree face. It needs to find a home.

 I first looked at Red Cedar trees, Juniperus virginiana. I found a wonderful article about Red Cedars HERE.

The trunk of this one is uneven, even multitrunked.

Wonder who lives here?

The Secret Garden Juniper has a nice trunk.
It even has a native Pipevine climbing an old vine.

Farm tools I dug at the base.

There's just too much going on here to appreciate a tree face.

I moved over to the front of the tractor shed. Juniper.

Oak, here for half a century.
There's no gardening going on here. 

Pecan. This one almost died about 40 years ago.

Lightning hit it. The top died and was cut away. A crack 
shows the path of the lightning all the way to the ground. 
It put on new growth and still grows pecans.
Maybe I've found the tree for the face.

According to the package, the tree face glows in the dark. If put right here, it won't be seem from the road where it could become a subject for target practice. We'll get used to car lights shining on it when we make the circle to the back.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Morning After

Epiphyllums bloomed last night, a total of 6 blossoms. I put the story on my greenhouse blog, Dotty Plants.

This is a bloom from 2013. Anticipation is the thrill for me, so I didn't stay up to see the fully open blooms this time. They were open enough for me to get the full fragrance, with Brugmansias in a full new cycle of bloom nearby. Heady.

A real thrill for me this morning was the discovery of two seedlings from the 7 year old Castor Bean seeds I planted 20 days ago. I pressed newly fallen pine cones into the soil around them to discourage kitty and armadillos digging.

It looks as if the Brug cuttings and white Lantana cuttings that I took after wind blew down a Brug stalk are going to take.

It is time to start perennial seeds for planting out in late fall here. At some point I mean to start some Nasturtiums, which I usually forget until it is too late.

I never got around to all the annuals I meant to plant. The only zinnias to bloom so far are yellow: one the color of a school bus and one slightly paler.

When I checked butterfly activity I was rewarded: a Giant Swallowtail! Spectacular with all the gold markings and bigger than all the others, they are a treat to see.  See my Giant Swallowtail post from 2011 with videos and fairly good pics.

Today, Gulf Fritillaries, other swallowtails, pipevine and spicebush; dogface sulphurs and various pollinators swarm Tithonia along with the Giant. There's minor activity on Porterweeds, Pentas and Lantana but nothing to compare with the busy visitors to Tithonia.

A Red Spotted Purple greets me at the side door every morning. This butterfly does not nectar on flowers. He seeks things like a dirty towel the dog laid on. He looks for moisture, so I poured the cat's water on the carport floor and refilled the bowl with fresh water.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Monday Is Disorganized

I discovered a new organization method this weekend, KonMari, she calls it. I told He-Who-Mows that it has taken more than 50 years for me to learn how to fold underwear and t-shirts so they all fit neatly into a drawer the way my nephew's have since he was 9 years old. I didn't know t-shirts should stand instead of being stacked where only the topmost one is visible.

I'm afraid there's nothing in her book about organizing a garden but the rules might apply except that there's nothing out there I am willing to give up except weeds.

Angel Trumpets started a new round of bloom. Note the hole at right where a whole tall stalk blew over in a recent wind. I took cuttings and tossed the rest. I meant to get a pic of Devil Trumpets -- white Datura -- and forgot before they closed in front of the greenhouse.



I did not notice until I came inside and looked at pics that this blossom on Pandora's Box is malformed. The botanical term is Polymerous, meaning that it has an extra petal, an extra sepal and an extra stamen. Usually there are two extra stamens. I'm glad there is rebloom here among the Purple Heart.

Butterflies are in abundance once again. I had declared I would take no more butterfly pics but they just will pose so cute.

 Spicebush Swallowtail on left. Pipevine Swallowtail, wings fluttering on right. There is a male Tiger Swallowtail flitting all around but he declined posing where I could reach.

Cypress Vine and Sombrueil Rose

Swim Ray asked about Spanish Moss.
MIL and Aunt Lila who lived down the road used to fear Spanish Moss getting started in their pecan trees. We do have Spanish moss on the north end of the farm in a low area. Spanish Moss grows best in low, shady places. I hung some  on a shepherd's hook where the birds can find it to line nests. 

Coming back to where I started, these Brugmansias are about to take a nap until tonight when they unfurl their ballerina skirts and welcome night-flying moths.
Around the support post at left, I propped an Epiphyllum with 6 buds so it can bloom and I won't have to wander around in the dark to find it.

Three or four nights, we should see blooms.

Now I have to get back to folding my t-shirts into neat little packets that stand alone. I was pleased to learn that I did know how to properly fold towels. 

One satisfying point I read was that there is no reason to keep something you don't like simply because it cost a lot of money. "The money is already wasted." 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Upper Garden, another Tour

When I went out for last pics of the Upper Garden this morning, an azalea had out-of season blooms.

In spring, the Upper Garden sports a long row of azaleas and dogwoods in bloom. The rest of the year, they are evergreen foliage that hold the rest of the garden together.

We're going from the Front Garden through an opening to the Upper Garden, so called because it rises about 4 feet higher than the front down near the highway. The south edge was once a pasture fence. A row of pines were planted along there before 1960.

Another path slopes toward the left here down into the front garden, one of four entrances. The other two entrances have rough limestone steps.

This is where we were headed, looking west over the birdbath. This is more or less what I see from my kitchen window. We'll move closer but first, toward the bottom under the birdbath, the light folage is a bird-planted Dogwood that I let grow among the Elephant Ears. The Hydrangea looks pale because of the bright sunlight. Cold bitten, hydrangeas are shy to bloom this year.

I call this the Oval Lawn because that is what it is. The entrance has a dogwood on each side underplanted with pink Spiraea, out of bloom for now after I gave it a shearing after first bloom. Two paths lead out of the west end of the oval lawn, each determined with a 5-foot measuring stick so I was sure the mower could travel each path. Side paths cross and there is another path outside each of these.

The paths curve, not a squiggle or an S but a slight curve, more pronounced at the end so there's something to follow, not a visible destination except for a rough bench at the end of one.

The path on the north side widens into a lawn.

Left to right: Angel Trumpet, Sago Palm, Dogwood, 3 Loropetalum trees. and at the end of the pole edging a line of Vetiver Grass on the far edge of a small bed.

Now look in the other direction:
On the north side, a row of trees marks where another fence was, more than 30 years ago. When the fence was bulldozed, I asked that trees that had come up in the fence be left, a Live Oak, 2 deciduous Oaks and 3 Pecans.

Panorama photos distort reality a bit. This is actually a straight line with a bed under the first three trees from the left. Under the Live Oak are Gingers and other tropical plants and a couple of Loropetalums. Under the center Oak is a bed of Azaleas with some other shrubs and perennials. To the right are more Azaleas and an arrangement of rough pole cuts that hold summering potted plants. It is customary here to plant azaleas under the high shade of pines or limbed-up oak trees.

Plants are displayed on pole cuts and some pieces salvaged from the old cow barn. Vintage metal chairs look out over a field road at my Fruit Yard and a field of corn. Notice the vines climbing the tree and a bird-planted Beautyberry underneath that may need removing.

At the west end of the Upper Garden looking back east, another distorted panorama shows the grape arbor at far left, the Live Oak tropical bed, and four paths through the garden. Smack in the middle is Gary's tree, a memorial Little Gem Magnolia, this being the week of his death, 11 years ago. Pine trees follow the south edge, underplanted with Azaleas and turn the corner at an angle to parallel the highway. Scrub Oaks make a screen, with a single opening through which the magnolia is visible.

A closer view of the middle paths. Plantings along here are kind of nondescript in summer heat.

One plant that does shine in heat is 'Katy' brazillian Ruellia.

Over near the corner is a limestone rock with a depression that holds water for birds supplied by a dripping faucet. Gingers and Shrimp plant are among the plantings.

Much of my summer work is nothing more than pruning to keep low limbs off the Mower, remove dead limbs and plan for heavier work in cooler weather.

At left under the Live Oak is hardly visible another path, necessary to keep the jungle from taking that bed. Sometimes the only way I can get ahead is to mow and extreme cases, bulldoze what gets out of hand in a hot, humid climate.

By way of History of this place, He-Who-Mows was learning to walk when the house was built and they moved here. The original house was four rooms. It was added to twice in its history, in the 1950s and again in 1963 and what remained of the white cypress picket fence was taken down. We used to pick butterbeans in a garden right in the middle of the photo above. Cows were all around the house. The fence coming up the south side of the Front Garden was moved twice that I remember, each time to satisfy an eye toward improving symmetry.

There are Crinums, Cannas and Lycoris here that were here before me. Once in a while something shows up that we've not seen in years, or was never seen here before in my memory, like yellow Corydalis that commenced to bloom with Daffodils in the spring. Three ancient trees fell during or after storms in the past 20 years. Things change. Life goes on.

If you'd like to see the Upper Garden in all its Pink Glory in Spring:

Upper Garden in Spring Pinks -- last spring.

Azaleas Upper Garden 2014