Thursday, October 29, 2015

Syrup Kettle as a Garden Feature

He-Who-Was-a-Farm-Boy helped cook syrup in the old kettle that is still here despite the ravages of time on brittle cast iron. I tried using it for a water feature. It made a mosquito haven. We have little use for a fire pit. If it's that cold, we stay indoors.

This photo was borrowed off ebay. 
The item was deleted. 
I hope it sold to someone who enjoys it. Sometimes I have to see things through the eyes of others. I never thought of tipping up a kettle for display rather than having it sit flat on the ground. 

When the water feature failed I tired of rocking the kettle back and forth to slosh the water out, so we turned it over. Turning over an iron kettle is not a task done easily done by hand.

  It was inevitable that using heavy machinery was going to break something, 
and those crinum lilies on the left were going to get run over.

Another piece chipped off the kettle, 2 pieces, actually.
He offered to maneuver it into place. I preferred to gently rock it around.

... and I did. Rainwater will drain out naturally, now.

It's a sentimental piece. 
Hundreds of gallons of syrup were cooked in this old kettle, cane juice was extracted in a grinder pulled by a mule who walked 'round and 'round. Cooking syrup to just right is an art hardly practiced any more. 

My site has a huge stone that the kettle leans against, vetiver grass, shell ginger, trainling lantana, kniphofia and some other interesting seasonal plants. I want to add calla lilies. Now to find some suitable smaller stones and make sure there is still room for the mower to pass between the kettle and the crinum lilies that got run over by the tractor. I think they're not harmed.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

A Bee for Every Blossom

We've had drizzle off and on all day. In between showers, I raked pine straw and once I decided to try with the camera.

I noticed a bee on Tithonia.

Then I noticed that every Tithonia blossom had a bee.

Some bees shared a blossom.

Gulf Muhly is not as pretty when the sun doesn't shine.

Redbuds leave hearts everywhere. 

Camellia sasanquas are starting bloom. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Forgotten Agriculture: Capon

Chickens and Birds in the Garden of a Mansion by Jakob Bogdany -- I bought this print more than 20 years ago.

We were watching a commercial for the anniversary celebration of a local Chicken Chain called Zaxbys. He-Who-Eats a lot of chicken noted that the chicken pieces they were serving on TV were much larger than what he got at the cafe. "Maybe it's capon," I said.

He had never heard of capon. I described how capons are managed and then went to look it up to see if I knew what I was talking about, something that people who know everything must do to keep believeable.

Capons - forgotten Industry -- more than you really want to know about this forgotten art.

My late brother Mack used to work for Gold Kist. He knew all about capons, which is where my information came from, filed carefully away in my mind for a decades-later discourse on how a Rooster is converted to Capon.

My guess was that they fried up turkey for the commercial 'Chicken' pieces.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

I Missed Bloom Day; there's a Giant in our Midst

On my way to the mailbox, a Giant Swallowtail nectaring, There were Gulf Fritillaries and Skippers, too.

We were shopping for a refrigerator when I should have been posting Bloom Day photos.

I looked back at last year. The same blooms as this year, except not as dry.

Bloom Day 2014 and Foliage afterward

Bloom Day, 2014

Outside the greenhouse last year I had Pineapple Sage in glorious bloom. Salvia was replaced by Gardenias so we'll have green foliage year 'round on the north side. Pineapple sage in the garden this year is on the dry side and is not blooming The little cuttings I took to bring in for the winter because it isn't reliably hardy are already starting to bloom.

Back to the present, Duranta has not bloomed as freely nor set berries the way it 
usually does. 

Zinnias become more popular with butterflies when the weather turns cooler.
Sometimes a butterfly will just rest there while the plant rocks gently in the wind.

Some of our butterflies look a little shopworn and tattered.
Marigolds are trying to hold on.

Remember when people called any refrigerator a Frigidaire? I can call mine that, now. We have ice.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Utilitarian Project with Side Benefit

I think that I mentioned we took up my patchwork landing in front of the mule barn. In its place is now plain geometric concrete with a straight edge from corner to corner where the mower may fly around what was a corner, previously.

Leftover concrete mix turned into some odd pieces that will act as stepping stones or plinths or ornament or space fillers, and what I fancy are succulent planters. I didn't plan ahead so it was a matter of grabbing whatever was at hand before the concrete turned to stone, literally.

I did learn a trick or two for abstract pattern.

Pieces of broken flower pot became 'windows' in the sides.

If it didn't turn out well on top, I scratched the date on the 
other side as it dried. I like finding dated pieces in my paths.

Grass will quickly cover this space by mid spring and mowing will be fast and furious. That little step was just not what we needed and there was no way to keep the area neat except endless hand trimming. In this climate, grass and weed seeds find a way into every crack and crevice.

I had forgotten that my cement work project was going to be planters that look like baskets with real baskets as molds. I didn't have time to run inside and look at pins I saved on the subject of cement work. Fortunately there was a whole bag of concrete mix left over.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Return of Summer

The remnants of the storm moved on and the sun came out. We wake to foggy mornings and warm days.

This is the edge of what I see from my kitchen windows. This area is a trouble spot that tends to grow up in catbrier, euonymous, nandina and other less desirables. Once in a while in spring, I invite in the bush hog mower to cut it all back. This deciduous magnolia was saved. Solidago is an opportunist that I left.

The meadows are ablaze now with wreaths of Goldenrod and swaths of native sunflowers. Tiny yellow stars of rosinweed spread between Silk Grass and Rabbit Tobacco. Bluestems are starting to bloom. Three hundred miles to the north, reports are that fall color will be at its height in a couple of weeks. We see the occasional red leaf on Sassafras. Sweet Gums are still green.

Here in zone 8b, we have summer tropicals that die to their roots instead of persisting through winter as they do in Central Florida.

 In the gingers bed, Curcuma is already dying back for its winter rest. Cardamon ginger and the taller Shell Ginger may persist all season in a mild winter or may be killed back during a prolonged freeze sometime after Christmas. Note the long seed whip on Porterweed at lower right.

Porterweeds are full of blooms, enticing late butterflies, skippers and beneficials.

Root hardy Pentas and Brugmansias are in a last hurrah before frost.

 I took cuttings of white Pentas and the Palest pink.
The greenhouse is filling fast with things I think to try to save for another year.

Brugs droop in the hot afternoon sun, come alive after dark.
I gave away rooted cuttings, except for one I forgot about. Sigh.

Our latest project is done except for removing forms: a wedge shaped concrete landing to replace my ill-fated brick and stone patchwork folly in front of the Mule Barn door. You've seen concrete pads; this one is strictly for utility and will best accommodate mowing with minimal trimming. 

It took four 80-pound bags of concrete mix. I used up leftover cement in various molds for stepping stones and (possible) succulent planters improvised at the last moment.

I started keeping a more or less daily journal in a little file where I note what was done or not, with the date. I've come to wonder if anybody except for the few of you who comment reads or cares, so I'm planning to convert Dottyplants Greenhouse Journal for daily prattle to myself and close it to public view.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

A Peek as the Greenhouse Fills Again

I waltzed the Bromeliad tree back into the greenhouse along with the rest of the Neoregelias.

Suddenly it feels like fall. A keen cool wind is blowing and we're getting a little rain from the outer edges of the storm, mostly cool mist.

I dug that troubling climbing fern that's such a thug out of the garden, stuffed it into the back of the pot holding the Bromel Tree and wound it around. There was more of it than I thought, hiding, yes hiding under some floppy Crocomia foliage. Thugs tend to help each other.

While I was at it I dug the Persian Shield that was supporting the fern and put it in a nursery pot rather than toss it. That's what takes so long to bring in everything: stopping to take Pineapple Sage Cuttings, repotting plants that have tight shoes, making room, saving the world and deciding who goes where.

The blue pots and darker pots behind hold a dozen Christmas Cactus, only part of the collection. Up top, Mother's Day Cactuses will go to the back to await their own holiday while Schlumbergeras in a different color pot will go in front. Burro Tails are dangling from the top shelf they're sharing with Mistletoe Cactus.

Only one bromeliad bloomed this summer, a single Neoregelia. It has a pup. This Tillandsia cyanea ventured up two quils early in the summer but never showed a single blossom. When I brought in it along with the Guzmania and the Vriesea, I put two overripe pears in between them in hopes a little 'gas' would stimulate bloom. Two days later, here's a blue bloom on the pink T. Cyanea quill. I think there's about 5 plants in this pot, they might bloom better if they were divided, but not this winter, please.

Another day or two and I think everything will be inside, if not placed.