Monday, May 30, 2016

Update on rescued stokesia

Late last summer, I rescued a few plants from the house next door.  I'm pleased to say, they have survived and the stokesia (Stokes' aster) is just beginning to bloom.  It is a native plant to the Southeast, but I don't recall having seen it in the wild.  I noticed a piece of it is still blooming next door.  I don't know if the new owners will see it before that area is overgrown.  I guess time will tell.
Here are a few buds and blooms on the plant I rescued.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Flower bed by front porch

I've spent quite a bit of time this year trying to get the flower bed by the front porch in shape.  I remember a neighbor once commenting, "The grass is about to take that!"  If you're ever tempted to say that, please remember the person you're saying it to most likely is already acutely aware of that. 
Last year the bed took a hard hit by the hailstorm and by the old shingles that had to come off when the roof was repaired.  I noticed that last year there was ONE bud on the pinks.  I was looking forward to at least seeing that ONE bloom, but, alas, it was wrecked by the extension cord the roofers were using.  (They really did try to watch out for things, but despite their best efforts, they managed to get that one little bud.)  This year, the pinks fared much better.  These are the pinks I obtained over 15 years ago from a Mrs. Dickerson, who was a customer on my paper route.  (All the following are pics I prevailed upon my son to take.)
The Siberian irises did well this year, too.  I call this the "plant that went to the zoo."  Many years ago, my brother gave a division of the irises to my parents to give to me.  When my parents and I met for a day at the Asheboro, NC Zoo, they set the division of the irises on the grass in the shade of the car.  My dad wrote a note on them explaining what they were lest a maintenance worker mistake them for trash.  After our day at the zoo, I brought them home with me.  They are growing out of bounds in front of the porch.

When I weeded, I intentionally left the little wildflowers called Venus' looking glass.  I am enjoying watching them bloom amongst the rose and iris foliage.
My phlox 'Robert Poore,' which sits at the corner of this flower bed isn't in bloom yet, but the foliage is looking healthier than it ever has before.  Of the variables in caring for the plant, I'm not sure which or which combination I should attribute the improvement to:  I pulled out the competing weeds and Bermuda grass, I added a generous portion of compost, I added an application of triple super phosphate, I added a very light layer of pine park mulch, and we have gotten ample rain this spring.  I'm looking forward to seeing some nice blooms on that phlox this summer.
That's the update on the bed by the porch.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Indigo bunting pair

Today I saw the male indigo bunting.  He perched on a stob near the edge of the garden.  After he flew down into the grass to get an insect or seeds, the female used the same perch.
Such a pretty sight!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Second annual Zach Goforth Memorial River Run

Yesterday, dear husband, dear son, and I headed to Mt. Gilead, NC to participate in the river run and barbecue in memory of Zach Goforth.

This year the water level was up in the river.  I found myself hoping that a more rapid current wouldn't cause us to capsize.  Not to worry, though, dear husband had these on the table yesterday morning.
I thought he was being clever, but he claimed not to know what I was talking about.  (He says that a lot.)  So, we packed our oars, life jackets, and "Lifesavers" and got on the road.
We stopped by my parents' house to pick up our canoe where they had so graciously allowed us to store it.  Dear husband thought he would be clever (intentionally this time) and asked if it would cost him a quarter to use the bathroom.  Dad seemed to be measuring his response.  "To use the john?  No, it won't cost you a quarter to use the john, but it's a 'bisexual' bathroom, so you'll want to make sure there's not anybody else in there when you go in."  We all got a chuckle out of that.
I left darling husband in the shade at the Indian Mound then joined darling son at the river.  I put darling son in the back of the canoe this year.  I think he had only been the "rudder man" one reluctant time before so this was basically a learning experience for him (and for me, since his job in the front of the canoe had been to help us avoid the rocks).
We made it, but I was pretty well whipped when all was said and done.  Of course, there is always a wonderful ecosystem to observe along a river.  I didn't get too many pictures since we were concentrating on avoided as many rocks and shoals as possible, but I did manage to get a picture of the damselfly that landed on the canoe.
I tried to sing a few river songs appropriate to the journey.  I sang some snippets of "Down the Ohio":

The river is up and channel is deep,
The wind is steady and strong.
Oh, won't we have a jolly good time
As we go sailing along.
Down the river, oh, down the river
Oh, down the river we go.
Down the river, oh, down the river
Oh, down the Ohio.
But the song that I just could not get out of my head was "Roll Muddy River."
Till next time, roll muddy river, roll on muddy river, roll on!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Young bluebird

Today I saw one of the young bluebirds outside my window again.  I got a better shot this time.
It's nice to see them flying about and eating insects.
On the flower front, the green and gold is filling in nicely,
and the verbena is blooming away.
Incidentally the asparagus fern is emerging from the center of the pot.  I did not know it was still living.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

"A bone of our forebears"

Anyone who has fought and conquered an invasive weed ought to have a medal.  Through dogged perseverance my mom has bested cockleburs, ragweed, and pigweed in her garden.  My hat is off to her.  I haven't been quite as victorious in my fight against the poison ivy, the honeysuckle, the privet, and the Bermuda grass. 
Boy, have we fought the Bermuda grass!  My son and I have dug bushels of the roots.  Once when he was quite a bit younger, we were digging up Bermuda grass in the mixed border.  (Well, "mixed border" is really a highfalutin thing to call the mess I've got.  I had one neighbor who referred to it as my "rough area."  I do have aspirations (possibly delusions), so I rarely refer to it as my "rough area."  I usually just say "mulched area.")  We came across a bone.  I surmised it could have been a bone buried by a dog or perhaps it was in the mulch we brought in (shredded yard waste from the landfill).  I asked my son if he thought it was an animal bone or a "people bone."  His response said it all.
"It's a bone of our forebears who died fighting Bermuda grass."

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Inspiration and perspiration

Several weeks ago, I spent quite a bit of time digging up raspberry roots that were invading the area near the apple tree.  As I dug out the roots with the spading fork, I noticed that I was practically tilling the whole area.  Then it dawned on me that I might be able to plant something there.  The area is close enough to the apple tree to get some shade, but since it is the south side of the apple tree it gets some sun as well.  I looked for a crop that could tolerate a lower pH than the garden since I haven't adjusted the naturally acid soil under the apple tree.  I chose lima beans.  According to my Wyatt Quarles planting guide, the best pH for lima beans is 5.5 to 6.5.  (I can't eat lima beans; maybe I'm sensitive to the cyanide in them.  They burn my tongue and give me horrible heartburn.  My husband likes them, though, so if these beans produce, they will be for him.)
I mulched the area between the 2 rows with cardboard that siding came in. 
Here's a little loop of stem just emerging.
Here is the row of little bean sprouts.
The bean project was my inspiration.
My ongoing project (and this is where the perspiration comes in) is trying to get a handle on all the poison ivy.  While the house next door is vacant, I have been trying to pull up some poison ivy that is growing on the other side of the fence (which actually is still a couple of feet on my property).
You can see the large pile of honeysuckle, poison ivy, and sundry saplings that I have stacked by the fence.  That's about 3-hours' worth of work, and with long sleeves to cover my skin, pretty sweaty work.
I think I should remember to put lemonade on the grocery list.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Female indigo bunting

A few days ago, I saw a bird that I don't often see in my backyard.  I thought it must be an indigo bunting.  I hoped it would be still long enough for me to get the binoculars and get a closer look.  It obliged.  I took a picture with the camera and wished it would come closer for a better shot.  Again it obliged.  I could hardly believe my luck.  I checked Cornell's All About Birds website, and I do believe this is a female indigo bunting.

Do you see indigo buntings in your area?

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Yoder's Country Market... ...and a field of cornflowers

Friday, I went with my friend Lea to visit her Mom and to check out Yoder's Country Market.  It was a pleasant little place.  It occupies a little storefront in an unassuming building right next to the road in Yanceyville, NC.

We had an excellent lunch in the deli.  My roast beef sandwich with jumping jack cheese was excellent.  It was served on sourdough bread that was baked right there in the deli.  The baking bread gives the place a nice aroma, and the Smoky Mountain hymns playing in the background give the store a very peaceful ambience.

Lea got some Lebanon bologna to go, and I got some sharp cheddar cheese.  It had a good flavor, but the texture was more of a processed cheese, so I don't really know how to describe it.
There were some shelves with bagged grain, flour, and noodle products of quite a wide array.  There was a good selection of Jake and Amos canned goods.  The spices were at a great price, but I was put off by no expiration date or location of origin, so I skipped the spices.  The store had quite a few unique products, but I guess I expected more local stuff.  The guy at the check-out had a good cheerful attitude, and I appreciated that.

In the corner of the cafĂ©, there was a rack of pen and ink prints by local artist Russell C. Watlington.  They were realistic depictions of farms, horses, tobacco barns.  I really enjoyed looking at them.
All in all, we had a nice visit.
On our way home, we stopped by a field to pick some cornflowers (or bachelor's buttons).  They make such a nice bouquet.
I guess there's something romantic about a field of wildflowers.  We got whistled at.  We laughed about it.  I wondered later that I didn't feel offended or objectified, but it really seemed more like an acknowledgement of the romance of posing in a field with a handful of flowers, and we were too far away for it to seem personal.  Anyway, I joked that between having the voice on the phone GPS tell us, "You have arrived," a guy whistling at me, and missing the crossfire of the shooting that happened about the same time I rode by the junction of Hwy 96 and I-85, I was doing pretty well.
Having a laugh and picking flowers seems to do me good.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

"I wouldn't take a dollar and a quarter for it."

The Andy Griffith Show is a favorite in our household (and a never-ending source of quotes).  In the "Manhunt" episode, Andy plots a way to get the convict into Andy's own leaking fishing boat that he had left by the lake.  When the convict discovers the leak, he is obliged to paddle right back to shore and into custody.  Andy says to Opie, "You know, this morning when we was fishing, I sure didn't enjoy having a hole in that boat. But I tell you the truth, right now I wouldn't take a dollar and a quarter for it."
Wednesday night we had a leak in the water pipes under the house.  Darling son turned out to be just the person we needed to fix the leak.  After he had successfully completed the job, I told him,
"Sometimes you're aggravating, but like Andy said about his boat, 'Right now I wouldn't take a dollar and a quarter for you.'"

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Late-blooming azalea

Usually the weather is not favorable for my late-blooming azalea, but this year has been great.  After having lost last year's blooms to the hailstorm, I think the azalea made up with an extra profusion of blooms this year.

The peony is in bloom as well.
The green and gold that I took a few divisions from seems to be thriving in the extra space (and the extra rain we've been having).  The plant almost looks heart shaped.
May flowers!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Gold-backed snipe fly

This morning when I stepped out to pick the asparagus, I saw a couple of insects on the broad leaf of a burdock weed.  (I have more burdock than asparagus.)  I wondered if the insects were detrimental or beneficial, so I hurried back inside to find their identification.  I love how quickly the internet helps me find information, and in fairly short order, I determined they were gold-backed snipe flies.  (Their death sentence was commuted.)  But even the internet doesn't know much about them, and I quote from, "Not much is known about the Gold-Backed Snipe Fly."  I venture to say from the looks of things, there will soon be more to observe.
The female, on the left, has a stouter body with eyes farther apart.  The male, on the right, has a slimmer body and larger eyes that are closer together.

I did find a half dozen spears of asparagus.  I typically cut it into small lengths and microwave it for a couple of minutes in a little water with butter, salt, and pepper.
Well, that's what's happening in Bonnie's garden today.  Hope things are growing in yours.