Monday, October 16, 2017

Finally fall

We had a welcomed cold front to move through today.  Finally the air feels like fall.  Here are some touches of fall in pictures.

Goldenrod, aster, coneflower, and azalea...

Some leaves I raked...

Some pine straw I raked and darling husband hauled from the neighbor's yard...

The Oriental persimmon tree...

It's time to adjust our plans to the next season.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Topiary update

I trimmed my topiary recently.  When I glance back at pictures from just a year ago, I can see how much it has filled out.
(October 2017)
(July 2016)
I think I want to put some Christmas lights in it this year.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Bluebirds at the water dish

Even though we no longer have a dog, I have maintained the water dish for the benefit of the birds.  Lately I've noticed the bluebirds using the dish for water.  You can see from the picture that one of the birds still has juvenile markings, so it must be from one of the last broods of the season. 
These bluebirds will probably winter here.  I don't know when the migratory birds will leave.  I saw the summer tanager and the cuckoo within the last two weeks.  Maybe they were waiting till the hurricane passed through before they started out to Mexico and South America.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

A night at Java House

Last night, darling husband and darling son cobbled together a substitute band for the one that was supposed to be at Java House in Bunn.  It turned out well.  They allowed me to sing a couple of songs too.
The proprietor shot a snippet of video--enough to give you a general flavor.  In the video are Roger Knox and Caleb Knox on guitar and mandolin, John White on guitar, Shelton Smith on dobro, and Tiger Faircloth on bass fiddle.  It was a nice community venue with a generous audience.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Daylily 'Final Touch' delights again

Here is a picture of my daylily 'Final Touch' that I took on September 29.  Each flower is sporting an extra petal.
When I bought the daylily a few years ago, I gave my mom one of the divisions in the pack.  When we talk on the phone, we give each other reports on the latest blooms.  I've had a few blooms this week, and I have 2 more buds yet to open.  It's a great plant.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

A bluegrass weekend

This past Saturday, I had the chance to enjoy some of the bluegrass music in downtown Raleigh, part of the International Bluegrass Music Association festival.  It was an enjoyable afternoon.  Sunday, I enjoyed more bluegrass when Carolina Tradition, a band Caleb recently joined, played for a church barbecue in Wake Forest.  It was a very pleasant experience--good preaching, good food, good music, horseshoes, and a hay bale ride behind a Farmall tractor.
What a nice way to bring in the lovely month of October! 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Garden update

Saturday, my neighbor and I bought some fall vegetable plants that were on clearance because the planting season is over.  I was a little leery of buying the plants, which were either pot bound or else too tender because they were still in the greenhouse and not hardened off.  I was also leery about planting them so late, but it's been unseasonably warm, so they may have a chance after all.  Of course, I enjoyed getting out and about and looking at the beauty of the nursery with mums and pumpkins and roses and hydrangeas.  My neighbor suggested if I had done a garden update when I planted my collards she would have known when to plant hers.  Perhaps I've been a little remiss in my updates, so let me rectify that.

The Oriental persimmons are ripening.  I'll have to fight the birds for them.
An opossum or the birds pretty much demolished the muscadines.

Here are the 5 collards I planted on August 22.  They don't look that big, but when compared to the one left in the pack that I didn't have room to plant, it's easy to see they have, in fact, grown some.
I'm still getting some peppers, though the plants are looking a bit wilted.
You can see the nice, thick walls of the green pepper I picked last week, part of which went into an omelet Sunday night.  I haven't been getting tomatoes since the fusarium wilt took over, but I did find a small one that is starting to ripen.  I found the potatoes when I planted the cauliflower plants I bought Saturday.  I had missed just a few when I dug them.
I planted the 6 Russian kale plants that I bought Saturday.  You can see 2 potato plants growing where I missed digging up a couple of tubers back in the summer.
I have a few turnips planted.
That's what's happening in the garden.



Monday, September 25, 2017

A lot of cock

After having lunch with a friend the other day, darling son and I took a little detour so we could get a picture of this mega-sized rooster.  (Caleb's pic)

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Yellow-billed cuckoo

Usually beginning sometime in August, we have an infestation of sycamore tussock moth caterpillars in our sycamore tree.  We also have fall webworms--some in the sycamore, some in the Oriental persimmon, and quite a lot in the neighbor's birch tree.  Fortunately, nature has a balance, and the caterpillars attract some predators.  I'm pretty sure I saw a wren eating one of the sycamore tussock moth caterpillars, and the yellow-billed cuckoo has been around as well.  According to Cornell's All About Birds website, "Yellow-billed Cuckoos are among the few bird species able to eat hairy caterpillars."
I have seen the cuckoo in the sycamore but had never been able to get a picture until this afternoon.  I was able to take the picture through the window.  The lighting was low and the picture is not good, but it is evidence that the cuckoo was there.
This is the bird some folks call the rain crow.  I did a post about the rain crow last year.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Does a spider go fishing?

A few mornings ago, I stepped out onto the porch to this sight.  I had removed the web the day before, but it was back, and my first impression was that the spider had caught a fish!  (It was a katydid.) 

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Cut privet on "a dark night in September"

My folks didn't put much stock in superstitions, as far as I could tell, and "planting by the signs" seemed to fall under that category.  However, Mom did say that her father said that to keep privet from coming back, cut it on a dark night in September.  Of course a "dark night" would be one that is near the new moon, when the night is literally dark for lack of moonlight.  Sometimes folk wisdom is just superstition, but sometimes it might be based on the relation of plant growth to the time of year (and possibly root growth cycles with gravitational pulls of the earth and moon).  Anyway, the new moon was night before last, so if you have privet to cut down, get with it!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Hardy cyclamen

It's always a pleasure to see these little blooms in September.  (Thanks to Caleb for the pics.)

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Aunt Lizzie's rose (part II)

Here are a couple of follow up pics.  The bud opens, quickly going from red to pink.
These 2 pics are from Friday morning and Friday evening.
Here is a pic from today.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Aunt Lizzie's rose

Day by day here in September, I'm watching a rosebud open.  This is a rose Mom gave me, which she rooted from a plant my Aunt Lizzie gave her.  My Aunt Lizzie and Uncle Glenn lived in the old homeplace after Grandpa and Grandma passed on.  I have so many fond memories of visiting there.  Porch sitting was a frequent past time at the old homeplace, and often when I'm on my own porch my mind goes back there.  I might imagine the bucket of drinking water sitting on the shelf or the way the sun reflected from the water to make a moving pattern on the ceiling.  I might think of Grandpa's shaving mirror hanging on the wall or my uncle reading a Louis L'amour novel.
I like having this rose as a tangible connection to that old homeplace and my Aunt Lizzie.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

First ginger lily blooms

I've had a ginger lily plant for years.  It was given to me by a dear sweet lady who has since passed away.  I think it must like a moist location, which I do not have.  Besides that, where I have it planted, it is probably getting competition from tree roots.  However, we've had above normal precipitation here this year, and I have my first ever ginger lily bloom.  It is quite fragrant as well as lovely in form.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Sights and sounds of September

Yesterday I heard a loud buzzing sound as a cicada (or July fly, as we call them around here) flew into the briars near me.  I eyeballed it, wondering if I could get a good picture of it if I went for my camera.  After looking at it for a while, I realized there was also a katydid in plain sight right above it.  I say plain site, but it was rather camouflaged, being the same color as the leaf it was on.  Those are 2 noisy insects.  I rather enjoy the noises they make, probably because they remind me of hearing them in my childhood.  The other night when it was cool enough to leave the windows open, I tried to pick out the chirp of the crickets, the trill of the toads, and the sawing sound of multiple katydids. 
Anyway, when I came back with my camera, the cicada flew away, but the katydid only hopped a short distance, then allowed me to get a few pictures.
In the right light, the katydid was the same color as the leaf.
As far as sights, here are a couple of sights I was glad to see yesterday--
new shiitake mushrooms on my log,
and a lovely red bloom on the spider lily.
September is a lovely time of year.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Abrupt end of monarch saga

Yesterday when I went to check on the monarch chrysalis, I saw nothing there.  I don't know what kind of predator got it.  Those are the ways of nature.  I was disappointed not to be able to watch it develop into an adult butterfly.  It's possible that some of the other 4 caterpillars have pupated and are hanging as chrysalides somewhere in my flower border, but I don't know where they are located if they did indeed survive.
Maybe next year...

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Monarchs on my favorite videos

Not long ago I started watching some of Art and Bri's videos.  They are a young family living in the mountains of NC.  I envy their lifestyle, and their family is so loving.  (Coincidentally, they are taking a vlogging break right now, but there are plenty of videos on their channel to go back and watch if you haven't seen them.)  The reason I'm linking here is because they have some awesome time-lapse videos of monarchs, which I've been posting about lately.  The videography is great.

caterpillar to chrysalis:

chrysalis to butterfly:

butterflies released (near end of video "If You Give a Mom a Garden")

Apparently it isn't easy to time it right to catch the monarch emerging, so it's nice to be able to view someone else's video.  Enjoy.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

From larva to chrysalis

I've been trying to keep an eye on the monarch larvae that have been on the butterfly weed.  Unfortunately, when they crawl away to go pupate, one never knows where they will go.  I was lucky enough to spot one of them nearby on the spiraea bush.
Friday and Saturday it was a larva.  This is what it looked like Saturday evening.
Sometime between 6:35 p.m. on Saturday and 9:20 a.m. on Sunday, this happened.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

White M hairstreak butterfly

A couple of nights ago I was looking at a book of wildlife and noted to myself that I hadn't seen the brilliant blue butterfly called the white M hairstreak.  The very next day I was walking along the edge of the yard next to the road when something blue in the grass caught my eye.  I thought it was a piece of debris and stooped to pick it up.  Actually it was a dead butterfly, perhaps hit by a car.
These butterflies usually feed with their wings closed, so it would be possible to only see their grayish or brownish undersides.  I would love for this to have been a picture of a live specimen, but at least you get the idea of how vivid the blue is. 

Friday, September 1, 2017

"Heavy Traffic Ahead"

Whenever I go around the Beltline in Raleigh and see a line of brake lights come on in front of me, this song goes through my head:
I feel for people that have to be in this every day.  Avoiding heavy traffic ranks on up there on my list of "quality of life" priorities.
I managed to get a crack in my windshield from a gravel yesterday, too.  (That was yesterday morning; the picture above was yesterday evening.)  The odd thing about the gravel to the windshield was that it happened when there was a gap in the traffic on my side the road, so either the gravel traveled a lot farther than I thought it could or else it came from the lanes on the other side.  We were in a 65 mph zone at the time, so you can imagine how quickly it happened.

Monday, August 28, 2017

More monarch larvae pics

I took another look at the monarch larvae on the butterfly weed today.  Here are some more pics.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Monarch larva?

This evening as I strolled around the yard, I noticed 5 or 6 butterfly larvae on the butterfly weed.  I fetched my camera and took a shot.  I think this is a monarch larva.
You can see it is munching on the seed pod of the butterfly weed.  I am absolutely delighted to see these larvae.  There are lots of eggs as well. (Update--I think the eggs I saw were milkweed bug eggs).
I usually see a monarch or two around in the fall, but perhaps this year I will have several.  I will try to keep an eye out and see if I can watch these develop.
(Here is another one munching on a leaf.)

Monday, August 21, 2017

Viewing the eclipse indirectly

Where we are located, the eclipse covered somewhere around 92% of the sun.  It was noticeably dark inside the house.  Outside, it seemed like an eerie haze.  Since I did not have eclipse glasses, I watched the eclipse indirectly so as not to damage my eyes.  Someone on the local news channel showed a colander just like the one I have, so I set that on a couple of stools above a white piece of paper on the sidewalk and looked at the points of light that came through the holes.
I was actually more impressed with the light shining through the tree leaves and the little crescents made that way.  The shadow of sycamore leaves on the sidewalk, the maple leaves on the car, and especially the shadow of the crepe myrtle leaves against the grill cover showed little crescents where the sunlight was being eclipsed by the moon.


The outlines seem to show best where there are only small points of light coming through (though I really don't understand that exactly).  I formed a small opening between my thumb and forefinger, and you can see a crescent shape there as well.
What fascinated me even more than that was just the shadow of my outstretched hand.  When I turned it a certain way, I could see a little shadow at the base of space between each finger. 
I like to think I held the experience in my hand.
Hope you had a good experience today or at least get to enjoy some of the awesome pictures that will be available on TV and internet.



Monday, August 14, 2017

Disease resistance

It doesn't take long gardening to encounter pests and disease.  One of the attributes plant breeders and gardeners take into account in selecting plants is disease resistance.  Now, I will note, resistance doesn't mean absolute immunity.  It does mean the plant is less likely to get that disease than a plant that is not resistant.  Specifically, in tomato plants, you will find abbreviations following the plant variety name; these abbreviations stand for what pests and diseases the tomato is resistant to.  My 'Early Girl' tomatoes have F and V which means they are resistant to fusarium and verticillium wilt.
Unfortunately, if the disease pressure is high enough, even resistant varieties can succumb to a disease.  That's what happened here.  I came out one day in mid-July and noticed a lot of leaves on the tomato plant that had turned yellow almost overnight.  This is what fusarium wilt looks like on a tomato plant. 
Fusarium wilt is caused by a fungus in the soil.  It is common and long lived.  The plus side is that we've enjoyed tomatoes for almost 2 months.  There are still some tomatoes on the other 2 vines, though those vines seem to be declining as well.  I've pulled up the first diseased vine and put it on the burn pile.  I hope to plant a few fall carrots where that tomato vine was.