Thursday, September 20, 2018

It Takes Some Effort

Every year I start with small seed pots and soak the hard white seed overnight in a wet towel in a ziplock and then headstart this plant.  Every year I plant this plant in pots on my deck. Every year I have to get them out when the nights are still cool because they need a long growing season and only really take off when the days and nights are warm. Not all of the seeds are viable or easy to germinate.  It is a tropical plant, of course. A friend of mine in Florida wondered if I could send her seeds and I research the plant and found it was classified as an invasive in Florida!

This plant only blooms at night! I have seen tiny ants, small flies, etc. that come in to pollinate.  It is probably pollinated by a night moth in its native home (Argentina to Mexico).   We had a wonderful hot and wet summer and this plant loved it.  It starts real blooms when 12 hour days begin much like our Chrysanthemum.

In the photo above I had to turn on the deck light to capture the detail. It is Ipomoea alba or a "tropical white morning glory."

Now the best part is that it has the most gentle, angelic, exotic fragrance. For those who live in a tropical climate, this may not sound like much, but for those of us who reside where fragrant flowers are iris, phlox and the rare rose, this is so dreamlike and a special reward.

They are only elegant for one night.  By the sun's early light they wilt like wet Kleenex.   They are agressive when in a large well fertilized pot.  The plant below was on its way down the deck to wrap around the kayak.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Our Impression

I have lived in this house for almost 13 years. We were the ones that cleared the land, disturbed the bunny nests, compacted the roots of the tulip trees which later fell in storms, removed the oak tree with the screech owl home because it was leaning toward the house, made the deer walk around the yard instead of through it when we installed our fence, and re-directed drainage.

We also were the ones who put up a protective rock barrier to stop the process of land erosion, revived the oyster reef lease that we own with our neighbors and are working to get it permitted as a sanctuary while we add more oyster shell, planted pollinator gardens and milkweed for the Monarchs, planted strawberries and tomatoes which we share with the land turtles, planted Paw Paw trees for the Zebra butterflies, and rarely use pesticides so that the yard is shared with lots of insects.  (The one below has made its home for two months in my hydrangea---which never bloomed this year because hubby cut it wrong!)

Our footprint could have been smaller, but we live in a culture where homes are investments and neighbors do not let you build Urts and thus your footprint must be a certain size and stature.

And we took time to make friends with the many bird species, providing them food, water, shelter and peace, and quiet as much as possible.  I have sent injured ones to rehab centers and provided shade to nests that seemed too exposed.  We built an expensive nest for the Osprey and have enjoyed their soap opera episode over the years.

I think (hope) we are being forgiven for our impression.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Before the Storm

Do the butterflies know that the storm is coming?? Are they stocking up? Where do they hide when the big winds and pelting rains fall? How many will die?

The fellow above has already seen better days.

Not everything is soft and romantic before the storm, though.

This spider was just outside my front door...wondering if he could take shelter inside.  He was about the size of my hand from tip to tip!

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Spa Day

A late summer event, no time to send out the announcements! But as usual, I took photos. The first photo is of the petunia pot that rests in a corner of my deck this summer.

It gets visited by birds and butterflies throughout the months.

The pot is close to the birdbath which gets visited by an assortment of feathered beauties during the month. I water almost daily now that summer it at it hottest and as you can see I do not sweep the deck. One morning I noticed this below in the far corner of the flower pot!

This was taken on August 18...a wren's nest buried under the petunias.

Above was taken on August 20, two days later. You can see their pin-feathers.

Taken on August 23 with eyes open.

Taken on August 24 where you can clearly see there are four as they push open the mouth of the nest. I am now watering carefully around the nest.

I have not really been able to watch the parents feeding because they dive out of the pot and away into the woods hidden by the deck.  On August 27 one of the parents was hanging out on the post in the pot. I went out to take another photo.

Here they seem to be clearly fed up with my stalking them as they cower down. Within three hours when I went out to check again, they were all gone! They had fledged and I could not see them anywhere in the woods. A few hours later I captured this.

This is one of the parents, I am guessing Mom finally getting her spa day.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

The Birds

I have failed to journal the birds this summer and so I will share what has happened in just this last week in my neck of the woods.  You can click on the photos for a larger view.

The osprey are still hanging around teaching their offspring to fish and calling bravely when you pass too close to the nest in a boat.

As I said in an earlier post "our" osprey were only able to produce one little offspring.  The weather has been so wet that small plants are growing in among the sticks as you can see in the photo above.

My petunia pot has a wrens nest and even today they are just getting their feathers...looks like four.

The sandbar before the bridge still has the normal conglomeration of seagulls waiting for the setting sun so that they can go fishing.  They are actually not called a flock but a "colony."

There is an "island" offshore where the Cormorants and the Pelicans hang out, each on their own rock pile.  The white flags in the background are crab pots waiting to be pulled.

Sadly we lost one of our Yellow-billed Cuckoos this past week.  This is an example of their lovely rusty-colored feathers.  The skeleton was most of what remained and we can hear the mate calling and calling each day.  The call sounds like the whistle when one pumps one of those gallon sprayers that is used to spray an herbicide or pesticide!  It has got an echo sound and very hard to pinpoint exactly where the cuckoo may be sitting in a tree.  You can go to this link if you want to hear the sound...the first link is the one we hear in our woods,  supposed to be the female call or a male trying to attract a female ... sad.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Crazy Climate Quilt

There are fires and hot weather out West and this has been the situation for months in that region. There is a rare and strong hurricane headed toward the Hawaiian Islands after the slowing down of the volcano. 

Our summer months here in the mid-East have been unusually mild and even unusually wet for the end of summer. This morning, the second to the last week of August, we have been greeted by a sunny and nicely cool morning with just a hint of fall! 

My garden is also confused. I regularly pinch my mums back in July so they will sublimate their efforts to bloom until September and share their glory when much of the garden is going to rest. This year one-third of the plants had some buds already in July. Now one-third of many of my mum plants are blooming and another one-fifth of the plant has faded brown blossoms. What a crazy climate we now have!

Monday, August 20, 2018

Solace in Nature

"Every now and again take a good look at something not made with hands---a mountain, a star, the turn of a stream. There will come to you wisdom and patience and solace and, above all, the assurance that you are not alone in the world." Sid Lovett

Saturday, August 18, 2018


The population of goldfinch varies during the summer months. They do come through to eat in the winter at the bird feeders, but summer is not as predictable. This year I have an abundance of volunteer zinnias and a few volunteer sunflowers and thus, an abundance of goldfinch!  They are territorial at the sunflower head but seem to be willing to share elsewhere and at the birdbath.  You can see below why my zinnias get destroyed.  It seems that goldfinch also like to eat the petals of the flower!

Monday, August 13, 2018

Natural Entertainment

There is nothing worse than a summer cold unless it happens during those hot humid days toward the end month as you wait for fall having tired of comparing a mild fever to the real heat of a sweating brow when attempting to weed a flower bed while your nose drips, drips, drips to the ground. While lying in my bedroom one afternoon and sucking on a cough drop, I observed the view from the window at the foot of my bed.

Yes, I opened the window to get a better photo.  This is Auralia spinosa more commonly known as devils' walking stick.  The common name comes from the sharp and spiny thorns on its branches and trunk.  It thrives at the edges of woods or where soil has been disturbed.  Many people want to eradicate it, but it is an important pollinator and in my case a great source of entertainment while resting in bed.

I watch them dance and spar and then drink deeply of some amazing nectar: bees and bumblers and wasps, and butterflies.  It is good medicine.

Friday, August 03, 2018

Wings, an Abundance of Wings!

"Nature is so delightful and abundant in its variations that there would not be one that resembles another, and not only plants but among their branches, leaves, and fruit, will not be found one which is precisely like another." Leonardo Da Vinci 

Since the rains are diminishing I have been blessed with so many winged creatures this week! And below are just the most colorful of the winged ones.

Monday, July 30, 2018

My Little Engineer

Seasons are interpreted through rose, or watery gray, or steamy orange colored glasses by humankind. This summer has been sloppy wet and just a little on the warm side. We did have a few weeks of hot and dusty drought where the soil actually started to crack, but the last month or more has been filled with an average of six inches (or more) of rain every week.  We are moving into August and the grass is not sage green, but energy green.  As a human, I tend to think I know the seasons and where we are in them.  Ha!

This flower pot sits at the side of my front door.  We thankfully cleaned the gutters over this entry porch back in June, because it tends to block and then a large waterfall hits the steps and/or bounces into the pot and floods it.  Not too long ago I was watering this pot every other day.  That white leaved plant is a Caladium and is good at repelling raindrops onto the pavement.  Why is that of interest?

Two weeks ago I was pulling weeds in the pot and frightened a tiny Carolina wren.  When I investigated I noticed a small nest tucked at the base of this big umbrella-shaped plant.  A few days later in early July I also noticed about a half dozen eggs had been added.  I would peek at the nest now and again, but the wren was never there.  I began to think my frightening her caused her to abandon the nest.  When grandson came to visit the Third week of July I snuck up to the nest and parted the leaves and told him to check out the nest.  Of course, Momma Wren was sitting on the nest and flew right into his face causing him to scream and run!  He is 13, so the fear was a thrill and not a trauma.

I am so happy to see she is back, and I am keeping my curiosity at bay, although I do try to listen and test if I hear small chirps.  The nest is a marvel of engineering because she made it into a waterproof cave of woven moss and grasses and the tons of rain has thus far not penetrated!  Here we are with summer two-thirds past and the wren is on her third, fourth(?) nest of the season!  No wonder these brave feathered friends can sing with such a bold heart.

My fennel is growing just across the sidewalk from this pot and I do wonder if she had the supermarket of caterpillers also in mind when she built her nest?

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Squish Squash or Splish Slash

With the total of over 8 inches of rains in three days one would think butterflies do not get thirsty, but here is one at the bird bath filling up in the early morning.
This time of year I become more prejudice because as we approach August some of the butterflies are tattered and torn and I get selective on only photographing those in perfect and beautiful symmetry.
Some of which are seen through various digital filters and others only sharpened a bit.
This is the time of year for dating. They manage to do that without an App. Amazing! Others are still lonely hearts.
And others just beg to be painted!!