Pages – A Piece of the World

I recently finished reading Christina Baker Kline’s fictionalized account of Christina Olson in the book ‘A Piece of the World.’ If you love a good story that has many actual events woven throughout, this book is a perfect choice.

Most of us have seen the famous painting of a girl in a pink dress looking towards the house depicted on the novel’s book jacket.  Christina Olson is that girl/woman. Christina’s World, a painting done in egg tempera, is one of Andrew Wyeth’s most well-known works of art.

I enjoyed every page of this book. I felt like I was living alongside Christina Olson throughout the story, and very much enjoyed the insights into the painting style and life of Andrew Wyeth. Terrific read!

Plant Tips – Love Lies Bleeding/Growing, Harvesting & Crafting

Amaranthus caudatus, Love-Lies-Bleeding, is an old-fashioned flower garden plant once again being offered as seed through catalogs and garden stores. I grow it for its oddball characteristics, long, droopy flower stalks covered with blossoms that range in color from pink to deep crimson. I think the amaranthus is a perfect choice for this week’s Cee’s Oddball Challenge.

My Love-Lies-Bleeding plants have grown to near four foot tall. During the last torrential rainstorm, the largest fell over and kissed the ground; precautionary staking would have been a good idea. I have mixed feelings about staking ornamental garden plants, an ugly support is an awkward eyesore and inevitably robs the plant of its natural flow of growth. I tend to stake a plant after-the-fact of leaning or falling over.

My husband remarked that the flower stalks reminded him of hair. I agreed and told him I would cut a few and use them to make an Autumn display. I am planning ahead even now on how I can create a pumpkin/gourd person or scarecrow and use these flowers as the hair. What fun!

I cut the blossoms from the plant that fell and hung them in a dark closet to dry. I laid the stem against the clothes rack in the same way the plant curved outdoors. This will give me dried locks of hair with a more natural spread, rather than if I hung them straight and upside-down.

One drawback I’ve found is the leaves are attractive to insects as food. What a surprise to learn as I wrote this post that most varieties of Amaranthus are edible for humans too. I’m afraid the insects haven’t left me many unscathed leaves to sample in recipes.

No worries…I pressed the lacy leaves between book pages. In artwork, they make terrific stencils for a random pattern, something I find hard to accomplish…I tend to be rather orderly and that’s a no-no in creative art.

Growing amaranthus is easy, they can be started early indoors, or sown directly in the soil after the danger of frost. My current crop was direct-sown and seems hardier than those I’ve sown indoors. At the end of summer, I will collect the seeds (there will be hundreds) and set some aside to dry and package up for next year. I will also give them a season of chilling in the refrigerator. In late October, early November, I will sprinkle some of the seeds directly into the garden beds and hope for volunteers next year. I’m really pleased with this flower in my garden. If you have a chance and the room give it a try.

Love Lies Bleeding (Amaranthus caudatus)
Height 3 – 4 feet (in my NJ garden)
My plants get about 6-8 hours of full sun every day. No special care needed. I don’t use non-organic pesticides so I put up with the lacework of insects on my leaves.
Here’s a terrific article on growing amaranthus: The Spruce-Growing an Edible Armaranth Harvest.

Photo Challenge – Weather Vane Wednesday/Meow

A cute cat weather vane for this week’s Weather Vane Wednesday Photo Challenge. This weather vane can be found in my town of Glassboro, New Jersey.

Many thanks to The 59 Club for taking part in the challenge last Wednesday: The 59 Club/Historic and Hip

The Photo Challenge: Each Wednesday, I post a photograph of a Weather Vane with a short description of where it can be found and any history connected to it. The main focus of the challenge is the photo of the Weather Vane and the location. The challenge can be Wordless if that is what you choose. If you would like others to see your post leave a link to your blog in the comment box. You can also tag the post #weathervaneweds. If you place a link to my post in your post you will create a pingback that will appear in the comment section. Thanks so much for taking part in my challenge.

Many thanks to Cee, of Cee’s Photography, for including this challenge in her listing of WordPress Challenges. If you love challenges take a look at this page and while you are there check out some of Cee’s terrific posts. Thanks Cee!

Project – Driftwood/Project I/Gnarly Trellis

A natural trellis for a very unruly jasmine plant was my first driftwood project. I don’t know if I should title the activity a project, it was more of a planting. These taller lengths are the trunks of small trees with gnarly roots still attached. Because branches don’t have the same appeal to beachcombers as the smaller pieces, they tend to become very aged and gnarled, beautifully bleached by sun and salt.

I used four pieces and inserted them in the potting soil root end up. The longest branch was placed in the center, the three shorter branches support the center piece tripod fashion. The gnarly roots were pliable and easy to maneuver around the center branch for even better stability. I like the natural look this trellis creates. Now I need to work on replacing the plastic pot with an ascetically compatible container.

Photo Challenge – Weather Vane Wednesday/August 7th

A cute little squirrel and pine tree weather vane for this week’s challenge courtesy of a house in my hometown. I’m running out of weather vanes in my area. No problem! Sounds like the perfect reason for some interesting daytrips.  You wouldn’t know it from the photo, but we are in the midst of hot, hot, hot weather.

Thanks to these bloggers who took part in last week’s challenge. Please join our challenge, we’d love to see the weather vanes in your area. One tip: Not all weather vanes are on roofs!

Cee’s Photography – Weather Vane Wednesday – August 1, 2018
Wanderlust and Wonderment – New Photo Challenge Weather Vanes

The Photo Challenge: Each Wednesday, I post a photograph of a Weather Vane with a short description of where it can be found and any history connected to it. The main focus of the challenge is the photo of the Weather Vane and the location. The challenge can be Wordless if that is what you choose. If you would like others to see your post leave a link to your blog in the comment box. You can also tag the post #weathervaneweds. If you place a link to my post in your post you will create a pingback that will appear in the comment section. Thanks so much for taking part in my challenge.

Many thanks to Cee, of Cee’s Photography, for including this challenge in her listing of WordPress Challenges. If you love challenges take a look at this page and while you are there check out some of Cee’s terrific posts. Thanks Cee!

 

Projects – Driftwood Part I – Sorting and Cleaning

Goose wall-hanging created with driftwood and acrylic paints.

I love driftwood. I live near oceans and bays and enjoy beachcombing for driftwood, shells and sea glass. This year has been a boom year for driftwood. I’ve collected quite an array, and can’t wait to craft a few new projects.

Untreated driftwood must be cleaned and disinfected; the pieces can harbor germs and bacteria. Before I handle it too much or begin to create, I soak it in a solution of weak bleach. A few pieces are near three feet in length. Finding a way to fully immerse each piece is a bit of a quandary. I eventually soak the pieces in an under-the-bed plastic storage container. Once emptied, this gives me about four feet of soaking space…perfect!

After rinsing, I spread each piece on outdoor tables for additional drying and whitening.  A few pieces still have a bit of grayish, sandy debris in the crevasses. I’ll brush this out with an old toothbrush and soap in the next few days.

I’m excited about all the beautiful projects I can create with this gift from the sea. The designs and texture created by natural weathering would be next to impossible to duplicate. Through the coming weeks I’ll post a few photos of some of the projects I create.

Quick Tip – Inexpensive Garden Pots

Dollar stores are the perfect choice for good prices, after all, everything is a dollar. This year, I planted eight dollar store oil drip pans, (large, shallow plastic pans) with plants suitable for pressed flower harvesting.

I expected the plants in these pots to be spent and dried out by the end of June. What an unexpected surprise to find that these containers, planted with four plants each, have thrived and are still lushly growing. Careful watering is the key to success with shallow pans.

I might empty a few soon and try them out for an Autumn lettuce crop. Give the dollar store a try for unique containers that can be turned into inexpensive planters.

Phriday Pheathers – Ransacked Zinnias

Adorable August Bandits have been ransacking my zinnias. Do I care…only a little, and why is that? Even without every petal the nectar-producing disk florets are alive and will be visited by hummingbirds and butterflies.

Goldfinches are the bandits. The male is bold and brash, watching me carefully, but staying in plain sight.

The female likes to forage amid the cover of the zinnia leaves.

They aren’t the only ransackers in the garden. I’m a guilty party too, stripping off petals to press between the pages of a book. They will retain their bright colors and be useful in crafts later in the year.

Each petal has a seed attached. I break these away before pressing. Aha! I’ve had a great idea.

I gather the seeds and take them to the garden. The ring of florets on the zinnia makes a perfect miniature bird feeder for the goldfinches. This post is part of August Photo A Day Challenge/Start With A – August 3rd.

Planting – Selective Cross-Pollination

I grow most of my coleus in large pots beneath the dappled shade of pine trees. I start out with a good potting soil enriched with fertilizer. I plant three to four plants in each pot and keep a watchful eye on the moistness of the soil. It’s one of my gardening joys to watch a sprout with only the promise of color grow and develop into a beautiful and unique plant.

If I was growing coleus only as an accent plant in the garden I would pinch out flower stalks as soon as they appear, but for me, the emerging spiky blossoms indicate good things to come. My coleus will soon begin to cross-pollinate with each other and then produce seed for 2019. I have collected seed from my plants for many, many years. To keep only the prettiest and most unusual coleus producing seeds I will only let the best plants begin to flower. Diligence in culling out the common in appearance will assure only my favorites will be harvested for seed. I’m already excited for next year’s crop. Is that counting my seeds before they are harvested…probably!

Quirkiness – Weather Vane Wednesday Challenge/Dragons

This beautiful dragon weather vane, almost hidden amongst the leaves that shade it, is within walking distance of my home.

“My armor is like tenfold shields, my teeth are swords, my claws spears, the shock of my tail a thunderbolt, my wings a hurricane, and my breath death!”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

Last week, Priorhouse Blog posted a great photo of a weathervane on top of a street sign. Take a look:
Two for Tuesday (Virginia Beach, Virginia- PART 2) A big thank you to Priorhouse for taking part in the challenge.

Keep looking up and link back to this post, and future posts, with your weather vane photographs or add your link in the comment boxes. Tag your post with #weathervaneweds.

Many thanks to Cee, of Cee’s Photography, for including this challenge in her listing of WordPress Challenges. If you love challenges take a look at this page and while you are there check out some of Cee’s terrific posts. Cee’s Photography. Thanks Cee!

Quotes, Proverbs & Poetry – Beautiful Bugs

In the waning days of July, my backyard is a living canvas of flowers and beautiful bugs.

“The pedigree of honey does not concern the bee, a clover, anytime, to him, is aristocracy.” ~ Emily Dickinson

“Until the crickets sing it is not summer.” ~ Greek Proverb

Hurt no living thing:
Ladybird, nor butterfly,
Nor moth with dusty wing.

~Christina Georgina Rossetti


“A dragonfly to remind me even though we are apart,
Your spirit is always with me,
Forever in my heart.

~ Author Unknown

“Happiness is a butterfly, which, when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.”
~ Nathaniel Hawthorne

Phriday Pheathers – Epic Photograph

I often see hummingbirds in my yard, usually sipping nectar from flowers, but by the time I get my camera they disappear. Yesterday, I was lucky and had camera in hand when I spotted a hummingbird land on a bare branch in the pine tree.

Being able to photograph this beautiful and very fast little bird, was, for me, epic. That brings me in a roundabout way to a new blog challenge I’m taking part in on the Pix to Words blog. Why is it the perfect day to take part? Well, the photo I took might be ordinary to you, but it is EPIC for me, and that is the challenge word for the week. A big thank you to everyone who takes time to offer challenges for bloggers to take part in. Maybe something epic is happening in your week too.

This post is part of Skywatch Friday.

Photo Challenges – Oddball and Gold

I love taking part in Cee’s Challenges. Today’s photo of coleus seedlings growing in Playdoh containers is a bit odd, and also goes along with her post’s color theme of gold: Cee’s Oddball Challenge. I love using ‘free’ and odd containers for planting small seedlings. Two more of my favorites are empty Greek yogurt containers and small applesauce tubs. I have stacks of these at the ready on my gardening shelves.

I love the color gold and right now the garden is filled with golden flowers.

Thanks for stopping by and taking a look.

Quirkiness – Weather Vane Wednesday/My Neighborhood

I live in a home, built in the 1960’s, located near Rowan University. Our town, and the University, once known as Glassboro State College, has grown at an amazing rate during the last decade. Old houses have been torn down and large buildings, new roadways, and public parks have taken their place. The area is no longer known as downtown Glassboro but is called Rowan Boulevard. I’ve watched these modern structures being built for several years, and they are impressive.

My neighborhood is far enough away from the building to be unchanged, at least for now. This weathervane I’ve featured is on the cupola of one of the homes near mine. I think it is probably original to the house because other houses in the neighborhood have the same weathervane. Sometimes you don’t have to go far to find what you are seeking, as in the case of today’s post.

I miss the WordPress Photo Challenge and thought an interesting alternative would be to offer one of my own on Wednesdays. Weather Vane Wednesdays is just what the title implies, a photo of a weather vane.

Create a weather vane post, the name doesn’t have to be in the title. If you would like others to see your post leave a link to your blog in the comment box. You can also tag the post #wvwednesday. If you place a link to my post in your post you will create a pingback that will appear in the comment section. Thanks so much for taking part in my challenge

Quick Tip – Potted Plant Stabilizing/Grooming

I have a large potted palm that spends the winter months in my home. During the summer, the palm is ‘vacationing’ in my backyard beneath the pines. While it is outdoors I will take a pair of scissors and snip away the browned ends of the fronds.

Potted plants, large and small, tip over easily in the high winds and heavy rains we have been experiencing this week in my area. I tried weighting the surface of the palm’s pot with rocks, but during the first strong breezes the pot tipped over. To better stabilize the plant I ran a garden stake through the top of the pot, threaded it through the side (or bottom) drainage holes, and hammered it into the ground. I used four stakes for the large palm, smaller plants will stand firm using only one.

I’ve shared this tip in the past, but it is worth repeating for those who are new to gardening outdoors.