Photo Challenge – Color Your World: Asparagus

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I have a lot of greens in my home. Green, especially a glowing yellow-green, is one of my favorite colors. These are my photo choices for the Color Your World Photo Challenge: Asparagus.

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I love growing philodendron sprigs in ceramic pots. Philodendron easily roots in water. The plant and pot have shades of asparagus in their greens.

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The Jamestown glass from historic Jamestown, Virginia, was given to my mother as a gift for my birth many decades ago. One of the asparagus green vases holds a piece of a Photinia shrub. The underside of the Photinia leaves have the green glow of fresh asparagus.

Photinia is a wonderful bush for your garden. The foliage is outstanding in vased floral arrangements.

I enjoyed collecting these greens for the Color Your World Challenge.

Phlowers – Laurentia/Pretty in Pink

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I’m growing Laurentia, (Isotoma axillaris) the ‘Pretty in Pink’ variety, as a container plant again this year. This lovely star-shaped flower also comes in a periwinkle blue and white. The foliage is daisy-like in a pretty green shade.

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The flowers are lovely from both front and side-view. The buds are interesting as they form and open.

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The petals have a nice curve and capture raindrops as they fall. I don’t do anything special for this plant. It grows in full sun from mid-morning until early afternoon. If the soil becomes a little dry it doesn’t seem to suffer. A few rainy days in a row don’t seem to bother it too much.

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The only problem I have found the plant to have is the leaves begin to yellow as they age. I remove them without difficulty for a better appearance. The Master Gardener Program of the University of Wisconsin says that Laurentia plants shed their spent flowers and don’t need deadheading. Shearing them back in mid-season will promote regrowth.

Laurentia are native to Australia.

This post is part of Cee’s Flower of the Day.

 

Praise – The Beauty of the Earth

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My computer is glitchy, the power cords/battery not powering up at all. I think they need replacing. In the meantime I’m using my husband’s computer to repost some of my favorite photos of Block Island, Rhode Island for today’s post. If you ever have a chance to visit this beautiful place you won’t be disappointed.

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On Sundays I love to include a bit of praise and gratitude toward the Lord God for all His love and care for us. Today I’m going to dwell on these words of Jesus and try to live them every day. God bless you!

Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” ~Mark 12:30-31

Blog Block Island Heart of Stone

Phlutters – Here We Go Again/Part III

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The caterpillars have gone through their instars, and are ready to start the process of metamorphosis into a butterfly.  One caterpillar has hidden his chrysalis well, or somehow made his way outdoors under the screen door. Four of the caterpillars created, or are in the process of creating, their chrysalis cases on the screens and walls.

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The caterpillars stiffen into this comma shape for quite awhile before the transformation to chrysalis takes place.

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When the chrysalis forms it has quite an alien look.

Three of the caterpillars chose well and are five or six feet above the floor.

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This one chose a terrible spot. He is only three feet up, on the doorjamb, exactly where the everyone passes when they go outdoors. I cut the bottom off a yogurt cup and used duct tape to place it around the unwise caterpillar as a barrier. Hopefully, I will be able to remove it when the time comes for him to emerge. I am hoping to post some photographs of black swallowtail in a few weeks.

Place – June in Longwood Gardens

Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.

When we visit Longwood in winter we briskly walk to the conservatory. In June, we take the opposite direction and stroll toward the lake.

The beautiful weather brings out many people to visit the gardens.

A gigantic frog floated unafraid as we passed by. He must see hundreds of people daily and is not fazed at all by being oohed and aahed over.

The water droplets in the fountains look like diamonds and the shapes they create are awesome.

I might sign up for solar if I could have flower power like this design instead of roof panels.

Birds were everywhere serenading the visitors.

There was something so serene in these fabric panels blowing in the wind. I want to  find a way to do something similar for a picnic or evening dinner. Thanks for  walking along with me today.

 

Phun – National Smile Day

It’s National Smile Day, not to be confused with World Smile Day, celebrated on October 4th. Every now and then I like to post a photograph of myself so you can see just who is writing this eclectic collection of blog posts. This photograph was taken by my husband. (You can see him reflected in my sunglasses.) We were gathered together with family for a Memorial Day Picnic.

Have a happy Friday and blessed weekend.

Phlowers – FOTD/Verbena

I press quite a few flowers over the course of the growing season and verbena is one of my favorites for this craft. I was pleased to find a pinwheel variety this year and can’t wait to see if it will hold its colors. Verbena is easily preserved between the pages of books or in a flower press. The flower is somewhere between the size of a dime and nickel. For small pressed flower arrangements it is irreplaceable. Red is usually a fugitive color in flower pressing, but verbena holds the red color for years. An entry from the Philadelphia Flower Show 1994 hangs on my wall and the verbena still has a bit of red left in its petals.

Verbena comes in a great variety of colors. Red, purple, lavender, fuschia, peach and whites. Just like my new pinwheel variety, new looks are debuted every year.

I don’t plant verbena directly in the ground. Every verbena plant I have is in a hanging basket or pot of some kind because the greatest threat to a long growing season is powdery mildew. I’ve found growing the verbena in pots protects the leaves from this problem for a longer period of time. I’ve read fungicides will work, but usually I just throw the plant away if it becomes diseased.

Verbena is my choice for Cee’s Flower of the Day.

Phlutters – Here We Go Again/Part II

When I checked the fennel plant today all the smaller caterpillars were gone. There was only one still feasting, and he was large and blended in with the green fronds. The smaller black ones are easy to spot and were probably a meal for a hungry bug or bird. Butterfly populations are dwindling and I’m annoyed with myself for leaving so many outdoors for the predators.

Indoors, to keep the caterpillars near the fennel and off the screens of the porch when they form a chrysalis, I placed the milk carton in a tight fitting ceramic pot and created an arrangement of sticks between the two. It works great! The sticks are stable, don’t blow in the wind, and even if knocked they seem to stay in place.

The largest caterpillar appears to be getting close to forming its chrysalis.

Do caterpillars think? Probably not, but this one certainly looks as if its contemplating what to do next.

Perspective & Phlutters – Here We Go Again

Black Swallowtail butterflies are visiting my gardens earlier than in previous years. I’m thrilled by their presence and even happier to find my fennel plant loaded with caterpillars. Just as I feared though, a daily check on the fennel reveals a diminished amount of newly hatched caterpillars. They fall victim to predatory bugs and some birds. I found a great article on insects that eat Monarchs and other butterfly caterpillars.  Butterfly Predators.

In years past I grew pots of dill with the purpose of saving caterpillars from predators. The idea worked and I was able to save quite a few and they reached maturity on my back porch. Unfortunately, this early in the season my dill sprouts are only a few inches tall. What do do?

A water-filled milk carton with a piece of screen rubber-banded around the top is a good solution. The screen is a must or I risk drowned caterpillars. Although the fennel was limp for a few hours after cutting, it soon perked up. I cut about three fronds, and might need to add more as the caterpillars eat. Because I didn’t want to hand-pick the caterpillars and risk harming them, I cut away just the small tip they were on and placed it within the larger fennel pieces. The caterpillars are doing well, this is day three of their protected feasting on the porch. As they grow I will add pots of twigs in the vicinity for them to begin their metamorphosis upon. In past years several caterpillars rejected the twigs and created their chrysalis on the porch screens and even the wall. This also worked great and all but one emerged unscathed by the human intervention.

Why do I do this? Butterfly populations are declining all over the world due to pollution, insecticides, carbon dioxide, loss of habitat, etc. Giving a few a helping hand might add hundreds more to the environment, and this makes the time I spend saving a few completely worthwhile. I left at least half of the caterpillars outside on the fennel. I’m hoping several will evade detection by hungry predators and make it to the chrysalis stage.

 

Parade – Memorial Day 2019

Memorial Day is celebrated as the opening of summer, but it’s true meaning is as a remembrance day for those who have served our country and lost their lives in making this the Land of the Free.

I give my thanks to everyone who has served, not just on the battlefield and military, but for those who serve as peacekeepers (police force), fire-fighters, EMT technicians and the endless list of others who give of their time and talent to make this country great. Thank you for your service.

Quotes – A Verse, A Quote, and Two Links

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” ~Romans 12:18

I’ve read some good truths in blogs this week. Scarlett posted the Toby Mac quote below on her blog, Scarlett79, and its wisdom really struck me. I don’t want false apologies without changed behavior from others, neither do I want to be guilty of apologizing without attempting to change.

I also found great wisdom in a post by Onisha E. about Halting Mean Thoughts – Old Things R New blog. This was another eye-opener and something common to all of us if we are honest. I want to once again thank all of you who blog…you change me…for the better. Thanks so much for reading my blog and thanks so much for writing and sharing your wisdom and knowledge. God bless!

Projects – Drying Roses

I’ve been enjoying my roses and decided to dry several this week to keep for projects. Pinterest has many dried rose ideas: wreaths, wall-hangings, napkin rings, potpourri, are just a few of the many crafts. I’m hoping to try out a few ‘pins’ in the cooler months when I am longing for fresh flowers.

I’ve been using my dehydrator to dry the roses. The dehydrator has five trays stacked above a heating unit. I space the roses out on the trays so that they have plenty of air flow. The lowest setting works great and doesn’t seem to cause much browning.

One trick I’ve learned is to also dry a few rosebuds and leaves for a natural look when arranging.

I switch the trays around bottom to top, and so on, every twenty minutes. This gives all the levels a chance to dry in the higher heat of the bottom.

When the flowers seem dry, but before they begin to brown on the edges, I put them on a metal tray and lay it on the floor of my car with closed windows. I tent newspaper over the top if the sun is shining through the windows.

The last step is to give the roses a few weeks of open-air storage. To do this I cut away the bottom of brown paper shopping bags, pinch the corners so they stay open, and lay the flowers inside. I place these bags on a mesh drying rack hanging in a closet and keep the doors shut for darkness.   I am going to purchase some floral fixative at a hobby/craft store to keep the petals secure in a few weeks. (I think hairspray works too.) When winter days and nights get long it will be fun to pull out these flowers and get creative.

I also dry many herbs in the same way. On the rack with the roses is catnip. dried chive blossoms, and lemon balm.

Pests – Sawfly

Sawflies are turning some of my rose leaves into skeletons by eating the flesh away. The nasty little creatures have attacked every rose bush to some degree. I try to grow organically so I just pick them off and drop them in a can of water. The sawflies are extremely small and it takes a bit of up-close searching to find them; they blend in perfectly with the green of the leaves. Gardens Alive has a good tip on their answer page concerning sawflies.

“On roses and similar plants, handpick the pests, spray them off with sharp streams of water early in the morning (knock them down and they can’t get back up), or spray neem or one of the new spinosad products.” Gardens Alive

When I notice a skeletonized leaf I check the rose all over and pick off the sawflies. So far I don’t have anything near an infestation, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I can keep them under control. The roses are beautiful in May and June as they come into bloom. I don’t want their appearance marred by ruined foliage.

Plant & Phlutters – The Fennel Cafeteria

The fennel survived the winter and is a cloud of softest, hazy foliage in the Square Foot Garden. I was admiring it when I spotted a contrasting strand of something black on the foliage.

Could it be? Yes! A swallowtail caterpillar snacking on the fronds. Not only one caterpillar was in the midst of the cloud of fennel, but over half a dozen. I’ve never noticed swallowtail caterpillars so early in the season. I am hoping that the density of the fennel will protect the caterpillars from predators.

 

Planting – Mango Season

The photograph is a bit blurry, but I think you can see the small mango sprout in the center. I have sprouted and grown mango pits in the past, but the small trees didn’t grow quickly enough for me, and I didn’t continue on with them. I’m going to try once again, and this time start an earlier fertilizing schedule. I’ll update later in the season.

Growing a Mango Pit

 

 

Pheathers – Shore Birds

Sea Gulls

We were able to do a little weekend fishing at the Delaware Bay in Fortescue. There were hundreds of shore birds on the beaches eating the eggs of the horseshoe crabs. We saw many varieties, and I hope I have the identification correct. Horseshoe crabs, once endangered, are a major source of food for migrating birds. “The fate of some species is tied to these horseshoe crabs.” ~Sea Around You

Ruddy Turnstone and Sandpiper

This was the first time I’ve photographed the Ruddy Turnstone wearing it’s breeding colors. The birds almost resemble calico cats. Their colors are bright and beautiful.

Ruddy Turnstone

 

Sanderling

 

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This cormorant seemed to be craning his long neck to search for food in the water beneath him.

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An informative article on shore birds can found at New Jersey Shorebirds.

Psalm – Moon Rise Over the Pines

“Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars!” ~Psalm 148:3

A beautiful moon rose in golden splendor this evening. What a glorious display of God’s Creation.

“The May Full Moon is known as Flower Moon to signify the flowers that bloom during this month. Other names for the Full Moon in May are Corn Planting Moon, and Milk Moon from Old English/Anglo-Saxon.” ~TimeandDate.com

This post is part of Becca’s Sunday Trees.