Plants – Flower of the Day and Invasive Plants

My flower of the day, part of Cee’s FOTD challenge, is this gorgeous yellow iris blooming in my garden. I love my iris plants. I also grow a deep purple and pink iris in my gardens.

Iris plants spread at a good rate, but they rarely become invasive, and are easy to dig out and share with friends when they take over too much room.

A plant I’m having trouble with this year is yarrow. I have this nice clump near the air conditioner. I appreciate its tenacity in this inhospitable dry soil. The plant spreads a bit each year, but for the most part is easy to control.

The flip side of this story is the yarrow sown last year via a pack of mixed wildflowers. These yarrow plants are not cooperative. They have returned and spread like a noxious weed. I am having a terrible time pulling the long tap roots out of the rich soil in the back yard plot. Yarrow is  a medicinal herb for muscle aches, but I certainly don’t need this much medicine, and if I keep yanking it up, it’s going to give me a backache. The moral of the tale: read the back of mixed wildflower packets and don’t plant any that contain yarrow.

I love my Rudbeckia Daisies,  but they also spread and can take over any plot they are in. Each year I end up pulling plants out of the beds and also seedlings out of the lawn. Still, I wouldn’t eradicate the Rudbecka altogether; I love the tall yellow stems of daisies they produce in mid-summer.

Pages – Becoming Mrs. Lewis and Hoopla

I’ve been planting in the garden like a madwoman, hence, not as much time as I’d like to blog and keep up with the never-ending housework. Happily though, I’ve been reading, or should I say listening, to a good book while I am tending to the weeds and seeds. Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan is a wonderful novel about the friendship and love of Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis. As with the best of books, any nagging thought or worry I’m facing at the moment disappears when I’m listening to the story. You can read a good synopsis of the story on GoodReads/Becoming Mrs. Lewis. I’ve found that fiction based on true-life often prompts me to delve further into biographies and photo records of the subjects; this has been the case with Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis, the main characters in the novel.

I’m listening to this book on a digital streaming service called Hoopla.

Hoopla Digital is a web and mobile library media streaming platform for audio books, movies, music, ebooks, comics, and TV. Hoopla allows library patrons to download or stream media content. Hoopla Digital is a division of the Holland, Ohio-based company Midwest Tape, and is housed in the same facility.” Wikipedia

I joined Hoopla free through my local library. Many libraries offer Hoopla. Check with yours to see if you can download and use this free service.

I am sometimes hesitant to use photo images of book jackets for my ‘pages’ reviews. Here’s a good article written by The Librarian Who Doesn’t Say Shhh, that puts most of my fears to rest over violating copyright laws when I use a book cover image on my blog: Book Cover Images.

Photo Challenge – Weather Vane Wednesday/North East, Maryland

This Indian Weather Vane with his bow is on top of the Old Mill Plaza in North East, Maryland. 

North East is a great small town near the Chesapeake Bay and the Elk Neck River. It is just minutes away from Elk Neck State Park and the Turkey Point Lighthouse.

Take a quick walk with me to Turkey Point Lighthouse.

Geriatri’x’Fotogallery – Weather Vane Ship
The 59 Club – The Upper Deck

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. The challenge is open all week for comments and posts. 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!

Photo Challenge – Slithering Orange

It was one of those idyllic sunshine days in April. I was with several of my family members on Easter weekend walking along the Chesapeake Bay in Elk Neck State Forest.

The girls were making sand castles with small shells and sticks, the guys were watching the sun on the water, I was looking for pieces of driftwood.  My husband eventually joined me and we walked further up the beach.

“There’s a snake.” my husband suddenly said. He dislikes snakes much more than I do, but let me tell you, when you hear the word snake, and don’t see it, you become very aware of the surroundings and your shoulders instinctively raise up toward your ears just a bit. It was a little eerie when I finally saw it lying motionless among the gnarled roots and pieces of debris. I wondered how long it had been watching us.

The Northern Water Snake species is harmless. It was probably an older snake. Its back was dark and the orange bands on the bottom of its body were faint.  The bands are brighter and much more pronounced when the snakes are young.

We went our way and I suppose he eventually went back to his den when the sun went down. The orange banding on the water snake is my entry in Traveling at Wit’s End Photo Challenge – Orange

 

Planting – Winter Sowing Update

My winter sown vegetables are ready to plant. They have done well, developing good root systems as they slowly sprouted and grew. They do not need to be hardened off before planting as they have grown in cold temperatures since day one.

The plants look small, but they will quickly grow in the loose soil of the Square Foot Garden. In a week or two they will double, maybe triple in size.  Planted this week are Arugula, Bread-seed Poppies, Milkweed, Mesclun lettuce, Black-seeded Simpson lettuce, Prize-head lettuce, Giant Spinach, Swiss Chard, Kale, and several varieties of beets. I will also be sowing many of the same seeds directly into the soil for later harvests.

One problem I did have was a batch of arugula and mustard spinach had already begun to develop buds in the recent warm temperatures. I discarded these as they would have had a bitter flavor once they flowered.

Photo Challenge & Postcards – Pebbly Beach

For this week’s post I’m back to Block Island, RI. I believe this anchor, photographed from Pebbly Beach, is a wind vane of sorts.

Pebbly Beach was one of our favorite spots to visit on Block Island when we stayed in the Sea Breeze Inn.

Visitors to Block Island have enjoyed the Pebbly Beach for over 100 years.

This postcard is postmarked August 29, 1909, almost 110 years in the past. Here’s an easier to read view of what I think Kate wrote to Willie on that long ago day.

Block Island R.I. Aug 28/09
This is how it looks from
the beach in front of the
cottage. From the cottage
we can see over the
point-Tell Annie I’d
rather have ANY trip
than HERS. No more les-
sons at present. I am
where they can’t reach
me – Kate E. Post

I’m not sure of two words, these I printed in capitals. There seems to be some unspoken drama in this post. I wonder what Kate meant about not being reached??? Even today to visit Block Island requires a boat or plane ride. The mystery is a century old. I love old postcards with messages.

Thanks to these bloggers for taking part in last week’s challenge:
Geriatri’x’Fotogallery – Tuna Weather Vane
The 59 Club – Hunter Springs

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. The challenge is open all week for comments and posts. 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!

Phlower & Perspective – Iris Cathedral

Purple Iris – Flower of the Day

“I have had more than half a century of such happiness. A great deal of worry and sorrow, too, but never a worry or a sorrow that was not offset by a purple iris, a lark, a bluebird, or a dewy morning glory.” ~ Mary McLeod Bethune

This regal flower reminds me today of beauty lost. How horrifying it was yesterday to witness Notre Dame in flames and realize there was nothing to be done to save it. A reminder to make the most of every moment, so much can change in just a matter of minutes or hours.

Quick Tip – Yard Walkabout/Storm Repair

Monday’s Yard Walkabout had me cringing as I checked all my garden beds. We had a spring rainstorm last night that rivaled a mid-summer downpour. I found my top-heavy hyacinths lying on their sides.

To the rescue, twigs from last year’s Rudbeckia daisies.

I rarely cut these tall stems down in Autumn. They retain seeds on the spent flower heads for a good part of the winter, a food source for birds, and in the spring and summer their tall stems, turned wood-like in the winter weather, are perfect stakes for zinnias and other tall border plants. I usually break off the smaller twigs and discard, this year they will come in handy; I’ll poke the end in the ground and let the branches hold the hyacinth up until time to cut the faded flower away.

My propped-up hyacinths are part of Cee’s Flower of the Day.

Phlutters – Small Miracles Part II

Part II of my small miracles day doesn’t have the beauty of the newly hatched Swallowtail butterfly, but it will help facilitate more miracles. I grow dill and other host plants for Swallowtail butterflies each year. This season I was determined to also grow plants for Monarchs.

I have managed to sprout some milkweed seeds by the winter-sowing method. Because I know the milkweed has a tap-root I chose to sow the seeds in peat pots and enclosed them in a recycled food container during the winter months. They have sprouted. I will get them in the ground as soon as possible so that the tap-root will not be disturbed and the plants will have a better chance at survival.

Asclepias syriaca: Common milkweed is the host plant for Monarch butterflies.

“Monarchs cannot survive without milkweed; their caterpillars only eat milkweed plants (Asclepias spp.), and monarch butterflies need milkweed to lay their eggs. With shifting land management practices, we have lost much milkweed from the landscape.” ~ Monarch Joint Venture

I know the assessment of Monarch Joint Venture is true. I can name three parcels of land within a mile or two of my home where I once saw milkweed. All three have been built upon, weed whacked, or decimated by the relentless need to clear land for business purposes. I’m sure this same problem is rampant across the country.

Due to the loss of habitat for monarchs, this year I collected a bit of seed from a milkweed patch to grow in my gardens. I’ll be planting the sprouts soon so that the long root can develop unhindered. I also have several milkweed seeds in my freezer. I’ll plant a few in my garden beds and also find some areas near me where they might have a chance to grow. If you want to participate in helping Monarch butterflies survive and thrive you can find some good tips here: Monarch Butterfly Garden.

Phlutters – A Day of Small Miracles Part I

In a November post, Comminatory Weather and the Big Save, I described how I saved two Swallowtail butterfly caterpillars from a hard freeze in my garden. One didn’t make it, but the other formed a chrysalis which has rested on the soil of a dried out pot of dill for several months.


I left it alone for the most part, only dripping a bit of water on it now and then when I watered my plants. Today when I entered the room and checked on my garden seedlings, something fluttered and flew off the pot; I knew right away the caterpillar had changed into a butterfly.

I extended a finger, nudged his legs, and he walked on. If he had emerged in the midst of cold weather I would have tried to craft several fake flowers connected to jars of sugar water for him to survive on, but since it has warmed up and there are many flowers and trees blooming, I knew outdoors was his best chance.

I took him to the garden and gently let him move onto the edge of a daffodil. He looked happy until I moved and then he flew about twenty feet out into the yard. He flew fine, but it seemed one of his bottom wings was not quite extended all the way. He rested on the grass for quite awhile, flying now and then several feet one way then another. Suddenly, he extended his wings, flew, and was quickly out of sight. I was thrilled. Every day is blessed when it contains a small miracle or two. Part 2 of my small miracle day will be posted tomorrow.

Photo Challenge – Still Looking Up

Day trips, and even jaunts around local towns, find me looking up for vanes. This week I found a beautiful weather vane in the seaside town of Ocean City, NJ. After searching for weather vanes for ten months, I’m fairly certain there are more to be found in beach areas than in any other area.

I think this ‘fishy’ weather vane depicts a tuna. It is the largest in size I have found thus far.

Thanks to these bloggers for taking part in last week’s challenge:
Geriatri’x’ Fotogallery – Luther Swan
The 59 Club – The Man in the Moon

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. The challenge is open all week for comments and posts. 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!

Place – Spring Walk/Ocean City, New Jersey

Ocean City Boardwalk North

Spring’s warm weather brings hundreds of Shoobies to Ocean City to walk the boards. Shoobie is a slang term for daytrippers who visit the Jersey shore for a day or weekend. I’m not ashamed to admit the moniker ‘Shoobie’ can often be applied to me.

It’s sometimes difficult to decide which way to turn on the boardwalk, but our starting point is usually Ninth Street. Why? Ninth street is where our favorite pizza place, Manco and Manco, is located.

Ocean City Boardwalk South

If you don’t want to walk you can pull up a seat on a surrey.

It might seem odd to find a library on the beach, but I think it’s a great idea. I’ve seen these small book exchange boxes in local towns, but this is the first beach library I’ve seen.

We stopped at the neighboring town of Strathmere on the way home. Walking the beach we took notice of an area on the edge of the dunes. Cordoned off with wire, signs warned against entering the area due to endangered birds nesting in the area. I love shore birds and was glad to see their nesting area was protected. I hope they will nest and rear their young before even more Shoobies arrive in the summer.

This post is part of Jo’s Monday Walk.

Quote – Shine!

” “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:15-16 (The Message)


My interpretation: Shine like morning sunshine on forsythia!
This post is part of Sunday Trees and Cee’s Flower of the Day.