Photographs & Perspective – Autumn Bound

My family often gathers together for Thursday evening dinner. The conversation last night turned toward summer’s end, and the finish of fun activities, picnics, and warm weather. The swimming season at lake and pool is over, school is starting next week, and coatless weather will soon be replaced with jackets and hats. Since my sons have been working in high heat and humidity outdoors, they aren’t sorry to see temperatures in the 90’s disappear, but we all wish the freedom and fun of summer would never vanish. The calendar might proclaim summer not ending for twenty-two days, but Labor Day weekend in the U.S. always seems to announce Autumn.

Although they bloom all summer, sunflowers are commonly associated with Autumn. I recently found these beauties growing in the front of a neighbor’s home. The day was overcast, the sun still rising, and the grey of the sky created an unearthly backdrop for these beauties. I think they will be perfect to use as the September header image for the blog. Good-bye August…Hello September.

This post is part of Skywatch Friday and Fandango One Word Challenge (FOWC) – Bound

Phlower – Hibiscus/Unlikely Sources

Several of my favorite plants have been found in the unlikeliest places. I discovered this beautiful hibiscus for sale in a local deli. It wasn’t blooming when I bought it; I assumed it would have the appearance of a typical garden shop hibiscus. What a surprise awaited me when the multi-hued double petals opened for the first time. In the Autumn, I will bring the plant indoors and try to keep it alive and blooming for years. At some point I know I will have to capture this flower in watercolor.

This beautiful bloom is part of Cee’s Flower of the Day.

Photo Challenge – Weather Vane Wednesday/Choo Choo!

CHOO-CHOO! Someone in this house loves trains. I would wager a guess that there might some model railroads set up inside the house.

Thanks to The 59 Club for taking part in last week’s Weather Vane Wednesday challenge:
The 59 Club – Mermazing Forecast. Take a look at this terrific mermaid weather vane.

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!

Quick Tip – Driftwood Plant Stakes

I’ve been repotting orchids using driftwood twigs in place of ordinary plant stakes. I prefer the natural appearance of the driftwood vs. manufactured plastic or dowels. One problem with any type of garden stake is the possibility of catching it in the eye while watering or grooming the plant. I have many plants and believe me, there have been many close calls in garden and house with plant stakes. Also, as someone who received sixteen stitches in my leg as a child due to a stake hidden in tall grass I am always aware of the danger of stakes.

Thankfully, the fix is easy for my houseplants. To go with the seashore theme of the driftwood I placed a few small moonshells over the end of the plant stakes. Anything will do as a protective piece, a bead, string wound around the tip, a drilled acorn or nut, clay fashioned into small birds, the possibilities are almost endless.

Painting – Sophie’s Auntie

Sophie’s Auntie – Copyright 2018 K A Drissel

Last year, while enjoying Seven Mile Beach in Negril, Jamaica, we bought fruit from a beautiful island woman. This lady wore her basket of fruit like a crown and was dressed as if she was going to church. In a word, she was regal. We didn’t ask her name, but when the next vendor came by, selling necklaces made out of bead and shell, she told us the fruit vendor was her ‘Auntie.’ This time I remembered to ask a name, the necklace vendor said, “My name is Sophie.” So, the title of the painting was ordained before I even put brush to paper, “Sophie’s Auntie.”

At 24 x 24 inches, the painting is larger than I usually attempt in my watercolor painting. It is painted on Arches 300 lb Cold Press paper with Winsor & Newton watercolors. My palette had a mother color, this is a shade that I mix in varying degrees into all the other colors. The mother color in this palette was Burnt Umber. Additional colors were Winsor Blue Red Shade, Winsor Blue Green Shade, Quinacridone Magenta, Winsor Yellow, Olive Green, Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Sienna. I also used my Derwent Inktense Pencils to create the flecks of color in the sand. The tip can be found here: Creating Texture with Colored Pencils. I hope you like “Sophie’s Auntie.” I relived the beautiful sunny day while I painted her and felt like I was on vacation again.

Plant – Flowering Tobacco (Nicotiana sylvestris)

Last year, when my flowering tobacco set seeds, I picked the pods and shook hundreds of seeds into the back border of my front garden.

Although the seeds were just tiny specks, they wintered over great and hundreds came up in my garden. I didn’t thin the sprouts, I let them battle it out and only the fittest survived.

Because they were not started early indoors they are just beginning to flower now, which suits me fine, other annuals have bloomed and died and it’s nice to have the flowering tobacco coming into bloom in late summer.

These plants don’t need any special care. In New Jersey they grow up to 48 inches tall. The large leaves stay low to the earth, while the flower spike climbs and is eventually covered in a spray of fragrant tubular white flowers. Another plus is my plants don’t seem to be bothered by many insects pests.

The flower perfume is strongest in the evening. The flower stalk is strong and rarely needs staking. The plant grows best in full sun, but mine do well in part shade. I recommend these for a nighttime garden or the back of a border. The white flowers reflect the moonlight and fill the air with amazing scent.

Photo Challenge – Weather Vane Wednesday/FORE!

Oh, the joy of an unexpected photo opportunity, and having your camera with you when you stumble upon it. The road was busy, speed limit 45 mph, and somehow a weather vane caught my eye as I drove by a home. It perched on the top of a backyard shed, depicting a golfer in mid-swing. Amazing! I drove a bit further down the road, turned off as soon as I had a chance, and back-tracked. I had my camera ready for a quick shot out the window. I was lucky again and no cars were behind me. I was able to stop, focus in, and take a decent photo for this week’s Weather Vane Wednesday. The location is somewhere betwixt and between Blackwood and Washington Township, New Jersey.

Many thanks to those who took part in the August 14th challenge. Take a look at their weather vane posts from last week:
Middleton Road/Weather Vane Wednesday
The 59 Club/Savannah Winds

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!

Quote – Whosoever Will

Block Island, Rhode Island

I am happy today, and the sun shines bright,
The clouds have been rolled away;
For the Savior said, whosoever will
May come with Him to stay.
Refrain:
“Whosoever” surely meaneth me,
Surely meaneth me, oh, surely meaneth me;
“Whosoever” surely meaneth me,
“Whosoever” meaneth me.
~ James E. McConnell

Here’s an old-fashioned hymn in barbershop quartet style with plenty of good harmonies. I sang this song many times as a child, a favorite of the Sunday evening program called ‘Young People’s Service.’ Everyone in our church attended, regardless if they were young or old. The program was relaxed and a bit rambunctious with games, quizzes, and plenty of singing.

‘Whosoever’ does mean you, my friend. All you have to do is say, “I will.” God’s promises are true, whosoever will may come. Amen and God bless you on this Sabbath Day.

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.