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

 

Sandpiper

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

Cormorant

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.

Pheathers – Moth

One bonus of spring and summertime are the moths I find on my front door screen in the morning. Drawn by the porch light, they seem to be at rest in the early hours before moving on. The moths are usually at eye level giving me a good look at the complexities of their feathered antennae and the scales that mimic fuzzy fur when seen with the naked eye.

This moth on my front door is part of Norm’s Thursday Doors.

Perplexities – What’s in Front of You?

What’s in front of you that you aren’t seeing?

“The hardest thing to see is what is in front of your eyes.” ~Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Anyone who has read my blog for any length of time will know that I am always on the lookout for Praying Mantis pods. I usually find a few in the fields and forests in the winter months.

Imagine my surprise when I planted my tomatoes and found a surprise on one of the cages. Right in my back yard, in plain sight, was a perfect Praying Mantis pod. How did I not see it?

Quick Tip – Two on Tuesday/Apples, Vase Scum, and Baking Soda

My grandchildren love apples cut into wedges for snacking. Unfortunately, apples are on the list for ‘dirty’ fruits due to pesticide residue. The apple my youngest grand-daughter is holding in the photograph is an organic Gala apple. If it was not grown organically I could remove most of the outer pesticides by a baking soda soak. Washing away what has been absorbed by the inner fruit is pretty much impossible.

“The longer pesticides sit on fruits and vegetables, the deeper they’re absorbed, and the harder it is to remove them, he says…consider submerging your produce in a solution of one teaspoon of baking soda and two cups of water for two minutes or more (the longer you soak, the more chemicals you get rid of). Rinse in tap water again before eating.” ~ Consumer Reports/Easy Way to Remove Pesticides.

I also put baking soda to use when removing soap scum from vases. I try soaking first in bleach, but if that doesn’t work I sprinkle in a little baking soda and add straight white vinegar. Be prepared for some quick foaming action.

This is a good trick if you misplace your bottle brush. (Mine is hiding from me right now.) If needed, I will repeat the steps until the scum is gone.

Plants – FOTD and Mother’s Day Basket

I found this Senecio rowleyanus/String of Pearls succulent, also known as String of Beads and the Rosary Plant, at a local garden shop this year. Nestled among trays of annuals, this odd looking plant immediately drew my eye. String of Pearl plants are easy to grow, as are most succulents. A hands-off approach is usually best for succulents, with infrequent watering and good drainage a must. More information on growing String of Pearls can be found on Gardening 101.

The succulent is a perfect fit for this bright parrot planter. The planter has held several plants, but none so well suited to it as the String of Pearls and its cascade of bright green beads. I also love the flower the plant produces, a small white orb with brilliant stamens. The String of Pearls blossom is my Flower of the Day.

I also wanted to say a grateful thank you to my son for the lovely New Guinea hanging basket he gave me for Mother’s Day.