Place – Sanibel Island/The Land

I am not exaggerating when I say I have wanted to visit Sanibel Island, Florida, for more than four decades. We tried to drive down once with our seven month old son in his car seat. We only drove for seven hours before realizing the nightmare of a long drive with an active baby was not going to work for us. That son is now over forty, and that’s at least how long I have wanted to see this beautiful island.

You might wonder why. What is the pull? Easy to answer…the lure of the island for me is the seashells. Sanibel beaches are considered some of the best for shelling in the world. After visiting in early October of this year…I can totally support the claim. I have never seen so many shells, or so many beautiful varieties, strewn across a beach.

Beyond the lure of the beaches and warm water of the Gulf of Mexico is the beauty of the plant life. I love flowers and foliage of all types. The island supports many tropical plants and trees. The West Wind Inn, a beautiful place built on the beach, has gardens filled with lovely flowers and trees.

I’m not sure what this tropical beauty is named, but I am using it as part of Cee’s Flower of the Day.

Another flower I saw in abundance was this tropical version of Black-eyed Susans. The flowers resembled the ones I grow, but the foliage was very different, thick and dense, able to withstand the heat and salt in the air.

We visited two beaches in addition to the beach in front of the West Wind Inn. The Lighthouse Beach has a fishing pier. We saw dolphins in the water there. There is quite a bit of parking, but the restroom facilities were a long hike.

Our favorite beach was Bowman’s Beach. It was a long, long walk from the parking area/restroom facilities to the water, but so worth it. We went here twice, and some of the best shells we gathered were found on this shoreline. I waited a long time to go to Sanibel, I hope I can go back soon, and not have too many years between my visits.

Phlutters – Backyard Butterflies Part II


“O LORD, what a variety of things you have made! In wisdom you have made them all. The earth is full of your creatures.” ~ Psalm 104:24, NLT

I ended Part I of ‘Backyard Butterflies’ with a photo of this Monarch Chrysalis. Since that post, the butterfly has gone through its metamorphosis and emerged.

I didn’t see the butterfly break out of its yellow-green chrysalis, but I did notice it soon after.

After it dried off a bit, the butterfly began to explore the nearby garden. I watched throughout the day as the Monarch became acquainted with the sweet nectar in my garden.

The dahlia is part of Cee’s Flower of the Day.

Phlowers – Forget-Me-Not

I love the clear blue of annual Forget-Me-Nots. The blossoms are smaller than a dime, and the foliage is unspectacular, but the way the color reflects the sky thrills me. I might try to grow a few in the house this winter. Although the flower is small, the annual variety produces a large and interesting seed, often found in wildflower seed packets.

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits. ~Psalm 103:2

If we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God, then we will be a nation gone under. ~ Ronald Reagan

These beautiful annual Forget-Me-Nots are part of Cee’s Flower of the Day.

Phlowers – Harvesting

Angelonia, in a gorgeous shade of coral, or is that fuschia, or is that pink? My pick for flower of the day and Cee’s FOTD Challenge.

I have been lax in my posting, not because I want to be, but because I am super-busy harvesting my flowers for pressing. I’ve pressed, hundreds, no, I’d say more in the thousands this summer. One reason I press so many is only one in three is perfect enough to be posted to my Etsy shop. For hydrangeas, the odds are even worse, only about one in five flowers is pristine and without spot and blemish.

I recently created a short fifteen second videotape, recommended by Etsy to advertise your shop. I thought you all might like to see me in action on my ‘Flower Farm’ harvesting flowers and foliage to press. In the Autumn, things will slow down, and I will have more time to blog.

Phlower – Daisy and Visitor


“Four things on earth are small,
yet they are extremely wise:
Ants are creatures of little strength,
yet they store up their food in the summer. ~Proverbs 30:24-25

When I downloaded my photograph of a daisy growing against the chimney I was surprised to spy a tiny ant on one of the petals. I wonder how high we would have to climb to match the ant’s ability to travel up the two foot plus daisy stem. Amazing!

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

Phlowers & Problem-Solving – Calendula and Whitefly Deterrents

I love this shade of yellow and am pleased that many of the Calendula seeds I sowed in the Spring are growing in my garden. Calendula are easy to grow. You can sow them indoors for early bloom, they also do well direct-sown into the ground, and are often part of wildflower seed packets. There are many medicinal uses for Calendula, making them a powerhouse plant when you consider the beauty they add to the garden. I’ve planted Calendula in hanging baskets, in pots, and in the ground. Calendula also bloom in a lovely cantaloupe shade of orange.

Unfortunately, that lovely yellow color and bright green foliage makes the Calendula a prime target of whiteflies and aphids. Aphids are easy to control with a dousing of the hose or handpicking. Whiteflies are not as easy, and need a bit of baiting to be trapped. I used the same beautiful yellow color to lure them to their demise.

I gathered a few items together, a yellow plastic cup, clear packing tape, string, scissors, and a paper clip.

I punched a hole in the bottom of the cup with the scissors, and strung the string into it with the paperclip opened up to keep it in place. I wound the tape around the cup, sticky side out, covering all the sides.

I hung this near the area of whitefly infestation.

Success! The whiteflies, attracted by the yellow, landed on the sticky tape and met their fate. It has rained, and the tape is a little less sticky now, but it’s easy to replace. This is a low-cost fix for pests with the plus of using no harsh chemicals. Brushing the plants near the trap several times a day causes the flies to swarm off the plants and helps the trap capture more of the pests.

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

If you don’t want to make your own traps, whitefly sticky traps are also available in hardware stores and garden centers.

Phlowers – Flower of the Day/Fan Flower

I love Fan Flowers (Scaevola aemula) for many reasons. The fan-shaped bloom comes to mind first. The ease in growing them and the way the blossoms cascade over the edge of a hanging basket is also a plus.

They combine well in their pot with yellow and black pansies, purple heliotrope and diamond frost euphorbia.

My plants are often visited by goldfinches. They pluck the ripening seeds from the lower branches of the plant, giving me many moments to admire their beauty as they feed. Fan flowers are one of many plants that attract and shelter backyard birds.

I have a pinkish fan flower, but it is not as vibrant as the purple. I like having more choices though, and this color combines nicely with other shades of pink and purple.

Fan flowers are one of my favorites for flower pressing. If picked just after they unfurl they retain their color perfectly. They combine well with other pressed flowers.

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

Phlowers – Salvia Flowers and Hummingbirds

Salvias, sometimes referred to as Sage, are one of my favorite garden plants. I grow both types, perennial and annual, and find the flowers and plants rarely disappoint.

Salvias grow best in full sun, and draw hummingbirds, butterflies and many types of pollinating insects to my gardens. I have planted several in hanging baskets this year to keep them high and in full view of my kitchen window. Dinner preparations often become prime time for watching hummingbirds as they visit these plants.

A great article on various kinds of salvias can be found on the Spruce. Common types of Salvia Flowers.

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

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.

 

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.

Phlowers – Flower of the Day/Poinsettia

I know it’s a bit strange, but this poinsettia plant is my Flower of the Day. It has held onto its colorful bracts since November, and is still looking good. I think it deserves a second chance at life outside among the ivy. If I can coax it to grow after the bracts fall off or brown, I will try to get the green leaves to color up again, although I have heard it is near impossible. Still…I can dream.

Perspective & Phlowers – Colors

“The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst.” Revelation 21:18-20

I love to imagine the colors and beauty of heaven. I am so often reminded of what will come when I wander around my garden admiring the flowers of God’s creation. I get excited watching a flower bud form and then bloom. God has filled the earth with such wondrous colors and sights, oh my, what will heaven be like?

Yesterday, unsure of the direction we were driving, we accidentally found a new garden center. (Sometimes the best moments/places/friendships in life appear when we think we are lost.) I am always on the lookout for a type of small dahlia called harlequins. These dahlias come in an array of bright colors. The feature that really gets me excited about this type of dahlia is the collar of ruffles around the center. I can’t wait to grow and press these beauties this year. The Harlequin Dahlias are my Flower of the Day.

I came upon a great article with growing tips for dahlias while researching this post. If you grow dahlias you might enjoy reading Longfield Gardens: 8 Tips for Growing Better Dahlias.

People – Why I Blog & Buttercups

I’ve known many of you for years—friendships I would miss dreadfully, if the technology of the Internet, as we know it, should expire. Who you are though, your words, your lives, your posts and comments, are in my heart and thoughts for eternity. I’ve rejoiced that so many of you love God. Through your blogs I’ve visited most of the U.S., Qatar, India, The Philippines, Australia, Europe, Canada, Japan, The Caribbean and many more. I’ve walked with you in the morning and met your neighbors. I’ve loved your chickens…cats…and dogs…and even some donkeys and other assorted creatures. I’ve enjoyed glimpses into your homes and loved meeting your families. I’ve cooked your recipes, used your DIY tips, planted flowers you’ve recommended, admired your photos, commented on your posts, and enjoyed taking part in your blog challenges. In short, you’ve influenced my life for the better.

I have taken great delight in comments left on my blog. In fact, a recent comment was so beautifully worded it gave me the inspiration for this post. I knew I had to share it and leave a link to this lovely blog and the poetry of the author.

“…one of the marvelous things about blogging: people share golden new things, and still shimmering old things.” Leyda Bien/Poetic Heart Dregs

I thank Leyda for the lovely comment found on my post – Mirrors. Visit her blog by way of the link in the blockquote above.

What connection do buttercups have with this post? Well, when they are newly blossomed there is no other flower quite so golden. When they are old, such as pressed between the pages of a book, they still retain a definite shimmer of the beauty they first exhibited. Live Science gives a wonderful explanation of how and why buttercups have a sheen like no other flower. You can read about it here: How Buttercups Get Their Yellow Gloss.

Buttercups reflect so much light it is hard to get a clear photograph of them. Even on an overcast, damp day, they caught the sun and shone it’s light back at me. Buttercups are my choice for today’s FOTD. These beauties are blooming in southern New Jersey this month.

Pressed buttercups are a perfect example of Leyda’s phrase, ‘shimmering old things.’ Even when pressed between the pages of a book for years, they retain their shimmer. Thank you everyone who blogs here and on other sites…I enjoy your lives and you have made mine very full.

For pressed flower tips visit: The Flower Ark.

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.

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.

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.