Put in a Nutshell – A Year of Sundays #7

The color for this week’s Color Your World Challenge is Blue-Violet.

I created the back drop for the encouraging verse from Philippians by blurring this photograph of my garden’s nepata (catmint), also known as perennial catnip. The plant bloomed in early spring. After I cut back the spent blossoms it sent out more buds and has flowered again in the heat of summer.

Blue Lobelia, also known as Blue cardinal flower, blooms in August when most flowers have begun to fade away. The hundreds of blossoms on the tall spikes draw butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds. Blue Lobelia is my Flower of the Day.

Another great blue-violet garden plant that naturalizes is Browallia americana. It grows easily in full sun or partial shade.

Years ago I filed away an article from Birds and Blooms magazine on Mothing. I couldn’t find the article online but found another with similar information: Finding Moths/National Moth Week.

Before the grandchildren arrived, we hung a white tablecloth on the clothesline and shone a blacklight on it when the sun went down.

We were hoping for large, spectacular moths, but only had a few small ones visit the light. I think the peak time for spotting the larger moths has passed by with the end of July.

Out best moth was this one, rather plain variety, but the grandchildren were pleased to have a look at this one up close.

The most exciting moment in the evening was realizing this large garden spider was using one of our chairs as a tether point for his web. Yikes!

Put in a Nutshell – A Year of Sundays #6

Wild grapes remind me of my childhood. I often spent a week or two of summer vacation with my maternal grandparents in western Pennsylvania. My grandfather had a big garden and some fruit trees. Near his small orchard grove he had a trellis with vines of wild grapes climbing on it.

I remember being disappointed by the taste of the wild grapes, seedy and sour. Whatever my impression of the grapes was, I wish I was back in time, at Granny and Pap-pap’s, stuffing wild grapes in my mouth, running all over the back yard with my sisters and cousins, all the while spitting grapes at each other with gusto. When I smell wild grapes on my morning walks in late summer/early autumn, I am taken back to those perfect summer days.

Remembering the love of my family reminds me of the love of my Father in Heaven. Recently, while having a conversation about God with my seven year old grandson, I told him God was within us and never leaves us. He suddenly dropped his chin, stared at his own chest and said, “Hello God.” What faith! The amazing, incomparable belief of a small child! I pray that kind of unshakable belief and love is what God sees in me when he searches my heart.

“And he (Jesus) said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3

I’ve had interesting visitors to my yard in shades of brown and orange. A box turtle took a stroll through my grass, stayed long enough for me to photograph and annoy him with my attention, and then disappeared into the ivy border.

Happily, the garden has been visited by Monarch butterflies daily in the past week.

I was thrilled to see one laying its white cone-like eggs on my ornamental milkweed. The variety is called Silky Gold Milkweed and is part of Cee’s Flower of the Day Challenge. I’ve been pleased with the growth and display of this beautiful plant.

The spent flowers, when pollinated, produce pods full of seeds much like wild milkweed.

I’ve been able to save seeds to plant next Spring.

I’ve taken dozens of Monarch photographs this week…the one I captured of a Monarch in flight is a favorite. Have a blessed week.

The blue-green of the grape leaves is part of this week’s Color Your World Challenge.

Put in a Nutshell – A Year of Sundays #5

The God who splashes pink sunrise clouds across the sky to begin the new day created us to be unique…authentically designed!

I’ve been re-reading ‘Dear Theo’ by Irving Stone. This time, as the words of Vincent describe to Theo a painting or sketch, I look up the subject/painting in a retrospective I have on Van Gogh. The talented writing of Vincent comes to life through his paintings. I love this quote—

“I try more and more to be myself, caring relatively little whether people approve or disapprove.”
― Vincent Van Gogh

I want to take the words of the verse and quote to heart and always be authentic.

Blue Globe Thistle (Echinops bannaticus) grows in my garden as a reliable perennial. I started the plants from seed, and at this time have two growing in my summer gardens. They aren’t prolific bloomers, at least not yet, but the globes last for weeks, and the flowers for several days. Blue Globe Thistles are a good choice for Cee’s Flower of the Day in shades of Blue Bell, the Color Your World Challenge this week.

Other flowers blooming in Blue Bell shades are Blue Lobelia, Torenia, and Hydrangeas.

Burning Bush turns flame red in the Autumn.

After all the blues it’s time for a rainbow of color. The pictures can’t capture all the nuances of the coleus. Some twist and turn and are as ruffled as a pleated collar. Others are flat-leafed, with leaves so large they are longer and wider than my size 7 foot. Several are tiny with long fingers on their edges, the leaves are the size of a half dollar. The flowers are beginning to emerge, and the bees are pollinating; a new crop of seeds is beginning to form.

Put in a Nutshell – A Year of Sundays #4

The quote above is from C.H. Spurgeon. I added his words to a macro photograph of one of God’s most delicate works, the colorful scales on a yellow swallowtail’s wing.

When I’m face to face with God’s creatures or admiring the beauty of His earth, I am reminded that He came to earth in the Person of his Son to bring us SALVATION full and free. I learn so much from the quotes of Spurgeon and other men of God. You can read more of Spurgeon’s words from the excerpt it came from on Truth to Freedom’s Blog.

The Color Your World Challenge from Tourmaline for this week is Blue.

Unplanned decorating in shades of blue was a recent surprise for me. I placed a case of small water bottles in a kitchen crock to have them handy for chilling in the refrigerator. I was so pleased with their appealing blue glow I decided I must always keep the crock filled through the warmer months.

A grouping of objects relational to each other through color, function or design can be a fun focal point.

The author of Priorhouse Blog once gave me a tip on using Dr. Bronner’s Mint Soap as a scrub. I haven’t bought the soap as of yet, but I did find a lotion by the same company. It’s fabulous…not heavy or too fragrant, nicely minty and rubs in without leaving a greasy feel.

I haven’t taken part in Norm’s Thursday Doors for quite awhile, and this week’s color challenge afforded me the perfect opportunity. This is the back yard view of my neighbors blue garage door. There once was a six foot fence between us, but it has been taken down; I love the expanded view of nature I have now. The bougainvillea on the border of our yards reminds me of Jamaica. In most parts of Jamaica the plant grows wild along the roadways and is also cultivated as hedges. Originally bought in a hanging basket it was impossible to keep watered. It’s doing much better in a large earthenware pot. My bougainvillea is part of Cee’s Flower of the Day.

I wanted to include a bit of the local wildlife/birds in my post. My days aren’t complete unless I take notice of the creatures, trees, flowers and foliage the Lord God has created. I thought these three starlings on a bare branch were worthy of a photo for Skywatch.

I put together a trio of angels for my porch this week. A very easy project using oyster and clam shells along with amazing GOOP glue. You could use any type of shell for this project. I was inspired by the many types of shell angels on Pinterest.

A simple wire hook on the back makes the angels easy to hang.

Lastly, a bit of old-fashioned whimsy. In times past stilts were a popular sight at fairs and carnivals. Nowadays, it’s rare to see someone on stilts walking with such ease in the middle of town on Friday night. This photograph, part of Kammie’s Oddball Challenge, was taken in Pitman, New Jersey, on Fourth Friday.

Thanks for visiting my blog today.

Put in a Nutshell – A Year of Sundays #3

We’ve been having some major storms, tree limbs down, streets turned into rivers, power outages, but whatever the circumstances around me, inside, I want to be rejoicing and praising God.

I’m hoping to take part through the coming year in Tourmaline’s Color Your World Challenge, this week the theme color is black.

Each day, before the heat becomes too great and my resolve to have healthy habits melts, I take a morning walk. One of my daily jaunts found me walking the path beside Glen Lake. Beautiful dragonflies shimmer as they rest upon the bushes and reeds surrounding the water.

My coffee reflects the sky and the trees above me and becomes part of this week’s Skywatch Friday Challenge. Drinking coffee black has health benefits. I switched over from adding sugar and milk to drinking it black over a decade ago. I never have stomach upset as I sometimes did when adding milk and sugar. Black coffee is amazing!

The dark water around the lilypads seems colorless, but I see reflections and swirls and I begin to feel a little of Monet’s spirit prompting a bit of creative watercolor daydreaming.

I’ve been harvesting herbs and flowers to use in cooking and crafts. After drying in the dehydrator I give them added air time on a sweater hanger in a closet.

I am still sowing seeds. It’s too hot for tender greens outdoors so I am growing them in a sunny window. Arugula, Mesclun and Black-Seeded Simpson Lettuce are sprouting well. I’ll grow and thin them indoors and eat them as microgreens.

My winter sown pansies are still growing and blooming in the intense heat of July. They are part of Cee’s Flower of the Day. The deep purple of this pansy mimics the color black.

I’m reading two books at this time and listening to a third. Erik Larsons book, In the Garden of Beasts, tells the historical facts surrounding the beginning of Germany’s rise to power and the people involved. The story is told through the experiences of William Edward Dodd, Ambassador to Germany prior to the start of WWII, and his daughter, Martha.

I just started reading a book on techniques for saving seeds, Starting and Saving Seeds, by Julie Thompson-Adolf. My third book is an audio choice, read beautifully by LeVar Burton; the biography of Fred Rogers is creating in me an even greater admiration for the man and the path he forged for educational television.

Thanks for stopping by my blog today!

 

 

 

Put in a Nutshell – A Month of Sundays #2

I love the resiliency of Queen Anne’s Lace. It is considered an invasive weed by some, but I find its lacy petals and ferny foliage beautiful.

Although it looks delicate, it’s one tough plant. It can grow just about anywhere. This blossom is part of Cee’s Flower of the Day.

The Queen Anne’s lace is growing near the docks on the Fortescue Creek. This photo is part of Skywatch.

Saturday morning we went fishing at the Delaware Bay. Rose hips, growing on the sand dunes near the water, are another plant with great resiliency. I find the fruit of the wild roses beautiful against the rustic slats of the dune fences.

The air was filled with beautiful dragonflies finding resting spots on tall stems and trees. Unfortunately, another not so nice insect was also buzzing around…the Greenheads have arrived. If you don’t know what I mean by a Greenhead Fly, and have never been bitten by one, consider yourself very lucky! We have found that Avon Skin So Soft mixed half and half with water works great in keeping all kinds of biting insects off of us when we are outdoors. If you want to know more about Greenhead Flies, Yankee Magazine has a great article: Greenhead Flies.

A bit of a drama played out in front of me while I searched for photo opportunities. A very old gull seemed to study me. I know the wiliness of gulls when food is involved. My husband has had a hoagie and french fires snatched out of his hands by gulls flying past.  I think the gull realized I was lacking any type of food and he sauntered away.

The next time I saw him he was helping himself to a fisherman’s bait board.

The fisherman, realizing he was an old bird, was so kind, and gently shooed him away. I was touched to see him cut away a piece of his bait and throw it out to gull as he swam in the water. I think this gull deserves to be part of Bird of the Day.

Later we thought we saw the fisherman pull in a fish. I sure hope it was a big one; he deserved it for his kindness.

I don’t have any projects going on right now, I’m too tied up with gardening and outdoor activities, but a few ideas are percolating around in my head. I can feel the itch to start something new beginning to take hold. Maybe I’ll paint a portrait of this Cabbage White Butterfly. I love the detail of his eyes and antennae as he sips nectar from my lavender blooms. The creativity of God in even the simplest of creatures always brings me a sense of awe and praise. This photo is part of Sunday Stills – Creatures and Critters with Wings.

If you have Haagen-Dazs ice cream in your area sample their Sea Salt Caramel Truffle flavor. The lid says it’s a limited edition. I think I’m going to have to write a letter and beg them to keep making it. It’s AMAZING! I think the only thing that could make it better is to scoop it out with Pepperidge Farm’s Chessmen cookies.

I’m a big believer in going barefoot outdoors even into old age if you are able. Barefoot is Best – this is a fact you can easily prove for yourself. Feeling blue? Take your shoes off and walk in sand, water, grass, or even on bare ground. This process is called ‘earthing’ or ‘grounding.’ I’m a believer! This week I felt especially buoyant when I walked barefoot on a rainy day. More information can be found here: Benefits of Going Barefoot. Try it, the only drawback is dirty feet!

That’s pretty much my week. I wonder what the new one will bring? I’m happy to have my computer back from the shop. The problem was the power cord, worn out after years of use. It was a reasonably priced repair, and I’m very grateful for that too. It’s much easier to blog on a larger keyboard. I love my tablet but using it to write posts is difficult. Until next time…

Phlowers – Catmint ( Nepeta)

I love my Catmint plant.  I’ve featured it as my Flower of the Day in the past blog posts, but right now it is glorious and deserves another look.

The best way I can describe the lavender-blue flowers of my plant is to say they are a cafeteria for buzzy pollinators. The whole plant is vibrating with bees and hoverflies collecting the pollen and nectar.

Catmint 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.

Phlowers – A Humble Weed

It might be a weed, but I think it’s also pretty enough to be included in Cee’s Flower of the Day. Garden Cress is a wild edible. It grows luxuriantly in nooks and crannies all over my yard. This small plant has interesting leaves. I press quite a few each year to use in pressed flower crafting. You can take a look at how to press this on The Flower Ark – Pressing Garden Cress.

What you might not have noticed in the first photograph is how very small the flower is. The flowers in the first photograph would barely cover the diameter of a dime.