26 June 2009

Gardens and the local flower show

This first photo is one I just could not pass up. Can you see why? I went in to town after weeks ago, and their were elephants in front of the bank! Greenwood was having a flower show. I knew their would be one, but I had no idea what it would include. All of the Topiary were created locally and sponsored by local businesses. The camera, of course was sponsored by our local Fuji plant. (Oh so glad they are still here!) It was created by the Burton Center and Fuji associates. The Mama elephant was created by Master Gardeners and Community. Baby was created by Oakland Elementary School and the blanket was created by ACTS Middle school.
The Jeep, another favorite of mine, was created by Master Gardeners and the Flamingo by Laurel Garden Club. There were eleven topiary in all, these were the ones I liked the best. I am not sure how

long they will be around, if you get a chance pop in downtown Greenwood and have a look. While I was taking my photos, I discovered a Bead and Scrapbooking shop! It is called "Two Old Bags and Beads" I will definitely be going back in there.
What is the first thing you can remember about gardens? I have been trying to figure out what my earliest memory is of gardening, I think it would have to be snap dragons. When I was tiny, I remember my Mom telling me their name and I could immediately see why they were called that. I was delighted! In my imagination, they became the heads of magical steeds for the flower fairies. She introduced me to bleeding hearts around the same time. Wow, for some reason the idea that flowers could look enough like something else to be named for it, well that opened up lots of imaginary
possibilities. I don't remember my Mom spending a lot of time gardening, (when would she have the time?) I do remember her enjoying them. She always had something growing.

When I was small, we had a flower garden right in front of the house. Mom had roses and tiger lilies amongst other things. I remember my sister's tiger cat Sherri curled up on the porch railing above the lilies. I thought it was funny that the "tiger" should sleep next to the Tiger lilies. Someday I should do a post about Sherri, he (yes he, long story) was a remarkable cat. He even let us dress him up in doll clothes. My Mom did not believe in boredom. She told me that only people lacking in imagination could ever be bored. Her solution to boredom? Get some work done, that frequently meant pulling weeds. We learned quick how to find ways to avoid boredom on
our own. I don't mind pulling weeds. It is a bit like baking bread. If you just go out and get into it, let your mind do what it wants, you can't stay in a bad mood. My sweet Hubby will attest however that I don't do much weeding. I am a very lazy Gardner, I do what I want, when I want to. My Honey gets stuck doing the rest (more on that later).
My big brother Pete had a small vegetable patch out back when we lived in the center of town. He must have really worked that soil to get anything out of it. His cherry tomatoes still make my mouth water just thinking about it. He grew little green peppers and introduced me to Pear tomatoes (oh my goodness those are good) and lemon cucumbers. The joy of growing your own food. Even back Mom did some canning. We would drive out to Willard Utah and buy fresh produce from the farmers stands by the roadside.
When I was eleven, we moved into a house with a much bigger yard. Dad got into gardening with a passion! He plowed up a big patch, bought a roto tiller and put in a bunch of vegetables. As a kid I did not realize how far ahead of the times he was. This was in the early 70's the environmental movement had a good start and people were starting to pay attention to what they ate.
My Dad was rather conservative, a little bit like Archie Bunker on somethings, but when it came to the garden he would not use any chemical fertilizers or bug sprays. We had a proper compost pit and he worked hard to recycle. I remember him proudly bragging to a friend that even with five people living in the house full time, we put less than half a can of garbage on the curb each week. When we got bugs on the bean plants, we were given old cardboard juice containers with a little oil in the bottom and a
Popsicle stick. We looked on the underside of every leaf, when we found a bug, it went into the oil and Dad dispatched them in the burn barrel (I am not sure about the environmental impact from the burn barrel, I can't remember what all went in there but I think it was mostly paper). When the beans were ripe, they were wonderful. I think they tasted better because we had to work so hard to get them. The house came with several apple and plum trees, a pear tree, an English walnut, four grape vines, currents and a black cap patch (Black caps are huge black berries). Mom put coffee grounds on the roots of the grape vines and Dad made wine from their juice. We made jams, jellies, canned all sorts of vegetables and even fruit leather. Dad built Mom a fruit dryer. She made her own soup mix. We dried things by the bushel. We ate well! I remember more than once getting in trouble because I left
Mom's salt shaker in the garden. We didn't eat much salt but have you ever picked green peppers and tomatoes warm from the garden, put a little salt on them and eaten them right there? Oh my.
I am getting a little ahead of my pictures here. The next two after the flamingo are a Savannah park or "Square" and a Savannah garden, two of the reasons we love to visit there. The Squares are all over town. They are all different and all beautiful. The next two are some of my recent favorite flower photos the first also from Savannah the next from my garden.

When we lived in Britain, we walked in a lot of gardens. When I was pregnant that was our primary form of exercise. I was surrounded by beauty. They British are some of the best gardeners in the world. You can tour large formal gardens in different parts of the country year round. Local gardeners will
occasionally open their gardens for tours to raise funds for charity. I have some lovely memories of Lady Meridith Owen in King Sutton.
When we first moved into the village, my sweet Hubby put a floral border around our lawn. That was exactly what it took to fit in. We quickly became part of the village. One of our neighbors brought us some leeks from his allotment, he had too many. That introduced us to two great things at once. The leeks were fantastic and it wasn't long before we had an allotment too. We had old fashioned fragrant roses in the back yard and flowers climbing the wall.
When the Air Force sent us to New Mexico, we found a house out in the country and preceded to bring gardening with us. We put in a formal garden with shaped bushes, formal paths, lawn, and a circle of lavender that was quite impressive. We planted a
couple hundred trees. We dug a trench from tree to tree and hauled out several rolls of hose for watering. The garden demanded a lot of hours but it was lovely. An oasis. Mother Nature is a little harder out there.
When we finally landed here in the woods, Mother Nature is a little easier to please. Almost too easy. I never thought we would be cutting down volunteer trees because there were too many. This photo shows some of our lovely berries. We only get a handful ripe a time, but that is about right. We had some with ice cream last night. The lovely butterfly posed for me on our walk the other day. They love my lavender plants.
We are a long ways from old, but we are getting to
point where we want gardens that we can enjoy without all the work. Just mowing the current configuration takes several hard hours. We have started looking for ideas that require less maintenance. Maybe more brick paths, flowers and bushes, less lawn. I know we will keep part of it wild, we both love it that way.
The rock garden out front is a good start. The yellow flowers in the penultimate photo are Forsythia.
Last but not least, my current favorite photo, a gladiola next to the base of my house. The photo is beautiful and if you look closely at the background, you can compare the original brick to more recent replacements. The house was originally built up on brick pillars. Later on someone went back and filled in around the pillars. We are situated on good red clay. The bricks were more than likely made on the
site as the house was built.
I suppose I should close for now, I have a cozy cat on my lap and she wants to be petted. By the way, most of this Post was written out with longhand using a bamboo fun tablet by Wacom.
Have a great weekend.

23 June 2009

short post

I just had four days in a row off work. It was wonderful. Stop back on Friday afternoon and I will have a new post for you. This next one will be on gardens. You guessed it, lots of photos. See you then.


12 June 2009

Lazy days at home

Lazy days at home are a good thing, sometimes that is just what we need. My days off this week have not been completely lazy. I finished the picture on the right. It is a digitally altered photo I took. I used both photoshop and correll painter essentials on it. I am quite pleased with the way it came out. I am using it on a card.
The next photo is one of those opportunistic shots. I was on my way into the kitchen for a refill on my coffee, and I noticed the way the light was hitting the plants and how they seemed to be reaching, yearning for a little sunshine (I know the feeling sometimes). Both of these plants moved with us from New Mexico
or at least their parents did. I thought the Angel Wing Begonia died in route. It was just dead twigs, then they broke off to the dirt. We were staying in Billeting on base while we looked for a house and it was in a nice old flower pot, so I set it next to the Aloe in the window. Unbeknownst to me, the housekeeping staff watered it. Before the month was out, I had new shoots. Since then, the Begonia climbs up to 6 or 8 feet tall each year. My Sweet Heart cuts it back and re pots it every spring. The Aloe in this pot are babies from the original Aloe. The Mommy plant just keeps making babies. I don't know how many I have given away over the years. They look nice, and they are great on burns. The only draw back on the Aloe, is that like most succulents, you can not keep it anywhere that is light all the time. They breath at night, so if it is never dark, they suffocate (I know, that sounds nuts, but it is true, look it up).
The tiny toad was hopping across the road near one of our favorite camp sites(isn't he cute, how tiny). As my Sweet Hubby puts it, we were on an overnight picnic. We throw food, bedding and pillows in the van and head out. We come home for breakfast. Quick, easy, fun.
As you can see here, my blackberries are starting to ripen. With all the rain we have had, they are fat and sweet. Pretty too. I guess my work with the honeysuckle might pay off after all. I really do want to see how these are with pancakes. I may have to go grab a few to go with dinner tonight.
I took two photos of this guy, he looks like he is defying gravity. He is climbing straight up that
column. I have seen them get all the way to the top, this one gave up early. All they need is a little texture and up they go. He is one of the locals that I do know are not dangerous. I am not about to pick him up, as he does have teeth, but we leave them alone. They help keep the mice population under control. The second photo is a little crooked, that is the photographer, not my column. I shot several photos in quick succession and this one was the best of him.
Maybe he quit climbing because he is having a lazy day too.

On a previous post, I talked about picking choke cherries when we were kids. Last year when they were ripe, they were out of reach. The storms that did so much damage in the local area this spring, did one good thing. This choke cherry tree is partially knocked over, but thriving anyway. That brought the berries within reach. All the rain ensured their were lots of them. They are a little bitter, but good. I would not eat too many at once. They are tiny and have one big seed in the center. My Mom made jelly out of them. I know how, but their are so many other things I want to do with my time. I will let the birds feast on most of them (if you notice purple splotches on my pickup in the near future, this is probably where they came from).
I have several friends with lovely gardens (Jo, & Tim in Britain and Lynn here in South Carolina, among others). I thought I would share a few photos of mine. These ferns grow wild, (as does most of my garden, he, he).
The next photo is a view from the back of the property up towards the house. My Sweet Hubby keeps paths cleared and mowed so we can wander and get to things. Mother Nature is quite busy around here.

This magnolia blossom is actually a party in progress. If you look closely, you will see several of our little wild honey bees and one of the big Evil Carpenter bees, all going nuts over the stamens. I say Evil Carpenter bees, as they make holes in my house and barn.

The last two photos are part of the reward system around here. The first, a lovely German Apple Pancake made by hand just for me. Then later in the afternoon, after a hard morning of studying, watermelon out on the porch with my Sweet Heart. Life is good.
Hope yours is too.

07 June 2009

In the woods and back at home

I had so many wonderful photos from that last trip to the Smokies, I just had to share. The first seven photos were taken on a lovely trail on the Doughton Park Trail system. We were there on a weekday and pretty much had the trail to ourselves.
As far as I am concerned that trail was just about perfect. There was some up and some down. Short stretches of strenuous walking mixed with easy strolls. The weather was also perfect. At one point when we were on our way back out, it started to sprinkle. We could hear it on the canopy of trees but only felt a drop or two. The trail winds around the hillside. In some places it is quite narrow then it widens out and
goes through trees and wildflowers. Pure peace!

There are wild berries blooming all over the place. It is also a bear sanctuary. Do you think there is a connection? We did not see any bears on this trail, but I bet they know where the berries are. I particularly like this photograph with the Berry blossoms in the foreground.

We did not see any bears on this trail, but evidently, the trees are hungry. See this one is eating the bottom sign. I have not photoshoped this picture, but you can bet I will. You can almost see the face already, it only needs a little help.

Isn't this the most amazing mushroom you have ever seen? There were three of these grouped together. this one is at least two feet across! The second is probably about eighteen inches and the third much smaller. It looks like a pile of some sort of dough.
Can't you just see a whole flock of fairies perched on this?

Another pretty wild flower. I will have to ask my friend Lynn what this one is called. (She is brilliant!) These grown in clumps together and they remind me a little bit of some my Mom had growing in her garden.

Another great view, these are the reward for climbing. The air is cool and crisp, just a light breeze. We stopped right here for a while. It feels a little like being in church.

Here is an historic moment with our trusty Toyota Corolla. She reached 100,000 miles on this trip and she still looks great (runs great too). That is of course my favorite chauffeur, also known as my Sweet Hubby. We knew she was getting close to the big number so we were watching. He glanced down at just the right moment and pulled over for me to take the photos.

When we got back home we were greeted by a lovely smell. The Magnolia is blooming. As usual these blossoms are huge.

This little gem was going across the road in front of us when we went out for a walk the other day. Isn't he pretty? I think he looks a bit like a "Gummy" snake, you know made from the same stuff as "Gummy Bears" (I love the little German ones made by Haribo). This little guy is only about a foot and a half long.

Another one of the rewards that go with living here. This is a stuffed crust pepperoni pizza with extra cheese. It was made completely from scratch by my Sweet Hubby. It was even better than it looks!

I went out to take photos of my tiger lilies while they were at their best and spotted a visitor in my lavender (isn't the lavender doing great too)? I will have to harvest some soon. If I cut the flowers now and bring them in to dry, the plant will produce more before the summer is over. It drys easily and is the smell lingers nicely. I make old fashioned lavender wands to put in our dresser drawers and with the linens. It smells nice and discourages moths. I will have to post a photo and some instructions.

One of the tiger lilies. They are also close to perfect this year. I have a great crop. My Mom grew these in her garden when we were young too.

What is Black & White and Lazy all over? Spontaneous the cat. She has such an expressive face.

And, last but not least, the star of the show! This fine specimen was crossing the road. He is a snapping turtle. He is also huge! Big enough that even the eighteen wheelers were slowing down and driving carefully around him. Usually my Sweet Hubby will stop and remove turtles from the road to keep them from being run over( he carries heavy duty paper towels in the car just for this). However, we were warned not to try it with this guy, he has a very long and agile neck. Did you get a look at those claws! We left well enough alone. Kind of him to pose so nicely for me though.

That is the end for this week. See you soon. Kat

03 June 2009

More Smokey Mountain photos

We have been busy. I will post more photos from our Smokey Mountain trip as well as some of our flora and fauna here at home very soon. In the meantime, here are some of my favorites.



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