Wednesday, February 25, 2009

To Prune or Not to Prune…..that is the question.

I have a multiple plant grouping on the old wooden swing set in our backyard. The first plant that comes into bloom is the shrub rose. It had been growing in the L** Memorial Butt Garden. The funny thing was it wasn’t planted… it just appeared. Since I didn’t need it in the “Butt” garden I moved it up to the swing set. It has thrived in this space. I have no idea what kind of rose it is other than it is not a rugosa, some kind of rambler. This blooms during the early summer and sporadically through the summer and a little again in the fall.

Fall blooms are from the Clematis paniculata, Sweet Autumn Clematis. As you all know, vines sleep, creep, then leap. I was worried about this one as the "leaping year" was also Hurricane Isabel. I was not sure about the survival of it after having been under water--salty water. She survived and flourished.

One day while I was upstairs on the main computer I looked outside and saw something blooming in the rose bush that wasn’t pink.

What was it you ask?

Look closely….

It was something I thought I had eradicated two years before. I pulled and sprayed Roundup and pulled and sprayed….well you get the idea.

Yes, a Passion Flower. Passiflora incarnata

It is a strangely beautiful flower but a real thug. It has been in place for two years …this time. I felt as though it was so interesting looking that I couldn’t get rid of it…. Well now the vine is larger than my thumb and there are multiple vines coming up from the soil. I want to get rid of it (again) and hope it doesn’t reappear.

The dilemma for me as a bird watcher is that the mass of vine/ shrub is next to my bird feeders. This is a perfect place for the birds to go for a little shelter or to hide from the hawks. The rose needs to be thinned and pruned back a bit. The Clematis has some dead branches that need to be removed. The Passion Flower needs to go away! I guess the birds will find a place to be safe….but it is really going to be a shock to them. I will have the truck to myself for about ten days next month, so it is the optimum time to prune and go to the dump. Watch out biridies!!!!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Maymont Flower and Home Show 2009

Yesterday a friend and I drove up to Richmond to see the Maymont Flower and Home Show. It had been a couple of years since we last went. One of the draws this year was there were museum quality replicas of items from King Tut's tomb. The word replica was minimized a bit, though the items were interesting to see.

As a gardener, my main desire was to see the plant displays and 'perhaps' buy a new plant or two. The displays were limited as this was also a Home Show. Bummer. The plant that was used in many (if not all) the displays this year was Abelia Kaleidoscope. Certainly one to consider in your landscape.

The plantings that really caught our eye were the color coordinated beds. The yellow one was especially striking.

There was one display that made me think of a few of you fellow bloggers...those of you with those beautiful orchids.....

And yes, I came home with a few items. A new Bay using herbs from the backporch for cooking. Also got a few bulbs that were ready for the ground from Brent and Becky. Put them together in a pot, will share photos once they are more mature. Also bought a few seed packets. An annual savory, thanks to Sue we know what Bohnenkraut is. Also got a couple lettuce seed packets, Red Sails and Red Romaine. Will do a few containers on the deck.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Wordless Wednesday We-visited

Or--- Having trouble bending and stretching to get those weeds? Come join us------

The small group of us have been going to the ballet studio every Wednesday morning for more than the past ten years, donning our tights and leotards and taking an hour of a pretty active ballet lesson. Our teacher is constantly challenging us. The heart rate is up and the breathing is increasing as the class progresses. Our instructor does most of the barre work with us and demonstrates the floor exercises before we are asked to do likewise. She is a great inspiration to us all. She is well over 80 and teaches every day. A couple of years ago, she fell and broke a hip in January. By March she was teaching class again. So on those wintery mornings when I don't feel like going to ballet.....I know she is going to be there, looking for me and the handful of other ladies and I don't want to disappoint her.

We don't do recitals, but we have a great time.

And we can bend and reach those weeds with the best of them....and might do a tour jete' or Pas de Chat to boot!

Monday, February 16, 2009


This morning while enjoying my coffee I noticed a Great Blue Heron walking around in the creek. This in itself is not unusual, they fish in the creek. We have a few heron that hang around most of the day...though low tide is an optimum time for feeding. This heron was walking about with his head held high. Then I saw another Great Blue up the creek a little further- also with his head high. Either territory or mating dance, but very interesting.

If you look at the far bank of the creek you can also see the muskrat tunnel to one of their dens. He walked around like this for about 15 minutes. After I went out to take the pictures I didn't see the second one around. Could have gone around the bend.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

February Garden Blogger Bloom Day 2009

Part of today’s post is sent to Racquel at Perennial Garden Lover. She recently talked about Wallflowers, Erysimum cheiri or Cheiranthus cheiri. I told Racquel I had some and they were doing well. While the flowers usually are on a tall stock rising from the base, I seem to have a few that are a little confused because of the weather. There is no stem –just buds and a few blooms that have opened very early. My Wallflower reseeded last year and I have lots of new plants that will flower from spring (or now) until late into the fall. Mine are yellow, though researching them today I found there are many colors ranging from orange to pinks to reds to yellow.

For Valentine’s Day my loving husband took me to the garden center to buy me a plant. As we walked in, the first thing I saw was an Edgeworthia chrysantha, Paperbush Plant. Oh, I wanted one of those! After looking them over I chose the best looking one. He thought we were done but I said we should look around a little. One tree caught our eye. It is so stunning this time of year, Acer palmatum 'Sango Kaku', Japanese Coral Bark Maple. That will be for another day and another place.

While walking around the garden center we went into the area that usually holds the tender annuals. Imagine my surprise to find Daphne!! They had a huge one on display that was covered with blooms. Oh it was incredible. The plants they had around the large one were also of some size, and cost a bit more than I wanted to spend (I wasn’t going to put back the Edgeworthia). Lo and behold…they had some smaller ones and they were on sale!! So we came home with two small shrubs, both very fragrant and beautiful. For now they are sitting on my front porch where I can smell them as I walk by.

Also on the front porch are my two large pots. I have them filled with pansies, Heuchera “Key Lime” and a couple ivies. One of the ivies is Hedera helix “Pink ‘n’ Very Curly” – a find on the discount shelf of the garden center this fall. I really like the interest of this foliage.

So happy GBBD to everyone and be sure to visit May Dreams Gardens to see what others have shared.

Friday, February 13, 2009

New Mystery

So, as many of you know, Racquel at Perennial Garden Lover had a mysterious thing in her Buddleia. The consensus was that it was a Praying Mantis. Well, yesterday I was in the Learning Garden and something caught my eye. This white thing was high in a Hornbeam tree. While the Praying Mantis is grey-ish and a bit angular-- this thing is pure white, ovate, and silky threaded.
If anyone has an idea of what it might be...please share! We will be keeping an eye on it through the spring, though I am afraid something will hatch/emerge when no one is around. Thanks!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

What's Kickin' Up the Water and Other Observations

This morning I was contemplating a new post about whether or not to prune the swing set jungle. The bird activity is high in the early morning, so I was trying to get a good photo... when I noticed that SOMETHING was in the creek creating lots of ripples and circles and bubbles and general disturbance. Turns out there were about 6 or 7 Double-crested Cormorant swimming around under water for most of the time. At one point they all took off flying down the creek, returning moments later. The thing that makes divers interesting to watch is that you never know if one is going to surface...or you are watching, glance away, and poof, under he goes! These divers swim if you look closely at the photo, you will see a long neck or two or more!
As I was watching the water show, Mrs. Bluebird came to the mealworm house for more worms. I usually put the worms out just before sunrise, and hope the Bluebirds get some. The Carolina Wren is a little piggy, but I don't keep track of who has eaten.

Poor little Mrs. Bluebird wasn't happy to see Newton so close to the window, so she took off. In the birdbath there is a male Bluebird...looking for some water, I really need to refill it. (Newton thinks the birdbath is his personal outdoor water bowl.)

Guess the post about pruning will go up later this week. This weekend is the Great Backyard Bird Count. Check the link to get details!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Story of a Queen

First and foremost my thanks to Cameron for the sharing of "HTML secrets". This opens up a whole new world in the layout!

Now, on with the story....once upon a time in a far away land lived an American family. Ha! Good way to start.....hard to write in third person though.

We moved to a small village, Spardorf, just outside of Erlangen, Germany in the late 80's. We were the only Americans who lived in that village and the neighbors were just wonderful. While chatting with my neighbor I was asking about the history of the area...we lived in the State of Bavaria, but sometimes some of the localities had their own Nobels or ruling family of some sort. I asked if they had a queen, just being a bit silly. When she said they didn't -- well, I did what any good person would do.................... I offered to be Queen of Spardorf. Like I said, they were great folks, so they played along for the course of the years that we lived in my little village.

I had my own 'flag' thanks to KZK. It was part of a beautiful grapevine wreath. Sad to say - the time in my little village came to an end. We ended up in Seaford, Virginia. The house we bought had an old brass door knocker that had the previous owner's name... it had to change. As you can see from my top photos... my lovely husband bought a new one with my "Queen Janet" engraved across the face. WONDERFUL!

As the years have gone on, I have been well recognized as the Queen of Seaford. I have had many hang up the phone after laughing through the answering machine, having to call back to leave a message. Life should be full of whimsy. Over the years I have had many Queen gifts.

One of the best Queen items I got this summer from my daughter. What a sweetie! So pay heed when you come to my house......................

Looks like I still need to practice on picture size....oh well, enjoy!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

National Treasure

While looking through some family photos to scan I came across our Monticello pictures. If you have never been there, it is well worth the trip. What a wonderful place, both inside and out. I kick myself that so many years have gone by since my last visit. Have promised myself to go this spring and summer. ... so close and yet.....