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Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

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I love Spring in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. ‘Tis really the season for beautiful color and the clean clear beauty of nature’s reawakening. Even the deer begin boasting their new babies. And I feel happy and productive and eager to think about planting more flowers. But thinking is not doing and since I am still a slow motion walker waiting for a hip replacement I have not injected myself into the wild.

Photo taken by Daughter-in-Law, Emmy – Virginia Redbud

Spring is is also a time of imminent threat from the wild. Whether you go outside to feel your toes in the grass or not.

Three days ago I felt an itchy place on my back just below the left shoulder. A hot shower helped and I thought nothing of it.

Two days ago, the itch was back so I took a look with the help of a hand mirror and saw a red place with a slightly dark center. I asked Bill to take a look with a magnifying glass and he did. He said, there was nothing there…. maybe a little raised mole. So I put some anti-itch gel on it and went to a peaceful slumber.

Yesterday the itch was back in full force and when I looked at it with the hand mirror there was a pronounced dark center, much larger. Bill took a look too and said “it” (the dark center) was kind of hanging loose so he removed it. In my opinion it was a well fed deer tick! And I was immediately off to the doctor.

Results:

  1. It was probably a tick. An adult deer tick is the size of a poppy seed. There are no charts or photos I know of that show a well fed deer tick as opposed to a hungry one.
  2. The doctor said if you check yourself all over each day and you happen to take off a tick, no medication is necessary.
  3. Because I came in early, I only had to have two antibiotics immediately… no more.
  4. Evidently, if you have a tick bite and remove it within 34 hours, you will not need meds.

I am still confused over all of this.

Seems to me, you should report a tick bite no matter what. My niece contracted Lyme and suffered with it for many years.

Anyway, in addition to gimpy walking I now have the remains of a bite on my back. The culprit escaped a plastic bag I swear I sealed. He was a major escape artist.

The doctor’s answer for this latter issue was to put a cotton ball soaked in nail polish remover in the bag with the tick. He will then suffocate and die but his body will stay in tact for identification! More than I want to know.

I dislike ticks and other bugs, but do I hate them enough to become a wanton murderer?

‘Tis the season all right.

Spring has sprung in all its glory.

But there is a downside to living in paradise.

Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia

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A little sun, some grass seed and a cover of straw and look what we have created! Or rather, the earth has given forth and I am once again amazed at just what goodness the world can wrought.

Oh, I know growing grass is a little thing.

But that is what this story is about – the green green grass growing in our front garden!

And sometimes pictures speak louder than words.

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I am so envious of my friends here and my friends out there in the blog-us-fear who manage to organize closets and drawers and even garages during this evil Pandemic.

How clever you are to use your time away from society so wisely.

I must say I think about organizing things.

I have thought about the closet now for at least four months.  In fact, I stand in it every day and assess the situation.  There are the shoes in haphazard piles and the winter clothes still not packed away.

It’s almost winter again anyway right?  I have forgotten since I do not frequent the stores anymore who used to let me know about the changing seasons.

Oh yes, there was a catalog reminding about Halloween.

Is it Halloween yet?

I think about all our 40 Photo albums too.

There is a whole big cabinet dedicated to the old non-digital touchy-feely photographs collected over my own lifetime and the lifetimes of my parents and Bill’s siblings who have all since passed.  There are many shots of roads or trees or other unidentified scenery.  And lots of unrecognizable people and many with no dates. 

My inherent need to organize draws me to that cabinet over and over again but I never open the doors.  The job is simply too overwhelming to contemplate.

I also think about the garage alot.  I have to go through the garage to take Elsa-the-dog for a walk and we pause en route so I can think about how to organize things.

There are all those leaves that blew in last Autumn and maybe I should get the leaf blower out and take care of that first.

But then there are all those loose things and tools we never use anymore, and rusty stuff.  Maybe we should look into renting a big rubbish bin.  Never mind, “Come on Elsa.  Let’s go this way.”  And off we go out of the garage.

Uh oh!  I find myself out in the green green world.  But the green is not always well manicured lawns.  The green is really enormous weeds that have taken over every flower bed and the gravel driveway.  If I think too much about the work to be done in my green green world, I tend to hurry home with Elsa after she has done her bit to fertilize the earth.

There is so much to do.

There is so much to think about doing.

To do or not to do is the question.

But I prefer to think about it.

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Rhody in Bloom 2 Window

Thirty years ago we planted a baby Rhododendron at our new home in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.   It was a house warming gift from our friends, Terry and Barbara.  Barbie did all the work too and she has a magic touch in the garden because our Rhody grew and grew, and her saucer sized flowers stunned all visitors.

Note:  I did prune her once and as if in protest there were no flowers for several years.  

But she grew and grew and grew some more.

And this year she bloomed again foor the first time in a long time (see photo above)!

But Rhody was suddenly enormous!

She reached the roof of the house and spread out to cover two windows.

That was when Bill said, “She needs to be pruned.”  “No,” I cried, “She will not flower again for years.”  Then Bill left it to me, but the seeds of doubt were planted.

I literally lost sleep over the decision but finally got enough courage to begin to cut.  “Just a little here and there,” I thought.

I think I cut too much.

I am so sad and so sorry.

Do you think I killed Rhody?

Rhody Pruned

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There is a tree I love.

Most of the year it is a little spindly tree,  hardly recognizable and often mistaken for a common weed.

Then Spring arrives and the flowers of this tree are like decorative trimming on a fantastical wedding cake.

The metamorphasis happens right after Forsythia blooms here in Virginia.  A cloud of pink begins to line the roadsides.  And suddenly there are sparkling pathways of brilliant pink for miles around.

I think this is a special time when nature is transformational and with its magic wand,  even a frog can become a prince.

Beauty and the Beast

Cercis canadensis, Eastern Redbud

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

Copious clusters of fabulous pink to fuchsia flowers hug bare branches in early spring giving way to heart-shaped leaves. This Pea family member often grows as an understory tree in mixed forests in the Mid-Atlantic Region* from southern Pennsylvania through Virginia. The Virginia Native Plant Society named Eastern Redbud as Wildflower of the Year for 2013.

Print Version: Cercis canadensis, Eastern Redbud

 

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Hogweed 1

Hogweed in Northern Michigan

“Shall I not have intelligence with the earth? Am I not partly leaves and vegetable mould myself?”

– Henry David Thoreau

 

Oh how we rejoice in the beauty of nature!  And summertime in rural Virginia couldn’t be more invitingly lush and green.

Then my brother called from California to warn us about an invasive weed recently found in Virginia.

Beware HOGWEED!

It grows exceedingly tall and some might say, “pretty”,  but you don’t want to cut Hog Weed for indoor  arrangements.  Even if you just brush against as you pass by, your skin may suddenly become sunlight sensitive to the point of third degree burns!

And if you get some of the sap in your eyes, you could literally go permanently blind.

Read about Hogweed  here!  It is in a number of states now and Virginia is the latest.

Now if Hogweed wasn’t enough (and forgeddabout Stink Bug infestations) but have you ever heard of SLIME MOLD?

Slime Mold

Slime Mold – Nickname “Dog Vomit.” Ewwwwww!

This weekend I looked around the mulched beds in our front yard and saw a giant spread of a horrifyingly ugly mold.

It was a sickly white globby thing!

I expected it to ooze out bigger and bigger and to eventually smother every living thing in its path.  Yes, you would definitely see SLIME MOLD in a very scary horror movie.

I was terrified.  I didn’t want to touch it.  I didn’t want to move it.  “Well, maybe I will water it,” I thought.  A hard spray to the monolithic gooey mass created a copper colored cloud of deadly dust.

  • Am I inhaling this?
  • Will I die of an alien fungus and who would know?

My fearless friend Amy was here but even she was intimidated by the ugly slime.  She agreed to turn a pot over on it so we wouldn’t have to see it.  I had nightmares that night though.

  • What if it seeped out the sides of the upside-down pot?
  • What if it could figure out how to get inside the house?
  • There was a hole in the bottom of the pot for drainage but the hole was now “up” and was I feeding The THING with oxygen and enabling it to grow?
  • Would it crawl out the drainage hole?

Thank Goodness for “Hey Google!”

Turns out that SLIME MOLD (affectionately nicknamed “DOG VOMIT”due to the similarity in appearance) is not dangerous to humans or pets or even plants if it doesn’t smother them with love.

Slime Mold is only horrifyingly ugly, which demonstrates that sometimes Mother Nature is indeed, benevolent and even compassionate.

Watering will cause Slime Mold to float around in the air (in that big copper cloud I unleashed) and spread (the result of my watering efforts).

And so my friends, my own personal ugly Slime Mold took up new residence on top of an Impatiens flower in the same bed.

According to my panicked research, the way to remove it (the Slime Thing) is to dig it up with a shovel, put it in a plastic bag (like you would dog doo) and discard the whole thing in the trash.

Bill grinned and bore it and just pitched the one celled organism into the woods where it will surely find some new decaying vegetation on which to build a life.  We are not killers after all.

Such are the gifts of nature to be found in the Virginia countryside!

I did see a mama turkey and her six young-uns running for the woods yesterday.  Maybe they heard about the Slime Mold Invasion.

So, what’s new in your neck-o-the-woods?

 

 

 

 

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Our Wood Stove

I know winter is an excuse to stay inside by the fireside, but I keep thinking I need to tend to things around the home periphery.  Landscapes tend to expire this time of year in Virginia.

And there are outside chores you know.

There are two ornamental grasses that should be trimmed back for happy regrowth this spring.

The Canna Lilies have all died and I should tend to them too.

The deck needs sweeping and we need a new bird feeder.  A bear mangled the one we are using now so the seeds tend to jam up.

The garage is too cluttered for my peace of mind whilst parking.  I prefer pristine organization.   Bill doesn’t seem to care though.  Never has.

There are old evergreen bushes in the front yard that are brown.  Should I terminate them now or wait to see if they revive in spring?

Oh well.  The heck with it.

There is always my chair by the fireside.

I tend to migrate there.

This post is in response to Daily Prompt: Tend  

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Maxine attitude

My “to-do” lists are created in all seriousness, with all-serious intentions.

But creating a list is not always the same as fulfilling it.

This was yesterday’s list:

  • Get gas in the car. O.K., so I forgot.  Will get it tomorrow.
  • Mail that bill.  Forgot.
  • Remember to take a cooler bag with ice packs for perishable purchases. Forgot the cooler.
  • Stop at the drugstore for allergy meds and eyedrops. Sent Bill (short for “William.”)
  • Shoe store for comfort sandals. No time.
  • Haircut. Managed that.
  • Gym for a mild workout. Too tired.
  • Stop at the real grocery store for real food.  Sent Bill.
  • Stop at the produce market for fun things that taste good like local peaches and tomatoes. Managed that.
  • Don’t forget to put all that in the cooler bag. No cooler bag.  Drove home fast.
  • Take pictures along the way.  Nope.  Taking time would make the peaches go bad.
  • Visit with people you meet.  Of course.

Somehow I did not feel particularly productive on this day.

But after all the groceries (peaches and tomatoes) were put away, I took a little walk.

No list.

Just a walk.

And  how about this all-in-one list of fulfilled to-do’s?

  • A 30 minute walk added EXERCISE.
  • Thirty minutes in sunshine for VITAMIN D3.
  • Thirty minutes of fresh air in beautiful rural Virginia!
  • STOP-AND-GO PHOTO OPS for next blog post.
  • And, I pulled at least 5 weeds and thinned one zinnia bed in the front garden.

 

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streetview

Lee Highway

This morning I had an appointment in Staunton, Virginia and took the serene Lee Highway.  It is normally a 45+ minute ride but I like driving through serenity with views of a tranquil rural Virginia.  And on this bright, sunny day it felt like I was driving the only car on the road.

That was until the traffic jam caused by an accident up ahead.  First a 20 minute wait with the engine off and then a forced U-turn to start over on the Interstate.   Arghhh!

Lost – Time 

Being a woman of  iron will and firm determination I got on that hated truck-dominated freeway chewing on my cheek from nervous anxiety and made it to the appointment just in time to find the doors to my destination were locked.  Arghhh!

Found –  Destination

Lost – Nobody There

A strange looking fellow dressed in raggedy clothing came up to my car and said, “Can I help you?”  Putting on a nothing-scares-me demeanor, I said,  ” I have an appointment at this place but noone is there.”

And he said:  “No, you don’t have an appointment.  We are closed.”  Turns out the scruffy fellow was the one I had an appointment with.

It is possible I had the wrong date but not likely.

Nevertheless, after some not-so-polite words with the person I was supposed to have the appointment with, I moved on.

Lost – Time and Temper

I next wanted to find Milmont Greenhouses in Stuarts Draft, VA.  I don’t have a GPS but managed to muddle my way to this bastion of millions of blooming and budding things.

 I was on a search for Cat Mint!

Cat Mint is supposedly critter proof (deer and rabbits hate it).  It is also drought resistant, blooms almost all summer, looks a lot like Lavender, and “if you can’t grow Cat Mint you should stay out of the garden.”

O.K., so I miraculously found the place!

milmont-1

Found – Milmont Greenhouses

But then I couldn’t find the Cat Mint.

Lost – Energy (Staggering Around a Giant Nursery)

Milmont

Cat Mint is listed under Nepeta.  Who knew? 

nepeta_cats_meow_cjw14-23

Nepeta – Cat Mint

After wandering around the greenhouses among crowds of manic gardeners I managed to look on the good side and said to myself, “At least you are getting some Vitamin D3 with all this sunshine!”

Found – A Positive Outlook on Life

And finally there it was – the Nepeta.

Found – Nepeta (or YES – CAT MINT)

But my sunglasses managed to disappear.

Lost – Sunglasses

I thought I lost my cell phone too but it was in the car all along.

Tension does this sometimes – causes you to lose your mind.

Lost – Mind

I did find my cell phone though.  It was tucked in the creases of the passenger seat.

Found – Cell phone

It was a very strange Lost and Found kind of day.

 

 

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I thought it was all over –

the growing season for herbs I mean,

because my sweet Basil plant was beginning to flower.

“This is the end – the last harvest,” I thought, and sadly pinched off every leaf for drying.

“Thank you. You did a great job,” I said, feeling guilty about taking its life.

And in the end it really was the end.  There were two skinny sticks left with no foliage.

I tried pulling the naked sticks out of the pot to discard them roots and all, but they fiercely resisted.

“Oh well, I will put off the final dumping of dirt and stems for later.”

A week later it was later.

And look what I found!

My Basil's Second Life

My Basil’s Second Life

“I’m not finished yet!” said my tough little Basil plant.    “Just look what I can do with no attention, no water, and a mistress ready to chuck me over the rails!”

 

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