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Posts Tagged ‘Gardens’

Sadly neglected irises are the flowers we count on to return to our trial-and-error Virginia garden year after year.  I bought the bulbs nearly 20 years ago, planted them in a line and left the bed virtually untended forever after.  Ignored and all but forgotten over each winter, the brilliantly purple blooms unfailingly return and return again in the Spring – more beautiful than ever.

Iris Line

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What is this plant

I should probably know such things but in admiring beauty and color I tend to forget who plants really are.

Eliza?

 

 

 

 

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Wool for Birds'NestsBest

This week my friend Norma and I were privileged to be taken on a private tour of Ridgely Historic Gardens, an amazing walk backward in time through a mountainside property in the Alleghany Highlands of Virginia.

There was a slightly ominous, ghostly apparation hanging in the garden that prompted my first question.  “What is THAT?” I asked and was surprised and delighted at the answer.

Can YOU guess what that is?

Answer to come in my next post about Ridgely Gardens and the fascinating little town of Clifton Forge.

 

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I am saving the crayon colors of summer

for the show is bound to end soon

in favor of Fall’s great performers

en route with a harvest moon.

Zinnias + (640x480)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Striped_Skunk

Photo from en.wikipedia.org

I have been living in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia for 26 years now and I am a self proclaimed “local”, but still considered a visitor by genuine old timers. It seems like eons ago I  traded citified  high heeled shoes (that don’t work on gravel drives) for  more sensible Wellies or flats that keep you from falling over.

OF COURSE you never have to ask for Dor’s sage words of wisdom.  Here’s the scoop and the straight talk about country living.

MAKE FRIENDS WITH WILDLIFE!

Deer Turkey Convention 3

Wild things “where the deer and the antelope play” make up a big part of country life but please forgive them their sins.

Deer are hungry.

And anything you plant in the ground (flowers, food, maybe even plastic plants) will send out signals in deer language.

Have you ever heard deer talking?  They oink to each other and they don’t know it but I know they are saying,

“Come and Get It Guys!!  SALAD HERE!”

But you have to love deer for their great beauty and grace.  And after all, they were here first.

  • Exception #1:  Do not try to make friends with Virginia Black Bears.  They are beautiful but somehow not to be trusted with your life.  AVOID VIRGINIA BLACK BEARS.
  • Exception #2:  If you see a sick skunk, do not try to cover it with a blanket to reduce chills and fever.  Dor tried this once.  Fortunately the shivering skunk dragged itself away, but I learned later it might have been rabid!  I hope it was only the flu, but please – AVOID SICK SKUNKS!
  • Exception #3:  Buy or borrow a “Have a Heart Trap.”  This comes in handy for humanely evicting critters that get into your attic like flying squirrels and possums.
Nice View Here

This is just a cute squirrel…not a flying squirrel. I have never seen a flying squirrel but my neighbors had them in their attic.

 

PLANT A VEGETABLE GARDEN BUT MAKE IT BIG

We planted a garden right away but were laughed at.

“Need some help harvesting?” said Julie and Peggy between rude guffaws!

I guess one cucumber and one tomato plant was considered small potatoes around here.

It wasn’t much of a salad for the deer either.

YOU WILL SOMETIMES MISS THE NECESSITIES OF LIFE

Plan on losing POWER, WATER, HEAT, AIR-CONDITIONING and don’t expect to FLUSH TOILETS EITHER!  These things usually disappear without warning at the most inopportune times.

WHACK AWAY AT THOSE WEEDS!

You will undoubtedly own five to ten weed whackers over five to ten years.  WEEDS ARE KILLERS OF MECHANICAL OBJECTS.  And weeds will always win.  Be vigilant. Enormous weeds will soon take over without your constant murderous intention.  Wear gloves for manual attacks or risk bleeding fingers and bug bites.  And be prepared.  You will definitely lose the war.

THERE ARE GOOD BEES AND BAD BEES

Have a plan for dealing with wasps and hornets who build TERRORIST CAMPS in the ground or in great hives almost anywhere you don’t think of.  We found one enormous hive in the fender of our pickup truck.  We moved the truck and the critters kept returning to the empty parking space.

Evidently wasps are not particularly bright.

Now there is a terrorist camp in the ground next to our front door!  Beware visitors.

Bill has a diabolical plan for dealing with the threat.  He ran a hose into the hole and turned the water on.  We are waiting to see if they evacuate and move to a more idyllic location.  I will let you know how this works out.

Request for Bee Eviction 2

WORRISOME WEATHER

We have had flooding rains.

Once we had an earthquake that registered as a mild thump with some rattling dishes.

We experienced a Derecho (a type of storm I never even heard of) with wicked winds.

Tree Limbs Down (800x800)

Tornadoes are rare but not unheard of.

Drought is a distinct possibility.

Deep snow does happen.

Hot, muggy, mid-summer weather is punctuated by severe thunder storms. (Dor hides in a closet.  She used to blame the dog.)

However, we were told and still believe this is Brigadoon and it only rains at night.

Don’t get me wrong.

I LOVE COUNTRY LIFE,

the birds singing

and starry skies,

seeing a doe nursing twin fawns,

herds of turkeys,

  Mama Bear and two cubs wandering by our living room windows.

I love the open space

and the silence,

the comfort of knowing we are almost self sufficient,

the warmth of a wood stove and being stocked up for the winter,

and occasionally I even love the challenge of survival

in a place that is not always benevolent.

I still stand in my kitchen and look out at the Blue Ridge Mountains and then I look again at the inside of our house.  It is a welcome nest Bill and I have created and it is all we had ever hoped it would be, complete with all the memories.

Are you still contemplating the serenity of country life?

Ahhhh –  call me if you have questions!

Shenandoah Sunrise

Shenandoah Sunrise

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Stonewall Jackson House Lexington, Virginia

Stonewall Jackson House
Lexington, Virginia en.wikipedia.org

There is a scarecrow at the Stonewall Jackson House in Lexington, Virginia.    Thomas Johnathan Jackson was a Confederate general in the American Civil War.  But, before the war he lived in a nice little house in downtown Lexington, Virginia and he had a productive garden “out back”.

This is an old fashioned scarecrow (made with a potato).  It is hanging in the Jackson House garden now.

I could do that!  Easier than crocheting.

 

Old Time Scarecrow

 

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City folks often ask if I get bored living out here in “no-man’s” land.  Little do they know the pressures, pleasures and sweet surprises inherent in country life! We are not all relegated to the kitchen baking pies and putting up jars of things.  Some of us crochet!  And some of us meet fascinating people!

Here it is!  The finished crochet project!

D's Market Bag Flat

Dor's Market Bag

It looks like a bag.  It holds things.  It must be a bag. Actually it is a bag!  It’s a “Market Bag” that might get saggy-er with veggies and fruits inside.   That’s why the photo is of the empty bag.

It’s pretty saggy empty but I like it because it is the first crochet project I have ever done that is not a scarf.

After completing the market bag I did start another project – a shawl.  I failed miserably, ripped it out and made a SCARF!   It’s really light because it’s holy (having lots of holes). It has no warmth of course, but I like it anyway because it is well, airy.

Hopefully the crochet teachers, Ellie and Dymph, who had such high hopes for a beginner’s progress to  an intermediate level will not be too disappointed.

Lex Carriage

Dianna and MotorMan are in the back seat!

I met another blogger friend in person! 

Dianna of These Days of Mine, and her MotorMan, came for a surprise visit yesterday!  We met at the Lexington Carriage Company loading zone.  That means they were unloaded from a sweet carriage drawn by two sweet horses. This was a fitting beginning since Dianna loves horses.   Bill and I waited for them in a gazebo at a downtown herb garden.

Dianna and MM are really nice!  They are not axe murderers or anything like C and M, some other scary bloggers I met.  Seriously we are all now great friends and C’s wonderful blog is called Photos from the Loony Bin!  Anyway, we went with Dianna and MM to lunch at the Sheridan Livery Inn, which used to be a parking lot for stabling horses.  Really.   That was before cars and no parking zones of course. I think I might remember those days.

We stopped to mosey around Stonewall Jackson’s back yard.  He had this garden which now features antique vegetables and plants.  Stonewall, whose real name was Thomas Johnathan Jackson was a quirky Confederate general in the Civil War.

Dianna's Crochet Treasure

Dianna Finding Antique Treasures No, Dor Did Not Crochet This Beautiful Piece

And then we went to two big antique malls!Duke's Antiques

I tend to go blank when there are too many options, but Dianna is an antique expert and has great ideas for converting seemingly useless objects into arty decorating accents.  I am so envious.

I loved meeting Dianna and MotorMan in person!   Who’s next?

Other random events of the week included a book club discussion of Yes, Chef, by Marcus Samuelsson, a cooking class I walked out on since I had to cook, and a mad effort to stay away from bread, crackers, and sweets.

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Mystery Flower "Fights the Cancer."

Mystery Flower “Fights the Cancer.”

I could hardly believe that overnight, the Mystery Flower that “fights the cancer” was identified – and by two very special friends!

Friend #1 said:

“Oh, how I love Google!! I’m not sure, but I think it might be Carissa Macrocarpa, also called Natal Plum. It’s from Africa, but it can now be found in southern Florida and southern California.”

That was from Cindy, of Photos from the Loony Bin.  Cindy is Canadian!  Would you believe she immediately identified that tropical-style flower?  Cindy is a great photographer and a fun-loving, obviously brilliant person.  She also has the distinction of being the only blogger friend I ever met in person.  Cindy also does “Mystery Photos” and gets the most hilarious responses.  Check out her blog if you haven’t done so already.

Friend #2 is Ted.  He was my very first boyfriend before we ever reached the teen years.  He walked me to school every morning and brought me a gardenia most mornings (from his Mom’s garden). No wonder he knows his flowers!  He is also obviously brilliant and always has been.  Here is what he said about the Mystery Flower:

“Google on ‘natal plum.’ You will find both medicinal and toxic references. Horticulturally, it is used as an attractive trespass barrier because it is both visually attractive and horrendously thorny at preventing unwelcome incursions. Ted”

I also looked around Google for a site that talked about the nutritional benefits of the Natal Plum (sometimes called the Num Num).  This link is interesting and also talks about the potentially poisonous leaves of this very interesting plant:   http://genuineaid.com/2010/10/08/natal-plum-nutrients-health-benefits/ .

Probably, by the time I get this follow-up post going, others will have identified the mystery flower.  Isn’t it amazing the things you can find now in cyberspace?

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FENCELINES

Look closely.

It’s there – a little fence behind the roses amidst the summer green.

Perhaps I saw the roses first in all their show and color.

Or was it the southern charm of a yard in bloom?

Did I even notice the little fence back there so quietly unobtrusive?

Have you found it yet? 

Fencelines-HiddenFence

Linking to Friday’s Fences

farm-fence-icon copy

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rubber plant treeMy friend, Mama of Mama’s Empty Nest and I have found something else in common.  We kill indoor plants.

Now this is not necessarily a good thing to share, but since we are online, there is no way to really blame each other for our utter failures.

Oh, I know people whine about growing things indoors, but we are not just whiners.  We have exceptional tales to tell.

Adventures in Real Life Indoor Planting

I tried nurturing “real” plants for many years, but even the guaranteed tried and true varieties only lasted moments in the toxic atmosphere of my home.

Thinking the poor things were strangling from drought, I would water  – well, maybe over-water –  and wound up with overflows, muddy looking carpets, and sudden death (of the plants).

Spraying for blights and other crawly things amounted to more polluted air inside.   I wasn’t out to  kill humans, so had to stop that, and guess what – the critters won.  The plants lost.

Watching living things droop and finally expire from over attention or abandonment is a painful process.

And although real living plants are supposed to be healthful indoors, it suddenly dawned on me that an alternative to life and health might be beauty and serenity at home.  And this meant delving into the world of fake foliage.  In other words: PLASTIC!

Yes, Plastic HAD to be the Answer!

So I gave up trying to grow living things indoors (except for my son, of course, who has somehow survived).

I figured plastic plants might live.  Does this make sense?

Things started out just fine.

The new, look-real varieties looked so real that I even planted some outside.  The geraniums I potted for the deck  looked spectacularly real –  from a distance anyway.  I hate lying to the public though, so we don’t have geraniums on the deck anymore.  It’s much too hot out there for them.

But the indoor story is that I quickly purchased a stately fake (yes, plastic) rubber plant.  It was almost as tall as a tree and  I called it Mr. Stately, because it stood so handsomely in the corner of the living room.  Big green leaves added a flavor of the tropics.  And,  Ahhhhh!  No maintenance.  No care.  No watering, fertilizing or spraying.

Then, one day, a leaf fell off.

I am not kidding.  It just fell off.

Well that did not make too much difference since there was plenty of foliage left.

Then another leaf fell off. 

And another.rubber plant leaves

Maybe Mr. Stately was standing in too much sunlight so it weakened the connections.  So I moved him to a shadier locale.

More leaves fell off.

Mr. Stately was not so handsome anymore.

And finally, my plastic rubber plant died!

So Mama of Mama’s Empty Nest – can you top this story? Do we have this in common too – the death of plastic plants?

I haven’t given up on indoor gardening yet though.  There is now a lovely plastic palm tree in my living room that really does look like the real thing.

It has only lost one palm frond so far.

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