Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Happy Summer Solstice!

It has been raining cats and dogs for most of June so it was great that the sun finally got to shine on the longest day of the year! It was surprisingly chilly too but that didn't matter. Summer is here!

After a short inspection of the backyard, Ivy and Burt settled on the bench to enjoy the sunshine and Ivy said, "So Burt, do you know what meteorologists call it when it rains ducks and chickens?"
To which Burt replied, "No, I haven't a clue!"

 Ivy answered, "fowl weather."

Our foul weather was ancient history once the sun came out. It was like a double shot of expresso! I chased this dragonfly around the garden with my camera for quite awhile before it took a break!  

There's not very many flowers blooming at the moment but a few roses have started to open.
The white roses tend to get lost in the sunshine and the blue and purple flowers blend into the green. Ivy rescued her Mandevilla blossom after the wind knocked over the trellis.

The bush that produces these pretty clusters of white roses is called Darlow's Enigma. I bought it because I needed another plant to get the free shipping on my nursery order and I liked the sound of it's name. It's turned out to be a fantastic choice. Not only is it one of only three roses in my backyard that survived the Polar Vortex, it also bloomed into December last year. It has a great fragrance, too.

A closer inspection is always in order . . .

because you'll never know what you might see lurking around the edges . . .

. . . or in the corners!

In another corner Burt is trying out his Gomez Addams impression for Ivy's amusement.

Thanks for visiting and Happy Summer everyone!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Soggy Days

Ivy and Burt are so happy you have stopped by for a visit! Most of the planting and garden chores are done so they are taking a break to enjoy the fruits of the season while our soggy backyard dries out. Summer has just so much to smile about!

Our weather's been alternating between blisteringly hot and lengthy deluges of biblical proportions, complete with non-stop thunder and lightning. All this excitement has been super beneficial to the plants and weeds, so much so that it's become hard to tell them apart! I'm going to need a machete.

A good soaking rain with lots of lightning was always a welcome site to the farmers in the community where I grew up. My Gram referred to them as "electrical storms". She and I would happily stand outdoors, under our south porch and enjoy the show. Probably not the safest thing to do but she lived to be ninety and I'm still here! Still not a good idea. When I went to college it came as quite a surprise to me to see my freshman roommate running for cover at the first clap of thunder.

My unbridled enthusiasm for storms isn't just about flashing lights and loud noises, although I do appreciate the show. It's the benefits to the plant life that really makes me happy. Plants need nitrogen to grow and 78% of our air is made up of it. Unfortunately, plants don't have a way to absorb it from the air. When a bolt of lightning rips across the sky it busts up the nitrogen molecules and some of those free nitrogen atoms combine with oxygen and form nitrates. Nitrates are a fantastic, all natural fertilizer and it gets carried to the ground in the rain which the plants can absorb through their root system. Free fertilizer and a good show all thanks to Mother Nature. Plus, it's less work for me!  

Obviously, apart from their many benefits, storms are not everyone' s cup of tea.
Rain without thunder and lightning can be sort of like tea without dessert for some of us.

 Lately we've either been cooped up inside a lot (with the AC due to the sweltering heat or taking cover from a torrential downpour) so His Madness took the opportunity to whip up this delicious tart! 

It turned out to be just the thing to turn a cup of tea into a party.

Pouring tea is one task His Madness takes very seriously! It always commands everyone's attention. 

Eventually the rain passed, the sky cleared, the sun came out and the neighbors dogs captured Spencer's attention. It was a lovely break but is it time to get back to work? 

Out in the backyard, the wind and rain has taken a quite a toll on this pink peony.

Luckily, there's still a few salvageable blooms and all of the other peony plants are fine.

Most of the flowers, like this Iris are just wet . . .

. . . while the old roses are already dry!

It looks like it's going to be way too wet to do anymore work in the garden today.
Poor Ivy will just be forced to spend the rest of the afternoon curled up with a good book and a kitty.

So, how do you feel about thunderstorms? 

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

In Praise of Spring Perennials

Yikes! Where does the time go! Burt, Ivy and Kibitz have been exiled to the closet for most of the month of May while His Madness and I dealt with a troop of delivery people. We usually end up ruining our spring with some sort of home improvement project and this year was no exception. Past experiences have taught us that leaving skeletons in plain sight around the house can produce a lot of anxiety in some individuals and make the whole ordeal way more awkward than necessary. Luckily, the skeleton crew took it all in stride and at least two of them remained their cheerful selves.

Warmer weather is in the forecast and I'm pretty excited that it's finally going to be decent enough to plant all the flowers, herbs and veggies I've been stockpiling since the garden centers opened up. 

Rosemary is supposed to impart peace to the living and the dead. Since our next door neighbors voted for Trump, Ivy is going to plant this beautiful specimen by our garden gate. Hope it works!

It's been a very damp and chilly month here, which is normal. On the plus side, it didn't snow. 

The upside to crappy weather is that the blooms tend to last longer.

The downside is that it's too icky to spend much time outside.
It's a vicious circle but I suspect that I'd be uncomfortable with it any other way.

Yesterday, the cold and rain alternated with blue skies and sunshine - hourly!

So I ran out and took photos during the sunny times.

I'm always grateful for the perennials in my backyard. They survive the snow and cold as well as floods, hail, heat, the lawn mower, weeds and my neglect, to put on a beautiful springtime show. Whatever Mother Nature or the neighbor's dogs throw their way they pop up and bloom. There are a few no-shows now and then but for the most part they are reliable once they get established - where they want to be! Ha! They do wander around occasionally but that's a story or another blog post. 

So now it's time to fill up the window boxes, pots and planters.
They will fill in the bare spaces when the spring perennials coast for the summer.

Except for this one that's already occupied.

 The next project to tackle is cleaning up the patio and that's always full of surprises.

Thanks for stopping by! 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Earth Day with Ducks and Daffs

It's hard to believe we are now in the midst of an early spring after all the moaning I've done about our unseasonably cold weather. The magnolia in our front yard has outdone itself once again (for about the twentieth time!) with a spectacular display of blooms. His Madness has been taking regular walks twice a day to get his new knee in shape for the important one we took this past Earth Day. 

Ralph Waldo Emerson's earth may laugh in flowers but my little backyard coughs them up. 

Like hairballs.

A little bit here . . .  a little bit there . . .

and then one big mess in the middle.

It's not their fault I can't remember where I plant them. They're tricky little buggers. When our son Andy was two years old I put six of these Elizabeth Barrett Browning daffodil bulbs on each side of our front steps. For quite a few years they bloomed but then they disappeared and I thought they had died. It was probably due to the arborvitae that had taken over the whole front of the house. Since we were forced to remove the overgrown shrubs they reappeared and have made quite a come back and increased in numbers. I have no clue how long this will continue but we're enjoying it while it lasts.   

We live in a migratory flyway so last Saturday when I was looking out of my kitchen window I wasn't surprised to see this pair of ducks determinedly marching down the driveway. Another sign of spring!

Later, His Madness and I met up with a couple hundred people and did some marching of our own.

It's hard to believe that in 2017 it would be necessary to march in support of science!

Not to mention facts!

There were lots of signs. Clear and precise, exactly what I expected from a group of scientists.

Unfortunately they were already sold out of these totally geeky t-shirts by the time we got there. We'll pick some up at the next march. I have a feeling we will be doing it a lot during the next four years.

As for those ducks, they're probably happily on their way to Canada by now.
They'll be much better off with Justin Trudeau.

So how was your weekend?

Thanks for stopping by for an Earth Day visit!

Sunday, April 16, 2017


According to the calendar it's time to break out the bunnies and chocolate.
(It's also time to pay the taxes but there's no reason to throw a party for that!)

It doesn't matter what season we're in or which holiday we're celebrating, 
it always ends up looking a little like Halloween at our house.

It's not like we're lacking in excessively sweet and way too pastel cookie jars.

Or snazzy headgear. 

There's always a good supply of essentials for those Easter baskets.

Even the ones that really don't hold enough! Honestly, what were they thinking?

It's just that something always looks a little bit off. Did you notice the look in the eye of the tall one?
I think these bunnies may be planning a raid on the tiny (Christmas repurposed for spring) village!

Then there's the eggs.


Out in the garden it's a completely different story.
Mother Nature always produces the perfect blooms for the occasion.

She never fails to deliver, even up here in the frozen north!
Ok, most of the time she delivers; if there's no snow and the ground isn't still frozen.

However, she does like to stick it to those gardeners who believe they planted only purple crocuses.

Now, how about some Easter caroling?

A Happy Easter to all of you who are celebrating today.

I hope everyone is enjoying a merry spring and indulging in a chocolate bunny extravaganza!

Have a great weekend and thanks for stopping by.