Sunday, October 31, 2010

Getting Organized

It’s a quiet Sunday here in the Garden Spot. The grandsons were here for the weekend, and we celebrated the little granddaughter’s 4th birthday yesterday. Today the Denver Broncos are playing the San Francisco Forty-niners in London. Now, I am not an obsessive football fan, but the game is usually on as part of our Sunday ritual. So far the Broncos are playing much better than the whipping they took from the Raiders last week—59-14. What a humiliation. Caught up on school work for the moment, I decided to start a project that I have had in the back of mind for a while, just waiting for a time to actually do it.

I wanted to come up with a better way to organize all of those tags, labels and markers that come with the potted perennials. In the past, I put them in a notebook, most often just throwing them between the covers and not really organizing. So this morning I began copying the tags by using the copier on my old HP scanner/copier/printer. I am pleased with the results and now will have a smartly organized garden notebook.

First sort your tags. Wipe off any dirt or girt before you lay them on the scanner bed. You can organize according to the garden bed, date planted, species, color—whatever works for you. Many tags have plant statistics and planting instructions on the reverse side, so I copy the backside as well. I turn the tags over, reinsert the printed page so that it prints on the back and I have preserved both sides of the tag on one sheet. It takes some practice with the printer if you want to line the back of the tag up with the front of the tag on the printout, but as far as I am concerned, it really isn’t necessary. I am envisioning a well-organized plant inventory in a nice notebook where I can keep good records of what grows in the Garden Spot. Happy Halloween.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


I hadn’t had my camera in hand all week, so after grading a set of student essays on my free day, I headed to the front circle garden to see if there if anything was going on. Indeed there was. These late fall days have been warm and dry, and while many of the flowers have faded the Russian sage, rudebekia, marigolds, and blanket flowers still offer a profusion of color and nectar, especially for one stunning young monarch that seemed to have a voracious appetite. I surmised that perhaps it was tanking up for its migratory trip to Mexico perhaps.

I love my Cannon Rebel. I can shoot dozens of shots without worry of how much film I might shoot. To photograph the butterflies, I use my 75-300mm telephoto lens. I find that lens perfect because I can get fairly close and yet not disturb them, shooting as many pictures as I want. Sometimes I use the automatic advance shutter. I also turn of the auto focus because the lens seems to have a mind of its own, focusing on anything but what I want. Quite by accident, I have been able to catch some butterflies in flight.

I download my pictures to my MacBook into iPhoto where I do some editing and cropping. I like to crop the photos as closely a possible to get as much detail as possible. The yellow sulphurs—shot in the late, bright afternoon sun—need the exposure adjusted in order to enhance their already pale yellow color. While the bright orange blanket flowers and rudbekias may see a bit hot, the butterfly’s color warms up nicely. From iPhoto, I open the photo in Piacasa to export it in just the right size for the blog. 

On this venture to the Garden Spot, I shot dozens of pictures of the monarch, sulphurs, and the little blue butterfly. These shots are my best.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The fall days are finally cooler after record heat for September--in the 90s. The first snow of year has dusted the high peaks of the Rocky Mountains, but here on the prairie it is still very dry, having had no rain for six weeks or more. We are hoping for rain, but more than likely we will get snow instead, for it is in the forecast for next week. (Then again the snow— or any moisture—could skip right over us and land somewhere in Nebraska.). My lovely red rose has a half dozen beautifully perfect buds slowly opening. I’d rather leave them on the stem, but if there is a hard frost in the forecast, I will cut them so that they can open inside, or perhaps I will take them work to give to the office secretaries to enjoy—and anyone else who visits the English office.

The green spotted cucumber beetle is probably my last insect photo of the year. Thankfully not as plentiful as the ambush bug, it is, according to the Central Coast Gardening web site, a nasty vermin not to be messed with, for it does a lot of damage. Fortunately I have found only one or two, and hopefully they haven’t laid eggs. I will surely be on the lookout for them next year. The article did mention soapy water as a spray. I wonder if that will work on the ambush bugs?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

After spending all day in the office conferencing with students, when I got home, camera in hand, I walked around the gardens. It was a lovely fall afternoon and plenty of activity and drama in the flower beds. Look closely here and you will see those nasty ambush bugs ready to attack the butterfly.

The Russian sage was alive with bees of several varieties and lovely butterflies. But lurking in the petals were those nasty ambush bugs. I managed to rescue one painted lady from the death hold of the bug; later I discovered three butterflies that were not so lucky. Breaks my heart to see the beautiful, peaceful creatures fall prey to the nasty attack bugs.

As common as these cabbage butterflies are and plain as they are, they still make a pretty picture. I managed to catch this one in flight.

A Rose by Any Other Name

Jackson and Perkins roses have been in the garden for at least 10-12 years. This year they have been spectacular. The bushes were taller and...