Monday, June 29, 2015

Hodge Podge

It has been two years now since I left my professional life behind me. Still, though, echoes of those glorious days teaching college freshmen how to write academic essays reverberate through my mind. Take tonight for example. I downloaded my photos from two cameras, did some editing, created the collage for Lavender Cottage's Monday Mosaic,  selected a few photos, uploaded them to Blogger then wrote on my New Post screen: "Dpn't now wh]t to rite." So here I sit wondering what the main idea should be for tomorrow's post. I always taught the freshmen writers that their papers must have a main idea that would be stated in a thesis sentence.

Scratch that. Hodge Podge tonight.

Lily turned 3 Thursday. Monday's mosaic has to be all about Lily and her friend Minnie Mouse. I had bought Lily the cutest little Minnie Mouse play costume dress all pink and polka dotty to wear for the party. She had it on for about 10 minutes then ran off only to reappear in the hand-me-down swim suit and no coaxing would convince her to change. By child number 3, moms have learned to choose their battles.

Sweet cupcakes with Oreo cookies new thin mints for mouse ears. I challenged my son-in-law to take his cupcake to work with for lunch, all pink and cute. I picked a sweet little bouquet of flowers for the birthday girl, but I think she liked the balloons better.

Now for the garden.

The automatic sprinkler for the perennial and succulent garden comes on at 6 AM, so early in the morning I decided to take some photographs of the still wet flowers.

We all like to take macro photos, so I am curious to ask what sort of lens do you use for you macros? Maybe I should be asking what sort of camera do you use?

I use my Canon EOS Rebel XS, now several years old. It is a 12 pixel, DSL with the standard 18-55 mm lens. Were I a professional photographer just starting out, I probably would have followed the advice I found on several photography web sites recommending to switch out the factory lens with a better quality lens. I didn't. I am not a professional.

Instead, I purchased a Canon 75-300 mm telephoto lens that I use often for the macro shots. Listen, I am old and I don't bend very well in certain positions, so I use the telephoto with, I think, most of the time good result. (I wish I could tell you the name of this bloom, but I can't remember it. It is in yucca family--I think).

Here is another example of an effective telephoto macro. You can even see the tiny spider webbing the agapanthus. 

The day lily looks fresh and I especially like the darkened background.

The Garden Spot is a bird sanctuary with lots of robins. I especially like this photo because of the depth of field with the robin in full focus while its surroundings are out of focus.

Taken early in the morning, I like the early morning sunlight on the pasture. I also like the bird house framed with both aspen and pine bows with a bit of day lily at the bottom.

Milk Weed makes for a pretty photo, slightly under exposed but only because I noticed that the lens was dusty. I could write an entire post on Mild Weed: wonderful childhood memories catching monarch caterpillars off of them to raise in giant glass jar to watch them go through their metamorphosis  or what a disgusting, annoying, invasive weed that they are now or how school children across the country are planting them to provide a more abundant food supply and habitat for the disappearing monarchs. But you already know that. 

Maybe I could write about photographic perspective or depth of field. Take these next four photos, for example.

Single shots of individual blooms make our gardens look WOW, for when I photograph individual blooms I am editing out the weeds that lurk below.

The blanket flower and the daisy are similar but different. 

Sharing a garden space, they are nice companions. Playing with focus on the camera, and you can change the point of view of the entire discussion.

It is nice to step back to shoot the full view of the garden bed give a better idea of what the garden actually looks like, weeds and all. 

Test Question: Can you identify this flower? Coral Bell? Correct. You do know your plants. 

Sometimes lighting plays tricks on especially the less than professional photographer. This is the same Cosmos. Any guesses as to its true color? Pink of course. One photo taken in morning shade; the other taken back lit with the morning sun.

Scabiosa or pin cushion. I love the the delicate center in this flower. Again, another macro with the telephoto lens.

Even the buds on the echinacea make pretty photos.

The columbine are ending their run. Only a few straggling blooms left. I'll be sad to see them go.

And what would a Hodge Podge post be without a rose? I'll end tonight's garden tour with a little no name rose that is original to the property, living the front courtyard. She blooms her little heart out every year all summer long giving these delicate gorgeous little roses that change from a very soft apricot color turning a fluorescent orange as she begins to fade. Love her. 

The little girls will be here tomorrow to ride Pop. I had to plans to take the little SUV to town for hopefully one new tire, but I may have to buy all 4. 

I spent a wonderful day in Denver Saturday with Heather. She was invited to speak at a lady's luncheon on trees. One of her clients asked her to speak at a fund raising luncheon for the American Association of University Women (AAUW), a organization that supports girls and young women by providing scholarships and she invited me along. We had a great day. After we took her mother in law back home, we went to Norm's Dollhouse, a dollhouse store on the far side of Denver. Way far away. A special treat for me.
Once on my way home at the end of the day and after I had navigated through the worst traffic challenges of the drive, I was headed for open high way and less traffic and I was feeling pretty good about my ability to navigate through the horrible Denver traffic. Then I heard something. I didn't like the odd sound. Good thing the SUV can warm me of impending dangers, like the sign that comes on "Low Tire Pressure." Low?" How low? I continued to drive until I was able to turn off and park--in a cemetery, no less. I called the Head Gardener who was over an hour away. Then I called my daughter. Bless her and her husband for they came and rescued me. James changed the tire for me and sent me on my way. I drove 56 miles an hour on I-25 for 70 miles on the donut spare. Ugh. I made it home safely, but now I need at least one new tire.

Enough Hodge Podge for tonight. Thanks for hanging in there with me. Love your comments. I read every one and hopefully I respond to you all. Happy Gardening this week. We will be weeding and getting the garden in shape so that we can take some time off for a week while we get out of town. Have a fabulous week.

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Heat Is On

As June begins to wind down, I feel as though I am just getting started in the garden now that the heat is on. 90 degrees today. (Sunday) We get out early to work in the cool of the morning, but it warms up pretty quickly. While the Head Gardener goes about working on his projects, I set to planting the perennials that I purchased in the last couple of days. I am trying to fill in the flower bed at the back of the house. I have waited too long to purchase perennials, for I am finding the selections at my favorite garden centers pretty well picked over.

I have a collection of mostly new plants that I have not grown before. (I don't know why I continue to take photos under the pergola for they never turn out.)

A touch of blue, Forget-me-nots to off set all of the pink.

I love the color of this bell flower; it will be a nice compliment to the coral bells.

This shade loving coral bell will go in another garden where there is more shade.

Dragon's something will be added to the succulent garden.

Lewisia goes in the succulent garden, too, with luscious pink flowers.

I need a better photo of the gorgeous pink lupin and her companion, also new here. I  am hoping that lupin survive the night for it looked really droopy yesterday despite the fact that it was well watered.

As July approaches, the iris have finished, the peonies only have a few viable blooms left, the roses are in full flush, the tiger lilies are still quiet along with the daisies and echinacea.

There is a profusion of pink in the garden. I know that I probably spend too much time photographing the pink, but I can't help myself.

I picked most of the Sarah Bernhardt peonies because the heads were so heavy that they fell to the ground. I had several bouquets throughout the house, making it smell sweet with their perfume.

I put these four in a pink depression glass serving bowl with a spiky frog to keep the heavy blossoms in place. I found two frogs in a local antique store. My grandmother used to use them in her flower arrangements. They certainly do keep flowers from flopping around in a vase or bowl.   

For the Monday's Mosaic shared at Lavender Cottage, I took a few shots in the front courtyard. While the roses are half as tall as they normal would be and the blooms are smaller, they are blooming profusely. Gertrude Jekyll looks wonderful. Even my bargain cheap supermarket miniature roses are full of blooms. The clematis has gone crazy. I never imagined that it would grow so large. I may have to do some pruning. 

I am feeling guilty now because I rather bad mouthed Gertrude a few posts ago, saying that I didn't replace her because she was so moody. But look at her; can't get enough of her pinkness.

It will be a quiet week here as I continue to scour the garden centers, hoping to find some plants on sale. I have more bare spots to fill in both in the back and out in the center circle. 

Thanks for taking to time visit. I do enjoy your sweet comments as I try to get back to each of you in response.  Sometimes it takes me all week. I do a lot of reading from the iPad, so some of the blog photos don't load very fast, so then I have to use the computer, so I don't get around as quickly as I should. Most of the time I end up at the bottom of your long list of comments. I hope you find me at the end of the week or before you publish your next post.

And so the sun sets on another Sunday at the Garden Spot. Life is good. While the tree is half dead, the ponies graze contently.  As the outside world rages, here we give thanks for peace and quiet, and we pray for the same for everyone else.

Have a wonderful week.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Six Years

The Heat Wave may be on, now. The sun has come out perhaps to stay. The June thunder clouds roll in late in the afternoon, rumbling into the night threatening rain, hail, and other storm relate mayhem. Sometimes they turn loose of rain; other times they just make a lot threatening noise. The sky darkens and we put way our hoes and water buckets and head for the house. Another day in the garden done.

The Head Gardener has missed out on great gardening weather over the week-end, but he is taking a much needed break and having  a great time camping with the grandsons. This is 6 year old Nathan's first camping trip with grandpa where the boys will shoot their bows at fake animals (as Nathan calls them.)

The HG earned his weekend away. There has been so much work to get done this year since he worked part-time last year for the company from which he retired. Jobs really do get in the way. I do have a couple of projects on my list that I need help with. This one, for example. I am moving my strawberry bed to a new location for a couple of reasons.

The Egg Production Project has expanded with the addition of Chanticleer, a rooster and his aggressive hen that picks on the other hens. We needed some sort of holding pen/quarantine place that now seems a permanent home for Chant and his mean old lady. 

The strawberries winter killed, so a new spot was a good idea.

We removed two clumps of iris, hauled in new top soil (saved from when we dug the water garden hole), added commercial top soil, and compost. Now I need to buy strawberries--this afternoon when I am done blogging.

I planted strawberries in my hanging baskets for the pergola. They did well last year. I like seeing the red berries trailing from the hanging pots.

Originally the hen house was a garden shed for potting plants and such. Now we have a mobile potting bench. How handy is that!

Strawberries planted and hung. 

I feel a bit foolish that I should have listened more closely to Judith at Lavender Cottage to not get in a hurry to replace seeming dead roses that looked like they had winter killed. She advised that perhaps they were just slow to wake up after a long, hard winter. Truer words were never spoken, for some have indeed awakened.

A rather blurry photo, but Veteran's Pride blooms happily, though not with large flowers this round. In fact the first buds were frozen in a Mother's Day freeze, but she is coming out of it. Now she has a sister.

First Prize is rewarding my lack of patience with small, but splendid pink blooms. She, too, has a sister.

And would you look at Gertrude Jekyll, for is producing her lovely pink swirls. I do think I have lost Shropshire Lad just around the corner from the girls. He is sending out tall, lanky shoots like the other roses that reverted back to their wild beginnings. I'll give him another few weeks.

Right now the lad is having to wade his way through the profusion of peonies. There are 3 three here ordered 3 years ago from White Flower Farms under the simple title of Old Fashioned Collection. The heads are so heavy that they droop miserably.

Miss Eastern Red Bud finally has proven that she is hardier than I gave her credit for. She comes out the winner of the Best Surprise award this year.

I think this is Dark Knight (or is it Night?) I had iris planted in the back that grew so huge and out of control that I had the HG help me move them last year. We got in a hurry and didn't get them all named when we divided them. So far only one of the 4 has bloomed. So dark and purple, he looks black. I am glad that he is back.

Here is a profusion of Pink:

Even a pink water lily. I was so glad to see them bloom this year. All accounted for and blooming finally after the water warmed.

The coral bell blooms, too. I had to take this shot using the 75-300mm zoom taken through the long leaves of the Siberian iris. 

The hay looks fabulous, chest high on a short woman. 

Years ago daughter Heather gave me a white Siberian iris that we planted at the Old House. It bloomed maybe once. I moved it to the Garden Spot 6--nearly 6 1/2--years ago planting in two places: in the garden behind the house and out in the iris patch where we planted all of the "I don't know where to plant these because I have too many of them" place.

Do plants have telepathy, I wonder, because I had determined that I would dig out this iris because obviously it wasn't going to bloom and it is right in the middle of the perennial bed, taking up a lot of good real estate just sitting there soaking up water, taking up space, annoying me.

Well, I guess I have changed my tune.

The mosaic will appear in Monday Mosaics hosted by Judith at Lavender Cottage. Be sure drop by the see the other mosaics. 

Have a wonderful week. Lots to do this week. We will take the boys back to Denver Tuesday then hit the garden work hard again. Love it. Thanks for stopping by. 

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...