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Posts tagged “flowers

Shaken, Not Stirred



Its getting close to that time of year when I have to decide what I’m going to do for vegetable gardens. (Planting for my area is traditionally Memorial weekend) Last summer we had a horrible drought and I spent way too many hot, humid days dragging a heavy garden hose from bed to bed. At some point I found myself swearing through my dripping sweat that I was done with vegetable gardening for good. I reasoned that we have several veggie stands nearby and our town does a nice little farmer’s market every Saturday morning.  I even visited the farmer’s market once to see what they might have and I discovered they sell most of what I usually plant. So I know I can get fresh veggies without having to invest in  all those hot, buggy hours of toil.

Easier said than done! I love watching things grow. For some reason that whole process from seed to produce never fails to trip my trigger. So I say I might forego the vegetable garden this year, but the truth of that statement remains to be seen. The lure of our local nursery might call to me and I may cave, but I’m seriously kicking some alternative ideas around. I think this might be the summer to shake things up and do the opposite. It just might be a better fit!

Finding My Way



It’s been three weeks today since I said my final goodbye to Hazer. I try real hard not to “count the days.” I really do. But it happens anyway. Things just automatically get divided into one of two categories: all the stuff I did before Hazer died and the stuff I’ve done since. Trust me, I haven’t done very much since. Certainly nothing that warrants remembering.

At the  risk of sounding maudlin I’ll admit I’m not doing great. Oh, I’m past the stage where I can’t breathe and I have to shut myself in the bathroom to muffle the sobs because it upsets Gus and Nina. But I’m shocked (and willing to say, a little bit frightened) by how often the tears still come. Suddenly out of nowhere I’ll find myself going to that dark place where I question my decision to let him go. I’ll  wonder if I did everything I could do to help him. I’ll see snapshots of him in my mind, pictures where he’s happy and healthy in one, then languishing and not at all himself in another. When my head gets really messed up I’ll reluctantly grab my cell phone and glance at the handful of photos I took of him the last two days he was alive. My eyes will linger on those pictures a few seconds, which is just long enough to convince me I did the right thing. Sometimes it’s only a matter of hours, or if I’m really lucky a day will pass before the cycle starts over again.

There are a million and one firsts. First time I finished a roll of paper towel and Hazer wasn’t there to get the empty tube. First time I made salad and Hazer wasn’t there to beg for lettuce. First time to the barn, the garden or the car without Hazer at my side. First time I unloaded groceries and didn’t come out to find Hazer rooting around in the rest of the bags in the car. First time UPS or FEDEX pulled into the drive and Hazer didn’t announce their arrival. The first Saturday my husband went in to work without a dog. Those are just a few of the firsts I’ve had to get through and every day brings more; those moments when you pause for just a fraction of a second, waiting for a dog not there. I can still barely sit down at my computer because I’m bombarded by literally thousands of photos of Hazer. I’m still at that stage where I want to look at his pictures, but I can’t. I can’t handle the fallout.

I know it will get better, but I’m afraid it will get better. I’m afraid there will come a time when the thought of Hazer or the mention of his name won’t cause my heart to break and my eyes to fill. It’s like I’m being tortured, but I don’t want the torture to stop because that would be like saying my life is OK without him. And my life will never be OK without him. But I know my heart will heal because that’s just the nature of things. Eventually all my memories of Hazer will become happy memories and the pain of his loss will lessen with time. Perhaps I’ll always remain a little wistful about Hazer, but the bulk of my sadness and grief will wash away and leave me with a lot of gorgeous photos and dozens of great stories about a big red dog who waltzed into my life and stole my heart completely.





It’s easy to tell it’s almost full-fledged fall. I get three distinct reminders:


  1. The horses start shedding their summer coats
  2. The dinner plate-size hibiscus burst into bloom
  3. The skunks make their dusk or dawn presence known

Twice in the last week I’ve been jarred out of sleep by the pungent scent of Peppy LePew wafting through my open bedroom window.  The first time it happened I could hear the low rumble of Gus growling in his crate. Gus typically doesn’t make a peep during the night, but his highly tuned nose put him on full alert. The scent wasn’t too horribly strong, but there was no mistaking that a skunk had wandered across our property. When this happens in the spring it’s usually the young skunks who don’t have full control over their scent glands yet. But when it happens in the fall it’s more likely a full-fledged adult, which is a little more worrisome. It’s been years since I’ve had a dog get skunked, but it’s something you never forget. The smell that you usually associate with a skunk meandering through the area is nothing like the full force stench of them using their smell for defense. It’s got to be one of the most gagging, God-awful, eye-watering smells on earth. And it’s dangerous too. The dog who got skunked took a close-range shot to the face and I’m still not convinced that didn’t contribute to his blindness just a year or two later. With that episode in mind I’m not taking any chances. At the first indication that a skunk might be nearby the dogs get leashed and walked and there’s no running about freely until we’re sure the coast is clear. The pups are a little put out by that, but it’s far better than the alternative!

There are other signs of the approaching fall. The hummingbird feeder has transitioned from a dull roar to the occasional passer-by. We’re on the migration route so I’ll continue to fill the feeder until a couple of days pass with no visitors. The cardinals are getting very vocal. I’m not sure why because they’re here all summer, but every fall they become more active and noticeable. Could it be one of their food staples has come into season and they get more competitive over that? I don’t know, but I enjoy seeing the colorful pairs. Crickets are louder. I always end up with a few that get into my basement looking for what, I’m not sure! And the days have grown noticeably shorter. Our mornings stay dark now until almost 6:30 and the late afternoon sun slips over the ridge across the road by a little after 7 PM. The changing of seasons happens so fast that if I didn’t have nature to remind me I might miss it altogether.

The Relocation Program



Every spring I think I need to split and move a bunch of perennials that have outgrown their beds. Since this is a huge undertaking I go check my resources before I begin, only to discover that they say split & move them in the fall. Well, not all of them, but most. OK, that’s easy enough! But then in the fall when I’m getting ready to do a major relocation project I recheck my resources again and I swear to God they say split and move them in the spring! If this keeps up I’m gonna need napalm!

Well over a decade ago I started a flower garden in front of the wooden fence that runs along one edge of our pasture. At the time I wasn’t overly creative because to be truthful, the soil was marginal and the land sloping. So I threw in a dozen or so common daylilies and called it a day. Much to my surprise, the next year they sprouted and blossomed! And multiplied. Again and again. I was pretty stoked. I mean, eventually I got a huge payback for very little effort.

Fast forward some fifteen years or more. The daylily bed is badly overcrowded and sadly, I’ve grown tired of it’s monochrome design. I’m a better gardener than I was back when I started this flower bed and I have higher expectations. I still love daylilies, but I’m no longer content to play host to the the common, orange lily one sees along the back roads of my state. No, I want different colors, mixed sizes and the occasional exotic! So it’s time to bite the bullet, take shovel in hand and dig up the old daylilies. Normally I get a little depressed when I have to discard any perennial, but I’m letting my mind focus on what I’ll do to replace them. I have lots of plants to pick from since most of my bigger, established perennials are ready to be split. But I have some headaches to get rid of first.

Ferns. They are the bane of this property. I know most people would love to have ferns growing in their gardens, but here they are an intrusive menace. Especially the Sensitive Fern, whose roots are nearly impossible to eradicate. They send underground runners into the surrounding area and they have started to invade my flower beds in several places. I should have done something to stop them when I first saw them, but I had no idea they were as invasive as they are. Now I’m paying for that mistake and it’s created a lot of extra work.

I spent two days removing a ton of old daylilies and those nasty ferns wherever I encountered them. It was dirty, tedious, back-breaking work, but now I’m getting to the fun part: planting! I’ve almost finished replanting one smallish lily bed in the front yard and I’m getting ready to tackle a second flower bed. Some of the new transplants might not do much next spring, but I’ve found daylilies incredibly forgiving and rewarding. I’ve got a bunch of really pretty and different size varieties to plant and I suspect next summer I’m going to feel like a kid in a candy shop when they start coming up. I’m already excited!

Flaunt It?

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I have two wonderful old garden rose bushes that burst into blossom every spring. The interesting thing is that I haven’t done a single thing to deserve such a glorious and fragrant display of beauty. In fact, I often wonder why these bushes have been so dependable and stunning for the last thirty years since I’ve probably done just about everything to kill them? When I’ve pruned them too late in the season they’ve rebounded with even more blossoms than the year before. When I’ve failed to fertilize or water them during the dry summer months they’ve respond with vigorous new growth. When I’ve ignored various pests or unfavorable growing conditions they’ve rallied and pulled through on their own. In short, I’ve been terribly negligent with these rose bushes, yet every year my reward has been an amazing floral display.


Thinking I’ve been blessed with a mysterious talent for growing roses, I planted several more rose bushes. After all, my theory about gardening is do more of whatever works. So over the years I’ve bought more rose bushes and, thinking I needed to be more attentive, I carefully tended them. Some years I even followed a strict protocol for feeding, watering and pruning the newer shrubs. And I’ve been rewarded with less than stellar results.  Meanwhile, the old garden roses (that I still completely ignore) continue to blossom profusely every spring.


Obviously, I don’t have half the talent for growing roses that I thought I had. And as I’ve come to suspect all along, the old garden roses are simply so well established that they’re practically impossible to kill. It seems they’re impervious to my negligence and lack of gardening skills … thank goodness!

Something Different

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I’m a big dalylily fan. Daylilies were one of the first flowers I mastered growing when we bought our farm back in the mid ’80s. My veterinarian swapped a dozen or so of his daylily seedlings for some of my Siberian Iris and the rest is history. Daylilies are hardy, prolific perennials that require very little maintenance and come in a variety of shapes, sizes and blooming seasons. They’re so common in this area that in early summer you can find waves of orange daylilies growing wild along country roads and open fields. In fact most homes have at least one or two gardens where the common orange daylily resides.

Eventually, I was so impressed with my daylily success that I decided to explore some new varieties. I went to a local nursery that grows some unusual, native types of flowers and I chose a few pink and plum colored daylilies. I planted these flowers along a fence, and in a year or two I had another lovely garden full of flowers. Inspired by this success, I’ve vowed to add a few new daylilies to my gardens every summer. If I select carefully, the colors and heights should create some interesting contrasts and extend my blooming season well into the fall. Oh, and did I mention that daylilies reproduce? Yeah. Like bunnies! I may have to join a garden club so I can pawn my excess plants off on others!

This summer I added Dragon’s Beard (above) and Ruby Sentinel (below). These are tall, stately daylilies that bloom a little later in the season. I’ve been very happy with this addition and I’m already starting to think about what will go well with them next spring!



Up, Up and Away




It was a great summer for some of my flowers. This balloon flower is now several seasons old and it produced an abundance of beautiful purple-blue blossoms. This is the first year I’ve noticed that it’s starting to spread a bit by casting seeds. That excites me! I look forward to moving some of the new plants to fill in a gap here or there in other gardens. I have other perennials that have fully matured and need to be split and relocated. Not an easy task, but it keeps me on my toes. Thinking about what can be moved where and fantasizing about how things will look in the future is something all gardening geeks do!

Twice As Nice



Not only are the butterflies visiting in droves, the re-blooming lilac is living up to it’s name! That’s a win-win for them and me!

Intruder Alert!



 I wasn’t trying to photograph a hummingbird, but one decided to show up anyway! My shutter speed wasn’t set to catch it very clearly, but it’s better than nothing. This little pollinator was pretty fearless and several times it hovered only a few feet away and stared right at my camera. I think it was trying to figure out if I was a friend or foe! I’m finding the longer I stand in one place at the garden’s edge the more nature just accepts me and carries on.

Fly Away

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It’s that time of year again when I drag out the macro lens and try to shoot stuff in and around the property. It’s so humid outdoors now that I have to give the camera and lens about fifteen minutes to de-fog before I can shoot anything. Meanwhile, the bugs attack like I’m fresh meat. It isn’t the best of conditions for taking macro shots today. There’s a pretty good breeze and the light isn’t the best. But I’m getting antsy waiting for the conditions to improve, so I decided to take some photos in spite of it being against my better judgement. The way things are going, the gardens will have gone by before the weather starts to cooperate. It’s been that kind of year so far. It’s been so miserable that I’d like to just up and fly away myself: some place where it’s cooler and a lot less humid. I simply don’t know how people live in the south during the summer. I’m thinking mid-seventies would be just about perfect for me right now.






As of yesterday I still had small mounds of dirty snow tucked in spots around my yard. But a sudden spring shower came barreling through in the late afternoon and melted the last remaining signs of winter. And in it’s place, spring has sprung. Every April I’m amazed and impressed by the resiliency of perennials. The ground slowly softens, heaves, and coughs up the first threads of green. Everywhere I look I see signs of new life. It’s like being five years old, waking up on Christmas morning and excitedly anticipating a plethora of new presents! I love spring; so full of hope and possibility.

I got out on my horse yesterday for the first time since last fall. I was literally craving an opportunity to ride. I got a late start and didn’t go as far as I’d hoped, but that turned out to be a good thing because I nearly got caught in our first thunder storm of the season! Yee-ha! Life is never dull!

In Memory




For the children …

Purple Passion





A throwback from summer.



I could use a little sunshine. It’s been an unusually dismal fall with lots of drizzle and cloudy skies. The foliage was a wash. It never got bright or crisp enough on the handful of days that would have been considered “peak.” Now all that’s left on the trees are dingy yellow, muted red and for the most part, dirty brown leaves. I think Mother Nature is disgusted, and I don’t blame her.

I haven’t taken a technically good picture in over a year now and I’m beginning to wonder if this blog is worth the time I spend on it. Please understand this is not my way of trying to attract sympathy or have a pity party, it’s an honest question I feel I must ask myself. Yesterday as I dialed the eye doctor to make an unscheduled appointment for a problem that’s come up, I actually contemplated selling my photography gear. I guess I’ve lost a bit of hope. Lately I’ve been wondering if I’ll know when or if it’s time to throw in the towel? When it comes to waving the white flag I’ve been known to be a little slow on the uptake, but really, how long do I wait while everyone pretends that eventually I’ll have enough vision to get back to where I was two years ago? I dunno. It’s beginning to feel a bit futile and I have a lot of money tied up in equipment .. equipment that requires a good PAIR of eyes to use.



Glads face the rising sun.

Last Bloom



My repeat blooming lilac is in the throes of last bloom. I’m always pleasantly surprised when this shrub blossoms so late into the fall, it’s faint scent mixing with the dusky smell of autumn leaves and spicy chrysanthemums.




I tried to stake them, but I lost nearly every branch of my large hibiscus in last night’s big storm. Today I have lots of wind damage to anything that was still producing or blooming in my garden beds. Sadly, this plant had numerous buds still starting to unfold. *Sigh* Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose. So goes the endless battle with Mother Nature.


As much as I enjoy seeing the myriad of colors and textures of my gardens, sometimes it’s fun to shoot a little black and white. The understated results can certainly alter the feel of the landscape. The hibiscus flower (above) is a bright vivid red and with blossoms the size of a dinner plate, can be seen clear across the back yard. The conversion to black and white brings out the thick leathery texture of the petals, but it mutes the overall effect. Ultimately, this black and white version isn’t quite as stunning as the original. Contrasting colors and textures make a garden interesting. I planted this hibiscus near a stone wall because the dark background makes the red stand out. Take that contrast away and it’s just a mildly interesting flower.

Fairy Dust



Bees have been hard at work pollinating the fall Sedum blossoms.



First of all, thanks to all the well-wishes for my sister and BIL who were in a serious motorcycle accident last weekend. My sister, who has no medical insurance, is still in the Trauma Hospital. She had surgery to put pins in her fractured leg and is getting PT to help her figure out how to cope with a broken leg and clavicle. Normally we bitch about how fast the insurance companies try to get the hospital to discharge patients, but in her case there is no insurance and hence, she has no idea when she’ll go home. I’m beginning to wonder if she ought to start pushing a bit more to get the heck out of there. I know it will be a challenge to get back and forth to visit her husband, but I think she thinks her bill is someone elses responsibility. Unfortunately, it’s not, and for every day she stays put the meter keeps running. I find it questionable that nobody has started hinting at when she might go home, yet her injuries are not critical. But I  guess that’s not my problem.

The BIL is in much deeper doo-doo. His injuries, though not internal, are numerous and complex. He has a long list of broken bones and complications that will take many months to straighten out. He’s already had a couple of surgeries to try to repair various fractured limbs, but I suspect he’ll be having more for years to come. Yeah. Not good. But he’s breathing on his own and the internal stuff is (so far) fine. Bones heal, so I guess he’ll get through this.

I’ve hardly begun to address my own personal anger and frustration about this situation. It’s my opinion that they had no business being on a motorcycle to begin with and I’m having a tough time coming to grips with the long-term consequences of their foolishness. Yes, accidents happen, but when you’re in their situation you don’t take frivolous risks without preparing for the consequences if there’s a disaster. Now that the dreaded wreck has happened, it’s sort of a moot point that I’ve been harping at my sister for 12 years about not having any medical insurance and a few other stop-gap measures in place. I can’t help thinking that if you’re gonna play you’d better be able to pay, and if you don’t have a spec of medical coverage then it’s probably not a good idea to be tooling around on the back of a motorbike.

I hope she figures out how she’s going to go forward from here. It’s been one heck of a week.



Like nature, sometimes life is a struggle  ….  to get enough water, sunlight, the necessary nutrients to survive.


People are not all that different. We require a baseline of nurturing to flourish. If we don’t get that we wither and die.


I had a little reprieve, a vacation from the norm. A few simple days to regroup and recharge. Five days after my return my older sister was involved in a life-changing motorcycle accident. Nothing about it is OK: to begin with, that she was even on a motorcycle is almost incomprehensible. I’m trying to process the confusing incoming information, but she lives several states away. And I’m on the drug-induced dial list, which makes it hard to tell fantasy from reality.

So for now, it will have to suffice to turn my face toward the sun.




I was out early this morning and happened to catch a dragonfly in one of my pictures. I had no idea it was on the flower I was shooting until after I processed the photos. An added perk I guess, of using a macro lens!






Rudbeckia fulgida “Goldsturm” (Black-eyed susan) and Echinacea dance on long stems.



My gladiolas have finally bloomed. I shot this in early morning fog, which has been very heavy lately. I didn’t think I’d like the green glads, but now that they’ve blossomed I think they look better than they did in the picture on the bulb bag. I bought a handful of glad bulbs pretty late in the spring and the color selection was limited to red, pink and green. That wouldn’t have been my first choice, but planting glads was a bit of an after thought. Next year I’m going to try to get better colors and make sure I plant them earlier. It’s been years since I’ve grown gladiolas and I’d forgotten how much I like them.