Welcome reader to my blog - a mixture of this and that. Now that we are living in a retirement community in downtown Columbia, MD my personal gardening activities are somewhat curtailed. I still enjoy visiting gardens, reading, watching wildlife on my walks, traveling, and occasional food commentary. Please leave a comment if you feel inspired to do so. I read every one of them.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Observations on a Gray Day

It's another gray day with a threat of rain.  Even when it's not raining, the air is so moist you feel drenched just stepping outside.  Not a good day for gardening tasks.  That list will have to wait for better weather.

Here's one view of the gray day. As I sit outside I see the yellowing leaves of the tulip poplar.  With all the moisture some of these are skipping the yellow stage and going right to brown.   The dogwood is showing a pinkish hue.


Though I didn't capture them in this photo, the robins are busy in the garden paths finding grubs and worms.  I also saw them on the roof of Dan's shop eating stink bugs.  There are plenty of those for them to eat.

This female hummingbird is still around which surprised me.  I thought they'd left on their migration south.
She visited several times after going to other flowers in the garden.  I didn't think I needed to refill the feeder and was thinking of putting it away. 


 The titmice and chickadees are doing some leaf rattling in the beech tree.  I finally figure out they are going after the beech nuts.  This is the first year that this tree has had beech nuts.  I guess it finally reached the proper age.  I expected the squirrels to eat all the nuts but they haven't paid any attention to them.

Other wildlife observed on this gray afternoon: the rabbit scooting out from under the deck near where I sit and high tailing it to the pond, a flock of starlings fly onto the roof,  two squirrels have a game of chase, and a lone chipmunk runs across the rocks on an errand of some sort.  All of them busy, busy, busy.  But me?  It's a gray day.  I'm holding out for some sun before I tackle those fall garden chores.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Environmental Good Sense

I know that there are a lot of you out there who concur with me that any little thing we can do to help our environment will eventually make a difference.  Something as simple as carrying your own bags into the grocery store and using them time after time.  Carrying a bag in your purse to whip out for those purchases at other stores instead of getting a plastic bag.  (I use a fabric one and even showed on an earlier blog how to make these Chinese peasant bags.)  This may not seem like much of an effort, but if more and more of us do it, there will be an impact.

Lately I've taken it a step further thanks to my daughter.  She gave me a set of mesh bags to reuse for vegetables.  I then purchased another set from her so I have a good supply.  I take these with me to the grocery store to use instead of those plastic bags the store provides.  They are reusable and allow the vegetables to breathe in the refrigerator.  They are perfect, too for storing veggies directly from the garden that need refrigerating. 

 Here are two bags, one with broccoli from the store and the other with beets from my Mom's garden.

(Recently I saw that Gardener's Supply is selling these types of bags for more than twice the amount of Emily's and I heard from my sister who works for the Container Store that they have them, too at a higher price.)

So for all you environmentally-conscious folks that want a good deal visit Emily's Greens and Jeans etsy site and buy yourself a set or two of these wonderful bags.  You'll be doing another little bit to help the environment.

Monday, September 19, 2011

DEER! #@*&%$


 Before!
A morning glory growing on the clematis trellis.

After! 
I should have sprayed deer repellent when I thought of it last week.
 

Now don't get me wrong.  I do enjoy seeing the deer in my woods.  Just today I watched a fawn meander up the driveway.  Cute.  But there is so much other green stuff they can eat, so leave my plantings alone.  And to help them remember that I will spray liquid fence.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Moving Stone

We've had a lot of water this summer and it became more obvious that the water coming from the gutterless roof was washing out the pathways in the perennial garden.  I proposed getting a pallet of dry stack light stone which is what we built the walls of the house and garden with and using it to make a dry stream bed which when it rained would slow the water down.
 Here's the pallet of stone.  I thought when it was delivered it would be placed next to the driveway but the driver said he could take it with his forklift where I wanted it.  This worked out perfectly for my back.

 Here's the rain barrel with the beginnings of the stone being laid around it.  The hose coming out of the top is for overflowing water.  The hose runs out of the perennial bed so there isn't a waterfall coming from the rain barrel which has been ever full this summer.

 Above and below are some of the eroded areas.  Believe it or not I did mulch these areas in the early summer but the mulch ends up down hill with the rain.


 Here is what's left of the pallet of stone.  I have to wait for rain to see if I need to expand the dry steam beds.  If I don't these stones will go into more flower bed walls.

 Here's the finished area next to the rain barrel.  We could return the grill to its spot now perched on rocks.
Here's another view of the completed bed of stones. I thought it would rain last night but it didn't so the stones didn't get washed off fully and I didn't get to test it to see how it slowed the water.  I planted creeping thyme between some of the stones and hope it spreads.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Nocturnal Visitors




 What went bump in the night?  Two young raccoons climbing on the screen porch door to reach this perch in our beams on the deck.  They were fearless of us and let me get close enough to take their picture.  Mama was nowhere to be seen.  I wonder if we have raccoons living under the porch again this year?




They crawled all over each other trying to occupy each other's space on the beam.



They will be mischief makers when they get bigger.  I wonder if we will see them again?



Tuesday, September 13, 2011

State of the Vegetable Garden

 Before - the tomatoes are dying out.


 After - the beans and tomatoes have been removed and greens planted: spinach, bok choy, tatsoi, and lettuces.

 
 Before - tomatoes in background on their way out.

 After - tomatoes gone.  Cucumbers left to grow on fence since still flowering.
Lettuce under netting trimmed of sun-scalded leaves and more greens planted.

 Cherry tomatoes left.  Will they ripen?

 Basil doing very well.  Time to pick some of it.

A harvest of a small handful of beans, three peppers, a cucumber, and green and one yellow tomato.


Peppers left alone since they are still flowering.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering 9/11

Ten years ago I was teaching fourth grade in Howard County, Maryland.  My oldest daughter, Emily was also at that school working in the preschool special education class for her off term of her junior year of college.  My daughter, Sarah was a sophomore in high school and Dan was working in Baltimore.

That morning started like any morning at school with the preparations and set up, students coming in, getting settled, copying homework, having their homework checked, settling into the routine which was still fairly new to them since school had just started at the end of August.  I began that day oblivious to what was occurring.  Staff who had no homeroom responsibilities came around and drew homeroom teachers aside to tell us the devastating news.  It was unfathomable and I went on uncomprehending the magnitude of what they described to me.  No word of the events of that morning were communicated to the students from the school administration.  They were left in the dark.

Shortly after hearing the news, an exodus began from my class.  Parents were coming to the front office as they heard the news and signing their child out of school for early dismissal.  As more and more students were told they were going home early, other students started asking what was going on.  We had been told not to tell any students about what was transpiring outside their school world and if they asked to say their parents would tell them. I imagine that made them a bit more scared, curious and frustrated with us as more and more of their classmates departed.  They knew now it was something serious when more than half their classmates eventually departed for the day.  I don't have any recollection as to how many remained and what we told them for the rest of that day or what we did with them.  I imagine I went through the motions of teaching, but can't recall any of that.

When I did get a break later in the morning after taking students to music or PE or art, my first wish was to see and hold my daughter, Emily.  She had of course heard and probably seen the scenes unfolding on the TV before I had.  There was no way to reach Sarah at school and if I attempted to call Dan I don't recall, but with the phone lines tied up I imagine I wouldn't have been successful.

For the rest of that day, and in the days that followed I was numb.  I cried to and from school and cry now recalling that horrible devastation and loss of life.  It was the personal stories that tore me up and still do of family members searching and searching for loved ones.  The scenes of the twin towers being hit and crumbling were shown over and over and I watched trying to understand how could that happen.  The stories of the heroism where in attempting to save lives, the heroes and heroines gave their lives.  The clean up that followed that tried to bring closure and the body count that climbed and climbed.  I watched and listened and grieved.

For those who ask, did 9/11 change our lives?  Yes, it did in so many ways but one tops the list: we went to war and we are still at war.  But was that the right response?  Has that made our lives safer, better?  We will never know.

Those students in that 4th grade class are now 19 years old, in college or working.  What do they remember from that day?  What do you remember?  Let us all remember always.



Friday, September 9, 2011

My World After the Storm


Looking down into the wetlands you can see where the flash flood waters flowed free of the banks of the creek. I caught the deer investigating the water soaked grasses.


Another smaller creek that's usually a trickle was considerably wider during the height of the flooding.



This tree has been slowly encased with tent caterpillars. Even the trunk has the netting around it. I don't think it will survive this attack which means it will fall on our driveway, probably in a winter storm!


The glen is dark and dreary. Every trunk is blackened by the moisture of the storm.


A bring spot along the driveway is this Jack in the Pulpit seed head.


Here's another getting ready to drop its seeds.


Is this coleus? Have I started an invasive species? I found this growing along the rip rap next to the driveway.


Maybe it's a wildflower that mimics coleus.


Another bright spot are the marigolds in the vegetable garden. I'll take seeds from these for next year.


Back at the house the grasses are almost flattened by the rain. As I type this looking out that window at them, they are slowly raising up their fronds.

It's a very wet world. We are 11 inches over the amount of rain we usually have by this time in the year. Wish I could send some to my friends in Texas.
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