Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Final Canna Container Comparisons

I think this is about as good as they are going to get. From here on it's downhill. On a happiness scale of 1 - 10, I am about a 7 with these planters this year. I've learned that I must plant only aggressive growers with these big guys--no prissy little plants allowed next year!

May 10, 2007 - Freshly Planted

Take note of that little licorice plant(Helichrysum petiolare). It's the silver plant on the left.
Look at it now!
WOWZA! That baby took off like I've never seen licorice do before. The King coleus that was next to it, was completely overrun and died out. I removed the optic grass because it, too, was overrun. The orange nemesia died out early as it did in my home planter. As much as I love that bright orange color, I won't buy that one again.

Here's the other side of that container.

You may have noticed that there are no blooms -- this is the one I cut the blooms off because they were too tall. The poor Trop is still recovering from the hail storm last month that played havoc with the leaves. They are still all tattered and torn.

Here is the container on the opposite side of the same front entrance on the day it was planted.

The only difference is this one has the licorice on the opposite side and the left side has some Tradescantia pallidaPurpurea’ (Purple Heart). I moved the optic grass from the one above to this one, thinking that 2 of them would have a chance to grow and be visible.

Here it is today. Just look at how tall the Tropicanna Black is! I think it's about a foot taller than I would like it to be. But, hey, everything doesn't always work out exactly right. When I planted them, I did not realize that they grow taller than the original Tropicanna.

Here's the other side of this one. The 'Purple Heart' is nice when viewing this container close up. The optic grass really does not work. It's just too small. You win some, you lose some.

Here is one of two next to the dining room entrance. The peach begonia died right away. I think the frost killed it.

The plant blooming here is not the "Black". It's one of the original Tropicannas that I brought from home. I wish they were both blooming together. The licorice plant in this one did not get nearly as large. Probably because it's more shady here.

This container has the only Tropicanna black leaves with stripes. I suspect the leaves should be nearly solid black as the other three are.

I think the stripe is more interesting. I like it.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Too Pooped to think of a Title

As soon as I got home from work today I watered my plants. While doing so, I admired the pink 'Park Princess' dahlia next to the blue of the ageratum. Wouldn't that be pretty in a bouquet? I thought.

The next thing you know I had my scissors and I flitted about the deck clipping here and there until I had enough flowers to fill this small wooden toolbox.

I had to wander off the deck into the nearly-dead main gardens to find something white. I found a few very small phlox that worked nicely.

I decided to place it on the china cabinet.

Since I was already in the bouquet-making mode, I decided I might as well throw a little something together with the B.-eyed Susans. I thought this depression era goldish yellow pedestal bowl would make a nice container.

And it did. Here is the bouquet on my dining room table.
My favorite thing about the bouquet is this....

As an accent, I used one branch of my tiny green tomatoes!

After I was done playing florist, I decided to finish the border blocks for the animal quilt. I had thought about the corner blocks all day today and I was excited to try out what I had decided to do.

I guess the corners are hard to see here unless you click to make it bigger, but I am very happy with it. It worked exactly as I saw it in my mind's eye. It's always a good thing when that happens! Now I just have to sew them all together and then sew the borders on the quilt. That will be another day. I've been on the go since 5:00 a.m. so the only thing I am doing for the remainder of the night is check my email and read a blog or two.

Tulip Greigii Kiev & Other Parts of my Weekend

I just ordered 35 bulbs of this new variety. It has huge flowers -- 7" in width with very brightly colored blooms. It also has purple striped foliage. I ordered them from a call from a telephone sales woman from Brecks. I don't know what even made me listen to her sales pitch. I usually promptly hang up on unsolicited sales calls. The woman said these are not even available in the catalog. I bought them sight unseen, then I went online and looked them up. I like them a lot.

Earlier I ordered 10 of these Monsella tulips and 10 big Red Dynasty tulips. Since the deer didn't eat my tulips last spring, I am feeling a lot of "tulip love" this fall and buying like crazy. Next season they will probably eat them all before I even get to see them bloom, which is exactly what they did the last time I went on a bulb buying spree. Then I will swear off tulips again. :)
The Monsellas are a big water-lily-type yellow tulip with blood-red streaks.

I also ordered a mix of 24 Giant Allium Bulbs.

I will have to spend some time before they arrive to figure out where to plant them all.

I had a great weekend. I did not leave the house since I got home from work Friday at 3:30 p.m. I've been traveling every week for over a month, so it was wonderful to get up and have no place to go. Sunday I played most of the day with my animal quilt blocks while watching HGTV design shows. I have 12 blocks finished on the quilt and a border almost complete. If you are interested in these animal blocks, I have been adding all the close up block pictures to the original post as I go along.
I need to make only 9 more border blocks and decide what to do in the four corners. Then it can go on the "finished top" pile with the other huge cardinal quilt, and the snowman quilt from last winter. I really need to stop piecing tops and get busy finishing the ones already done.

Oh, a name for the quilt just came to me as I was doing this post. How about 'Leopards & Bears, Oh My!'?

I also made up some fresh seeds packets from my recent harvest.

All in all I had a perfectly wonderful two days.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Is it a Blue Ribbon Winner?

Carol, at May Dreams Gardens, has issued a call for the smallest tomato in the blogsphere. She believes she has it.

She does indeed have a tiny tomato, but I think mine is even tinier so I am presenting it here for submission to Carol's tiniest tomato competition.

This is yesterday's harvest of teeny tinys. I am saving them until I get enough for two tossed salads. :)

May the tiniest tomato reign supreme!

Friday, August 24, 2007

All I Can Say is, "Wow!"

If you have never seen a caterpillar turn into a chrysalis, take a few minutes to view this. I promise you will be amazed.

Take Your Pupa to Work Day

Technically, I believe they are still larva. But by early evening I believe they will enter the "pupa" stage (I've been reading up the life cycle of a Swallowtail butterfly).

See how the little feet have let go of the stick? They are now going to shed their skin for the last time and form a chrysalis. Once it forms the cocoon, it's a pupa.

Gotta run---have only 8 minutes to me and the pupii (pupas?) to work! I am taking them to work so I don't miss the big change from larva to pupa.

3:30pm update: Nothing happened all day at work. Everytime I checked the larvea, they looked the same. If I pulled out the stick to show someone, they would wiggle a bit, but nothing else. Darn! They will probably make the big change while I am sleeping tonight.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Happily Cleaning Caterpillar Poop

Never in a million years would I have thought I'd be cleaning up caterpillar poop!

Yesterday I went out to check the parsley caterpillars and there were only two left. I did not want to risk losing them, so I took Nickie's advice and put them in a jar and brought them inside (thanks, Nickie, for giving me the idea).
I put a bunch of parsley in the jar and a wooden dowel for them to attach to.

Last night I noticed a dark colored circular bit of something in the bottom of the jar. I wondered what that could be. This morning I noticed quite a few more little dark things (hard to see, but in the back right corner) and I decided they must be little caterpillar waste pellets. Sure does seem like they would be green, though. ;)

As soon as I got home from work, I checked the jar. They were still alive! So I cleaned out the jar (just gently shook the little pellets into the garbage can), then rinsed it out and put in some fresh parsley. Hey, I was once a cleaning girl at a hotel so I know how to keep my guests happy.

We'll see what happens from here.

5:30 p.m. LOOK! LOOK!
He's spinning his little silky thing that the cocoon will hang from!

I am so excited!

I don't think I ever did this as a kid. I was too busy ironing my long hair and lying on the couch with egg whites on my face and cucumber slices on my eyes. LOL. Those were the days.

Flower Word Scramble

(click and it will get way bigger so you can read the letters)

I am a little light on blog fodder this week, so I made up a flower word scramble. I get a kick out of making these things. Hopefully someone out there enjoys doing them.

Where you see a gap between the letters, it signifies that the answer is two words. Each word is not necessarily the number of letters you see separated.
yrtsalizea lrg
The answer is Stargazer lily. You use all of the letters in both words to find the two word answer.

If you get really stuck on one, shoot me a comment and I will give you a hint.

One of the words is pretty tough so I will give you the hint now. The answer can be found in one of the seed packets in this post.
In fact, just last night I made up some of these seed packets and if you get the answer first and want one, just post a comment and I will contact you for your address and send a packet off to you. (I have four packets of seeds, so the first four who get it and leave a comment.)

I will post the answers in the comment section later. Yes, there are two of the same words. Sorry, I was rushing to get it done before I had to leave for work and forgot to change the text in two boxes!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Kris asked about doing a post on overwintering cannas/dahlias. Been there, done that, Kris. Try this one from last October.

And here is a miscellaneous tip that I just used on my own blog and thought perhaps it would be beneficial to others. Do you ever find yourself on a page other than the homepage of a blog and you can't find your way back to the beginning? This happens all the time when you search for something and it takes you to the blog post for your search.

Well, if you just go up to your URL address bar and highlight everything after the (click on it to make it big enough to read)

Here is a close up of the address bar and what to highlight.

Hit your "delete" key.

Hit enter.

Voila! You are back to the home page and you didn't have to scroll about trying to find the "home" link.

Now that you have read through all of that, forget it all!

Because Dianne has left a comment with a much easier way to do the same darn thing:
... if you just click the banner area (tried it on your page) you should get back to the most recent blog entry... Thanks, Dianne! I will be using that tip for sure!

Don't forget it entirely--If you are just on a regular web site, not a blog, my tip will work. :)

Look at these p*illows.

They are from a d*esigner whom I've seen on H*G*T*V. Guess how much they cost?

#1 - $225
#2 - $250

Where do these people get such an elevated opinion of self worth? Any person with just a minimal bit of sewing knowledge could make these!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Any Tips for Allium?

Last week Paula in Cadillac, MI left me this question on an old post:

Zoey, I also live in Northern lower Michigan (Cadillac) and experience the same deer problems you do. I have ordered 200 allium bulbs (including Moly) and plan to plant them this Fall in hopes of helping to control my deer buffet problem. Any advice or planting tips? I have sandy soil. Paula

First of all, Welcome, Paula!

I decided to answer you here since I doubt that you would return to the old post and you did not have an email.

The allium is a great choice if you have deer problems. To my knowledge the deer have never bothered any of my alliums. For those of you who are not sure what allium is you can click on "Allium" to the right under labels and you will see a few of the different varieties I have.

Here is what I do with allium:

1. Stick shovel down as far as the size of the bulbs requires. Just sort of lift up the shovel while in the soil.
2. Throw in Bulb(s) under the shovel back- I will check which end is up on the larger bulbs-smaller ones I just toss it.
3. Slowly pull the shovel out and stomp the mound of soil with my foot.

That's it.
Period. (Sorry, I have no secrets to share)
I don't even water them in unless I am already watering that area.

I find them to be nearly carefree.

I also find that the larger varities do not reliably return. This year was partcularly disappointing with only a few of two dozen or so large ones returning. If they do return, they are much smaller each year. I have ordered some new ones to plant this fall so I can be pretty sure of a decent display next spring.

The smaller ones, like Molly, and the drumsticks do much better for me. They seem to not only return, but spread nicely. Of course they are not nearly as showy as the big purple globes.

I hope you have better luck with your 200 bulbs! I bet they will be a sight to see next spring!

Speaking of a sight to see..........Isn't this a striking combo? Brilliant red/orange and cobalt blue.

Leaving work yesterday I noticed that one of the Tropicanna Blacks was way too tall and drooping. So I went back inside and got some scissors and removed the flowering stalk. I couldn't bear to toss it out, so it came home with me. I cut the flowers off and stuck just one in each little vase. I can now enjoy them for a couple of days while I work in the kitchen.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

A Secluded Surprise

As we were driving to the picnic area, I wondered more than once where in the world we were going. I had never been to this little park, which was about a 23-mile drive and down a dusty road or two.

But once we got there I was pleasantly surprised--it was so charmingly rural--the epitomy of a country picnic. I loved this old red bridge.

There were nice views from the bridge.

I walked down the water's edge and was thrilled to find these cardinal flowers. I had never seen them in the wild before.
We had lots of good food--sloppy joes, chicken fajitas and all the usual salads. Here's our dinner table under the tree canopy. There were NO bugs, not even flies, which always seem to be a problem. Maybe the drought has killed them all off.

It was a very pleasant way to spend my last afternoon before going back to work tomorrow.

These caterpillars are Devouring my parsley

I found six of them today. I am going to leave them all alone.


Because they should soon begin their change of life and I think it would be exciting to see them turn into Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterflies.

They are pretty big so I think the chrysalis stage will be pretty soon. I am hoping they hang around the deck (literally)so I can watch it all.

I am just about to leave for a family picnic. It's a yearly event in DH's family. I made lemon bars. I made them a couple of years ago for the same event. They are very good lemon bars. The crust melts in your mouth and the lemon filling has just the right sweet/sour combo.

I increased the filling by 50%. I posted the recipe the last time I made them. It's here.
This time I used bottled lemon juice and they turned out just fine.

Friday, August 17, 2007

I've Had Three Days of Hiking into Waterfalls, Climbing Lighthouses and Other Touristy Things

I have climbed more stairs than I care to remember. When I got to the top, I was peeking out of that little window waaay up there.

I am so very thankful that I have never had to tend a lighthouse to make a living! Imagine climbing these stairs many times each day.

I can offer one piece of very good advice. Do not, I repeat, do not wear platform flip flops to climb up lighthouses!In a very short time I had this owwiiee Ouch!I would never have worn these shoes if I had known what the day had in store. We just happened to come upon this lighthouse and decided on the spur of the moment to go investigate.

I am very happy to report that I was not afraid to cross the mighty Mac.

A still photo just does not do justice to the beauty of this magnificent bridge. I took a few seconds of video so you could get the real feeling of going across it.

We did make it to Tahquamenon Falls in Paradise, MI. Tahquamenon has two sets of falls--the Upper Falls and the Lower Falls. To get to the falls you have to walk a lot
We did not actually walk the full three miles for this one. It was only about 3/4 of a mile into the woods to get to the part we wanted to see. Once we got there, guess what we had to climb down....

more stairs.......94 of them to be exact....
94 down and 94 back up.

We were very surprised by the lack of water at the falls. Normally there is no gap in the middle. The water should be rushing over the entire rock ledge.

Here is a very short video of the Upper Falls. You can hear the rushing water and get a real sense of being there.

It's about a 7-mile drive to get to the lower falls. I had heard they had boats you could rent to take you to the falls. I anticipated a tourist boat much like the one we recently took at the Soo Locks.
Imagine my surprise when I discovered that these were the boats

I looked at DH and said "You've got to be kidding!" We aren't much for water sports and neither of us know how to row a boat.

The only thing left to do was walk another couple of miles. Luckily I had found a bandaid in my purse which helped a lot with the sore foot.

At the lower falls there were teenagers swimming even though signs against swimming were posted everywhere.
It looked like such fun.

Once we got back from the second set of falls we went into the Tahquamenon Falls Brewery & Pub.

I don't even drink beer, but I was so thristy. They presented a sample of the 4 different beers they had available that day. I chose the Raspberry Ale, the lightest one they had. We also ordered a couple of bags of beer nut cashews.

We spent a well deserved part of the late afternoon gulping ale and munching on cashews. I even liked the beer.
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