Saturday, August 29, 2009

Creepy Crawlers

This is the time of year where the garden isn't always looking its best. Some of the reasons are because of creepy crawlers. You know them by their wake of destruction. In the Learning Garden this week we had a couple different crawlers. First - Fall Webworms. Hyphantria cunea (Drury) They eat the leaves leaving bare bones of a leaf in their path.

It almost looks as if they are inside the leaf structure.

Here is a bowl full of nasty. Azalea caterpillars can clean off the foliage on an azalea in short time.

Here is a cluster of caterpillars on the pyracantha bush. Can't make a sure ID on this group. Will keep checking. If someone knows...let me know so I can update the info.

Found this cicada shell on the underside of a leaf, beautifully backlit.

This pretty guy was hovering high above my head as I left the garden.

Then when I got home, this is what I found.

Mr. Grasshopper eating my hibiscus.

Friday, August 28, 2009

What Can I Tell You?

I have been tagged by my buddy Bangchik from Our Little Vegetable Garden with a Meme. I am to tell you seven things about me that you didn't know. My seven items have been hard to come up with…because I think that I talk about what goes on in my life to the extent that you would know a good bit about me. So having to dig deep into my history… here goes-

ONE--I was born in the Canal Zone. My father was a career Army officer and both my brother and I were born in Panama. My mom talks of all sorts of tropical wildlife that would come into the housing area. She said once there was a black panther that had come out of the jungle into the housing area…oh my! Lots of lizards (large and small) and spiders (!) – And she had two babies in diapers! Augh.

TWO- We were engaged nine days after we met. I met my husband when he came home on leave from Ft. Lewis, WA for Christmas break. His folks lived a couple doors down from my folks on Ft. Monroe, VA. At the time I shared an apartment with one of his sisters but he and I had never met. Long story short….heads in the clouds, walking on air, the birds were singing, the stars were shining, etc. etc. We did take a little more time to plan the wedding…about 18 months. This coming year it will be our 30th wedding anniversary so it all worked out!

THREE- Both my babies were born in Texas. I may have mentioned this in the past, but I am using it! The first baby girl was born in August after 42 consecutive days over 100°. I was ready to explode to put it mildly. The second baby girl was born in June –not quite as hot, but it was June in Texas.

FOUR- I was not built for birthin' babies. Baby girl number one's labor was long. At my weekly appointment I was showing signs of pre-eclampsia so they wanted to induce labor. This was a Wednesday. They induced Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. The labor didn't make much progress. So, over the weekend they were not going to continue with the pitocin (a drug used to induce labor). My parents drove from Virginia to Texas to be there for the delivery. They arrived on Saturday and because of the long drive my dad collapsed in my hospital room. There is nothing like your dad triggering a code blue alarm in your hospital room to cause you to begin labor on your own! He was checked out and they think he was dehydrated and declared to be ok after fluids. Meanwhile back in my room….labor all day on Saturday and all day on Sunday….not very effective contractions. Finally on Monday at noon little Rachel was born, after pushing for three hours and a forceps delivery….she was a cone head baby. I was so proud. (head went back to normal pretty quickly) While Becca's labor was not as long (about 17 hours) she was delivered with the vacuum-extractor and forceps. Meanwhile a sister in law was popping them out like kittens…20 minute labor. BAH!

FIVE- Ballet You know I have spoken of ballet in the blog….I never took ballet as the child, took classes for a couple years after college---then there was a 10- 15 year gap. My ballet teacher convinced me to come back (I was taking my daughters to her studio for class). I don't do recitals, we call our class Adult Remedial Ballet, and no tutus…just leotards and tights.

SIX- Broken bones. I have only had one broken bone in my life…my little toe. Have had lots of skinned knees and such, but that is the only bone.

SEVEN- Lost items. I go nuts when things are lost. When the kids were little we would have quests for missing puzzle pieces, game pieces, a doll's shoe, whatever was missing—I felt we NEEDED to find it. Today we couldn't find one of the dog's blue toys. This is a toy that we use only when we leave…putting a cookie (dog cookie) inside. He works on getting the treat and is not freaked out by us leaving. Finally found it under a living room chair. Routines are hard to break.

So, there you have it…now for the pass-along. I send this award to the following blogging buddies, or as I like to call this relationship--- my electronic pen pals. Making the choice of whom to choose was hard…some I have chatted with via email, some have had this award already (or something similar), some I have met, some don't participate in this type of activity. There are so many to choose from. So, I hope no feelings are hurt but I would like to pass this to the following people.

  1. My dear friend Susie from A Muse's Musing.
  2. Jen- Name That Plant
  3. Ginger- Law of the Land
  4. David – CIOPhoto- 2009- 365
  5. Diana Sharing Nature's Garden
  6. Lauren,  Carolina Victory Garden
  7. Tiffany, my German connection, No Ordinary Homestead

Here's the deal---

1. Link back to the person who gave you the award

2. Reveal the 7 things about yourself

3. Tag 7 other bloggers at the end of your post and link to them

4. Let each blogger know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

5. Let the tagger know when you post is up.

Have fun with this…. I look forward to reading a little about YOU!!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Carol's Girls

I had the pleasure of going to visit another Master Gardener today. She introduced me to her girls...Poppy, Iris, Violet, and Chicory. I can't tell a couple of them apart...she can and that is what counts. We had a great visit and as a treat I got to take home two eggs!! Tomorrow's breakfast will be extra wonderful. Will let you know how great they are!!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tuesday's Trees- Black Gum

The Black Gum, Nyssa sylvatica is one of the trees that really makes a bold statement in autumn. The fall colors are striking- varying from orange to red to maroon. It is not autumn, so........we will look at this lovely tree as it is in the landscape in summer. I will go back to my previously profiled trees and get some fall photos to show off the great variety of foliage. It will be a fall color posting with links back to the original post.

As I was looking for some good examples of Black Gum to photograph last week I saw that the Sourwood had similar leaf structure -- at a glance that is. I cornered one of my MG friends who is also a knowledgeable tree guy.

I received lots of guidance about the Black Gum, mostly showing me the leaf structure to know which was which.

I have written on each photo with ID on the proper leaf. Please remember to enlarge the photo to see details. The Black Gum, also known as Tupelo, is a darker green, more ovate to obovate. The Sourwood has a lighter green leaf, longer and slightly serrated.
The veining is different with each tree as well. The veins on the Sourwood start branching mid-leaf while the Black Gum veins go to the leaf margins.

The stems are also different-- Sourwood remains green to the leaf while the Black Gum stems are dark.

The Black Gum is a very desirable tree for the landscape, though according to Michael Dirr, is hard to transplant as it matures. It is pyramidal in growth structure making it a wonderful shade tree. Black Gum can be found in zones 4- 9. The bark develops dark scaley ridges as it matures. Like I mentioned earlier, fall color is spectacular. It is fleeting as the leaves fall soon after they reach their dark red color. Fruits ripen as the season is the summer coloring. In the fall it will be dark bluish/black and enjoyed by wildlife. As in past weeks I have some more learned descriptions for you. Virginia Tech has a great dendrology catalog. Additionally Pennsylvania Forestry Department has an easy to read brief description. And of course, Wikipedia...
As we were investigating the leaves, we found the culprit that was damaging the leaves. A lace bug.
Always interesting to see what is going on!

Here is a nice photo of fall color --check out more on my Flickr page.
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Thanks for stopping by for another chapter in our tree series. Next week will be White Oak.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Oh the Possibilities............

Today we had a lovely lunch at the home of friends who moved up the road a piece. Gorgeous setting and a nice visit. After lunch we went to a place where dreams are made..........

Is this a dream??? Nope---just a foggy lens because of the humidity.

She looks like a companion to the one in my family room.

The place is in Toano, VA- Charlie's Antiques. Oh the possibilities for the garden!!!

Any sculpture or ornament is there for you!

I like the use of a grist stone for a water feature.

All sorts of items in addition to stones, boulders, flagstones, river rocks-- you name it, it is probably there.

Oh man...see the sky in the background?? yikes!!

Well, here's lookin' at you!!!

We got home in time to find we got 4 inches of rain in the span of about 30 minutes!!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Fortuitous Happenstances

While outside yesterday evening to get a picture of this....

Poor Magnolia x 'Jane' she is trying to put up more blooms but they aren't very pretty at this time of year. Jane is advertised as blooming off and on through the season, which she did earlier in the spring and summer. Lately she has been quiet. I was surprised to see color at the top. When I was able to get to the blossom is was kind of sad looking.

Next to Jane is a large group of Verbena Bonariensis. Fluttering around within these blooms was my second Monarch of the season!!!!

We see lots of Tiger Swallowtail--
and many others who flit and flutter away before I can capture a good photo of them.

Here's an accommodating guy-- I saw him on the tomato cage while throwing the ball for the dog, went in to get the camera and he waited for me!

For those who like ornamental grasses but don't have a big space-- Miscanthus sinensis 'Dixieland'. This variety gets about 3- 4 feet tall with the flower stalks just above the grass blades. I really like the variegation on this grass-- it almost glows in the landscape.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Tuesday's Trees- Shagbark Hickory

This post needs to start with a song............. gotta love Gram Parsons and the Byrds.

I first came across the Shagbark Hickory, Carya ovata, when we were on our lot in South Carolina in April. I first thought there was something wrong with the tree as the bark was peeling or 'shaggy'. Oh silly me. This is why I need to read and study about different trees! (Remember all pictures can be enlarged by clicking on them.)

The Shagbark Hickory is monoecious. I think I have finally made this stick in my head....I see mono and know it means one or single so in my head I think the plant is of one no no!!!! Monoecious means-- mono (single) and oikos (house) (thanks Wikipedia and of course my MG handbook) Single house!!! Meaning the plant can reproduce because it only needs itself to pollinate. A nice web site with pictures of both the male and female blooms of the tree is from Iowa.

This tree is vary adaptable to light and soil conditions as well as a wide range of climates (zone). It seems from my reading that the one condition that is a factor in where you find hickories is rainfall/moisture. A great native tree with a food source for squirrels and chipmunks --it seems that deer are not attracted to this tree if there is other food available. In addition to the food source it is a nice shade tree, so I am hoping once our lot is cleared for house, well, and septic that some of the hickory trees are still there.

The leaves are large, toothed, pinnated with 5 to 7 leaflets. The leaflets are quite large. The Virginia Tech fact sheet has a good profile of leaves, bark, fruit, twigs, etc.

As I said the bark is the first thing I noticed with this stands out...literally.

The last reference I found that I wanted to share is from the National Forest Service. I try to only use references that are research based. In addition to facts about the Shagbark Hickory this paper has a chart to gage the age of this variety of tree. A great read.

Next time you are out in the woods, look at the bark and the large pinnated leaves, you may have a Shagbark Hickory!

Here is a nice picture of the fall color--

Next week's tree- Black Gum or Tupelo.

I Have A Little Friend

Sitting at my computer on Saturday morning I noticed something on the underside of the Epiphyllum oxypetalum right outside the door. A praying mantis!! Hurray! I like these insects, they are fun to watch, they eat other insects, and they look like tiny prehistoric creatures! Usually I have lots in the garden but haven't seen any this summer until now. Their egg sacks are most unusual-- they look like a small piece of dirty Styrofoam.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Let's Talk Turkey and August GBBD

A few of you know we headed down to our lot in South Carolina earlier this week to 'talk turkey' with a few of the folks in Greenwood. We bought a lot on Lake Greenwood last year. We have a builder and a landscaper and are talking to some dock builders. Next July we will move into our new home, our retirement home on Lake Greenwood. While driving through the community where our lot is located we came across more than a couple turkeys. More like couple dozen.... OR MORE!! They run when the truck comes close, so really nice clear pictures are in limited supply.

On our trip down we went over a suspension bridge on RT 295 south of Richmond Virginia. This picture is for CIO Photo. He had flying buttresses from Scope on his posting last week and it reminded me of this bridge.

Some sights in and around Greenwood... an old store near our end of the lake.

And an eatery that has great onion rings!!!

A trip down to the water's edge is a little easier on
the lot next to ours...ours is still very overgrown.

Other sightings on our lot...
this Phytolacca americana pokeweed is so bright, no wonder the birds love it!

And here is the dreaded Fire Ant --- not looking forward
to dealing with these guys!

We will be going to SC more often as the building begins. Will be keeping everyone updated as we move forward.

And now for Garden Blogger's Bloom Day for August. We are taking a mattress up to northern Virginia tomorrow, so I will add the link to Carol's site without the specific day's link.

This first flower is for Jen at Name That Plant. I bought this beauty earlier this summer. Rose of Sharon 'Blue Satin'. Hope it grows fast!

The mess I call my front yard......

A Lobelia siphilitica (Great Blue Lobelia) which is like a weed in my garden!

Confederate Jasmine Trachelospermum jasminoides is reblooming at this time of year. Hurray!

Finally showing some color is 'Black and Blue' Salvia guaranitica--

So Happy Bloom Day!!