Monday, August 29, 2011

The Edge of a Hurricane

For those of you who have been living in a hole - Hurricane Irene worked her way up the East Coast this weekend.  The newscasters were full of sound and fury and for us it signified, well, a bit of rain and a bit of wind.

My official rain gauge measured 1.79 inches for the entire storm.  We've had more than that from regular rain storms lately.

I did prepare by bringing in my small pots

and I brought in my lightweight garden bench.

Since Irene went further west than predicted even our wind damage was minimal.  Monday's outside chore - a game of pick up sticks!

Fortunately Irene did not take out this large tree limb that hangs over our fence.  Unfortunately that means I will still have to pay a tree service to have it removed before the snow flies.

The worst damage in my yard is to one of my Buddleia Evil Ways.  I really like these Buddleia.  One of them developed quite a lean.  It looks like there may be some damage to the root system causing it to lay on its side.  We may loose it.

If that is the worst of Irene's damage we got off easy. 

Friday, August 26, 2011

Ghosts of Projects Past, Present and Future

Today you will be visited by updates on three ghosts projects:  The Ghost of Projects Past, The Ghost of Projects Present and the Ghost of Projects Future.

Enter The Ghost of Projects Past...

Earlier this year we moved some "foundation" plantings that were way too big - Pieris japonica that were in front of our windows.  I was pruning these plants several times a year to keep them below our windows.  I don't like to prune plants.  I like plants to fit their spaces.  But I really like the Pieris in the early spring when they are one of the first plants to flower.  And the bees appreciate the early blooms, too.  So we decided to try and move these four foot tall behomeths [excuse the bit of hyperbole but if you've ever tried to move established shrubs that are only four foot tall because of pruning you understand].  One long, sweaty day later and they were now in the back yard where they can get to be six foot tall [my estimated expected size] without pruning.

  I expected wilting, leaf drop, loosing limbs.  I'd be happy if one of the shrubs survived.

I didn't get that.  Instead I got no wilting, no leaf drop, no loosing limbs.  Sure they didn't grow any [above ground, I hope their roots grew].  But then this appeared.

Buds!  And lots of them.  Pieris produce the buds in last summer and hold on to them all winter only to bloom in the spring.  Looks like we'll have blooms next spring.  

The Ghost of Projects Past has been kind.

But now comes The Ghost of Projects Present.  Will she be kind?
Well, yes, she will.  Several of our neighbors have been working together on a vegetable garden this summer.  Wednesday nights is Wednesday Weeds and Wine where we open a bottle of wine and work in the garden.  It's a rip roaring success.  

Here is this Wednesday's harvest [one of the women brought bruschetta, too.  Maybe next week I'll have to bring our marinated tomato salad].

The tomato plants are growing like, well, weeds.  The Husband kindly stood next to a plant for scale.  The Mayor insisted on being included [he's such a politician!].

So The Ghost of Projects Present is generous.  But here comes the scary one.  The Ghost of Projects Future.

The main entrance to our house is poorly designed.  There is a narrow area between the house and the driveway where water pools after a heavy rain.  And ice forms a nice skating rink in the winter.  A lot of water gets dumped from the roof to this area.  So drainage is an issue.

We have started by removing the grass and bringing the level of the dirt down to the same level as the paving.  We still have work to do, though.  I'm going to try planting a rain garden.   We'll be bringing the ground level below that of the paving and planting vegetation that can take the water that will hopefully pool in the rain garden instead of on the paving or next to the foundation.

I hope The Ghost of Projects Future is kind to us and that this rain garden works to mitigate our water issues.  We'll just have to wait and see.

So now that we have been visiting by Three Ghosts of Projects what have we learned?

Good.  We learned that Projects are hard work but they can definitely be worth it in the end!

Now I just need to get that depression dug out before Hurricane Irene shows up!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

It's a Small World

It's a small world and it just keeps getting smaller. 

A while back I heard that in England people are breeding fragrant Aqueligia (columbine).  Now I like Aqueligia and they do well for me but none of the varieties I've found for sale have been fragrant.  Twenty years ago I would have been out of luck but yesterday this arrived in my mailbox.

A package from England.

Complete with customs documentation.

It's seeds.

Plant  World Seeds supplies seeds around the world.  So next spring I'll start the seeds down in the basement and plant a bunch of new types of Aqueligia  in the garden.

I love the internet.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Garden Bloggers Rain Delay

I missed Garden Bloggers Bloom Day yesterday because of 1.14 inches of rain.  I guess I should have checked the forecast and taken my photos over the weekend.  Here are some very damp flowers.

This is a volunteer Liatris (the parent is Kobold) that showed up among my annuals.  I love the Zinnia in the background.  I started it from seed (not very successfully - I didn't get many plants).  If I can find the name of the variety I'll have to order more and give them a head start inside (I direct sowed in the garden and neglected).

This snapdragon was sold as an annual but came back this year.  The colors are phenomenal when dry but when wet - sexy!

I like large, loose, open plants like this Russian Sage (Perovskia).  Of course I prefer them upright.  The rain has this plant laying down flat.

I'm quite pleased with this plant.  It's a Buddleia called Evil Ways from Plant Delights.  They are pricy but they have a lot of things you just can't find anywhere else.

One of the few plants that is still upright is this Agastache (I think it's Heat Wave from Bluestone).  The others are a bit floppy but this one stood up to the onslaught.

This isn't a bloom but I like the way the rain drops look on my flopped down Mexican Feather Grass.

Hopefully next month won't be a rain out here on The Edge.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Never Send a Man to do a Woman's Job

On the grounds at the Canopy Tower in Panama a pair of red rumped Caciques built a nest.

This is a Lemon Rumped Cacique.  The Red Rumped Caciques look the same but with a red rump.

Someone spotted a good sized (4 foot) Neotropical Bird snake in a bush near the nest.  

Those hanging things are the nests. 
It was hunting.  I do know how to id all of the local poisonous snakes and it wasn't one of them.  A communal decision was made to try to save the nestling Caciques.  I grabbed a stick and positioned myself on the raised deck to catch said snake.  It would have to go along the railing to get to the nest and that would give me a good chance to pin the head (with the stick) and safely pick up the snake which could then be relocated down the hill.

One of the, um, more mature gentleman who suffers from "I've-watched-Crocodile-Hunter-I-know-what-to-do" syndrome combined with testosterone poisoning (if a blond woman is willing to grab the snake I better get in her way and grab it first) got in my way.  He grabbed the snake in the middle.  He didn't pin the head first or grab near the head.  
Guess what.  The snake bit him.  
Then it was too riled up for me to catch safely so we had to harass it out of the bush and away.  That was much more stressful for all involved (except for the Steve Irwin wanna be) than if he had stayed back and let me handle it.  I have caught plenty of snakes and only been bitten once to my memory.
[why no pictures of the snake?  Ask The Husband who was holding the camera while I attempted to catch the snake.  I guess I should have taken some pictures first.]

Monday, August 8, 2011


The guess that we went to Costa Rica was close...  It's actually the next country South.

I thought the picture of the boat in the Canal would have been a big clue.  Yes, we went to Panama.

We stayed at what had once been a US Radar Station overlooking the canal and is now an Eco-Lodge called Canopy Tower.  

The views from the tower are fantastic.

You can see the canal.

You can see Panama city

But you are in the midst of a large national park so you can also see stuff like this Howler Monkey (photo taken from two rooms down from ours).

And this Keel billed Toucan (photo taken from our room)

This was the view from our room.

This is George, a three-toed sloth.  He hung out in one of the Cecropia trees outside our room almost every day we were there (photo taken from our room).

This is the rainy season so here is George sunning himself after a day of rain.

This was taking while it was raining.  We had Geoffrey's Tamarins in the Cecropia trees several times.

This is the leaf of a Cecropia tree.  They were fruiting so they were popular with all kinds of things while we were there.

I will be writing up several more posts from our trip as I manage to get pictures sorted.  I only took nine hundred and some photos.  Shouldn't take tooooo long.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Thursday Teaser

I think it's Thursday.  The Husband and I just got back from a week long vacation [fooled you with the prescheduled posts, didn't I?].  I haven't finished going through the photos yet [heck, I'm still unpacking!] so these are just some teasers for everyone who wants to see my picts.

Oh, you want to know where I went?  Guess [not you, Queen Bee, you already know and that would be cheating!].