Category Archives: Nature

FINALLY…THE BEGINNING

After a March of fits and starts

This weekend feels like the beginning of gardening season.

The 10 day forcast shows no freezing temperatures

And it is the 13th of the month.

Put those two things together

And I spent several hours

In my garden

Doing “spring things”.

I pruned the last of the roses

Planted lettuce, arugula & strawberries.

All Star Gourmet Lettuce mix edging the flower bed May 2021

Cut back the Annabelle hydrangea a bit

For the first time in their lives.

I was chicken so I just cut back every other one

And not by more than a third.

Finished planting sweet peas

The blooming kind this time.

And cut the old crispy leaves off of Hellebore

To expose those glorious blooms.

Who doesn’t love a late winter blooming flower.

Hellebore

But mostly I reveled in the miracle that is a garden

When the negative wind chills of just a few weeks ago

Nipped the baby buds on my rose bushes

They simply made more.

They did not pout or throw a tantrum

They just got on with the business of living

Bringing beauty into the world.

And hope.

A gift for a world in great need.

Gail

“Where flowers bloom so does hope.”

– Lady Bird Johnson

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Filed under Annabelle Hydrangea, Arugula, Hellebores, Hope, Hydrangea, Lettuce, Nature, Peas, spring, Uncategorized, Vegetables

It’s Buggy Time

Late summer is buggy

In my garden.

I don’t really know why

But there are always good bugs.

Last year the Orb spiders

Were everywhere

Spinning their zig zaggy webs

To my amazement.

This year I’ve only had a few visit.

Though this guy did claim

The inside of my garden house

As his new home.

But Praying Mantis are

Everywhere.

One day I rescued seven

From the clippings

Headed to the compost bin.

Lately, my garden has taken flight.

I spent hours

Over two days

Watching this Swallowtail

Feast on tall garden phlox.

Thankfully, I hadn’t gotten around

To deadheading it.

An now I wouldn’t dream of it

Even though it’s really ragged.

Last Wednesday at Faith Farm we counted

THIRTEEN swallowtail caterpillars

On one bronze Fennel plant.

The Monarch butterflies

Are flitting everywhere

And then there is this new friend.

Actually they brought the whole tribe

Right to my garden.

I have hundreds on what else

But Cockscomb.

And we all know you can’t have just

One Cockscomb.

My research tells me

They are harmless Goldenrod Soldier Beetles.

Actually a bit beneficial

Dining on aphids and “other plant pests”.

All of this fluttering and flying and buzzing

Makes a sunny afternoon

Stroll through the garden

A joy.

But then

When isn’t a garden

A joy?

Gail

“If nothing ever changed, there’d be no butterflies.” ~Author unknown

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Filed under Bugs, Butterflies, cockscomb, Community Garden, Dead Heading, Garden House, Gardening, Goldenrod Soldier Beetle, late summer garden, Nature, Orb Spider, Praying Mantis, Spider Web, Swallowtail Butterfly, Tall Garden Phlox, Uncategorized

THE MYSTERY CONTINUES

A month or so ago

I wrote about a 12 foot tall sunflower

That had planted itself

At the front of the garden.

A sort of “magic bean” situation.

Over this month I have cut dozens

Of blooms from this tower of sunshine.

It simply makes me smile

Everytime I look it’s way.

But the blooms have faded

And it’s setting seeds.

So I decided that today was the day

To chop it down.

After church I went out my back door

Only to be stopped in my tracks

By something glistening in the sunlight

It was large – really large.

A very industrious spider

Had spun a web on the side

Of the sunflower.

But the really amazing thing

Was that it connected the other side

Of the web

To the cedar tree TWENTY FIVE FEET away.

I’m not making this up.

My neigbor Torry and John

Are witnesses.

We have no idea

How this was accomplished

Simply a miracle

In my own backyard.

It reminds me of something Elliott said last week

When we had all climbed the side of a mountin

To help H & H look for fossils.

Some in our group scoured a big area

While H & H just kept digging

And looking in a small space around them.

Elliott noted that looking closesly

Right in front of our eyes.

Revealed more and more.

Looking closely.

Slowing down to observe.

Delighting in the mystery of nature.

Time well spent.

Gail

” When one tugs at a single thing in nature they find it attached to the rest of the world.”

John Muir

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Filed under Fossils, Gardening, Grandchildren, Grandchldren Generations, late summer garden, Miracles, Mystery, Nature, Oklahoma Gardening, Spider Web, Sunflowers, Uncategorized

POPPY PLANS

Years ago,

When I designed

And maintained gardens

For other people,

I had a friend with a sandy spot.

We planted purple larkspur

And red poppies.

I have repeated that combination

In my current garden.

They are the star of my late May

And early June garden.

When they finish blooming

Seeds fall.

This pattern has repeated itself

Each year in this garden.

But…

One day I was walking the neighborhood

And saw a PURPLE poppy.

The generous neighbor gave me seeds

Then I ordered a few more packets of

Lauren’s Grape poppy.

This year

For the first time

I have PURPLE poppies.

They are divine.

Now I’m trying my best

To keep the red ones in the “red bed”

And creating an area just for the purple ones.

I know…I know

It’s an attempt to manipulate nature.

Not a smart idea.

After all birds and winds and who knows what else

Move these tiny seeds around the garden.

The organizer in me just has to give this a try.

I’m marking the color of wayward plants

With pink tape

Hoping to get them back into their assigned seat.

If Mother Nature will indulge me

This one tiny bit of control.

I promise after this

I’ll surrender!

Gail

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Filed under Garden Photography, Garden Planning, Gardening, Gardening Friends, Larkspur, Nature, Oklahoma Gardening, Poppy, Seeds, self seeding annuals, Uncategorized

TINY TREASURES

I was raised by depression era parents.

They were not over the top tight

But let’s just say I never leave a room

Without turning off the lights.

They were however

Extravagant in all the right places.

Loving, giving, sharing.

I’m a lucky lady.

What I experienced in childhood

Shows up over and over again

In my garden.

I guess that’s what you can attribute

My seed collecting to.

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I simply can’t throw anything away

That might turn into a plant

In someone else’s garden.

The problem is

In a garden the size of mine

That’s a ton of seeds.IMG_3316

You can’t just let them all drop to the ground

Or your garden will become

Even more of a jungle.

Now seeds are generally tiny

So you would think I’d have room

To store endless amounts.

That’s what I thought

Till it got totally out of control.

Last spring

I dug all of my seeds out

From the places I’ve stashed them

And put them in these clear jars.

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Plants like Purple Coneflower

And Gloriosa Daisies

Are just too big

Or too prickly

For the space I have.

Luckily my friend Martha

Has five acres that she is planting

To flowers for pollinators.

We garden together at Faith Farm

Twice a week.

So I’ve been taking

Grocery sacks full of deadheads

To her for the past several weeks.

I love finding good homes for things.

Right now my potting bench

Is covered with German Bearded Iris

Waiting to go back in the ground.

Some will go here

Others still need a home.

Zinnias are drying

Along side dahlias.

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Dahlias are a new challenge for me.

I really don’t know what I’m doing with them yet.

Much research ahead of me.

So what do I do with all of this.

Some goes into my garden

But most are

“Up for adoption”.

Because there is only

So much Larkspur

And Cockscomb

A garden can handle.

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I hope you will come by my house

This fall and make a few selections

From my seed inventory.

Because seeds need to be spread around

And given homes

Where they can take root.

Loving, giving, sharing.

Thanks Mom and Dad.

Gail

 

 

 

 

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Filed under cockscomb, Dahlias, Dead Heading, Fall, Gardening, Gardening;Perennials, Gloriosa Daisy, Larkspur, Nature, Perennials, Purple Coneflower - Echinacea, Uncategorized, Zinnia

IT’S BUGGY OUT THERE

There’s a wonderful benefit

When the heat of summer hits.

And last week

The heat hit crazy hard.

Fortunately so did the bugs.

I love watching bugs in my garden

But I think of that as a late summer

Or fall activity.

This year

They seem to have come early.

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Starting a few weeks back

I’ve been seeing

Baby Orb spiders.

Caterpillars

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And baby praying mantis

Everywhere.

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I don’t know

If their early arrival

Is a good thing

Or a bad thing.

I do know it’s

It fun.

It also means

As I continue to weed and deadhead

That I have to make sure

I’m not composting

Any baby bugs.

Yikes!

Wouldn’t want to do that.

So I’ve been careful to relocate

Anything I might displace.

This morning I was treated

To “nectar harvest”

Among the Phlox.

I grabbed my nifty

Iphone telephoto add-on lens

And stood patiently

On the edge of a patch of Phlox.

I was rewarded with a visit

From this butterfly

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Flitting around the Phlox

And then it’s friend

The Hummingbird Moth

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Joined in the feast.

I was reminded of the many things

I’ve learned from my garden

And not just about gardening.

Patience

The power of observation.

The value of diversity.

It’s all there

Just waiting to be

Discovered.

Gail

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Filed under Bugs, Bumble Bee, Butterflies, Compost, Gardening, Gardening;Perennials, Hummingbird Moth, late summer garden, Nature, Praying Mantis, Tall Garden Phlox, Uncategorized

A SUNDAY MYSTERY

I don’t surrender my fall weekends easily.

John’s 50th class reunion

Certainly justifies

A non gardening weekend.

586 graduates in the College High Class of ’67

13 National Merit Scholar Finalist.

Pretty impressive.

And a fun group of people, too.

So with little to report

From the garden.

I’ll just leave you with this

Mystery to solve.

We found this suspended in the Mandavilla

Just before we left on Friday.

IMG_2069

It’s still here this evening.

It’s not attached,

It’s just hanging ,

In the midst of a web

Connected to the plant.

I’ve been observing nature

Up close for a very long time.

This is completely new to me.

Anyone know what’s about to hatch

Right outside my back door?

Gail

“He who finds a thought that lets us a little deeper into the eternal mystery of nature has been granted great peace.”

                                                Albert Einstein

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Filed under Fall, Gardening, late summer garden, Mandavilla, Miracles, Mystery, Nature, Uncategorized

PLAY DATES

Ours is an “arranged” friendship.

When Bay and Debra moved to town.

Bay’s mother, Jean,

Was concerned that Debra wouldn’t have time

To meet new people.

What with two toddlers,

A new medical practice

And studying for her medical boards!

Jean asked if I’d give her a call.

I did.

The four of us went to dinner

And have been friends for decades.

Early on we decided we needed

Scheduled “play dates”.

This often consisted of trips to

The city.

Clothes shopping for kids

And long lunches.

During which we discovered

That we had been living

Somewhat parallel lives.

Over the decades play dates

Turned into scheduled weekly calls

When Debra moved to the city.

There were years where life overtook us

And we didn’t have much time to

Keep up with each other.

But ours is an easy friendship

Since we see the world

Through many shared life experiences.

Friday was the first scheduled play date

For quite some time.

The plan was to go to the city.

Run errands together

Have lunch

And great conversation.

But mid-week

I realized that my garden

Is full of bugs

This time of year.

And Debra is in full-blown

“Macro bug mode”.

Her Instagram tag line is

“Read images while at work.

Take images while away from work.’

She takes the most amazing pictures.

Birds in the winter.

FullSizeRender (16)

June flowers in Giverny

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And now bugs.

Early in the week.

I had spotted three orb spiders

And a big praying mantis.

But by Thursday night

I was down to one orb.

I feared I had gotten her here

Under false pretenses.

Friday morning she arrived

At sunrise.

Bearing gifts.

Her famed cookie dough.

The Holy Grail of Chocolate Chip cookies.

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I directed her to the surviving orb.

She began to click away.

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John couldn’t resist

Getting in on the day.

Catching bugs

To feed to the spider

For Debra to photograph.

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And before we knew it

Orbs began to appear.

unnamed (8)

Totaling four in all.

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Next I found a praying mantis

Or two.

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So she clicked

And I scouted for bugs.

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She sees the garden through her macro lens.

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I see it as a gardener.

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I know where the bugs

Hang out.

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We were a good team

As usual.

It was a delightful morning.

Play.

It’s as important now

As it’s ever been.

Gail

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Monterey – 2010 with Debra & Kristina

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Bugs, Butterflies, Fall, Garden Photography, Gardening, Gardening Friends, late summer garden, Monet's Giverny, Nature, Orb Spider, Praying Mantis, Uncategorized

IT’S A JUNGLE OUT THERE

This has been an unusual summer

On many fronts.

I’ve been gone half the summer.

Two weeks here

A week there.

Grand kids will do that to you

I’ve learned.

img_1440-2.jpg

Not that I mind

I don’t.

But I’m not used to flitting around

Like that.

Then there was August.

Days turned into

Weeks of mid-80’s

And there was the rain.

In a month when it might not rain

At all

We had 6 inches!

So…

Combine my absence

With cool temperatures

And gentle rains

And what do you get?

A jungle.

The Cockscomb is officially

Growing out of its mind.

IMG_1752

Zinnias have popped up

Everywhere.

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The Asters are blooming,

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And Cleome is still going strong.

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Then there is the crabgrass.

If you don’t pull it.

It just keeps growing

And growing.

I think I’ve filled

Four poly carts

With the stuff.

Yesterday I managed

To get about half way through

The weeding process.

With a little deadheading

Along the way.

That’s really all there is

To do out there right now.

That and enjoy Mother Nature.

Yesterday was a tough day

To be one of these.

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Not sure if it’s a moth

Or a butterfly.

First one was eaten for lunch

By a Praying Mantis.

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Then this Orb spider

Had another one

For dinner.

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I was still

In the garden

At dusk

When the locust chorus

Began singing

A familiar song.

Fall

Isn’t it yummy?

Gail

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Filed under Bugs, Butterflies, cleome, cockscomb, Dead Heading, Fall, Gardening, Grandchildren, late summer garden, Nature, Orb Spider, Praying Mantis, Rain, self seeding annuals, Uncategorized

THE GARDENERS

 

One of the thing that intrigued me

About Monet’s garden

Was how you keep it looking so good

For 500,000 visitors a season.

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A challenge to say the least.

So I was curious about the gardeners.

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Normally in this situation I would simply

Sic Debra on them.

After all she is a most curious person

And has a way of interrogation that is

Gentle and charming.

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But we had a couple of problems,

One, the gardeners were at work.

And we were there during their busy hours.

So we were asked not to bother them.

Then there was the fact

That they spoke French

And I don’t.

But you can learn a lot

By observing from afar.

IMG_0043

One question was about poppies.

They pulled them up

By the root

Just as the last bloom wilted

Before the seeds had matured.

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Yet they look like

They have self-seeded.

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So the unanswered questions was

How?

Do they dry the green pods

And save the seeds

To sprinkle in the snow?

My suspicion is that they return

To the garden

Via compost.

I never got the answer.

But sometimes mystery

And unanswered questions

Are just as much fun!

So since I wasn’t sure

Of the fate of these green pods

Packed with seeds of a color of poppy

I had never seen before.

A few seemed to find their way

Into my pocket.

IMG_0261

Couldn’t wait to get them home

And dried

And sprinkled

Into my own garden.

But….the last night

Someone commented about how fast customs moves

With the use of drug dogs.

And since these are the very variety

Of poppies that the USDA has banned in quantity.

We decided to leave them behind.

Kristina really wanted to see her children again.

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And not get caught up

In a gardening tour

Drug bust!

You would think that pulling all these poppies.

Would leave giant gaps in the color.

But as soon as one plant was pulled

Someone else came along

With a plant just as tall in hand

And planted them in the empty space.

While we were there

They replaced the poppies

 

With Cosmos.

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Three foot tall cosmos.

Which took me to

Wander through shall we say

The “guts” of the place.

The greenhouses.

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And cold frames

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Where they are grown.

They were filled with plants

Ready for the big show.

I found the  yellow wheelbarrows

I had noticed throughout the garden

Brimming with plants

Headed to the compost pile.

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They were stacked against the fence

Just like mine at home.

For me

Seeing the process

Was just as interesting

As the finished product.

I think it was there

That I found

My gardening Monet muse.

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Gail

“It’s on the strength of observation and reflection that one finds a way.  So we must dig and delve unceasingly.”

Claude Monet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Compost, Cosmos, Garden Photography, Gardening, Gardening Mentors, Monet's Garden, Garden Travel, Trip of a Lifetime, Elizabeth Murray, Nature, Poppy, Seeds, self seeding annuals, Uncategorized