Monday, July 6, 2015

One Thing Spins Into Another

Last night as I closed the blinds on our patio door I saw a larger than usual spider spinning its way down, loop across in a grand scheme to cover the whole space in front of the door though thankfully outside it.  Was the spider a dangerous one?  A Black Widow?  Turn on the outside light.  No, that made it harder to see so we grabbed flashlights to check the spinner’s color and markings.  Whew!  Just a bug eater and there are plenty for its “plate” but we didn’t particularly want to forget the web was there in the morning and wander into it. Shudder.  A pink Post It flag on the door should do it.

Morning came and my husband opened the blinds.  No spider.  No web.  Rain had come in the night and “washed the spider out.”  However, our neighborhood hummingbird was ready for breakfast.

“He stuck his nose into every one of your flowers.  Then he came to the window—I was nose to nose with him; he thought the pink note was a flower!”  My husband.

“He’s liable to break his nose if he goes after that flower.”  Me.

We started with a spider and ended with a hummingbird…one thing spins into another.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Birds of the Air

Always looking for more color in my life--including in my garden, the last several years I’ve prayed for goldfinches to come to my home. Their bright yellow bodies make them some of the most colorful birds in our area but less common than red cardinals, and blue jays. Once, I told an elderly lady who loved birds of my prayer. She retorted, “Well, if you’re going to pray for them to come you’d better have something for them to eat!” They did come. Every year. And they had plenty to eat among the seeded grasses in the back of our apartments.
I recently prayed for goldfinches to come to our new home though they usually come in autumn. But then I remembered the admonition to provide food. Oops, no tall, seeded grasses here.  “Oh well, Lord I’ll leave that to you.” This week, they came! They perched atop my bamboo stakes but I couldn’t grab my camera fast enough without startling them. Today however, I prayed, “Please let me get some pictures before they dart away.” Prayer answered. I did. Not only did I get pictures but I found who’s been eating my zinnia petals. I had unknowingly helped the Lord provide food for the goldfinches when I planted several varieties of zinnias.  I’d been leaving the older flowers in place for their color though deadheading them might have made a few more flowers. Now I know. Go for it goldfinches I have plenty—be my guests.

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Matthew 6:26

Monday, April 7, 2014

Background Work

At the end of October I dug and dug my vegetable garden plot with the only tools I had—an old army shovel, a plastic trowel and a hand cultivator and my oh so sore back.  We had long since given up our lawn tools as we moved from house to apartment and I was reluctant to replace them since we will move again.  Besides, the owners of the house had had a vegetable garden on that very spot so there weren’t a lot of weeds.  How hard could it be?  Yellow clay hard.

I finally gave in and bought a full-sized shovel.  It was still hard work but not as back-breaking.  I happily sowed my cool-weather crop seeds: kale, spinach and Swiss chard.  I was excited as sprouts broke the surface of the soil.  But wait, what do such seedlings look like?  Hmm…the ones in my online image search kind of looked like what was emerging from my garden…Alas, after a few weeks, I realized that my seedlings would have been much taller than these sprawling specimens and weed seeds must have come in the bags of “good top soil” and blanketed my hard won garden.

Later, I read that I could plant a little earlier if I warmed my soil by covering it with black plastic—my soil and the weeds, which would perhaps be weakened and easier to remove.  Apparently, late October was too late for my seeds to germinate this extra cold winter.

Wonderfully warm and inspiring weather last week provided opportunity to dig again, to start fresh.  The good news was that my labor last autumn was not in vain, because of my hard work, the soil now turns easily.  I added some black and brown “gold” (compost and sphagnum) to amend the soil, turned it under and added a brick path to keep from compressing the soil. 
It’s ready to plant at last.  But now it’s too late to plant cool weather crops again.  No problem, I have an heirloom tomato plant and some lettuce plants that can go in when the rain, rain goes away.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Sunshine on a Cloudy Day

What a wonderful surprise in this “new” place to find these bulb flowers popping up under a small nandina bush!  The large yellow King Alfred daffodils that seem to be everywhere are welcome but what a treat to discover that the previous residents cared enough to plant something extra special—these daffodils* have pale yellow outer petals and short trumpets in two orange hues.  After the first of them bloomed, the temperature plummeted into the teens so I brought them in.  They’re “like sunshine on a cloudy day.”

*What’s the difference between daffodils, jonquils and narcissus?  Hint—they’re all narcissus. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Dreaming of the New

It’s been a strange winter as we’ve moved a few miles from the Central Piedmont to the Southern Piedmont where we get more snow than our neighbors and a lot more wind.  We’ve broken long-standing low temperature records and even had snow three days in a row.

My sister gave me these pot stands when her cat kept knocking them over. They stand up pretty well here, making strange snowmen.

But shortly after the snow, the air warmed to over 70 degrees and cabin fever pushed me out to garden.  Cutting away the frozen sticks and browned leaves was therapeutic and resulted in a much better view.

I now have a slightly different climate to garden in and I’m no longer gardening solely in containers—I now have a whole yard I can garden if I want.  I’m already dreaming…  

Monday, January 28, 2013

A Whiff of Spring

With an ice storm last Friday and another coming soon, I couldn’t resist the dazzling yellow daffodils at the grocery; a bunch was only $1.69!  They store them, the sign said, “dry” so that they don’t pop open until the customer is ready.  This made it a lot more convenient to carry them throughout our many errands.  I bought them on Saturday but didn’t put them in water until Sunday afternoon; they were beginning to open but most buds were tight.  By bedtime they were all fully open!  Water, just water brought them to life.

The fragrance is heady as I type a few feet from the glowing trumpeters of spring.   Despite the grey skies and cold temperatures, in here it is spring.