Category Archives: Photography

Tigridia Tuesday – Week 1

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Right, so – here we go! My first bloom was last week, on Thursday.

So here is Friday:

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A twofer!

And Saturday:

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I had two on Sunday but didn’t go out front until they were already drooping. Sorry!

Monday: a pink one!

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And today:

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Another twofer, but this one wanted a closeup.

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And on another plant, one with a different shape.

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Sad, isn’t it, to see the shrivelled remains of yesterday’s glory?

Hubby asked me did I think they bloomed at night, or early in the morning. I had trouble sleeping last night so I came downstairs at 4:30 am, and had a peek out the window – nope, they don’t. At 6:30, starting to unfurl but not fully open yet. By 9:30 when I leave for work they are perfect! No scent, by the way, just gorgeousness.

Flowers Flowers Everywhere and not a Bee to Drink

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I’ve definitely noticed there are no honeybees in my garden this year. White-tailed bumblebees by the dozen, but ‘normal’ bees? Not one. I think I will have a chat with my two immediate neighbours and ask if they mind if I try a hive next year. I know my garden/yard is too small, and the dog will go mental until she finally eats one and finds out why she shouldn’t eat flying things… but it’s bad, I tell you. Butterflies are also very rare the last few years.
Last year I got seed out of my little irises (which I planted and it’s growing!). I didn’t even take pictures of my iris this year as they only lasted a few days. The seed heads are nonexistent, too – shrivelled unfertilised dry lumps. I have to wonder why not, and make correlations.

On to happier news. My much loved lavender rose has bloomed twice since last I did a flower update. This one is gone now.

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But this just opened up to say hello today!

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Don’t mind the bird-poop – the wee finches just adore the giant weed-tree I transplanted into that corner. It’s a grey willow and I know it annoys the neighbour on that side as he cut it back himself last year. I have no problem with that – but when the lilac I grew from seed is ready, I want to put it there and I wouldn’t want it pruned without a discussion first. It’s only about a foot tall still, so time enough. I’ll feel bad for the birdies though, as they adore the massive ugly thing.

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Crocosmia lucifer about to bloom…

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Crocosmia lucifer in bloom. A reminder for new folks – hubby dug this up for me out of a patch of waste ground nearby. It looks amazing in massive clumps – ours are several years away from clumps still.

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Can you believe these are potato flowers? Me either! So delicate and lovely. You would wear clothing made out of such fine material, wouldn’t you? The lowly ‘tater; a bloom on it as silken and soft as a gown that the Queen of Carnival at Mardi Gras would be proud to wear.

TIGRIDIA!!!!

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It’s back and beautiful!

This was taken last evening, when I first spotted the potential bloom:

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This morning!

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By the time I got home from work, it was folded in and silent – but there are two more buds ready for the morning, I can tell!

I’m so fascinated with this plant. It seems such a shame that the flower lasts only one day, but it is entirely amazing how fast the buds come into flower. This thing should be studied for potential growth-hormone benefits.

Oh! I collected seeds last year, and they sprouted like mad things. While the babies are only a few inches tall this year, I have hopes for next year! I might dig up my whole front patch of garden and plant these instead, I love them so! Can you imagine a field (okay a tiny field) of these in bloom? Wow!

Here’s the question on my mind, though – I get these beauties for just one day, and of course I take photos. Do you want to see these every damn day? Maybe I could do a weekly post – tigridia Tuesday or some such? Whatchoo think?

Lilies of the Non-Valley

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Well, hello!
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And, goodbye – the orange ones bloom first but just don’t last.
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I really loved how symmetrical these yellow blooms appeared.
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And a surprise, I think.

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Did I have these last year?
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I know I planted them last year, but I only remember red-orange ones with black speckles. Hmm. I have a terrible memory, but even hubby doesn’t remember seeing these last year.

Slimy… Check. Kinda cute? Check!

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Slimy… Check. Kinda cute? Check!

I have potatoes growing in a pot. First time I’ve tried it this way, but I’m sick to death of the taters I never planted coming up year after year in my small vegetable patch. Said patch is nothing but sage and oregano now – with the never-ending, never-able to fully dig out potatoes growing up amongst the uncountable stems and roots.

The ones in the pots were started from the eyes from store-bought spuds that I let get go to long before eating. I chopped those eyes out, left maybe a centimetre or quarter inch of potato ‘meat’ for sustenance, and put them on top of about an inch of compost. Once they started making leaves, I dumped in more compost. Repeat. The idea behind this is that potato plants will grow spuds all up their stem if the stems are buried as they grow taller. Supposedly. I’ll let you know in the autumn if it worked…

I rather slacked off on the ‘repeat’ part in the last two weeks, so this afternoon when I spotted the rounded side of a nice, fat, baby ‘tater emerging from the compost I figured it was past time for a dirt top-up. Then I looked again. It wasn’t a ‘tater!

A big snail had snuggled down into the dirt and under the shade of the leaves (probably to wait for darkness to start its evil plant-munching duties). I plucked it out of the dirt, meaning to toss it over the wall, safely away from my plants.

Something stopped my good right throwing arm; I held the snail, looking at the perfect camouflage sworls and swirls and zigzags on its shell. I removed the encrusted soil from its tightly-pulled-in foot. Then I set it on my hand, to see what would happen.

What happened is that I made a friend.
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The damn thing seemed to have a personality!

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It had no fear of me, or of cat, or of dog. Indeed, it seemed to be looking at me and saying “Hi!”

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“Howr’ye?”

How odd that I want to spend a little more time with this invertebrate. It was really fascinating to watch, and the slime wasn’t a thing like what a slug leaves behind: it washed off right away. What is odder, perhaps, is that I’m pretty sure I would eat this critter. If I had a few dozen of its friends to make it worth my while. Maybe I’ll start an escargot farm! I only had escargot once, but I sure did love it. I like chewy, garlicky food.

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Maybe I’ll just keep it around a bit longer, for more photo shoots, and try not to think about garlic butter sauce.

About Time I Share Flower Pics, Yes?

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Its been an off year for me, with the planting. I started off really early on my veggies, in hopes that they actually do something this year. Mostly I ended up with a lot of dead seedlings for my efforts.

Then, I was late with starting flowers from seed. Ugh! Most of my new babies are just tiny things, or didn’t bother themselves to grow at all. Luckily, I have a good few that over wintered just fine and have been shouting to the sun their joy at being alive.

My Sweet William from seed, now in year three and showing no signs of stopping.

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I might have to stop it myself by deadheading – damn stuff self-seeded all over the place and is smothering one of my blueberry bushes (in a pot).

Not from seed: clematis! Year two for this plant, and sadly it’s hard to see the blooms as it is growing up the grey willow tree and gets buried in the leaves. I took the fist pic with my iPhone – second one was iDJ’s work but I have no idea what he used. His is more true to life colour, but I like mine better because I couldn’t even see the bloom, it was over my head and horizontal so I clicked and hoped for a result. Woot!

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Also not from seed, unless it seeded itself – native Irish yellow iris. Most people here would not have this in their garden, it’s rather invasive and weed-like. Don’t care: love it.

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Yet another not from seed! I hopped a wall and stole this from the terribly unloved landscaping at the business next door to mine. Seriously, it’s all weeds and horsetails over there. Except for these zinnia! They are very large, 4in or 10cm across. I’d hoped these were Gerbera daisies when I stole them. But I’m not displeased. I’m sure they will love it here!

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Roses roses roses… Nothing out of my favourite lavender rose yet: something snapped off the early spring growth and it is only just considering blooming now. But the massive white roses are taking over, the candy-floss pink ones are exuberant, and the darker pink ones are just deciding this is a good year.

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Galliardia from seed last year, survived our mild winter but is slow to start. The rudbeckia is all leaf still – but one of those plants is now three years old, too!

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The native common spotted orchid is in bloom!

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Lilies are in bloom! The orange ones came up first.

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But today! Today, we walked out front to see the first bloom on my “black” lilies! I love these so much!

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Best thing is that I accidentally learned an iPhone photography trick for flowers. I took a shot of this, and it was so very wrong in the colour. Too red, too orange. So I put the flash on, as a whim – and by golly by jazuz, the real colour came out and said hello! I will be using this again in the future – imagine how that clematis pic would have looked!

Thanks for wandering around my small Irish garden with me!

My Slimy Nemesis!

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I rarely dislike any critter. Be it vertebrate or invertebrate, warm- or cold-blooded, furred or scaled, no legs at all or a hundred legs.

However. Since I’ve lived in Ireland and discovered my love of plants, I now have an extreme dislike for a certain invertebrate.

The filthy nasty disgusting destroying slug!

Holes in my hostas, strawberries with caverns eaten into the lovely red pulp, seedlings arbitrarily chewed off at the base of the stem. Augh!!!

I have an Irish Wildlife book. It has exactly six pages of mammals for a total of 43, which includes whales (and the bastard American mink an ecological group released from a fur farm and now has overrun the country, due to well-meaning dammed idiots). Rather an astoundingly tiny number of mammals, but it is a small island after all.

The ‘Terrestrial molluscs’ section, on the other hand, has 21 types of slugs and snails. What the HELL, Ireland?!? I know it’s wet and green, but really?

I’m not squeamish when it comes to easily-squished things. I have been known to flail about like a Whirling Dervish when I’ve walked into a large spiderweb in the dark, but who wouldn’t? I have a dislike of ants when they surprise me, and maggots are just disgusting. I have stories to explain both the ants and the maggots. Not today. Today is when I admit to a shudder, a step back and maybe an involuntary sound of horror when a giant-ass-slug surprises me.

They do, they do. After nine years here I still can’t get used to seeing slugs the size of my thumb in my compost bin. Yeeuch! Even better, at the bottom of a pot I want to use. Which is where I found monsters.

I had an olive tree that didn’t survive (not surprised) but I kept it as I could grow snow peas up its dead trunk. Well, I’ve not done that in a few years, so I moved the dead tree, soil and all, into another pot it didn’t quite fit into. It was a nice pot and I wanted it for a more permanent planting. Anyhoo, the tree has been in the temporary pot for a year, and I decided to move it. Picked it up by the trunk, and damn if it didn’t just pull right out of the pot, dirt and all.

And there were huge slugs in the gap at the bottom.

I put the tree back in the pot and moved the whole thing from the bottom, leaving it alone until I could face the slimy suckers.

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That’s them. One big sumbitch and one younger version, both Limax flavus, or yellow slug. They look more green to me. It must be because of all the lovely tender plants I feed them! Just look. Nasty nasty nasty.

Me being me, I got over myself and knocked them onto cardboard so I could take pictures. I also wanted to know just how big they are, so I got out the tape measure.

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That’s the smaller one – the juvenile. It woke up first and tried to get away as fast as slug-ly possible. I didn’t let it, of course.

While trying to get the older one to wake up and stretch out, I found something even more disgusting. Slugs have mites. My camera wasn’t good enough to get them, but both yellow slugs had tiny cream-coloured mites running over them. Ewwwwwwwwwwwww. They must be pretty specific to slugs, these mites, because how the hell didn’t they get stuck in the slime? I know more about slugs than I ever wanted to know.

Swift had it right:
“The vermin only teaze and pinch
Their foes superior by an inch.
So, naturalists observe, a flea
Has smaller fleas that on him prey;
And these have smaller still to bite ‘em,
And so proceed ad infinitum.”

I don’t feel that superior. These slugs are unstoppable!

I finally got the older one to unfurl, and it gave me a perfect measure.

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An inch, Mr Swift? How about four? Gaaaah!

The book says that is maximum size for this species. But. There is another one that can get up to 25mm in length – almost ten inches long. The ashy-grey slug, Limax cinereoniger. At least this Limax doesn’t come into gardens, otherwise I might actually faint away if I am surprised by one of those.

Oh: I killed them all. With glee, and table salt.

Local Irish Plants that Found Me

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This might not be terribly interesting, but it cropped up in my mind-web as a blog idea and I want to run with it.

I have plants that I never planted. Some are still a mystery, like this one:

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It’s a tree of some sort… Probably a big old weed tree like my grey willow; now well over 12 feet tall and beloved by the little birds. This one is growing in my planter of irises, and I’ve tried to kill it two years in a row by accident. It keeps coming back – maybe an ash tree?

I gained a fern last year out of nowhere, too.

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This is either a ‘hay-scented fern’ or a ‘lady fern’. Tending toward the former, as it says primarily grows in western Ireland and likes west-facing land (ticks one box, as it faces south). I don’t mind one bit that it landed here.

I dug this up and planted it, a native flowering grass. I believe it is thrift, Armeria maritima.

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And of course the yellow iris we dug up! I don’t know anyone else who has these in their garden on purpose. Iris pseudacorus

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My newest arrival was a mystery for the whole six minutes it was in Facebook. I had a guess, and it was confirmed: native Irish common spotted orchid, Dactylorhiza fuchsii. Did you know that Ireland has at least 14 native orchids?

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It’s getting ready to bloom, too:

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I love what I grew intentionally, but these are some lovely native species that I can’t kick out of the garden.

Growing for Columbine

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I’m doing pretty shitty at the moment. Loads of crap on my mind and I just want to spend time with my plants. I can’t seem to get any decent days to relax and work (not really a contradiction when it comes to gardening).

I’m outside right now, and I can hear someone clapping and hoo-hoe’ing in the near distance as they move cattle. Birds are singing like mad critters, looking for their one true love for a moment. Best of all, an actual cuckoo bird has moved into the neighbourhood, and calls continually. I love it, as I miss the German cuckoo clock I grew up with.

But. Earlier, I was subjected to a massive attack by midges. They love me. Especially my face and ankles. I don’t love them, and I swell up like a cheap hose with a kink in it. It itches, it itches, and the wound doesn’t go away for weeks if I succumb to the itching and rub a hole in my epidermis. I’m quite likely to do this in my sleep – how lovely.

I’m now surrounded by: my own cigarette smoke, a haze of ancient Skin-So-Soft, two citronella tiki torches, and four citronella tea lights. I can still see the little monsters fly in front of my screen, too. I’m miserable but since my shed-house was taken over by a bicycle (the price I have to pay for being the primary car driver), I can’t sit on the Throne anymore to write and still not be in the house.

I love being outside. I just wish it loved me back.

All I have to offer from my garden is one single solitary columbine plant. Grown from seed last year, it over wintered just fine and I moved it to a bigger pot and coated it with aphid/greenfly spray a few months ago. It is happy indeed.

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I knew this as columbine in Ohio – but the Irish use the proper Latin name, Aquilegia. I can’t pronounce that, so imagonna stick with columbine.