Tag Archives: gardening

Last Gasp of the Flowers?

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It was gorgeous today. Sunny and about 8 degrees C, which feels warm to me at this time of year. In the last two months – officially winter here – we’ve had one day of sleet and hail, and about three so far where it got near to zero and there was frost on the car, and the grass. The wind barely made its usual horrendously damaging appearance in late October, and November has been equally placid.

Of course the rain never really goes away, it is Ireland, after all.

Last weekend it was also lovely, so I borrowed iDJ’s iPhone to take pictures of my remaining flowers.

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The rudbeckia is still going strong. I am so impressed with how long one bloom can survive. They are very welcome; now more than ever with their warm autumn coloration.

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More rudbeckia.

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Galliardia is still in bloom, too.

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I’m fascinated with their huge puff-ball seed heads, too. I’m leaving them to mature, just out of curiosity.

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Now. This is something that really fascinates me! This is the stem of just one of the many black lilies that I grew this year. This one plant has not only made seeds, but seems to be growing bulblets all along its stem. I’m boggled. I think it is quite possible my garden next year is going to be overrun with black lilies. We may just have to dig up the whole front lawn (no great loss) and plant it with lilies and tigridia. I have no photos of them, but I have hundreds of tigridia seeds. Anyone in Europe want to have a go at growing them from seed? I’ll post them to ye.

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The strawberry / raspberry patch is looking distinctly autumnal, and dammed ugly to boot.

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One of my blueberry bushes always has incredible colour for fall. And it takes fall to heart: leaves everywhere.

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I don’t know much about lavender. I grew these from seed last spring because I was told it was hard, and I love a challenge. They are blooming now, is that normal?

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I had an absolutely terrible time trying to get the phone to focus on the lavender blooms. Oh well.

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Some real colour to finish off with! The violas, a first for me this year. I expected tiny wee plants that were good as a border around another lavender plant. Instead they got nearly 2 foot tall, choked the lavender to death, and seeded everywhere when I wasn’t looking. As they are still beautifully in bloom, I can’t complain. Those little cat-whisker faces just make me smile.

And We’re off to Mayo in the Green, in the Green

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Where the plants are glistening in the sun!

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We’ll start off with a tried and true standard, the cornflower. I have them in many colours this year. There’s pink – very tiny blossoms.

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A faded-blue-jean blue.

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And, what was described as red.

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They aren’t what I would describe as red. Oh well. I’ve planted one box in the red and blue cornflowers, with white cosmos. Red white blue, repeat. Nothing at all had bloomed in time for the 4th of July, so I can just hope I can get a decent photo for next year. None of the cosmos are blooming yet, except for one wonky looking flower I stuck in between my hostas. It has just four petals. I can’t embarrass the wee thing by taking a photo; it’s too sad.

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How about some edible stuff? My first ripe raspberry. We ate it Friday morning. I shared. The second one that came ripe I ate all by myself. Shhhh.

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Broad beans! I don’t have very many that are ready to eat. When I googled ‘when to harvest broad beans’ I found that you can eat the whole pod when they are young, or let them mature and then they become, through movie magic, fava beans. Shame I don’t like a nice chianti. Or a not-nice chianti. Or any kind of wine. But we did eat six pods on Thursday, which delayed our dinner quite a bit as I decided to cook them in the juice left over from the pork roast (with some extra garlic). I really liked the whole pod, when it was a younger and smaller one. Hubby had the oldest longest one, and I told him to open it up and just eat the beans, to see what that was like. He said it was a whole different taste. I ate his discarded pod. Nom! A bit fuzzy but there’s nothing like fresh veggies, especially when you’re not a huge veggie fan to begin with.

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First garlic pulled. Now, this isn’t bought seed garlic, it’s whatever we got at Aldi or Tesco and it went off/started to grow, so I stuck it in the ground. Woot! Looks great.

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Roses! These were taken last week, I think the bushes look even better now.

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I trimmed off all the leaves that had black spot since these pics were taken.

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Hope that helps. I paid for Rose Clear and have been using it, but they still haven’t looked that healthy.

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The blooms look great! There are two bushes out front, but they look like four as the colours change between bud and bloom. Salmon becomes soft pink, red becomes a light fuchsia.

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The damn white rose out back has bloomed at about 6.5 feet high. I can’t enjoy them way the hell up there! I think I’ll have to cut it back. It’s a climber, and seems dedicated to being a tree more than a bush.

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My lavender rose bloomed finally. It’s gone now, so photos are all I have.

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The plant is barely a foot tall, but looking good this year due to the feeding and Rose Clear. Fingers crossed I don’t have to worry that it is dead next spring!

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Remember these? Euconmis. The packet was spot-on. Little weird pineapple space flowers. I watched this grow, and it amazed me daily. I’ve regretted that I didn’t take a photo a day of it.

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But, very late in the game, there is another coming up! So I still have a chance to document.

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I’ve saved the best for last. My first black Lilly has bloomed! It did so overnight. The first photo was at about 10 am.

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This is around 4, not much change. But just look at it! Wow! iDJ really did an amazing job finding these beauties for me. Wow!

Bloomin’ July

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I have flowers! Not all of my little green friends are awake yet, but I do have my first cornflower bloom:
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Soon I’ll be overrun with them, so it’s good to appreciate the very first one to open. Hello!
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My violas from seed are blooming – I expect there will be a lot more to come, as they have really increased in height this week – odd, because it is cooler and much less sunny. I think they have cat-whiskers.
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The first lavender rosebud. It’s been a bud for days and days and days, and I couldn’t wait any longer to take a picture before it opens. I’m fascinated that the outside of the petals is a dark rosy fuchsia, but it will be so pale when open.
There’s also the dying remnants of my daffodils looking horrid in the background. And…what’s that purple blotch? Could it be? Yes! It is my first clematis bloom. Sadly it was beat to shit by the wind so that’s all you’re going to see of it. But the plant is now one year old, and over 6ft tall in places, so I expect more out if it.
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Not flowers, exactly, but my radishes are starting to bolt (make flowers) so I pulled a few. Then, oops, I left them on the kitchen counter for a couple of days and they shrivelled like prunes. Not edible. Not edible for me: but the dog loves them. Go figure.
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Do you remember the field full of yellow iris from my last post? Well, they are like a weed here, they’re everywhere right now. Including some we dug up and stuck in our own garden.

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First of my lilies. They always bloom before the yellow ones, and no sign of my fancy ones being ready to open, yet (I did have to save those from aphids today). I think I’ll have to split these out next year, that pot is a bit crowded.

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What greets me outside my back door – the lilies, and Sweet William. Did I say that it was phlox? I was phloxing wrong. Sweet William. I won’t forget! Even my neighbour complemented me on these, and was surprised to learn I grew them from seed. Hahaha!

Greenery and perhaps a Giggle

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Hi, howrya? Please read that in the Mayo accent in which I would say it. I must apologise to all the bloggers I follow: I can’t seem to be able to comprehend very much, my concentration is terrible, and my sense of humour has nearly deserted me (when is the last time I tagged something as humour/humor? It’s been yonks). I do read everyone’s blog, but I can’t seem to summon up much in the way of a response. Sorry, I hate being like this.

What seems to be working for me is visuals. So! More photos. I did a walk through town last time. I’ve taken more shots in town, but I think we’ll go back to purdy flors again. Please read that in the NW Florida/southern Alabama accent in which I would say it.

First photo is a crappy iPad one. But, it is my mystery plant, and the mystery is now solved! First I have to give a shout out to the fabulous website, Shoot, and its plant finder. It didn’t take much time at all to get to the eureka moment and find the answer to what I’ve been wondering for weeks.

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Please meet my Mimulus! There are about 150 species and I didn’t have the patience to figure out which one I have. Or is that which ones, as there are three different colour blooms? Common name is ‘monkey flower,’ but I have no idea why.

The rest of my pics are taken on the new fancy-pants camera. Did I mention that it requires you to look through the viewfinder? And actually turn the lens to focus? It has a lovely big screen, like a digital cam should, but since I have to put my eye up to the little hole, the screen is always smeared with nose grease. That’s when my schnozzola isn’t pressing the menu button and changing the settings. Oh! Here’s a picture of the camera itself. I took it for a walk a few weeks ago. No pictures, because the battery, unknown to me, was dead. So I took a pic with my iPhone of the heavy-ass camera I took for a walk, in a bag on my shoulder, like an expensive pampered chihuahua. I thought I should take a pic of it just to memorialise the first time I took it out, since it didn’t bloody well work and I had no other way to record the day’s events. Yes, I stuck it on a stone wall in a cow field. Damn thing.

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Okay NOW the rest of the pics are by the pretty Nikon.

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Phlox, Phlox, Phlox, Phlox! My other mystery solved. I don’t remember planting this stuff but I have oodles. Really, oodles. Must have been one of those late plantings where I shrugged and said, ‘ah, who gives a phlox?’ It smells heavenly, and every flower seems to be a different colour. Sadly the bees don’t seem to know what to do with it. I have no idea what happens next, as phlox is a biennial and I don’t have any other biennials in my garden. We will see! But if I have to plant again, I will certainly put in fewer seeds. I have this stuff everywhere now. Not that I mind, of course.

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My leggy irises. They are already starting to fade, boo. But I love that second bloom, it has white streaks on it when none of the others do. Have I created a mutant?

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The weed! I love it. Screw the neighbours and their store-bought plug plants. Weeds are pretty too, and free!

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This is a Houttuynia cordata ‘pied piper.’ We, um, kind of stole it from the church’s badly-cared-for gravel ‘landscaped’ parking lot. It’s in a pot and usually lives indoors – but I’ve seen a local garden where it has rather naturalised. I put it outside early this year and it is so very happy. I wish the colours were true to life – they aren’t, even after some tweaking using Perfectly Clear. That one leaf at bottom slightly to the left is amazingly bright! I couldn’t get fancy-pants camera to focus on just that leaf like I wanted it to. Maybe I should read the manual. Hahahah.

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Californian poppies! These are blooms on the plants that survived the winter here – I never thought that something with ‘Californian’ in the name could survive so well here. But they seem to be slug-proof and the seeds are numerous and very viable. I’ll have these for the rest of my life, I think!

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I’ll wrap up with my broad beans, I’ve never grown these before, and I’m astounded with how beautiful the flowers are. I had the most difficult time getting these photos. Nothing looked in focus, and I just couldn’t seem to capture that pale pink blush at the base of each flower. It shouted at me, that pink, when looking at the blooms. But it was so shy and didn’t want to be caught.

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The bees love them, too.

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Growing not a whole lot

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Crap. Not much is going green for me out of the load of seeds I started. I have one tomato plant, one mystery gourd, five sunflowers, and a load of cornflowers. My cosmos did next to nothing – think I have five plants total, all white (yawn), and only about half of my corn grew – and it is tiny, weak and probably dying as I type. Sigh. It’s just been cold, windy, rainy, and grey.

But. Hubby bought me these back in March, and I finally got them all planted out. I love that they all look like alien spacecraft from Babylon 5.

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Kinda late for some, but I got the gorgeous black lilies in right away and they are coming up nicely.

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That thing behind them is a weed – a weed, I tell you – that I planted on purpose. It has daisy-like flowers and hubby likes those. So there. Right out on my front step, a huge-ass weed in a pot. Heheh.

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More from the March collection – obviously not lilies but I forget what I put where. I was in a hurry. Do you see the Siamese in the background? My sister painted that for our mother decades ago, he’s concrete. Starting to look a bit rough around the edges, but still makes visitors think there’s a kitty on the stoop.

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Here’s another of hubby’s March presents – raspberries! I waited too late to plant them out, so it looks like only two of the SIX he accidentally bought me are going to live. He didn’t realise there were three canes in each package! So I guess two is all he expected anyway.

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I planted these last year and I forget what they are. Take two years to bloom apparently, and they are ready to go now! I have a lot of them.

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Anyone know what this is? We skip-dived (dumpster-dove, for my US friends) this huge slightly cracked planter around Christmas, and it seems the plants in it came back. Blooming shortly, whatever it is.

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Hostas are better this year: I put down slug pellets as soon as they started to come up from their long sleep. Last year I forgot and had to look at holey leaves all year.

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My lilac! I’m so thrilled with this green baby. I collected the seed from a bush that lives out front of a mostly-abandoned garage. Started them last year, got three to grow. One didn’t make it to fall, one I thought had died but it started to come back, then died again – but this one is happy. Yay me! Grown from seed on a whim, in seriously wet soil inside a plastic take-out container. I couldn’t even tell for sure that I had collected any seeds, so all three were a gift, even if they didn’t live long. The odd grass is native, dug up from the coast and brought home because I like it. And two of my red sunflowers – how tiny they are, supposed to get several meters tall possibly. Possibly a bad place to plant them? Meh. Also a glimpse of both lavender and rosemary.

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We need some colour, all this green and no bloom is getting boring. I moved some of my tulips last year as they aren’t happy where I planted them.

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That’s it – just the two. But that’s two more than I got from the ones I didn’t move. Oh, and both of these are in crappy recycled materials pots – one in a container that previously contained salt (from my uncles’ bakery, we stole them out of the recycle bin) and one in a former plastic Celebrations chocolate box. I rarely buy a pot anymore, why bother?

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The Stupid Girl planter from last year. Radishes, carrots, rocket, my few straggly pathetic corn stalks. I planted the last five kernels in the packet today, figured what the hell might as well try. It’s been warm, finally.

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The broad beans are coming up – if you can see them behind the extraordinarily happy oregano plant.

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One, one! of my rudbeckia survived the winter. It’s also in one of the former salt-containers. It seems to be happy there! I only have four seedlings this year. It won’t be as orange a garden in 2013, unless the galliardia do well – I think they might.

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My ending picture is a very, very welcome surprise. My beloved lavender rose bush. I truly thought it was dead, dead, dead. It was down to the ground a brown twig with no life or leaves (we have black spot bad). Early on I bought Rose Clear and have been spraying my poor roses every two weeks, and doing a just-in-case spray of the dead twig. Looks like it was worth it! Gave it a good bone meal feed and trimmed all that grass back so it gets some sunshine. I have hope again!

Green fingers and thumbs and toes, oh my

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I managed to do some planting over the weekend! It was lovely and sunny on Saturday, and I got out my box o’ seeds and decided what I wanted to grow. I had a look back, and I’m two weeks ahead of when I planted things last March, yay!

In one of my big raised beds (the ones I made last year), I put radish, two kinds of carrot, and some rocket. There’s two of last year’s late-planted carrots and a sad excuse for purple sprouting broccoli that have survived the winter in that box, so I left them alone. The carrot packet in the photo is dated ‘for planting year 2001′. They’ll still grow, I promise!

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For veg, I have a dearth of good things, it seems. I gave up on cauliflower (blecch, anyway) and regular broccoli a few years ago. They are related to cabbages, and probably because cabbage is so common, this country has every insect and disease known to horticulture ready and waiting to attack members of the brassica family. I never knew cauliflower could turn bright yellow and go slimy. Hubby never ate the heads I managed to save, anyway. And it stinks like the inside of a cow’s intestine. I’m not a fan, can you tell?

I always grow basil and it always looks great and then turns black. Sigh. Got some red cherry tomatoes, some kind of supposedly edible gourd, bell peppers, courgette (zucchini) and broad beans. I really want to try to grow corn but I have low-to-no hopes for it surviving here. I don’t have any seed, either.

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I have three definite colours of iDJ’s favourite, the cornflower – red white and blue! Also a mix, in the hopes that I get some pink ones.

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His other favourite, cosmos, is also in three colours, white, white with a pink edge, and a mixed selection that also has funky double petals. I didn’t grow the pink/white ‘candy stripe’ last year, and I missed it, so it’s back.

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His last year’s favourite, rudbeckia, did not survive the winter here (despite the advert on the packet, hmm) so I’ve got it on the go again, too. You would not believe how TINY rudbeckia seeds are! I’m going to surprise him, hopefully, with a new bloom, gaillardia. The aquilegia (what I call columbine) and the coleus are for me, taking me back to a good flower garden I had in Ohio.

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I’ve also got two kinds of red sunflowers for him, with no clue where I’m meant to put them in my garden. According to the packet as they grow 6 to 9 feet (1.8 to 2.7m) tall, yikes! I have some violas and dianthus (a different variety of dianthus than what I’ve had growing out front for years). I think I tried to grow both last year with no germination. Oh well, the seeds are free!

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I put out a lot of garlic that had gone well past its use-by date, as in it was mostly dried up or had a long green shoot coming out of each clove (or both). I find it grows amazingly well here. Easy and no maintenance to speak of. Shove it in dirt, water when dry, dig up when the greenery dies back. In a few months, one sorry-ass clove becomes a good sized garlic bulb. It tastes wonderful fresh.

My back didn’t appreciate the work, and our weather is meant to be very cold and windy but dry until the end of the month. Nevertheless, I’ve got everyone snug inside their propagators, and we move them from sunny morning windowsill to sunny evening windowsill daily. I dreamt last night that they had already begun to sprout – so I had a look when I got home tonight to see if I was right.

I was! The early birds are the gaillardia, all of the cosmos except the white, the mixed cornflower, and the ‘velvet queen’ sunflower. I’m so excited!

Growing Thing

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I ran into the house few minutes ago. “Come see! Come see! Better put on shoes, it’s damp out.”

Fabulous hubby, iDJ, didn’t stop for shoes but did grab his iPhone.

“It’s over here, in the corner, you probably won’t get a picture,” says I.

I showed him a gourd I’ve managed to grow. As he was taking a pic, I was blathering away about how I didn’t know if it was a pumpkin or a courgette (zucchini). I lose track of these things, he knows well. I also was telling him how I figured out how to stop gourds from rotting on the vine – it’s called blossom-end rot and if you just manage to keep an eye out for baby fruit after the bloom has faded, you can scrape off the mushy flower with a fingernail and voila! it doesn’t get all icky and decide to die. Hey, I had to Google that one, it was killin me to have a fruit and then, suddenly, a ball of mush.

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It’s still small and unidentifiable – I’m guessing it’s a courgette based on two things – I think that’s what I planted there, and pumpkin usually comes from the vine rather than right at the heart of the plant.

Look at all the other female flower ready to bloom! I might have more, yet – and there is another small one at the back that you can’t see.

Wish me luck!

Live! Nude! Plant sex organs!

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Pssst. Hey. C’mere. I gots sommat you might like to see! Shhh, not so loud! You wanna bring the heat down on us? These are young ones, spread for your pleasure! Not even a year old!

*_*

Ewww, I just made myself a bit sick with that, sorry. A joke too far, clearly! I think it was the use of ‘spread’ that was too much. But open, or ripe, or fertile would have been just as bad…

In any case, I have more plant pictures. And yes, they are mostly of their sexual organs: usually called flowers by sane people. Plants just have much, much more attractive ‘bits’ than mammals do. I own a mirror, and know how to use Google. Trust me, the plants are way better at ‘pretty.’

And it’s a good thing, as evidenced by the plethora of bees I’ve had this weekend. I was so glad to have them back – I’ve not seen any since spring. They aren’t impressed with the rudbeckia, it being a northern American plant, but they love the lobelia and the devil’s-bit scabious I dug out of the ground by the railway tracks two years ago.

I didn’t take any pics of the bees. That would really be pushing the boundaries of plant porn: inter-class sex. I’d get this post banned, even if I do rate my own blog XXX so the kiddies won’t be offended when I say ‘cuss words.’ (I’ll never be Freshly Pressed because of this, ho-hum.)

So! Who wants to see plant bits? I do, I do!

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Rudbeckia! As I’ve said, I’ve never grown this before. As predicted, hubby loves it! I also didn’t realise it is the ‘black-eyed-Susan’ I’ve heard of all my life. I also didn’t know there’s like a bazillion varieties. Most of mine look like the above, but some look like this:

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I’m happy with them! The blooms last weeks, yay! And they are sure to last after the rest of my babies die off from chill and wind.

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My white and purple calla lilies – they only seem get started just when the afore-mentioned wind and rain sets in.

I’m not too upset about the lack of flowers, the spotted foliage is amazing. Like the skin of a salamander or an alien being.

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Speaking of aliens, this is a macro shot of the finished cosmos flowers I snipped off, to encourage more blooms. I was going to compost this, until the shiny, waxy surface caught my eye and made me look closer. Doesn’t look real, does it? Too perfect, too veiny, and too strange. The seed heads are only about the size of a thumbnail. Neat!

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This is why I have trouble trimming plants. Deadheading feels like beheading when I find such unexpected glories.

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This is the one surviving raspberry plant, grown from seed this year. It’s teeny-tiny, but it was so tiny up until now I couldn’t even take a pic. The other five plants didn’t make it. I learned that berry seeds need high heat for a while before they will germinate. About the same amount of heat they’d get passing through an animal’s digestive tract. Duh! That’s a trial-and error education, by the way.
Please ignore the moss growing on my soil.

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Lastly, my hot mess of flowers. This pic is the only reason I started this post – last weekend! You might recall this planter from a previous post, when I’d nearly forgotten what was in it. My how they’ve grown, despite taking a header off the kitchen windowsill two days after that post! I had to move them to the ugly location here (maybe next year we’ll paint that wall. I wanted to do a mural – maybe a beach scene). There’s a coleus from seed in that shot too – two years old, I overwintered it indoors and it was fine.

Right, this has been the most labour-intensive post ever. I couldn’t get the photos right. Too big or too small, in the wrong place, or adding in a hyperlink I never asked for. I give up! Yes, of course I have more pics…

Revels in the Green

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I HAVE SUNSHINE.

I’m over the moon – or should that be over the sun? about this. See, our summer is officially over. Over over over. Even though for me, having grown up in Florida, August is supposed to be the hottest month, and the best month to have a birthday (no school! no annoying classroom acknowledgements of said birthday! Sun and life verdant and nothing but books and the woods to play in). Mentally, I’m not ready for autumn at alllllll. So! Sunshine and heat today and tomorrow, back to rain on Sunday – total misnomer this week it seems.

Anyhoo! I’m in the sun, sports bra and shorts, and quite merry from all the beer I’ve imbibed since I got home at the ‘expected’ time: that is, if I only work until 5. iDJ had my favorite camp chair already set up in the sunny spot out back and a beer on the countertop ready to be cracked open. Aw, I’m easy to please! And I’m happy he knows it.

He’s also been busy taking brilliant photos of my flowers grown from seed. Which makes me think of something I saw this week on FB – some guy still trying to say that appreciation of flowers is not a masculine enough occupation, in his estimation. Um. Why would adoring the beautiful female form be any different than realising the majesty of a flower? What-ev-ah. *hand wave*

It could be that hubby only loves my flowers because I grew them, but he has his favorites for sure. He put this one up on FB and said ‘I love these!’

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My cornflowers, this year in both blue and white.

I think I’ll have to grow these every year, just for him, as he adores them and is just amazed by their color and proliferation:

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The California Poppy! They kind of collapsed at ground level, but are still blooming like mad. Not sure if was the horrible compost we bought that made a lot of plants rot at ground level, but I lost a good few plant-babies to that this year. Sad. But…there’s still life!

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This is a planter I made up of larkspur and rudbeckia. It’s on our kitchen windowsill because the slugs killed about a dozen rudbeckia before I put it up so high. The larkspur is juuuust blooming, the rudbeckia is taking forever! I thought maybe they would open last weekend but nooooo, and they are still just thinking about it hard. I’m not really sure what they will be like, but if they are yellow or orange like they seem to be thinking of being, I bet hubby will love em. I tend toward purple myself, but I think he likes the warmer colours. I hope the blooms last for ages, since they are so slow to ‘cook.’
Lastly, our cosmos is finally starting to bloom! Last year our next-door neighbor told me that it made her sort of sad to see me growing them, in a good way, because she is from South Africa and they grow wild there. Last year I had ‘candystripe’ and this year I grew a mix. The photo he took today of one of the first blooms is just amazing, hope you like it as much as I do.

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I have more photos… Oh yes. I’m trying not to overload here! But… I can’t exactly explain why I love plants so much. I always have, but never really got to try my hand (hand? It’s called green thumbs in the US, green fingers here in Ireland! I have green fingers and toes, it seems, yay!) until I was in my late 20′s. Perhaps it is so simple that I connect with the life, so visible, so joyous, revelling in sun and water like I do myself. I cannot imagine my life without plants any more than I could without cats.

Raised beds made from Chinese shipping pallets

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Ever try to type with a Siamese perched on the back of your neck? It’s a challenge. So much so that it took me three tries to type ‘with’ just then. Lokii’s in Super-Love-Me-Mode, despite being held and cuddled and snorgled to the point that I had to pick hair out of my mouth.

It’s just never enough with these guys, sometimes. Oh, what a hardship.

But, I wanted to talk about my new raised beds, or big planters, or whatever the hell they are, so I’ll just hunch over a little more and ignore the claws that occasionally dig in to my back.

iDJ works at a company that gets products in from overseas. Sometimes they come in really useful boxes. We currently use a former shipping crate as a coal/briquette bunker, for instance. I stained it mahogany to match the door to our shed and our garden bench. It’s a bit rotten now, but still more ecofriendly than some ugly plastic yoke. And we can always burn it for heat when it totally collapses, of course.

Anyhoo, lately he got it into his head that some of these crates would make good raised beds. He talked about the idea for a few weeks, a lot, as he is wont to do (oh iPad, you just let me down, trying to put an apostrophe in wont). One day I came home from work and found this:

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Three. Three! huge crates in my back garden. And not a lot of room for even one. Two are deep and match, and one is shallower. Where was I meant to put them? What was I meant to do? And how the hell did he get them home when he rides a bicycle to work and I have the car? Which even if he’d somehow spirited it away from my job and back again before I noticed, is a freakin’ Mini Cooper that is barely larger than one of these things?

Right, so – smile and nod, and leave them there to kill the grass for a few weeks while I figure it out. The usual! He gets the ideas, but I’m the handy-man around here. And I wasn’t ready for an invasion of timber.

Ah, worse – possibly chemically-treated timber. Nasty chems to kill any potentially imported insects. I heard about a slug as long as your arm that showed up in his warehouse. And I’ve seen pics of some dammed big spiders, too. Not that I mind them, of course – but big slugs can just DIE. The chemicals were a potential problem. We wanted to (iDJ wanted me to, that is) grow carrots, in particular, in one of the deep boxes. Would we be at risk of poisoning ourselves? The consensus was that a few weeks in the rain would wash most of it away. And lawd knows, we have enough rain around here.

Last weekend I finally had my plan, and a donated roll of the stuff you line planters with. So we set about measuring, cutting, and stapling liners into two of the three boxes. The third box is now holding the many, many bags of coal that have been slumped at the side of the house since winter.

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Half-way done with the second one. By then my back was screaming and I finally had this brainstorm; ‘Hey, we should stop and take pictures! So I can go sit down for a few!’

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All done! But now we needed dirt, and a lot of it. This is the shallower box and it got the remainder of what I dug out of the compost bin, along with some native soil picked clean of most rocks, and then a topping of two different store-bought bagged potting composts.

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Shallow box; named box 1 in my head, full of pretty, pristine soil!

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The Stupid Girl box, so named in my head because of my thinking about this post by Sledpress the whole time I slowly, not-back-breakingly, dumped in 3.5 bags of compacted potting soil and broke it up by hand. I love fresh clean slug-free soil without rocks. It’s fun to play in, and smells good, and I know there’s no accidental seeds like in my own compost, or bits of glass, plastic, mould, and huge chunks of wood like in one of the store-bought brands we purchased recently – oh yes, they are getting a nasty email very soon.

So! What to plant, when summer here is nearly over?