Category Archives: Nature

What Scares You?

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I’m scared of large groups of ants to this day because of something that happened when I was about 10 or 11. 

My older sister and I got into a fight when we were home alone (I belive it was about whether Boy George was a man or a woman) and she slapped the HELL out of me. I ran out of the house, around the corner to the next block, and sat on a big lump of dug-up concrete that wasn’t quite on the side of the road but also not quite in someone’s yard. 

I sat there sobbing my little-kid heart out, face in hands, until I felt something bite my right side. I looked down and I was covered from the waist down in gigantic red wood ants.


Aka carpenter ants. Credit embedded in the photo – that is what I looked down on! Those jaws.

I do remember running. I don’t remember screaming.

My sister heard me from a block away (I remember her saying she never heard screaming like it) – from inside our brick, air conditioned house – as I ran for home. She had me strip naked in our back yard and used the garden hose to get the ants off of me. I don’t remember what happened afterwards, but I think our stupid fight was quickly forgotten and I am still grateful that she forgot our silly fight and helped me so quickly and efficiently. Even when I still had her perfect red hand print on my face!

It’s been a few decades since this event, and if I am ever surprised by an ant, or worse a colony of ants, I calmly freak right the hell out. Or at least I think I am calm when falling over backwards to get away…

What scares you, so long after the immediate threat is gone? We likely all have some serious flashback memories – I will never ask for those.  I don’t mean real trauma, but small things like this that have never left you. 

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Spheksophobia

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Hope you don’t have it!

Spheksophobia is the fear of wasps. 


I still have strawberries growing – and apparently they are super sweet! I haven’t been able to find out about the last few because something else has been eating them first. 

I knew it wasn’t slugs, or beetles, or birds, or even earwigs. Wasps are eating my strawberries, and loving them! 

Oh well. If they are fat and full they won’t bother sour old me, at least. Not that I’m afraid of them: I’m very much live and let live unless one is in the house and one of the furry ones is about to get stung. Then there might have to be an emergency squishing. 

Halloween Treat! Hedgie in the Compost

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It’s an old story now, but last week when I took my kitchen scraps out to the compost bin, I  got a surprise.


The bin.
When I opened it up, it did not look anything like the way it had looked two days before. It looked like the world’s biggest worm had been rummaging around in there.


Such a big hole where no hole was before. What could it be? 


Hard to see, but something had dug a tunnel into the bin underneath the massive oregano bush. 

I immediately thought of rats. I’m not a fan of rats in the wild. Not scared, but I’d rather they didn’t live on my property.


But there was a wee round nest, too. What animal is native to Ireland and is round when it curls up? A hedgehog! So I looked closer….


Hedgehog poop! Definitely not rat poop. 

Unfortunately it seemed hedgie didn’t like my intrusion into the warm safe place full of food, as there hasn’t been any sign that it has been back.

Bummer, I even left grapes as an offering!

Lough Boora Discovery Park, Co Offaly

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The same day we went to Clonmacnoise, we visited Boora Bog and its acres of sculpture parklands. We went to see the art and have a nice long walk on a lovely day – we were successful!

The art installation was begun in 2002, and most works have a theme relating to the Bord na Mona peat-harvesting that was done in the area from the 1950’s-1970’s. Quite a few works reference the wee trains that moved the cut peat out of the bog.



Every work has a sign giving details of the artist and their inspiration and materials used. This one is called ‘Sky Train.’


Looking out from one lonely train engine toward a stand of upside-down bog oak. There is a tiny dolmen in the centre.


The bog-oak henge.


Two views of the same work. So far all pictures have been one by himself and one by me!


Another work. Sorry we didn’t log names.


This one is meant to embody a skipping stone. I saw a canal-monster!

There was so very very much more here. More art, endangered birds, and a Mesolithic site! We spent hours but could have spent a few days. If you go, expect to not want to leave!

Disaster

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The heavy wind last week took down a huge branch of one of my roses. Dammit. I intend to cut it back this autumn, but I didn’t want to lose a good meter of growth in July. It was so lovely, too.

I’d try sticking it in water to see what happens (I have crazy luck with that sort of thing), but it is so infested with black spot that it isn’t worth it. Bummer.

The Agony of Bee-feet

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There isn’t any agony. I just couldn’t resist the pun!

I was sitting outside reading, and felt something on my bare foot. First instinct was to fling whatever it was off, but something made me look first.


A little friend! 

And you wouldn’t be seeing these pictures if I hadn’t done my nails yesterday for a wedding. It’s officially spring when the rainbow toenail polish is on!

I think she needed a warm place to rest. I’m always warm!


I’m also not very ticklish, so those little light feet traversing up my foot didn’t bother me a bit.

She stayed about 10 minutes on my toe. I went back to my book. The next time I looked…


What the…is that bee-pee???


Yeppers. I had a bee pee on me. That’s what I get for being nice! 

I Did Garden Stuff Today! 

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Some of my country was frosty today. I even heard rumours of snow. But not here! Today (between hail showers) we had lovely sun and not too much wind.

Of course, I was out in the garden as much as possible. We even had the grass mowed; first go of the year, thanks to iDJ’s wonderful uncles and their gas mower. They even took away the clippings, which was very welcome to me, as my compost bin is full to the top.

Digging out some of that black gold is a job for another day. Maybe tomorrow, if it stays nice.

I used the hail-shower time today to start some seeds, finally. More gazania, more rudbeckia, and trying yet again with the coleus and zinnia that have failed to germinate year after year. Just for the hell of it, I am also trying lilac seed I collected off of a friend’s tree, ancient broad beans, and pumpkin seeds that I saved from the past Halloween. These are in homemade mini-greenhouses on the best windowsill (sorry, cats). More Gerbera daisies, and some funny fuzzy sunflowers called ‘teddy bear’ that hubby found, liked, and bought for me. He does love his sunflowers. Also something called ‘honesty’ which I don’t have high hopes for, but hey; you never know.

I trimmed a lot of tiny bits of dead wood from my three blueberry bushes, and put a layer of needles from last year’s Christmas tree on top of the soil. Supposedly they are good for acid-loving plants. I still have most of a bucket of needles left over, too. Want some? They are premium: mostly dog-hair & random-strands-of-tinsel free. 

  
Glad to see the best of my three blueberry bushes is making flowers, too – by next weekend I should have some happy bees sampling them.

I also gave some needles to the azalea my mother-in-law got me two (?) years ago. It’s not been a very happy plant, and tries to flower in November for some damn reason, but this spring it seems to be settling in and realising that it has to live here.

  
Not the healthiest looking thing, is it? Weird furry leaves, too – can’t blame that on the dog. At least is it blooming at the right time, finally.

The clematis is going gangbusters. I’ve not given them any attention whatsoever. I’d say some of this is at least 12ft (3.66meters) high. 

  
I think I am going to (try to) kill the grey willow they climb on, and use its corpse as a trellis for way cooler plants. The birds love this tree as there aren’t many other trees nearby. I had plans…but my lilac from seed is now six or seven years old and still only a foot tall. It won’t do. Then again, if it wasn’t in a pot…

  
Raspberries are making flower buds, too! And spreading out into the grass like weeds. Dammit.

  
The tallest one there is six foot (nearly two meters). It is entirely new growth from last year, so all of this will make fruit. I’m going to be up to my eyes (literally) in raspberries.

  
New lilies from last year are coming up fast!

  
As are the old red-and-black ones that have been in this pot way too long now. Going to have to do some heavy culling and sharing this winter.

  
Dammed slugs have eaten the entire tops off of my yellow lilies. Hence all the blue pellets you see in all these pictures. Sorry but not sorry – I do poison the little sumbitches. I have thousands in my garden, and no chickens or hedgehogs to help.

  
Another thing the slugs have been at: the nicotiana I grew from seed last year. They did fuck-all in 2015, but overwintered well and are now getting big. 

But. There was an awful lot of leaf-litter gathered under those big leaves: from the sweet pea that you can see on the far right (it’s not any variety that makes sense), and random plant-rubbish blowing into the drive. So it was slug-heaven under those nics until today. I cut off most of the raggedy leaves before taking this pic, and obviously was liberal with the slug pellets. 

And don’t you love the ivy? I love the ivy. I didn’t plant it. I didn’t have to: its Ireland. My neighbor, however, hates it. It’s technically his wall, too. Oops. All I know is that I don’t have to paint that part because leaves.

  
Something the slugs don’t eat: garlic. I really thought I’d gotten it all last year – I harvested about a kilo. Clearly, I missed these. Still: slug pellets because they are eating the hell out of the two native primrose I stuck in this planter (which aren’t doing much but getting eaten, at the moment).

  
Lavender is coming into bloom! Had a bumblebee around today seeing if these were ripe. 

  My columbine (aquilegia) went from basic leaves to this in a week. Caught me off-guard. I haven’t even been around with the peter’s special yet. Tomorrow…
  
Last-meet Katy! She’s a flamer, but don’t hold it against her. Been an indoor plant for about a year now, and so top-heavy it isn’t funny. She’s a kalanchoe that I think I got for about 30 cents when she was done blooming. Shame that people just don’t have the patience to care for a living thing when it isn’t ‘pretty’. I’m glad I do – repotted once, needs it again, and she is quite the stunner. 

Ex-Flowers

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I need a kick in the pants to get me into this year’s gardening! Part of getting started is talking about it here, which I haven’t done yet this year. Yikes.

Himself and I have only just now realised neither of us took one single picture of the snowdrops. I could swear I did! He could swear I did, too. Maybe I did with the ‘real camera’? I’m sorry, but I can’t be bothered to go get the memory card right now. Damn thing is filled with a billion pictures (that neither of us have looked at) of our town’s Paddy’s Day parade. So; no 2016 snowdrops. 

Next up was the crocus, which I kinda half-arsedly stuck in the grass patch out front a few years back. They come up half-arsedly, too. 

   
   
End of February, these are. Kinda almost past the time they were blooming, too. 

Next were my miniature daffs.

  

I also have tiny purple iris in this pot – so at least it keeps going for a while with blooms!

  
Whoops – this was in December! Forget what the hell this is. Got it super cheap, along with the beautiful black grass. Tulips are planted (transplanted) below these, and coming up now.

  
Not our garden. But hubby took this and I love it. I’m sure he did some photo-whatever-magic, too – the colours are just a bit to bright, aren’t they?

  
Lastly – our wee daffodil patch in the darkest, wettest corner of the garden. I’ve never bought a daffodil bulb – these all came from our lovely next door neighbors who know I’m a sucker for anything green and will plant anything! Over the years they have spread quite a bit, and they do make us happy this time of year. 

For an awkward corner I sure have managed to fill it. Three rose bushes are under this tree: the white one is an ugly huge beast but I love it and have trouble convincing myself to cut it back. The crocosimia live here, too, and you can see a bit of clematis coming up through the truly awful grey willow I allowed to move in. (Confession- I accidentally grew it from wild seed, didn’t know what it was, and moved it there) It’s massive, the other neighbor hates it, and lawsy me but it makes a mess in Autumn! The little birds and the clematis love it, however, so I haven’t had the heart to try to murder it. I wanted a lilac there! Oh well. Any tips on how to kill it, but leave the structure behind so I can put my new wisteria there? Yes, I do know I’m asking for major trouble with the wisteria.