Posts Tagged ‘garden’

Last night I stayed up until 4 a.m.   Or I guess I should say this morning…  At least it wasn’t because I had insomnia.  It was that I was so deeply engrossed in what I was doing that I didn’t realize how long I had been at it.

It is no secret that I love my art journaling.  It is also no secret that I am not made of money.  I look at some of the studios that people have and I wonder if their homeowner’s insurance realizes how many thousands of dollars they have in art supplies!   Since I do not have a studio, but only a desk, I have to be creative about how I stay organized.  It also keeps me from going bonkers buying stuff.

However, all that being said, I have been lusting after stamps for quite some time.  These are pretty pricy items, and I do have a small selection.   But I am a piker when it comes to stamp ownership.   There are YouTubers who are doing tutorials and every time you turn around they are picking up another stamp for making background imagery for layering.   There are a couple who not only use stamps but they would very much like you to buy the stamps that they have designed and have for sale at princely prices.

I came across a video wherein the tutor was showing you how to make your own stamps using fun foam.   This is an interesting product.  If you get the really thin stuff, you can cut it into shapes easily with scissors, and glue the pieces onto cardboard and voilà, a stamp!   There is thicker fun foam, which if you heat it up with your heat gun and press it into things with texture will take on the image you pressed it onto.  Once again, you trim your piece of foam appropriately, and bam, you have a stamp.

So I was doing this with the thicker foam.


I have a bunch of antique buttons and some of them made extremely interesting impressions in the foam.   I also cut pieces and glued them.   Incidentally, the backing I used for my stamps was simply cardboard from my recycling bin.  I glued to pieces together to make it more or less rigid.

There are a couple of long thin stamps in the shot above that were created using the innards of cardboard glued to the backing.  There is a piece of bubble wrap in there too.  But the one that became an obsessive project is the bright blue one just next to the cardboard stamp in the upper left.   That one is made of well over 200 little random squares and rectangles of the fun foam individually glued to their cardboard backing.  It makes a VERY interesting image.

Over on the far right is one that does not involve fun foam.


This is made of a selection of o-rings from my local hardware store.   These are spare parts for faucets, and I will just say that there apparently is no such thing as a standard size in faucets!  I was quite careful to make sure that I got a selection of o-rings that were all the same thickness so my stamp would make a good impression.  (Interesting side note:  all these o-rings were individually packaged with their dimensions printed on the little bag.)  They glue to the cardboard quite securely with tacky glue.

I love the image this stamp makes!


So once I created my group of stamps, I had to play with them.  The blue basket weave stamping below the o-ring stamp is an imprint of one of the old buttons.

Art is not the only thing accomplished around here.   I got the potato sets out, and planted my onion plants today.  I also threw some mesclun seeds at the ground and hope they will grow.  I thought about planting broccoli, but decided that perhaps I was a little too tired to do that too.

The peas that I checked the germination on the other day are now UP and being little green shoots.   Pretty soon I will plant the beets and carrots in that bed.

I just can’t believe how fast the season is progressing!

Now, I have three loads of laundry to fold, so I suppose I should go do something other than sit at the computer for a bit.


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The snowdrops are out today.   They have been out for at least 10 days.

A week ago Sunday (I think), we had a fine sunny day and they decided it was an optimum time to bloom.  Within two days, it got very cold, temperatures down in the teens.   They tucked their heads down and held on.

Then it warmed up a bit last Wednesday and Thursday.  They perked up.

The next day, the bottom dropped out of the temperatures again.  But it didn’t get so cold that we couldn’t achieve freezing rain.   Last Saturday, Sunday and part of Monday these flowers were coated with about a quarter of an inch of ice.   Nevertheless, they persisted.

Monday the ice started melting, and it continued to gradually warm up all week. Yesterday it got into the sixties, and today we reached a high of 78 degrees.   And so the snowdrops are merry.

They are joined in the party by a flock of early crocuses that popped up all over the lawn this afternoon.   There were two or three blooms yesterday, but today there are dozens.

It is sprinkling this evening.   And rumor has it that it is supposed to get cold again forthwith.

This weather is giving me whiplash.

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We are getting some badly needed rain.  It has been threatening all morning, flashing and muttering under its breath, teasing us with brief sprinkles.

The radar shows that all of this activity is moving along to the south, which is odd because most of the lightning and clouds I am looking at are to the north of me.  At any rate, I am glad it is raining.   We need for the ground to be nicely wet and more rain promised in order to distribute the beneficial nematodes that are reputed to dine on Japanese beetle grubs.  With a good rain under our belt, and more promised, we can order the supplier to ship them.  With any luck, the weather will cooperate and keep the ground nice and wet after they are applied.

I am happy that there is a storm, Impy is NOT.   I don’t know what horrible trauma happened to him in his kittenhood, but he is terrified of thunder and slinks off full speed ahead for the nearest closet as soon as the first distant rumble occurs.  This morning has been just terrible for him.  With the sporadic nature of this storm, there have been periods of calm in between the heavenly percussion performance long enough for him to stick his whiskers out.   Inevitably, as soon as he is bold enough to exit his sanctuary, a random clap of thunder will send him scurrying back under cover.

We have hypothesized that Impy can understand the weatherman and has listened to all the instructions regarding what to do to be safe in a stormy situation.   If you don’t have a shelter to move into, you should stay in an interior room (preferably with no windows) and put a pillow over your head.  When you hear thunder, you should keep yourself as close to the ground as possible while you move to shelter to minimize the danger of being struck by lightning.   And for God’s sake, don’t go stand under a tree.

Our local YMCA is so careful about lightning danger that they clear the pool if there is any within a few miles of us.   Consequently, this morning our water aerobics class was only 15 minutes long.

I have been surfing the interwebs excessively, so I finally decided I ought to get something worthwhile done instead of endlessly posting on facebook.  I made the bed, and cleaned the catboxes.   I did the dishes, and I am contemplating the idea of vacuuming.   I am pretty sure I can spend enough time on my blog that I simply won’t have time to do that chore before I have to leave for my mammogram.

While I was washing the dishes the storm finally blew into our area and produced a measurable amount of rain.   I was musing as I scrubbed my pots about how one would depict the skies opening up as a response to a prompt of “Open” on an the Art Journal Adventure.   The view out my window captivated me as I worked and pondered.  The finches are busy at  the feeder, they don’t care it is raining and neither do the squirrels, who use their tails as easily as an umbrella as they do a sunshade or blanket.


The rain will be good for the garden too.  The peas are about an inch tall, and the lettuce that we tended all winter is going gangbusters.   I heartily endorse the use of cold frames in this climate.   We ate beautiful lettuce all winter.

So as I allowed this train of thought to pass through the station of my mind, a huge ground strike flashed down just to the northeast.

I was standing at the window, scrubbing a metal pot with my hands in running water, and I recalled the wisdom that says you can get a pretty bad shock if lightning strikes near your water line when you have your hands in running water.   Suddenly I thought “If that bolt had struck the house and electrocuted me where I stood, I suppose my last thought would have been ‘Impy was right’.”



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We had our roof replaced and the house sided last month.  Looks pretty good now, like a brand new house outside.   Too bad the inside does not match…  I definitely need new floor treatments.

However, during the course of the work, the siding guys simply had to walk next to the house, which involved walking in the garden on the north side.  This garden mostly consists of hostas, with a few hellebores and bleeding hearts thrown in.   It started out as a real shade garden with several varieties of shade lovers in it, but over the years the less hardy plants died out.

Truth to tell, some of the original plantings, which I established with great forethought, turned out to be unwise choices.   One of those, notably, was the lily of the valley, which was summarily evicted after I discovered it busily strangling the hostas nearest to it.   The violets that I was so sure would look very nice along the house turned out to be a noxious weed and empire builders.   I have been trying to eradicate them for some time, and if I live long enough I may eventually succeed.

But I digress.   I decided that the north border needed to be revamped.  To that end, I removed all the rocks I had placed next to the house, leveled out the area and edged it with some pound-in edging.   The rocks got thrown into a pile over near the pergola.   After the edging was in place, I lined the rock border right next to the house with black plastic.   The idea is to have a strip of decorative rock between the house and the garden so that I do not have plants right up against the house, in the interest of proper air circulation.

It has taken me about a week to get ready to put my rocks back.   These are mostly very cool rocks that I have brought home from various gravel bars.   While I was doing the prep work, though, behind my back the rock pile became habitat.  I was not particularly surprised to find pill bugs and centipedes living there when I started moving the pile.   The big wolf spider also did not seem very out of place.

But this fellow surprised me!


He (or she — I’m not good at sexing amphibians), had taken up residence under the pile of rocks and wished sincerely that I had not moved them.

I did pick the little fellow up, because I certainly did not wish to hurt him during my job.

As you can see with the scale of my glove added, this is a very small being indeed.  I think this may be the eft stage of the red spotted newt.  This is very interesting, because for a long time I have been aware of having what I referred to as salamanders living in the pond.  It turns out that the red spotted newt has an aquatic stage, and the guys in the pond are more than likely the red spotted newt in that aquatic stage.  This little fellow has found its way out of the pond to transform to its terrestrial stage.

I took it over to the rain garden, which seemed like a good place to relocate it out of harms way.

Indeed, it found the location satisfactory, and crawled back in and under the rocks there.

I am happy to find yet another individual creature that appreciates the habitat we have created here at the Havens.  It is really very exciting!


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It is no secret that if you have a plot of land there is generally four sides to it.  Given the predilection surveyors have to orient things on a logical grid, those sides usually conform to ordinal directions.

This is the case at The Havens.   There are numerous posts that feature our West line, which is where the stroll garden is, and the little pond.   On the North line is the barn and a very wild line of trees and shrubbery that shields us from the “view” in that direction.  Our South line is the street we live on.  Many pictures of the house, vineyard, and front gardens have been taken from that line.

Our East line parallels the main drag towards I-44.   When we moved here, it featured a broken down stockwire/barbed wire fence and a wild tangle of volunteer elms, cherries, mulberries, orange trumpet creeper vine, poison ivy, virginia creeper and God knows what else.


It was a heaven for the local birds, and served to shield us from the wonderful view of the neighboring business, which sold mobile and manufactured homes.   Most of the mobile homes were repossessions.   It was pretty much an eyesore.

So much was it an eyesore, that I almost NEVER took any pictures specifically of it.   The East line only shows up as a back drop for other parts of the place I was trying to show, sort of like this one of the sauna.


Despite that fact, I really sort of liked it, because there was always something going on back there.   On the north end of that line is a thicket of plums with a big currant bush.  The brown thrasher used that spot to raise her family.  There were usually cat birds living there, as well as cardinals using the vines for nesting areas.   The finches hung out there, along with robins, blue jays, the occasional hawk or owl.   The hummingbirds used the orange trumpet creeper vine.

I won’t discuss the owner of the trailer sales place except to say that he was the reason that we found ourselves in need of a lawyer.   Harassment is a gentle word for what he did. But as things turned out, he wound up selling his property to the Dollar General corporation.   During the course of the hearings at the City Council, we discovered that they intended to build a privacy fence between our place and their lot.

We decided to have the tangled mess cleared up to facilitate that event.  Our plan is to establish a garden over there that consists of prairie plants:  tall grasses like big bluestem and panicum; medium grasses like little bluestem, prairie dropseed, and sorgastrums; and a bunch of prairie flowers.   I also intended to plant shrubs as well, to re-establish the flyway for the small birds.

So we spent a big wad of money and had professionals come in and clear the line.  We had them preserve the line of forsythias at the back, as well as one oak, one large mulberry, and one black walnut


Eventually we had all that chipped up tree and shrubbery spread out along the line to make a mulch layer.  I spent the fall and spring planting shrubs next to the very beautiful fence Dollar General built.

Last fall I planted seeds for the flowers and grasses.  They are young, but they are coming along.   I also have assiduously transplanted starts from my Petite Prairie, and those are the plants you can actually see in the above shots.

Above is the north end of the East line, where I planted forsythia about ten years ago or so.  You are seeing the west and east sides of that thicket.   Needless to say, during the interim the birds have provided me with lots of extraneous things in that patch of shrubs, not the least of which is a very healthy stand of poison ivy.   When the clearing was done, we had the stumps of the trees ground out, but we could not do that at this end of the line and also save the bushes.

I really wanted to save those bushes because I knew that that birds were using the line of trees for shelter and habitat, and I wasn’t willing to completely evict them all.   Anyway, we now have about 10 elm trees, two or three locusts, a maple and a couple of mulberries that are trying to assert themselves.   Since I am averse to using glyphosphate or other herbicides, the method needed to convince these trees that they are actually dead is to go out there and clip off the dozens of sprouts they are sending up around their trunks.  This is a job you have to do every couple of months or so during the summer for two or three years.

A few days ago I went back there to beat back the poison ivy, so that the sprout removal would be less fraught with danger from it.  I filled up a 33 gallon garbage bag with poison ivy.   I thought I had avoided getting it, but no such luck.   Both my wrists have outbreaks and I got exposed to enough of it that my eyes are all swollen up.  Oh well.   Sacrifices must be made, I guess.

Anyway, while I have been removing elm sprouts I found two old cardinal nests from last year.   And I also found the nest the brown thrasher built this year.


I also saw the cat birds and a pair of hairy woodpeckers.  The other day I saw a whole family of indigo buntings as well.   So I guess our transition has not made my birds feel unwelcome.

Next year the flowers and prairie grasses ought to look quite special.   In the mean time, I will have to introduce myself to the City’s Compliance Officer and explain what the plan is so that I won’t get citations from the local authorities enjoining me to mow down the “tall weeds.”

I think I’ll begin by inviting him to visit the Petite Prairie.  Stay tuned for future developments.




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I have never made any pretence of particularly loving rabbits.   They can be a nuisance, one which we went to quite a bit of trouble to fence out of the vegetable garden.  They serve their place in the world, though.   The fact that we have a healthy population of them at The Havens accounts for the presence of Barred Owls and Great Horned Owls.   I’m sure the black snakes are happy to find a tiny tender tidbit upon occasion.

I was out watering my potted plants this morning during the break I had between a couple of clients.   As is my custom, I was gazing about the place, admiring the view while I was waiting for the right amount of water to flow into the whiskey barrels full of beans and morning glories.  I am very pleased with them.


The Petite Prairie is looking pretty good right now, despite the dry weather we have been having.


The silky dogwood was looking a little peaked, so when I was done with the pots I made my way over there to give it a drink.    Of course, the hose had to kink during the trip across the lawn, so when I turned the spray nozzle on, nothing happened.   I laid it down and attended to the kink.    The water began to gush out of the nozzle, and very soon afterwards I heard a vociferous complaint from the bed just below the dogwood.    It was a very loud complaint indeed, and obviously was coming from an infant.

I investigated, and this is what I found to be the source of the racket.


Honestly, this little baby bunny seems way too small to be able to make such a very loud noise.

After I photographed the Small One, I placed him carefully back in the nest with his siblings.    Of course, I had to document it all.


My client had arrived, so I carefully put the grassy cover back over the babies, and went in to do her massage.    She admired the baby pictures.   Although we both  agreed about rabbits in general, we also both agreed that when they are so very small they are very cute.  No way could I exterminate them, even if they will probably be chewing through my iris stems when they get older.   I just found a Naked Lady stem that was full of buds that some rabbit decided looked edible.    I guess it wasn’t that edible, because it only chewed through the stem, it didn’t bother to actually eat the buds.   I have to admit I was perturbed.

So anyway, a little while ago, having finished the massage and my lunch, I thought I’d go back out there and see if I couldn’t get a better shot of them in their nest.

I was interested to discover that in the intervening three hours, Mama Rabbit had been around to tend to her youngsters.   The grass and twig cap on the nest had been seriously beefed up.   And if you take a close look at this next picture you will notice that there has been a further change.



Apparently she had not quite finished furnishing the nest when I took the first picture.   Now there is a beautiful soft layer of rabbit fur encasing the babies.

I covered them up again.

They really are very cute.


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Just this morning I posted this:

Out there is where the pipe vine grows. I planted it as a food supply for the pipevine swallowtail, in the fond hope that one would happen upon it and start a colony, but so far they have not shown up. I may be located too far from their usual habitat. But I love the vine anyway. Right now it is covered with little “dutchmen’s pipes”.


Well, I am happy to be proved wrong.

I was just out on the other side of the fence transplanting a spiderwort that had volunteered in the Stroll Garden.   While I was out there I took it upon myself to remove an oak tree that was volunteering as well as the ten thousandth mulberry, also volunteering.

I was making my way through the jungle toward the burn pile with my trophies when I noticed a caterpillar dining on the pipevine.    Of course, I had to take a picture so I could identify it.


Yes children!   That is the larva of the pipevine swallowtail butterfly.   There are other places on the vine showing evidence of happy diners.   I could not be more excited.

It just proves my point once again:   IF YOU BUILD IT, THEY WILL COME.




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