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Thursday, July 29, 2004

My day job gets in the way 

What is it with having to work for a living? I have been wanting to get out in the garden the last couple of weeks and just can't seem to get there. Between inside house renovations and my day job, it's been almost impossible to spend any time in the garden. I had vowed that I would go do something to connect with the gardens 2-3 times per week. Well, guess what? It hasn't happened and not because the desire isn't there.

My job has been so consuming lately that almost every waking minute, literally, is spent doing "job stuff". I have the luxury of working from home which saves me about 2 hours a day in driving. It truly is a luxury to be able to get up in the morning, throw on a pair of shorts, grab my coffee and walk into the office. The savings on gas dollars alone is tremendous. The only "butt" in this, and I offer this tongue-in-cheek, is that I find myself so wrapped up in what I'm working on that many times I don't even take 15 minutes for lunch. Or, more importantly, take 15 minutes to smell the roses.

Yesterday I had calls starting at 9 AM so ran outside at 8:45 to quickly plunk my new miniature rose and my husband's struggling rosemary plant into the ground. I timed myself. It took roughly 5 minutes to plant the two and another 3 minutes to get a watering can filled and thoroughly water before jumping on my first conference call. I think they call it multi-tasking, but in a good way. Tonight I found myself, after going to get the mail, stopping to pull a few weeds and look at a few plants that were struggling with the heat. That took about 10 minutes, more or less. Not bad. So, while I'm not quite at 15 minutes at least I'm averaging 10. I'm going to keep working at that. I guess the key is to set my expectations just a bit lower than before and make a reachable goal. Then if I get the 15 minutes I can really jump for joy. Wow, what would happen if I could get 20 minutes? I think I see the brass ring in sight. Happy Gardening.

Friday, July 23, 2004

What's your favorite flower? 

I came across another garden test the other day and thought I would share. This is more of a test to determine what your favorite flower shows about your personality. I'll tell you what I am after you have a chance to read through the list. Here goes:

Ok. Did you pick your favorite flower? Well, here's what it says about you:

Pretty interesting, eh? Share this with your other gardening friends and it will be fun to see if their personalities match. Oh, what's my favorite? It was a difficult choice, but I finally decided I'm a daisy/rose mix. There's nothing that says I can't choose more than one. Happy Gardening.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Summer bugs, ugh! 

I love summer but the bugs are the worst.  Especially no-see-ums.  You know, those little pesky things you can't see but feel biting like crazy at the worst possible moments?  Up north we called them gnats.  Here in the south we call them no-see-ums.   They bite in all the unreachable places and always pick the times when hands are occupied.  It's a bug conspiracy.  My husband told me something about them using their tongue to "saw" through skin, which painted a really horrible picture in my mind.  So I decided to do a little research (I am the research queen after all). 
The first thing I found out is that no-see-ums are actually in the Ceratopogonidae family and are flies.  They are less than 1/4 inch in size and that's why you feel them but don't see them until it's too late.  And guess what?  The female are the biters!  Go figure.  I can't even defend my own gender.  They need the protein from blood for their eggs.  The men are lovers, not fighters.  They go for nectar.  Now, I hate to confirm this but the tongues of the no-see-ums do slice the skin and their saliva keeps the blood from clotting while they feast.  Isn't that one of the most disgusting mental pictures you can have?  I'm cringing while I'm writing about it.  Yuck! 
So, what's our defense against these blood thirsting women?  None!  Even common sense won't work very well in the summer.  All the info I read says wear long sleeves and pants.  In summer?  In Florida?  Are these people out of their minds?  No way is that happening. I live in shorts and tank tops as do most southerners.  The second piece of advice is to move around since no-see-ums don't fly very far from their breeding ground.  Well, unless you want to dance around the garden all day I'd say this is a lame idea.  Even if you did move around, the dang things grab on anyway.  They definitely know how to dance as well as anyone I know.   Another control mechanism I read about is to avoid outdoor lighting.  Ok, so you're having friends and family over and they have to feel their way through the dark to get their plates?  I don't think so.  Finally, if all else fails use insect repellant.   Nice thought, but you guessed it or felt it.  These chicks love the stuff!  Insect repellant to these ladies is like honey to the bees, nectar to the gods, poison to the ivy...  You get the picture.   

Anyway, next time you see me in my garden, mid-day rather than in the evening,  I will have a long sleeved shirt on with long pants, socks and shoes.  A netted helmet will cover my head and I will have double gloves on my hands.  And before I go out, I'll be sure to spray myself head to toe with insect repellant.   I'll look like an alien from another planet and I'll bet I'll still wind up with no-see-ums using me as their favorite meal.   Happy Gardening and watch out for those dang bugs!

Monday, July 12, 2004

Garden taste test 

A fellow blogger, Kathy Purdy, wrote to let me know about a gardener's taste test on another blogger's site. Chan apparently participated in a Teachout Cultural Concurrence Index and decided to do the same for gardening. She developed 25 questions and listed her preferences first. For an ex-northerner, I actually struggled with a few of the questions but it was interesting to see how many of my answers matched hers and Kathy's. When you get the chance, take a look at the list and pick your choices. Then compare with my fellow blogging friends. It's interesting. Here's mine:

1. Lilies: oriental or asiatic?
2. No-till or till?
3. Bare hands or garden gloves? (In the north I was a bare-handed gardener, but not here in the south with the ants.)
4. Garden tchotchkes, no or yes?
5. Clay or sand? (by default)
6. Shrub roses or hybrid teas?
7. Hollyhocks: single or double?
8. Foliage: gray or glaucous?
9. Hemerocallis: flava or fulva?
10. Impatiens: double or single?
11. Calendula or tagetes?
12. Arborvitae or juniper?
13. Spaded edge or "edging"?
14. Asters or mums?
15. Reflecting pool or coursing waterfall?
16. Morning glory blue or forget-me-not blue?
17. Lettuce: leaf or cos?
18. Hyacinth bean or red runner bean?
19. Orange or pink?
20. Garden bed shapes: formal or informal?
21. Garden bed planting schemes: informal or formal?
22. Hydrangeas: lace-cap or mophead?
23. Spirea japonica: dried flowerheads standing over the winter or in bloom?
24. Japanese beetle drowning medium: kerosene or dishsoap solution?
25. Garden stroll time: dusk or dawn?

The list that spawned this idea is arts oriented and also pretty thought-provoking. Happy Gardening.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Crown of thorns 

I have this really neat crown of thorns plant. When I was a VERY young girl newly married the first time, my then husband and I decided to get a few house plants. We got the usual philodendron and spider plant and then came across what we thought was cactus but later identified it as a crown of thorns. That little plant grew slowly and sometimes a bit weakly over a 20 year period, through one husband into another really great and forever hubby, and one day it was about 5 feet tall. Just about that time we made the decision to move to Florida and didn't know what to do with our house plants, especially that one. So Harlan contacted a friend of his who had a house overflowing with indoor plants. She fell in love with it and agreed to adopt the crown of thorns. Of course after all those years together, I just couldn't let it go without taking a little piece to Florida with me.

Well, that little piece has grown to about 3 feet in height and almost the same in width. I planted it in our front garden where it gets lots of sun and it's blooming its little head off. What a beauty. It's latin name (here we go again) is Euphorbia milii. It's a woody perennial or "subshrub" that is best grown in the tropical south or indoors. It produces leaves that are about 1 1/2 inches long and round, and clustered pairs of bracts in colors ranging from red to orange and pink. What I didn't know, besides the latin name, is that it has a high salt tolerance. How great for it and us living on the gulf in Florida. Now, I have heard stories through the years that there is some symbolism to the crown of thorns that Jesus wore on the cross. It's certainly possible, but I can't substantiate that. What I do know for sure is that this little guy has a real hunger for life and is even happier here than he ever was in his indoor environment up north. I'll bet you can even see the smile on his face yourself if you look hard enough. Oh - just one little detail I forgot to mention. This plant has some wicked thorns, hence the name. Be careful in handling it. Its smile will fool you. Happy Gardening.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Leprechaun park in Portland 

My friend, Liz Donovan, mentioned this in a recent article. Mills End Park located in Portland Oregon, is 452 square inches in size. Yes, inches. It boasts a ferris wheel along with a swimming pool and is apparently used by leprechauns. History has it that in 1946 Dick Fegan, recently returned from the war and back to his journalist job with the Oregon Journal, noticed an empty hole destined for a light pole. The pole never arrived, so Dick created a little leprechaun park. He also spoke of sightings of a Patrick O'Toole, the head leprechaun. Dick passed away in 1969 but the story lives on as does the park. It's an enchanting and enjoyable tale.

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