Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Foggy morn & new editor

Foggy Morning
1.25 inches
I'm trying out the *new* blog editor today.  I'm hoping that using it instead of the old editor the comment problem might get magically resolved!  (It's got some neat tricks like drag-n-drop picture placement and captioning.  Best of all - an UNDO function!  YAY!)

Now if only I could use some juju editting on the weather.  All July and August and earlier this month I tried all the old tricks to entice rain to the gardens.  Standbys like washing the car (actually I dry dusted it), putting nice things outside that shouldn't get wet, leaving the house with the windows open.  Even a couple of tries as rain dancing on the deck, but to no avail.

Finally I hit on a sure-fire process.  Strip the deck!  Good grief.  I finished the deck on Sunday and it hasn't stopped raining since!!  Yesterday we got 1.25 inches.  Everything is soaked.  Not that it will do the gardens much good this time of year when everything is shutting down.  Heck, I haven't even seen a bee since Sunday.  At least the annuals will get the benefit. 

wet deck
Now I'm dancing up and down hoping for a couple of dry days in a row so I can put the TWP on the deck.  *whine*  Originally today, Thur & Fri were supposed to be sunny.  Now the forecasts call for a cloudy day followed by a rain day for the next 7 days or so.  Darn that tropical system crawling up the coast!  I just hope I'll still get a couple-three dry days with temps in the 60s at least before all the leaves start coming down.  The deck needs a day to dry out then at least 2 for the sealer to cure. And I can't even imagine what fun it is going to be now that leaves will fall onto the sealer.  :-/


Once again I'm hoping you'll let me know if you can't comment on this post (Beemail Me).  Yesterday's 'fix' only allowed a couple of folks to comment that previously couldn't.   Others (like TS) still can't comment on this blog. *fume* (Thanks for going to one of the other blog pages to comment, TS. :-D)  

Newsflash!  When I use the PREVIEW function in the new editor, I can see "Post a Comment" is light blue!  Now if I can only find a way to change that.... So, bear with me, and keep your fingers crossed. :-D

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Monday, September 27, 2010


What is this? Looks like someone moved everything off the deck. I wonder why? ;-D

To see what's up, link over to my Garden Projects (<= click here) page.


I need your help. More and more of you cannot post comments on this blog. Google blogger has many complaints on this very issue, but no resolution. Please help me help them.

Kyna, TS and anyone else who hasn't been able to comment on this blog since mid-August,
I've made all the changes Blogger suggested. I would really appreciate it if you would try to comment today. Even a single word. If you find you still CANNOT post a comment, would you mind using the BEEMAIL link near the top of the sidebar and let me know that my fixes didn't work? I want to help solve this annoying problem. After all, without comments this blog would be soooo lonely, no? THANKS everyone. :-D


Tuesday 9/28 followup: Looks like folks can now comment to the blog. Yippee! If, in the future you cannot comment, please Beemail me (link on top sidebar) and let me know. Thanks everyone for helping.

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Morning commute

or...why I can't close the garage door at night.

7:30 a.m.

Did Skippy here have coffee under the shelf where he spends the night?

He's moving kinda slow. I'm thinking he hasn't had his cuppa joe yet.

Whoa! Whoa! Too sharp a turn. Good thing you didn't put out your trash cans last night!

Okay, he's gotten it in gear. Watch out for the leaf!

Finally, heading off for a day under the deck.

Be careful, Skippy. It's a jungle out there.

Call if you're gonna be late.

(*sheesh* I'm glad I'm retired. I don't miss that kind of stress at all!)

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Monday, September 20, 2010

You've come a long way, baby.

This time of year our garden beds are probably pretty full and seems normal.
Thanks to photos, though, we can glimpse back to how things looked when the season started.

March 2010:

September 2010:

Kinda puts all that work into perspective, no?

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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Not happy - not joy

Sometimes things go horribly wrong.

Recently I found a couple of yellow jackets flying around in my sunroom.

Then I found a couple buzzing around in the upstairs bathroom.

Finally I tracked them down. The 'wonderful' people that built the sunroom onto the house back in the 80s left gaps. No foam. No insulation. Nothing. So now that a piece of the old butyl caulk fell out of the eave flashing, yellow jackets are under the flashing and obviously have found little holes into the house.

The white powder is insecticide. Supposedly they track through it, groom themselves, and die. I've done 2 treatments (hanging out the window at night, trying to get the spray where it should go, yeah I'm pretty crazy). All I seem to have done is get them all riled up.

I'll try one more treatment and if I don't see any sign that it's working -- I'll have to pony up for a real exterminator. *grumble* I HATE having to kill anything (especially if I have to PAY to do it!) but invasion is invasion and I stand my ground when it comes to protecting my house. And me!

I have to get them out of the house else they may well overwinter in a wall and next spring could bring real trouble. Nor can I repair that caulk until I'm sure they are gone else they may chew their way through something else if they can't use that entrance. And I LOATHE having to use insecticide here at the sanctuary. I fear collateral damage.

Gee, where's a couple of nice foxes when you need them? Foxes? <== click here for that story.

Stay tuned....

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Happy happy Joy joy

Happy happy joy.

It's raining! Right now! YAY! And it looks like it may give us at least a half-inch!**

I'm happy. The deck plants are happy. And the rain is not anything like the weather channel hyped it up to be yesterday.

They forecasted high winds, powerful thunderstorms, large hail, etc etc yadda yadda yadda. Sure it's a little breezy out there and I heard thunder - once! Honestly I wish PBS did the weather. I think they wouldn't try to drum up viewers by constantly yelling : IT'S THE END OF THE WORLD. The weather channel has cried 'wolf' far too many times. Makes us NOT pay attention when something REAL is coming.

But -- enough of them. Back to the rain.



** 10:00 am update. It only lasted an hour and gave us just shy of 1/2". Still, that's better than none. So I'm still happy happy joy joy.... :-D

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Red dawn = red beds

I love a deeply colored dawn, a sky shot with cranberry and magenta.

All those colors flow down into the gardens, lending a rosy glow to all it bathes.

It even turns the browned-out graham-cracker lawn into something close to raspberry cream. The colors are fleeting but the inner glow it produces lasts all day long.

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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Second string strength

The agastache has gone to seed and it has made a big difference in bee dynamics in the gardens. For much of the summer the Golden Jubilee and Anise Hyssop have been the goto grub for most every kind of bee. I planted lots this year.

But no more bitty blue flowers on the bottlebrush blooms. As I mentioned before I'm seeing fewer bees now. Those that remain are now visiting plants that previously only the hummingbird used to visit.

Take the crab bed, for instance. There are bees on the salvia splendens and the 2 tubular hyssops (Apricot Sprite & Apache Sunset). The s. spendens have the largest flower and even native bees can shove their little selves in for a sip. As for the hyssops, they are really small and it's fun to watch larger bees push themselves in. Some types just slice in from the outside.

In the morning the s. spendens in the arbor garden are all a-buzz, as are the red lobelia. In the background you can see lots of geraniums in the veg bed, and they are getting some honeybee traffic. I've grown geraniums here for years and to date they have only been eye-candy for the gardener. I'm not sure why this year is different. More bees? More flowers? Last year I had less bee forage so wouldn't the geraniums been more attractive since there was less to be had? I don't know the answer. I'm just glad they are enjoying them now.

As for other tiny tubular flowers, the same can be said for the salvia subrotunda. This plant is 98% foliage and 2% flower. Teeny tiny flowers. But now, without the agastache, the bees are chewing into them like candy.

Even the marigolds (which, like my geraniums never got any traffic in past years) are enjoying daily visits from natives and honeybees alike.

The agastache attracted a ton of bees this year: natives and honeybees. It's unfortunate that the plants did not bloom longer. (Yeah, I'm really disappointed (ha!)that they only lasted 3 months in spite of the extreme heat and drought! LOL)

Well, while I (like the bees) am missing the main course forage, I'm glad that the 2nd string blooms are getting their fair share of attention. After all, it's hard for me to justify indulging in too many plants that are just pretty faces since starting the sanctuary. It's good to know that some of my fave eye candy are making the cut!

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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Bee nest news

The underground bee nest in the stump bed is still going strong.

I check it every day because there is always something new to see. The arrow on the right points to the main entrance. This has changed size over the summer. I'd posted before how occasionally they wove shade awnings over it several times. They've also arranged fallen leaves.

Lately they've closed the entrance pretty tight allowing only a single bee in and out at a time.

One morning I found a huge hole right next to the stump (just above the left arrow). Something had dug in one night. The hole was nearly 8" round with dirt everywhere. Probably a 'coon or fox went after larvae? Whatever, I filled it in and it's stayed closed.

Airways have come and gone. They are usually circular holes no more than a half-inch wide. They don't stay open more than a couple of days.

About 10 days ago this passage appeared. It's nearly 3" long and half as wide. It looks like a cartoon mouse hole with it's straight smooth sides and defined arch. I've never seen anything fly in or out, so it must be an air shaft. The shape sure is interesting, to say the least.

This time of year there are fewer blooms to feed them especially now that the agastache has gone to seed. There are still the salvias and the zins and eventually the native asters will bloom, but already I'm seeing fewer bees.

I hope this nest survives the winter. These gals have really been good garden nabes.

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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Watering woes

It's been in the high 80s for months, and now the 90s all this week, with the same for today and tomorrow. This sure belies my previous "Ahhh Coool" post. No cool in sight. More importantly, no RAIN in sight. We only received 3/4" in August and between that and the persistent heat (and now desiccating wind), the gardens are not faring very well.

Because I have a well (and am very resource-conscious) not all plants are getting watered during this awful heat. Like the balsam. A member of the impatiens family, they like moisture. But even here in the shade, they are suffering. Since it's mostly done blooming, this annual will be allowed to succumb. I'll save seeds for next year.

Some perennials will suffer the same fate. The astilbes will be allowed to die back. No amount of water will lush them out again this season and there is no real reason to try. They will come back next spring.

Some things, however, I will water - sparingly. I have 2 doublefile viburnums (rescued from my mother's gardens when they got too big). They were planted late last fall and obviously don't have extensive root development yet to withstand long dry spells.

I have 2 blue rose-of-sharons that I also transplanted last fall. They, too, have less root development, but unless I see more stress than this, they may be able to wait until the rains return.

This is a frustrating time for me. Though I plant drought tolerant varieties, they have limits. In the veg bed I am watering only those that will still crop if given a chance (beans, Brussels sprouts, peppers, carrots, butternut squash, tomatoes). Others - well, time to pull the plug (cukes, basil).

My angst comes when I see mass plantings of salvia subrotunda, salvia spendens and the-yet-to-bloom salvia elegans go limp and lean toward crispy. Or watch the toughest agastache start dropping leafs. Or notice the leaves on the zins and cannas curl.

So this morning, knowing that there is no rain in sight and that there are gahundreds of bees and butterflies counting on the beds for forage, I went out and watered. I watered the salvia and swear I could hear the well pump running in the basement. I watered the viburnums and brick bed zins and imagined that below my feet the water table receded. I watered some of the agastache, the potted plants, and refilled the birdbaths. And felt - guilty. (I did not water anything in the ring bed - those plants have been - and always will be - on their own.)

Logically I know I'm not really squandering water. I doubt I used more than 50-60 gallons on this big splurge today. Emotionally, however, it's tough to deal with it. I refuse to rationalize that oh, the guy next door washes his car all the time or the guy down the street has a pool or (for crying out loud) the golf course behind me runs their sprinklers every night!!!

Still, I'll be very very happy should some tropical system send some rain this way. I think my brain is getting a little fried.... 8-\

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