Monday, October 30, 2006

Stranger and stranger or is it curiouser and curiouser?

After reading a post by earthgirl on her blog The Good Earth I questioned her about one of the photos, the one with striking yellow flowers on a plant with fall leaves that had turned purple. She replied that it was a forsythia that decided to bloom in fall. I hadn't seen this phenomenon before so I thought it strange and beautiful at once.

I was contemplating digging out a witch hazel for transplantation because it occupied a prime warm location for less hardy zone 7 plants i.e. camellias and stewartias I was thinking of planting there. I am in zone 6 and this is the most sheltered spot in the whole yard. The camellias planted there are barely surviving, especially a C. sasanqua which I learned is only hardy to zone 9 and above! No wonder there was a great die back. But that's another story.

Looking closely at the witch hazel I noticed it was already covered with yellow flowers. This is way too early and stranger still, this is supposed to be a red flower variety which blooms in Jan. or Feb.! What's going on here. Unless I'm really getting batty, something weird is happening. I know it's Halloween but this is ridiculous. Global warming perhaps...

Here's the same witch hazel with red flowers. I didn't think I was imagining things.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Sidalcea candida aka checker mallow

This plant is blooming now but I can't remember if we bought it or if it came in with some other plant. Didn't know what it was so had it IDed by some good soul on the Gardenweb 'Name that plant' forum as Sidalcea candida.

I initially looked it up using Google images but found only one site that had a picture of it and it was a French site so I thought this was a rare plant or one that was uninteresting to most gardeners. I did another search later and there are lots of photos - must have mis-spelled the plant nmae Sildacea ;)

Well it doesn't have really great flowers and the flowers it has are quite small so I don't know if I will keep it although it is a native so I'm in a quandry. I feel I should so maybe I'll just transplant it in a less prominent space in the yard. It grows in the wild mainly in the Western mountain states, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico so how did it get here?

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Only 3% of blogs active?

I read in PC mag. that only 3% of blogs started are actively updated! Wow, I guess the garden bloggers have more to write about or are more tenacious like the plants they grow. Looked up this claim and here's the article from

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

More pumpkin art

Found these in the photo album. The quality of the photos are crummy because they are photos of photos...took digital pictures of prints in an album. These were earlier attempts and shows the carving process. Two versions of Munch's Scream and witch with broomstick scheme.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Pumpkin Art - Pumpkin carving

I saw a pumpkin carved this way about 10 years ago and have been carving our pumpkin this way ever since. I can't take credit for the scary one which my daughter did with her uncle on a visit to the southwest...inspired by a NewYorker cover.

The pumpkins are carved with woodcarving tools to a depth of about 1/4" after a pattern is drawn. You have to have a sense of negative and positive spaces but usually the lines are just thickened to about 1/8 to 1/4" and all the rest are dug out unless you want a large dark area. Then you scrape out the insides to thin out the drawing so the candle can illuminate the art. You have to scrape it until it's fairly thin. A large soup spoon works very well. Try a simple design first. The results are fairly breathtaking though time consuming...usually take me about 2 hours or more to do one.

Just some observations and comments on posting photos. I decided to go back to posting photos with Blogger instead of PhotoBucket. I can't seem to control the size of the photos with PB even when re-sizing them on the PB site. I don't have control of placement with Blogger but at least I can specify size small,med or large and not have copy superimposed on photos.

I also noticed that the blog displays differently using browsers other than Firefox. Explorer places all the links on the bottom of the blog while FF puts it on the side. Opera is similar to FF.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Windflowers for a dreary Friday morning

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Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

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"Honorine Jobert"

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Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
"rubra plena"

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Our anemones are still blooming despite a few days of frost. A real pick me up on this rainy morning. The "Whirlwind" is an interesting semi double flower that was labeled Honorine Jobert. The plant is smaller than most with flower stalks only a foot to a foot and a half high. And the flower is very durable surviving the frosts without much damage while one of our taller double pinks were droopy with burnt petal edges.

The white singles are "Honorine Jobert", the single pink is probably "Robustissima tomentosa". I had to look up what tomentosa meant since a lot of different varieties of plants have that appellation. It means hairy. The daisy like dark pink is a "rubra plena" and the woebegone little white a "slyvestris".

Since this is one of the few perennials blooming this late in the season - after all our impatients and begonias have turned to a floppy mess by the frost - I got crazy and ordered quite a few different cultivars of anemones by mailorder which are being delivered sporadically now. Can't wait to see them next fall or spring in the case of "nemorosa".

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Great nature photo website!

This is a wonderful site full of nature photos. The pictures are of the very highest quality from all over the world of plants and animals some of which I haven't seen before. It's free to join the site and critiques are given on your photos so you can improve your picture taking, though seeing the quality of the photos I'd be afraid to post any pictures. Take a look. See if you agree.


Monday, October 16, 2006

Honey cures drug resistant baterial sores

Brandon Keim writes in Wired News: (here's the full article)

"When Jennifer Eddy first saw an ulcer on the left foot of her patient, an elderly diabetic man, it was pink and quarter-sized. Fourteen months later, drug-resistant bacteria had made it an unrecognizable black mess."

"Doctors tried everything they knew -- and failed. After five hospitalizations, four surgeries and regimens of antibiotics, the man had lost two toes. Doctors wanted to remove his entire foot."

"With standard techniques exhausted, Eddy turned to a treatment used by ancient Sumerian physicians, touted in the Talmud and praised by Hippocrates: honey. Eddy dressed the wounds in honey-soaked gauze. In just two weeks, her patient's ulcers started to heal. Pink flesh replaced black. A year later, he could walk again."

Pretty amazing that honey is better than antibiotics! This is fantastic news for many Alzheimers, bedridden and diabetic people who develop incurable and often fatal sores. I previously heard sugar was supposed to have similar antimicrobial attributes and I would think its the sugar in the honey that's the active agent...but then again it may be the pollen or whatever else is in honey. Great stuff from bees and flowers.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Bamboo Phyllostachys Viridis Robert Young

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I bought two more bamboo from Bamboo Garden in Oregon to help screen out the new development behind our house. Good prices and fast delivery. Ned Jaquith is a very nice person to deal with, though no online ordering. These are not very hardy, only to zone 7 so I'm taking a chance by planting them in zone 6 but they'll go in sheltered places in the yard and hopefully with heavy mulching they will survive. I bought them mainly because of the beautifully colored stalks, a deep yellow to orange yellow. Here's a link that shows the color. And another site.

Here's a great bamboo cold hardiness chart from the Needmorebamboo site if you're thinking of planting some and don't know which variety to plant in your zone.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Went crazy again

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Well we did it again. A local nursery had a sale on trees. These were probably left over from the previous year and a real bargain, $25.00 each or 5 for $100.00. The trees were spindly and tall 10 to 15 feet just perfect to help screen out neighbors, so we bought two different kinds of elm. I asked the person who runs the nursery what the trees were - he said they just got the trees unlabeled and he couldn't tell me what they were except some kind of elm. The elm could actually be zelkova but the zelkova's around here have reddish yellow leaves and these are turning a bright yellow without any red and it actually looks like the leaves of Ulmus laevis, Russian elm at least in the photos in my botanical book. The small leaf tree is turning a red orange, again he said it was some kind of elm hopefully Ulmus parvifolia, Chinese elm or Ulmus pumila, Siberian elm. We also bought two "Autumn brilliance" maples and some kind of Cedrus that I can't identify.

We have to stop going to nurseries or I'll die digging holes to plant these trees with large size pots.

Something's screwed up here. Pictures are not being displayed and I didn't post this mushroom picture...wonder what happened? I checked the preview before posting this and all the correct photos were displayed. Strange.

Well, stupid me. I deleted the photos in Photobucket so the pictures essentially did not exist any more. Had to reload them and I guess I'll have to keep them in Photobucket forever if I want them to show up.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

World record 1502 pound giant pumpkin!

Wow a giant world record pumpkin weighing 3/4 of a ton...1502 pounds. Now that's some pumpkin.

Here's a picture of the grower Ron Wallace of Greene, Rhode Island and his pumpkin (Wow!) as well as other pumpkin records.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Blocking new construction with bamboo

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Several new houses are being built behind our home. Unfortunately one was sited almost directly opposite our backyard and deck and is built as close to the property line as the ordinances allow. It feels like we are totally exposed especially when the shell of the house indicated that many windows were to be placed on two levels. There are 5 windows and a sliding glass door on the lower level and 8 windows on the second floor! I can't believe there are so many windows on the back of the house. Usually there are very few.

In any case the birches planted along the property line 2 and 3 years ago will be our first line of defense. Unfortunately there aren't very fast growing evergreens so we'll just make it up with density of planting. I've already planted 2 zelkovas, a cedrus, several other evergreens, a bald cypress, redbud and a couple of magnolias. But we still have holes and most aren't tall enough yet to block out the second floor windows so I bought some bamboos which will hopefully be evergreen or at least keep their leaves and be tall enough to provide screening.

the bamboos (I love that word) in the photo are: GIANT YELLOW STRIPE Bamboo Phyllostachys aureasulcata........30'............2"........ - 20 F
GIANT HARDY BLACK BAMBOO PLANT Phyllostachys nigra punctata......60'.....4".....-5 F RED TEMPLE Bamboo Plant Semiarundanaria fastuosa: Max Height: 25 feet Max width: 2" Def. temp. - 5 F All ordered through E-bay from the BambooBuddy vendor. The bamboos were very reasonalbly priced compared to many others and arrived in good condition in about 10 days.

I also ordered another variety from a different vendor and haven't received it yet, one with orange-yellow canes. I hope these will survive the winter. They are all running bamboo as there are only a few clumping bamboo that are cold hardy and most aren't tall enough. I will attempt to keep them contained by planting in large tubs sunk in the soil...I hope it works...wish us luck.


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Small fuzzless kiwi

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I saw these small kiwis, Actinidia arguta 'Issai' in the store the other day and decided to try them. They're the size of a grape and are much easier to eat than the fuzzy ones because you don't have to peel them. The taste is much the same but more muted, sweeter and less acidic with a tough skin. When cut open they look like miniature kiwi.

I let it sit at room temperature overnight and the taste has improved - much more like a regular kiwi.

If you like kiwis give them a try. Supposed to contain a lot of vitamin C too so its a healthy snack.

I'm trying an experiment posting photos using Photobucket so I hope it works. Uploading pictures to Photobucket is much faster than Blogger and easy as copying the tag line and pasting in the post so here goes. The preview shows the photo so I hope when I publish it, it will still be there.

Well, it worked but I need to find out how to size the photo to better fit the format.

Update: If there's a little give when squeezing the kiwi you know it's ripe and has a fuller taste. These are very handy for snacking as there's no preparation i.e. peeling.

Monday, October 02, 2006

More plant photo sites

I was looking for a medlar, Mespilus, online as I had seen a picture of it in a book and thought it may have been a beautiful small tree we saw in the courtyard of the Cloisters in New York and stumbled upon these websites. Someone we talked to said it was a quince, Cydonia oblonga but that was not right as I bought two Cydonia oblonga plants and they didn't look anything like the trees at the Cloisters. The medlar looks more like the tree. Now I need to find mail order nurseries that sell them.

Plant photo website abound. Here are three more.

A German site.

A Dutch site.

And an Italian site.
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Location: Zone 6, New Jersey, United States

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