Sunday, July 31, 2011


This morning I did some trimming on the two wisteria vines that have grown wild and wooly in the heat of summer when most things are just barely surviving.  After that I moved on to deadhead the blooms on the two butterfly bushes and managed to come up with quite a few clippings.  As I made my first trip to the back of the yard to pour out my bag of clippings I was thinking about how hot and dry everything was and fully aware that it seemed like a good time to see a snake. 

On my second trip to the back of the yard, with my husband weed eating nearby, I was still cautious about where I stepped and keeping an eye out for any passing critters.  After emptying my bag of clippings and starting back I suddenly realized that somewhere in my field of vision I had spied a snake.  I stopped immediately and scanned the grass until I saw him again.  He was watching me too, with his head lifted for a better view.  He was directly in front of me in the grass... about four feet from where I stood.  As I stood there frozen in my tracks I realized that standing still with my arms at my side I could feel the pulse in the back of my head, where the base of my skull meets my neck.  I felt chills run down my spine. 

I waved my arms as my husband looked up and pointed at the ground and mouthed the word "SSSSNNNNAAAKKE" slowly and deliberately.  He started walking towards me saying, "What"?  Thinking that I was pointing into the bag where I collect my clippings.  Finally I realized he wasn't getting it and just put both hands up, palms towards him and said, "STOP".  He did... then cut off the weed eater and said, what is it?  I said, A snake right there... it's tail approximately a foot and a half from where he stood. 

I think it was probably a rat snake.  Because it looked a lot like a much larger one we saw a few years back that was correctly identified by a coworker's sister who works at our local zoo. 

Rat Snake - A very old, very happy Rat Snake... so they tell me!

Approximately 6 ft. in length

Baby snake in our pool skimmer - YIKES!

I didn't get a photo of the one today... but to me... a snake, is a snake, is a snake!  Sweet hubby used the weed eater to encourage the snake back toward the woods at the back of our yard.  At one point it became intimidated, coiled and struck back at the weed eater.  Even though I'm sure it wasn't poisonous... it was quite intimidating!  He kept encouraging it to go away and it finally did... until it got to a tree, where it promptly and effortlessly climbed the tree.  How is that even possible?  It seemed as easy as slithering across the ground.  Amazing!  Hubby put down the weed eater, grabbed a long, straight limb that he uses for other purposes in the yard and got it out of the tree and walked it to the woods.

No matter how many snakes I see.  No matter of their lenght or girth.  No matter whether they're poisonous or harmless.  They still freak me out!  As you can imagine... my gardening for the day was done.  It's too darn hot to do much anyway!  Are you buying that excuse? It's good enough for me!

Stay cool and hydrated... and I hope to see you in the garden... unless you're a snake!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Birthday Blessings

Among other treasures I got the two things I wished for most... sun-loving plants and meal worms! 

One of my friends gave me a Lantana and an Apricot Drift (meimirrote').  Now all I have to do is decide where to plant them.  The Apricot Drift is a groundcover rose that reaches 2 1/2' wide x 1 1/2' tall.  It is really pretty, with a beautiful apricot colored bloom that fades throughout the day and smells absolutely fabulous!


(Apricot Drift Rose)

(sorry that this one is a little blurry)

We don't really do birthday's up big around here.  I just never really cared for the fuss, don't like surprises and don't enjoy being the center of attention.  My mother didn't ask what I wanted, so I guess she read it on the blog.  Since they didn't know much about it, she and my nephew didn't really know where to begin their search for freeze-dried meal worms... but being the troopers they are, they finally managed to find some in a pet store.  My nephew asked, "Does she have a frog?"  Mom says, "No, I don't think so".  "Why does she want meal worms?"  Mom says, "I dont' know".  Mom's like me, she doesn't ask questions.  She just "does".  So I suppose that she was relieved today to know that I wanted them for the bluebirds... and not another crazy diet I read about on the Internet! :)  Seriously, does a meal worm diet sound that much worse than the cabbage soup diet?  Answer:  Not if you've ever been on it for more than a week! :)

My favorite gifts today?  LOVE and FRIENDSHIP... those are the things that I cherish most!  Love you all, and thank you for always being there!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

They're finally blooming...

Yippee!  My Crape Myrtles are finally blooming!  They are absolutely beautiful!  I suppose they aren't in the perfect situation to bloom as early as others in the neighborhood... but they still put on a show! 

(Click on each photo to see a larger view)

Sometimes I look at them and think... "I thought they'd have grown more by now"... but then when I look back at photos from when they were originally planted... and suddenly I am ecstatic with their growth!  We planted them in May of 2007... after the neighbors had planted the hedge row of Privet (Ligustrum vulgare) in the fall of  2006 to replace other shrubs that had been removed due to some type of disease.  When they bloomed for the first time they looked more like a bouquet of flowers than any type of shrub or tree.  The photo below is basically the same view as the photo above... only 4 years earlier.  What a difference!

They are our nearest neighbors... but now that the hedge of Privet has grown in we barely know that they are there.  They're great neighbors... but we all appreciate a little privacy.  I know for a fact that when I'm out there bobbing around in the pool that they are really glad that it's there too! :)

Enough for now.  Y'all stay cool and hydrated and I'll see you in the garden soon.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Fairies graced my garden...

Yesterday we were fortunate enough to be visited by a Zebra Swallowtail... the first one that I have ever seen.  She was beautiful, perfect, whole and intact - and that is a rarety in my garden. 

Remember you can click on each picture for a larger view...

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Today our temperatures soared high to around 96 degrees, but our neighborhood was one of those blessed with a good solid rain... a nice surprise, since they forecasted only a 20% chance for rain, at best. 

It's been raining for about three hours now and our rain gauge, so far, indicates that we've collected 1 1/2 inches of glorious rain!  What a blessing!  How is it that the simple task of chasing a butterfly or watching a steady rain can fool you into thinking that everything is right with the world...even if only for a few moments?

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Birds and the Bees... and the BLOOMS

Today my sweet hubby and I had a lunch date.  My usual office lunch-mates were both off, so he and I made a date.  It was sweet!  We just ran to a nearby pizza and sandwich shop for a quick bite and then he took me on a tour through a historic neighborhood to view the gardens and architecture.  There was quite an assortment of gardens; some were fabulous, some suffering, some thriving, some sweet and innocent, some chocked full of plants, some more sparsely planted, and a couple that were just plain scary; the kind of setting that wouldn't exactly beckon visitors!  One yard and its gardener's idea of beauty was, even in broad daylight, "intimidating".  It would take more than a dare from my older (and decidedly more evil) sister to force me into that yard after dark!  As a matter of fact, I can admit without a doubt that it wouldn't happen, not today - and certainly not in my youth!

But there was one corner garden that was so expansive and colorful that we had to get out of the car and enjoy up close.  The garden ran along the west side of the house and reached a half a city block in length.  it was filled with brilliant green sweet potato vines, squash vines, hyacinth bean vines, clematis vines, 10 ft. tall sunflowers, poppies, zinnias, day lilies, deep crimson hibiscus (with blooms the size of a dinner plate), a butterfly bush that was pruned into a tree... and many more blooms/plants that I either can't recall at the moment, or with which I am not familiar. 

The only thing this garden was missing was shade.  It sat next to a vacant lot without one single tree to offer a bit of relief from the scorching sun.  It was amazing that it was still so lush and full with the temperatures of late; however, their rainwater collection container system was well thought out and quite impressive.  The bees, butterflies, sparrows and squirrels seemed quite content to call this corner home!

Speaking of bees... Monday morning on our 6 a.m. commute to the office we passed a flatbed truck loaded with beehives!  They were covered with netting, but there were several bees that could be seen between the netting and the boxes.  Now that would be a bad truck to crash into, wouldn't it?  Hazardous materials are one thing... but millions of buzzing, angry, confused bees is another!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Self Awareness

Hi, I'm Stacy... and I'm a fair-weather gardener!  There, I've admitted it.  But am I ready to take ownership of the problem?  Is "sort of" an acceptable answer?  Well, it's not entirely my fault... then again, maybe it is. Logically, it can't be anyone else's fault.  It's just that my lack of gardening experience has kept me from planning things out well enough to have something continually blooming.  I'm working on it... well, at least in my mind I am working on it.  Planning ahead isn't my strong suit!  In the spring... my garden looks good.  It can even fool the non-gardeners into thinking that I have the gift of a green thumb.  But then as the season progresses and the usual unrelenting summer heat of middle Tennessee sets in my garden begins to wither and wane. 

Good news from the garden... I seem, at least for the moment, to be winning the battle against the aphids and it looks as if my Royal Crape Myrtle may survive this season with most of her foliage and maybe even a few blooms.  I don't want to give her false hope... but I can tell you that we're not going to go down without a fight!  My Mandi Crape Myrtles are just teasing me with millions of buds waiting to burst open in bloom like a great magenta firework display.  They are stubborn and will open in their own time.  They aren't easily prodded into blooming simply because all of the other CMs in the neighborhood bloomed weeks ago!  I've tried to guilt them into blooming... it didn't work. 

Bailey, "our dog" from two doors down graced us with a visit tonight.  She loves me in spite of my shortcomings... well, that and my excellent taste in doggie treats.  The feeling is mutual.  Plus, she's never been judgmental about my gardening abilities. 

The bluebirds have again been visiting our birdhouse frequently over the last few days.  We watch from the patio with the great anticipation of bouncing tiny little grandbaby bluebirds on our knees.  I'm not sure that they're interested in building a nest this year... maybe they're just long-range planners.  But we vacuumed, dusted and offered the first month's rent free, just to sweeten the deal.  Hopefully they couldn't see through our pathetic veil of neediness!  We have no shame!

My birthday is coming up in a few days... and I'm secretly hoping for either sun-loving plants or freeze-dried meal worms.  I bet you don't see that on many birthday wish lists!

Y'all stay cool and hydrated... and I'll see you in the garden soon!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

With Age, Comes Aches and Pains... Not Wisdom

Okay, perhaps that title isn't entirely accurate in all cases; but it does seem to be a fair assessment of my life!

Yesterday I had put a hose trickling on my azalea bushes and was moving it every thirty minutes.  I had set a timer to make sure I didn't forget.  Between waterings, I decided to make some hummingbird food.  When my timer went off I reset it for another 30 minutes and then headed out the door to move the hose.  Once outside I was surprised to find my husband resting from a round of mowing.  I asked him if he had seen how beautifully the neighbor's Crape Myrtle was blooming.  He said he hadn't, so off we went for a look.  While on that side of the house we moved the hose and then headed back to the house.  Hubby says, you ready for a swim?  Well, sure! 

So we're in the pool splashing around enjoying the break when all of the sudden I remember the sugar-water I left boiling on the stove top.  I panicked, which if you know me will not come as a shock to you.  I jump out of the pool, grab a towel and head for the house.  I open the door to the smell of sugar-water cooking and can hear it boiling like mad!  I was relieved that it hadn't boiled dry.  Just as I nearly got to the stove my wet feet flew out from under me and I hit the floor with a loud THUD!  I hit with all of the impact on my right buttock.  Oh man that hurt!  Do you know how hard you have to hit the floor to bruise yourself there?  Not exactly an area with sharp edges!  I managed to turn over and crawl to the stove, pull myself up to my knees, move the pan from the eye, and turn off the eye.  I knew today that I'd probably wake up stiff and feeling like I had whiplash! 

A few important lessons were learned from yesterday:
  • Never leave anything on the stove unattended
  • Never walk across a linoleum floor with wet feet
  • It's more important to set a timer for food on the stove than water on the lawn
  • and even though this wasn't mentioned above... it really needs no explanation...No matter how hungry you think you are... DO NOT go to a buffet!
Although I woke up this morning with a food binger's hangover and feeling as if I had been mugged, after a two-hour nap (which is something I never do) I did manage to get a few photos from the yard...

See you in the garden... or the emergency room, but hopefully the garden!
:)  Y'all have a good week!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Where Does the Time Go?

I can't believe how quickly time can get away from me.  It's been days since I've written anything here.  I hope that you noticed! :) 

We've been doing little "gardening" of late, but spending most of our time sanding, painting, sanding, sanding more sanding and staining.  The front porch railings look FANTABULOUS... and the deck is such a huge change.  Other than needing something to elevate you up about three feet from the patio; so that you could enter into the back door, I never really understood the deck on the back of the house.  If it were just a deck... I'd get that... but a 12'x10' deck built over an existing concrete patio???  Now that always seemed odd.  What a waste of space.  So, as you may remember from a previous post, about a year ago we had a cover built over the existing patio so that we could enjoy the area more and not just sit out there baking like a couple potatoes.  Well, once the patio cover was in place it became even more of an eyesore to have this monstrosity of a deck on the patio. 

12'x10' Deck

    Side view of 12'x10' deck under patio cover
(ignore the man crawling around under the deck)

Deck reduced to the width of the steps.
Notice how it opens up the patio area!

Another view showing the reduced deck.
Before sanding/staining.

Wow!  See how pretty? 
Deck reduced in size and stained to match siding.

See how it just fades into the background?

Much better!
Really opened up the space!

So you see... we've not just been sitting around sipping iced tea and relaxing.  We may not have been doing much in the garden... but we've still been making progress outdoors!  I hope you like what we've done!

I hope that you've been enjoying your own gardens while I've been busy.  I'll look for you in the garden tomorrow!