Sunday, July 22, 2012

Butterflies and banana spiders

My, I had fun this morning! The back garden was just a-flutterin’. Several Gulf Fritillaries were enjoying the Purple Coneflowers, making the almost roseless garden a happier place for the gardener.

I was so surprised by their constant wing-flapping.
They did not sit still and pose for these. Flap, flap, flap.
It was no bother at all to keep pressing the shutter. Click, click, click.
Seeking the perfect image.
Close but no cigar.
Perhaps closer.
This isn't the age old problem of "someone moved". Mr. Blur was frantically trying to get a spot on the other guy's flower, but he must have been sending out some territorial vibes, because Mr. Blur never landed.
We may have a winner.
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You know, if these aren't enough to satisfy your butterfly appetite, I have a few dozen more.
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Two for one.
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I just can't stop.
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Alright, I'm under control now.
I believe this is a Honey Bee. The Bumble Bee wouldn't sit still at all.

Though it was only 86 degrees at this point, it felt pretty much like a sauna, and I was decidedly damp. My pajamas were stuck to my legs, and my arms were dripping. Isn’t Florida in the summer wonderful? Humidity notwithstanding, the garden really was an idyllic place this morning. I didn’t even walk through a spider’s web. Around here you have to carry a stick and wave it in front of you as you walk along. DH gets a good laugh watching me through his den window.

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You can barely see the web of this Banana Spider aka Golden Silk Spider aka Nephila clavipe, and if you look hard above the right roof edge, you'll see the inhabitant of this web herself. The interesting thing is the way a buds-bearing cane of 'Blush Noisette' has been pulled toward the spider with the silken threads of her web.
There she is seemingly support-less in thin air.
But the web really is there. I don't bother webs that are not in areas where I walk. These spiders are beneficial except for the willies they give me, so I leave them be.
The fading glory of 'Nur Mahal'.
The soon-to-be glorious 'Duchesse d'Auerstadt'.
This lady, along with several others, has strung her household from an azalea up to the eaves just like the fake stuff you see in the movies.
These caladiums were a stroke of brilliance last year to hide the bare ground and naked legs of 'Reve d'Or'. Unimpressive last year, they make a big impact this year, being about three feet tall with leaves well over a foot long.
'Gingerland' caladium is new this year and smaller than the one above. I think these won't be as big as the other. And I really love the coloring on Gingerland. He likes sun.
Before the tree trimming I moved 'Napoleon's clay pot out of the dead shade onto the patio. Poor guy had no leaves. He's leafed out in the meantime, and now this twiggy China has a flower. Happiness is...
You can see why they're called Golden Silk Spiders.
They're all over the place, and this one's about four inches long.

Just at dinnertime we had a nice downpour - again. Gee, it seems like old times in Florida since we're having these nearly daily rains. I thought I'd see if I could capture a wet web.

Here’s Mrs. Banana Spider. She’ll be doing some housework tonight since the rain knocked two big, round holes in her web. It’s always something, isn’t it?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

A pruning party in San Jose

It occurs to me that there should be more city rose gardens in our country. Can I get an Amen! to that? Public gardens that put hundreds and even thousands of beautiful, blooming roses on display are a source of pride for the citizens of the town and an attraction for tourists. Unfortunately, great ideas are often followed by skeptical thoughts. Who will pay for it, who will do the work, who will follow through on maintenance? I suppose the answer to those questions is the citizens, you and me. Well, gee, how can two people do all the work that a public garden requires? Just take a look at how the citizens of San Jose, California do it. I think they can put to rest all of our skepticism. Anyone game for taking the plunge in your town?

Thank you, Terry Reilly, Co-Founder of the Friends of the San Jose Rose Garden, for sending me the link to this pruning video after my original post of the aerial garden tour video. Now I am excited to be able to edit this post, because you have followed up with another email with this kind message:
 Hi Sherry,

People often wonder how we were able to set up a vibrant organization like the Friends of the San Jose Rose Garden.  Well, the All-America Rose Selections wrote a case study on us.  It reveals all of our secrets! You might want to share it with your friends.
Click HERE to view the case study.

Terry went on to say: 
In addition, people may be interested in a great volunteer tracking software that was developed on our original tracking concept.  It's free and is great to keep the volunteers engaged.

You can see it HERE.
You can also check out the website of Friends of the San Jose Rose Garden by going HERE.

I am incredibly thrilled that this post has become a conduit of this valuable information. Once again, rosarians - and that means you, Terry - have proven themselves to be the definition of generosity.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Now boarding for the rose flight

This is the San Jose Municipal Rose Garden in San Jose, California. I'm sad to say that I've never been there, but the folks in and around San Jose have a real gem.  Restored in 2009 and maintained with the help of volunteers, it is also a trial garden for new rose varieties. I've seen many "glamor shots" of individual rose blooms taken in this garden by GardenWeb rose friends, but I had no idea what a beautiful garden it is and that it was named "America's Best Rose Garden" on August 12, 2010.

Thanks to Facebook, I now know about this wonderful rose garden, but little did I know when I clicked on the link that I would be taken on a very cool hexacopter ride and an exhilarating birdseye tour, complete with orchestral accompaniment. In the first seconds I recognized the radio-controlled six-bladed helicopter and stuck my netbook under DH's nose. He's really into aerial photography and RC, and this video held his attention for the whole 12 minutes and 42 seconds. I just know you will enjoy it, too. And if you're ever in Silicon Valley, be sure to treat yourself to this fabulous garden.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

236 Years ago today – Happy Birthday, America!

Some years ago DH and I stopped at a little diner on Highway 17 in Pierson, Florida on our way to our weekend house on the St. John’s River in Welaka. We sat down in the booth, placed our order and waited for the food to arrive. On the wall above the salt and pepper, ketchup and napkins there was a sheet of paper. No, it was not a menu or any other words of the proprietor. It was The Declaration of Independence just as it appears here. I was rather excited to see it, because I could not ever remember reading it. DH proceeded to recite the first sentence, “When in the course of human events…” that he had memorized for his role as Thomas Jefferson in a play in grade school. Fifty years later he could still remember the Words. I on the other hand had not learned them though I’m sure they were hung in every elementary school classroom of mine, and I was keenly interested to read the Words in this special document that so many men had signed at the risk of their Lives, their Fortunes and their sacred Honor.

So I started to read it - out loud - with a look of approval from DH. It’s a lengthy document with long sentences, and several times I ran out of breath before the period finally came. I tried to give it all the deference at my command with proper diction though the ancient script made it none too easy. Still etched in my memory are the many times when my emotions would suddenly jump to my throat, choking the flow of words, and bringing tears to my eyes, blurring the page before me. I am not a person who cries in front of others, since hiding my emotions is preferable to showing my emotions. However, several times the Words of this Declaration forced me to pause to regain my composure which caused me to realize that being an American has consequences even for those of us who haven’t paid much attention. These Words held meaning and power in my life. These Words, penned so arduously and prayerfully by fifty-six men long since dead who were faithfully representing the people back in their home colony and by so doing were committing those people – farmers and shopkeepers and their families - to a war against the greatest power on earth, these Words cut into the deepest part of me, a part of me of which I was unaware – the Patriot. Growing up in America inculcates the soul with a love of country that though not entirely unique is exceedingly profound even if we Americans don’t fully realize it. Reading the Words that brought about my Beautiful America out loud was quite an amazing experience. Click HERE to be amazed yourself.

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