Loons in the Morning

If I had not gone and fetched my camera, nobody would believe this story.

I am, after all, in North Carolina.   I do see an occasional lone Loon visiting on the lake.

But I have NEVER seen a Loon flock?  Is that what it’s called?

This morning I was out inspecting my gardens after forty-eight hours of rain.

(Good thing those ditches got put in properly!)

I heard a whoosh along the tree-lined shore.  Dozens of Loons were entering the water after roosting up the bank.

More and more kept plunging into the muddy water. I ran in to get my camera.

I could not believe my eyes. The Loons were diving and stretching their wings like they were conditioning them.   Over and over I observed this behavior. Dip and stretch.

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They began to align in the water, all pointing southward.  The running and flapping started in groups. Wave after wave of Loons lifted off.  Running across the top of the water,  loudly flapping their wings until getting airborne.

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I couldn’t take my eyes off of this noisy spectacle. I lifted my hand in solute as they departed. All I could say was,” I don’t know anything. ”  There were tears in my eyes.  Nature is one miracle after another.

If I had not been out for those brief moments, I would have missed the whole event.

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Had I missed this every spring? Was this flock here due to the storms pushing them inland or southward?  Was this the new normal?

All I can do is take photos and report. I don’t know anything.  But I can still learn!

FLOON

If Iris were Dresses

If Iris were dresses, I’d have quite a wardrobe.

There would never be worries about what to wear.

I’d wear Persian Berry to the ballet

and dream that I too am leaping and twirling.

Easter Sunday would call for the bright, sunny yellow of Banana Frappe’.

For a run south of the border, I’d don Thunder Echo

and dance the Tango and Rumba in practical shoes with ruby buckles.

A skyscraper evening with sparkling drinks would require Immortality with diamonds.

For a night on the town, I would slip on Little Much, full of ruffles and sparkles.

For a trip to the seashore the attire would be Shipshape,

with matching blue flip flops and a straw bag and hat.

An evening at the symphony deserves an attire of Night Affair with amethyst earrings.

But since iris are just flowers and I just the gardener,

I’ll slip on my apron with tools in its pocket and dream in my garden,

My garden of dreams.

FLOWER

 

 

The Art of Ditch Digging

If you have used the term “ditch digging” to mean unskilled labor,

my guess is that you have never dug a ditch.

It is an art that has taken me years of mistakes to improve.  Notice I did not say “master.”

After seeing these photos, I spotted several glitches in my ditches which must be corrected.

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There are so many factors involved in a good ditch.

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The soil, the slope, the curves, the height and the amount of water.

I start with my small shovel an then fine tune with my long handled trowel.

(If you do not have one of these, stop reading and go get one now.)

It gives you torque that you never get with a standard- handled trowel.

Removed weeds go in a bucket after knocking off the dirt and worms back into the bed.

Next, comes removing all loose dirt by hand.  Roots are cut out with clippers.

A quick spray with a hose turns our good old Carolina red clay into a sun-baked brick wall.

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Turns need to be dug deep on the outside, like a meandering river.

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All trench ends need a deep basin filled with stone to stop the water and hold it.

River rock turns lovely colors when wet.

The fairy garden required a moat due to constant flooding.

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(Nobody wants to mess with a flooded out fairy.)

There is one last requirement, the ditches must be perfectly bunny-sized.

Not too deep, not too wide.

I had trouble getting my work done because they kept lying in them.

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Lastly,  about the photo of my tool ensemble, notice the snow disk?

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This is what I sit on as I scoot around in the yard.

Sorry. You can’t get one of these now.

But next winter,  remember ‘The Art of Ditch Digging’ while you are shoveling snow.

FLOW

A Perfect Day for Plants and Poetry

I guess the stars were aligned in my favor yesterday.  I could not have wished for a better day.  My dreams are small and unusual, so the odds are slim of them coming to fruition…but yesterday had its miracle moments.  Plants are my “stars” you see.

I went back to one of my alma maters for an unplanned visit to their green houses and botanical gardens. I actually bumped into my first EVER botany professor from University of North Carolina at Charlotte.  I got my master’s degree from there many years ago.

As my sister and I perused the plants on sale, we struck up a conversation with a woman carrying a bag made of bark.  Her name was Carla Vitez.

She was there to give a talk about trees that included history and poetry. She invited us on a practice run of her tour. How could we refuse?

The talk and tour occurred in the Van Landingham Glen across the street from the greenhouses.  The glen is full of many species of trees and dozens of types of Rhododendron and azaleas which are in bloom now. The sizes and colors of blooms were amazing.

My two favorites were a white rhododendron ‘Bellringer’ and a red ‘Vivacious.’

Rhododendron ‘Bellringer’
Rhododendron vivacious

We got a condensed version of “In the Company of Trees.”  We were spellbound.  She eloquently quoted the words of Donald Culross Peattie as she stood by the featured trees.

We heard the parts of her talk about the White Oak, Pawpaw, Bigleaf Magnolia and Shagbark Hickory.  When she talked about the Beech trees and nuts and the, now extinct, Passenger Pigeons, I teared up.

Carla Vitez will be giving the talk and tour again on Sunday at two o’clock.  It may be full all ready.  If you wish to hear it, you may need to call. Maybe they can add another tour in sometime soon.  Carla  perfectly mixed art and nature, present and past, to include her audience in a time travel through the trees.

I will share two more little miracles on the tour. A bench honoring my wonderful friend “The Genius”, Steve Baldwin.

https://floweralley.org/2016/06/18/whats-your-seed/

and a quote from the tomb of a much admired woman, Bonnie Cone, who started UNCC.

Flower is always searching for her place you see.  My people have been here and thus I belong here also.

I will share photos from the greenhouses in another post.  Some of my little stars in the yard need my attention today.  That was another part of my perfect day yesterday. I acquired some more green little friends.  Introductions must wait. They need to get settled.

FLOWER

 

Little Fern Forest

I got this idea from a fellow-blogger annamadeit of Flutter and Hum.  She was my first “blogger friend” that I found when I started this blog three years ago this May.  I remember writing to her in excitement that I had finally found some “Plant People.”  If you are reading this you either know what a “plant nut” I am from knowing me personally OR you are a plant nut. Either way, thanks for the views and comments.

We have a giant old pine stump in the middle of my shade garden under the “Miss Robbie” fig tree. I have posted on this spot before in “Barren to Bountiful” ,  https://floweralley.org/2016/11/18/barren-to-bountiful/ which had a double meaning due to the current world crises at the time.  Pay attention folks, FLOWER doesn’t just write about flowers.

I have been placing one of my creations named, Fern Basin, on top of the stump to hide it. Now that it has finally decomposed nicely, I wanted to feature it instead.  Decompostion has created nice little niches into which I plan to tuck tiny bulbs next season.  Until then, I have filled them with garden soil and mushroom compost to let it season and settle.

I dragged a heavy cedar stump from the woods. My grown son had to get it in place.  Then I wandered through the surrounding woods looking for ferns, rocks and interesting objects.  I also found some driftwood along the shore of the river/lake.  The hunt was as much fun as the creation. Win, Win!

I did purchase a Tassel fern/Polystichum polyblephum, some Irish moss/ Sagina subulata and a tiny hosta/ ‘Wrinkle in Time.’

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Tassel fern/ Polystichum polyblepharum
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Irish moss/ Sagina subulata and ‘Wrinkle in Time’ hosta

This project is near my Fairy Garden which I blogged about last week.  I enjoy creating tiny areas with a theme. It makes it fun to have several projects in mind and constantly add to each. It keeps me on the look-out.

I will continue to work on this.  The newly established plants enjoyed yesterday’s rain.

FLOWER

Mayapples in April

The Mayapples/Podophyllum peltatum are just starting to bloom here in North Carolina.

These lovely plants make bright green colonies in rich-soiled, hardwood forests.

Mayapple plants have one stem, two leaves and a flower in the crotch where the stem bifurcates.

The solitary flower is hidden under the umbrella-like leaves.

The petals are waxy white and the stamens are a lovely butter yellow.

Wild flowers are wonderful.

Go find some!

FLOWER

 

If I were a fairy..

If I were a fairy, I would live in a big oak tree.

I would have a slate patio to have parties on.

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I would have a garden full of tiny flowers like…

EpimediumIMG_7905

JessopIMG_7884

Little Lantern ColumbineIMG_7894

Fire Spinner DelospermaIMG_7903

Salvia nemorosa, ‘New Dimension Rose’IMG_7866

Sagina subulata, Irish mossIMG_7879

Wild fernsIMG_7880

with moss and lichens and lovely rocks for my friends to sit on.IMG_7870

I would have an urn full of Lily of the valley and violet blooms.IMG_7872

I would leave out a basket of treasures for children to find.IMG_7867

I would have a bowl full of cool water for my tiny, thirsty friends.IMG_7874

I would have a whirly-gig with the colors of the rainbow to spin in the breeze.IMG_7871

I would have a gazing ball with the colors of the Earth, so I could dream of all the places I have not been…yet.IMG_7865

If I were a fairy, I’d live here.

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Wouldn’t you?

FLOWER

Epimediums near the Entrance

I have three Epimediums growing near the entrance to my home.

They are low plants with small flowers,

so I placed them where they will be better noticed.

Their tiny clusters of blooms may still be overlooked once the leaves emerge.

Their other names are barren wort or bishop’s hat,

but my favorite name for them is fairy wings.IMG_7772The wiry stems are so slender, that it appears as though the blooms are fluttering in thin air.These small plants add a lovely burst of color under shrubs.

Epimediums prefer shade and rich soil, but will tolerate dry conditions.They are magical.   Plant them where they can be appreciated,IMG_7801Even in the rain.

 

FLOWER

 

My Daddy’s Little Airport

I have previously shared photos of my daddy making one of his model planes.

https://floweralley.org/category/my-daddy/

Now, you get to see the results of years of work.

He has a tiny “airport” in his basement.

We have hung up most of his planes.

Mr. Flower and I did a photo shoot using a poster of a cloud as the backdrop.

Sometimes Mr. Flowers fingers appear in the sky. The flash from my camera adds a sunny touch.

We spent hours on a snowy day, positioning and repositioning the poster and the ladders.

It was a big production to get it all right without disturbing a plane.

We had to pen the bunnies up for this. As you can imagine, they were no help during the photo  shoot.

I did stop to take several dozen photos of them, too. I will share only one here.

Maybe two.

My daddy supplied the names of each plane.

The first one shown is one that he painted to be a replica of the plane he and his dad owned in the 1950’s.

Papaw’s Piper Supercub
P5I Mustang
Piper Super Cub
Super Marine Spitfire
TBF Avenger
P51 Mustang Redtails
JU 87B STUKA
Submarine Spitfire
Navy Attack Squadron VA-145 (?)
B17 Flying Fortress
F6F Hellcat Grumman
PT 17 Pilot Trainer
P47 Thunderbolt
Messerschmitt BF109
F4U-4 Corsair
P38 Lightning
Mitsubishi Zero
Super Sinbad Sail Plane

He wrote that this plane is his “favorite today.”

It was given to him by David Dunn in 1961.

P51 Mustang
Super Marine Spitfire
Super Sinbad Sail Plane

There are more here and there, but we will stop here.

Unless you’d like to see more bunny photos…

FLOWER