Mud and Mushrooms

You may have noticed my latest posts are a little mushy.

It’s this R A I N.

Oh my. It has caught me at a bad part of my maintenance cycle.

I did get some weeding done, but ran out of mulch.

So that means W E E D S.

I am amazed how much growth has occurred this week.

I wish I had placed measuring sticks by each Hosta.

There are some upsides to the downpours.

I found some perfect animals tracks in the mud.

and then there are the mushrooms.

And let’s not forget the necessity for new garden clogs while my many pairs of shoes dry

after washing them.( Attention: Shrub Queen)

These are Backdoor Shoes.   I will let you know how they hold up.

Here is the second daylily to bloom. Dixie Boy.




Alien Invades the Bunny Yard

I spotted it early this morning,

hiding up against one of the deck posts.


I kept an eye on it all day.

By afternoon it had slithered around the side of the pole.

It left prints wherever it went.

Slime mold on the back of pole AM
Slime mold back of pole PM

I hope it leaves soon.


I’m not really scared of the thing.

I am pretty sure we can outrun it.



Two Baby Birds in a Frog’s Belly

My neighbor told me about this.

I thought things were amiss.

So I walked down to see,

about the three chickadee.

It turns out, by chance

he had a hole in his pants.

The mama went in to rest

and then built a nest.

Two eggs she laid,

Two babies they made.

We all think it’s sweet

to hear his pants tweet.



Changing Gloves

Foxgloves/Digitalis purpurea are a biennial plants.

That means that they grow one season and bloom the next.

They reseed themselves, so I have some blooming every year.

Because they reseed/self-sow, they tend to move a little way from the original plant

and they change colors.

(If you save the seeds, let them dry and sow them during the fall in partial shade.)

There are three different genes that determine the amount and location of pigments.

A recessive form of the pink gene (m) leads to no pink/white.

So when a white mixes with other colors of foxglove, white tends to disappear.

The pinks are blooming full now.

pink foxglove

I do have one with a white top. I don’t know how to explain this one genetically.

light pink and white foxglove

There are no whites in my gardens this year.

I usually try to keep whites by purchasing one every few years.

Instead,  I acquired a lovely peachy type this year named, Dalmation.

‘Dalmation’ foxglove

Its label says perennial, so I don’t have much confidence in its name either.

It’s a nice companion to an unnamed verbascum/mullein which I obtained last year.


I will see how its genes fit into the mix.

I expect this glove to change, too.




My Marching Friends

I am proud of my marching friends.

Wearing red in Raleigh, North Carolina.

The people taking the message to their government.

The education of our children is OUR future.

We need to invest more. Respect more. Test less.

I started teaching high school biology in 1984.

It was the best department ever. My peers are still my friends.

My next position was in a community college. I was the night shift.

It was lonely, but wonderful.

Then there was middle school. The hardest job ever.

When I finish the book I am writing, I may write Seven Years in Eighth Grade.

My personality in combination with that job ruined my health.

I had my doctor’s cell number.

I have realized that I am a shepherd, not just a teacher.

I know my sheep and they know me.

It started out great. Teams and teamwork. Science budget. Supplies.

TASC training thanks to Duke University and Glaxo-Smith-Cline.

Then came the testing, and charting , and graphing scores.

The money and science disappeared. In its place was testing and testing and testing.

I went back to teaching college again. It was great, but I was tired and damaged.

I cannot go back. This I know.

But my heart is still in the learning, the caring, the science.

I had to leave my sheep to save myself.

So I watch the marchers with hope and guilt.

Hope for better pay, more money for supplies, more respect for all, getting back to the subjects instead of the scores.

These shepherds need help with all those little sheep of OURS.

Our flock is OUR future.




My Many Affairs with John Steinbeck

I met John when I was in the ninth grade. He was too old and wise for me.

His Grapes of Wrath was too detailed and wordy. I only liked the “Turtle Chapter.”

Years later, I was so engrossed in the Joads’ struggles that I skipped the turtle.

We met again while I was in college. His Red Pony broke my heart.

The short story “Junius Maltby” made me a more empathetic teacher.

I read The Log from the Sea of Cortez while in graduate school.

I could smell the sea and hear the seagulls.  It was such an adventure.

An older,  fellow biologist sharing his life at sea.

“Travels with Charley” took me places I had never been while in my thirties.

I am traveling with Charley again. I have been to these places now.

My experienced eyes recognize the land and the people.

He has been a great traveling companion over the years.

Now I know, he was not some brilliant, mysterious, older man.

He was just a real person looking closely at life and recording it for the rest of us,

who were too young, inexperienced or busy to notice these things for ourselves.

I still love him,

but now we are just friends.


Shopping During a Storm

yI know, I complained about them last spring in “Double, Double, Toil and Trouble.”

Maybe they have changed…or I have changed.

My plan was to cut some of each type of flower to bring into the house.

My mother was coming.   She cannot walk the gardens anymore,

so I wanted her to see the blooms up close by bringing them in.

I have those eleven vases, you see.

My daughter and I went shopping on Friday evening.  A violent storm hit while we were away.

Hundreds of my flowers were beaten down by the rain and wind.

Instead of cutting flowers for my vases on Saturday morning, I was cutting them to clean up.

By Saturday evening, only a few iris were left.  There were a few Columbine stems.

The only flowers worth their weight were those double peonies.

The very one that I complained about staking last spring.

Bowed, but held in the storm.

They filled one vase the iris another and that was enough.

Sometimes it takes just the right flower.

Not the large number, just a few.

Like friends.

Worth their weight in gold when you need them.

My apologies to my new friend the Duchess de Nemours Peony.



Saving Sea Turtles

I have always loved reptiles and amphibians.  Their little faces are so cute. They seem to be tiny dinosaurs. They have personality. Quit running from them and make friends.

My favorite part of my visit to Florida was not the gardens.  It was my time spent at the Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Palm Beach County.  Maybe I should be turtlealley.

This organization was started by a Eleanor Fletcher decades ago. She noticed turtle hatchlings heading toward land instead of seaward. She studied sea turtles and started teaching classes.

Now this nonprofit is located at Juno Beach which is considered the most active nesting beach in the world. The dark dots on the map are nests of different species of turtles.

I was surrounded by passionate turtle lovers there.  Many were volunteers.

The recovering turtles had names. Each one’s medical history and progress were known by the workers. They stood by the tanks and talked about each patient like it was a friend.

I saw several turtles get shots.

One big guy was loaded onto a stretcher

and taken inside to be treated and given an IV.

I felt like I was in a well-run Emergency Room.  It’s a miracle!!!

Many of the patients had been found stranded by an ailment or injury.

One had gorged himself on shells and was bloated with fragments.  They showed the bottles of fragments.

Another had a hole clear through its carapace that needed mending.

The saddest one of all was so sick that it stopped swimming, so that barnacles and other epibiota grew on its back and weighed it down.

It is a great place for school children to go visit. They will care more about turtles because they actually know some.

I really did not want to leave, but the bunnies would not like it if I hadn’t come home.

Creatures great and small, the FLOWER loves them all.