Cardoon Drama

The most dramatic plant in my gardens in June is the giant Cardoon.

Its purple tufts are finally emerging from the artichoke-like buds.

These buds are bigger than my fist. The plant is taller that I am by at least a foot.

Its other names are Artichoke Thistle and Cynara cardunculus.

Cardoon/Artichoke thistle/Cynara cardunculus

Most parts of this plant can be eaten if prepared correctly. I have not tried it.

It thrives on this slope in full sun.

I got this from my friend the Fairy. No wonder it is magical.


Seeding While Feeding

There is more to a poppy than a lovely flower.

Bill Troutman poppy popping open

The poppy bloom makes a pod full of seeds.

I leave the pods up as long as I can for the Goldfinches.

They come every spring to rip open the pods.

They make happy little squeaks as they eat the tiny black seeds.

Many seeds fall to the ground. I have quit saving and sowing Bill Troutman poppy seeds.

I know that the Goldfinches will do some seeding while feeding.

This is a magical cycle involving birds and seeds.

A circle of red and gold.


The Humble Hoya

Why does the Hoya hang its head and hide its pretty face?

These beautiful umbels must be lifted to appreciate the wax-like flowers.

Hoya carnosa/wax plant

Another name for this type of plant is wax plant. They are named for Thomas Hoy from England.

These epiphytes look right at home hanging from the branches of trees.

During the winter, they hang in my laundry room.


The Wrongs of Man

I try to keep my angst and anger off my blog. There is too much of it everywhere.

Sometimes I feel like I am surrounded by wrongs… drowning in wrongs.

This weekend was one of those times. Man against nature. Man against man.

Some wrongs cannot be righted,

but we must try…

Here is an elk by the side of a busy highway eating Kudzu with a fake wreath stuck on an antler.

Count the wrongs if you like.

I will add it was in Cherokee, NC.

We visited the brilliantly designed Museum of the Cherokee Indian.

Go when it is not crowded. Listen to every word, read each placard, study each diorama and photo.

Slowly walk through a history of a beautiful nation and some wrongs that cannot be righted,

but we must try.

Be careful with each decision. Everything matters.

What you say, what you buy, what you eat, what you leave lying around…


A Garden Full of Life

A garden full of life requires more than good soil and enough water.

It requires an open heart and an open mind.

It must be a welcoming place to wildlife.

Hungry visitors must be gently guided to other plants.

It must be a haven for plants and animals.

It must be full of love, not hate. (even for snakes)

A garden full of life requires quiet, slow movements.

The rhythms must not be disturbed.

Patience and guidance are provided instead of rigid control.

The sounds should be natural by nature, not loud and startling.

A garden full of life is a balanced garden, friendly to flora and fauna.


A garden full of life is a garden full of love.


Bees in a Blizzard

I spent a lot of time hanging out around the hydrangea yesterday.

My huge Oakleaf Hydrangea is cover in gloriously aromatic blooms.

It is abuzz with bees and many other types of flyers.

I closed my eyes and breathed in the scent as I listened to the hum.

The Oakleaf Hydrangea has blooms about a foot long which blush pink as they age.

Oakleaf Hydrangea/H. quercifolia

The bract-like, sterile flowers serve as umbrellas to protect the pollen and shade the pollinators.

They are like tiny parasols for the blizzard like blooms underneath.

I watched as the bees flew into the blizzard and emerged loaded with pollen.

It looked like a foam party made of meringue. It smelled like one, too.

The Oakleaf hydrangea is a busy place these days.

That’s where you will find me and the bees.


The Right Plant in the Right Place

It seems like placing a plant would be easy.

Partial sun, full sun, no sun? Well-drained soil, moist soil, wet soil? Shallow pot, deep pot?

The plant will let you know if it is unhappy. Then, it is your job as its caregiver to figure out what is wrong and change its habitat.

I rarely get it right the first try, despite reading labels and doing research.

I have moved most plants in my yard at least once. This includes shrubs and small trees.

Moving pots is easier, but still requires experimentation.

I finally found the perfect place for my Red Epiphyllum. Its one of the ‘Hanging Weirdos.’

It was just fine hanging from a limb of the Crepe Myrtle until we cut it back. A new spot was scouted out. A new hook was placed under the deck on the south side of the house.

Viola! More growth, more blooms.

It is striking against the stucco wall.

Pay attention to your unhappy plants. They need a change. Maybe you need one as well?


The Tongue has a Brain

This is my first time caring for a Devil’s Tongue plant.

I have tried to be very careful with it.

As I was moving the Amorphophallus konjac pot the other week, the phallus fell off.

I was horrified! There I was with pot in one hand and the phallus in the other.

Mr. Flower contacted the gift-givers who assured us that the phallus falling off was normal and that a leafstalk would emerge in due time.

I continued to water the pot as I waited for signs of life.

When nothing happened after weeks of waiting, I became concerned that the whole thing might have rotted.

I took matters into my own hands and decided to check on the bulb.

I was not prepared for what plopped out of the pot.

It looked like a giant brain with two hemispheres and a corpus callosum down the middle.

Then I decided the brain needed further inspection for rot and shoots, so I gave the brain a bath.

I am pleased to report there are signs of life atop the brain of the Devil’s Tongue. I guess we could call this the brainstem.

I would hate to have killed such an unusual treasure from my dear friends, the Popes.

It may stink, but it has provided a lot of entertainment.