Planting – Throwback Thursday/Granny, Groundhogs and Chipmunks

I’ve planted like a whirlwind this week. It’s been rainy, but I’ve mustered on, wearing a large-brimmed hat to keep the raindrops out of my eyes. I’m hoping my sprouts will develop strong roots before the heat gets too high.

You might wonder what the strange towers and sticks are in the back of my garden. These are my sunflower towers created with soda bottles. They worked well last year, and I was able to grow sunflowers in several gardens. I’m hoping they will protect my young sunflower plants from rodents large and small.

I used some of the shells I have on hand for labeling plants. The shells are doing double duty for me and work as rodent repellents. I added a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil inside the inner recesses of each shell. I’m hoping this strong fragrance will discourage four-legged varmints of all sizes.

I’ve already had to replant some seedlings chipmunks and squirrels unearthed in their constant quest for seeds. Last week, I saw my nemesis for the first time this season, that dastardly groundhog who mows down my beautiful plants like a John Deere tractor. He was wary though, I think he remembers his close encounter with the marbles I sent his way last year with my trusty slingshot. Or does he remember the time I chased him yelling like a crazy person and swinging a broom? When I saw him this time I yelled, “GROUNDHOG!” He heard me and ran before I could chase him down. I ended up laughing at myself, when did I start hollering like Granny of Beverly Hillbillies fame? I sounded just like her when she used to get aggravated with Jethro and yell his name.

Oh my! Granny once looked like an old, old woman to me. How did she grow so young, and how did I grow so old? Life…it goes so fast. Now, back to chasing that groundhog…that will keep me young!

Project – Ivy Hanging Basket

One thing I have in abundance is ivy. My backyard has a dry area of ground beneath the pine trees and the only thing that will grow there is ivy…so ivy it is. Good thing I like ivy. Each year, two or three times during spring, summer and autumn, I must pull the ivy climbing the tree trunks away from the bark. This year I found a good use for the long strands.

I saved the cuttings and used the longer pieces to create a living hanging basket. I wove the ivy through the wire mesh of the basket, tucking the ends to the inside.

I cut the bottom off of two brown paper bags and lined the basket with them, carefully trimming away the excess paper level with the top of the basket.

A few petunias finished off the project. I gave it all a good watering and hung the basket from a hook beneath the crabapple tree.

The cooler weather and frequent misting with the hose has kept the ivy alive. I’m hoping the roots will eventually pierce the paper bag and the ivy will begin to grow again. I’ll update in a month or two.

Phlutters – Earth Day – Two Days Late

The tiny size of the Azure Blue butterfly often causes it to be mistaken for a moth. When it lightly skims by, floating on the air, you glimpse a flash of blue. As it touches down on foliage or flowers, the blue is folded inward, hidden by the white undersides of the wings.

I’m so grateful for the zoom feature on my camera and the ability of my computer to crop and enlarge photos. In a world without technology it would be hard to get a close-up look at this small butterfly.

I was lucky, at just the right moment the Azure Blue opened his wings and I pushed the shutter-release button. I have some nice views now to study and admire.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” ~ Genesis 1:1

Earth Day was rainy here in Southern New Jersey, so I am celebrating what Earth Day means to me the whole week through: harmony between men and the beautiful earth that God created.

Place – Philadelphia in the Fog

The fog surrounding Philadelphia transforms the city and surroundings with a metallic silver hue. These sights were photographed from the opposite side of the Delaware river on the shores of National Park, New Jersey.

National Park is a great place to watch planes arriving and departing from Philadelphia International Airport.

Cee’s Foto Challenge this week is Metal. Think how many metal water towers we pass each day, never notice, but depend upon for their durability.

Project – Tripod Birdhouse

Fallen branches create an easy and secure tripod for a bird house. The bottoms are stabilized by placing them about ten inches in the ground. The top of each branch leans against the others securely fastened with floral wire and leather ties. The bird house rests within the three branches and is secured with floral wire and leather through screw-eyes attached to the bottom of the house.

The bird house stands about seven feet tall. I’ll plant several vining plants around the bottom: Moonflower, Cardinal Flower, Morning Glories and Climbing Nasturtiums.

Quick Tip & Pressed Flowers – Pink Leaves or a Baggie, Camera & Notepad with Pencil

I press flowers throughout the year and often create miniature gardens on cardstock to use in the place of overpriced greeting cards. Today, as I was walking, I noticed the Wild Grape leaves were beginning to emerge. The samples in the photo range in size from a quarter to about a dime. They are thick, but press well, and keep their beautiful Spring colors.

I often use the underside of the leaves for my compositions. The pink tints of Spring are deeper on the back, and I love the added texture of the veining.

I found these gems as I took a morning walk around the block today. I wish I had thought ahead and had a small baggie in my pocket. I also would have enjoyed taking a photograph of the tenacious vines in their native setting, and of course, a pencil and notepad would have been great to jot down my thoughts at the moment. I need to keep these things at the ready in the desk near the front door, easy to grab when on the run or starting a walk.

If you press flowers, or want to try, this time of the year is a perfect starting point. Trees are unfurling leaves, maple keys, and other bud-like growth that won’t be found again for a year. Happy Pressing! For more information on pressed flowers click on the title in the category cloud in the right sidebar of this blog.

Plant – Violets

I love violets in the Springtime, not only do they add color, they are gently fragrant and a scent I seek out at this time of the year. Violets self-seed and will pop up in unexpected places, like this one under my hydrangea bush. I have violets everywhere, offspring of the dozen or so I transplanted from the creek bed years ago.

“Do you think amethysts can be the souls of good violets?”
― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Violets are one of those wonderful garden plants that will grow in between the cracks of stones and in other tight places. They are also perfect for arranging in miniature bouquets.

“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” ~ Mark Twain

Quick Tip – Losing my Glasses/Tip on Tuesday

I lose my reading/weeding glasses everywhere. Gardening brings about a constant loss and drop of my dollar store spectacles. I place them on the top of my head for safekeeping, but then I need a hat to shade me from the sun and must move them. I carry them in a shirt pocket or tuck them into my collar, and they drop out unbeknownst to me and blend into the weeds. I have a string to hang them around my neck, but it gets caught on bushes and twigs, and besides, I’ve lost that somewhere too.

I found the solution in a simple large safety pin. I attach it to my shirt, and the earpieces slide smoothly into the side, firmly held, but easily removed too.

Here’s a few more Quick Tips for using safety pins:
Safety pins eliminate static cling in clothing: Reducing Static Cling
Zip your dress: Alone and can’t zip, attach a safety pin with a piece of dental floss tied to it and zip away.
Avoid pickpockets: For added security in crowds, safety pin zipper to fabric of purse or pack.
Fix a broken flip-flop: Pin through stem underneath the sole. This will not last long, but might get you to where you can get a new pair.
Keep keys safely in pocket during an amusement park ride: Pin your keys to your inside pocket to avoid losing them when that roller-coaster goes upside down and around.
Keep spare buttons organized: When a shirt/blouse/coat comes with a little packet of replacement buttons, thread them on a safety pin and store in a safe place.
Hide bra straps: Use a safety pin (or paper clip) to hold the back of your bra straps together.

Added tips:
Sherry – Wearing a safety pin can be a way to show solidarity.
Prior – Has used a creative repair for broken flip-flops – a piece of silicon from pool goggles.
Derrick – Great idea for glasses…have a few pairs in different strengths for different needs.

Know another? Tell me in the comment box and I’ll add it to the list.

Peculiarities – Cat Snack

Sunday, I was getting myself ready to go to church and enjoy the Easter cantata, when I noticed my cat behaving oddly. He was crouched near my fireplace, intently studying something on the floor. I watched his odd behavior for a moment or two, then noticed, whatever he was watching, he was also eating. The clue is the small speck of beige on the big blue pillow.

Did you guess? Yes! My praying mantis pod hatched on Palm Sunday.

I was lucky to notice before I left for church and took the pod outdoors to my porch. At this point in time, it seems only a couple dozen or so of the mantis babies escaped the cat and are roaming the house. I have let these mantis go about their business on my walls all day, and they have darkened up in color, and most seem to be okay. Since I’m not squeamish about non-biting, benign insects, I will wait until tomorrow and then give them a ride outside on a sheet of paper. To try and handle their fragile bodies would crush them.

Most of the remaining mantis babies were born outdoors on the back porch. Thankfully, the weather has shifted, and the coming week is going to be warm and without heavy rains. They have a good chance to survive if they can find smaller insects to consume. If not, they will find each other, and it will be a matter of survival of the fittest.

By the time I arrived home from church, most of the mantis babies seemed to have disappeared. I’m hoping they are in the yard already. I know that their small size allows them to slip through the mesh of the screening.

There are still a few lingering on the pussy willow branches, but by tomorrow they will probably have found their way into the great outdoors.

Photographs & Pheathers – After the Storm/Skywatch Friday

It’s rainy and overcast again. In our area ‘April Showers’ are usually a reality and not just a cliché. I took a few photographs of the sky as the sun came out and broke through the storm clouds. I enjoyed the way the light illuminated one side of the trees with the backdrop of grey sky still behind them. The birds looked a little rain-weary, not really moving around too much, giving me a chance to zoom in and get a few interesting photos as they dried off.

If you have a chance take a peek at the Skywatch Friday BlogSpot for some stunning sky photographs. My photographs were taken within a half hour’s time, the storm cleared out quickly, the sun and wind are miraculous at breaking the clouds up and blowing them away.

Plants & Projects – Throwback Thursday – Spider Plant Revisited

Two years ago, April of 2015, I shared a project involving a yard sale bird feeder frame and a spider plant. I love to find wiry, strange contraptions at yard sales and turn them into plant containers. This one is still growing strong. The photo above shows the growth the spider babies have made in two years. Spiders are great plants and easy to propagate. I thought this was a good post to revisit for Throwback Thursday since yard sales are beginning again with the warmer weather. The photo below shows the plant when it was just starting out.

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Quick Tip – Tip on Tuesday/The Miracle of Sharpies

I love Easter Chicks. Show me a small, feathery, fluffy, bright yellow baby bird with beady black eyes and I will definitely say, “Aw…”

I’ve had the chick in the photograph above for years. Over many seasons of packing and unpacking, the tissue paper covering his beak on one side tore away.

Sharpies to the rescue! These permanent markers are great for repairing loss of color. I use the black and blue most often. When I use bleach for cleaning or laundry, no matter how careful I am, if I don’t cover up with an ancient bathrobe while I pour the bleach, I tend to ruin my clothing. Sharpies to the rescue for bleach spots too! I’ve filled in many a spot on blue jeans and black jeans with a sharpie marker. It isn’t perfect, but it extends the life of the garment.

Look how well the Sharpie Marker filled in the torn area. Best of all, I bought this pack of Sharpies in the Autumn when they were almost giving them away during school supply sales.

My Tuesday Quick Tip: Always have an assortment of Sharpie Markers at the ready for small color loss repairs.