Category Archives: Nature

Plants on the Move

Ligularia, or “The Rocket”, is one of my favorite shade plants.  We have several in our yard, and I like to pair them with Hydrangeas.  They can be somewhat alarming when it is hot, as they droop in the day, but then they perk right up again after it cools in the evening. They come in different heights and leaf colors. I like the large ones with big green leaves.

I am an impatient gardener, and I plant things too close. I seem to forget just how big Hydrangeas get, and that they will muscle out anything next to them if it isn’t far enough away. This happened recently on the north side of the garage. I had planted Ligularia too close to the Hydrangeas, and the they became completely covered.  Ligularia can become quite large, as you can see in the header photo.  The ones in the north bed were puny, so last Saturday I decided to transplant them to a more open space in the fern bed. It is shady and they can predominate over the ferns. I was amazed to see how resourceful the Ligularia were, and that they had actually migrated from the middle of the Hydrangea bed to the very edge of it, as though to escape the larger shrubs. I initially planted them in a straight line with the Hydrangeas, and here they had moved at least a foot north to the edge of the bed. It is as though they tried to transplant themselves.

We have become more strategic landscapers in the past few years,  but our tendency is to plant where there is  room and to fill in empty spaces somewhat willy nilly. I suppose that is why we end up transplanting things a lot.

What is your landscaping strategy?  What have been your successful and not so successful outcomes?

 

For Sale?

I’m not sure what motivated me but last night I clicked on CNN.com.  I know, I know… what was I thinking?  It went against my ostrich imitation of the last couple of months (head in the sand), but something drove me to it.

But amid all the bad news, there was an interesting bit.  Apparently when asked a direct question about whether the U.S. is still interested in buying Greenland (despite it definitely NOT being on the market), a straight answer was not to be had from the Secretary of State.  Here’s a link to the story, which is kinda funny:  https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/22/politics/trump-buy-greenland-pompeo/index.html

I don’t really have much to say about this (since it is so beyond absurd that “absurd” isn’t a good enough word) except that I think I might prefer for us to get a tropical island instead.

What do you think?  If we have to buy an island, which one to you think we should put in our shopping cart?  

Tubing!

There has a lot more traffic on the creek this summer.  (OK, maybe there isn’t a lot more traffic, but because I’m out walking the dog, I’m noticing a lot more folks enjoying the creek.)   I’ve seen folks in canoes and I’ve seen kids in the creek down near Lynnhurst.  Then yesterday I saw five tween girls with huge inner tubes heading down toward the water.

The inner tubes reminded me of going down the Brule in northern Wisconsin with my folks as a kid.  The tubing company would take us up to a drop off point and we would tube back down to where our car was parked.  Nothing too rough – a perfect bit of river for a family with fairly young kids.  It was just a couple of hours and back then nobody felt the need to have an extra inner tube for a cooler of beverages.  The only problem with tubing was changing into dry clothes in the car afterwards; my sister and I were SURE somebody would see something.

So it was fun to see the girls hurrying down to the creek with the inner tubes and now I’m wondering where I can rent tubes of my own!

Tell me what you did for summer fun as a kid!

In Memoriam – Our Little Jail Bird

It was this weekend last year that we lost of Little Jail Bird, Edith.  In her memory, I’m running her most iconic posting on the Trail.

 

Until last fall, I had never been to Banning State Park. I had driven by it dozens of time, because when I head up to my sister’s house, I always turn off 35W and take Highway 23 into town. I didn’t know much about Banning, but when I was looking for a day trip, it seemed to fit my needs perfectly.

First, I wanted a park where I could drive there and back in one day without getting too tired. Second, I wanted a park that didn’t involve driving several back roads, because I knew that I would be driving in the dark due to the shorter fall days and my night vision and sense of direction is bad enough that I would get lost unless I kind of knew where I was going. And third, I wanted a state park because I had a state park sticker and wanted to use it as much as possible to get my money’s worth out of it. Banning fit all of those qualifications. Plus it has a waterfall, which is a big plus in my book.

So, off I went, one sunny morning in October. When I arrived, I stopped at the visitor center to get maps and ask where the best spots were. I was so excited. It seems that often when I go north, I am early for the fall colors and often find myself driving home just a few days before “peak”  and this time I was not too early! I said something about that to the woman at the desk (while trying to not jump and down in excitement) and she shook her head woefully and told me in a discouraging tone, “You’re going to see LOTS of brown out there.” Gee thanks, way to burst my bubble.

Of course, since I drove all the way up there, I figured I better go on the hike anyway even if I would see mostly brown. I drove to the parking area and when I stepped out of the car and looked up, I knew it was going to be a good day (see header photo).

I hiked all the way to the falls and back and shot lots of photos. It was an incredibly beautiful day: that clear, deep blue sky that you only seem to see on autumn days and – surprise! – lots of colorful leaves on the trees. It can be a challenge shooting in bright sunlight, but I was so overcome by the beauty of it all that I just took that in my stride. There was that wonderful northwoods smell in the air – pine trees and dead leaves. Nothing like it! and nothing else invigorates me like that does.

 

It was getting pretty cool and the sun was going down quickly by the time I was heading back on the trail but the golden evening light only made things more beautiful and the colors more intense. I went home pleasantly tired and very happy and glad that the woman’s prediction of “lots of brown” wasn’t true.

Any comments / reflections welcome!

 

Weeds

Husband and I returned home last Tuesday from Brookings to a garden jungle of weeds. It rained every day we were gone, and the temperatures were quite warm, so everything grew. We weeded on Wednesday.  Husband estimated we  hauled about 50 pounds of weeds to the city  grass clippings and weeds dumpsters,

I have never seen the utility of using a hoe to weed. It just cuts the weeds off at the top, and leaves the roots to produce the weeds again. We are hands and knees, crawl through the garden and pull the weeds up by the roots sort of gardeners. We are, however, getting older and Husband has neuropathy in his fingers from diabetes.

This year we tried a new strategy, laying down newspapers between the rows  and on the edges of the beds and covering them with a layer of top soil. That really helped  keep the weeds down. Husband has bought at least 30 bags of topsoil toward this endeavor, and after weeding yesterday he liberally strewed newspaper and dirt in all the places he hadn’t before.  It was a real pleasure to gaze at the garden yesterday and see nary a weed.

What is your favorite garden tool?  What special satisfaction do you get from gardening?

Bug Bites

Well, the dog may be happy and the garden is really thriving and my kitchen floor is spectacularly clean, but I can’t say that my lower legs are particularly flourishing with furlough and shelter-in-place. 

Two weeks ago I dropped my bow saw putting it away and it scrapped my leg below the knee, so I have seven ½” long wounds, nicely healing but still a bit pink.  I have a bruise just below my left knee – I really have no idea how I got that one.  I have a nice gash from a rock that whipped its way out of the lawn mower and at least five various pokes from crawling around on mulch while weeding.

The spot that’s bothering me is the bug bite that I got on Thursday – it actually looks like two bites right next to each other, so it probably happened when I kneeled on something, but it itches like the devil and is still red after a few days.  Lots of Benadryl gel helps some.  Neosporin and a bandaid felt good this morning but I figure I’ve got a couple more days until it’s healed up.

I’m not sure if I should just give up my lucrative leg modeling contract or start wearing long pants while I garden.

Any unintended consequences lately in your life?

Socially Distant Strawberries

The alarm clock went off at the crack of dawn.  The woman who answered the phone at the berry farm the day before had said that they had been very busy the first week that the strawberries were ready for picking.  (I guess strawberries are the new toilet paper.)  I wanted to be there when they opened so threw on my shorts and shirt and got a move on.

The berry farm was doing a good job with the covid restrictions: everyone got a good spray of sanitizer on their hands before and after going into the field, masks were strongly encouraged, containers brought from home were strictly forbidden and they put us in every other row of berries.  And we were told in no uncertain terms that this year we could not sample berries as we picked.   I had thought I would be irritated by wearing a mask while picking berries, but soon my knees and ankles took my mind off it.  It was a beautiful morning and I found that none of the restrictions bothered me at all – although I will admit that with folks in every other row, I wasn’t able to eavesdrop on other folks’ berry patch conversations like usual!

The berries were great and I managed to overfill my two flats just as I got to the end of my row.  Having gotten there so early, I got home early and had 14 jars of jam and 8 quarts of frozen berries processed by 10:30!  I had been worried that the pandemic would wreck my annual strawberry routine, but the berry farm did a great job of getting safely on with business!

When was the last time you set your alarm clock?  Do you even HAVE an alarm clock?  What kind?

Successful Combinations

In 1892, on this date, macadamia nuts were first planted in Hawaii.  They are native to Australia. This was a rather a successful combination, and Hawaii was a leader in macadamia nuts until South Africa took over that role in 2010.

I am not a great fan of macadamias, preferring pecans and pistachios.  When I think about successful combinations, I think about hazelnuts in Oregon, wine grapes in France, and potatoes in Ireland. I suppose there could be successful combinations with people, too, such as Julia Child in Paris.

What is your favorite nut? What are some successful combinations that you can think of?

Summer Sleep Outs

I was out in the garden weeding after work yesterday  when  the children from next door came over to help me. (They were remarkably helpful and pulled all the right weeds and none of the vegetables.) They were so excited to tell me that they were sleeping in the back yard in a tent with their dad  that night. Sure enough, there was a tent in the back yard with sleeping bags and pillows.  We did the same with our children in the back yard. It was so much fun!

I have the fondest memories of outdoor summer sleeping in various venues-with cousins, with friends, with my dad. What a wonderful thing to do!

What are your Summer sleeping-out memories? What are other Summer night memories?