Only skin deep

“You’re so pretty. Here is a penny.”  My little piggy bank was full of pennies from people who apparently thought that my outward appearance was reason enough to reward me. I never understood that as a chubby-cheeked preschooler with long auburn hair. 

Fortunately, my mother kept my feet on the ground. “Beauty is only skin deep,” she would remind me when the compliments, and sometimes the pennies, were paid. That outward appearance has long since faded, and whatever is inside is more noticeable, for better or worse.  Continue reading “Only skin deep”

The consequences of indecision

There is a new colony of bees in the Berglund backyard. We have dubbed it the “Republic,” referencing Ben Franklin’s warning, “If you can keep it.” 

Yes, we are keeping bees, or at least making the attempt. The honey has been minimal so far, but one our goals has been to help save the declining honeybee population. 

So when the call came in on the morning of the Fourth of July that there was a swarm of bees a few miles north of us, we moved quickly to rescue them.  Continue reading “The consequences of indecision”

Black Leaves Matter

Many a garden visitor has commented on how lovely and unusual the black elephant ears were. Imagine my dismay when I realized in December that we neglected to bring this plant into the warmth of the garage for the winter! It surely wouldn’t have survived the freezing temperatures, being a tropical plant; or so I thought.

As the early spring weeks marched along with their parade of new growth here and there in the garden, I watched the pot for signs of life. Even the three winters it had spent in the garage, it didn’t thrive until the warm spring temperatures hit. When summer was only a few weeks away, I reluctantly brought the pot with a whole lot of nothing to my potting table to recycle the soil in it. Continue reading “Black Leaves Matter”

Might isn’t right

Power corrupts. We all know this in the world of mankind, but it’s also true in the garden. Some plant species are just too strong and vigorous to be grown beside the weaker. They become “garden thugs,” and they take over. 

This has been painfully obvious to us in the last few weeks, after a deadly storm blew through our town. We all learned a new vocabulary word; “Derecho.” This weather system is as powerful as a tornado, but doesn’t last as long. The derecho rearranged our back yard as it took down a 20-year-old peach tree that shaded much of the eastern property line.  Continue reading “Might isn’t right”

Nomenclature Matters

“Look at that gorgeous Geranium!” I exclaimed this morning, as my beloved Yard Boy and I walked through the garden.

“It’s a daffodil, sweetheart. Why are you calling a geranium?” he asked. Good question. He knows I am a stickler about calling plants by their correct names. I’ll even use the Latin name for it if I know it, so there won’t be any confusion.

“Because that’s the name of this particular cultivar — Geranium,” I answered. “It’s a silly name, but I didn’t name it. It’s really an old heirloom variety, but that really is the actual name.” Continue reading “Nomenclature Matters”

Blown Away

Tennessee is “The Volunteer State.” At no other time in its history has this been made more widely known and evident than during the past few days since the tornadoes that ripped a fifty-mile long swath of misery and devastation through its very heart. In the early hours of Tuesday, March 3, 2020, the storm came without warning and pulverized the mid-state with up to 175-mile-an-hour winds in the center of the state, killing 25.

But that’s not all the news. “Look for the helpers,” as the legendary Mr. Rogers would have said, invoking his mother’s words. In Tennessee, you didn’t have to look hard. People were being turned back from attempting to help pack emergency relief boxes at the Churches of Christ Disaster Relief Effort headquarters in Nashville.  Continue reading “Blown Away”

The queen is dead!

Those worker bees in the yellow hive were not taking as many “orientation flights” as they used to do. Hmm … that’s suspicious.

Yes, we keep bees. Or as some of the more experienced (and skeptical) beekeepers put it, we are “bee have-ers.” We have bees. Whether we can keep them remains to be seen! There are parasites and diseases now that were unknown when my Grandpa kept bees. He just kept them; up there on the hill, in front of the pink rambling roses, out of our way — until we stepped on them with our bare feet in the clover-filled lawn. Continue reading “The queen is dead!”

The Outhouse Flower

Nicole should have a bumper sticker that reads, “I brake for interesting vegetation.” Well, so many of my friends need that phrase emblazoned on their vehicles! Many of us carry digging tools in our cars for “emergencies” such as finding an unusual plant in a neglected area, sometimes about to be bulldozed over.

It should be stated here as a disclaimer that neither Nicole nor I would knowingly dig a protected species of flower just so we could cultivate it in our own gardens, but there is such a thing as a bona fide “plant rescue.” Then there are the times when we couldn’t resist a wonderful roadside “weed” that was in large supply.

That was the case when we came upon a beautiful stand of what we tentatively identified as  Rudbeckia Laciniata, or Cutleaf Coneflower. I was hoping that it was what many people used to call “The Outhouse Flower.” That version is actually Rudbeckia Laciniata Hortensia, with a doubled flower, which blooms most of the summer. Continue reading “The Outhouse Flower”

Completely overwhelmed

It’s not that there is a lack of bunnies in the yard; there are way too many! Those little monsters seem to know which plants are the most costly, and happily munch them to the ground. They’ll even chow down on stuff that’s supposed to be poisonous. Baby rabbits are the proverbial “dumb bunnies” and will eat any plant. They especially delight in munching just a tiny bit of stem, so that the plant is destroyed without being consumed. I’ve seen my Gerbera daisies mowed down by young rabbits. 

Even with the surplus of those pernicious little rodent-like creatures in the yard, I still love my little life-size decorative resin bunny. He’s very polite, and has never wreaked destruction on the garden like those cute but naughty live rabbits.  Continue reading “Completely overwhelmed”