Alice’s green thumb

Mom has loved flowers for as long as I can remember.

Every spring when we were young, she would take us to little flower shops up the road from the hill we lived on. We would pass by rows and rows of blooming plants, inhaling the rich scent of flowers and dark brown soil. After we brought her favorites to the house, she would dig some holes in some of her existing flowerbeds and introduce each plant to its new home, where it would thrive.

After we grew up and left, Mom’s love affair with flowers continued. She and Dad put up a chain-link fence, and she planted bushes of hibiscus all down one side. There were more flowers surrounding Dad’s free-standing shop, and her front flowerbed was always full. Last spring and summer, after giving the plot a good weeding, I camped out near the flowerbed and took pictures of hummingbirds, who were drawn to the sugar-water feeders we hung.

female hummer
Mom had a yard full of ruby-throated hummingbirds last summer.

We brought Mom to live with us in North Carolina last August (under protest, she will tell you). But before we left, I took pictures of some of the flowers she had to leave. This way, she can always remember what they looked like.

mom flowerbed overview
There are all kinds of plants hiding in here!
moon flower
These moonflowers were some of Mom’s favorites.
alium
Alium. Or an ornamental onion, as I like to call them.
purple iris
Purple is Mom’s favorite color.
shamrock
Beautiful shamrocks are part of the under story of Mom’s garden.
hibiscus shrub
One of Mom’s many hibiscus blooms.
black eyed sue
A random flower in Mom’s backyard.
hibiscus bud
A wisteria bloom on Mom’s deck.
tiger in wisteria
Mom’s cat Tiger trying to stalk birds on her back deck. I’m sure he misses the old house, too!

 

 

Holding on and catching up

It’s funny how life unfolds. One minute, I’m creating a blog because I’m bored and miss writing, and the next thing you know, I’m back to writing part-time for pay. On my off days, I sometimes travel to spend time with my husband, and I also drive out of state to care for my Mom.

Enter a couple of medical emergencies, and I’ve relocated to become a full-time caregiver, and the writing has just about stopped.

I haven’t quit taking pictures, however, although I’m away from my familiar photo-editing software. As things continue to improve, that should change soon, and in the meantime, I’m still learning — about my camera, digital photography, and life in general. I’ve had to give up my zoo trips for now, but I’m rediscovering birds. It’s amazing what a few seeds and a hummingbird feeder can bring to a deck or a yard! (See the young tufted titmouse, above.)

I have enough photos to write probably three or four posts, but it will be a few more weeks until I can starting blogging on a regular basis again. In the meantime, you can keep up with me @ddiljak on Instagram. Here are some of my recent pictures:

Monarch butterfly
This monarch butterfly (on milkweed) surprised me on a recent morning walk.
Ruby-throated hummingboard
Mom’s flowers, and the new hummingbird feeder, have attracted at least four of these fiesty beauties.
Flowring allium
An allium in Mom’s yard, opening earlier this summer.

Fleeting beauties

Is it my imagination, or are there fewer butterflies around? Or maybe like me, they’ve been avoiding the heat. I’ve managed to see a few . . .

yellowbutterfly (2)
I’ve learned to take my camera, or at least my phone, when I walk for exercise.
bluebutterfly
This little guy was attracted to something on my front porch.

Gardening: A work in progress

Coreopsis is a summer favorite; we'll see if this one thrives.
Coreopsis is a summer favorite; I hope this one thrives.

Now that it’s mid-April, plant sales are springing up all over. I spent much of yesterday in search of Black-eyed Susans to replace my pair that did not survive the Winter, and some more of those diaphanous Indian feathers I discovered last year.

I found neither. But, I did come home with some willowy (I’m hoping) coreopsis and several angelonia, which I am delighted to find should bush out quite a bit and bloom all Summer long.

Leopard's bane, backed by an Indian feather and a purple angelonia.
Leopard’s bane, backed by  Indian feathers and a new purple angelonia.

Since I couldn’t find any Black-eyed Susans, I would have bought several more of both the coreopsis and the angelonia, but I happened upon that particular high school plant sale a little too late. Most of the flowers I liked had already been plucked by other gardeners.

The flower bed in front of the house is filling out, although I think I need to get some more heuchera to keep the ones I have company. The bleeding hearts are blooming, though,and so is the Indian Hawthorn I brought home last year.

Out back, I repositioned and fertilized the hydrangea and planted my husband’s tomatoes, as well as the new butterfly bush I found for just $5. If everything grows as planned, we should enjoy a colorful Summer.

Are we there yet, Spring?

I’ve been in an awful rush for Winter to be over this year. It’s been really mild, as far as Winters go, but as nice as it is to curl up in front of my warm fireplace on chilly days and nights, Spring just can’t get here fast enough this time around.

Last month, I had such a bad case of the Winter blahs I went shopping in search of flowers. And found nothing. (It was February.) It’s been so warm lately, though. So yesterday, I went to find some soil conditioner, which I like much better than mulch, because you can use it in and on top of the soil, and, well.

I found everything from flowering spring plants to blueberry bushes. It was a feast for Winter-weary eyes. My husband, who is working hard a few states over, will be pleased to know I did not go overboard. The few plants I selected are starting to bloom now, and several should flower all Summer long.

leopard's bane
With sunny yellow flowers and a name like leopard’s bane, who could resist?

I took a long time deciding, but came home with leopard’s bane, some bushy plants with purple blooms that are supposed to attract butterflies, and a few inexpensive lavender plants. I’ve been wanting some good lavender for a long time, and the last plant I purchased didn’t do well at all.

transformed
I forget what they’re called, but these plants with purple flowers are supposed to be butterfly magnets.

In addition to all the digging and mulching I did yesterday, I transplanted my perpetually unhappy ground-hugging gardenia – again. I’ve moved it, revived it, split it, given part of it away on several occasions, but I haven’t killed it yet.

It’s always happier in a container than in the ground, so I found the Ironite and moved the bush into a rectangular planter I never know what to do with. We’ll see how it goes this time.

new home
Poor, unhappy gardenia. Maybe this daffodil will cheer it up.

My husband’s grapevine is waking up already. I know we have another month to go before the danger of frost is gone, so I hope it will be OK.

grape vine
This grapevine is already producing leaves. Last year, a little grey tree frog took up temporary residence on its branches.

Unbelievably, our little strawberry plant, which did very little last year in the way of fruit, stayed green all winter long. Right now, it has one bloom.

lonely strawberry
This is not the best planter for a strawberry, but it kept the berry plant alive and green all Winter.

Spring officially arrives Sunday. I’m trying to decide if I should go ahead and plant the lavender, or wait until the danger of frost is past. At any rate, my Indian feathers, which are already sprouting, have some flowering plants to keep them company by the mailbox until they, too, start to bloom.

If I had the space, and the money . . . but I don’t. Until then, this little garden of mine will have to do.