Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Local Bloggers

I found two new-to-me local blogs from Daniel's post Ithaca Photography and Blogging over at Migrations.

Local artist Benjamin Clock writes Natural History Artworks about his painting and travels. Check out his description of the work on an illustration for an upcoming issue of The Living Bird.

The Contemplative Nuthatch looks out for birds here and elsewhere. I love her photo of Cecropias in Sapsucker Woods.

Two other local blogs I've been reading for a while, but I'm finally getting around to adding to the side bar:

Craig in Ellis Hollow ranges widely through politics and music consistently returning to his garden. His recent Full Disclosure post includes pictures of the "ugly" parts of the garden. We all tend to take pictures when things are looking their best. How many of us are willing to expose the neglected corners to public scrutiny.

Brenda's changed the name of her Ithaca Daily Photo blog to the more realistic Ithaca When-I-Feel-Like-It Photo. Tho' it's no longer daily, there are frequent cool photos from random spots around town. It reminds me that my photos are mostly around the yard. I really need to get out more...

The Dreaded To-Do List

Hello. My name is Mary Ann. It's been two weeks since my last blog post. I can't remember if that's supposed to sound like AA or confession. I've actually never been to either. But I do feel bad about not blogging recently. Every Tuesday morning, like clockwork, Sitemeter sends me a report of visitors to this site. Needless to say the number of visitors declines in direct proportion to the number of recent posts. But to the dozen or so loyal visitors who keep showing up here every day, my apologies.

Too often it's a choice between working and writing about working. Yes, in a perfect world, I'd choose the writing over the working every time. But I'm so far behind I've been determined to slog through the "to do" list. Lots of things have been added to the list and crossed off in the past two weeks, many of which are worthy of their own blog posts. Like this full day of filing I did in order to find the information I needed to write a report. See that bit of sun outside the window in the upper left? I resisted that all day. And besides finishing 80% of the filing, I amassed all this recycling.

All right, suffice it to say that I've worked my way back to an item that got on the list two weeks ago, just after the last post: "plant iris etc." Iris etc refers to the wheelbarrow full of Siberian Iris, tub full of Liatris and bucket full of bearded Iris that we took out of the garden in front of the rose.

On days that I have a dentist appointment or some similarly annoying obligation, I reward myself with garden work. I managed to plant the "etc," the bearded Iris and Liatris. Of course, to do that, I had to create a space somewhere. There it is. See that little patch of dirt in the sun to the left of the sidewalk? There's the bearded Iris. A little to the left, if you care, is the taller Liatris in bloom. But the wheelbarrow of Siberian Iris awaits. And the sun's shining. Screw the remaining office work on the list. I'm outta here.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Life Is Just a Bowl of ...

The cherries were nearly ripe on July 5 when I took this picture. (I did not add that drop of water for photographic effect. It's genuine dew.) The cherries ripened to a very satisfactory dark red last week and I ate them - unceremoniously. There were seventeen to begin with. Birds pecked a few, despite the net over them. We sampled about a dozen in various stages of ripeness. So, like the four strawberries I harvested in June, the cherries were about $2.50 each. On the plus side, from now on they'll be more or less free (not counting, of course, the fence and the net that protect them.)

This is my favorite rose. Well, in my garden, actually it's the only rose. I don't usually try to grow things that aren't easy. But I have been trying with roses. This "Joseph's Coat" has been doing its best against all odds. It's been here for years. It now has three canes, the tallest of which is still only about thirty inches tall.

Every year I try to remember to fertilize it regularly. I try to remember to cover it in the winter. I try to check it occasionally for Japanese beetles or mildew. And every year it rewards me with more and more blossoms.

In one heroic effort to show the rose how much I care, I persuaded Belinda to move the Siberian Iris you can see behind (and to the south) of the rose in the picture. Well, it wasn't that hard to persuade her. I don't think she's ever had to move a Siberian Iris before. It may be a few years before I try to get her to do it again. She thought I should move the rose (which I admit is only about one tenth the size of the Iris.)

Anyway, now the Iris and most of the Liatris around it is gone. The rose is visible through the trellis at the entrance to the garden. I'm mulching the rose with a full bushel of my best compost. Maybe someday it will cover the fence like the catalog pictures I've seen.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

"It Was the Best of Times..."

My satellite TV network includes the often useful channel UCTV, University of California TV. An excellent program last night, Global Warming: Climate Change Science and Public Policy recommended links to Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and RealClimate.org.

Much of my life has been guided by the sine qua non of environmental protection. So the principles underlying climate change come as no surprise to me: finite resources, conspicuous consumption, anthropocentrism, etc. I've put this all in perspective somewhere between Tim Flannery's marvelous description of geology and life in North America following the devastating Chicxulub asteroid impact 65 million years ago in The Eternal Frontier and the "bright but deadly" transformation of the sun into a red giant 5 billion years from now as described in Astronomy magazine. (The article's not online. You can borrow my hard copy if you like.) I find some irrational comfort in the fact that we're closer to the beginning of life on earth than to the end.

But the questions now become, how much discomfort or misery are we willing to adapt to, or to inflict on others? Why are we still talking about changing light bulbs and not about how many displaced persons are we able to accommodate?

On that happy note, I'm going to go celebrate Independence Day.

P.S. Any day that starts with the cat bringing me a still live mouse really has nowhere to go but up.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Wayahead Tomatoes

Well, some convincing evidence is in. These are Wayahead tomatoes - grown from a sample sent with my Jung seed order. They were planted in the garden in late May, some with the red plastic trays that are supposed to convey some mysterious advantage. The plants growing in the red trays are several inches (perhaps 40%) taller and blooming while the ones without the red trays are - well - shorter and not yet blooming.

Here's another variety, Cherokee Red. Am I nuts or does that look like a double flower? All the flowers on the two Cherokee Red plants look like this. Doesn't seem like a great thing for a plant grown for its fruit.

Here's Murphy the Magnificent posing as a garden ornament. I think he looks great there.

Sunday, July 01, 2007


Leenda, Leenda! Weed-ho' and scientist that you are, surely you've met purslane with its fat red stems and succulent leaves. I'll bet you know the latin names of more than half the weeds you pull.

The best that can be said for purslane is that it's flat. (Would that that were a compliment in other walks of life.) As Dave points out, it is edible. But honestly, that's not as important as the fact that purslane's diminutive stature makes it a minimal threat to neighboring cultivated plants - at least in its youngest stage.

If you're keeping up with weeding every day or two (ha!) the tiniest seedlings can be done in with a light scraping of the surface of the soil with the back of your trowel. Larger plants, which no doubt abound after the second day must be traced to their center and the root carefully grasped and pulled.

Final warning. Don't leave the uprooted plants on the surface of the soil. Don't be fooled into thinking you can leave the dying plants to mulch your bare soil as you might with other weeds. Take them away. Far away. The succulent plant is able to flower and mature seeds long after you think you've left it gasping its last breath.