Category Archives: Gardening

A Bad Hair Day

I think these are the last of the poppies in my garden that have a different look.

The combination of colours and texture is beautiful, but it was the crepe paper look that made these poppies special for me. I wondered what the word “crepe” meant and found that its origin in 18th C. French was “crespe” which meant “curled, frizzed” from the Latin “crispus.”

In reality, the poppy petals are soft and delicate, but it’s the crepe look that I find fascinating.

D’you ever have a bad hair day

When petals lie down where they may?

You see, for me, it’s nothing new,

They do whatever they want to do.

Crispy,  frizzy, fluttering,

My hairdo takes a battering.

The passing breeze has tousled me

I’m not the queen I’d like to be.

Here comes a lady pulling plants.

I call to her, “Give me a chance!

I’m just not ready yet to die.” 

She halts and breathes a great big sigh.

“I love the messy look  we share. 

To part with you, I could not bear.”

 

 

 

Foxgloves

The tall white, pink, and purplish flowers standing like spikes around the edge of the garden are foxgloves (digitalis). I found the name fascinating, imagining a fox wearing the tiny blooms of this plant on his feet. Each of the many flowers on the stalks is shaped like a  sock or a glove, just perfect for a fox to put a paw into.

This plant has many common names. I first learned its name in German when my mother told me it was called “Fingerhut,” which means, literally, finger hat, and is the word for “thimble.”  The Latin name “digitalis” is also to do with fingers (digits).

Did you know that digoxin, extracted from foxglove, is used as a heart medicine? But don’t go eating foxglove thinking you’ll get a healthy heart from it. The opposite would most likely occur. All parts of the plant are toxic.

Although it is unlikely to be eaten by children or pets, I want to be careful. I try to keep my foxgloves growing mainly inside the garden fence.

In the photo above, you can see that the bells of the foxgloves gradually open starting from the bottom of the plant. The top buds are the last to open. The bottom ones will be the first to go to seed. I had to wait to see what shape the topmost flower would have. I wanted to compare it to this oddball below.

In the photo of the pale foxglove, the topmost flower opened like a wide bell facing upwards. All the other foxglove plants have drooping bell-shaped flowers right to the top.

I don’t know if it’s a different variety of foxglove or just an anomaly. Maybe it’s the teacup for the fox to sip from while he puts his gloves on. That would get his ticker racing.

The Dinner Table

My garden is a tangled mess this year because I’ve hurt my back and can’t bend down to pull out the weeds. (That’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it.) The flowers have been so generous about hiding the weeds until I’m feeling better. They’ve done such a good job that no self-respecting bird would think it was a place for humans only. One of my visitors recognized it immediately as “tamed gone wild” and made himself at home there.  He exuded confidence and a sense of ownership, only knocking once he was already  in the door.

What he knocked on was once a huge fir that stood too close to our house. We had to cut it down many years ago and only a low stump was left. After today, I’m glad, for the first time, that we didn’t try to auger out the stump and get rid of it. Apparently it made a good dinner table for Woody, the pileated woodpecker. The spellchecker insists on calling him a pillaged woodpecker, and it is partly true. He does have a pillaging nature.

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“Pillaging? … Me? A bird’s gotta eat!”

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“Now, hold on just a minute. I think some of my dinner fell off the table top.”

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“Do you think it would be polite to crawl under there to get it? I suppose if it fell on the floor, I should leave it … but it looks so good.”

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“Hmm … What to do … what to do???”

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“Oh, to heck with it. I think I can get it from up here. I’m gonna go for it.”

 

Stay tuned for the next installment, coming soon to a computer near you.

 

P.S.  I have just found out that the male pileated woodpecker has the red malar stripe (moustache), while the female does not have it. So this is definitely MR Woodpecker.

The Confession

I think I have a problem. I love my garden, but I love poppies even more. So, in my raised beds meant to grow vegetables, most poppies popping up are allowed to stay.

I’ve had to remove a few of the common red ones that want to take over the whole yard, but when I come to a pure white one, I just can’t yank it out. It would be sacrilege,

especially when the whole family of puritans lies down in submission.

Here is my confession:

A few years ago, when I was sitting in the truck one day waiting for the Captain to do some business in a shop, I noticed some pretty poppies in a flowerbox under the store window. Some of them had gone to seed, so I snapped off a couple of the seed pods and put them in my pocket. I felt a stab of guilt, but the seeds would have fallen, mostly on the driveway, and been lost anyway.

I planted those seeds at home and here is one of the progeny of the flowerbox poppies. The wild hairdo is unmistakable.

But wait! The story isn’t over.

In the grocery store one day, I saw the lady who owned the shop with the flowerbox window. She’s a lovely lady in her 80s, and I felt a twinge of guilt about having snapped up some of her poppy seeds. I approached her and told her that I had admired her poppies by her shop window last year.

“Oh you can take some of the seeds, if you like. Help yourself!” she said.

My face went a deeper shade of red as I cleared my throat. “Well, that’s just it. I did … last year … and the babies are growing in my yard right now. I just wanted to thank you and tell you how much they mean to me.”

“You’re very welcome,” she said. “They’re nice aren’t they? Take all the seeds you want.”

The lady has since retired and the flowerbox is neglected, but I always think of her when her pink poppies with the wild hairdo bloom.

Colour Changes in Poppies

My favourite poppies were always these purple ones. I have no idea why, but maybe because they were so different from all the others. Even the leaves are different.  A few years ago when my first purple poppies grew, I  only saw purple ones. Then one year there were some reddish-purple ones. Some kind of hanky-panky going on.

Then we had one of that purple sort, come out very red. By the way, if you click to enlarge this photo, below, you will see the little beetles that are eating its petals.

Here are some of these reddish ones in a group. Notice the powdery mint green leaves that differentiate them from the field poppies.

Speaking of the regular field poppies, they are usually red, but there are variations. This one has a purplish center.

The one below has a red center.

Here they are camping out together.

At last, here is my special find of the day. This is one of the purple variations (those of the minty leaves), but not only is it red, with a dark center, but it has ragged petals. These petals were not ravaged by wind or some animal eating them, but that is their natural look. Kind of like a kid with messy hair, but oh, so cute.

Every  day when I water my garden I accidentally blow a few flowers off their stems. I hope that the next day they will be replaced by new flowers. I encourage this by dead-heading the seed pods in the early part of the season.

I wonder what will be out there tomorrow.

Humming and Buzzing

Who’s that humming such a happy tune? Oh! It’s my friend Humphrey.

“Thanks for planting these red hot pokers,” he says. “I love the sweet nectar in them.”

“My long beak and even longer tongue are ideal for reaching down into  these petals shaped like tubes.”

“But, look out Humphrey,” I call to him. “A dangerous character is heading right for you.”

“Eeeee! Thanks for the heads up,  Anneli. These guys usually mind their own beesness. Still, I have to be careful or I could get stung.”

“Maybe he’ll pass right over my wings.”

“Look over your shoulder, Humphrey!”

“Oh no-o-o-o! Here he comes again. Buzz off!”

(You’ll have to look hard to see what’s over Humphrey’s shoulder.)

“I know you’ll think I’m a coward, but I’m going to hide for a minute. These guys can be dangerous. Their sting can pack quite a wallop for a little guy like me.”

“You can come out now,” I tell him. “I think he’s gone.”

“Thanks for watching out for me, Anneli,”  Humphrey hums between slurps of red hot poker syrup.

“Well, take it easy on the dessert, Humphrey. You’re starting to get a little belly.”

“Ha ha, very funny.” Humphrey sips  as fast as he can, then suddenly stops and glances down to his right. “Oh no-o-o-o-o. I thought I heard him buzzing. Here he comes again!”

“Bzz-bzz-bzz,” says the little critter. “I’m just beeeeing a beeee.”

Do you see him?

 

 

Volunteers

My garden had a lot of volunteers this year, especially the poppies. So many stuck their heads up when I called for help in the jungle of my garden, that I couldn’t decide which ones to choose and which to deny. Here are two,  the first of many that I hope to post as time goes on.

I’m royal purple says the queen,

Most regal that you’ve ever seen.

I come from tall and stately stock,

My “white and purple” says I rock.

 

I’m one of those from Flanders’ Fields

Remembered well, my power shields

The fallen from forgotten sleep

As every year, I watch do keep.