Sunday morning

Had some visitors this morning.  They were very vocal, or I wouldn’t have caught them outside getting a drink from a birdbath. Mama and Daddy crane have the red and white heads, and the baby is just grey all over, and still a bit unsteady on his very long legs.  I read that the baby is out of the nest and following the parents within 24 hours of hatching.  Take that millennials.

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I’m pretty sure these are the same two adult Sand Hill cranes that have been visiting us periodically since December, before the baby was born.  I think they are on the endangered animal list. Mama crane (the slightly smaller adult – I’m just assuming.  I know nothing about birds,) has an extra knuckle on her left leg.  She may have had an injury at one time.  They had a snack of some of the seeds spilled under the bird feeders as well.  Sometimes when it’s really hot they take a nap in the shade of the large oak tree. I love them.  The baby is so goofy.  He runs off kilter, and tosses grass in the air, and just jumps up and flaps his wings like a wild thing for no apparent reason.  He’s adorable.  I think of him as Kramer from the Seinfeld show.

And here’s my morning crew.  The cat, who obviously thinks I don’t know he’s contemplating sticking his nose in my coffee and then sneezing snot into it, and the dog, who because she has a black fur coat is not a fan of the heat.  I should also give credit to Chris Chadwell for the coffee cup.  I ‘borrowed’ it from her 20+ years ago when I lived in her garage.  Thanks, Binky. : )

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Friday morning

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Fridays are good days.  Pay day, for one.  And looking forward to a trip to Bradenton tomorrow.  I like to go back to remind myself how awful the traffic is, especially in the summer when Anna Maria island is packed.

Did the rounds this morning.  Have to run the sprinklers. Everything is looking a bit tired from the heat.  I sympathize.

Crepe myrtle is looking good.  And the new bed of fountain grass I put in is going to survive, I think.  My in-laws and husband looked it over when I first put it in.   “Why did you plant dead grass?” they asked me.  No faith, these people.

 

Saw where the gopher tortoise has been snacking on the pentas again.  I’m glad I put in eight plants, enough for the both of us.

Before the tortoise:

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After the tortoise:

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I guess the blooms are tasty.  We see two tortoises fairly often. The larger one has been named Sheldon, and the slightly smaller one is Michelle.  I am not responsible for terrible puns.  Blame the husband.

Found a new branch on a plant I bought for 99 cents at Walmart in the clearance section.  It’s a Florida native called Golden Dewdrop. The blooms are purple, but then it gets little gold berries on them. They look a bit like yellow raisins. Gotta figure out where to put the little fella.

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I do love the clearance rack in garden centers. Makes me feel slightly less guilty about how many plants I buy.

Here’s a shot of the most treasured item in our house.  If this is lost, everything must come to a halt until it is found.  When it goes in the pool, there is much keening, gnashing of teeth and wailing until it is retrieved.

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And here is who ‘helps’ me every morning.

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Happy Friday.

July in Florida

It’s hot.  Even getting up at 6:30 to do some weeding it’s already scorching.  I view our summer like folks up north view winter.  You adjust your lifestyle to fit the weather.  They stay inside in Jan. and Feb.  I stay inside July and August.  Or I try to.  But the rain every afternoon makes weeds jump up with happiness. So for an hour or two each morning the three of us (dog, cat and myself) tackle one flowerbed or another, usually while holding a cup of coffee in one hand. (I don’t let them drink coffee. But the cat is pretty sly.)

One of my earliest memories is walking around the yard with my mother while she had her first cup of coffee.  I can picture her in her bathrobe, sometimes with curlers in her hair, casually bending down to deadhead some roses, or pull out some weeds.  It’s a memory that makes me very happy.  When I go to visit her now, with her in her 80’s, we still try to make a trip around the yard together, even if she has to take the chairlift to get down the stairs.

There’s something about light through leaves that just lures me outside.  Early morning sunshine makes my husband pull the pillows over his head in protest, but it fills me with ideas about where to dig, and what to plant, and how much mulch I can fit in the back of the car.

My little acre

This blog is an attempt to document the changes I’m making to our yard.  We bought the house in July of 2016.  The house was surrounded by an eye-high hedge of azaleas and other shrubs, making it look like the house was squatting down, and peeking over the edge of the bushes.  We have a beautiful pool enclosed with an aluminum roof at the back, and from inside that porch all you could see were azaleas.  Ugh.  I wanted to be able to see the deer, gopher tortoises, armadillos, and even a stray coyote occasionally.  (Not so much the armadillo – we encouraged her to relocate.)  As an avid lawn hater, I was also anxious to start replacing the acre of plain grass with lovely color and texture, and lure in the bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and all the other critters out there.

 

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My plan was to add a butterfly garden in the corner beside the pool.  It is a nice sunny area hidden from the street where I can experiment with plants and colors and textures without feeling guilty about how wild and wooly it is compared to the rest of the yard.

I feel bad for my yard guy.  He took on mowing for me when it was an almost completely empty expanse of lawn.  Like the frog in slowly heating water, I’ve added flower bed after flower bed, tree after tree, and border after border, slowly acclimating him to the chaos that is my preferred gardening style.

In spite of the protests from husband, in-laws and even a couple neighbors I whacked the hell out of the all the azaleas and shrubs around the pool.

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Here’s what it looked like from inside when we bought it, and a shot from inside the porch after I had my whack attack.

And I’m really glad I did cut it back, or I wouldn’t have been able to see these guys come for a visit.

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Random garden thoughts

Once I plant it, I don’t want to have to do anything other than enjoy it.  I use as many native plants as possible.  Once they’re established they are almost completely no-maintenance.  Plus the birds and bees love them.

Native plants:  first year they sleep, next year they creep, third year they leap.  This is the first year for putting all of this in, so whenever someone comes to look at what I’m planting I find myself saying “just wait until a few years from now – this will be gorgeous.”

A crab apple tree, a mayhaw tree, and some leyland cypress and red cedars across the back of the lot.  In a couple of years these will look great.

Why do they insist on putting the word ‘weed’ into so many native plant names? Milkweed.  Porterweed.  It doesn’t help me sell the concept of native planting to others.