Saturday, July 30, 2011

Aster Yellows Rainbow and Butterflies

I assume this is some sort of aster yellows on a purple coneflower, but it's just so beautiful:

Here's a black swallowtail lifting off a cone:

And a tiger swallowtail on a musk thistle I don't let go to seed (thanks for asking):

Must have a monarch shot--of course, it's on the liatris ligulistylis (why haven't you planted like ten of these yet? I didn't see monarchs this year until these liatris started blooming two weeks ago):

And my new favorite flower, blooming for the first time 1-2yrs after I planted it, is the 5 foot tall rudbeckia subtomentosa. I will be planting a stand of these this fall where some obedient plant currently resides, I mean, flops all over the place killing other plants:

Some good news coming your way shortly. Stay tuned. I'll need your help with it.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Honesty -- Kate Buckley

It's been a while since I posted a gardeny poem, but here's one now since it's been in the 90s and 100s the last 14 days here, and is thus too hot to dig.

There’s an honesty to planting,
in saying to seeds,
here’s what I want from you:


Grow until your heads touch
the tallest slat on the tumbledown wall
and then bud. Break open your heads
and flower, and when that’s done,

In return, I will give you
meal, minerals, the dung of cloven
animals. I will take measure
of your soil and add what you need,
take what I

In January, I will hang you
with leftover fir,
grind trees
to place at your

I’ll pluck snails from your leaves,
sluggish brown bodies loathe
to part from your

I will water you in a slow warm
stream, the garden hose wrapped
at my feet, a gently coiled cobra
who will not

I will break back
your dead wood.
I will feed you in spring.
I will take only what I need,
and then I will say to you:

Friday, July 22, 2011

On Silence and Solitude

I can never get enough of either. I feel healed when I have large quantities of both--I feel cleansed and centered and alive again.

Here are quotes from Terry Tempest Williams I posted almost exactly three years ago. Someone linked to it, and I rediscovered them. These are ideas I hope to address in my next memoir.

from Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place:

“It [silence / solitude] is what sustains me and protects me from my mind. It renders me fully present. I am desert. I am mountains. I am Great Salt Lake. There are other languages being spoken by wind, water, and wings. There are other lives to consider: avocets, stilts, and stones. Peace is the perspective found in patterns…. We are no more and no less than the life that surrounds us. My fears surface in my isolation. My serenity surfaces in my solitude.”

Quoted from the Indian teachings of Samkhya: “If you consciously hold within yourself three quarters of your power and use only one quarter to respond to any communication coming from others, you can stop the automatic, immediate and thoughtless movement outwards, which leaves you with a feeling of emptiness, of having been consumed by life. This stopping of the movement outwards is not self defense, but rather an effort to have the response come from within, from the deepest part of one’s being.”

“We usually recognize a beginning. Endings are more difficult to detect. Most often, they are realized only after reflection. Silence. We are seldom conscious when silence begins—it is only afterward that we realize what we have been a part of. In the night journeys of Canada geese, it is the silence that propels them."

Thomas Merton writes, “Silence is the strength of our interior life….If we fill our lives with silence, then we will live in hope.”

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Mr. Mows All The Time Waters All The Time, Too

I just can't stand not saying something. If you don't have anything nice to say, blog about it.

Mr. Mows All The Time is watering his yard. It is 100 degrees at 5:30 with a 115 heat index, blazing sun, no breeze though. Their lawn is ever so slightly browner than last week in this heatwave. Keep in mind he mows so often (mowing makes grass release moisture) and so low, that it seems brown right after he mows, so they also water then. Mow, water, blow, fertililze, water, mow. No trees.

So, let's play multiple choice here, winner gets a free copy* of my forthcoming book Sleep, Creep, Leap, which features a chapter on Mr. Mows:

Assuming one hour of watering yields 0.5" of water, how much of that water makes it to grass roots while watering during the hottest part of the day?

A) All of it. I'm insane.

B) At least half of it. Or none of it. Well, not much I'm guessing since you're so upset about it.

C) Do I want deep roots or shallow? Shallow.

D) I hate these kinds of questions. Reminds me too much of the SAT or GRE, and the college my parents wanted me to go to but wouldn't admit me because I fell asleep filling in bubble sheets early on a Saturday morning.

Point is, worst time of day to water. Mow less. Maybe plant a tree--or some native flowers and grasses that do the heat well and reduce the amount of lawn (and the effort / $ / resources you expend outside).

*free copies are invisible

Friday, July 15, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me & The Garden, 2011

The garden is 4, and I'm 35. It's also my parents' 39th wedding anniversary (my 4th anniversary was a week ago). Oh, and it's also the birthday of my little cousins who turn 12.

As one gift to myself, my book of garden essays--Sleep, Creep, Leap: The First Three Years of a Nebraska Garden--should be on Kindle any second, and the paperback out by August. In a few weeks, it'll also be on the iPad, Nook, and Sony Reader.

Another gift is trying to start a native plant garden consulting / coaching business in the wake of losing my teaching job: Monarch Gardens.

Below is a cavalcade of garden pics, my one continual present to myself (or shrine). To see the garden last year at this time link here--it should look familiar. We're almost at the time when the garden begins to look ragged. And fall is coming--I just stopped pinching back the many asters and goldenrods. (And yet, it's 100 with a 110 heat index.)

Indian Grass is filling out nicely

Assorted coneflowers, burnet, monarda, goldenrod,
liatris, bluestem, milkweed, wild quinine.

Yellow Pollen Coneflower

I love coneflowers--every stage, from opening
to winter seed heads--are incredible.

Rudbeckia maxima -- Giant Coneflower

Garden entrance

Wild Senna -- I try to push this
unique-leaved, long-blooming,
perennial whenever I can.

Folks always ask me what the neat-leaved burnet
(Sanguisorba) looks like in bloom. Here you go.

Winecup through the bench

See you next year. Lord willing with a tenure track job in English, my latest poetry collection released, a book contract for any of my memoirs (with the Oklahoma one fully drafted), an acreage, and an Audi A5. And less grey hair.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

My Mother's Pond

It's hers because she wanted it--my dad, not so much. Last weekend we visited my folks in Minnesota and got to see their most recent landscaping project. So peaceful. So neat. My wife loved it.

Even has a fire pit

Nicely angled steps

Love how this dock angles / juts out into the water

Lots of yarrow and red clover

Purple Prairie Clover

Almost got a good bee shot on this swamp milkweed

A good thistle?

Another good thistle?

My parents have, I'm guessing, about 2 acres of seeded prairie. When I left, the rudbeckia were getting ready to bloom. Lots of milkweed, yarrow, clover, coneflowers, grasses....

So, I had to post something since it's been a while. Been swamped trying to self publish a book, having a 4 year wedding anniversary, dreaming about getting an Audi for my birthday on Friday, dreaming about having a teaching job and not being laid off from UNL. Pipe dreams do the soul good.