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Posts Tagged ‘Outdoor Flowers’

I just spent another hour working on my yard and, out of the corner of my eye, I caught site of some “quiet movement” among the branches. It was a hummingbird, I don’t know whether it was female or a juvenile, collecting spiders, at least, that’s what I would presume. I stayed VERY still and quiet and watched as this little wonder of nature worked its way to just about 1-1/2 feet to 2 feet in front of me!!!

This is not the first time something like this has happened to me. It was several summers ago, when I kept a deck garden. Oftentimes, I would take one of the deck rail pots down to the floor where I could sit and quietly deadhead the marigolds and geraniums. On one occasion, I suddenly heard this hummer right in front of me and when I looked up, there she was looking straight at me as if to say “What are you doing to my flowers?”

I just love the fearless hummers!

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Yes, this blog was meant to be shared with my mother (A Shared Blog … Well, Sort of!), but, sadly, she passed away on Friday, March 12th, 2010 from a brain hemorrhage. When I am able, I will write more, however, there is one thing that I would like to share with you today … it’s a poem that a dear friend composed for me and it’s titled Eternal Bloom.

Eternal Bloom

Among the flowers of the field
So many blossoms thrive
Which share their essence, unconcealed,
To keep our spirits live.

One bloom may shed a golden glow
Another, crimson hue
And after rains and zephyr blow,
A petal sparkles dew.

Yet now one flower made a shift
To live in fields above,
Elysian beauty whose dear gift:
The bloom of mother’s love.

Jean Hodgin, Professor Emerita and Poet Laureate
North Shore Community College, Danvers, MA

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Here in New England, early summer already promised to be an exceptional year for flowers and fruit. Case in point, elderberry.

You see, one morning, while I was out back beside the big bird feeder (aka, squirrel and deer feeder), tossing out some stale bread for the birds, I noticed these tall shrubs with large bunches of tiny white flowers.

Now, I knew that elderberry was “present” in New England but, I’d never really seen it before. Well, maybe I had seen it but I didn’t really know what it looked like. So, naturally, after photographing the flowers, I looked them up in one of my field guides.

Well, I’ve always known that you could make elderberry wine or jelly from the berries but, I didn’t know that you can eat the flowers in pancakes and fritters too. I chose to wait until the berries formed and, maybe, just maybe I’d try my hand at making elderberry wine!

Right, … not so fast! This morning, I decided to check out the berries’ progress and, while I did find a few bunches of berries …

The droplets of water are courtesy of hurricane Hannah.

The droplets of water are courtesy of hurricane Hannah.

The vast majority of the “bunches” looked more like this!

Oh well! Truth be told, I’ve never made any wine before nor have I ever tasted elderberry wine. (I am somewhat partial to the sweet or semi-sweet dessert wines, though. Could someone tell me if elderberry wine is a sweet or semi-sweet wine? Maybe it’s neither?) On the other hand, it says in my field guide, that “bark, root, leaves, and unripe berries toxic; said to cause cyanide poisoning, severe diarrhea.” 😯

I think I’ll pass on the elderberry wine making for now!!! 😉

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Whoa! I sure can tell by my blog stats that I haven’t been blogging for a while! I’ll give a brief explanation for my absence in a bit. But, hey, first things first! Let’s start with revisiting a couple of my past entries like the one I called A Confederate Soldier.

William Buckner Taylor was described as a young man of “light complexion, light hair and gray eyes, his height was 5′ 5 1/2 inches.” When he enlisted at “Pinner’s Point, Norfolk County, … VA on February 19, 1862[,]” he was just 18 years old and listed his occupation as a laborer.

Mr. Taylor was first captured on “July 3rd, 1863 at Gettysburg and sent to Point Lookout, Maryland[.]” On February 18th, 1865, he was exchanged but then recaptured “on April 1, 1865 at Five Forks, and released on June 20, 1865 from Hart’s Island, New York.”

Where Mr. Taylor lived and worked, met his wife and raised his family between 1865 and 1900, I cannot say at this time. However, in the 1900 census, Mr. Taylor is listed as a stone mason and widower, “age 59, birth is listed as Feb 14, 1841[.]” This means that he should have been 21 years old instead of 18 years old at the time of his enlistment and that the date on his headstone is incorrect too. But, if you’ve ever tried researching your own family history, you would know that these discrepancies are quite common.

Living in his household in Topsfield, MA, according to the 1900 census, were his children,

“Mary B Taylor, age 15, birth April 28, 1885, born in MA
Lilian B Taylor, age 13, birth November 20, 1887, born in MA
William O. Taylor, age 6, birth March 27, 1894, born in MA”

And, by the 1910 census, William Buckner Taylor was listed “as a boarder in the home of Norman McLeod [in Topsfield], his age is listed as 69.”

Mr. Taylor passed away in 1911 and while he is buried in Topsfield, MA, “[t]here is a memorial marker to him located in Oak Grove Cemetery, Portsmouth, Va.”

Oh yes! About that grave marker … this “is a military headstone, provided by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs. They will provide a headstone when one is not present for a veteran of the Civil War, both Confederate and Union, … [although] who requested it, I can’t tell you, … [i]t could be that a Son’s of Union Veteran’s could have requested it.”

—Cynthia Buck-Thompson [Personal email, June 8 and 9, 2008]

***

Cynthia Buck-Thompson is a Civil War Living Historian as well as “the family genealogist.” Her husband reenacts with the 9th Virginia, Company B as well as Artillery for the Maryland Park Service.

I’d like to thank Cindy for all the work she did to answer my questions, every bit of the information listed here has been provided by Cindy.

***

Another entry that I’d like to revisit is the one that I called Spring Greens, especially, the part in which I mentioned the rhododendrons at Bradley Palmer State Park. They weren’t in bloom back in April and, thus, I was unable to post any photographs on my blog. So, I wrote “I promise not to let you down. I will keep track of their progress and take many photos to post when the time is right.”

Well, I did keep track. The “buds” seemed to be many, the only “flaw” I expected was the fact that some heavy pruning had been done among the lower branches. Still, new growth was appearing and I fully expected that the shear number of blossoms would be enough to “detract” from the pruning.

Unfortunately, by mid-June, when the parks’ rhododendrons should have been in all their glory, … well, … much to my surprise, not to mention my disappointment, there were barely a handful of blossoms! Oh, there were plenty of buds that had opened up, but few of those buds had any blossoms to show. I just couldn’t believe my eyes!

Perhaps, even stranger still, was the fact that, back in April, I had taken a couple of cuttings from the rhododendrons. (Now, before you all come down on me for taking cuttings of plants in a state park, please remember that these rhododendrons are hardly “wild.” Bradley Palmer State Park was once the estate of its namesake, “a noted attorney of the early 1900s who represented Sinclair Oil in the Teapot Dome Scandal and President Wilson at the Versailles Peace Conference after the First World War.” These rhododendrons were purposely placed to “line old carriage roads.” Besides, remember that the rhododendrons had already been heavily pruned! Apparently, though, their caretakers forgot to fertilize them. [Bradley Palmer State Park])

When I got the cuttings back home, I placed them in a vase then placed the vase in my bay window. But, for weeks, nothing happened. The cuttings didn’t die but the buds didn’t swell either. Then, about the beginning to the middle of June, suddenly the buds just shot up and opened up and I had rhododendron blossoms in my bay window!

Is that not weird or what? Did I have a premonition of sorts? I mean, really, the only other explanation that I can give you is that I did fertilize the cuttings, albeit with an indoor plant food, but still!

***

Okay, now about that brief explanation for my absence from blogging these past few weeks.

You see, I am fast approaching a very special anniversary. On August 27, 2008, I will become a five-year breast cancer survivor and, while I am just thrilled to pieces to be reaching this milestone, as I reflect on how far I’ve come in these past five years, I’ve also become acutely aware that I have not taken as good care of myself as I had promised I would do once I was finished with therapy. Oh, don’t get me wrong now, I haven’t fallen to pieces altogether! But, once in a while, we all need to step back and take a good look at where we’ve been and where we want to take our lives next. Fact is, this was just the perfect time for me to do that!

So, what more can I say? I’ve had my break from blogging, I’ve made some new plans, including some new ideas for this blog, and, … well, … I’m back! I sincerely hope you’ll all forgive me for my absence and, I certainly hope to see you all return too.

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Have you noticed how the common names of plants sometimes depend on where you live? Okay! Now, I know you’re probably thinking, “well, that was an obvious statement.” But, when I say it depends on where you live, I don’t mean that you must live great distances apart like from the east coast to the west coast or from the Canadian border to the Gulf of Mexico. No, when I say it depends on where you live, I mean as in my situation, in the same state, just a few miles apart, from inland to along the coast!

Take, for example, a rose whose Latin name is Rosa rugosa. Inland, they’re called a wrinkled rose but, along the coast, they’re called a beach rose. Same clothes, different label. Go figure!

But, what is even more amazing, is just how much this rose seems to LOVE neglect. Heck, I think it even LOVES abuse! I mean, really, what other plant does not want any TLC? Especially a rose! I have two of these rose bushes in my yard and nearly killed them when I tried to rid them of ants. And the plants along the coast? They endure salt spray and salty sand. I think that’s just INCREDIBLE!

Just take a look at this beach rose blossom! And look at those healthy leaves!

And when I say along the coast, I don’t mean just in the vicinity, I mean right along the shoreline as in this next photo!

Oh! How I wish I could include the fragrance of these rose blossoms in this post! It is pure heaven! 😀

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The other day, we had thunderstorms that brought much needed rain. However, those rains came in the form of torrential rains and all I could think about was the moccasin flower or lady slipper that I had promised to photograph when it had fully blossomed. I worried mostly because, for reasons beyond my comprehension, this lady slipper has been the only sample that I’ve been able to find this year. And, believe me folks, I’ve been looking!

But, I needn’t have worried. Much to my surprise and delight, it was still standing and by the next morning, the slipper looked better than it has during the days preceding the thunderstorms!

So, … for those of you waiting to see a lady slipper that now fits (in full bloom), here it is!

So, does it look like a pair of lady slippers to you? Personally, were it not for the pink color, I like the name moccasin flower better!

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I love things that are “old,” they just have so much character, wouldn’t you agree? Take, for example, this front door and wisteria from a home in Essex, MA.

The wood is splitting and the paint is peeling, that front door has seen a lot of use! But then, what would you expect? After all, the home was built in 1832! 😯

By the way, Essex, MA was, in its heyday, a shipbuilding community. Can you tell?

But, while the home and door may be 176 years old, I doubt that the wisteria is anywhere near that age. Still, wisterias take at least seven years before they begin to bloom and, judging from the number of blooms and the main trunk of this plant, I’d say it has seen quite a number of seven year cycles!

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