Friday, September 30, 2011

So That's What They Are—Autumn Asters

Phew! I'm glad I left these plants in this planter. I wasn't even sure they were actual flowers until last week, and have been rewarded with these pretty, light purple Asters.

This photo of the ceramic pot full of lush green leaves, above, ran in the blog on July 2nd. At the time, I knew I had planted a marigold in the center of it, but couldn't remember what the majority of leaves around it belonged to. They were coming up all around the perimeter, so were clearly meant to be there; they weren't just weeds. I left them, and last week was rewarded with lavender Asters. The marigold was quite large, with solid orange flowers, but in a recent torrential downpour, most of the stems were broken. There is just a small part of it growing out to the left now. I'll remember these Asters next year! As perennials, they withstood the winter's snow on the porch just fine and I'm sure they will be just as pretty next fall.

Other Asters Around Town
Cultivated pink Asters, found planted in front of a small business.

Wild mini white Asters creating a 4-foot high mound of bee-loving flowers next to the railroad tracks.

A small cluster of wild purple Asters growing about twelve feet off the side of a small road, right at the line where the woods began. They are only about 8-10 inches high.

The same cluster of wild purple Asters from a different angle. I pointed these out to several people walking by as I photographed them, and most didn't seem to care, lol. 

This variety of wild white Asters is blooming all around town right now. There are literally millions of these roadside "weeds" abloom. I'm always surprised they make it to this floral stage. For 99% of the growing season, they are completely nondescript in appearance, just another green weed. 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Little Car that Could-Flyer Wins Four!

1933 Continental Flyer, as it wins Second Place at the Glenmoor Gathering of Significant Automobiles. Barry and Glynette Wolk, owners.

The final tally for 2011—Four. Featured in four car shows this season, this beautiful little car took home four trophies! This Continental Flyer won second place in the Hagerty Youth Judging at the Concourse of America, formerly Meadow Brook; second place at the Glenmoor Gathering of Significant AutomobilesBest Unrestored Vehicle at Krasl Art Center Concours; and Best of Class at the Orphan Car Show in Ypsilanti. I couldn't be happier for my friends, Barry and Glynette!

Long-time readers of this blog will recognize this car. It's the newest addition to Barry's and Glynette's "Continental Collection." Found nearby in Essex, Connecticut, now living in Michigan, this three-owner sedan remains in excellent, largely original condition 78 years after it was built. To read an earlier post about this car, click here.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Birds and the Bees. And a Flamingo.

When is a Ham a Bird? Walking along the shore the other day, I noticed this seagull keeping pace with me, about 50 feet out in the Sound. If I stopped, he swam in circles until I started walking again, and then he'd swim in the direction I was walking. The zoom function on my camera isn't the greatest, but I was able to fairly decently capture this classic North American Herring Gull. Once I took his photo, he started paddling in the opposite direction, lol.

Pick your Prick, lol! Moving on from that classic seagull, an equally classic Bumble Bee is gathering nectar from one of my wild Thistles. I managed to avoid being stung by the bee and pricked by the thistle as I shot this photo. The thorns on this variety of thistle are on the stems, the leaves and pod beneath the flower, making them almost impossible to touch. Heart-shaped leaves of a morning glory vine, to the right, grow through the nylon deer netting attached to the chicken wire vegetable garden fence.

Ode to John Waters and Divine. Perhaps more Klassic than Classic, my ca. 1965 Pink Flamingo stands guard in front of my porch. Antique shovel heads behind it were found when digging in Pink Gardens' back yard, as was the horseshoe above them. Horseshoes should always be displayed standing up—to catch all the good luck!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Meet Zsa Zsa—"Baby Bunny"!

If you click on the image, "Baby Bunny" will look up. I've made my first (very rudimentary) animated gif file, lol!

This is Zsa Zsa, Pink Gardens' littlest mascot. She showed up this spring as a teeny tiny baby bunny, and has become almost tame, even as she has grown to almost full size. She tended to arrive at happy hour, while we were sitting outside eating or enjoying an afternoon beverage, hence the name Zsa Zsa—famous for her good looks and her notorious happy hours, lol. "Baby Bunny" as we also call her, won't exactly eat out of our hands, but will come as close as a foot or two and not be scared by us. She eats grass, cracked corn and, above, an apple core. The chipmunks and birds taunt her, jumping up out of the grass, or down from the lilac bush, trying to startle her. It's hysterical to watch; she just looks at them like they're bothersome little brothers. We really hope she sticks around—we get worried with all the birds of prey around here. 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Abstracts Post-Irene: Most People Just Walk By

As my faithful readers know, I like to find beauty in the everyday scenes most people walk by. Now I'm not saying most people lack the "beauty gene" that allows them to see what I see, just that most people have such busy lives that they just don't take a moment and look around at their surroundings. Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene's damage has been pretty much cleared from most yards and of course, roads, but the woods and non-landscaped areas still show plenty of the aftermath. Click images to enlarge.

Above, a large limb on Pink Gardens' property pushed aside into the swampy area next to our driveway. The limb also brought down Bittersweet vines (Celestrus orbiculatus), which are now shedding their protective green seed cases allowing their yellow and orange colors to shine. The abstract nature of the graying dead limbs, the bright seeds and the bright blue sky reflected in the shallow waters, really caught my eye.

Close-up of the Bittersweet berries tangled with the dead twigs and leaves.

Another tangled web of "pretty!"

Dead Black-Eyed Susans (Rudbekia) in a small garden next to the wooden boardwalk I take into town. The dark seed pods are silhouetted against the bright green grass creating a polk-dot effect. I really enjoy finding patterns in nature. Some people see dead flowers and I see polka-dots. 'Nuff said!

A large branch broke off a White Oak tree (Quercus alba) next to the Amtrak railroad tracks. It's lodged in a fork in the tree trunk about 30 feet up, drooping all the way to the ground. It's not near enough the tracks for Amtrak to worry about, and it's far enough away from the owner's house to not worry about, lol. As the rounded-lobe leaves dry and brown, they curl and create an almost jigsaw puzzle appearance. Apparently some White Oaks have lived to the ripe old age of 600 years! Next to the sidewalk on my way to town, I stood and stared at this array of leaves, finding patterns in patterns, for a good 10 minutes. I'm sure my already-strange reputation in town was enhanced by staring at a dead tree limb that long, lol.

I swear you could fit the rounded lobes of these oak leaves into each other, just like a giant jigsaw puzzle. Their color, as they dry and die, varies from a plain solid beige, to a slight pinkish tint with a silver glaze-effect. Some of them are slightly shiny on the undersides.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Other People's Flowers (for a Change!)

Earlier this week I took a walk around town with my camera. Though the growing season is coming to an end, and Irene definitely took its toll along the shore, many homes' gardens were still quite colorful. Above, a beautiful salmon-colored rose.

Wild Asters along the side of the road. There is a lavender variety as well as this bright white version, blooming this time of year.

Pink tea roses still flowering in front of one of the banks downtown.

I'm not sure what' the name of this shrub is with red berries. It's not a Holly, which have "berried" by now, too. Hollies have very shiny, dark green leaves with "points" on them, and these were a normal medium green, soft to the touch. The entire 6-foot shrub was covered in red berries.

A really pretty yellow rose. The "hips" where earlier flowers had bloomed and fallen off were really that purplish/aqua color. So distinctive!

Purple coneflowers in three stages of flowering. This plant is also known as echinacea, a medicinal herbal supplement.

Hibiscus in a very pretty salmon hue. Most of the ones around town are bright pink; these were more subtle. Well, as subtle as 6-inch wide flowers that look like they just stepped out of a fairy tale can be!

These "backhouse" flowers are planted at the base of a stop sign! I don't know their real name, but they were frequently planted around colonial outhouses, or backhouses, because they can grow to a height of 6 feet tall, thus hiding the outdoor privies.

A small clump of mini-carnations (Dianthus) was still blooming in mid September. They are usually late spring flowers. Mine have been done flowering since June. I was surprised to find these abloom!

Another beautiful rose, just about the "last rose of summer." Unlike many townspeople that seem to feel you are invading their privacy if you photograph their flowers (from the road, no less!), the woman whose garden this rose was in couldn't have been nicer, coming out to talk to me about gardening and photography. This rose had a gorgeous aroma, unlike the salmon rose at the top of this post, which had no scent at all.

A particularly nice shade of dusty pink autumn sedums. Bees absolutely love these flowers. I have some in my yard, and at this time of year, they are covered in honeybees.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Seen in Town: Farmer's Market Fridays

Every Friday afternoon during the summer and early autumn, there is a small farmer's market on my town green. There are 8-10 booths, with organic vegetables, wild seafood, free-range poultry and beef, fresh fruits, baked goods, cheeses, flowers, soaps and the occasional hand-made items. I'm partial to the soaps and vegetables and there are some good buys once in a while. Some of the produce is very expensive, as are the fish and meats, but it's always fun to walk around. There is always entertainment in the form of a guitar player or small band. It's a nice gathering, although there have been far fewer booths since Irene came through. I think some of the farms must have been flooded or otherwise damaged.

Heirloom tomatoes of every color. I've tried at least a couple of each this year, while I was waiting for my own tomato plants to bear fruit. The yellow tomatoes in the foreground have an almost peppery flavor, sort of like arugula, whereas the darker purple tomatoes are as sweet as can be.

My favorite variety at the farmer's market are the greenish yellow tomatoes in this photo. Up close they're sort of striped and called "Green Zebras." They're the sweetest tomatoes I've ever had. I'm going to buy a plant next year from this grower so I can have my own green zebras in the garden.

The soapmaker's booth—she makes all sorts of cool soaps, many with medicinal properties as well as great aromas. 

Some of the soaps from the booth above that made it home with me, lol: Pumpkin Cloves, Happy Hippy Treehugger, Patchouli, Blackberry Sage, Peppermint Twist and a special holiday bar called Frankincense, Myrhh and Gold, which has a gold-lined pattern throughout.

Organic cheeses, meats and fish are available in these booths.

Another great vendor of organic vegetables. June's heirloom tomato plants were from this farm. I'm going to buy a few plants from them next year, too. My "car buddies" will enjoy the fact this vendor owns the bright red Ford Transit Connect in the left of this photo, a very cool European Ford delivery van imported from Europe. That was enough to get me to his stand the first time, lol.

This small country/bluegrass band was the entertainment last Friday.

Standing, and sitting, listening to the band. People play Frisbee and Hacky Sack and little kids run and dance on the Town Green during these "concerts." I don't think it rained more than one Friday all season, so the farmer's market has become a regular Friday afternoon event for many townspeople. I think it ends soon in early October.

This little girl was running circles around this area of the Green, under the watchful eye of her father (in sunglasses) the entire time I was at the farmer's market, lol. She was making me tired watching her! Of course, I had already done two laps around town and one around the beach roads on my racing bike, so I was a bit tired to begin with!

The booths in the background sell fruit and baked goods such as pies, cakes and various breads. Even in the open air, it's a very aromatic line of booths to meander along!

Last week there were these hand-knit items selling next to the raspberries. Small town sellers!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

As Promised: Beauteous Bluepalooza!

As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, Thursday afternoon I noticed a lot of very large morning glory buds on these two vines. Despite temperatures in the low 40s last night, I awakened Friday morning to a sea of blue. I found 18-20 bright blue morning glories all blossoming at the same time. Usually these two plants on the west side of the vegetable garden have only four or five, maybe six, flowers per day. I hit the jackpot today! Too bad each flower only lasts a few hours, but I thoroughly enjoy their short lives. And I know my readers do, too. 

Click on each image to enlarge—if you can handle this bountiful bevy of blue beauties any bigger, lol.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Decorating with Anything (and Everything)

Just a corner of my livingroom/studio. I have "no problem" with hanging vintage toys, dolls and cardboard box tops, along with my paintings and assembled artwork. I find three-dimensional pieces hanging on a wall very eye-catching and attractive. The butterfly is a child's pull-toy. When it rolls along on the floor, the tin multicolored wings flap up and down. I believe it's from the 1930s, although I've found replicas for sale online. This is an original.

Another wall in my livingroom. I hang vintage beads and crafts I made as a child, and I also use fabrics hanging in doorways to "cozy up" the place.

Collectibles, old postcards and strands of beads co-exist peacefully.

A Ty's Beanie-Baby Fly rests atop a 1920s Borden's horse-drawn milk wagon. More beads and one of my hand-painted vases add color and texture to the walls.

I also like to have a lot of house plants situated all over the apartment. My violets are just beginning to flower again. This closeup shows the almost glittering appearance of the petals.

September Continues to Delight the Eyes

At the risk of being boring, the coverage of my flowers, as the season [unfortunately] winds down, continues today! 

Sun Records—Our three sunflower plants have given off more than fifteen flowers so far—a record for us—and I swear every single blossom has been a bit different than the rest. This latest one has very thin petals and a small center. No doubt the petals will unfurl and fill out more in the coming sunny days, but they will still be much thinner than the other ones. I love them all.

Nectar Central—June's young lavender Butterfly Bush (Buddleia) is doing really well. It has quadrupled in size since she planted it in May, and is about two feet tall now. It should be about five feet high by next year, and it really does attract butterflies and hummingbirds.

Deep Purple, Garden Style—Beautiful solid purple petunias, which were doing absolutely nothing in their pots earlier this summer, were transplanted under the tomatoes in a last ditch effort to save them, lol. And they've bloomed there all season!

Chipmunk's Eye View—The Blue Cheese, or Ghost, Pumpkins continue to flower. And they continue to develop no fruit. Not a single blossom has led to a single baby pumpkin.

Perfection—I know I just did an entire post on my blue morning glories, but they only last a few hours and new ones bloom every day. This shot is from this morning and it's just about the most perfect Heavenly Blue yet. I like the way the angle of this photo doesn't show the inner core with its "flower parts," only the bright white "tunnel" leading down to it. For some reason, to me, this lends it a very "hopeful" appearance. There are eighteen, yes eighteen, buds on this plant that look as if they'll open tomorrow. I will definitely get up early to make sure I catch this sea of blue. If I'm correct, it will be the first time I've ever had that many blue glories open at once.

Such a Tease—Triple pumpkin flowers just teasing me as they refuse to grow into fruit, lol. Oh well, I love the color and the shape of them. I'll grow them again next year just for the flowers and the vines.