I am beginning this post on the last 'official' day of summer. It seems the summer of 2014 came and departed in record time. The normally hot, humid and sweaty days of July and August failed to materialize, or were very few in number. Rarely did daytime temperatures actually reach ninety degrees Fahrenheit during August; And rainfall locally was somewhat high at about four and one half inches for the month! Many of the days felt cool, damp and chilly. Officially (according to the National Weather Service) it was the coolest August on record for the central part of the state. July was also lacking in warmer temperatures. Typically these two months have always been unbearably hot, sticky and humid for as long as I can remember. However, this year was unusually cool during all the summer months, with night time temperatures in August falling sometimes into the lower 40's! With this said I cannot help but notice many unusual weather patterns across much of the continental U. S.
Watching the national newscasts during the past few weeks should have caught the attention of most people. Damaging floods were reported across the upper Midwest, Texas and in some of the New England states. Especially noticed were the ravaging floods across Arizona as a result of Pacific Hurricane moisture flowing inland from the Baja Peninsula of Mexico. I had never seen this much water in such an arid region of the southwest. These weather extremes are tragic, having incurred loss of lives and untold millions of dollars in personal property and homes! Another recent news item this past week concerned the severe drought facing central and southern California. I can only assume the news media are reporting fairly and accurately on these severe conditions. With all this in mind I'd like to explain the two pictures at the top of this post. They are from early October, 2011 when leaves had begun their annual transformation to vivid colors. The next two pictures are of an August 23rd sunset from our back porch at left, and a meadow scene at right near our home. All are within the county, and are easily accessed by vehicle and some on foot. Another topic I like this time of year is the change of plants (especially trees) into their autumn colors. As badly as I hate to see summer go, I truly enjoy the magic show of change in the leaves of shrubs and trees. Even plants in pastures look more like an artist's palette during the transition from summer to autumn. Their colors are transformed into buff, gold, lavender and bronze as shown in the meadow scene at right. Pictures say much more than words in most cases.
Today marks the end of August, and I'm somewhat late in making this post. I had planned to work on this since August 19. However, I find myself without excuse except for another couple excursions to mark the Labor Day holiday. One side trip was to honor the grave sites of long departed friends and grandparents. Another venture was on the 19th to gather wetlands pictures. It is sometimes easier just to let the pictures explain themselves. I will add only what words are necessary to convey information. To begin I had wanted to continue my previous post, but that would have made it too long & boring; and the subject is different. So here we go with a more abbreviated post which hopefully will get to the point! The point is: It is the last day of August, and I feel summer has gone too fast! Another point is this: I needed to get out just to relax and see what all Mother Nature is doing in the country side. Sometimes this means grabbing the camera, a shovel & bucket and starting up 'ole Blue', my faithful pickup truck. We can find a lot in an hour or less from home.
One of the plants I found in all the wetland areas was Purple Loosestrife (aka Lythrum salicaria ) which is listed by some agencies as a highly invasive, and illegal plant to grow and/or sell. At this point I must reference the Missouri Botanical Garden Website at this link: PURPLE LOOSESTRIFE. The plant is seen in the picture above right with the purple upright spires of blooms. Also shown in that picture is a large Button Bush behind it, and an Orange Jewel Weed on the foreground. All of these plants are listed in the ATP Database for further study. Other pictures of interest from August 19 are shown below. Before I go any further, it should be made clear these types of pictures, plants and blog entries will not appeal to a broad range of readers. I can probably count on one hand the number who might possibly relate to or care about them. If only one person finds this post useful, then it was worth my time and effort.
This post began August 14. I plan to update as time permits, and as events occur. That helps me avoid the end of the month rush to write something, and remember things I would otherwise forget! Dates of posts (even after publishing) will be in bold type. It is another day when crickets chirp at evening, and Katydids (Scientific Name Tettigoniidae) sing their rasping melody of "Katy did, Katy did". Country dwellers in the Eastern U.S. & Canada know all too well these sounds of mid to late summer. I use to tell myself that summer had grown old whenever these natural music makers began their evening symphonies. Cicadas are the July noise makers with their incessant buzzing in the treetops. They can be heard during all daylight hours of mid-summer. August brings with it an end of Cicada noise, as well as shortened number of daylight hours. It has been relatively dry this past month or so, causing lawns to turn a crispy tan and brown color. Our last mowing before today was July 24th giving us a three week break from lawn mowers. The perennial and vegetable gardens have suffered as well. Rain came Monday and Tuesday of this week giving us a badly needed reprieve from drought conditions. Most perennials have finished the season of bloom while the late summer ones show promise after recent rainfall.
Vegetables have been productive and plentiful in spite of the dry conditions of July and early August. Snap beans, turnips, sweet corn, cucumbers and tomatoes have done remarkably well. Many, many batches of all vegetables have been shared with neighbors and a food pantry sponsored by a local country church. It is worthwhile knowing that others are benefiting from our love of gardening, and the personal satisfaction it brings. The following are pictures of some vegetables that have done well this year.
Of course all gardeners pay attention to weather conditions. My records of unofficial rainfall in July barely amounted to 1.6 inches for the month. This is hardly adequate for healthy growth and development of all plants, trees included. Yet we seemed to have dodged the proverbial "bullet": And I think heavy mulching has helped tremendously. Our sandy loam dries out much too quickly without natural and artificial mulch. Temperatures for the entire summer have been far below average, especially in July and August. Looking back June was very wet and cold. The professional record keepers have confirmed on more than one occasion that our weather patterns for most of the Northeastern U. S. have been 'abnormal' (my word- not theirs.) Now we are being told there is to be an above average temperature shift for the balance of August. My thoughts: Wait and see. Meanwhile here are more pictures from August. I cannot go away from summer without pictures as a means of record keeping. One of these is of the dreaded Horned Tomato Caterpillar!
Today, August 15, marks almost the half way mark through the month. Among insects, birds, plants and other wildlife we can sometimes find subtle hints that summer is growing old. Field corn and soy beans have grown to maturity with full ears and pods. Corn silks have blackened and dried. I've noticed an increase in honey bee activity, especially on the clovers and Queen Ann's Lace. Butterflies of all sorts are in abundance on the Monarda, annual blooms and Butterfly Bushes (Buddeleja davidii). I've never really taken the time to appreciate the different types and species of butterflies before, except perhaps to acknowledge their presence in the gardens. Then I read of others' experiences and expertise in identifying them by their proper names. The one shown at the left and right is known as a Gray Hairstreak, or more correctly, "Strymon melinus". Good Web sites are available for identification purposes. A good one for me is BUTTERFLIES. This is a very helpful and informative site.
Other pictures that I've taken recently include many of the common species seen locally. Even now I'm still learning the proper and common names so there might be a few discrepancies here and there. The first one is an Eastern Yellow Tiger Swallowtail. The second is yet unidentified. The third is known as a Painted Lady, and the fourth is a Silver Spotted Skipper.
August 16, 2014 Here it is Saturday already, and I have that feeling the month is passing too quickly: Somehow I need it to slow down so all these 'summery' things can be more appreciated and enjoyed. I know beyond a doubt what lies ahead in the late months of autumn! Today's highlights included picking tomatoes and cucumbers, topping Big Daddy onions and removing tomato horn worms from some of the plants. These pests have a more common name in the moth stage of metamorphosis known as five-spotted hawkmoth. Their scientific name is something I wouldn't dare verbalize, let alone spell it: "Manduca quinquemaculata" for those who enjoy a good verbal challenge. The perennial beds have pretty much become void of daylily color, while the rubrum speciosums have brightened the spots where other blooms once graced the gardens. A lot of time has been spent just removing degraded flower stems and dead wood on roses and other shrubby plants. I will probably end today's post here with a few added pictures. An added word of explanation of the onions above at left. Those are Big Daddy long storage onions which I spread on a bed of pine straw and cones for curing and drying. Once dried and safely cured they go into the cellar for cold storage later this fall. I plan to come back to this post if new events, pictures or anything noteworthy comes along. Best wishes to all ATP members for the coming weeks as summer moves on.
August 17, 2014This week-end brought out butterflies over much of the area. Along roadsides they could be seen on native plant blooms including Joe Pye Weed, Sun Flowers and Queen Ann's Lace. A country drive on one lane roads today revealed much about natural plants and their provision for wild life, especially insects. I plan another excursion this week with camera in hand, hopefully to bring back some pictures. Any good ones will be posted here of course. Meanwhile a new butterfly in my back yard was identified as a King-Thoas Swallowtail. It is a beautiful black and yellow color which is difficult to photograph because it rarely is ever still! Its wings seem to be in perpetual motion. I am posting some of my pictures here: However, I am also posting a link here for this beautiful insect. KING-THOAS SWALLOWTAIL My pictures follow below.
I looked in the dictionary to see what word could describe important parts of an object, thing, place or time period. Interestingly I came up with the noun 'essence' meaning, 'the basic nature of a thing : the quality or qualities that make a thing what it is'. I guess it helps describe what July's important things are. It has always been a favorite month for me since it is right smack in the middle of summer activities, gardens, crops, lawns, and so forth. It is also a month designed for, and punctuated by daylilies. Just being outdoors anytime in summer is a way of life for me. And now, it is the final day of this summer month and I find myself as usual wondering where the time went. I will miss July for all the right reasons. Illustrated below are pictures of some of the things and events which made up my essence of July 2014 along with a listing of events and so forth. The following pictures are of daylily seedlings belonging to me. They all remain unregistered, un-named and are ID'd only with a number assigned by me. July always brings them into their best appearance. The pink seedling at right is the same one as Photo ID # 204085 in the The Parent Plant (generic) entry for Daylilies database. Click Here For Parent Plant.
The seedlings shown below are some of my very favorites. I am particularly fond of pale, pastels with halos and watermarks. The deep blackish red at right is also a favorite: Its color is very unique with its deep black halo. Now, just to set the record straight I am NOT a pro in any way in connection with hybridizing. I have not dabbed any pollen for several years now, and most likely never will again! There simply is not enough time, space nor energy to pursue this complex hobby. I might add this requires more than 'street smarts', as well as very talented people who understand what they are doing. Terms like diploid, tetraploid, semi-evergreen, dormant & diurnal are best left to experts who know what they are doing and discussing. With this said, I feel anyone can try a few crosses just for fun; You might be pleasantly surprised!
In reviewing the things most treasured about July I like to list them as they occur beginning with:
1. The Fourth Of July Holiday.
2. The county 4-H Fair.
3. Fresh produce from the garden.
4. Fire Flies aka 'Lightening Bugs'.
5. Butter Pecan Ice Cream after a hot, sweaty work day.
6. Watching Chickens Foraging.
7. Watching Kittens At Play.
8. Watching the grass grow, and grow, and grow.....
9. Enjoying each day, and what it brings (except bills)!
10. Knowing we have ATP to share gardening pictures, blogs, databases & comments.
Finally I realize this post is getting long. So I will end my post with another project which finally got done this week. Nesting boxes were completed, painted and furnished with fresh straw. I want to emphasize the security of the chickens, and their protection from predators. Night time in the country brings out all sorts of dangers, therefore quarters must be secure. In the pictures below I am showing the completed structure with nesting boxes with dual entries: They are accessible either from the outside or inside. All doors are 'raccoon' proof' with spring loaded latches. A close up view (last photo) shows what they look like.
The balance of this post shows random pictures from July.
Another month has come and gone Since June 4, 2014.That was the last post until now. In this time span summer arrived on the calendar without much pomp or circumstance, but with lots of rain and cool temperatures. June was one of our rainiest months on record according to the local record keepers. The official arrival of summer was set at 6:51 a.m. on June 21, 2014 according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac. They say the timing of the summer solstice depends on when the Sun reaches its farthest point north of the equator. And with Daylight Savings Time we are now blessed with daylight well past 9:00 p.m. never mind trying to get a good night of sleep after getting to bed late. It seems everyone is adjusting to more sunlight, more work and more summer activities. This post will begin on the last day of June, and will include random pictures of summer time thoughts, plants and events- especially the favorites. It will most likely be a diary of sorts, so here goes:
For starters I’d like to list some of my favorite things about Summer:
1. The song of a nesting wren on a hot summer day sounds like musical water running over stones in a brook. We have them singing all summer long and supply them with adequate nest boxes to raise offspring.
2. The delicate fragrance of the first rose of spring/summer to open. This is usually Lillian Gibson, followed by Iceberg, Madame Hardy & Therese Bugnet. The old shrub roses bloom only once, but are worth every moment of my time. So please do take time to stop and smell the roses before they’re gone.