Sunday, July 31, 2011

108.5 degrees (feels like 107)

That's what it says...

Hahaha. It's been hot, but not that hot. Makes me laugh because that weather site feels compelled to tell you that you might feel a degree and a half cooler than what's going on that temperature was even correct (!).

It has been hot. Just not 108.5 degrees worth of hot.

Still, this grasshopper was kind of out of it and looked like he had had enough of this heat, whatever temperature it really is outdoors....because look how flushed and pink he is.

His pink coloration is just temporary. I didn't know this but after a grasshopper molts, for a short time they are a different color than what their permanent color will be. I just never expected that color to be pink!

And did you know they could swivel their heads like this? That's a new one for me too. Looks just like a little toy.

The silvery checkerspot butterflies were so happy to try out all the new coneflowers that just got planted. A regular butterfly cafe. When I was planting this small garden a couple weeks ago, I had a lot of ebony jewelwing damselflies hang out while the plants got dug in. And then last Sunday, the silvery checkerspot butterflies moved in. There were one and two on nearly every flower, nectaring away and I hope that's all they were doing. Coneflowers are a host plant for the caterpillars of these butterflies and although that's why I planted them in the first place, I hope they wait until next year to chomp them down.

It doesn't look like much but this is my one patch of order in my 20.8 acres (feels like 20).

I plan to put a walkway in behind this small area (for dog traffic) but haven't figured out exactly how to do it yet. Could be recycling old pavers (the ones that look like little loaves of bread)...I would love to do something like this...

And after Angie has her wedding this fall, I can have all her empty clear wine bottles that she's been collecting to put candles least 250 of them. Terry says that weather will make them cloud up but I'm imagining a two bottle width strip of clear glass bottles containing the wood slices and sand between the two rows might look kind of nice behind all my white flowers, even if the bottles choose to weather in an ugly way. I'd like to start excavating the area right now but you know, too hot.

I just checked my favorite weather site to see what the temperature is today. A little cooler than last week...

...but feels like 108!

(Uh, I just went outside to check on this current measurement of heat. They might be right this time.)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

"Sedges have edges...

...rushes are round; grasses are hollow right up from the ground." Uh, maybe.

I discovered sedges and rushes this year and earnestly tried to identify what I've seen growing but even when they bloom....I still don't know. This might be a Bottle-brush sedge (Carex hystericina) but I really don't know.

This could be a Green bulrush (Scirpus atrovirens) but again, I'm just guessing.

I have no idea what this is, but the lime green is extra pretty against that rock.

I do know what this is. It's Horsetail (Scouring-rush or Equisetum hyemale). This stuff is growing everywhere and it's a good thing I like it because it's been around since dinosaurs and where it grows, it will stay...I'm thinking, forever.

There are times when I have a hard time identifying plants from other people's photographs so this year, I just went ahead and bought some native plants I liked and then used them for identification, hoping I'd find some just like them growing on my land in Kansas.

I know this is Bur sedge (Carex grayi)...

...because the tag says so.

Sames goes with this Sensitive fern...

I haven't found any Bur sedges yet but I did see a lot of Sensitive ferns growing in a drainage ditch...looking beautiful...and protected from me because they were growing in an area where that snapper has been seen.

But this plant has had me stumped for over a year. I've never seen it at a garden center and I have not seen it on any wildflower ID site. It grows in an area where a garden used to be...and along the creek bank...and sometimes in the creek. It has a purposeful presence and looks very handsome wherever it grows. Insects don't seem to mess with it. I was hoping it might be related to a toad lily because the foliage just looked like something spectacular was going to happen when it flowered...if I could ever catch it in flower.

Which I did this year...and it was pitiful.

What was name of this plant that eluded identification for such a long time? Deer-Tongue grass (Panicum clandestinum). A grass. Yes, a grass!!! Would you ever think a grass would have leaves like that? This identification thing is just impossible. I don't trust my identification skills for rushes, sedges and some grasses but for one grass, I now consider myself an expert.

And if a bobwhite quail ever waddles by, they consider the seeds of Deer-Tongue grass a very good snack. That's what I know for now and it doesn't seem like all that much.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Sunday was nasty hot...

...and I was too because I could not talk myself out of driving to Kansas.

The creek was kind of low (it's been low for weeks, despite that predicted Missouri River flood for the past month or so). I made Bo take a swim in the water because it was already nearing 100 degrees.

This waterhole was a little deeper than usual because I've never seen Bo that submerged before.

Bo kept walking in circles in the deep water, with his mouth open...

...and I kept laughing because it was such an economic way of cooling off...interior and exterior at the same time. I don't think Bo appreciated the laughter but it was pretty darn cute.

Above this little waterhole is a small waterfall of sorts. It's just a couple feet up but enough to make the minnows nervous about going over the edge. I watched a little bullfrog cool off and get some sun at the same time.

Usually these guys make a MEEP! and dive into the water before I can see them but like I said, it was another hot day and he had found the perfect spot to spend some time and he was not going to give it up.

In the area above him, just behind "the waterfall," there was just an inch or two of water and swimming in it was a large collection of minnows. They would catch sight of me and try to hide under any rock edge but the baby crayfish, who called those areas "home," would come out from under their rocks and sweep the minnows away from their "front porches." This bullfrog tadpole stayed put despite all the confusion around him about who could go where.

I felt bad about those minnows because eventually they'll have to figure out a way to navigate that waterfall to get to deeper water...or wait for it to rain again which won't happen for a while. They'll figure out something though because I'm sure this kind of thing happens all the time.

Last Wednesday there was a big and wonderful thunderstorm which must have been dramatic when the water rushed through the creek because some 15 foot tree limbs I had cut and left by the water's edge (because they were too heavy to haul at the time), had been carried down the creek flattening everything in the way.

I had planted some pickerel weed (Pontederia cordata) a couple weeks before knowing that it is a plant that loves ponds and pond edges but not rapidly moving water (which happens after a big rain). Sure enough, it was completely flattened and stubbornly horizontal. I'm not sure if the entire plant, roots and all, got pushed over or if it's something that will correct itself in the next few weeks...I'm just going to let it sit there for a while and maybe move it to a more stable area this fall. It's just that a big mass of pickerel weed would look so pretty in that spot (!!!!!). I thought the blue flag iris would be pretty in that area too but there was so much stream debris over them...well, maybe next year they'll be pretty. I research, I preplan, and for whatever reason, decide to go forward with something I know will not work. I guess I like to gamble with gardening's unpredictability and you know how that goes, results are surprisingly......predictable.

Here's the pickerel weed in happier times (uh, just last week)...

Further up the creek I had planted some water arrow (Sagittaria latifolia) and it seemed to have been better protected since it had that large rock to shield it from the rapidly moving water.

There also seems to be a lot of sediment from that last deluge. I know the creek is low but I don't remember seeing sandbars before...

The theme of the day seemed to be water. The reason I had traveled out in this horrible heat was so that I could water the plants I put in the week before.

Sometimes I get so amused with myself because of what I set out to do and what I end up doing instead. I have been studying up on native plants for this area and my goal is to plant primarily Kansas and Missouri native plants. And what is the first group of plants I put in? Daylilies. They were too good a deal to pass up. Daylilies originate from eastern Asia (!!!!) and the ones I purchased are a cultivar named "Kokomo Sunset." The foliage is short, which I like, and supposedly they're a rebloomer. Another plant I put in was a hosta...another plant originating from Asia (!!!!)...but hostas are so darn pretty (!!!!!!!!!). I did put in two natives though. A white echinacea ("White Swan") and some white liatris, both cultivars (not the original species). And with all of this, everything was planted in a grid. When I was done getting everything in, I just had to laugh over the evenly spaced mix of plants that were half non-native and the other half a cultivated variety. How did that happen?

Well, I suppose it's because I know you can set out with a focused intention but life is all about compromise and things are going to predictably change along the way. I'm gardening with dogs now. If you space plants 24 inches apart, 24 inch wide dogs can do some scratching and not do much damage to the plants around them.

And the daylilies? They keep going even when dogs use them frequently as mattresses.

I just hope these plants don't figure out that I also planted them in an area that is shady when everything there (except for the hosta) needs full sun.


Friday, July 15, 2011

Too hot for one turtle

No real story here...more of a paragraph really...because it's just too hot to say or think anything other than that it's......HOT.

It was hot this morning...

And it's hotter now...

The turtles were served watermelon when I got home from work today.

However, Cathy Jean walked away from the watermelon and gave me a long and pitiful look.

When I came back outside, she was at the bottom of the steps trying to get into the house. Since I was not picking up on her concentrated telepathic wishes, she was just going to get inside that air conditioned house herself.

I brought her in for the night while Starlinka (on her favorite sconce) observed Cathy Jean select the best sleeping spot for the night.

And she's not telling me where it is. I have no idea where Cathy is now...but I know she's passed out somewhere and is blissfully cool.

Outdoors....someone now had the watermelon all to himself. Who cares about temperature when you suddenly find yourself with a serving of watermelon for two?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Summer is just getting started...

...and the first sunflower to bloom is already worn out.

But not this budding "Hello Yellow" blackberry lily...maybe the flower will be lucky enough to come out on a day when the car thermometer doesn't indicate that it's 108 degrees outside. I don't think it was really that hot today, more like the lobby level waiting area to get into hell, but not the actual temperature of hell....I don't think...

But the daylilies seemed to be thriving...probably because they were so near the creek.

That was the place to be on a fever hot day like today. I saw my first little box turtle...

...who was NOT too happy to have a camera shoved in her face.

So she made tracks...

These two butterflies looked so pretty sharing their feelers for each other.......until I noticed that they were also sharing a meal of bird poop. :-p

The creek was a good place for a swim...

to hang out...

and for Bo, a good place to take a long nap.

And above the creek was a good place for a water snake to take a nap because in the creek below, just too many dogs. Way too many dogs.

There is always one "Bug of the Day" and this one was definitely the weirdest I've seen yet.

It's a wheel bug, a type of assassin bug (an even better name). The name comes from the wheel-like thing sticking out of its back but this bug also had some mighty big fenders. He was also mighty big!

He obliged me with some good shots and then slowly turned and crawled away....which was a good thing because I found out later that these bugs have a very nasty sting.

Another pretty day, even though it was feverishly hot. I really should have stayed indoors...

You know how you see people mowing their lawns or jogging when it is so darn hot outside and you wonder what the heck is wrong with them? I think I'm in that group now. Dangerous temperatures and yet I still run out to Kansas with my camera to watch, as Rie puts it, my own PBS nature show.