Drying Out

My mother called me this morning from Florida and after the usual banter about work, the family, and my father’s upcoming birthday, she began to complain about the rain. Tropical Storm Andrea is poised to dump six inches over coastal North Florida. Friends of mine as far north as South Georgia are under a tornado warning. My mother can’t get the German Shepherd to go outside and pee because he’s afraid to get wet. He’s also afraid of the dark.

“I don’t want to hear about your rain. I don’t feel sorry for you,” I told her. For the record, she laughed then asked me how my garden had made it through the last two weeks of Oklahoma’s record-breaking rainfall. The answer is: I don’t know yet. I’m hoping it stops raining long enough to give the soil an opportunity to dry out, otherwise we’re back at square one.

IMG_1213

my cucumbers, in better days

For all my frustration with the vegetables, my flowers are thriving. My daylily doubled in size, the sunflowers are mostly all over two feet tall, and the lavender is…doing something. It hasn’t gone brown or lost its heavenly scent. I call that a score. The Indian blanket has spread a few feet in all directions and this makes me very happy. When I brought that plant home with me last summer, there were two measly blossoms. I’m thinking I should go get more. Seriously, my desire to rip out all the ugly things in my yard and replace them with Indian blanket grows by the day!

A surprising sprawl of #indianblanket #wildflowers and a climbing ivy

Also, my theory about petunias is becoming as true as my theory about goldfish – it takes a lot to kill those suckers, even when you try. No, I’m not trying. I’m only emphasizing how important petunias can be to the beginning gardener’s precious and fragile ego.

TAKE HEED, first-timers.

Macro? And Mammoths.

Having a camera doesn’t make one a photographer, but it’s still fun to play around with pictures. I have a few friends who are photographers and, as artists of any medium will probably argue, some believe in the art of digital manipulation while others do not. I am not a photographer, I just have a camera, so I can do whatever I want and not feel like I’m cheating.

Last weekend, before all hell broke loose, I decided to enjoy the few hours of decent weather we were expecting to have for three days. My hour-long walk in a nearby park in full floral bloom produced some gorgeous photos. When I was finally able to upload and filter them, and just downright redesign them into what I wanted them to look like, I ended up with these:

IMG_1088

a rose

IMG_1104

an iris

IMG_1174

a marigold

yellow goatsbeard

the fuzz of yellow goatsbeard

IMG_1173

a petunia

IMG_1076

another rose

I don’t dare call this macro photography because I didn’t exactly follow the rules. Actually, are there rules? I simply cropped close-up photographs for an even closer-up view of the flowers’ insides. To be honest, I don’t know what to do with my camera without the help of editing software. Besides, it’s fun!

Some of these flowers are from my own front porch. I think a lot of this might be stemming from my need to be in the garden. Stemming? The pun was not intended, but now you can possibly see where my head has been lately. Speaking of stems, though, my mammoth sunflowers have broken through the soil, way ahead of schedule. I wasn’t expecting them for at least another ten days but the rains during the last week must have hurried them along. If that’s the case, maybe they’ll reach their full height of 12 feet when I’m still here in Oklahoma to enjoy them!

mammoth sunflower seedlings

my mammoth sunflowers, in infancy

 

Front Porch Gardening

It’s too late to start a garden here in Oklahoma, at least with the intention of growing anything worth eating. The only things that might make the endeavor worth the late season dig would be radishes but nobody in this family eats enough of them to grow them and I don’t know anyone else who would want the bounty (yes, I expect I would be successful!).  There is always garlic and onions although both of those won’t be harvested until next year and I’m too impatient for that. Besides, I researched a bit and came to find out that the time to actually plant for fall harvest is ideally no later than the first of part of September. I have no seeds, I have no Okie red dirt know-how, and I have no dugout or patch of dirt with which to work. Not now, anyway. That’s what spring time is for. Matt is quite relieved, I’m sure.

So, in the meantime, I’ve been tending to a few potted plants that line my front porch. It started with my Spanish lavender, which after the most recent rain has doubled in size, and a couple of petunias that grew so quickly that they could actually fend off the strangling tendrils of the passion flower vine. Over the past few weeks, though, I have acquired a few more flowers and herbs: daylilies, Indian blanket, black-eyed susans, lamb’s ear, celosia, cockscomb, French lavender, milkweed, rain lilies, and a couple different types of mint. All of them are living in pots at the moment and have to be watered each day by hand.

new cockscomb

budding cockscomb

lamb's ear

fuzzy lamb’s ear

celosia

celosia

Sadly, Elle’s beloved ruby-ball cactus, named Ophelia, keeled over. It seems when I showed Elle how to water the cactus, I didn’t specify how often and so the poor thing was watered nearly every day. Ophelia drowned, practically choked on her own stem-goo (it was odd), and flopped over sideways. Have you ever tried pulling a cactus from a tiny ceramic pot? It’s uncomfortable at times and wearing gloves seems pointless, too.  Just know this.

Wildflowers

Over the past year or so, I have found myself wanting to learn more about the flowers I see growing out in the wild. Whether in a field, lakeside, on a beach dune, or on the side of the road, I want to know what it is. There is a lot of talk about bringing native plants into our gardens and that is something I want to incorporate when the time comes.

When Matt’s family was visiting last weekend, we all headed over to Half-Price Books where I found Wildflowers and Flora of the Americas. I didn’t buy it that day because we just have so many books as it is, but none about wildflower identification. So I went back and got it. Oh, I’m so happy I did.

It is huge and illustrated and informative and…seriously, I didn’t know there were at least 48 kinds of leaf shapes until I opened this book. I have used it only a few times, but for someone like me who is nowhere near scientifically motivated (give me literature and history books anyday!), I’m kind of looking forward to getting some of these in my garden. It’ll be nice to enjoy them without the whirr of an 18-wheeler screaming beside me because I’m parked on the side of the highway taking photographs.

Indian blanket

Indian Blanket: Oklahoma’s state wildflower. I’m growing these right now in a pot on my porch. It now has five blossoms!

Arcadia Lake

I found this colony of coneflowers at Arcadia Lake.

white poppy

My best guess is a white poppy. I’m reading that poppies don’t typically grow here in Oklahoma unless garden seeds have been scattered with the wind. Which we all know is possible (ahem…Monsanto)

milk thistle

Milk Thistle found at Lake Hefner. Matt had some of these in his yard. I had to pick them because those ones had the big heads of fluffy seeds that I can’t seem to stop myself from blowing into the wind. Note the SHARP STABBY SPIKES, Because I did not.

sunflower at the lake

I also found this gorgeous sunflower at Lake Hefner. There were quite a few tall stalks of these, growing in bunches. Sunflowers just make me happy. I plan to grow lots of these next year.

The Return of Mother's Day Flowers

going home 10/08/2001

3 days old – the day before my 25th birthday

You know what? I still have that blanket.

I wanted to be sure that Elle came home from the hospital snuggled in a blanket that I had slept with for months, careful to use the same lotion on my skin every night before bed so that it, so that I, would be the scent she became the most familiar and comfortable with.

**********

Over the past ten years, Elle has grown to be the most selfless and considerate child I’ve ever known.  This morning, when I woke up, she was missing – off on a shopping trip with my mother, off on a shopping trip to find me the most perfect bouquet of flowers.

Obviously, I like flowers. I love flowers. My garden is proof of that but nobody suffers my newfound hobby more than she does, yet she spent her morning trying to find for me the one bunch of flowers she could bring home that wouldn’t cause me an allergic reaction. (A number of years ago, my face and lips swelled so badly after I inhaled the scent of orchids that I couldn’t put on my glasses. It really wouldn’t have helped to wear them since I couldn’t even open my eyes, yet somehow, I managed to drive myself to the doctor’s office for a nice hefty dose of some shot in the asscheek. Benadryl soon became a staple food in my diet.)

I am now convinced that I have lost years of enjoying bouquets due to an imagined allergy to the flowers when, in reality, it was probably an allergy to the preservative powders used to keep the flowers looking and smelling fresh.  Still careful to not inhale too deeply, I am happy to welcome them back into my life.

Seriously, I don’t think words can express just how wonderful it is to have a bouquet of springtime flowers in my house once again

And, to Elle – thank you. I love being your mom. That you put so much worry and concern and loving thought into bringing these home for me just proves that I’m the luckiest mom out there. I love you, kiddo.

100_4578

Mother's Day flowers from Elle

100_4577

P.S. I would really love some help identifying those blueish/purple flowers. It’s like they are growing flat-stemmed, on a pallet or something. When I touch the petals, it sounds like rustling bits of paper.

Flower Power: Gerbera Daisies

It’s becoming quite difficult for me to pass up an opportunity to care for more flowers. Especially because the school semester is over and free time has become plentiful. There are only so many walks around the neighborhood the dachshund will tolerate. There are only so many weeds that need to be pulled from the garden. There are only so many rooms in this house that need vacuuming.

I know, poor me.

Anyway, last week I talked my mother into taking a trip to the local plant nursery so she could “dress up” an area in front of the garage. She ended up going home with three society garlics which I ended up planting for her (so pretty, but the roots are super stinky – good thing they stay underground) and Elle fell in love with a particular shade of a Gerbera daisy. I’m more of a fan of bright colors in the garden, but I figured why not?

I’m happy to say…yep, I’m definitely a fan. They’ve become a favorite in the garden.

gerber daisy

Untitled

gerber daisy

Gerbera Daisy