Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wednesday Workday

Meet Mordacai.

Unlike his more famous cousin who ensures that your hotel stays are just perfect, and at the lowest price possible, Mordacai guards our fish.

For the past two years he has stood guard in all sorts of weather - the soaking rains and heavy snows of last winter as well as the 100-degree days this summer - with not a single complaint.

He is a calm and quiet companion in the garden; always up early when I am catching the first sun rays and weeding. Always standing still in the rain or when I water. Always protecting his friends Goldie, Big Red, Oreo, Whitie and Spot - as well as their young - from predators.

A few weeks ago I realized that all that outdoor work had rendered his garments dull and dirty looking, so I went in search of an appropriate transformation. He seems happy with his new duds and is back at work keeping my company in the garden and protecting the pond.

Thanks, Mordacai!

Monday, June 21, 2010

I'm late, I'm late...

for a very important date. (No! Not that!) I'm late setting the sundial.

Today is the Summer Solstice so it would make [some] sense if today were the day, but where I live the sundial should have been "set" last week on June 16.

Remember a day when the world did not operate on nanoseconds and digital technology? A day when the navy rang bells to mark the passing of the hours, monks burned calibrated candles, and folks used sundials - at least during the day. For most of us today a sundial in the garden is nothing more than a decorative object.

I'll spare you the boring details - most of which I have forgotten - but if you want to set your sundial exactly you need to know what day [closest to the Solstice] the sun crosses over "your" meridian at exactly noon. If you are in the exact middle of your time zone, then it would be today. If you are east or west of the middle then it happens early or late. How many days either way depends on how far east or west you are. It all has to do with the tilt of the earth, and its wobble on its axis, and a bunch of celestial navigation issues.

Since "close enough" is fine with sundials, then do it today at the Solstice. Or, tomorrow. All you have to do is set it at noon [sun time not Daylight Savings!] so that the shadow from the gnomen is exactly on 12 or XII. It will stay pretty accurate for the rest of the summer, but after the fall equinox it will begin to be noticeably "off".

Lest you think I am a total slacker, I did try to do it on the 16th. As luck would have it, tho, that was the only fully overcast [read cooler] day we have had in two weeks - not enough sun to cast a shadow! The next two days I had to work offsite - don't you hate it when work interferes with fun? And, then we had company all weekend and weren't around at noon. So, today was the first chance that I had to do it.

Now I'm good to go for a while.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Baby, It's Hot out Here!

The July heat has come already. I am reading the calendar right, aren't I? It's only mid-June? Fortunately the full blast of humidity has not come yet, so we are still able to sit on the deck early in the morning and in the evenings to enjoy being outside. But mid-day? Don't be silly!

There are good things that come with the heat. Like daylilies. It took me years to warm up to daylilies. I was used to the orange ones that grow all over the south - along roads and ditches and fences, pretty much wherever one looks. Then I discovered that they came in yellow and other colors, too. I particularly like these that are a really clear yellow, without any orange.

Another special one I have is Hemerocallis 'Richmond Spider'. I bought two "pieces" nearly 10 years ago at a local garden show (at the daylily society's booth) where I was told that it was a locally developed plant. It qualifies as a red daylily, altho it is more coral than red. [In case you aren't up on your small southern college trivia, the University of Richmond is one of our local colleges. Their teams are the "spiders" and their colors are - wait for it - red and navy. Now you have all you need to understand this plant's name.] This is a big prolific plant. I have divided it almost annually and given sections to everyone I know, but it still grows in huge masses in my garden, with each clump having 20 - 30 new blooms a day. Whew! I highly recommend it and would be willing to share with good homes!

The monarda is going great guns, too, with bees - and the occasional humming bird - everywhere. It must make good honey! At least this little guy and a hundred of his best friends seem to think so! This is 'Raspberry Wine' and aptly named.

And, I can't leave you without sharing this first blossom of hybiscus. Mitchell adores hybiscus, so we have several. This one is 'Baltimore", I think. We have several others, but like so many things this one is blooming early.

So let's all move slowly, and enjoy the blooms! Happy weekend.