Energetic European

Stability. Tradition. Ivy covered walls. What could be more English?

English Ivy — our selection for an E living thing — has found a home in the New World. It’s a hardy plant and enjoys nothing more than spreading in (and out) of the area the gardener designated. Several times during a summer I find it necessary to pull up and clip off escapee vines which have reached under the fence, over the concrete, and attempted to be a wall climber.

The same features which necessitate my trimming are also advantages. Do you have a shady spot that needs ground cover? A steep slope where lawn mowing is hazardous? English Ivy or its close relatives are a good choice. It will stay close to the ground and send out lots of little rootlets to hold soil in place.

Thank you, England

Thank you, England

High Energy Drink

Some creatures encourage their young to drink sweets. These are high metabolism animals, not to be confused with humans. No, not even toddlers or teens can compete with the energy needs of the tiny, winged patrons of this backyard feeder.

100_3706Hummingbirds back from a winter in Mexico or Central America should enjoy this backyard feeder.

Human assistance for this tiny, natural helicopter includes maintaining habitat for nesting, flowers for sipping, and fuel stations like that pictured above.

Basic recipe for hummingbird feeders:   One part granulated sugar, four parts water. Bring to a boil, then cool. Red food dye is optional.

Yum. Beak smacking good.

 

 

Darling Dandy

Spring bulbs are early risers. Today’s featured living item – beginning with D – is no exception. Several springs I fear the few in my flower bed will rise too soon and get their shoots frozen. And yes, some years they have brown tips on the green leaves. My neighbors appear to do better. Perhaps it’s the angle of sun exposure.

As bright as spring sunshine.

As bright as spring sunshine.

When a passenger – not recommended for drivers during rush hour — take a look at the edges of the St. Louis freeway on a spring day. Clumps, and thick rows of daffodils have been planted to give a spot of cheer after dreary winter.

 

Add one spoonful of…

The scientist within me cringes when I hear someone say to add a spoonful — or a dash — or a pinch. I want to ask back — How much?

Yes, I know it’s a shorthand. It’s especially common in the kitchen. And often times the hearer understands exactly what the speaker means. One day, back when I was learning to cook, I started gathering the measuring cups and spoons and ingredients for one of my grandmother’s cookie recipes. My own mother intervened in time.

Grandmother didn’t use a measuring cup. To her a cup was the large white coffee mug in her kitchen. Our discussion that day, as I selected a different recipe, didn’t extend to spoons.

Serve one spoonful of coleslaw to each person.

100_3700

Which spoon do you want?

Celebration Companion

It’s party time! Find the glasses. Grab the bottle. Pop the CORK!

Back in historical times, when I attended elementary school and we prepared product maps of Europe (do they still do that in social studies class?) we would find a bit of cork for Portugal. Our sources were either from the fishing tackle box or a wine bottle. Parents frowned on stealing a piece of a trivet.

I’ve always found the idea of harvesting tree bark — carefully so as not to harm the tree — fascinating. Cork farmers need to be patient and plant trees to be harvested only in the next generation.

I’ve also found this tree in the Missouri Botanical Garden fascinating. It’s called a cork tree — but it’s not the sort that’s harvested on Portuguese plantations. This unrelated tree is native to the Amur river valley. If you’re going for the world atlas — look at the border of China and Siberia. Can you use your imagination and picture yourself snug in these branches with a book — or a daydream?

Curvacious Cork Tree

Curvacious Cork Tree

Bath Time

Mothers have been bathing their children since….

Well, since Eve gave birth to Cain? Not that those first bath times were recorded. But can you imagine it. A large leaf dipped in a quiet pool at the edge of the stream for a washcloth. A firm hold on the reluctant child. “Hold still son. This will only take a minute.”

“How long’s a minute?”

Some questions stay the same from generation to generation.

As do the actions of washing and rinsing. Cleansing. Starting fresh for a new day, week, or month.

Frozen in metal the below is one modern representation of a previous culture performing an ancient act. Only the tools change with time.

One final rinse.

One final rinse.

Boxed – In or Out

The second letter of our living alphabet features Boxwood for the letter B.

Not hedging this Boxwood

Not hedging this Boxwood

The first thought that comes to my mind at the mention of boxwood is a formal hedge, perhaps in a maze. We need to be more generous with our opinions of this evergreen shrub.

First: It’s a large family. My favorites are the traditional green. Other varieties are red or golden leaf. Preferred sunshine amount varies also but in general they like a sunny area or moderate shade.

The grouping above is in need of a trim. They first arrived at this location as tiny tots, perhaps a foot high. Once their roots got comfortable they reached for the windowsill.  A large dose of mulch three years ago gave them a boost.

They are spaced far enough apart to allow other plantings — daffodils, lilies, and annuals for seasonal splashes of color and interest. They also make a nice backdrop for Christmas lights. And after a snow — well, it’s April, I don’t want to see them all trimmed in white again for months. Enough to say they make a pretty picture or memory year round.

 

Holiday Prep

Are you ready? Do you have a fresh red shirt? A new cap?

You’ve got until Monday to get ready for St. Louis’ unofficial holiday.

Confused? This is a movable celebration in early April. No — not Easter.

Home opening of Baseball!

It may be a religion to some.  Prayers will be offered by many. For good weather. Home runs. Double plays. Winning score. But in general it’s a secular holiday.

It does not matter if you don’t have tickets. After all, Busch Stadium has an occupancy limit. And some employers insist you continue doing your day job. Never mind — tune the radio and catch the score at break time — or pull up coverage on the computer and let it run in the background for a quick check now and then.

Today Baseball Tomorrow Summer?

Today Baseball
Tomorrow Summer?

April and Alphabet

Several of the regulars who appear on my Facebook feed are participating in an A to Z challenge this month. They are taking the 30 days of April, omitting the Sundays, and blogging on a topic beginning with a different letter of the alphabet each day.

I’m not a daily blog person. But the idea intrigued me. So here’s the plan.

Each Tuesday, in alphabetical order, I’ll be posting about a living thing. If I counted right, this will continue until the end of September. Are you ready?

A is for Azalea

A is for Azalea

The optimist in me is looking forward to this year’s tiny, tight buds, growing as well as these did on my patio a few years ago. No pessimists allowed in the garden.

Did you know? Azalea leaves and nectar are toxic. Avoid honey made from azalea nectar. Authors: are you in need of a clever way to deliver a death threat in a story? Gift the future victim with a bouquet of azalea blossoms in a black vase.

 

Preparing

No, I’m not a Boy Scout. I do believe their tag line, “Be Prepared” is good advice.

I’m a list maker. I think it’s genetic. One son, one niece, and one nephew show the same trait.

A list is one, often the first step, whether it’s written and committed to memory. (As I age, written is showing many advantages.) To actually count as being prepared, however, a person needs to go further than making a list. Following it would be good. Like working through a recipe or a standard operating procedure.

In the photo below, you see some of the results of list making. Everything pictured, including the table, cover, and chair made it on my list of things to have at a local craft show. A bag of misc pins, tape, and pens even proved to be useful to others. And you’ll note my morning dose of caffeine stashed behind the display.

Prepared to meet the public.

Prepared to meet the public.