Hosting a Hoverer

My garden is shady.

Plant hosta, my friends advise.

I hesitate, fond of the variegated leaves. Less so of the summer blooms. Still, they have a certain charm.

Hosta -- with visitor

Hosta — with visitor

Another garden guest on the day of a recent visit is difficult to photograph. He’s not shy. He is quick. Transparent wings move in a blur. He’s busy. Minding his own business. Seeking a spring snack in a cooperative blossom. He brought friends that didn’t fly into the frame. I gathered my camera and water bottle and let the miniature gardener do his work.

 

Honor and Gallantry

He volunteered. Answered the call — over the initial objections of his family.

He wasn’t the only one. Thousands, tens of thousands, of men willingly left home and family when their nation called. Others were persuaded, called up, or drafted. It didn’t really matter in the end. They reported. Followed orders. Performed their duty. Sacrificed. Returned home scarred or whole in body. Nearly all were changed internally.

He wore his ribbons with pride. Marched in every Memorial Day ceremony until his physical body failed him. To honor his comrades. His country. A country that recognized his gallantry — twice.

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A soldier’s record of service. From the top.

Combat infantryman. Battle campaigns – Europe, four (Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Central Europe). Good conduct. Purple heart (three wounds). Silver star for gallantry in action (twice).

 

Gorgeous Growth

Showy. That’s the description of the flowers on this tree. It doesn’t begin to capture the feeling of standing near on an early May day with the Giant Dogwood in full bloom.

Giant Dogwood

Giant Dogwood

Yes, the layer of blossoms in the foreground belongs to the same trunk you see in the center. I’m not good at estimating distances, but I’d wager this tree has a spread equal to height. It earns the name giant.

These flowers will turn to fruit, a literally feast for the birds. Are you fond of fall leaves? Typical fall colors for this tree is pale green to yellow. It’s a spring show.

Do you have a smaller yard? Consider the Flowering dogwood, a smaller, still showy cousin.

Out of Plumb

Time disguises change. Seasons come and go. Ground freezes and thaws. Objects bump against each other. Sometimes gentle — other times in haste or anger.

It’s the wear and tear of life. A firm foundation helps. Expectations in line with reality prevent mental anguish. Living things have life spans. Many inanimate objects also have a cycle of usefulness – from time measured in minutes to centuries.

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Once upon a time…when the post was set and the timbers were new…this enclosure stood straight, plumb with the building. By the time you read this, it will be gone. The wood sent off to where used construction materials rest. The post replaced, square once again with the world around it. I don’t know how long it will last. The one pictured was well over a decade. Perhaps the new one will outlast my time in the neighborhood.

 

Frost Free

Spring is coming. Spring is coming.

Hours of sunlight increase my minutes each day. Snow shrinks into the ground followed by cold, early spring rain. Brave bulbs break the surface as if testing the air. But it’s spring in all it’s promise and glory when these familiar yellow blossoms burst on the scene.

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Forsythia shrubs planted to make a hedge practically shout the season. The one pictured above thrives next to a busy highway. You also find them hanging out along back yard fences and snuggling up to patio fences.

Native to Japan and China, the name Forsythia is derived from a Scottish botanist — William Forsyth. And if you find the right Chinese herbalist, it will be among his top fifty medicinal plants.

I think I’ll just enjoy the sight and leave the brewing of remedies for others.

Decorating for a Party

I always find something new-to-me, perhaps overlooked on an earlier visit, when visiting the large, public garden in my city. After all, the people in charge understand how to use the color, shape, and texture of plants to good effect.

And they sprinkle in a few inanimate objects to keep it interesting.

These are difficult to miss. They’ve taken over a large fountain in a prominent place.

Party Animals

Party Animals

The elephants and their friends scattered over the acreage are getting ready to romp and glow for a Lantern Festival beginning later this month.

Hmmmm. Will they re-direct the fountain plumbing? How many elephant trunks spraying water are needed to cool off on a hot day?

 

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.

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Which spoon do you want?