Are you ambitious? Do you want to succeed?
Most people I know would answer yes to those questions. A few have achieved it. Others keep striving. And still others don’t recognize it in front of them.
You’ve heard about the steps. Get a good education. Work hard. Pay your dues in time and talent. Sometimes they leave out a step.
Do you enjoy your work? Can you imagine your life without doing ____?
Today’s glass and steel flower is exactly what you need…
Allow me to introduce PASSION.
Almost missed it. For the second year in a row. When I opened the notice Monday morning, the special Sunday night hours were over. But I wanted to go. So I re-arranged my day a little and went off to pay my respects.
One week can make a huge difference in some things. Children have a spurt of growth or learning. Construction takes a leap forward. And plants complete critical parts of their life cycle.
Our subject was growing faster than a teen boy on July 3.
One week later — oh, what a change.
Yes, it’s a Corpse Flower.
It was probably a good time to have a poor nose as I only caught a slight whiff of spoiled meat.
Three years as a 4-H member has given me many good memories. I also learned a lot in the projects I selected and in the whole club activities.
One year I selected a project called “Home Grounds Improvement”. As you can tell from the name, the emphasis was on doing items to make the outside of a house and the yard around it more attractive. We also needed to take an exhibit to the county fair — of flowers we’d grown.
Our family planted three trees in our recently expanded yard that year. The green ash died within the year. The Black Hills Spruce (the tree I claimed as my own) grew large, flourished, and survived past 50 years. The clump of White Birch (which I always referred to as mother’s) dominated the back yard as recently as 2015.
Then there were the flowers. Mother and I created a small flower garden – apart from the vegetable garden. It was a mix of annuals and perennials. And when it came time to sign up for the categories in the fair, I chose to exhibit a vase of perennials.
Did I say we had a puppy that year? Not an adult dog with enough knowledge to know their limits — no, this was an undisciplined canine youngster. He roamed free, like most farm dogs, every day.
And a mere week before the fair – well, he ROLLED, not just crashed through the row, but rolled over the gladiolus. We used Plan B – exhibiting our other perennial, the dahlia.
No puppies allowed!
You’ve heard the saying “Stop and smell the roses.”
It can be a polite way to request or advise a person to slow down and notice the world around them. When not moving at a blur…little bits of beauty (and scent)… have a chance to be noticed. And the beauty of the natural world, from either side of the building’s window, can have a calming effect.
On a recent vacation, I only took part of this advice to heart. I wanted to see more. A bus tour was great for an introduction to a new city. And while it didn’t really stop at he sight below — it did slow enough in traffic to capture an image.
Events happen fast. Good ones as well as the questionable experiences.
For example: last weekend. We had two beautiful, warm days without rain. Like hundreds of others, I paid a visit to the home improvement store. They were still adding items to the garden center while customers were loading up on some of the preliminary items – tools, patio blocks, paint, and outdoor furniture.
My own purchase — a new hose — fit right into the mix.
Clean out the old leaves and debris of the winter. Assess what will fit in the empty spaces between the living perennials. Plant the shepherd’s hook will the ground is soft. Figure out the hanging basket portion next week — or the week after. Check the current plants – azelea buds are looking good.
From bud to blossom.
The call to spend more time out of doors.
Not all invasions are negative.
Consider a patch of earth behind my building where “stump killer” was spilled. It’s powerful stuff. I’m not sure it killed the stump the person intended — but it killed all green and growing things in a several yard radius.
Mother Nature is tough. Leave her alone (or grant a little encouragement) and she can heal a multitude of wounds.
When the English ivy and another ground cover invaded — I smiled. We had plants. With roots which would at least slow down the erosion of the bare dirt.
I’m encouraging another invasion in my front flower bed. My favorite shade loving blossom is lily-of-the-valley. A co-worker gave me a few starter plants. Then several years later, a neighbor gifted me some lamb’s ears. They are advancing on each other.
Approaching plant battle?
The first time I noticed the fruit on this shrub — it was a WOW moment and I looked for a name plate at the botanical garden. Beautyberry. How appropriate.
If you want to find it in the wild look in the forests of the Southeastern US. You may find them as far west as Texas and north into Missouri. In the spring and summer you may miss them. The leaves arrive rather late and the flower — while attractive to butterflies and bees — is often missed by humans.
You won’t miss them from mid-September to early November. The violet to magenta berries are a real attention grabber.
Hungry? Your competition for the berries will be a variety of birds. Deer prefer the leaves or to bed down among a clump of the bushes. While you may not enjoy the taste of a raw berry, it makes a mild jelly. Or — you could take a hint from the Native Americans and use crushed leaves to repel mosquitoes and a tea from root or leaf to comfort a variety of ailments.
Me? I’ll admire. Want to join me?
Beautyberry living up to it’s name.
A regular reader of this blog is aware that I make frequent visits to the Missouri Botanical Garden.
This girl has enough country roots that a walk in fresh air and the surroundings of interesting plants is enjoyment. Please, animal lovers, do not despair. Most pets and trips to the zoo bring the same lift to my spirits.
On a recent visit I found something new. Or perhaps I dismissed it as merely a pleasant shrub. Until the fruit made it a standout. I took note of the name – Balloon Plant. Common names please, I’ll leave the Latin and scientific names to the real experts.
The fruit is the size of tennis balls — with spines.
A relative of milkweed.
You’ve heard the advice to be creative: Color outside the lines. Think outside the box.
And after the mental activity spurred by this advice. When your brain has been whirring. You’ve played “What if…?” to exhaustion. The box of “always done this way” lays crumpled at your feet.
You may want to find a scene similar to the one below. Fresh air. Sunshine. Order with brick and boxwood borders to a contrasting jumble of colors.
There was a joke question common when I was a schoolchild.
Q: How do you pet a porcupine?
A: Very, very carefully.
The same reply would be appropriate for harvesting the fruit of today’s photo topic.
In the tourist spots of the American Southwest, you can buy prickly pear candy, made from the cactus fruit. I’ve not tried it, however, I did eat a serving of prickly pear flavored ice cream. It was sweet and delicious. Reminded me a little of raspberry flavor. But I’m not a gourmet with a sensitive palate.
How would you harvest these sweet treats?
Leather gloves? Clamp on a stick? Knife and hook?