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?
A majority of American women have used them in the home.
Nearly every science student has used one in the laboratory.
The shape is functional and the name is simple description. However, not all bottlebrushes are created equal.
Consider this lovely specimen of Bottlebrush Buckeye. Each flower is the correct size and shape to clean a baby bottle or graduated cylinder.
I’m not going to try it. Too soft. Too many petals/bristles left behind in the bottom of the container.
Instead I’m going to admire, photograph, and wish the honeybees good harvest.
Red purple blossoms. Bright globes of color.
At first glance I thought of a field – red clover – a hay crop primarily replaced by alfalfa during my lifetime.
A second glance returned reality. The leaves are all wrong. This is not a forage crop for livestock. Instead it would be a great addition to a flower garden. Imagine it contrasting with a white fence or trellis. Attracting bees to pollinate this and the neighboring plants. Accent it with a row of low growing annuals along a sidewalk.
Summer days. Long hours of sunshine. The higher your latitude, the longer the daylight.
A little sunshine lifts a person’s spirits. Makes it easier to be cheerful. Encourages outdoor activities of either the physical or social variety. After all, daylight after the work day increases the likelihood of certain things: An evening walk in the neighborhood – with or without dog. A casual conversation with a neighbor. Greetings between strangers at a patio restaurant.
Other summer items often bring smiles too. And some do not even involve humans – except to admire, smile, sniff, and touch.
Proud to be a sun lover.