carolinainmymind

can't you see the sunshine….

Elephant Ears Again

We recently suffered through our second long stretch of 90+ degrees heat. Finally it was broken by some rain.











Needless to say, I was fasinated by the water collecting on the leaves. I am also fascinated by the size of this leaf.



It measures 28 inches long by 22 inches. Not as big as this one that we saw in the greenhouses at NC State.



That is my friend Roy standing beside it, to give you an idea of the size of the leaf.

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The Corpse Plant

When we still lived in Italy, I started following this blog. https://arthur-in-the-garden.com/. The writer, lives about a mile from where we are now. Following his blog gave me a good idea of what to expect garden wise before we moved back. Now that we are back I have just kept reading it. I was tickled when on Tuesday, he posted about a corpse plant blooming at nearby NC State University. It wasn’t until Thursday AM that the newspaper picked up the story. This was a case where being connected on social media paid off. Thanks Arthur!


Wednesday, at our exercise class I talked with our friends Roy and Marcia about going to see it. And we agreed if I could arrange tickets, we would go. It was free but, online reservations were required. Accessiblity for Ben and Marcia was an issue. Parking on campus can be difficult. Accessible parking even more so. Viewing slots were for a 15 minute period. After weighing the hour needed to get Ben ready to go somewhere, the logistics of finding two handicapped accessible parking spaces and the fact that Ben was not nearly as excited about seeing this plant as Marcia and I were, I decided that he might just not go. Roy was dragooned to be the driver allowing us to be dropped off if no parking was available.

Well, our after 5:00 PM viewing time on Friday meant we could get on campus and park fairly close by. So after a bit of standing in line we got to see the much hyped Corpse Plant.







This will give you an idea of the size of it. It was sitting on greenhouse table.

The bloom started to open on Thursday. It was already wilting by the time we got to see it, which is normal. It is very short lived. As you can see from the newspaper photo the center part had been erect but on Friday was now folded over.

If you are able to read the poster about the heat you can see that the plant heats itself up to attract pollinators and produces a smell similar to rotting flesh. By the time we were there it was more like a fish shop smell. Really not that strong. Some close ups.











And this bit of history, lifted from the Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden website.

When it was discovered in the rainforest of central Sumatra in western Indonesia, by the Italian botanist and explorer Dr. Odoardo Beccari in 1878, the stories caused quite a sensation and disbelief among European botanists. Not until the first specimen flowered in cultivation at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, England in 1889 did the world take notice. During the Victorian era plant hunting was at its height and unusual specimens were enjoyed by a discerning and curious audience. It was also an era where governesses protected young women from such an indecent sight. Whenever the Amorphophallus titanum, which grows only in western Sumatra, has flowered in cultivation it has attracted an enormous amount of attention. The 1998 bloom attracted more than 5,500 visitors to Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden and worldwide media attention as the first documented bloom of this species in the United States since 1939. A 1996 bloom of this species attracted thousands of people to Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, as did a 1970 two-day flowering in Java which attracted 34,000 viewers. It was introduced to the United States in 1937 when the New York Botanic Garden and the daily press kept the public informed of the progress of the gigantic bloom grown from an imported tuber. The spectacular event so impressed people that when a second specimen flowered (from another imported tuber) two years later it was designated as the official flower of the Bronx, symbolic of the largest and fastest growing borough of the City of New York. The discovery of this species must rank as one of the greatest highlights of natural history exploration.

So I was very tickled to get to see this. Thanks to the owner of the plant, a Doctorial student at NCSU, Brandon Huber. And thanks to NCSU for allowing the public in to see it too. It really was cool!

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How’s the yard looking?

Very well, that is so nice of you to ask… Except for a difficult 10 days of 90 degrees plus dry weather in MAY, it is been a fairly decent Spring. A good bit of rain. Sometimes too much. But more or less spread out.

The bee balm is being a little pushy, but the day lillies held their own. I’m real pleased with them and the blue salvias.

The butterfly bush has finally gotten settled in (only took two years!). It is doing well this year.

This is where the ramp from the deck ends, at the back of our condo. The hydragenas in the pots were $5 half dead ones from Lowes. They have perked up and are about to bloom again. My friend, Jim, gave me the vinca in the two pots in back.

Here’s the deck. Doesn’t it look great! It is so nice to sit out there. Guppy now sits beside me in the blue chair. I’m waiting until she starts expecting her own glass of wine….

I finally figured out something to do about the ugly telecommunications post.

I relocated some of the elephant ear forest and the flamingos… much nicer looking than the ugly box.

I am aware that we are fortunate to have this space, the time and the means to be able to indulge in something that is just pretty. It does provide me with a huge amount of enjoyment and the activity that I look forward to every year.

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I have tomatoes

This is an update to my tomato experiment. The expirmental plant that I am growing, a teensy yellow, has fruit. I think the fruit appeared on 5/20 but I could not see it for all the leaves. A few more have appeared since then.

I am a little concerned because this is supposed to be a drawf plant (I thought). So far it is the tallest plant of the group.

Twenty eight inches now (5/25) full of blooms.

The gardenia also burst forth this week. There are two in our courtyard.

This one gets much more sun and was just full of blooms. The summer like heat wave that we are having sort of did them in. They are fragile flowers.

Blooms are just now opening on the other side of the courtyard. Guppy stops each morning to give these a sniff.

My “imported from Oxford” vinca arrived this week. (Thanks Jim). Those were the last plants I needed. I am finished planting for the season. Unless of course a hydragena falls in my lap.

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Tomato Trials

This year I got my tomato plants from the NC Tomato Man. https://www.craiglehoullier.com/ He is a very interesting individual. A lot can be learned from him.

I only have room for three plants in pots on the front porch. The best place for full sun and safe from lawn care folks and their weed eaters.

This is planting day, 05/05/19. The one of the far left is the experimental one. A freebie plant as long as I report back about it. The one on the right had just moved into that smaller pot so it needed to wait a week or so before planting in the big pot.

Again 05/05/19

Now 13 days later

A lot of growth! There are blooms. I don’t think the first one set fruit because we had some nights with temps in 40s and 50s. Too low to set fruit. But I am hoping for this week.

All three plants are doing well. As are my green beans which you can’t see yet.

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Way too much time on my hands

This is the fence to the back courtyard of our condo.

Notice the attractive paint job. On the street side it is painted red. And on the right side (not pictured) it is also painted red. Either he ran out of paint or was interrupted and never came back to finish it. He being Ott. The man who lived to the right of us a number of years ago. He was Dutch. Loved to garden. Many of the plants and the good quality of our soil are thanks to him. This was most probably his paint job. The fence on the other side of the building is not painted.

This spring marks the second year of us living here. The second year of me having to look at this. I decided to do something about it. It took several weeks to complete the project. First the fence had to be washed since it had green something growing on it. I figured I would never match the red paint so I bought a nice charcoal grey. I only painted the back. And not the fence posts. (would have needed a ladder) Next year our building is scheduled to be power washed. I am thinking I will ask that the fence be power washed too and offer up the paint to have the whole thing painted. Until then this is how it turned out.

I added some shelves for plants. Because I never have enough plants.

It was time to replace the pansies. Red and white impatients were the choice.

The Amaryllis from winter 2018 (as an indoor plant) made its reappearance.

There were enough impatients to scatter a few in the Elephant Ear Forest and add some color there. In another week or so some of the hydrangeas will be blooming.

Overall, I think I have made the corner look better.

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Dressing the Deck

It is one of my favorite times of the year, Spring. We don’t have much outside space. I do my best to fill it all with plants and flowers. I am doing more foliage in the big planter this year.

The new whoop dee do elephant ear is hidden in there. It is a more upright variety. The one on the left side of the picture will eventually sort of droop over. The new one remains more vertical. It will be interesting to see how it does.

In March, inside, I started elephant ears bulbs that I wintered over. The pots are not real pretty but the price was right, free from the agricultural recylcing bins at the State Farmers’ Market. I have been using them as a protective border for the new hydrangea bed that I started. My friend Jim gave back to me the hydrangeas that he provided a home for when we moved to Italy. The one that was in a planter under the tree that was cut down needed a new home too. It made sense just to start a nice bed in the back shady area.

After they grow a bit and if I buy some more mulch I might regroup my elephant ear forest.

The elephant ear forest and hydrangena bed is that darkish area above the terra cotta pot on the deck. You can just see the begonias peaking over the deck railing. They are doing well and will be a nice display in another week or so.

Look for another post about the tomatoes. I do know how fortunate I am to have learned to love plants and to have the means and the ability to be able to do this.

I seem to have lost spell check again. Sorry.

 

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Things that fall from the sky

We’ve been having a lot of rain. And reliably warm temps have arrived. It is so nice to be able to walk outside without having to bundle up. I would say that spring is safely here, in Raleigh. All the rain brings a clearing of the pollen from the air and things from the recent re-roofing that was done on our building.

Oak tree tails

They’re everywhere. Coming out of the downspout

Along with roofing nails

This is the haul after the last rain. Are there any nails left on the roof doing what they are supposed to be doing? Note the pollen too. Ahhh, Carolina in the spring.

The dogwood was very pretty this year, Each rain storm more of its blooms drop.

We are still mourning the recent cutting down of our cherry tree. Right around the corner there are three planted close together. I imagine I am in Japan when Guppy and I walk through there.

So glad that spring is here. Have a lovely and safe holiday, whatever kind you celebrate at this time of year.

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Daffodils

It has been a very good Spring for Daffodils here in Raleigh. Not too cold or hot. Occasional rain but not heavy downpours or any hail. My daffodils have looked good for over a month.

I think this is the best they have ever looked. I think this is also the first time that the bloom time of all the different varieties has overlapped. Usually, heat has done in most of the first ones and some of the last ones get nipped as buds by frost. It’s a delicate game daffodils play here in North Carolina.

Around the property there are clumps of daffodils that appear but don’t bloom. Last Spring I looked at them and thought, next fall I’ll move those. Well, that didn’t happen. So this year I just moved them even though it is not the best time of year to do that. They just needed to be separated and moved to a sunnier spot. A little food wouldn’t hurt either. So we’ll see next year.

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Valentines, Letters, Keeping in Touch

This is the Valentine that we sent to Ben’s grand daughter

You can’t really see it, but that is the Effiel Tower behind the kissing couple. Ben and I honeymooned in Paris. The grand daughter is in a French Immersion Charter School in New Orleans. Her French is so good. And Ben and I were the first set of grandparents to take her to France. I like to remind her of that, subtly, of course. Side note: The grand daughter has a FULL set of grand parents, 8, yes that is correct 8. Each parent of the child (aka Ma and Pa) has divorced and remarried)

On to the letters. I recently updated my traveling address book.

My traveling address book used to be little bits of paper that were stapled together. I realized that a number of folks on the list are no longer with us. So a new address book was in order.

Our mailman loves us. Every 2 or 3 weeks I send notes or cards to a number of folks. I started this when we first moved to Italy. I wanted to keep in touch with my aunts and uncles and some friends. This is also when I started my blog. Sending mail from Italy was expensive. I cut my card and letter writing back some and sent them links to my blog entries. Anyway, I still write about 10 notes every two weeks.

And just the other day there was a notice at the city park center for ACTIVE ADULTS that we go to. They were looking for someone to respond to letters from 5th graders who are working on the art of letter writing and cursive writing. What’s a few more letters….

One was beautiful. The handwriting was easy to read. The child wrote about her interests and asked about mine. No problem. She got a 2 page response. The next….well, I had to take my highlighter to it. I couldn’t read some of it. He/she got a response. I was nice. Suggested that more work was needed. Try again. We’ll see what happens….

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