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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Tomato Update

It has been a good year for tomatoes. Unfortunately, I did not pick tasty varieties or varieties that appeal to my taste. My plants are producing though.

These are the plants on the front porch. Taken 7/10/19. The far left plant is the one I am growning for NC Tomato Man. Those are green beans behind the tomato plants. The green beans are on pots below the porch. The early and long heat wave effected the green beans. Pretty plants but no beans.

Close up of the ‘experimental plant’.

That is a teaspoon. The three yellow ones are from the trial plant. The big (Yes, BIG) one is Bendigo Drop. And the little ones which are smaller than blueberries are Mexican Midgets. They have the most flavor. The Bendigo Drop might have a good flavor but I can’t leave them on the vine to ripen because the city wildlife keeps sampling. At least I don’t have to deal with deer!

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Ben’s Birthday

Ben’s birthday was July 1. We celebrated on the 30th by having brunch at Poole’s Diner in downtown Raleigh. https://ac-restaurants.com/pooles/

We were a big group so we had to wait for a table. So we had a drink while we were waiting. It was not hard to get Ben in and out of the restaurant. Food and service were good. Sorry no food pics. I felt like it was a nice size meal, without feeling stuffed and without dragging home left overs. I would certainly go back.

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Freaky Elephant Ear

I have been growing elephant ears for years now. This is the first time I have ever seen this.

When I first noticed this, I was inside looking at the plant, thinking this two leaves that are just entertwined. I went out to look.

So it is two leaves on one stem. Never seen that in all the years of growing these bulbs.

Elephant ear bulbs seem to do real well for me. I have grown and given away bulbs for years now. Hopefully some of them are still growing in Italy. I know that the family that bought our property in Virginia still plant elephant ears every year. Ohhh, I don’t know if that is the legacy that I want to leave….

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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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Hummingbird Heaven

My friend Debby lives near Jordan Lake. She is out in the country and has a beautiful yard. She also has two hummingbird feeders and a whole lot of hummingbirds. She makes a gallon of food a week for them.

It was great fun to stand between the two feeders and watch the 10 to 12 hummers fighting over space at the feeder.

She also has the coolest dragon flies that I have ever seen.

It is in the lower right corner of the picture. White body/tail, very flashy wings!

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What I did last summer

Guest Post by Guppy, the Lucky Dog 3

She says that I will be going back to school in October.  So I thought I would get ahead and write some thoughts for that back to school tradition, the ‘What I did last summer’ essay.

I was still under my doctor’s care until mid-August.  So I had to be real quiet.  I have watched a whole lot of dog TV

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I have invented a new game.  I throw my toys up in the air.  They land all kinds of fun places.  It makes her laugh when She sees them.

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See the pink and yellow thing on top of papers?  That is the end of one of my knotty bones.  It tosses real well.  I like to see how long it will take for her to see it.

 

A different day I got it up here on the cabinet next to her bed.

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She played a real trick on me.  During the day, when I’m not watching dog TV,  I lounge on her bed.  One day, the bed DISAPPEARED!!!!!!!

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Man Alive!  I was soooo confused.  But She found a bunch of my toys under there so it wasn’t too bad.

It used to be that when they went away (which I don’t like, you know.  But I am gettin better about that.) She would lock the glass door that is part of ‘dog TV’, so I could sit and look out and wait for them to come back.  But She is all worried about it gettin cold.  She says that’s gonna happen.  (Not too soon for me.)  So She rearranged her metal shelves.

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Back when I first came,  before they started leaving the door open, I was already climbing on those shelves even though there was all this stuff there.  Why it took her so long to figure out that if she just rearranged a few things I could have a ‘viewing platform’ and I would be just as  happy as a tick on a hound.  So now,  when they go out, She moves the garbage can and all the stuff on top of the shelves and the shade.  So I use the stool, climb right on up, sit on the piece of furniture and look out the window.  When She first did it, She thought that I would need to be shown how to do that.  Well, my Momma didn’t raise no fool!  I could figure out what to do but sincein She was handing out ham, I played DUMB and let her break it down to little steps, handing out that ham to encourage me.  Anyway, I like my viewing platform.

So mid-August came.  She had made my doctor’s appointment.  Just to make sure I was okay.  And that day the car DIED!.  Really!!!!!! She was so upset she almost cried.  Our sweet young neighbor, Liz, the woman who lives with my friends Emma and Riley, stopped what she was doing and drove us out to the doctor.  She kept apologizing to me about not being able to take me to the dog park that day.  I might have gotten a few extra bones that day.  Anyway, now I go to the dog park.  It’s fun when other dogs are there.  But sometimes there aren’t any other dogs there.  I almost cry when that happens.  But still it is okay because I can walk all over by myself and sniff as long as I want.  Honestly, She gets so impatient when She takes me on a walk and I want to stop and sniff.  Doesn’t She know I’m conducting important DNA analysis on that blade of grass!  I mean REALLY!

And of course we had a hurricane.  I have been a little bit on edge about it all week.  Barking at everyone I see.  But I am going to be brave because I need to look after my Ben and She says that She won’t leave me alone, so that is okay.

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I helped her clean up and get ready.  Not a bad summer.  I think I truly am a LUCKY DOG.

 

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Getting Ready For Florence

Let me just say.  I would really rather have my Aunt Florence visit than this hurricane…

There has been chatter about this storm for over 10 days now.  It begins to wear on you.  But on the other hand, when we were in Italy, we had very little idea when some major weather event was going to happen.  In Italy, I did learn to keep a collection of empty plastic jugs that I could fill with water if I had a clue that we were going to lose power, which meant losing the pump for the well.  Here in the US, every Spring, I use up the supplies from last year and restock my ‘hurricane kit’.  This is a carryover from looking after my Mom when she lived in Florida.

So since we had adequate supplies, I only had to worry about gas in the car and the always essential, pink fizzy wine and Cheetos! And of course, the always important, trip to the library.  Grocery stores were a ZOO!  Parking lots, don’t even ask!  We live in Cameron Village so I know a few parking places that others might not know of.  And I know the ‘flow’ of the village, the busy times, the slower times.    So it wasn’t too bad to get in and out.

Our neighbors have made sure that we know if we need their help they are there.  They are absolute champs at moving all the flying objects off the deck. (see a picture later) This morning I went out to move everything from our deck.

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Not sure how the begonia forest and jungle will fare in the storm.

You know who came out to help me

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And everything is tucked away.

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It gets to the point when you say “I’ve done all that I can do’.  We just don’t have the space to move things inside.  But those young neighbors did a spectacular job.

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Look at those garbage cans….  such a good job.

So we will see what happens.  I worry the most about this tree.

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It made it through Hazel and Fran and goodness knows how many other storms and has been examined and declared healthy.  So I am sure that it will be fine.  Plus we sleep and live on the ground floor…..  Updates later.

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The Ultimate Garden Compliment

Hummingbirds fighting over your plants….. Yes, that is it.

We have had a good bit of rain this summer.  Some times it comes down as a gully washer, sometimes nice and gentle.  For me it has been a little tricky about when to put out plant food.  One day last week I realized I must have timed it just right when I looked out my kitchen window and saw this.

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Most everything blooming together at the same time.  (Sorry the color is washed out.  Still using my tablet instead of a camera)

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And as I went back in there was a hummingbird fight going on over head.  Made me feel good that my plants were such a treat that they were worth fighting over.

The pampered hydrangea still looks good.

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The elephant ears have done so well

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They will definitely go back there next year.  I am thinking that if I can get some bamboo I might make a trellis to help support them.  The lower plants are sort of lost and still have to be watered some times since the big leaves are like umbrellas.  For some reason I have lost my lambs ear plants here and out front.  I don’t know if it is too damp or what.

The begonias are doing well

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Again, the color is not true.  They are a very pretty rosy pink.

I have been going to the State Farmer’s Market.  Managed to get my knives sharpened there too. Only been trying to get that done for MONTHS!  (Becks https://beckscutlery.com/)

I had some time to wait while my knives were being worked on so I looked at plants which I normally do not do.  Of course I had to buy one.

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A very dark, almost black purple vinca.  Real tickled to find this.  It will move into its own pot, if it ever stops raining long enough.  And next to it, a little airplane plant that I pinched from a public planter.  Gotta get that in dirt soon too.

The deck has taken on a nice jungle feel.  Guppy and I brave the mosquitoes and sit out there for a bit most every evening.  And I try to remind her how fortunate we both are.

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