An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

July 28, 2008

Playing Tag

I was tagged with a meme by Christopher C. at Outside Clyde. I am not even sure of the definition of "meme" but I am pretty certain that it is an honor, and that is the way I am taking it, and I thank him. There are rules that go with this as follows:

#1 Link to the person who tagged you. I think I got this one already.

#2 Post the rules on my blog. I am working on that as we speak.

#3 Write six random things about yourself. I'll get to that.

#4 Tag six people at the end of the post. Small problem here. I will not be a complete party pooper in that I will partially participate, but I will not pass this one to anyone else as a matter of personal preference. I have walked out of Amway meetings and I have never responded to chain letters either, and I am sure children in a Romanian orphanage are less well fed and clothed as a result.

#5 Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog. See above.

#6 Let the tagger know when their entry is up. Consider it done.

Now for the reveal.

1. Horticulture is my second career. I spent the first dozen years of my adult life working in hotel/resort management. It was all very interesting, never a dull moment, but totally stressful what with the 24/7 business schedule. During that part of my career I witnessed one suicide attempt, help prevent another, was asked on more than one occasion to find a prostitute, caused an employee to have several seizures, and called the Department of Defense to report a suspected mine. It was not all thorns, there were a many roses too.

2. Like Christopher C. I have had many brushes with celebrities, most but not all of them were a result of my first career. Here are some of my memorable encounters:
- Helping Tina Turner find a late night meal
- Riding an elevator with Neil Diamond
- Chatting it up with Roy Rogers and Dale Evans
- Addressing Richard Pryor by an alias
- Driving a frightened Dr. Rene Richard's car
- Having my plane delayed because of Ronald Reagan
- Getting stuck in traffic because of Jimmy Carter
- Waiting in a green room with Sting
- Enjoying a long conversation with Tina Weymouth
- Helping Stills and Nash find a tardy Crosby
- Folding a pleasing looking point on toilet paper rolls that Jimmy Swaggert would soon use

3. I enjoy movies and television shows dealing with stories of addiction and recovery or relapse. If a celebrity is involved it is even better. I watch A&E's Addiction, VH1's Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew, and a lot of the wonderful trash on E and MTV.

4. My parents had the exact same name picked for me whether I was going to be a boy or a girl. Although I am proud of all three of my names, I've not always been comfortable with this bit of androgyny. I guess it could be worse - not one, but three of my ancestors were named Zorababel and considering that both sides of my family are related to each other, the name thing should be the least of my worries.

5. At one point in my life I wanted to be a speech pathologist, and thought I wanted to enter the program at Mary Washington College and was accepted. At the time they had only recently allowed males students, but it is now a completely co-ed and a full university. I choose not to go, because I thought Old Dominion University would be more fun, plus it was close to the beach. I ended up with a degree in Sociology with a heavy dose of Anthropology thrown in. Maybe I should reconsider, I here they now have a garden restoration program.

6. I collect religious memorabilia, broken bits of heads and faces from statues, books by southern photographers, large plastic reptiles, fezzes and shriner bling, hounds, and any interesting flotsam that washes up on the beach.

July 23, 2008

Suspicion Confirmed

We have a number of display beds at work, and in one of them we have tried to give it a tropical look. Earlier in the month, I noticed this unusual plant blooming, but no one could give me a definitive name. We suspected it may be some variety of Haemanthus. While browsing through this month's bloom day postings, I noticed that Jeff at The Transitional Gardener had a plant that looked just like it, confirming our suspicion. Haemanthus is native to southern Africa, but this particular one is hardy for us in 7b. The foliage is worthy in itself, looking as it should belong somewhere more exotic than Suffolk. We were given this plant by a bulb vendor who was always our temporary neighbor when we had a booth at the Virginia Flower and Garden Show -back when the show actually featured flowers and gardens. We planted the bulb years ago, but I have never noticed the flowers until this year.

By the way, if you happen to visit Jeff's site, make sure you read his latest post, which among other things, concerns naked ladies and butterbeans. It is a good story about plants and our associations with them and should appeal to any gardener, but especially so to Southern ones.

July 18, 2008

All Around Great Guy --- Now an Award Winning Photographer

I submitted the above photograph to the Virginia Nursery and Landscape Association (VNLA)Newsletter. This is the same organizations that operates the the state Certified Horticulturist program as well as promoting and championing state wide green industry issues. They have a photo contest for each issue of the newsletter and I won $50 with my picture of Ranunculus 'Brazen Hussy' which I used in previous post from February. I haven't quit my day job, but I am anxiously waiting by the phone for a call from Garden Design or Fine Gardening.

July 14, 2008

July Bloom Day, City Wide

For this month's Bloom Day post, I only have 2 shots from my own yard, the rest are from around town. I realize that this may be contrary to the normal posting guidelines, but in July this whole region (particularly Norfolk) becomes a garden with the blooming of the Crape Myrtles (Lagerstroemia indica and hybrids). The scale of the display and the colors become so distracting that I find it hard to focus on my own small patch of Earth.

Crape Myrtles were first introduced in this country in the late 1700's by French botanist Andre Michaux in Charleston SC. It took another Frenchman, Fred Huette to encourage Norfolk to plant them. Huette was the Supervisor of Norfolk Parks and Recreation in the 1930's and he realized that this area's mild winters and long warm summers were the perfect climate for the trees. The city embraced them, and beginning in the middle of the last century, it became the street tree of choice. In older neighborhoods, including mine, it sometimes feels like you are driving through fragrant tunnels of pink, red, white and purple. My wife and I go out of our way to ride down streets that are heavy with them and show each other our favorites.

It is a very democratic tree in that you see them used at public housing projects to the grandest of estates and everything in between. It has also become one of the landscaper's favorite, and it is actually difficult not to see one, whether you are in a commercial or residential area. They are common --- but some things are common for a reason. What else are you going to plant that takes the heat, the humidity, the occasional droughts and floods, and blooms for two months in the harshest part of the summer? If this isn't enough, their bark can be stunning, fall foliage is always colorful and persistent, and the branching structure on older specimens is sculptural. I realize that this is not the only part of the world where they grow, nor are they everybody's favorite tree, but to me they mean summer and they mean home.

If you would like to see what is distracting other gardners, please visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens.

July 12, 2008

Rain Barrel Workshop

If anyone had told me 10 years ago, that I would be attending a rain barrel workshop, I would have said what and why for. Although we recently enjoyed 6 days in a row of rain, I know that it will not last. I have not gotten my water bill for June yet, but I am dreading it. We are obviously charged for water used, but they calculate your sewage charges based on water usage. I wish there was some way to distinguish which amount of water went to the garden and which went down the toilet. I know many parts of the country have been dealing with water issues since... forever, but it has only recently entered our civic consciousness.

I want to thank my neighbor Lisa for hosting and Mike of Mike's Rain Barrel's for bringing all the supplies. It was good morning.

Bringing a little person with narrow shoulders and dexterous hands was a genius move on my part.

July 9, 2008

Sink, Swim, and Clyde

Despite a large appetite, Loretta has absolutely no body fat and that combined with a total inability to swim - makes her sink like a stone. At least she has enough sense to stay where her feet touch bottom. What I don't understand, is her habit of totally immersing her head under the water and thrashing it from side to side, carrying on for 20 minutes or more. She is the oddest dog I have ever owned.
On the other hand, beautiful Patsy has always swum like an otter, and will gracefully paddle for the sheer joy of it any chance she gets. It is a good thing she enjoys the water, because increasingly her back legs fail her on dry land.
Here she is in repose by the hydrangeas with a certain look on her 13 year old face.
Cousin Clyde is always grateful when the girls visit, he gets few visitors - especially female ones.

July 8, 2008

Accomac Weekend - Pt. 2 - Corn Free-For-All

My parents place is a few miles from Accomac and their property is surrounded by farm fields, tidal marshes and a freshwater pond. They have a fair amount of room, like to garden and I enjoy giving them trees that I don't have the room for. Here are few of what they had blooming this weekend.

The pond was originally built to irrigate the nearby crops when rain wasn't plentiful.
Nearby is Parker's Creek, Metomkin Bay and the Atlantic. It is often quiet enough that you can hear waves breaking on the barrier island beaches.

These daylilies front the fence of one of the older houses nearby.
On the day we were to leave, there was a major corn incident. One of the trucks hauling sweet corn from my cousin's field tipped over as it was turning a corner. For some reason it could not or would not be put back on the truck and so it was there for the taking, and we took. Heading back to Norfolk, we had to pass by a traffic jam caused by people getting free corn - I am sure very little of it went to waste.

I am about sick of corn.

Accomac (without a "k) Weekend - Part 1

We spent the 4th at my parents house, which is just outside of Accomac (without a "k) on Virginia's beautiful Eastern Shore. Accomac (pop. 500+) is the county seat for Accomack (with a "k") county, which was formed in 1634 as one of Virginia's original eight shires. If it were not for the courthouse, the jail, and all of the associated county offices - there wouldn't be much going on. There are splendid old homes and churches in town, and the air is thick with the smell of boxwood.

Every year they have a non-motorized 4th of July parade, which is very casual. Basically the county band plays and everyone walks, pedals, or rides behind them - dogs too - ending up on the courthouse green for popsicles, more music and a reading from the Declaration of Independence. After the festivities, people head to the Baptist Church for pulled pork barbecue, fixins and homemade baked goods - very delicious!

This is a very old and a very large Sycamore (Plantanus occidentalis), it dwarfs the house behind it.
At first glance this looks like one plant, but it is an Althea (Hibiscus syriacus) and a Black Locust (Robina pseudoacacia).