Garden Variety Exotics

How is it I’ve been gardening for centuries, and never discovered the familiar but exotic-looking red okra?  It may be an acquired taste, but the plant itself is so unique and ornamental, with its weird pods and pale yellow flowers.  Likewise the lowly yet towering sunflowers, their golden faces open wide to the early morning sun.  And we mustn’t forget the exotic garden cat, fiercely stalking the wild tomato.  I’m learning to find the intrigue in garden variety life.


Yesterday I was so busy playing with the Gkids that I barely took pictures.  It was an immersive swirl of blanket mountains, storytelling, painting toenails and pictures, hide-and-seek, outdoor lightsaber duels, conversations, etc.  I feel like we’re getting closer as a family.  I don’t get over there enough, so I try to make up for it when I’m able.

Here are more flowers, mostly at home.  



Sunbathing, Flower Style

It’s 90° with a heat index of 98°, and rising.  TN weather is all extremes, no in-betweens.  I can’t imagine slaving in pre-AC southern summers, or anywhere people don’t have that luxury today.  Like these orchids, we prefer our heat in moderation.

The outdoor plant world, however, is soaking up the rays and loving it.  I moved my newer potted sun natives to this kiddie pool, where they can bask in the sun with a little water.  The larger ones are nearby in this bed for now.  In late summer/early fall, they’ll all move to their permanent homes in the meadow.

One by one, the sunflowers are opening and reveling in sun, and coneflowers and others are welcoming pollinators.  The tiny bee-like insect on the pink coneflower was a bright iridescent green.


First Harvest 2019

Tomatoes (on plants that grew from last year’s compost) are just starting to ripen, and mystery squashes (pumpkins?) are swelling.  Even some tiny peppers are starting to appear.  The first red okra pods and purple pole beans are almost large enough to pick.  Sunflowers are popping in the hot sun.  So hot in fact, that I can only work outside in the morning, before it turns into a sauna.  This week will be in the humid 90s.

By the way, that weird caterpillar from yesterday will probably become an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly.  Tulip tree poplars are one of their host plants.  My “evil” plan is working.

Seizing the Break

Yesterday we seized a rare break in t-storms to get the acreage mowed.  All this rain and heat is bringing out the best in flowering plants, especially sunflowers, coneflowers, and many others.

We had another first–our first zucchini harvest of the year!  And corn tassels are forming already.

I found this strange caterpillar-looking thing on a tuliptree poplar leaf.  While I watched, it pooped out of it’s bottom end!

Here is a nice California mango beer after a long, hot day in the fields.  And here’s Misu doing what she does best–keeping cool.

Nature News

Well, I got a few minutes of mowing in before the monsoon resumed.  All this rain on top of the soil improvements has yielded results.  I was excited (yeah, Hort nerd) to see whole colonies of various fungi coming up in my compost area.  This is good news for the soil quality of my future woodland natives corner.

The first zucchini have doubled in size overnight, and will be ready to harvest by tomorrow.  My lemon mint is blooming in the herb garden; they remind me of Dr. Seuss characters.

I was happy to see these gladioli blooming for the first time, as well as all these perennials thriving.  I used to take black-eyed susans, coneflowers, and daisies for granted, but now I appreciate their value to pollinators and the environment.

Misu follows me wherever I go in the garden.  Here Is the fierce jungle hunter, climbing trees, stalking, and being a blob-cat.

Our Own Private Pride(aho)

As it turned out, we didn’t go to the Pride Parade, but chose instead to help my son out with the kids and jobs up on the hill.  He needed it!  It turned into quite an eventful day in itself.

On top of yet another power outage, his septic system had finally given out and back-flooded the basement (where the kids’ bedrooms and bathrooms are located).  So instead of getting essential work done, or spending time with the kids, he’s been mopping and vacuuming up a flood disaster for days.  We helped him evacuate everyone and their things upstairs, and E helped with other plumbing/electrical repairs.  I spent lots of quality time with the kids, so Avdi could get some work done.

Finally Avdi got a guy to come out and address the septic issue.  It took some time for both of them to locate and dig down to the tank and pump it out.  Here’s Avdi getting down and dirty with the septic guy in the jungle, while we watched from the safety of the deck.  No one can say my son doesn’t get hands on!  I felt bad for him, but the job got done.  It sucked–literally!

Later, D&V made their famous homemade pizzas.  Then, after a long day, we headed home.  I was glad the rain held off a little for the parade, but I’d say our Pride was at least as exciting and worthwhile, if a little more wet.