Showing posts with label flowers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label flowers. Show all posts

Sunday, June 12, 2022

A Tree Stump Vase - Great for Outdoor Decor

A Tree Stump Vase


Unfortunately, we recently had to have our gorgeous English Oak tree cut down. We've had the tree since 1994, so needless to say, it was a difficult decision.

After an Arborist confirmed it was dead, we had to call a Tree Service company to safely perform the sad removal.

We were given a choice to have the tree stump ground down or left standing.

We decided to keep the tree stump and decorate it with flowers.

Why Did We Choose A Tree Stump Vase?

We wanted to feature flowers on top, and since we weren't digging a cavern directly in the stump, we needed to safely secure a weather-resistant outdoor vase to the top.

We talked about a metal vase and a plain plastic vase; however, neither seemed safely practical.
The tree stump is located between two driveways; thus, we needed something lightweight yet durable should it ever break loose after we secured it to the stump and gawd-forbid damage our cars!
Here's a peek at the tree stump vase secured to the stump:


This tree stump vase is painted with weather-resistant UV paint to prevent fading and weathering. It's also designed to insulate plants from extreme heat or cold.

The one we purchased measures 10.5 inches in diameter and 9 inches high. They do come in other sizes. We verified the diameter of the tree stump beforehand. Also, we didn't want anything that stood too tall.


Here's another look at the tree stump with the flowers lifted.

We choose a tree stump vase primarily because it's lightweight, blends with the existing stump, and looks good without flowers. 

In the fall, we'll change the flowers, and come winter, we'll come up with something creative to fill the tree stump vase.

The finished look with the Tree Stump Vase filled with flowers

We selected flowers that trail over the stump. They still need to do some growing.



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Thursday, June 9, 2022

Nature Photography Day


 
June 15th is Nature Photography Day.  This holiday was first started in 2006 in North America but has since spread to people throughout the world.  It is a day to study, reflect, enjoy and photograph nature.

While reading about Nature Photography Day online, I discovered numerous suggestions on how to celebrate the day.  Here are a few that sounded interesting.
  • Grab your camera and go for a walk in your neighborhood.  Experience all the beauty in nature that you can observe every day.
  • Share your photos with families and friends and spread the word that it is Nature Photography Day.
  •  Enjoy a local park or a nearby creek or river.  Photograph the beauty of nature.
  • Participate in efforts to preserve nature.
  • Start a photo competition of nature photograph.
  • While you are doing any of the above take the time to breath in all the peace and serenity that nature provides.

Favorite Flowers from my Nature Photography Files




I love to photograph roses.  There is something quite striking about a single rose bud.  In the photo above I tried to isolate the rose bud by using a 6.3 aperture and focusing on the rose bud so that the background becomes a bit blurry.  It is important to keep the background simple so that the focus is on the flower.  The photo was taken in the early evening when the light was soft.  Early morning or evening are great times to take floral photos.  Cloudy days also enhance the colors in the flowers, so they are a good time to photograph.



Here is another photo taken in the early evening and with an aperture that gives the blurry background that enhances the flowers.



Another good technique for photographing flowers is to find an interesting background to set off the blossom.  In this photo I found some purple irises in front of a brick wall.  I kept my aperture so that the background would be a bit blurry, and I zoomed in on the flower.  I love the effect of the bright purple against the brick.


Another time I love to photograph flowers is right after it rains.  It seems to really bring out the colors and the raindrops look refreshing.  The above photo is of a fuscia plant hanging on our deck.

Combining Birds and Plants in Photos



I particularly enjoy capturing flowers and a bird in the same photograph.  In this photo I saw a Cardinal sitting on our fence and the lilacs were just starting to bud out in the foreground.  I focused on the Cardinal, so you will note that the lilacs are slightly out of focus.

Photographing Backyard Birds


One of my favorite pastimes is photographing the birds in our backyard.  Here is a Hawk that was sitting high up in the tree at the edge of our property.  He sat still for a long time, and I was able to capture several shots.  I zoomed in for the long shot and was quite pleased with the result.  I was able to get him framed in the surrounding branches.





A great way to enhance your skills in nature photography is to first study the works of other photographers and then practice, practice, practice.

Happy Nature Photography Day on
June 15th!  Grab your camera and get out and enjoy nature.




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Thursday, August 26, 2021

Review of Sunflower Facts and Photographs

Fields of Sunflowers


Each year during the month of July, I anxiously wait for the sunflower fields to bloom.  Several years ago I discovered some sunflower fields in the Missouri river bottom land about 10 miles from my house.  My granddaughters were visiting and I took them to the fields to take some photographs.  I wrote this article telling about my experience in photographing the sunflowers. Photographing Sunflowers   

Before they Bloom

In reading about sunflowers I have found that there are actually five stages in the life of the sunflower.  Three of those stages take place before they bloom.
 
1.  The first stage, the germination stage, takes places when the seeds are planted.  This stages takes about eight days.  After the seeds are planted the roots develop and seep into the ground and then a shoot will start peaking out of the ground in search of sunlight that it needs to grow.
 
2.  The second stage is called the vegetative phase.  During the first 13 days after the seedling starts its  growth toward the sun it is in the vegetative emergence stage.  Then the first leaf comes and it is now in stage 1 of the vegetative phase, a second leaf comes and it is now in stage 2, this keeps on as  more leaves are added to the stalk.
 
3.  The third stage is called the reproduction phase.  In this stage a bud will form between the cluster of leaves.  It will initially be star like in appearance but in time will grow into the tall beautiful plants with bright yellow flowers that we know so well.  This whole stage takes about 30 days.  In our area I know that this stage should be coming to an end in mid to late July.  This year I was out with friends in mid July and we decided to take a drive to see how the sunflower fields were coming along.  They were right in the middle of the reproductive stage and I got some nice  photos of the flowers in this stage.
Reproductive Phase


Blooming Stage

During the blooming stage the sunflowers are in full bloom. During this phase you will see lots of bees busy fertilizing and pollinating the flowers.  This stage will only last for about 20 days so I knew I had to get back to the fields quickly if I wanted to see the fields in full bloom.  Fortunately about a week after my first visit a friend posted some photos  showing the flowers in full bloom.  I grabbed my camera and hopped in my car and headed right out to take some photos.  I was rewarded with the following glorious sights.




Harvesting Phase

After the blooms are finished the seeds are harvested.  You will want to wait till the flowers turn brown and start to bloom and then you cut the stems about 4 inches from the head of the flowers. Sunflower heads should be stored upside down in a dry and breathable bag.

Sunflowers are annuals so they must be replanted each year.

Fun Facts and more Sunflower Photos

The Sunflower has been named the plant of the year for 2021.  In her review of this information, Olivia Morris shares more fun facts and photos about the Sunflower.  Hope for the New Year Sunflowers Plant

Zazzle Products from My Photographs

I enjoy making cards and other Zazzle products from my photos.  Here are a couple I hope you like.



Here some more Zazzle Sunflower gifts from my photographs.

 




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Monday, August 9, 2021

Reviewing Growing Annual Sweet Pea Plants And Flowers


 
Of all the annual flowers I think sweet peas are my favourite. I love the beautiful flowers and the delicious scent. They are climbers and so great to have flowers that take up very little space. They are also so beautiful in a vase in the house.

They are annuals which means that they set seeds, grow and produce flowers and seed pods, then die all in one year. You cannot usually keep them from year to year, but you can buy new seeds each year quite inexpensively. 

Sweet peas are so easy to grow and care for and are worth anyone having a go. This article is about growing and enjoying sweet peas, not growing them for showing or breeding which is more specialised. 



 Buying Sweet Peas Seeds


 You can buy sweet pea seeds from many places. Here are a couple of things to look out for.

I love my sweet peas to be scented so if you do want scent make sure it says scented on the packet.

Some scents are stronger than others and that is a personal choice. Check carefully if you prefer a floral, fruity, musky, fresh or heavy scent. 

If you are wanting a particular colour then you will need to look specifically for that colour. I often buy a packet of just white or cream. If you are planning to pick them for a wedding these colours are particularly beautiful. 

Many seed packets are mixed colours but you may choose from pinks and purples to burgundy and reds. 

Some Sweet Peas are the older or even heritage varieties, others are more modern so again it is a choice of what you enjoy. There really is something for everyone! 



 Sowing Your Sweet Pea Seeds


 There are a huge variety of sweet pea seeds for sale. You can buy them in multi-colored packs or packs of for example cream or white only. Check the packet carefully for if they are fragrant or not as well.

Some will have longer stems than others so if you really want to grow them mainly for the house it is better to choose long-stemmed varieties for vases. Otherwise, it does not matter. There are heritage and new varieties and really we are spoiled for choice! 

 Once you have made your choice or like me decided you cannot choose so buy several different packets, you can sow seeds in Spring or in Autumn. 

The autumn sowing will mean earlier flowers but you will need to look after them over autumn/winter. This means you will need a frost-free place for them to be all autumn and winter and will need to keep an eye on them.

 The Spring sowing will result in later flowers but the whole process is during spring and summer and you will not need a special place for them.

 I generally sow in Spring but if I had space in a greenhouse or cold frame I would do an autumn sowing as well to prolong the flowering season. 

 Sweet peas are not too fussy about soil. For the seeds, I use a mix of any ordinary compost with some grit added for extra drainage.

 Sweet peas generally germinate well. I sow mine in either small pots or plug trays or even in toilet roll holders. They do develop long roots so a taller container is better.  Any container that is not too large but is long enough for nice deep roots to form is good.



 Planting Out Sweet Pea Plants


Once you can see the roots have formed well and the plants have several proper leaves we can think about planting out. However, it is very important that we only plant out after the frosts have finished for the year. This can be tricky to predict but know your local weather conditions from year to year.

Where I live we are usually safe from late May/early June. Then it is simply a matter of digging a hole slightly larger than the plants' rootball and you can plant the whole plug out into the garden. Carefully fill in around the planting hole and gently firm in. 

 It is worth noting that If you have kept your plants in warm sheltered conditions then I would advise that you take them out in the daytime and back in at night for a period of one to two weeks to acclimatize them to outdoor conditions gradually before planting out for good.


Do only plant out strong healthy plants. If they are too thin and weak or struggling they will quickly become prey to slugs and will not grow well or at all. So plant out only the strong growing healthy ones. The weaker ones can either be discarded or I like to give them a chance by continuing to grow on in a small pot. Give them all a really good soaking with water after you have planted them. 

I would advise planting out on a day that is not too hot and sunny just so that they do not get too stressed. A warm but not too hot day is about right. They do like moisture-retentive soil which is fine on our clay mix soil. However, if you have sandy or chalky soil it is best to dig a large hole much bigger than the area you are going to plant in and fill it with good compost, manure or similar to enrich the soil. Then put your supports in and plant the sweet peas. 

 Sweet peas can also be planted out into large pots and grown up a tripod in the pot. I think they look rather lovely this way and you can see all the way around the pot which makes for better viewing and easier picking. The soil can be ordinary compost with a little grit or perlite mixed in for better drainage.

Sweet peas do like a sunny spot if possible. In a large pot they will require much more watering than in the ground, so never let them dry out, the soil must be kept moist. 



 Tieing in Sweet Peas


Most sweet peas are self-climbers so they produce curly tendrils that latch on to any support and grow upwards. Some do need tieing in regularly as they have no tendrils. I usually buy the self-clinging ones and provide support for them to grow up.

Support can be anything from canes with string, a tripod with additional string, or another tall plant they can scramble up. I have grown mine this year up Bamboo canes and also alongside our Metal Garden Swing Seat tied in with ordinary string. 

I tie in a few stems to begin with to give them a good start, then every so often if they are growing too far out from the support. I just use soft string and tie loosely so as not to damage the stems. 



 Picking Sweet Pea Flowers. 


This is the beauty of sweet peas, you must regularly pick the flowers! For many plants, you have to make the decision to either pick the flowers for a display in the home or to have the flowers in the garden. With sweet peas, you get the best of both worlds!! You must pick the flowers in order to get more flowers! 

So usually once a week I go over all our sweet peas in the back garden. Then once a week on another day I pick all those in the front garden. That way I always have sweet peas in the garden and a vase or two of sweet peas in the house.




When you pick them use a sharp pair of scissors and cut right at the base of the stem so that you get as long a stem as possible. Put them in water immediately. I carry a jar of water with me and they go in straightaway. Then I can transfer to a prettier jar, glass, or vase in the house. 

 If you don't pick the flowers regularly they will quickly go to seed and you will see these seed pods like in the photo.
I left these without picking to show you and now there will be no more flowers on that specific plant for the rest of the year. So the motto is to keep picking the flowers!!  



 Watering And Feeding Sweet Pea Plants.


 If it rains regularly you may not need to water at all. However, we have been having a heatwave here and so I do water the ground thoroughly soaking it about once or twice a week. Do not water the plant's leaves only the soil.

Once the flowers start to appear I give them a fertiliser feed about once a week with a high potash feed, something like a tomato feed is good, but if I forget they are always just fine.


Sweet Pea Flowers In The Home.


The flowers are so pretty and the scent is so gorgeous that it would not be summer without sweet peas in our home. They can scent a room beautifully and look so pretty. I just pick them with longest stems possible and pop them in a vase or as here in a wine glass. I like them to look natural and so I just pop them in the vase as they fall.

 Some people may want to do more flower arranging or make a gorgeous arrangement with other flowers which would be stunning.  I just pop them in a vase by themselves which I think looks pretty.  They last around a week in the vase then by then there are more from the garden. 

 Flowers are always fleeting though and so for a more permanent record of the flowers and plants in our garden and countryside, I do take a lot of photos each year and make some into greetings cards and gifts, you can see some of them on my Blog Raintree Earth Design. 

However you grow them in the garden or in a container, to enjoy in the garden or pick for the home, Sweet peas are such easy beautiful annuals to grow and enjoy. Adults and children can grow them and they are a lovely introduction to growing annuals.

 Their scent is so beautiful and there are many different scents, the colours are many and varied and you will never tire of them.




More Gardening  And Wildlife Articles


Reviewing The Growing And Care Of Bottlebrush Plant














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Thursday, June 10, 2021

Review of Lavender Farm

Lavender at Entrance to Long Row Lavender Farm

 If you are looking for a pleasant way to spend a late spring day, I would suggest visiting a lavender farm.  In the St. Louis area we have a farm about an hour west of the city that my friend, Barb and I spend some time exploring on a beautiful June day.  

Long Row Lavender Farm




Long Row Lavender Farms is located on 15 acres just south of Wright City Missouri.  It is a family owned farm that was started in 2007 by 6 family members as a way to bring the family closer together and work toward a common purpose.  They see the farm as a midwest destination and offer a variety of activites and services.

Cafe


One of my favorite features of the farm is the Cafe.  The cafe offers a small but delicious menu that you may eat at a variety of small areas around the farm.  There is seating both inside the remodeled barn, outside on the porch or down by the pond.



I enjoyed a delicious  sandwich of grilled cheeses, tomatoe and bacon on sourdough bread.  I also had a refreshing glass of lavender lemonade from their menu you can see below.


One of the walls in the cafe has live  wall hangings, which I found fascinating.




 Gift Shop


Inside the barn you will find a gift shop full of lots of handmade products from the farm.  There is a variety of bath and body products, seasonal clothing, and home decorations.  You can also buy plants at the shop.



Workshops


Lavender farms offers weekly workshops at their facility where local artists teach of variety of different crafts.

Enjoy  the Grounds


The  grounds of the farm are beautiful and full of flowers  and lots of little nook and grannies to sit back and relax.  There are benches on the porch, a wonderful porch spring, a pond, and lots of flowers.  Here are a few of the photos I took around the grounds.




Lavender


Of course it wouldn't be a lavender farm without lots of lavender.  In looking up  lavender online, I found that the name is Lavandule and lavender is the common name for the genus.  There are 47 known species of these flowering plants and they are members of the mint family.

At Long Row Farms they have about 1200 lavender plants and 7 different varieties.  The varieties they  have are : Provence, Phenomenal, Hidcote Blue, Twickel Purple, Edelweis, Grosso, and Ellagence Pink.  Here are some photos I took of the different plants.







In the midwest the lavender blooms in early to mid June.  The blooms are then harvested a few weeks after  they bloom and then go through the drying process which takes about 3 weeks.  The drying takes place in the loft of the barn where they are hung up in bundles to dry.

The farm also grows peonies, zinnias and sunflowers so there are lots of blooms to see throughout the summer.


Zazzle Products


I always enjoy make products from my photographs.  Here are some from my visit to Long Row Lavender.





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Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Spring Into the Garden, Give Nature a Helping Hand! A Garden Review

 

Spring has sprung!  Gardeners and Conservationists are all jumping for joy! A Garden Review.

But wait a minute, before you get all excited about getting your hands dirty and your gardens in shape, let's take a few minutes to think and see what Mother Nature would have us do instead!

Many gardeners are just itching to get their gardens cleaned up and looking tidy and I can't say that I blame them.  After a long cold winter, making things (garden beds) look nice is a job that many gardeners love to do.  Why wait?  Well, would it help for you to know that many bees are still hibernating within the leaves and debris that is in your garden?  We have a serious problem with declining bee populations, so anything you can do to help them would be a welcome thing to do.

I'm not advocating that you leave your gardens in a messy state, but rather wait just a few weeks before getting to the "mess".  That will be time enough for the bees to wake up from their winter slumbers and start looking for those first dandelions for food.

That brings up to the second thing that gardeners should really stop doing in the springtime.  Did you know that dandelions are one of the first spring flowers to come up in your gardens?  Well they are and they are full of good nutrition for the bees who wake up hungry.  Leave those flowers alone, let them bloom and welcome the sight of those bees that are doing the hard work!  If you don't want a proliferation of dandelions in your lawn, just watch the flowers and when they have all been pollinated, and start to produce their seeds heads, go out then and cut them off and dispose of them so no seeds are flying around the garden!  The parent plant will produce another flower for the bees and then you can do the same thing again.  Pluck the spent flower head before it sends it's seeds everywhere.  This way you will be providing food for the bees without dandelions taking over your gardens.  Easy peasy!

Spring comes on quickly, so you need to be ready for all kinds of wonderful things that will happen during this time.  Number three on my list of things to do (or not do) is check for migrating birds in your area.  Hummingbirds are the Number One bird everyone is looking forward to seeing.  They too will come to your gardens hungry from their travels north!  You can check out this Hummingbird Migration Map to see when they will arrive in your area!  

So what can you do to help those Hungry Hummers?


Have your hummingbird feeders out a week or so before they are due in your area.  Keep them clean and available with fresh nectar that is changed weekly!  Why do you need to change the nectar?  Well as with anything left out to the elements, nectars can go "bad".  That means they will get moldy and rancid.  The idea is to feed those hungry hummers, not to harm them!  So clean fresh nectar is a MUST!  (p.s. nectar is simply four parts water to one part sugar, NO DYES)  In the early days of their migration you can make up nectar and keep it in the fridge.  Just put a small amount in the feeders until you know they have found you!  Once you know they are around, then you can fill up those feeders to a cup of nectar and again keep the nectar fresh!
                                                                                  Ruby Throated Hummingbird

           
Migrating Birds, what you need to know!

 Along with the bees, migrating birds are also having "human" problems!  What are those, you might ask?  Well in large urban areas where skyscrapers and really large windows are the norm, many migrating birds fly into those windows and drop like stones onto the pavement below! They suffer broken necks, wings and sometimes are just so stunned that they don't recover.  This is truly a sad situation for birds that fly so far to get to their northern nesting areas.  Large windows are almost invisible to the birds, so their tracking is off!  How can we help them?  It's easy, first is awareness and then there is something as easy as placing "cling decals" on the windows so that they will see them and avoid crashing into them.  You can easily purchase these decals in many styles, some are transparent to the human eyes or others are decorative and produce an ambience in your homes as you look out those windows.  It's a small price to pay for the benefit of the birds and possibly for you to enjoy them as they make their homes in your yards. 

Did you know that there are several species of migratory birds in North American?  Taken from All About Birds.org:
  • Magnolia Warbler by Gerrit VynLong-distance migrants typically move from breeding ranges in the United States and Canada to wintering grounds in Central and South America. Despite the arduous journeys involved, long-distance migration is a feature of some 350 species of North American birds.

  • Learn More About Bird Migration

  • If you want to know more about Bird Migration, there is a wonderful website by Cornell University that follows and updates information on all kinds of migratory birds!  You can find it RIGHT HERE!  This is excellent reading material for any bird enthusiast!  Don't stop with dedicated Birders, get your young ones involved in becoming Bird Ambassadors, they will learn and do so many things in a fun and really rewarding way.
  • There are great books available for children and adults too!  Easy to read and understand, they will teach you everything you need to know and look for when searching the skies and yards for those feathered friends.


Yellow Rumped Warbler

This Easter, instead of just filling our children with chocolate and candy, let's feed their minds with some easy and interesting ways to keep their future in balance. Add some of those window decals or a bird feeder to their Easter basket for an Eco-Friendly alternative to chocolate or candy! 

Happy Easter to Everyone!
 



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