August 28, 2011

Rewind

With everything revolving around "Buddha" lately, I have not posted any photos from the garden lately, so I thought I would rewind just a bit and show some pictures taken in the garden this summer.  Currently blooming is the lovely sunflower Moulin Rouge. 


                                             A garden favorite "coneflower".


                                                   Phlox 'David'


                                              New coleus "Henna"


                                                                 Mixed Border

  
                                Tree form Pee Gee Hydrangea in bloom


                                                                  Pineapple Lily


                                                       The galvanized tub containers




Finally, my new rainwater containers. They hold 65 gallons of water with a hose connection at the bottom. There is a planter on top that you can plant that has a self watering feature built-in.  I bought two and have them on both sides of the garage.  I have used them to water my hydrangeas in the lower garden through a soaker hose just using gravity to empty the containers. 






August 22, 2011

Charlotte's Webb


Recently, I came across this spectacular spider in the "knockout" roses. It is the spider species Argiope aurantia most commonly known as the Black and Yellow Garden Spider, Writing Spider, or Corn Spider which is a common orb spider. Orb web means it spins a web like a circle.

Female spiders are much larger than males,  growing almost an inch and a half long. Males grow about 3/4 inch long. The females have distinctive yellow and black markings on their abdomens and a mostly white cephalothorax.  Legs of these spiders are black with red or yellow bands. Each leg has three claws on the end. Like other members of Argiope they are considered harmless to humans. Because they are large, many people fear them; however, not only are they harmless, but they do a lot of good. These spiders eat large amounts of insect pests, such as flies, mosquitoes, and aphids.

These spiders prefer sunny places with little or no wind to built their webs. They can also be found along the eaves of houses and outbuildings or in any tall vegetation where they can securely stretch a web.  The circular part of the web may reach two feet in diameter. Webs are built at elevations two to eight feet off the ground.

The web of the yellow garden spider is distinctive: a circular shape up to 2 feet in diameter, with a dense zigzag of silk, known as the stabilimentum, in the center. The purpose of the stabilimentum is disputed. It is possible, it acts as camouflage for the spider, but it may also attract insect pray, or even warn birds of the presence of the otherwise difficult to see web. Only those spiders that are active during the day construct stabilimenta in their webs. The web normally remains in one location for the entire summer, but spiders can change locations usually early in the season, perhaps to find better protection or better hunting.

The garden spider hangs with her head down in the center of her web, waiting for prey to be caught. When an insect hits the web, the spider feels the vibrations and comes running. The spider can oscillate her web vigorously while she remains firmly attached in the center. This action serves to fully entangle an insect before it cuts itself loose.

In a nightly ritual, the spider consumes the circular interior part of the web and then rebuilds it each morning with fresh new silk.

Yellow garden spiders breed once a year. After mating the male dies, and is sometimes eaten by the female.

She lays her eggs on one side of the web, then covers it with a papery sac. The egg sac can be up to an inch wide. Over a thousand eggs may be inside. After laying the eggs, the female dies. The baby spiders hatch in the Fall, but they stay inside the sac through winter.

In the Spring, the young spiders leave the sac and go off on their own.  Some of the spiderlings remain nearby,  but others exude a strand of silk that gets caught by the breeze, carrying the spiderling to a more distant area.


A truly spectacular spider, I hope they see fit to grace my garden for many years to come.


August 14, 2011

"Pure Deck-a-dence"

  Well it is apparent that 'Buddha" was successfully removed from my truck and I am alive and well and still posting on this blog. I ended up resorting to Plan B and had the store where I obtained Buddha move him from my truck to a trailer. This will be his temporary home until his final resting place is determined.
                                                       Has Buddha turned his back on me?


Not much as been going on in the garden. It's been hotter than blue blazes and what time I've spent weeding, mowing, trimming and the other routine chores has resulted in significant loss of DNA from sweating profusely to the point of severe dehydration and near heat stroke.  As a result I've been doing these duties early mornings and late evenings.

The yard has always been my domain while Cynthia has domain over the deck plantings. I wanted to take this opportunity to "show off" her efforts this summer.

                          The area was brightened by painting an old chair glider a bright yellow.



                                                                   The Begonia Tree


                                                   Dragon-wing begonia and Foxtail Fern

                                                           Hostas and water feature

                                     A salvaged potato vine from last year. It bloomed this year!

                                                                  The Spiral Tower


                                                       Cast Iron Rooster plant hanger.

                                                        Our "one and only" Bonsai

Cynthia has done a wonderful job of planting and maintaining the container plants on the deck. It is such a joy to sit on the deck and feel like you're in a garden.  Kudos to my lovely wife!

August 2, 2011

"HAVE YOU LOST YOUR MIND?"

This was the immediate response I got when I told my wife that I had found a new piece of art for our future backyard garden. I had been to Southeastern Salvage to look at some slate tables for the deck when I came across this:

 I was mesmerized, I tried to avert my glaze but I could not resist. It called to me, "you need me".
I asked the young lady "how much for the giant buddha head" fully anticipating that it was well beyond what I was willing or able to pay. She told me the original price was right at $900 but because it had a crack at the base of the neck that it had been reduced to $400. My interest immediately heightened when she added, " but I think he (the manager) might reduce it some more".  Not wanting to appear too eager, I told her I was might be interested in buying it if the price was right. She took my name and number and told me she would speak with the manager the next morning and let me know. True to her word the next day she called and told me that I could have it for $200. I  could not believe it, I was prepared to pay the asking price from the day before. Calmly I told her that the price was agreeable and that I would be there shortly with my truck to pick it up. After  hanging up, I jumped up and down for a minute relishing the thought of bringing home my new treasure.

Cynthia accompanied me to pick up "The Buddha" . On the way,  I explained to her why I thought we "really needed" this fantastic piece of art for the backyard renovations we have been planning, and how perfect the "Buddha" could be incorporated with the future Koi pond and what a unique focal point it would be in the landscape, and let's face it, who else has one of these?.  As Mike on American Pickers says "I had to have it".  Alas, Cynthia took piety on me and relented without me having to grovel and beg.  I have a feeling that somewhere down the road I will pay for the granting of this wish.

                                                             (BTW it is also a fountain)

I had been told that it was constructed of fiberglass so I assumed that it would not be very heavy. Boy was I wrong!  Apparently it is constructed of fiberglass and concrete and possibly lead. It stood on a display platform about 12 feet off the ground and after securing it to it's pallet it was removed  from it's lofty perch with the aid of a forklift. They then deposited it in the back of my pickup truck and I strapped it down for the trip home. Needless to say, we drew quite a bit of attention on our trip home.  Safely arriving at home, I then discovered the true mass of by beloved "treasure". I wanted to see if I could move it a little on the pallet to determine if it could be unloaded manually without the aid of heavy equipment. I could not budge it an inch. It must weigh 400 or 500 lbs!  That was last week. It is still in the back of my truck and I am beginning to fear for my life. I had hoped that I could muster enough fellow idiots that we could somehow lift it from the truck but everyone suddenly has something or somewhere else to be. Cynthia who has not needed the truck for two years now must have it before the end of this week. "I am really getting stressed" about the whole situation. We have talked with a local Landscape company about contracting for the Koi pond project and helping us unload the "focal point" of the proposed project in the driveway until we move it to it's final resting place.  They told us they could probably come this afternoon and remove it from the truck. They did not show!

Plan B:  I have borrowed my friend's trailer, purchased a hitch for the truck and am prepared to return to the store tomorrow afternoon after work and have them transfer the "Treasure" from the truck to the trailer. My friend has assured me that he has no immediate need for the trailer and that I can keep it as long as I like. This plan will solve the immediate problem of freeing the truck so that Cynthia can use it, and secondly, it will be easier to remove from a trailer than the truck. Hopefully, the landscape people will show tomorrow and remove it which would be the easiest option. If not, Plan B will go into effect. Either way wish me luck. If I don't get this resolved this week, the next post will probably be made posthumously.