Saturday, June 27, 2015

Another Story ... With Four Snaps This Time

Winnie's favorite place to be is on the sofa, snuggled onto the down throw that I keep out for her year-round.  (It used to be a winter-only item for use by chilly humans ... stored away during warm months.)  She gets onto the sofa via a set of pet steps given to her by her Auntie Susan.  

In the beginning, it only took about five minutes and some delicious treats to teach Winnie to use the steps, and now she scampers up and down them easily to get on and off the sofa ... most of the time.  Every once in a while, it appears that she decides that she has forgotten how to use them or it may seem easier to her to resort to begging to be picked up.

I tell Winnie that she is very lucky to have been adopted into a family that spoils her, instead of babying her ... though I don't think Winnie understands the difference.  During this little exchange, Winnie made multiple trips back and forth between half-hearted attempts at the steps and begging to be picked up.

If this behavior doesn't get her what she wants, it rarely takes more than a few minutes for Winnie to resign herself to the fact that she has to use the steps to get onto the sofa by herself if she's going to get there at all ...

... and, soon, she was fast asleep.

P.S.  Here's a extra gratuitous Winnie photo for you ... because she's just so darned adorable.

This tiny little dog has a huge piece of my heart!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Three Quick Snaps Tell a Story

A few minutes ago, as I was sitting here on a bar stool, at the peninsula counter between the kitchen and the dining room, I noticed some movement.  It was Maggie, being silly, biting and kicking a dog toy that Ruby dropped there earlier this morning.  I picked up my iPad, which was sitting on the counter next to me, to photograph and document the silliness.

must . kill . this

Ruby, who was in the other room, must have noticed what Maggie was doing at about the same time as I did.  Almost as soon as I snapped that first photo, nosy Ruby was in here checking to see what was going on. 

"Exactly what are you doing with my toy?"

It only took that quick look for Ruby to be satisfied that this was not something where she could participate, and she returned to the family room.  Ruby's interruption broke the spell, and Maggie acted as if nothing had happened ... and she quickly settled in to take a little nap, using the toy as a pillow.


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A Little DIY Shoe Transformation

I bought these shoes at Target on clearance last year for a ridiculously-low price.  It's rare for me to find cute shoes I like that are large enough for these size 11 feet of mine ... finding a pair on sale like this was even more unusual.  The rope-covered wedge heel on these is a great height, high enough to be stylish and low enough to be comfortable.  I love the big gold zippers ... but the linen color of the cloth upper part of the shoe wasn't my favorite.  I could learn to love that, too, or so I thought.

These shoes have been tucked away in my closet ever since I brought them home.  Every once in a while, I would try them on and admire them, decide that they I still probably didn't have anything to wear them with, and back into the closet they would go.

Recently, Goth Gardener posted about a pair of shoes that she bought under similar circumstances.  Her solution was to use paint to make the shoes into something that was a better fit with her personality and her wardrobe ... and now you see where I'm going with the DIY portion of this post.

No turning back now.

I used regular black acrylic craft paint and a small angled paint brush, working carefully so I didn't get paint on the rope-covered wedge part of the shoe, and thinning the paint slightly so it flowed into the grain of the fabric.

Halfway finished ... One down, one more to go.

When the paint was dry, I buffed it off of the zipper with an old toothbrush.

... and here is the finished product.  All it took was a bit of paint (that I already had) and some time (while I was hiding in the a/c because it was too hot outside to work) and I now have a pair of shoes that are perfectly ME.

Before:  Cute clearance-sale impulse-purchase shoes, good for a nice spring outfit, but not exactly my style.

After:  Black shoes, totally my style, with that fantastic funky gold zipper, that I probably would have bought even if they had been full price.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I must admit that I still haven't worn these yet.  Now that they're black, and I love them more than I dare to admit, I imagine that they will come out of the closet and into regular rotation in my wardrobe very soon.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

An Additional Tactic in the War Against Japanese Beetles

While I was outside yesterday morning drowning Japanese Beetles with my Death Bucket of soapy water, I realized it looks like this will probably be a bumper-crop year for those nasty creatures.  Some of my roses were unaffected so far, but it's still very early in the season.  Many other roses, especially my most fragrant ones, were already acting as bait, food, and love nests for the beetles.

Along with my two-part approach to Japanese Beetle control that I told you about in yesterday's POST, I am adding a more-drastic measure this year ... removal of all of the flowers and buds throughout the garden.  It's not like I'm really losing anything, because the beetles aren't going to let me have any decent flowers while they're here anyway.

'Prospero', before.

'Prospero', after.

I started yesterday morning by working in the English Garden.  It's a relatively small garden (by my standards) 30-feet wide and 40-feet long, with 40 roses in it ... perfectly realistic to expect that I could start and finish the job there relatively quickly.

English Garden, before.

English Garden, after.

As I worked, I dropped the trimmings into a five-gallon bucket.  Whenever the bucket was full, I emptied it into the dump-bed of my golf cart ... then I tossed it all into hedgerow tree line dumping spot at the back of our property.

Bye bye for now, Teasing Georgia.

This is about halfway through the job.  I liked how the few intact flowers ended up on top of the pile.

To be honest, removing the flowers and buds like this isn't really as drastic as it sounds.  I had planned to be in the garden anyway, because most of my roses could use a bit of a trim and deadheading of spent flowers, to tidy them up and keep the garden looking as nice as possible.  Even without beetles, summer heat makes many of the roses slow down and flower sporadically or not at all.  By the time the beetles are gone in a few weeks, the roses will have recharged, grown new buds, and they will be almost ready for their bloom time to start again for the late summer and fall.

I'm still going to have to keep the beetle trap bags changed as they get full, and continue my morning walks in the garden with my Death Bucket to drown any beetles that I find.  Beetles eat rose foliage, in addition to flowers, and they're a whole lot easier to find and catch if I don't have to dig through the flowers to get them into the bucket.  

I will spare you the photo of beetles in my bucket ... you're welcome.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Japanese Beetle Season

They're here, dammit.  Japanese Beetles.  I spotted this year's first beetle on Open Garden Day, and I'm finding more and more of them each day since then.  It's time to start dealing with the problem.

This is the second beetle that I found, last Monday, on a flower of 'Paul Ecke, Jr.'

Japanese Beetles exist to do only two things:  they eat and they mate to make more beetles for next year, and they can usually be found doing both things at once.  Roses are a favorite meal for them, as are the grape vines next door at Hartwood Winery.

When I do rose presentations for garden groups, my most frequently asked question is about how to deal with the annual plague of Japanese Beetles.  I don't use insecticides of any type in my garden ... and beetle control for me is a two-level process that takes a bit of effort ... I know this is a disappointment to the quick-fix type of folks.  (They tend to want a magic bullet, one-time thing.  Sorry, there's not one for these nasty pests.)

Step One is to place beetle traps.  I know what some of you are thinking ... we've been led to believe that beetle traps attract more beetles than they catch.  This may be true to some extent, but my plan is to remove as many of these nasty creatures as I can from the available pool of eligible mating partners.   The beetles that are lured to their deaths by the traps (a) won't be eating my roses and (b) aren't contributing to the population of next year's brood.

Step Two is to hand pick any beetles that I find on the roses.  I walk the garden with a small bucket of soapy water in the early morning, when it's cool and the beetles are sluggish, dropping any beetles I find into the bucket ... no beneficial insects are harmed in the process.  Later in the day, I dump the dead beetles and rinse the bucket.

If there is an up-side to this, it's that Beetle Season only lasts for a few weeks in the heat of summer when the roses aren't at their best anyway.  I do what I can to keep up with it, trimming off dead and damaged flowers and foliage.  Before I know it, the beetles and the summer heat are gone, and the roses get back to doing what they do best ... producing flowers and making me very, very happy.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

I *heart* Trading

FlowerLady Lorraine is a frequent visitor here, and I am a regular at her blog, too.  She lives in Plum Cottage, a wonderful little 1/4 acre world that she and her late husband created in tropical south Florida.  I am amazed at the variety of plants that thrive in her beautiful garden ... and her courageous use of color!

See?  I told you!  Isn't this wonderful!!!

A couple of weeks ago, when I announced that I would have a few roses for sale at my Open Garden, FlowerLady emailed and asked if I would be willing to work a trade.  Of course!!!  I told her that bartering is my favorite form of currency!

In exchange for two roses, she sent me this beautiful embroidered heart that she chose for me from her Etsy store.

I am in awe of her talent ... every single one of her stitches is PERFECT!

Thank you, Rainey ... I love it!!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Sunday Snapshot ... Propagation Time!

Now that the roses in my garden are past peak bloom, it is time for me to take cuttings for propagation.  When I was running the nursery, I felt the need to cater to the market and propagate the roses that customers expected to find in stock.  These were mostly old garden roses that are fairly common, ones that most rose-growing folks had heard of.  I was never comfortable with this.  The few rare and unusual roses that I rooted for sale tended to be ignored, while the familiar ones sold without much effort.

Yesterday morning's harvest of cuttings.

Now that I don't have to supply a nursery inventory anymore, I can propagate what I think is important ... roses from here and other places that are the rarest and most vital to multiply and distribute, roses that I have agreed to trade with friends, and, beginning this year, roses from the Rose Field ... the next step in my current plan to reclaim that heinous mess of a former garden.

The cuttings are now safely sitting in the north-facing window in my cool basement, where I can easily keep an eye on them.

You're probably wondering ... what roses were in this first batch of cuttings?  They are:

"Tidewater Trail" is a Hybrid China rose that I found in 2009, growing beside the fallen porch of a derelict house south of Fredericksburg, Virginia.

"Dennis's not-Anemone Rambler" is a wonderful unidentified Hybrid Setigera rose.  Dennis received it as a small plant, with a tag in the pot that said 'Anemone' ... which it obviously is not.  He shared his plant with me.

I have shown you this rose many times, "Pink Van Fleet", which is possibly the real 'Bess Lovett', that appears to be lost in the US.

'White Cap' is the best performing climber that I grow.  Most people don't know about it, though, and it is very hard to find.

"Faded Pink Monthly", a rose found by Mrs. Keays, is the first Rose Field rose that I took cuttings from.

If you want to learn how to root your own roses, THIS LINK will take you to my photo tutorial that teaches you the method that I use.

Happy Sunday, Everyone ... I'm heading outside now, to go take more rose cuttings.

Sunday Snapshots are posts that are devoted to a moment in time that represents a slice of life in Hartwood, or wherever else I happen to be at the time.

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