13 October 2021

fall coleus

I wasn't feeling too fond of the lime-and-green coleus earlier this year- I planted it in an out-of-the-way strip alongside the driveway. Turns out the level of shade was just right there, it flourished and now has turned red-and-yellow.
The blanket flower in same spot isn't doing so great. Not enough sun?
Took cuttings yesterday, of all the coleus, the persian shield, and the glossy-leaved purple flowering one I lost the name of.

I remember last year being very pleased with the 'exhibition limelight'- it made huge leaves alongside the deck stairs. This year it has remained puny. I wonder if removal of a tree changed the light intensity here. Or I didn't water it enough.

27 September 2021

new betta

After such a long time. The lady I gave my last few guppies to three months ago, brought him to me. She rescues bettas, but this one wasn't a rescue- a friend of hers had and decided didn't want him, so then he came to me. Hopefully without any major health issues.
I just can't believe how very blue he is! With scattering of paler blue and darker scales.
He's settled in very well already, exploring everything. Really personable- will emerge from wherever he's resting in the plants when I walk near the tank. Eagerly eats what I've offered so far.
He seems to like this corner where the rotalas grow to the surface- either because he can hide in the plants, or because it's the warmest spot, maybe both reasons.
The tank looks so vibrant with his bold color in there! Short end:
No matter where he is, instantly visible
even hiding in the rotala corner:
As yet unnamed. Maybe my kids will help me think of one.

24 September 2021

angel tank cleanup

I've noticed the hornwort continues to struggle- not that it's my favorite plant, but I do miss the plumes filling up that side wall. I suspect it's because the pothos roots are growing and growing- taking up yet more nutrients. I missed the midweek water change both last week and this- yikes- and only did 36% wc on the usual day, but shouldn't have worried much, the nitrates were below ten (tested before the wc) in each instance. I like the pothos roots. Instead of cutting them back, or removing some of the vine, I decided to remove a few of the other plants. 
I pulled out the three medium-sized driftwood chunks (about as big as my two fists together). One had java fern on it, the others anubias- which did kinda poorly at the higher level to the light anyway- the ones on the tank floor fare better. Kept them in a bucket with tank water (refreshed daily) for a week, both so I could be sure I didn't miss having them in the tank before sold, also so I could pick off snails (most people don't want to get snails). I found I didn't miss them at all. A bit more open space for the angels to swim now. 

Tried to get a few fulltank shots after that, but my camera didn't cooperate well. This picture is too green/blue 
and this one too yellow! (photoshop has issues on my computer lately so I can't adjust) 
These closeups of the areas are better: far left, 
middle (where I still hope the crypt boliviana and aponogeton capuronii will eventually grow to fill in)
and right
I have other plans in the making- for subtle changes. To make a new planter basket for my vals americana, a slightly deeper one. And maybe a slightly shorter one for the crypt boliviana and aponogeton- so they are more or less all the same height.


I see it regularly now- a ruby throat female (or immature male?) If I catch the right moment, can watch it move from flower to flower among the cardinal climber vine. It also feeds on the nasturtiums. I actually got a few photos the other day- though they are not crisp focus because at a distance and through the window.
Here cropped, with the hummingbird at center:
So small!

17 September 2021

clear panels

I re-skinned my tiny greenhouse. I was too late in rewrapping it in plastic sheeting- the temperature extremes had degraded it and was starting to shred. Realized my folly in using this for so many years- when it gets to the point of shredding, I can't gather all the tiny bits, and am probably adding microplastics to my own yard. Don't want that. This time, I took the trouble of finding some plastic panels- thin plexiglass or acrylic. Some I got that were scrap people gave away, some from taking apart picture frames I got at the thrift store for cheap. (Ugly pictures, or they had no picture at all). Pieces were all good size but none large enough to cover an entire side, so I layered them with an inch or two overlapping, bottom to top, to shed the rain.

Greenhouse looks much better now. Some of the plastic panels I'd put on the front this past December had discolored- I replaced those, too. None had broken or come loose, just yellowed some. So I think skinning it in panels will last longer each time than the plastic sheeting- in fact the roll of it I have in storage is aging enough I'm just going to toss what's left.

I was really hoping to find an old storm door with a plexiglass pane to use- as it might cover one whole side of my greenhouse in a single piece. I've seen them before up for giveaway, but none now when I actually needed it. No matter, getting a handful of empty frames to remove the glazing, was still cheaper than buying new acrylic sheets at the hardware store. (I've looked before.)

16 September 2021

green beauty

 Found another relative short, but fat zucchini under the broad leaves. Cooked it as a side dish last night. My youngest groaned: "Mo-om, I thought you said we with done with all the zucchini!" She thinks I serve this way too often, even though it's less than once a week. "I did! but the garden gave me another one! So we're eating it." Ha.

I really like the dark green and speckled skins of the variety this year.

14 September 2021

brown mantis

I finally saw a mantis this year. 
A medium-sized brown one. On the window glass.
I coaxed him onto a leaf and relocated to the table where he climbed up the edge of a flower pot, 
to take a few better pictures.

10 September 2021


Saw some bare stems in my carrot patch. Thought a rabbit had got into the garden, but the damage was too slight. Looked close and found a bunch of swallowtail caterpillars.
Funny that even so small, they put their 'horns' out to threaten when I gently pick them up.
I moved them the rue plant. 
They seem happy enough there.
One by itself on the lovage. 
I let it be- there's enough lovage to go around!
I did find one monarch caterpillar on the first sideyard, where the milkweed plants look scraggly this year.

late summer flowers

 Found one last gladiola blooming on the second sideyard, and brought it inside. Lovely pink salmon.

Tithonia thicket is doing great. Sometimes when I go out to deadhead them, I crouch down in the middle so the plants tower over me, just looking at a wall of green leaves, flowers, insects droning, and piece of blue sky. Even though there's the road and another house just a few yards away, it feels for a moment like a secret place. Like the feeling I'd get the other year when pole beans grew up to the garage wall making a green narrow space behind, to stand back there felt secret and peaceful.

A few very new-looking monarchs have appeared. There's one in the middle here on a tithonia but I couldn't get close with the camera, it kept flitting up. The few stalks of milkweed here are bare now, but looks like at least one caterpillar made it to pupate!

Now the borage is all pulled out and celosia "combflower" is thick around the mailbox. I didn't plant them this year, they just came up on their own from dropped seed. There was one plant with yellow that I cut the flower heads off (I prefer the red, pink and cream ones). In gaps I've put cuttings of cuban oregano. I do like to think it keeps the dogs away- the scent is very strong, almost unpleasant even to me. Sometimes I sit at my desk upstairs and glance every time someone walks by with a dog. Nine times out of ten now, they don't pause, and if they do, it's brief.

Beautyberry is starting to show off- its glowing purple fruit like jewelry on the stems.