Thursday, November 6, 2008

Of Dogs and Children

A fine specimen of muttdom who was once thoroughly capable at dropping a deer solo at full tilt flight. Yet curiously terrified of thunder and fireworks.

So huge is her reaction to booming sounds, I have grown to totally dread the arrival of Independence Day. It means the sudden appearance of having 98 pounds of wriggling, clawing and totally horrified dog flesh ... complete with hair wafting about like rain depositing herself on the top of my desk. Whether she leaps or crawls to seek shelter in close proximity to me her elected protection zone. The outcome is ultimately the same.

Should I be away when the noise begins and she is outside, she will dig for China through wahtever material is handy, seeking shelter in the closeness of her tunnel. If I leave her in the house alone she climbs into the bathtub. Other choice areas deemed secure from fallout will be that30" square cubby hole beneath my desk, the forbidden area on top of my bed or the ridiculous cramped position in the 15" span between commode and bathtub wall.

Fearless and yet totally without a stance, the hunter at times feels she is the hunted. She isn't really a "kid's dog" and never has been. She would never bite, but does know how to sound off a very effective warning. Always followed by the cold shoulder and a royal yet hasty exit of the area.

Old Sadie ... the original "Feather-Lipped Chicken Eater" has grown quite mellow over the years. She now tolerates the gibberish and the clumsy petting of those who are wee but so very close to me. She has not an ounce of patience for being rudely tumbled upon. The antics of my girls can drive her right out the door quickly. An escape she is most emphatic about when her tolerance reaches that threshold.

Who really can blame the wizened old gal. In people years she will turn 13 come Thanksgiving. In dog years that makes her 91. Every year of which her movements definitely echo. I no longer worry about having her deposit her body between me and the screen. Today, this would be a feat far beyond her capabilities.

Oddly enough, she does however get completely excited when the girls arrive for a stay at Nonnie's. At first glance, it may seem a strange and internal argument with Sadie's particular points of view. Until you consider the food factor.

Small children are very messy eaters. Every dog's dream is realized when human food is presented for consumption. While they may irritate her at times, any occasion involving food when the girls are here brings her frantically scratching to be readmitted. She can smell a slice of American cheese being unwrapped through two closed doors while snoring soundly over 50 feet away.

This past weekend, the girls were here for three days on end. Poor old Feather Lips moods radically rose and fell with every meal and sporadic snack occurrence day in and day out. In for food and out when the squealing and silliness got past the tolerance point.

The youngest is 19 months old and her English is at best ... challenged, though she is trying to pick up the language. One morning the eggs were accompanied by bagels with cream cheese. If there is food being eaten, Sadie will take up residence directly beneath that wee one's chair. Always watching each bite expectantly as surely something will soon fall to the floor and become fair fodder.

The child is totally aware of the dog lying in wait. She is also guilty of purposefully feeding Sadie the parts of each handful she has no use for. Trying to keep this pair separated is useless and so the companionship blossoms, though the attraction centers totally around food.

There she is with a quarter of a bagel in her pudgy hands, sitting sideways in the chair while actively separating the cheese from the bread. Looking down, the child removes the chunk from her mouth and vehemently shakes her head at the drooling dog. "Unh unh," she chortles. "Iz mines." This proclamation only holds court until the cheese is completely licked off.

At which point Sadie is richly rewarded with the bagel bone she has waited for with bated breath. Another moment that should have been on film but is totally lost save for memory.

Its a true love saga of strange proportions that unfolds like any soap opera. Always in front of a live audience though it is only me, myself and I who is attending. Such is the bond between my wee humans and this old, crochety dog. Food is good and shenanigans are not welcome.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Plant Scoop ... The Inside Story

The only black leaf Phlox paniculata in the world.

Distinct - Upper Crust - Black Tie

Highly polished rake of garden society.

Presenting Lord Clayton Phlox PPAF ... Available 2009 USA.

Read more about this new perennial.

Your garden will never be the same.

G. G.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Major Overhaul

Have you ever gotten so fed up with the way your personal atmosphere looks that you just couldn't bear it a second longer? One of those moments, that as you glance around at your windows and walls and rebellion screams at your inner mind. At moments such as this, you take stock of it all and announce to yourself,

"This wallpaper and floor plan is on my last nerve. It is high time to make a change."

That is the precipice, the moment of truth settling over your awareness . Down it comes, sheet after sheet, that time worn and repetitious pattern thrown to the floor in a rush for renewal. Nothing a fresh coat of paint can't replace. Just like the right makeup on a bad hair day. A weekend and a paintbrush can mask over a whole lot of ugly.

Image: Creative Commons Share Alike 2.0

If I hadn't gone off visiting so many new spaces of late, I may never have seen the flaws in my personal place. I guess it just goes to show you what a little wonder lust and a few hours of spare time can do to a person. Without a fresh view or excitement as inspiration, would any of us have a clue we a due for a change? At times, it might be wiser to just stay home where everything is expectable and familiar. That traveling bug could just place you in traveling the road of no return.

There I was about done repainting the walls and decided I just did not like the color.

Hey come on now, what is wrong with that? There are more colors in the rainbow. Besides, being female, I retain the honor of being allowed to change my mind. Just pick out a different, and decidedly more exciting hue. After all it is only another gallon of paint or two. No big deal.

Except ... that didn't really float my boat either.

The second tint color was most apt to be at it's best display on the paint chip. Hey now, its like baseball - you are not stuck out until you miss the ball three times. I do have to admit that by the time you have repainted the same old walls three times. In three completely different colors, mind you. Without unleashing the smallest inkling of some excitement ... more creative thoughts could come to mind.

Perhaps more drastic measures are called for here. Why not? Things just need a bit more updating than a coat of paint. Bigger is always better ... right? Just get rid of the half wall and open the space up. That would really change everything. In fact, the entire structure would take on a different feeling.

Image: Creative Commons Share Alike 2.0

Ewww. What do you call this construction method?

You know this is the fun thing about remodeling. It's always such an adventure. Like whose brilliant invention do you suppose masterful composition was? That's okay, we'll just fix that mess right up. I have just the trick to fix this exact type of construction flaw. I will admit that the coat of paint has become more of a huge project. Fine by me, life will just get more interesting from here on out.

After all, life is short. You only get one time around, so you might as well live a little! Why use a kit when your imagination can really stir up a scene? Major overhauls require some equipment, so I fired mine up and started moving things around. Before long the entire space began to take on the resemblance of a war zone.

Image: Creative Commons Share Alike 2.0

Well, starting from scratch is always good. You are guaranteed something fresh and exciting. So thats what I did. Started recreating my blog space from the foundation up. But hey, if you are going to build a new place for your self, why not move to a better neighborhood. You are already in transit. If you're moving, then go up - not down.

It doesn't seem to matter what you focus is anymore. The same rule of thumb applies to everything these days. Whats the word on the block or the street? Location, location, location. Fresh surroundings and new horizons will put a whole new spin on any case of the doldrums. Trading Spaces? It works on TV!

It is just the packaging thats different. Like a new wardrobe, the person wearing it really hasn't changed. Still the same plant obsessed mind with that somewhat different point of view. The only part that had changed is outward appearance. Oh yes, and the street address.

No reason you can't still drop in for a visit. After all you need to keep on top of what is new and exciting ... or even plumb crazy. It all depends on what day you pop in. Stop by for coffee before lunch or maybe you prefer to drop in for happy hour. Its all good.

The final touches may not yet be complete. Isn't that half of the fun of a new plating space? You get to watch it come into its own. Even better the gate at ...

Lost In The Flowers - is always open to friends.

Guilty Gardener is not going to disappear any time soon. Feel free to pass between the two locations, the transition will be very organic. Yet for the time being, all new posts will be published on Lost In The Flowers.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Far Prettier than a Vision

Image Courtesy of Plants Nouveau

Astilbe is always a lovely foliage plant with it's lacy presence so welcome as an accent to hosta and other shade lovers. But the majority of the Astilbe plants are quite expected shade of green. Some, such as 'Fanal' Astilbe do have dark red veins that give them a heightened decorative effect in the garden. How about Spruce Blue foliage for a new source of color variation?

Introducing Astilbe 'Delft Lace' whose leaves have a silvery blue overlay that gives it a unique look and added excitement as a seasonal garden player.


Sunday, August 17, 2008

Gardening with Lucky

Image: Creative Commons License

There are times when one wishes they had not made such good friends with a bird. The term birdbrain takes on an entirely new meaning. Like the day I made the new raised planting bed on the north side of the deck.

There I was peacefully playing in the fresh, dark soil and minding my own business. The planting was now down to the half flat of Begonias I saved to fill in the outside corner. Suddenly a flapping of rusty red wings plopped an eight pound body with skinny green legs in the midst of my activity. Damn bird! She was squashing two of my just installed Begonias.

"Lucky! Get out of here ... go on now."

Of course she stood firm, craning her neck around and surveying the scene. I know what her next move is before it has entered that pea sized brain. There is nothing red here so she is about to start digging for her favorite wiggling delicacy. An activity that will not end until she hits the hard ground below. There are no grubs in my just screened soil.

"Shoo! Get!"

I was rewarded with the evil chicken eye. A swiveling head motion that puts their profile face first and places that beady eye up close and personal above your nose. At times the evil eye is comical, but not while the miniature dinosaur is crushing my flowers. She was testing her authority to the limit.

I gently pushed her aside to move her off the broken little plants. But ol' Luck was not in the mood to be told what to do right then, and commenced to digging. The soil she removed was settling over all the little Begonias. At a furious pace, I might add - I no longer wonder why chickens have such sharp edged toes. Those feet work like prehistoric rototillers with a miffed pea brain is minding the controls.

Having had enough of her brand of help, I pushed her off the end of the bed. It wasn't but 8 inches to the grass so I wasn't worried about hurting her. This strategy only served to set the imperious Queen Lucky's feathers on end.

One should use caution when dealing with the head of the hen house. She had more power than any of those cocky roosters. No one, or should I say no bird, stood up against her. I, however, am farther up the totem pole and reserve the right to stop her from time to time.

Shall we say that we weren't seeing eye to eye right then? If you think that chickens have no expressions, then you have never lived in close proximity to them. She stood on the grass almost shaking with anger over her unseating from a moment of industrious glee. Wee little mind that she had, the decision was instantly reached as to the next strategic move should be.

She jumped right back up there next to me and pecked a hole in the back of my hand. Having had the final word in a one sided argument, she drew herself up with all her lofty airs and strutted away like the Queen of England. While I sat there cussing her feathered behind as the wound began to bleed.

Lucky was normally my pal and followed me everywhere. She was actually mad at me. Refusing to keep company with me for weeks. If she saw me coming - she ran the other way. If I tried talking to her when I did get close, she stuck her head in the air and dramatically marched away.

Snubbed by a chicken - can you imagine? What an uppity old broad! She may rule the hen house, but she wasn't in charge of me. Tit for tat, I began ignoring her completely. After a couple of weeks, she must have decided to let the loss of a power struggle slide. She returned to being friendly and placing herself in the middle of any activity that involved in digging in the dirt.

It was rather hard to dig a hole with her around. If you were walking with a shovel, Lucky would come screaming from any direction to help you uncover what lay below. Somehow she figured out that the implement meant there was assistance in uncovering juicy white grubs. If you think digging a hole is hard, try doing it with a big chicken jumping in and out of the hole. Don't stop - she'll attack your feet and untie your shoes.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Commonality Highs and Lows

What do stars and flowers have in common?

They both rise out of darkness and shed light on the world.

They come in different colors.
They are brilliant.
Some are single and others arranged in clusters.
Both are a symbol of great tradition.
They are treasured.
No matter how small they are, someone is enchanted by them.
They appeal to young and old.
Both can speak volumes to us without saying a word.
The world would be dreary without them.
They help us to tell time without a clock or calendar.
When their days of glory ends, each falls to the ground.
Both are a mystery man seeks to solve.
They appeal to young and old.
They mark the passing of the seasons.
Yet one is born of soil and the other of elevations unseen.
So very different with many similar traits.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Future Plant Scoop

Guilty Gardener ... Garden Scoop

World's First
Double Orange Coneflower

Presenting Echinacea purpurea 'Hot Papaya'
Image Courtesy of Plants Nouveau

Moy caliente! Talk about hot a hot tamale ... this is one beautiful bloomer. Direct from the breeding artistry of Arie Blom. This is the man who brought us Pink Double Delight and Lime Coconut Echinacea. He has more new coneflower introductions just waiting to come on board too. Impeccable breeding lines is what is behind the performance and stability found in all of his Cone-fections