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

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

$100 Tomato Recipe

Free Plants and A Claim To Fame!
How's your culinary arts? Have you heard that you can win $100 for the best recipe using garden fresh tomatoes?

Better hurry and send your most scrumptious secrets to fine tomato cuisine! You can only enter the contest until August 27th.

The winner gets $100 Gift Certificate from Park Seed. Plus, the winning recipe and all of their other favorites will be published on

Read the full press release here at Park Seed!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Pandora ... Global Giving

Do you know about Pandora? Its a wonderful place for your personal music radio station. You pick a style of music and select what songs they play you like and which ones you don't and the programming customizes your station to your personal taste.

It's FREE! It is the Music Genome Project so anyone can use it free of charge. I love this site, its what I clean my house by. Pandora is all about global giving. Free music without commercial interruption. No dreaded newscasts to spoil your mood. Just the best music anytime you turn it on 24/7 - 365 days a year.

You can setup a station totally dedicated to one artist too. Pandora has thought of everything one would want to do to create your own favorite music station. Imagine never a discordant note, no matter how long you have it turned on.

Join Pandora and voted on the best of some fabulous artists work to help choose the 2nd annual Pandora Poster. I thought you would enjoy these beautiful garden related designs. One of these talented people or another who has submitted an entry for the $500 cash prize if their piece is voted best by the majority.

You can even get your stations on select cell phones with service from Sprint or AT&T.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Well - I Feel Better Now

From the mouths of those who have authority, we find reason to elect the more common person to fill these roles. Vote for me! I would never say anything remotely this stupid. Plus there would be a national grant fund for struggling gardeners everywhere who's annual income is less than $65,000....

"Sure, it's going to kill a lot of people, but they may be dying of something else anyway."
-- Othal Brand, member of a Texas pesticide review board
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
"They gave me a book of checks. They didn't ask for any deposits."
-- Joe Early, Congressman (D-Mass), at a press conference to answer questions about the House Bank scandal
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
"The streets are safe in Philadelphia. It's only the people who make them unsafe."
-- Frank Rizzo, ex-police chief and mayor of Philadelphia
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
"We didn't send you to Washington to make intelligent decisions. We sent you to represent us."
-- Kent York, Baptist minister to US Rep. Bill Sarpalius

Oh yes, and we would not use food grains for biofuel for I am intelligent enough to see the error here. Only recycled water would be allowed for hydrogen powered cars because this step is going to make all of our water cost us $5 a gallon. Don't these people have to take aptitude tests?

Now about that garden grant foundation....

Friday, August 8, 2008

Free Information ... What A Concept!

Hey! USA and Canada readers...

You now have a reasonable fee way of accessing directory assistance on your phone. I know it has not a smidge to do with plants, but that is really good because I am telling you how you can cut down your monthly costs in a way that will actually help you earmark more of your income for buying flowering whatnots! How perfect is that world?

Depending on how you access this revolution to our traditional telephone directory for businesses, the cost can span from absolutely ZERO to a few cents per access. Sprint and Nextel are up to $1.99 per 411 call. I just learned that lil' tidbit today. If Sprint/Nextel has raised the stakes, then Verizon and the crowd is either on board or right behind them.

No more $1 or $2 fees to find who or what you're looking for. Not only that but the service works on any telephone you dial it from. It doesn't matter if its a cell phone or a land line! How's that for putting a dent in the communication market's hit on your pocketbook?

The charge? Normal calling minute fees for the provider and plan that you are on. Oh yeah, its an 800 number so if you are on a land line ... the call is free! FREE INFORMATION with direct connect!

Wondering who of all your information providers could have gone to such wild and unheard of lengths to assist YOU in a less expensive mode of conducting business transactions? Who, drives the information of the entire world?

GOOGLE ... who else? For Minimal to free directory assistance for anything from ordering a pizza to finding a supplier's direct line. Google drives the world! To access your FREE 411 DIRECTORY...

Dial (800) GOOG 411 or (800) 466-4411.

Goggle will someday control corporate America's profits. Isn't that a refreshing thought after a long a grueling work week? AdSense costs THEM money - not poor lil' ole you.

God bless Google and the horse they rode in on. May they make green a whole new color in the common person's rainbow with the bill footed by those whose success is at our expense.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Artic Blast

January in Michigan
Image copyright - Tammy Clayton 2004

Can you feel that chill? Whew - just looking at that snow made me feel better. Lordy, but its hot! Yesterday you could have baked zucchini bread in my truck. Furnace heat whooshed out and 'bout knocked me over when I opened the door. I kid you not. Scorched the back of my legs when I got in there too. If I had been thinking, I would have let the air run for a few minutes before climbing aboard.

The digital thermometer said it was 111 degrees F. Mind you it always drops a bit when I have been driving around for a bit. Oh it dropped down alright to 103! Thats about par for the sensor cooling factor of movement; it changes by five to eight degrees. Of course, in January I will look at this photo in my files and think about how lucky I am not to be up there in that mess.

This particular snowfall in the photo was wonderful. There was no wind and billions of huge flakes were gently . They were so thick the air was blue with them. The perfect snow that piles up on branches, outlining any vertical surface no matter how slim. It wasn't a storm those come in with a sideways twist. This one was just calmly wafting straight down. The kind of snow that blankets the world in a hush.

I remember emailing the photos to my associate out in California at the time. She was aghast that I should have to deal with such a mess. "Mess? What are you talking it about it didn't even drift!" I played that nice little snowfall for three days of freedom in the middle of a work week. Worked like a charm ... though now I am almost as spoiled with weather as she was.

It snowed once here last winter. Well trained stuff in the South, it only piles up on the grass! What a concept - snow with some courtesy. No scraping, no shoveling and no icy buildup on the roads. Excellent why can't it act so well up in the Flatlands? They tell me it used to snow a lot here, claiming sometimes they got up to 6 inches that stayed for a week. SIX INCHES! This is child's play.

Wasn't that fun? I was popping around in blogs for a bit and all I saw was vegetables and pickles being put up and such. Snow looked like it was just the ticket on a 95 degree day. A little something out of the ordinary for August. Eskimo Pie anyone? Snow Cone perhaps? A frozen lolly for Loose? (Its prob'ly not this hot in the UK - or is it?) Time to water the pots and refill my ice cube trays.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Go Green? Rainbow is Better!

Easy Meadow Mix Early
(Image copyright Tammy Clayton 2003)

I always thought that a meadow planted with waves of different blooming perennials would be lovely. That is how Mother Nature clothes the Earth … in sweeps and drifts that grow and spread in the directions the wind and rain sends them. Never in a matched size row, more of a free-formed waft with the older tallest members toward the center and the height diminishes with the youngest beings at the ends. Just like the ocean, where waves rise and fall, a meadow will have high points and low points and change constantly over the days of summer.

One fall, I decided to feed the birds by not deadheading, as I normally would have. The result of this was the discovery of three common garden plants that would lend themselves perfectly to this kind of planting. This created a living bouquet that changed color and shape with the turning of the summer weeks. Left unchecked, the entire area became the most vibrant tangle of bloom power.

The combination of tall Daisies, Purple Coneflower, and Black-eyed Susan will bring a pleasant view from early summer into fall. The daisies start blooming first in late May to early June, depending on your growing zone. Crisp white then intertwines with purple as the Coneflowers begin blooming a few weeks later. When the daisies finish the early flowering period, sunny Black-eyed Susan begins mingling their bold faces with the purple of the Coneflowers. When does the show stop? Black-eyed Susan (also known as Brown Betty) will throw color into early fall. All of these will happily dwell in full sun and low to moderate moisture situations. Many times, the Daisies will put forth a light second bloom in early fall when the weather cools off. This gift will dust the golden Black-eyed Susan display with a smattering of cooling white.

Easy Meadow Mix Late
(Image copyright Tammy Clayton 2004)

All three of these long blooming, hardworking timeless perennials will work well in a rather dry situation once established. These lovely garden staple plants will freely self-sow freely, allowing the planting to thicken and naturalize your wave patterns by blurring the edges over time. These three long blooming meadow dwellers are perennial plants. But why stop here? There are more choices to be had at the candy store!

The addition of spring color would be most welcome to this simple planting scheme. I would use annual wildflower Red Poppies for this early session of flowering, the most beautiful of all wildflowers. This particular poppy variety is sometimes called “Shirley Poppy” or “Flanders Poppy” which is why the American Legion hands them out by the millions near Memorial Day. The appearance of the Red Poppy will be one you will look forward to as each winter ends. These will fade completely from view once the rest of the plants start their seasonal display. Poppies prefer dry feet and bright sunny exposure to perform at their best.

There are many other wildflower plants, both annual and perennial, that will put forth their loveliest face in a meadow planting where little maintenance and low to average water is required. As to how many times a year you need to mow your meadow? Is one time a year an acceptable amount of times to have to perform this chore? In the late fall, after the first frost, you will want to mow to disperse the seeds for next years meadow make-over as well as clean up the brushy appearance that will remain when nature goes to sleep.

What will be there over the cold season? Sweet memories of summer, a treasure that the future holds and will repeat. If everything were constantly in plain sight, what would you have to anticipate? The magic of flowers would dim swiftly if they were always there and never changing. Like beloved old friends, one looks forward to their yearly visit with much excitement. Some of them stay a day or two, others my actually drop by for a couple of weeks once a year. Some will visit a couple of times a year with a spell of absence between. No matter how fleeting their visit, it is something we relish and look forward to repeating for years on end.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Eggstra Green Living

Who needs to use natural gas or electricity to make an egg in August?

To add toast to your snack ...

1) Pre-toast 2 pieces of bread, wrap them dry in tinfoil and pack away in your car with the rest of your supplies.
** For my readers who do not motor so freely about, stow your knapsack or picnic basket on your bicycle to have a protein rich snack handy when you need it. Commuting by train, bus or subway? Such a light weight, no fuss set of equipment could even be stored in your briefcase or tote. Just remember to adequately pad those eggs to reduce fracturing and messy cleanup. Thank you Loose & Leafy for pointing out my error.

2) While your egg is cooking, you can unwrap your toast and add it to your improvised stove surface.

3) Butter your toast when you eggs are almost done.

Cooking Tip: Blacktop or asphalt surfaces are twice as hot as concrete allowing you to save expensive energy on a much cooler summer day.

Better yet -
Grilling Outdoors Without Charcoal or Gas!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Can You Say Compaction?

To my regular readers:
Please pardon my intermittent and odd day posting recently. I have had to put in ridiculous overtime hours of late. Talk about draining a person of the creativity or inspiration to write just one more piece. Bear with me, perhaps the sun will shine again soon. And onto today's topic ...

Autumn Amethyst Encore Azalea
Image copyright - Tammy Clayton 2007

I found some time to catch up with a few of my Blotanical pals today. Thank you Dustin for bringing an important misconception to mind that I have not yet expounded upon.

Compaction should be a four-letter word. Let me paraphrase that ... "rock" is a four-letter word and has much the same meaning. Impervious would also make a good word to fit in with this vein of thought and yet has more than four letters. If you are truly a gardener, then you know that compaction is evil and not good for plants one gardens to be able to enjoy and succeed in growing.

Any gardener worth their weight in soiled activity would never and I repeat NEVER lay down weed barrier over their treasured soil. Landscape fabric - weed barrier, whatever you choose to call it is evil and a sign of laziness. If you don't want weeds that is understandable. No one likes weeds. No one really enjoys the task of weeding when there are so much more wonderful things to be done.

Now I have known people who really do enjoy weeding, but they are few and far between. A scientist who once was a maintenance customer of mine refused to let us weed the beds. I never understood this as we did every other task necessary to keeping their affluent suburban landscape perfect and immaculate on a weekly basis. Why? Because he found it that in this simple laborious task he could easily work out the solution to any daunting problem he dealt with at work. Interesting concept. Weeds are stress reducing aids in sorting out one's thought processes.

Soil that is not allowed to be worked (i.e. scratched, hoed, etc) or accept replenishing humus as it naturally is available becomes tired and worn out. The presence of new twigs as they fall need a way to enter the soil and assist it in creating air passages so beneficial to keeping soil alive. The tunnels created for air also allow water from the rain or your hose to travel where it is useful and absorbed.

Weed fabric denies the soil from any of these beneficial additives. This leads to heavily compacted soil. Have you ever seen a plant thriving on the surface of a rock? Never on the surface, only in a crack between two impervious sections. And you wonder what is wrong with your green thumb? Plenty!

There once was a woman who hired me to design and build a most beautiful and costly perennial garden. We arrived to plant all these wonderful leafy beings and found that under her (tsk. tsk!) 4 inches of "rocking red" mulch lay not one - but TWO layers of landscape fabric. Her husband was hell bent on never having a weed in his yard.

Now I tried to explain to these fine folks that we needed to remove all the mulch and the weed barrier to till up the compacted clay beneath or their plants were not going to do very well. This process was emphatically denied and the garden was planted without being able to any more than cut an X large enough to drill a hole to accommodate the poor thing's root ball at a minimum. We were profusely thanked for the instant beauty and earned a handsome tip on top of the invoice amount.

Two weeks later the Mr. phoned to complain that we had not properly planted half of the plants. He had already fixed our shoddy work and requested I pay him for his time in all fairness. Now, I have never left a job without doing a walk through to make sure it is all done and done right. I informed him of this and refused to pay anything because I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that this could not be farther from true.

The following June, I received a nasty letter from the Mrs. that she expected full compensation for everything in her garden that was missing because it did not live through the winter. Well really. It was mild winter with plenty of snow cover and everything that was planted in her yard was fine and dandy in mine. I fumed in silence for a few days trying to wrap my mind around this mystery.

At first I was convinced the plants were stolen or she decided they had spent too much money. That is until the road grader did the monthly passover on my gravel road. Of course, it rained cats and dogs within hours. The following day I was on my way to town, bumping through the same cursed holes the grader has frosted over. The light bulb of awareness glowed at about 500 watts in my head.

This woman's problem was due to her own ignorance and no fault of mine. So I called them and got the Mr. on the phone to set an appointment for a looksee. He told me it wasn't necessary really and was aghast to learn his wife had sent me this letter. And so we all met up in front of the disaster several hours later.

"Finally decided to come clean and restore your reputation?" Mrs. greeted me.

"Actually, I came here to educate you so that you do not have to go through this kind of disaster in the future." was my reply. And her hair stood on end...

Well the Mrs. stormed into the house and slammed the door so hard the windows rattled. Sheesh, but its hard to teach a pig to fly. However, unbeknownst to me, my competitor had been brought to survey the damage weeks before this day. Mr. was already wise to his error and thoroughly embarrassed by his wife's actions and behavior.

"I really am sorry that you had to come out here today. I tried to get her to see reason, but she insisted you owe her money. I will not let her give you a dime..." and he went on to tell me the rest of the story. The other landscaper had come out and told them already what I knew had happened. The freeze and thaw that happens repeatedly over a Michigan winter had heaved the roots out of the soil and caused the demise and even total dislodging of everything that was missing. Any corpse not present had blown away in the wind.

Compaction is a four letter word! This is why all proper planting instructions say to dig the hole deeper and wider by several inches than the size of the root ball. It is also the number one reason why planting in the fall doesn't work for a lot of people. The frost heaves that plug out exposing the roots to the bitter cold and literally causes death by hypothermia. With a blanket of loose soil to keep those roots insulated, the heaving ground does not harm the roots.

Loose soil and no weed fabric is the proper way to succeed at growing any plant. Scratch the soil around your precious beauties at least once a month to keep the soil loose. Boycott landscape fabric! There is nothing one can truly count on life beyond taxes, weeds and death. We'll talk about stone mulch another day ... someone needs to do the dishes around here.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Improved Flavor

Wednesday is Prince spaghetti day ... (Courtesy of Carolyn Diamond)

Do butterflies grow tired of eating the same old stuff day in and day out too? This one seems to have taken a shine to a little zest of pesto. There is nothing like some variety to spice up one's everyday fare. I bet the same is true of many animals and other forms of wildlife. Why else would rabbits flock to level your garden when all the world abounds in juicy greenery?

The experts who create so many delicious brands of pet food seem to be convinced of this as well. I just saw an ad that proclaimed "Sensory Pleasures" from Friskies. Now if only cats would speak English, we would be able to discover if this were a fact or a human marketing campaign.

Normally, I pay no more attention to the print on my dog's food bag while restocking her larder. I just look for the name of one or the other low priced brands she likes. I hate it when the store has a big sale before I get there. This means both brands will be completely gone and I will be forced to contemplate which is the lesser of the ridiculous prices per 18 pound bag.

This means one takes time to read past the words across the bottom of the bag. Its at moments like this that the on-a-mad-dash consumer is assaulted with the craftily designed packaging and marketing slogans. I never cease to wonder when it comes to the claims of dog food manufacturers.

20% Beefier than ever before!
New Improved Flavor!
Preferred by more Dogs!

Has someone surveyed them? Like are they serious? Dogs will eat road kill for crying out loud! The other day I was faced with having to survey what the vultures had left on the shelf in the dog food aisle. No one else was around me, that aisle was empty. As I stood there eying the least costly brand left in the 18 pound bag and not the misleading 16 pound size for the same price. I spied the words splashed across the photo in Godzilla Yellow ... 30% MORE FLAVOR!

I have a bad habit of talking to myself at times. So I spoke loudly to the inert bag of mysterious nuggets, "Really? Did you taste it to measure the improvement." This was met by a hearty chuckle from behind me. When I turned, the lady who had snuck up on me said, "I have often wondered the same thing."

Now granted, there is a difference in some types of dog food brands over others. The very cheapest off brands of dry pet food are shunned by most of our four footed friends. When barn cats and farm dogs turn their nose up at dinner you know there is something amiss. These critters hunt fresh meat and enjoy road kill on a regular basis. Animals can sense when things are off in the food presented. They will go without for days before they will eat some of the cheapest pet foods you can buy.

Then there are just too wonderful brands like Kibbles & Bits. These induce overeating in dogs that are used to a diet of more sensibly priced brands like Gravy Train. My dearly loved BubbaLoo could go through 18 pounds of Kibbles & Bits in less than 4 days. Sadie was not allowed to eat unless I locked him out of the house to feed her. He demanded more and more until the bag was empty. Dam dog ... I sorely miss him and his 130 pound package of silly slobbery love.

Extra sensory pleasure is not a good thing at times. Bubby acted like a kid on Halloween who could not stop indulging until there was no more chocolate left in the loot bag. The boy ate like a horse as it was - who could afford to keep him in Kibbles & Bits! See these types of pet food lure animals to over eat and are probably part of the reason that creates fat pets.

Either way all this improving the flavor is done for the shopper and not the animal. As long as it tastes edible dogs will eat anything. They can't read the bag and don't understand anything in the commercials beyond the presence of another dog in their house. Fifty percent more flavor my eye! If the dog eats it ... its all good. It is even more wonderful and tasty at $4.00 less per bag.