All the Pretty Little Flowers 4: The Residents

Now we’ve talked a lot about how important wildflowers are in general for all kinds of lovely critters, so here they are.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Teensy tiny bees. The flower has at most a diameter of 15-20 mm. The bee is the size of my pinky finger nail.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

A very fat fly. Probably one of those that try to eat us alive.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

This one dressed all up for the occasion.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Yes, there’s also spiders.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

And pretty birds ;)

All the Pretty Little Flowers 3: The Downstairs

Poor PZ is still mowing his lawn. Around here Mr regularly sighs “I need to mow the lawn and then we do something else. I like that. I think we will make some hay later in summer in preparation of the degus. For now it’s a pretty wilderness.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Though we should not use that area for feed as there are many raspberries starting their career there right now.

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All the Pretty Little Flowers 2: The Slopes

As you may recall, our house is built on pretty steep terrain. The ground floor windows in the front are the first floor in the back. From there you have another treeish metres height difference to the garden. last year we had the stairs remodelled, since the old ones were rapidly becoming accidents waiting to happen. The slopes on either side are still steep and this year we started to stabilise the left hand side so we can put a lamppost on top.

The small area created at the top has been sown with “butterfly meadow” and “wildflower mix”. You can buy these seed mixes easily in Germany as many people are trying to bee more friendly. I also always toss a few handful on the rest of the area, which remains in pretty disarray.

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The dark side of the pumpkin patch. That area is more or less permanently in shade and this year we just didn’t have the nerve to look for something that would thrive there after the slugs ate the first round of plants. Suggestions welcome. But you can see the structure well.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

The pumpkin/squash/courgette patch. they are coming along nicely with several promising plants already. Only I never know what is what. You can also see the bane of my gardening existence: Horsetail. A plant that survived the dinosaurs. Common gardening advice is “nuke it from orbit”. It spreads through rhizomes that are also very fragile and will snap quickly so you’ll never get them all out. But you can make some wonderful fertilizer out of it: put the plants into a bucket with water and let it rot. Stinks like hell, but 100% organic, free and efficient.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

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All the Pretty Little Flowers 1: The frontyard

Pz has been raging and ranting about lawns and lawnmowers and I wholeheartedly agree. It also prompted me to do a bit of bragging about the sheer beauty of not having a lawn. Let’s start with the front yard, which was carefully weeded when we bought the house. Here’s another aspect of those lawn and front yard regulations: To keep them up to “standards” you need time to do it or money to hire somebody else to do it. I quickly reduced weeding to an absolute minimum. Nobody touches a dandelion in MY front yard. One thing that happened quickly was that wild strawberries overtook most of the ground. They do many things at once:

First, they protect the ground from drying out.

Second, they provide flowers for pollinators.

Third, they taste so good.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

In spring I built a plant tower in an empty space that had previously been occupied by some useless evergreen bush that got thankfully eaten by caterpillars. I also planted some regular strawberries there.

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Guarded by my little dragons

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M

If you want to make bees happy, plant lavender. It will also make you happy. Lavender is low maintenance, just cut off the dry stalks in autumn and ok with dry weather. I don’t know if it can survive Minnesota winters.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Probably no German frontyard is complete without a hydrangea. They are lovely, but high maintenance (needing much water, cutting, right ground) and absolutely no good for insects. Like most plants here they are a leftover from the previous owner. I figure that with so many bee friendly plants around I can afford a couple that only look nice.

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I have no idea about most of the plants that grow here. They were already well established when we moved in. Some of them have already bloomed long ago. I basically get flowers from March to October.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Also one corner has been taken over by some wildflowers. I like them, the insects like them. We’re good.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Oh, and btw, the next door neighbour has a lawn (I’m not criticising her, she’s 90 and still living all alone). It’s a sad brown area right now and the grass always creeps into my yard which means that I have to do the weeding there.

Mushroom Hunt Pictures – Roadside Desert

Death and destruction on the roadside. A parched strip of land, baked by the sun in the summer, destroyed by salt runoff in winter. But silverweed endures and sends its creeping stolons across it.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

I did not notice the dead moth until today. But it fits the scenery just fine.

Mushroom Hunt Pictures – Larch Cones

Larches do not throw off just the cones, but whole twigs. So during a dry spell, the forest floor under larches is just like a huge tinderbox just waiting to burst into flames. That may be one reason why larches also have very thick bark that is capable of resisting flames for quite a long time, similarly to the bark of for example sequoias or cork oaks.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Jack’s Walk

A mayapple masquerading as the sun. ©voyager, all rights reserved

I’m confused. I posted a Jack’s Walk yesterday (July 8/20) that has disappeared. I’m sure it was published, and I’m pretty sure that Jazzlet made a comment, but it’s all gone, and I can’t find it anywhere. It was about Bubba getting older, and this photo topped it. Did anyone see it, or was I just dreaming? It shows up in my stats for yesterday, but when I try to open it, all I get is error 404 – not found. It isn’t in drafts or under my published articles, and I don’t have my rough copy any longer. It’s all very strange, and I have no idea how to get it back.

No matter, really. It was just me trying to say hello and explain that Jack and I are having fewer adventures because it’s been bloody hot, and Jack’s activity tolerance is low. What I wanted to say but didn’t is that I’ve been reluctant to write this column because it seems silly when I look at the state of the world. I should be writing about racism, police violence, the rise of fascism, the pandemic or a host of other important issues, but anything I say would only be opinion. There are many talented writers here at Freethought Blogs who understand the issues so much better than me and write brilliantly about them. I feel honoured to be among them but suffer from a bit of imposter syndrome.

When I joined Caine’s team in 2016, my goals were simple – help a friend and share my love of nature and dogs. After Caine died, it also became essential to me to hold together the community she created and to keep her legacy alive. That is still my focus, and I’ve been thinking that perhaps a bit of happy patter might be welcome for a few readers who want a quick respite from the weight of the world. So, silly or not, Jack and I will continue to share our small adventures and hope that they don’t disappear again.

Bubba says hi and wants me to tell you that “it’s the heat, not my age that has me slowed down.” I hope he’s right because he’s my bubbly, bubbly Bubbs.

Jack’s Walk

A mayapple masquerading as the sun. ©voyager, all rights reserved

Well, hello there. It’s been a while since Jack and I were here, and we hope you’ve all been keeping well. I don’t know about the weather where you are, but ours has been hellishly hot and dry. It’s been difficult for Jack to get exercise because he still has a lot of hair to shed, despite daily brushing and he overheats quickly. Mostly, though, he’s just getting old. My Bubba is 12 now, and this summer, for the first time, I see the weight of those years hanging on him. He’s slower, fatigues quickly, and he’s lost his delightful prancing gait.

Despite the physical changes, Jack’s attitude remains cheerful, and he still wants to play and go for adventures. I’ve been worried, though, that he couldn’t make it all the way around any of our trials, so we’ve been taking shorter walks just around the block. This helps meet Jack’s physical needs, but not his emotional ones, so this morning I got up at the crack of dawn, fed Jack, packed a large thermos of water and a smaller one of coffee, grabbed my camera and keys and took the boy out to Trillium Woods. That’s a 1 km looped trail with several benches along the path, and it’s Jack’s favourite walk. The entire route is shaded by giant trees, and I crossed my fingers that Bubba could make it from bench to bench and back to the car, and he did! We went slowly and took water at each bench stop, but Jack really struggled to make it up the hill at the end of the trail. We stopped twice for him to catch his breath, and I was getting concerned that bringing him was a bad idea, but one plodding foot after another, Jack finally made it to the top where he beamed with happiness and contentment. Next time, we’ll walk in the other direction, which puts the hilly section at the beginning of the walk, instead of the end. For now, Jack is blissfully sleeping, and I feel like the luckiest mommy in the world because I get to be his mommy.