Monday, June 30, 2014

Rain Makes the Corn Grow.......

Off to the east of our house is the plot of corn.  Beyond that is another plot of corn. It is corn and not soybeans as I had imagined last year.  The corn on the hill looks taller than this field here in the foreground.  Knee high by the fourth of July is an old saying that means the progress should be that tall by then if the corn will make it to harvest.  This corn will be chest high by the fourth of July.  Our sweetcorn crops in this area are way behind schedule as the soil was slow to warm up this spring. The sweetcorn should be ready this season about a week or two after the fourth of  July.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

More Apples......

I am sharing a newer photo of apples on my tree. I was shooting the wren at the birdhouse and notice these two guys were coming into focus.  I noticed a lot of little apples on the ground under all three of my trees but there are apples still on the trees.  There is a much smaller amount compared to last years harvest but there are some on there. I will need a ladder to reach most of them this year.

I remember reading an article a few years back where some orchards actually thin out their apples so the ones left will get larger.  I think all the wind and hail and heavy rain has done that for me.  I have yet to see a pear on the tree but I haven't look too hard but maybe will in the future.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Rained On and Rained Out........

After a  while it just becomes too much rain.  We are getting another rain this Saturday afternoon as our wet soil needs to be redampened. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Friday's Folly.........

The first of my Asiatic lilies has bloomed.  It is nice to see them this year and there will be more to come.

The white hardy geranium showed itself a couple of days ago.  It took a hard hit with 3.4 inches of rain. It looked really beat up but today it is coming back.  The new petunias that I bought really didn't come back well so the newer blooms will have to replace the waterlogged blooms.

We created enough juice from the bush cherries to make two batches of jam. We had 7 cups of juice from the large bowl of cherries.

 I worked today finally finished the painting of the principals office with battleship gray.  I stayed longer at work today because I could see that I would be finished.  It is good to get it done.

Back to the jelly job, we made the two batches of jelly resulting in the pinging of the lids while I blog. We had to do it this afternoon after spending last evening traveling to three stores to find canning lids. Ace Hardware had them and the other two stores had tokens of things to use for jelly making. We had 5 pint jars of jelly and 6 jelly jar sizes of the sweet goodness.  We give jelly away and we didn't have enough of the smaller jars as they don't always come back to us.  The pint jars are a good size for our use at home and the smaller jars are good for sharing.

Well it is late for me to get this posted but it has been a long day.  I knew I had some pictures to share so while the chicken is being fried and the potatoes boil for me to make mashed potatoes, I am using my time efficiently. It makes me really hungry to smell the chicken cooking and that will be done soon.  Thank you for stopping in today. 

Late in the Day Posting on Friday........

It is suppose to be an orange petunia.  It was one of my cheap buys that I put into a patio container.  Right after I planted it we started getting rain.  Then yesterday we also received more rain at the amount of 3.4 inches.  Today it rained all day but in small amounts.  Where we live we don't have to worry about flooding but all the people living near the Des Moines river will be in trouble.  Our lake near here. Saylorville Lake,  is expected to use its overflow system which is a rare thing to do.  I think I blogged last year pictures of the dam with the water being very low from the drought.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Wren at Work.......

The house is in use this year with the wren coming and going quickly to feed her young.  I hope they like moths as she picked it up from the apple tree right next to the shed.

The house was put up to be decoration as I thought the hole looked too small for a bird.  A student at school had made it and then tossed it into the dumpster after it had been graded.  I painted the roof of the house and nailed it together with some bigger nails as it was a little flimsy.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Bush Cherries........

I was surprised to see cherries on the limbs. I was sad because I have to pick them but I am glad we can make jelly out of them.  It is a bush cherry that I picked up for a small amount of money.  The cherries are actually more seed than cherry pulp.  We squeeze the juice out of them and they make great jelly. 

In the never ending saga of these two bushes, I was going to cut them down this year. They produced for a few years, died out a couple of years back and now they survived the winter with their new growth. I will be picking this morning with the mosquitoes and cool weather. I will keep you up to date.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Sunny Day.......

I tend to go out to shoot pictures in the late afternoon or evening.  The sun to the right of me means late afternoon will give me more dramatic shots.  This hydrangea revived from the freeze and the section that lived is filled with blooms. The other plant is coming up from its roots and will bloom next year.  I learned yesterday that this is called a mop head kind of hydrangea.  I have another one that is called, I also learned, a lace capped hydrangea.  That one is up to the test as to whether it will bloom this year or not.  We will see.

I am having trouble with my readers list.  For the past few days it shows only one reader that I follow and not the dozen or so that usually is there. It won't let me open see more menu. So I am not keeping up with everybody's comment.  I am catching up on some off my own blog site listing but the master one is not there.  I tried to manage it and it is not letting me in to work on that.  It says that there is trouble and check back later to see if things are better.   I will keep trying.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Birch Bark...........

All seasons make the birch tree to be a real show stopper.  I dug it from the ditch of a property that I owned years ago in Minnesota.  When I planted it, the size of the tree was about five foot tall.  That had to be in the late 70's and I put it in the corner of my yard to be a show tree viewed at the corner of a T intersection. .  All these years later it really has become a wonderful specimen tree.  It is the only birch tree in town of its kind even though a friend of mine bought three clump birch trees to duplicate the look in his yard.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Seeing Green.........

Our hard frost in early spring took out the blooms on most of the fruit trees here in our area.  It affected the trees before they started to bloom.  I was disappointed to see so few of blooms when they were suppose to be blooming.  Fortunately I will welcome this survivor of that frost.  Actually there were two apples up there at the top of the tree but the second one is behind a leaf.  

As a photographer I have never taken a shot looking straight up in the air before I did this one.  The tree has received plenty of rain this spring and right now as I post this blog we are getting another good shower.  The ground will eventually dry out and I will wish it would rain again but for now I am getting tired of it. 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Hen and Chicks..........

A new purchase from a shopping spree last week still has not been put into the ground.  Rain storms and being at work has caused that not to happen.  Of course when it is not raining it is extremely hot and I don't want to be out there.  My last years plant like this was planted late in the summer so when the weather got so cold it just was frozen and killed.  I am planting earlier in the season and I can see some of those chicks being planted in different places in the garden. I suspect that it will be planted today.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Roses are Pink......

While clearing a garden area I ended up clipping some of the roses by mistake. The stems were dead looking but were sprouted out and budded on the very end. I ended up with an old fashion flower arrangement because I was cutting them by mistake. I also had one of Della's rose painting in the background when I snapped the photo.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Secret.........

I had the camera sitting in front of a cooling vent of our air conditioner.  I went out into the high heat and humidity and before I could even notice I snapped with my lens fogged over with moisture. This is the rose named "Peace" that bloom yesterday.  It has been very hot and humid for quite a few days and today we had a heavy rain with thunder and lightening. 

I am late blogging today as I was sipping my morning cup of coffee and got called in to work. I don't mind subbing for janitors as long as it stays only two or three days a week. I took the rest of my coffee in a thermos to work.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Bud and Bloom..........

I have had this hardy rose for a few years.  It did not freeze out like three other roses did.  It always has dead stems over the winter and it keeps coming back.  I really thought I had lost it but it pokes its new stems up among the vinca plants and here is its first bloom.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

After the Storms........

I finally trimmed back the red twig dogwood.  My wife helped me and we reduced the size of it by half.  The shrub had overgrown into our flowering area and most things there had died.  Now we have a blank garden area with no flowers.  We picked some petunias a couple of days ago and we haven't planted them yet but you can see they are peaking out of the bag reminding us to get them into the ground.  We had a bad thunderstorm last night and the ground may be too wet to plant today.  I will wait until the afternoon  to see if the area will be dry enough to be planted.  We are to get up to 92 degrees today and again have new storms  promised for tonight. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Creeping and More Creeping.......

The creeping bluebell is very invasive.  I like it and I assume it is an old established plant that farmhouses and city house of the past century used as foundation plantings. They shared it with neighbors just like they shared the white hydrangea.  It wouldn't cost anything as it spreads quickly and would fill in foliage for most of the summer.  I had it at the back of the house when I bought the place.  I tried to remove it and as you can see it still grows anyway.  I started some in the front of the house, the north side, and it blooms a week or so later.  Well know writers of garden books tell its readers not to plant it.

Sunday, June 15, 2014


Winter kill destroyed half or more of this planting but the ones that are left are looking good.  I took a wheel barrow full of dead stems away from the two plantings and it looks so much better.  The one shrub that was frozen out is now starting to shoot stems up from the base.  This is the very first bloom that has opened its white flowers.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Aronia Berries.........

The aronia berry bush seems to enjoy all the weather we are having. It has bloomed and now put forth lots of fruit.  I have never tasted the fruit but I understand that it is very sour.  I have the one plant that was given to  me by the neighbor so that I can grow fruit for her.  Her three bushes have done well and I usually pick them and take them over to her when they are  ripe.

Friday, June 13, 2014


A big surprise in my garden also was the sight of this out in the garden.  All the iris in that area had bloomed and were already spent for the season.  I drove into the driveway on Wednesday returning home and there it was poking its bloom up from among all the foliage.  I had shared this earlier on my Creative Zone posting but I just liked the photo so much and the colors of this old fashion iris that I thought I would just share here too. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A Surprise in my Garden..........

I went through my blue gate to go out into the west end of my property.  As I closed the gate I had a camera in one hand and a bucket in the other.  I turned and shut the gate behind me and there on the trellis sat a young bluejay.  He really wasn't scared of me as I put the bucket down and worked quickly to get  the camera up and running.  He sat there for a few shots then scurried away along the fence to travel on to somewhere away from me.  It was such an unusual experience and to have the camera with me was so great. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Ash Tree Lives.......and the Cicadas Too.

The ash tree in my backyard was very slow to put out leaves this spring.  I was convinced that it had gotten the ash bore and was dead.  As you can see it is very much alive.  The preventative cycle in our state and surrounding states it to go ahead and cut it down.  I guess the philosophy is that get a new tree started as it is going to eventually die anyway.

It is crawling with locusts cicadas.  I guess the 17 year locusts cicadas lay their eggs in the bark of the tree.  The eggs grow some and fall to the ground as larvae.  The burrow down and live off of the roots of the tree for 17 years.  I have decided to shed my southern Iowa ignorance about the name.

We as southern Iowans don't have the benefits of higher education as there is out east.  Generations have called them locusts in the rural area as they are invasive just like the locusts of grasshoppers. It is a common language thing as everyone calls them locust but they are not locust.  I have decided that the locust we had in the fall each year while growing up are also not locusts either but they too are cicadas.  Anyway I hope I live out the next few years corrected even though they were always called locusts in my neck of the woods all of my life.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Invasion of the Locust..........I Mean Cicadas.

They are everywhere.  I can watch them come out of the ground and crawl up the trees.  They are also crawling out of the garden soil and moving onto the plants.  This 17 year Locust convention shows just a few of what is going on out there.  I remember seeing the first time in my lifetime back in 1963. The wave of a buzzing sound continue most of the day with so many of them making their sounds.

A second photo as a bonus today showing the one locust on a daylily.  The shells of two locust who shed their skins hang on the leaves and the two have left to go sing in the trees.

Check out my next blog to read about my uneducated confusion about the names of these insects. They will be call cicadas the rest of my life.  Explanation will be given for my confusion.

Monday, June 9, 2014


This is a new peony in my garden that actually is an old one transplanted one from my wife's home place. We believe it probably was first planted by my wife's grandmother.  I moved them to our property three years ago and some of them are now blooming for me for the first time.

This is another view of the same flower. It isn't as red as the one that I have from my grandmother Brooks but it is a new color for our garden.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Sunday's Shot.........

The last of the clematis is shown here. The white petals of the others are laying on the grown like giant snowflakes.  The vine put out a lot of great flowers this spring and the rains really never seem to weather them or damage them. The weathered wood you see on the garden gate in which the vine grows photographs well.  Unfortunately the weathering reveals to me that I will have to rebuild everything as most of the wood was not weather treated wood.  I had recycled lumber from different projects in order to build the blue gate area.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

In Deep Thought......

I made repairs on my angel boy and I moved the bench back to where it originally had been. I see I have a leaning problem with my bricks but I can fix that.  I hope the rains don't unglue my angel as he had an accident at the end of the year requiring lots of glue. He spent the winter with his repair on the inside. He will get his first rain experience this morning as the thunder has already begun.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Three Shots Today ..........

We all know that the weather makes the difference from a good photo to a great photo. I was having a hard time getting a good shot of this as it was cold and windy and the falls would always be rolled under on the edge.  Finally I caught a day when it was calm and warmer and the iris was displaying itself perfectly.  This is one of my cemetery iris of my collection of iris.  My photos seem to make it look like I had a great show of flowers this year but I did not.  I have tried to get close up shots of the few and I am glad I can view those as they are mostly  gone now except for one other planting.

This is the only iris that I had this year that bloomed like a normal year with dozens of blooms.  It too is a cemetery iris that is small in stature but great with color.  The line marking three of these on the falls are really similar in design.

Here is a repeat showing of this one so you can see the line pattern on the fall parts of it.  They are all three similar even though the white one just shows lines and not color differences. Three photos on a photo a day blog.  I think that is my record number of shots on this blog.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

River Birch Bark......

I have been flooding you with flower shots so I decided to share some bark on my tree.  I bought the river birch thinking it was a clump birch and I am so glad I made the mistake.  I gave one to my neighbor and I kept this one.  It is a wonderful specimen tree that looks so great in my orchard area.  I like how it peals back bark continually as it grows.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Bud to Bloom........

This is a very hardy rose as it didn't hesitate to green up and start budding after the winter it had gone through.  It did set closer to the south side of the house so the frost line of 40 inches or more may not of been in that area.  I believe this is called a multiflora rose but don't quote me on that as I am not very educated about roses.  I do know now that I can trim it back after that last bloom an it immediately puts out new buds.  You can see that the bloom has a little damage on some of its petal which I assume was the hail storm that hit it a few weeks ago. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Flag Iris.....

I moved the plant out into the sun last year and it did pay off as I did get two blooms.  The main plant that is still in the shade isn't going to bloom.  Once I am certain that the non blooming one isn't being late I will lift the two plants in the shade and find a better spot for them also in the sun.  I am still learning as an old gardener.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Rose Blooms.....

Next to the garden shed is the rose "William Baffin" that seems really happy with our spring weather.  It rained again yesterday evening so the ground is wet this morning.  It is too wet for me to get out there and do anything. You might wonder about the string that is in the picture.  I really don't know what it was for and will check it out today.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Flowers and Foliage Today.......

I wanted to share this white spider with you today.  It just happens to be on one of my favorite flowers. My camera picked it up right away and zoomed in on showing me that it was sitting on the fall of the iris.

A bonus photo today as I am getting more pictures taken than I will ever use up with only one photo a day.  The inside hardy geranium is loving being outside in the sun.  The foliage on a geranium is as decorated as the flower head itself.

Having found that this blog didn't get posted yesterday and sat in a draft form,  I will post it on top of my Sunday's post.


The rains are coming off and on but they only last a few minutes.  The iris take on a shimmering look as they react to the moisture.  This iris in the commercial world is called "Superstition." Other companies who sell the copied variety call it the "Black Iris."   It really is darkest when it is in the bud stage but as you can see many colors reflect off of it surface. It turns to more of a purple as it ages. I had given a start of this to my parents many years ago and I had kept one from the package.  Mine eventually died out from to much moisture. I retrieved a start from the parent's home and am back into business growing it.  It is a hybrid that really does grow in a circular pattern with the base of the plant growing from a center point leaving an empty spot on the ground in the middle.