Sunday, July 15, 2018

Rain - Helas, lI ne pleuvait pas sans cesse ici.

We are way behind in rainfall and I've resorted to watering - a lot - on the barren ground left after Gentner worked on the bluff. Most of the grass seed fried in the sun  but at least the hardy weed seeds seem to have germinated and grown. I'm hoping they can hold the soil even though their roots have not yet penetrated deep - - that's if we ever get rain again. Not to water would be a catastrophe. Watering will be expensive but must be done, eh?

The Huron to Mackinaw sailboat race was supposed to be this weekend. I think Saturday was cancelled due to lack of wind (and maybe dense fog). Today was much the same and I don't know if it was a go or not. See the fog in the first shot below. Clicking on photos will enlarge them.

Recently we were in Bad Axe and saw a sign shop so had two signs made for the buildings here. In college French I read Candide and fell in love with Voltaire. He might approve. We picked up the signs later Jon and Tracy hung the signs last weekend.

Speaking of Sans Souci, this bluebird taps gently on the windows, Disney-like, waking up the Parlangelis. I love this bird!! Normally they wake up and are ready for the day around noon-ish. Sigh.

Cedar Waxwing

One of the very first wildflowers I identified was Deptford Pink (Dianthus armeria) and I've loved it ever since. Obviously a member of the carnation family (Dianthus), it jhas self-sown into a nice patch. Although the plants are leggy and grass-like, I still love the tiny flowers.

Finally my pale cream hollyhocks are volunteered in a perfect spot. Now if they can be convinced to stay there instead of volunteering and roaming around the yard. Dating myself, my mother hated hollyhocks because they were ubiquitous around the outhouses of her childhood in Ypsilanti. I have no prejudice against them. These breed true which I actually like.

 Christine sent me these poppy seeds last winter. Planted all over the yard, they did the best in this spot. Great annual plants! Thank you Christine.


Astilbe & Hosta


Friday, July 6, 2018

Friday, July 6, 2018

The hole-in-a-tree builders have been busy on the rather tall stumps I purposely have left for them to nest in. There are several species of woodpeckers and also the chickadees and their allies that regularly use my "worthless" tree stumps. Clicking on photos will enlarge them.

The white Swiss Alpine strawberries have reached their peak just in time for the Fourth. They will continue to produce berries all summer and into the fall even but their big crop comes just about this time every year. Birds ignore the white berries. The plants are runnerless although they can be divided, but why bother when they are super easy to grow from seed. I squash over-ripe berries into the ground leave them alone for a few weeks and, voila, many new baby plants..

Over the years I have often thought these short (about two feet tall) ground covering plants in my north forest have flowers that look like honeysuckles but I've never keyed them out. I like them because they cover the rough clayey soil keeping it relatively cool and somewhat moist. Because they are not unattractive, people have often asked me what they are and I've been unresponsive - because I didn't really know. Until now. I believe they are northern bush honeysuckles. While not exactly what I would call a bush, they are woody.

The mock oranges have flowered and they do indeed have a faint, very faint orange blossom smell. Lovely but delicate.

Peas are virtually a one-crop veggie; planted early in the spring, they all seem to come in at the same time. Are they worth doing? Absolutely. Nothing beats the taste of fresh garden peas in the late spring or early summer. Mine were late this year perhaps because of lousy spring weather this year. Climate change? I know you can grow the edible pod pea types but they don't really compare taste wise, do they. They're good, just not as good as and they lack that "pea flavor" in my opinion.

I found this growing in a nice lady's back yard and adopted a division for myself. I know it as Inula others call it elecampane. It looks shaggy almost like it needs a nice trim, eh? This is its second year and it looks like it's about three or four feet tall. Nice.

The pale pink color of marsh mallows reminds me of the Canada mints we used to eat when I was a kid. It's, not surprisingly, a relative of other mallows like hollyhocks, zebra striped mallows, hibiscus, rose of sharon, etc. They don't seem reliably perennial but do at least seed themselves if you watch at their base for the cotyledons and early leaves of young plants.

A double heliopsis

Sweet Peas

I did not realize I had so many kinds of campanula.  I like them all but one has to be careful because they can be invasive.

My reliable, hardy, self-seeding, perennial foxglove (Digitalis ambigua - ambigua because maybe it's not a "real" foxglove? Who knows. Regardless, it's the only one I like because it is so trustworthy therefore unlike the more common foxgloves.  They, the common foxgloves, come in many colors but are temperamental. In my garden plants have to be tough enough to withstand dogs, weeds, drought, neglect, and still thrive. Ambigua is always cream colored. Look at that amazing plant.

I've been watering the grass seed scattered on the bare earth left by the Gentners. It's been about three weeks without any rain here. That's not good for the tender seedlings that are trying so hard to survive the sun, heat, and dry soil. Right now the "weed" seedlings seem to have the edge over the grass seedlings. I don't care as long as the soil might have some protection from the gully-washing rains - when they come.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Canine Health Information Center

CHIC, Canine Health Information Center, is a storage research center for dogs' health information. CHIC is a branch of the OFA

Currently CHIC is storing three 'facts' about our dogs: - a blood sample from each participating dog, plus CERF, Canine Eye Registration Foundation, eye test results, and the hip dysplasia results from either the OFA, Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, or the PennHIP, University of Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program.

It may be several dog-generations before more information is discovered about some of the genetic issues and problems our dogs face.

The hope is that we can learn about the genes that control juvenile cataracts, hip dysplasia, and other issues facing Icelandics.

Even though it may be years before we can get useful information, we can start now working on some of the problems our breed may face.

We know that a few of our dogs carry one hidden recessive gene that results in juvenile cataracts. Those dogs are perfectly normal, they do not have juvenile (early onset) cataracts. They can pass that hidden gene on to half of their offspring - all of which will not develop juvenile cataracts. However, those dogs, those carrier dogs should not be bred with other carriers because 25% of their puppies will eventually develop cataracts. (Cataracts can be fixed by veterinary ophthalmologists but the operation is expensive.) Breeding carriers to safe dogs saves their other "good" genes and continues to add diversity to our gene pool.

We have been told by the University of Pennsylvania how to increase hip health. Many breeders are listening to their advice.

They advise us to breed dogs with poor hip test results to dogs with better hips. In that way we will have improved the puppies' hip scores, improved the breed's overall average hip scores and, importantly, we will have kept the diversity which will be so important to future breeders for the continued good genetic health of our dogs.

N.B. - I do the hips (PennHIP -University of Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program) and eye tests for my adult  dogs (hips and eyes) and for their puppies (eyes). I do save the test results; I don't send them to the CHIC. I approve of what they do; it's just one too many hoops for me though. I highly recommend the PennHIP over the more familiar OFA - Orthopedic Foundation for Animals.)
( and )

Reducing Erosion

Jay and Martin Gentner finished and left. The ravine exists no more and in its place is a drain and pipes covered by an enormous amount of soil (three layers) leading to the beach. The slope is steep, not for walking. Hopefully greenery will grow soon and reduce rain runoff. It's too sharp an incline to mow. All the trucks and men are gone except for this one vehicle. Clicking on photos enlarges them.

Looking west towards the house.

Looking east towards Lake Huron. There are several piles of trees and shrubs removed to make way for the changes. I'm not sure how I'm going to deal with them - yet. If you look closely you can see the coarse gravel path leading from the bluff to the beach. Three separate and thick layers of fill were used:  first clean heavy soil, then a layer of clay, and finally what they called topsoil.

The garden continues to amaze and delight.
A quiet place in the sun or shade!
Rosa rugosa

Rosa rugosa

 The "vernissage" (varnishing) is the unofficial opening of an art show the day before the official opening - friends and family only.

Weigela - volunteered seedling

"Joy doesn't ever leave you, you know. It's always with you. And one day you'll find it again." Bury Your Dead - Louise Penny

Mullein -self seeded

"She sounds like an emotional vampire - someone who sucks others dry. We're in their presence and come away drained." Louise Penny

Another Campanula

Peace, perfect peace.