Saturday, June 27, 2015


Thursday evening I saw "I Hate Hamlet" at the Barn Theater in Port Sanilac; it was their best production this summer! They did an excellent job.

There's a church on the land near the Barn Theater; during intermission the sun set and produced this cool shot.

Waterlilies from my Royal Oak pond

Many years ago I bought some Swiss Alpine runner-less strawberries. They were red but eventually produced some white berries from seeds which is a reliable way to produce more plants. They can also be divided. I moved some white ones up here and have started more from seeds. I prefer the white because the birds don't recognize them as ripe and leave them for me. They are exceptionally good tasting although small. In order to start more plants I have to resist eating the berries. OK, OK! I promise I'll do that soon. The white strawberries reliably produce only new white berry producing plants. The berry below is about the size of your little fingernail but packs a lot of flavor.

My "Wee Hoose"

I discovered variegated leaf geraniums last summer. Even when they are not flowering, I think they are pretty, as pretty as coleus but they also have flowers. These named varieties go back to the 1800's. It has not been warm this summer here; when the heat comes, they will have really nice flowers too. The first three, which the hummingbirds enjoyed last summer, survived the winter in the garage. The last two are new to me this year.


Plants for me are like photo albums are for other people; they bring back memories from my past.

There was a forsythia bush outside the dining room window of my childhood house in Royal Oak. Before every move, I've started new ones and transplanted them. I brought four very small shrubs up to Sans Souci with me; three survived and are starting to grow this summer. (Remember? Sleep, Creep, Leap!) I prefer small plants because I think they make the transition better; plus small ones are a whole lot easier to move and don't usually get set back!

When we moved into our Royal Oak house on 13 Mile, our elderly neighbor had old fashioned species Hosta in his yard. Smith was in his eighties and donated plants for our yard. I think they were Hosta ventricosa and Hosta ventricosa aureomaculata. The latter has variegated leaves in the spring when it first emerges and then gradually the leaves change to solid green. This one (above) is near the end of its transition to solid green. In the old days people called them plantain lilies because they looked like the garden weed. Things change!

For years I tried to grow digitalis - - and failed. They would live a year or two and disappear. The above plants were sold as Digitalis ambigua but I think the name's been changed. Regardless, they self seed easily so they fit my rule: plants have to be tough enough to survive in my yard where the dogs have free run. I prefer long lived perennials or self seeding biennials and perennials.

However, having said that. I've always had a soft spot for violas and their descendants the pansies (from the French penser - to think referring to their faces probably) even though they don't self seed and are not hardy.

I think they make an excellent plant to spark a young child's interest in gardening. I prefer the smaller violas to pansies.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Kippa and Kitty

The Icelandic Sheepdog puppies are now four months old; Kitty and Kippa are back together again at a show this weekend, in Lima, Ohio, I think. (Lima as in lima beans, not as in Lima, Peru. What a strange language - English.) Click on photos to enlarge them.

Kippa (l), Kitty (r)

Black & tan with a little white Kippa was slightly bigger than chocolate & tan with a white collar Kitty as a puppy; it looks like, at least in these photos, they are about the same height now.

Kitty (l), Kippa (r)

Kitty has a shorter coat like her mother Totty. I thought Kippa was going to have longer fur but, for now at least, their fur length looks similar - maybe it's their summer weight coat. Fur length for Icelandic Sheepdogs in the winter is usually longer in northerly climes.

Kippa (l), Kitty (r)

It looks like they are getting along OK together. I want a truck like that - or at least I want to ride in a truck like that and pretend it's mine. I wonder if I could carry it off? Please say yes to ~ I could carry it off. Ha! I love the pink umbrella.

On the left is cousin Elsa (Honey Run Orange Blossom, guardian Lynnie Marie) bred by Debbi Hampton, Mike Merrell (Mori-Bjorn av Isheim and Vinlands Sunna), Jennifer with Kitty (Vinlands Kathleen),  Suzanne with Kippa (Vinlands Kippa Jane) at a puppy show where they all did very well!

Thursday, June 25, 2015


Icelandic Sheepdog Kitty (Vinlands Kathleeen) has come a long way since her guardian adopted her two months ago. She now lives in a home with other Icelandics as well as a Boxer and an rescue Frenchie. The youngster is surrounded by dogs of many ages and both genders and is the belle of the ball. Clicking on the photos will enlarge them.

The long leash - below - is to encourage Kitty NOT to try and go through the slats in her fence.

The other dogs let her get away with stuff - for now - because she is "their puppy".

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


Not far from me in nearby Deckerville a tornado touched down at a dairy farm on Monday night/Tuesday morning. Here we had strong winds, driving rain, and eventually lost electrical power but no damage.

I've been going to a local barber who is a misanthrope. It's been hard to sit in his chair and listen to the non-stop stream of invectives against virtually any group of humans you can think of. He must be a very unhappy person. There are few, if any, other barbers around. Carolyn and David suggested going to a beauty shop/salon which I did today and found the atmosphere pleasant.

While there they were talking about the damage to the farm; someone said they lost about 1500 head of milk cows although first reports said about 40 cows were killed. I stopped by on the way home. The smell of decomp was bad but there were dozens of people working together trying to get things going again. The remaining cattle had been sent temporarily to neighbors' farms until things could get back to working order. Most people most of the time are good people. To enlarge photos, click on them.


I have seen "Peter Rabbit" several times in my garden. If I can see him, why can't the dogs see and/or smell him? I don't want him dead, just gone. I must be Farmer MacGregor.
Kathy, welcome to TorWoods North!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Tryggur and Suzanne

I frequently hear from Suzanne, the guardian of Kippa, one of the Icelandic Sheepdog puppies from this year's litter. Kippa Jane lives in Ohio with several Bitsers and her "boyfriend" Tryggur, who is also an Icelandic. Suzanne does things with all of  her dogs. I love it when people take advantage of the brains, temperaments, and athleticism of their dogs.

Tryggur is two years old, just starting his agility and conformation career, and was bred by Veronica Dowling, and Cathy Lallemand. He is already an American Kennel Club Grand Champion.

Here are some of Trygg's titles: - GCH CH Hidow Thrymheim's Tryggur, CGC, CA, CL1, CL2-S, CL2-H. Suzanne and Tryggur especially enjoy Agility - you can see that like most Icelandics, he has a real aptitude for it. Click on photos to enlarge them. The photos are by LaurelCrest Images and used with the permission of Suzanne.
Tryggur loves running!

Look at him! Great reach! Love this shot!

Ready, Ready, Go!

Kippa and Tryggur in their pond.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Sunday, June 21, 2015

On Friday Iris came up for a visit and we had a very pleasant day wandering a bit, enjoying the dogs (mostly enjoying), talking and eating, and taking short walks.

Litter-sisters Totty and Pila had a tiff while Iris was here. Her front left leg was injured which required a trip to the vets for Pila. She's fine; a little fluid and swelling but no stitches, no blood, and an x-ray was taken to be sure. Kennel-dad stayed with her the whole time which was interesting. Clicking on photos enlarges them.

 After storms, the bottom sediment in shallow water is often stirred up a bit by wave action and the near-land water of Lake Huron turns a sandy color. (See above.) Part of the sandy color may also be due to the sediment run-off caused by the heavy rain which raised the water level and resulted in erosion along the banks of the small creeks and streams.

This grass is flowering now and, in the right light, the flowers have a lovely shade of purple to them.

There are several species of clover growing here, all of which I leave because their nitrogen fixing nodules enrich the soil; the soil here is very poor. This particular species is very tall and a favorite with the rabbits.

Evening primrose (Oenothera fruticosa)

I've introduced several native kinds of flowers into my small prairie here; it's exciting, for me anyway, to see a few of them making an attempt to flower this summer. The old maxim is: - "Sleep, creep, leap". That refers to the first three years of growth after planting. Perennials are very slow to get established (sleep) and seem not to be doing anything their first year. The second year they have survived and may look a bit larger (creep). By the third year they take off and make a much better show (leap). I'm hoping that will be the case here.

Clover, daisies

Rosa rugosa

Because there are no good nurseries and greenhouses here, I have become good friends with plant catalog companies. I had some trepidations about buying bare root trees and shrubs because I'd never done that. When you have good nurseries nearby, you get a good looking potted plant with well established roots which makes transplanting easy.

Virtually all of my roses, shrubs, and trees have come bare root. I planted them immediately upon arrival and waited, sometimes for many months. I'm converted. Virtually all of them made it. Most are doing very well. A few got off to a slow start but at least they survived. It has been fun watching and waiting for growth. I would not hesitate now to buy most shrubs and trees bare root.

Tradescantia occidentalis


I have tried in the past to grow Shasta daisies; they do fine the first summer and maybe even the second one but they are, like many hybridized plants, not long lived. They are what I call - "picky eaters" - because they just don't last for years - often. Wild daisies look as nice, in my opinion, and are tough!

 I couldn't resist taking a photo of Kermit resting on lily pads (above). There are flower buds so the water lily flowers should be right around the corner. I brought a small division of the water lily from my Royal Oak pond and also brought a small division of the narrow leaved cattail that I rescued from 12 Mile and I-75 and that lived in my R.O. pond for many years. That 12 Mile clump is gone now, killed by the alien invasive phragmites that out competed them and that are killing cattails all over the US. Scientists say that we have now entered the "anthropocene era" - the sixth major die off of thousands of species - this one is being caused by mankind.

Clivia - flowering again

I think my Clivia love the light they're getting here. (Thank you for my windows Brian.) Some have flowered twice or thrice in the short year that I've been here. In the past I was lucky if I got one flower stalk per plant a year.

Yellow Clivia - n.b. the yellow seeds on the upper right

Those two seeds have been growing for about a year and a half. They are being nurtured by a direct connection to the mother plant which will give the seedlings a head start on life when they finally separate. The larger of the two seeds shown above has a bump on the bottom which will eventually become the new root. Mammals also nurture their young before they are born as do several species of fish, etc. We are not alone in the care and head-start given to offspring. Very cool to see that other organisms do what we do. We were not the first or the only species to give that "legs up" to offspring.