Thursday, August 9, 2018


Until this year I have not been bothered either by rabbits or deer; foxes and hawks have kept the numbers of the former down and autumn hunters and traffic accidents have minimized the damage done by the latter.

Not true this year. I set out some very old traps to capture bunnies for release into other, more distant realms. None of the traps have worked so far. Kit wanted us to go for a walk in the north woods and it's had to refuse her commands. This morning she woke us all up because a deer had invaded the Hosta garden and had to be chased out. The indignant pack howled out; the huge deer escaped over the fence. I doubt the neighbors liked reveille.

When we got back to the porch after our woods wandering, one of the dogs was missing. Ha! We looked and found a bear in one of the traps. Actually, we found our Bear in one of the traps - silently waiting to be released. Bear has an insatiable curiosity and a hunger for brassicas. All the dogs love cabbage leaves, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, which I give them regularly because they are health food for them and me. I used cabbage leaves to bait the traps for rabbits. Poor Bear. He calmly backed out once I figured out how to release him. (Clicking on photos enlarges them.)

Everywhere I've lived for several decades now I've brought along my wild clematis (Clematis virginiana). It is a vigorous grower and hard to keep in bounds but worth it for the blanket of flowers that completely covers my fence in the space of our short growing season, and all the while providing food for many insects and a summer privacy fence for my back yard that is also a neighbor friendly fence. In the late fall or early spring I cut the plants back to two or three inches. Growth is rampant. All the flowers I've ever seen anywhere are male; no seeds have ever been produced. Thankfully. Like Kudzu, they could easily take over if given half a chance.

Wasps as adults drink nectar. However. they search for meat, usually insects but also carrion or leftovers from human picnics, to feed their rapidly growing larvae back in their nests so might be considered beneficial, as long as you don't arouse their ire by attacking or appearing to attack or threaten their nests. I've counted as many as eight or nine different species feeding on nectar and pollen on my clematis and that doesn't include the various wild species of bees including bumble bees and carpenter bees that find food for their young. Honey bees also forage in the flowers as long as they last. (Honey bees are thought by some to be native to India.) The last photo completes or at least adds to the circle of life. A small spider caught that wasp and was feeding on it.

At the base of one of the clematis plants are a struggling few Grandpa Ott's morning glories. I'll have to save some seeds and plant them where they don't have to compete (and lose) to the clematis next year.

Hummingbird young

Cup Plant

Cup Plant





 (Can you find the ship?)


Thursday, August 2, 2018

Clivia - Agapanthus?

Those who know me know that I love Clivia plants. I love the happy orange flowers and the lovely scent. I love that they seem to thrive on some neglect. I love that, at least in the past, they have flowered in the depths of winter a time when flowers are much appreciated. I started with one plant many years ago; with time I've bred my plants and slowly have been able to add a few more to my family. I also have shared some of my seedling plants with friends.

Several years ago I tried growing Agapanthus. They were easy to induce to flower but rather too large for life inside up north in Michigan being better suited for outdoor culture in frost free places like Florida and Southern California I suppose.


Several years ago on a whim I dusted some pollen from one of my Clivias onto the stigmas of Agapanthus flowers. Seeds set. Seedlings germinated. Plants grew, although it took years. They took up limited space. So this spring I decided it was time to liberate them to my yard fully realizing that fall frosts would kill them off. They're only plants - I said to myself.

I planted about ten of them outside under a wild Clematis virginiana where they could have some protection from summer's sun and the rabbits and deer that also share my living spaces. They promptly died back from sunburn and root shock and I've mostly ignored them watering them rarely. What's that line? Something like set it (them) free and if it's meant to be they'll come home. (I know that's not quite right but.) Look closely in the lower left corner and you might be able to find one of the plantlets near Grandpa Ott's morning glory leaves.

Here's a close-up. I would have missed the flowers if the hummingbirds hadn't been dive bombing one another. The leaves are, in my opinion, more like Clivia leaves than Agapanthus leaves although I have limited experience with Agapanthus. Clicking on photos enlarges them.

I don't know if this is a hybrid between an orange Clivia and a blue Agapanthus or if pollen from the Agapanthus was both parents for this several years old, sun-scalded, and scrawny looking seedling. Regardless, It looks like they will be potted fresh and coming inside next winter. Let me know if you'd like to adopt one. Yellow Clivia are rare. (I don't know, obviously, if all the plants will have cream colored flowers. Perhaps the flowers are light colored because they are sun shielded by the Clematis, although that's unlikely, imo.) I don't know if they are fragrant - can't bend over that far - sigh!

It's a Beautiful Morning in the Neighborhood

This volunteer wild Gaillardia appeared in my yard this morning. What a happy event to be greeted by this lovely plant.

Rampant Rudbeckia?

Rampant Rudbeckia?

Rampant Rudbeckia?

My winter flowering orchid decided to grace me with a bouquet of six flowers with two more on the way in the summer. Perhaps I divided it too late and the setback caused its normal flowering cycle to go haywire. Regardless, its perfume is sending delightful chills to my nose.

Support Group

Here they are: - Clockwise from 6:00 to 1:00 - Bear. Pila, Totty, Kit, Korpur, Kria - my support group. Clicking on photos enlarges them.

Kit and Totty always, ALWAYS, watching me.

Lovely Kit

There are many sizes and kinds of boats that quietly go by from huge boats with specialized purposes way out in Lake Huron to fishing boats and fast pleasure boats still quite a ways out and therefore quiet to small kayaks near shore where large boulders make it impossible for motor boats to visit.

The Best Of Both Worlds
Wild flowers and cultivated ones often mix well together here. However, I have to be careful. Some wild flowers can be invasive. Serendipitous unplanned combinations work amazingly well.

Queen Anne's Lace, Ironweed, and Tansy in front of my home.

Hydrangea and wild Larkspur


Monarda with Hummingbird Moth

Monarda with Hummingbird Moth

Immature Song Sparrow - perhaps

Rana and James Brydon



Campanula and Phlox

Sobel's Lacecap Hydrangea in North Woods

Sobel's Lacecap Hydrangea in North Woods

Christine's Poppy