Friday, July 20, 2012

Swimming With The Fishes

June was almost the perfect month.  The temperatures stayed somewhere is the low 80’s, almost no humidity and cool, pleasant evenings to sleep in.   But June decided to end in brutal fashion; temperatures in the 100’s, air dripping in humidity, and the evenings ... well, sleep was elusive.
     My only relief from this miserable couple of weeks has been my pond.  My pond is my obsession.  I can sit for hours watching the fish (and with great envy in this heat), admiring the water lilies and just listening to the frogs, birds and insects which call this pond home.   As tempting as it is, this pond is not for swimming.  The eco-balance took a couple of years to evolve and too much of my presence would disrupt the balance.  However, it can tolerate my being in it for short periods of time for maintenance, and I have been very diligent in my maintenance the past couple of weeks.  I have happily cleaned out aggressive plants, divided and fertilized water lilies, and cleaned out creeping roots from some of the hard to reach nooks.  
 The pond is only 30” deep, so only my arms and legs benefit from the cool water, but I’ll take it.
     It may not be a proven, scientific fact, but ask any pond owner and they will agree, that just the sound of water, seems to drop the temperature by ten degrees.  If you do not own a pond, you have no idea what you are missing.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Maxima To The Max

     A member of the Black-eyed-Susan family, this native perennial turns heads.  The name is no mistake, the Maxima does everything to the max.  The powdery-blue foliage produces leaves the range 1’ to 2’in lenth, and not to be out done, in mid-summer, it sends up a flower which easily tops 6’.  The flowers have intense yellow petals which dangle from dark brown seed head centers and the flower stalk is so sturdy it rarely needs staking.  The Maxima can also handle our intense heat and isn’t overly picky about soil conditions.  The plant spreads by underground rhizomes, but not to the sometimes aggressive state of its much smaller relative.  This plant is beautiful planted en mass, in the back of a boarder or as a single specimen, but no matter how it is planted, people will stop and ask about it. 

   I love my Maxima.  When the foliage emerges in the spring, it’s almost like having a blue Hosta in full sun, then when the flower shoots out in the summer,
I am in love with the color and shape, but my favorite time of year is when the seeds have matured and I can sit and watch the goldfinches feast on the seeds as they ride along with the swaying stalks.   

Monday, July 2, 2012

Oh Yeah....Pancakes Too


For about 47 weeks a year, I curse the briars which cover our property.  I have numerous snagged sweaters and quickly learned to wear a canvas barn jacket when I wander the fields in winter.  When small, my children would come home with scratches on their arms and legs and tears in their eyes from the rambling thorns.  I could usually keep them within sight by warning that there were ‘briars over there’; that often kept them from wandering outside the confines of mowed grass.
     We are now in that three to four week period where the briar magically transforms into Blackberry bushes.  I have been up very early every morning for the past week, trying to beat the heat and insects to wander carefully through the brambles, picking pails of blackberries.  I have about twenty jars of jam and several bags of frozen berries and am already envisioning blackberry sauce over cheesecake this winter. 
     Long sleeves and jeans in June are well worth the discomfort for these delicious berries and not just for the taste.  Researchers have known for quite some time that berries contain antioxidants which help to fight cancer causing free radicals.  A study at the University of Ohio has found that blackberries are the most potent cancer fighting berries of them all, by nearly 40 percent.
     In another week or so, I will be cursing the horrible briars which bring me so much joy through my morning toast with peanut butter and blackberry jam.  If you are looking to pick some for yourself, you had better hurry, the shoulders of the roads have been busy with pickers and the season is very short.