Wednesday, July 22, 2009

look closely

Honestly, if I took some wide shots of my front and back yards and posted them here, you'd wonder why I even bothered with a garden blog. Currently, the "big picture" view emphasizes all the negatives: the drought, the pests, the heat, the suboptimal vegetable production. But if you looked closely, maybe you would see what I see -- the little victories. I go looking for these little vignettes, nearly every morning and afternoon. It's what keeps me going.

For example, take a peek at this little skipper. Never mind he's the only one of his species I saw the day I took this picture, or that there's all of 10 blossoms on this lantana bush, which would normally take over this bed. In this singular moment, all I see is one fortunate skipper enjoying a bounteous feast. (And if you looked even closer, catty-corner to the skipper, you'd see an ant feasting on nectar. Boy, but is that one lucky ant!)
Skipper on lantana

Or, take the Turk's Cap. Some would ask, "Why is this plant half the size it was last year?" or, "Where are the hummingbirds that normally visit?" But all I see is this luscious, ruby-red oasis waiting for one lucky winged creature. Turk's cap

Are these ruined tomatoes, or the remains from a Feast of the Cardinals?
Birds or bugs?

Here's how optimistic I am -- I found this Elfin Thyme at Dromgoole's, and bought it to plant in the dry, parched crevices of my uneven stone walkway. Never mind that the Wooly Thyme I bought the same day has died already -- look how fresh this thyme looks!
Elfin thyme

Never mind that my yellow lantana is just a scrawny little stick in the ground -- look at this blossom! Just wait til next year, after a winter of El NiƱo's refreshing rains. Why, I bet I'll have to hack it back to the ground with a scythe just to get in the front door.
Yellow lantana

My husband, Jack, sees it too, and by "it", I mean the positives. The happy stuff. The "that's kinda neat" things. For instance, one day he was watching a honey bee making its way, blossom by blossom, through the bed of pink and yellow lantana, and noticed the bee was only drinking from the yellow flowers - not from the pink. And the next morning, I noticed that the lantana blossoms were largely pink in color (with no bees around), but by afternoon, many of the pink blossoms had turned yellow, and the bees had come to visit.
Old-fashioned lantana
By the way, Jack really does not like bees. Intellectually, he understands their place in the food chain, but psychologically, he's been stung once too many times. Literally.

And now, a picture of Blue Daze, just because I think the color is so fabulous. This plant is doing really well right now.
Blue daze

To end today's "accentuate the positive" post, I give you this picture of my tomato-red dwarf canna lily that was so spectacular-looking back in May.
dwarf canna lily

Today, its spent blossoms look like kraft paper. But aren't its seed pods interesting? And if you look closely, you can see a fresh new blossom starting to form.
One bloom closes, another opens...

Never mind I accidentally broke off the new blossom about 30 seconds after taking this picture...sigh.


  1. Caroline,

    Your skipper is a Fiery Skipper, enjoyed the photos. Likely you had a worm help with destroying those tomatoes. Our tomatoes two have died from late blight already...

  2. First the worms, then the birds, perhaps? I saw our resident female cardinal fluttering around the netted tomatoes like a hummingbird a few days before the carnage, but you're right, the round holes do look more hornwormish. Thank you for the skipper ID!

  3. I think your blooms are just wonderful! I love Lantana, it's one of my favorite plants.--Randy

  4. I tend to focus on the negatives too in my garden and my hubby then reminds me of the things that are doing well and I don't feel so bad. Our perennial garden has been a struggle this year due to all the cool, wet weather we've had. The veggies are doing well, but everything is a bit late. -Jackie

  5. I love this post! I think most gardeners are optimistic by nature, but it can be hard to keep it up during weather like Austin is experiencing. Thanks for reminding us all to enjoy the little things if the big picture is a bit crispy.

  6. Yes. Thanks for the reminder that things aren't all bad in the garden right now.

  7. I just loved this post! I smiled all the way through. Thank you.