Monthly Archives: June 2014

Sunshine…on my wieners…makes me happy. Sunshine in my eyes can make me cry.

This time of year, in coastal Mississippi, it can be tricky to find dry lawn time to mow your lawn. Mowing your lawn wet is a big no-no, but you wouldn’t know it by watching the local lawn companies out mowing wet lawns, even puddled lawns.

Doxie enjoys healthy, natural lawn. Image by The Garden Maiden, copyright 2014.

Doxie enjoys healthy, natural lawn. Image by The Garden Maiden, copyright 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yesterday my doxies were happy to find a brief stint of sunshine to go out and enjoy the green grass. As I watched them I thought about one of my favorite John Denver songs, “Sunshine on My Shoulders.”  So I altered the lyrics and began singing to them. I sing to them all the time and make up songs for them. I really should have grabbed the mower (I use an electric cordless mower and love it) to trim it up for them, but I was in a hurry to get back inside and get to work on an article that is due.  My little wieners love to look for dead earthworms to eat or dead insects or poo to roll on. Though sometimes if they find the rabbit poo before I do, they snack on those large round morsels before I can grab them. Seriously, they look like cocoa puffs cereal. We got some big bunnies ya’ll!!

Doxie enjoys healthy, natural lawn. Image by The Garden Maiden, copyright 2014.

Doxie enjoys healthy, natural lawn. Image by The Garden Maiden, copyright 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t use any herbicides on my lawn. I don’t fertilize it, overseed it, or spray it for anything other than the occasional hill treatment for fire ants (I hate this, but its a serious problem down here). If you’ve ever had your feet swarmed by fire ants biting and stinging you, you’d agree).  I keep enough lawn to play on and give my pups space to roam.  I encourage a variety of grasses, “weeds” and native flowers. I try to convert as many sunshiny places to garden beds.

I love a healthy lawn. A healthy lawn is one that you and your pets can feel free to roam in barefoot, knowing the soil below your feet is as happy as the grass you walk on. I want my soil to be teaming with bio-activity. Not dead from constant spraying of pesticides (remember pesticides are any “cide” such as herbicide, insecticide, fungicide, etc). I hope to encourage more clover in my lawn. Its good for the soil, the rabbits love it (they in turn give me lots of big poops that I gather for my garden), and it is cool to walk on…curl your toes, lift your nose and enjoy the sweet perfume when the clover is flowering.  Many homeowners apply excess fertilizers and pesticides that are washed away (by irrigation or rain) into our ditches, storm drains, waterways, streams, lakes, and drinking water.  Very unsustainable.

I’m always amazed by the intensely monocultured lawns of suburbia, especially those owned by folks who never venture out to enjoy their lawn. Some feel peer pressure from neighbors or home owners associations and others think it is the only way to have a lawn. FIGHT THE PEER PRESSURE.

Keep on Growin’,

The Garden Maiden

PS Here are the lyrics to the John Denver song. Beautiful. Timeless.

Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy
Sunshine in my eyes can make me cry
Sunshine on the water looks so lovely
Sunshine, almost always, makes me high

If I had a day that I could give you
Id give to you a day just like today
If I had a song that I could sing for you
Id sing a song to make you feel this way

Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy
Sunshine in my eyes can make me cry
Sunshine on the water looks so lovely
Sunshine, almost always, makes me high

If I had a tale that I could tell you
Id tell a tale sure to make you smile
If I had a wish that I could wish for you
Id make a wish for sunshine all the while

Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy
Sunshine in my eyes can make me cry
Sunshine on the water looks so lovely
Sunshine, almost always, makes me high
Sunshine, almost all the time, makes me high
Sunshine, almost always

Songwriters
Palmer, David / King, Carole

 

 

 

All images and text copyright 2014 The Garden Maiden

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Categories: Observations from My Garden of Goods & Evils | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

One-eyed, One-horned, Flying Purple People Eater: tomato hornworms have arrived.

Tomato hornworm. Image by The Garden Maiden, copyright 2014.

Tomato hornworm. Image by The Garden Maiden, copyright 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EWWWW! I have been keeping watch for their arrival.  Then I spotted one. Then I spotted another and another! A total of three hornworms on two different potted tomato plants in my garden. They have arrived. Manduca quinquemaculata!!

It always seems to go that way. I don’t see them at all. Then I see one and suddenly my eye is trained for hornworm spotting and I see them everywhere.

They’re gross.  I’m really not too icky about insects and spiders, but tomato hornworms are gross. I hate to touch them. Several years ago I bought a pair of plastic, giant, tweezers in the kitchen department at a local store. I just hang them on my tomato cages during the season so I can pull the hornworms off. I also use them for picking squash bugs off my pumpkins and other squash.

Tomato hornworm. Image by The Garden Maiden, copyright 2014.

Tomato hornworm. Image by The Garden Maiden, copyright 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m afraid of that horn thing. And when I see it, I think about one my favorite childhood songs, One-eyed, one-horned flying purple people eater…sure looks strange to me. Now, I know everyone says they can’t sting or poke your with it but I’m not taking any chances. I recently stepped barefooted onto the bristles of another large larvae/caterpillar that a bird dropped onto my patio and it stung like the dickens. I mean OUCH.  I’ll have to do another post about that caterpillar as I have found three in my yard.

I’m also a HUGE Halloween freak, so I love this song each fall. You might be thinking, but it doesn’t fly…but the moth who laid the egg sure does! Actually the large moths (known as sphinx or hummingbird moths) are quite mesmerizing and I have observed them at length among my four o’clocks in the evening.

Sphinx or hummingbird moth at night in my garden. Image by The Garden Maiden, copyright 2014.

Sphinx or hummingbird moth at night in my garden. Image by The Garden Maiden, copyright 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One time, while an undergraduate student at the University of Missouri, I found a hornworm pupa in the soil where I was digging. I put it in a glass vial filled with alcohol for my entomology class and stuck it in the pocket of my leather vest. I immediately forgot it was there. Some weeks later, I crushed the pocked, the vial, and the pupa all over my vest.  Yes, I still have the vest. And there is still a slight stain on the pocket.  The moral of this story? Don’t put pupa or worms in your pocket or they may have the last laugh on you.

Before killing and disposing of the worms that I find, I check to see if they have been parasitized by the braconid wasp, Cotesia congregatus. (see Univ of MN link below for image) If they are, I put them somewhere where they can’t access my plants and then hope the beneficial wasps will hatch and start eating more of the hornworms in my garden. Otherwise, I sometimes leave them out where the birds can find them or drop them in a bucket of soapy water.  I have about 30 tomato plants this year and I would never spray or apply powders for this many plants.  If I had to I would use the most organic option available. Just check them about twice a week and remove as soon as you see them because they will de-leaf your plants quickly.  The University of Minnesota Extension Service has a good website with information about these common, annual pests.

If your eyes have a hard time finding these green boogers, look for their brown poop droppings or stems that are stripped of leaves.

Tomato hornworm damage. Image by The Garden Maiden, copyright 2014.

Tomato hornworm damage. Image by The Garden Maiden, copyright 2014.

Grab your hand lens to observe these critters up close. Their mouth parts are so cool and/or hideous depending on your take. This is a great observation for kids too! Its a good opportunity to teach about the lifecycle of insects and the difference between insect pests and beneficials.

Tomato hornworm. Image by The Garden Maiden, copyright 2014.

Tomato hornworm. Image by The Garden Maiden, copyright 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stay cool out there and KEEP ON GROWIN’,

The Garden Maiden

P.S. Before I submitted this post, I went back outside to re-check my plants. Guess what? after a few minutes of observation, I found another! Gotcha!!

 

Tomato hornworm. Image by The Garden Maiden, copyright 2014.

Tomato hornworm. Image by The Garden Maiden, copyright 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All images and text copyright 2014 The Garden Maiden

 

 

Categories: Garden Insects, Observations from My Garden of Goods & Evils | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Few Fun Shots from Epcot’s International Flower and Garden Festival

Epcot's International Flower and Garden Festival, 2014. May.  Image by The Garden Maiden, copyright 2014.

Epcot’s International Flower and Garden Festival, 2014. May. Image by The Garden Maiden, copyright 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In May I attended the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival. It was my first time in several years and it was great to be back!

Pluto, Minnie and Mickey topiary. Epcot's International Flower and Garden Festival, 2014. May.  Image by The Garden Maiden, copyright 2014.

Pluto, Minnie and Mickey topiary. Epcot’s International Flower and Garden Festival, 2014. May. Image by The Garden Maiden, copyright 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
The topiaries are always amazing and fun showing timeless Disney characters from book and film.

Tow Mater topiary. Epcot's International Flower and Garden Festival, 2014. May.  Image by The Garden Maiden, copyright 2014.

Tow Mater topiary. Epcot’s International Flower and Garden Festival, 2014. May. Image by The Garden Maiden, copyright 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are many fun photo opportunities and surprises around every corner.

Epcot's International Flower and Garden Festival, 2014. May.  Image by The Garden Maiden, copyright 2014.

Epcot’s International Flower and Garden Festival, 2014. May. Image by The Garden Maiden, copyright 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The work done by the Disney cast members and horticulture team is creative and detailed.

Bambi topiary. Epcot's International Flower and Garden Festival, 2014. May.  Image by The Garden Maiden, copyright 2014.

Bambi topiary. Epcot’s International Flower and Garden Festival, 2014. May. Image by The Garden Maiden, copyright 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I waited several minutes to get a photo of Bambi and friends as there were throngs of folks waiting to get their photo taken with this arrangement.

Tinkerbell topiary. Epcot's International Flower and Garden Festival, 2014. May.  Image by The Garden Maiden, copyright 2014.

Tinkerbell topiary. Epcot’s International Flower and Garden Festival, 2014. May. Image by The Garden Maiden, copyright 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some topiary are hidden just out of view making spotting them a nice surprise!

Peter Pan topiary. Epcot's International Flower and Garden Festival, 2014. May.  Image by The Garden Maiden, copyright 2014.

Peter Pan topiary. Epcot’s International Flower and Garden Festival, 2014. May. Image by The Garden Maiden, copyright 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You don’t want to forget to look up! Peter Pan could be found atop one of the buildings near the Rose and Crown Pub. I happened to notice him while waiting for a beer with my husband.

Monsters, Inc topiary. Epcot's International Flower and Garden Festival, 2014. May.  Image by The Garden Maiden, copyright 2014.

Monsters, Inc topiary. Epcot’s International Flower and Garden Festival, 2014. May. Image by The Garden Maiden, copyright 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I loved the Monster’s Inc area so much I wanted to bring them home to my yard. I wonder if I could create topiaries that would be ready for Halloween some day? 🙂

I hope that I will be able to attend this fun and informative festival sooner, rather than later. There was great food and lots of fun. Of course Disney is expensive, so it may be a couple of years. If you have never been, I highly recommend going.

I’d be interested to know if any of you have tried your hand with creative topiary, particularly Disney-themed?

 

Stay cool out there and KEEP ON GROWIN’,

The Garden Maiden

 

All images and text copyright 2014 The Garden Maiden

 

Categories: Plant Related Events | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment
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