Monday, July 16, 2018

Summer Garden Glamour Shots

I believe all gardeners have a universal feeling of euphoria when the first blooms of the season are spotted. The same is probably true of each and every plant in the garden throughout the growing season. Today's post is all about the summer garden glamour shots I've compiled of all my plants that are currently thriving in my Zone 7a garden. These shots have all been taken since my last landscape update on June 11.

The summer annuals in the beds at the front of the house and fence gates are my subtle version of patriotic curb appeal: red geraniums, white vinca, purple queen and angelonia.
The only two containers I created this year are in my courtyard, on a brick surface with intense sun exposure. They consist of braided trunk hibiscus.....
....with bandana lantana and asparagus fern at the base.
A pearl crescent butterfly found a happy landing pad on the lantana.
Bees and hummingbirds also find the lantana irresistible.
Even the spent blooms on the hibiscus are photo worthy.
Pictured below is one of the containers at dusk, with a solar light stake in the base. You can see the pastel colors of the evening sky in the glass reflection.
The hummingbirds were very late arriving in my garden this year. When the feeders seem to be just ornaments in the landscape, a bee balm bloom was the perfect cocktail for luring hummingbirds to its nectar.
While one bloom was like a cocktail, the bee balm en masse was like a favorite bar in town for the hummers.
Pictured below (starting clockwise, top L) is a time lapse of a single magnolia bloom throughout the course of one day.
Hydrangea blooms the morning after a summer storm make for a nice shot.
Endless summer hydrangeas en masse always makes a visual impact, especially from a distance.
One morning's discovery was finding bees all over the hydrangea blooms. They were working hard!
Zinnia seeds were planted for the first time this year. The first emerging zinnia blooms brought new-found excitement in the garden.
I had no idea if the seeds would germinate, or what colors they'd be. I planted both compact and tall varieties, and only the tall ones bloomed.
The zinnias will be a welcome addition in years to come. I love seeing a full bed with zinnias, salvia, coneflowers, and black-eyed Susans which I've transplanted into this bed over the past couple (and current) years.
I also love the contrast of the coneflower pink petals against the blue-grey of the weeping cedar atlas behind it on the brick wall.
Four o'clocks are fickle, at least in my garden they are. It seems almost every time I go out to take their picture, the blooms are closed. Is it four o'clock in the afternoon or four o'clock in the morning?? This shot was as good as it gets, mid-morning!
The first Lord Baltimore hibiscus bloom always thrills me, usually arriving sometime around July 4th. This year the first bloom arrived on June 27.
As if the plants are showing their gratitude for being staked throughout May-June, they stand tall and in attention, blooming continuously through September.
The limelight hydrangea plant, with its white blooms, is such a hardy plant. Mine was added to the landscape in 2017. The photo below also captures a single anemone at bottom right, randomly blooming in this part of the landscape.
Trust me, even if you have only one of these plants, it will surely add appeal in your garden. Mine is placed at the back of my landscape and, together with the Endless Summer hydrangeas and the Lord Baltimore hibiscus, creates a red, white and blue visual.
July 15: an early afternoon walk in the garden revealed yet another first bloom of the season with Mexican sunflowers, grown from seed, not quite fully open yet. What's even more exciting than the first bloom of these plants is knowing they will continue blooming through fall, when a lot of other plants are seasonally exhausted.
Some plants provide encore blooming after a few weeks absence through the growing season. The climbing roses in the courtyard are one such plant just now beginning to bloom again, though not as robust as the first flush in May.
There's beauty in even the smallest of things you see in the garden, such as moss in mortar on an old brick wall.
And how about tiny creatures that camouflage among our plants? Do you see the praying mantis on my courtyard hibiscus in the photo below?
Last, but certainly not the least of the glamorous beauty of the garden, is a shot of the sky captured at dusk on our riverbank one recent summer evening.
The seasonal (and some daily) chores of staking, dividing and transplanting established plants, selecting and planting new ones, watering and weeding - all start to reward this gardener by July in my Zone 7a landscape. One of the rewards is in the beauty captured via photos, another is sharing with you, my readers. These photos and posts then become part of my gardening journal archive. I hope you enjoyed the compilation.

Rita C. at Panoply

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Thursday, July 12, 2018

Seaside Beachcombing Tablescape

There's an unequivocal sense of calm I get when I am at my favorite beaches. My favorite pastime while walking on beaches is looking for shell treasures and sea glass that wash ashore. I never take anything alive, but those I do collect I sort, boil clean, and take home as memories of my favorite trips. Today I've made them an integral part of my tablescape which I've labeled Seaside Beachcombing.
In fact, it's not just the seashells I've made as part of my tablescape. I've used several elements which represent my favorite colors and sights from my favorite beaches to capture my seaside vision. First, the napkins, placemats and napkin rings were all purchased together, and the textiles are reversible. One side of the textiles is a classic paisley, the other a bit preppy and flirty. The color scheme reminds me of the Caribbean and Gulf beaches we (Mr. P & me) love best - sea, sand and sky.
The napkin rings represent the sea turtles we've come to love and respect both on land and underwater in the places we visit and scuba dive. The threats to these ancient earth creatures are many, including poaching (shells for jewelry & accessories, meat consumption), debris, artificial lighting, oil spills and pollution, etc. Please, take a minute to read more at the link provided so you can be mindful when going to beaches where seas turtles nest and inhabit.
The appetizer plates, a serendipitous find at an estate sale several months after sourcing the napkins and placemats, turned out to be a real catch for pairing with the textiles.
Using a drop cloth tablecloth as a base gives the feeling of a light-colored (my favorite) sandy beach, and an open crocheted cloth draped across the table lends the impression of a fishing net. The centerpiece consists mainly of a lidded glass jar full of shells collected over the years, with a curious sandpiper and various glass fishing floats surrounding. A larger shell and coral - lucky finds in the Caribbean between two hurricanes - are also placed on the table.
Florida fighting conch shells make great little place card holders at the top of each place setting charger.
The chargers are a blend of the colors of the shells, sun and sand, with hints of green glass and plant life of the sea.
The beverage service is acrylic, in various shades of blues and greens, very much like the glass floats on the table, and very much like the colors found on the beaches we love best.
The legend behind sand dollars is linked to both Christian and secular connotations. The five slits are said to represent Christ's wounds on the cross and/or the Easter lily, a star in the center as the star of Bethlehem. The back of the exoskeleton outlines the shape of a poinsettia, a traditional Christmas flower. When broken open, the sand dollar has what appears to be five "doves", legend saying they represent the spread of good will and peace when released.
I don't know about you, but putting this together puts me in the mindset of relaxed time spent at the beach. I love where we live, nestled in the Appalachian mountains with all four seasons, but given that we live in a land-locked state, I think I'm soon ready for another seaside getaway.
Seaside Beachcombing Source List
Placemats, Napkins, Napkin Rings - The Best of Everything, Naples FL
Chargers - MacKenzie-Childs Parchment Check
Lunch Plates - Pfaltzgraff Filigree
Appetizer Plates, Glass Floats (some are Blenko) - Estate Sales, Antiquing Finds
Tablecloth - Lowe's (drop cloth, cut & frayed)
Crochet Cloth - Susan Nowell (My Place to Yours)
Flatware - Horchow
Acrylic Glasses - Pottery Barn
Carved Sandpiper - Gift from Hilton Head
Shells, Coral - Grand Cayman, Hilton Head, Naples, Sanibel
Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman
Thanks for joining me today at my Seaside Beachcombing table! 
Rita C. at Panoply

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Thursday, July 5, 2018

Miscellaneous Musing No. 13

It's time for another random brain release, folks. My mind seems to constantly be racing, and I keep all these indiscriminate factoids underneath my skull until I can no more. I call these miscellaneous musings, and you can check them all out here. This is no. 13, and go.......

A couple of shout outs to bloggers I enjoy reading....
Susan's blog mentioned a reader who suggested a great way to store napkin rings, and I jumped right on this one! I found the 2 pack of trouser hangers at HomeGoods for under $10 to try out, and can see I need to get more. Each of the trouser hooks are hinged and rotate outward, making them very easy to use and store napkin rings! This appeals to my need for organization and love of tablescaping!
Napkin ring storage
Linda's blog is great for recipes, fun facts and toggling life between two regions, and her recent post on how deep the ocean really is is a bit mind-blowing. Once there, click on the word perspective, and you'll see that, as one example, scuba divers are a mere baby step to the depths discovered!
Scuba diving - a baby step to the ocean's depth
Okay, I'm all for organization, as many of my readers know. I've also been known to put things away so well that I can't find them. How would you like to own the Theodore Alexander secretary (below, as seen in Traditional Home's July/August 2018 issue), which has 106 compartments?? I'd never find my hidden jewelry or money, but the good news is, a thief probably wouldn't either!
Theodore Alexander secretary
Those ads on Facebook that roll by.....I noticed one not long ago, advertising the Grommet buoy bells. I bought one in the flagship LLBean store in Freeport Maine on a New England trip we took in 2006. I loved it for the sound, and the fact it was made in Maine by a lobsterman named Jim Davidson. You can see it pictured below in my winter landscape, on the shepherd's hook.
Grommet buoy bell in landscape
What I didn't know is the buoy bell / wind chime is made to mimic the sound of one of the coastal harbor buoy bell sounds! Check out the Grommet wind bells here. to listen to the various sounds. I believe mine matches the Bar Harbor sound, which makes sense since I bought it in Maine. I love hearing it in the winter months when the winds blow.

In warm weather months, I place my hummingbird feeder where the buoy bell / wind chime is hanging. Look at the photo below to see what a difference 6 months later in the garden makes!
Hummingbird feeder in landscape
Another one of those things that scrolled by while I was on the computer: supposedly, the #1 song the year you turned 14 defines your life. Did you know, lol? Well, that year for me was 1971, and the #1 song for the end of that year was Three Dog Night's "Joy to the World" (the linked performance was 1975).
You can find your 14th year's #1 song with this link by simply backspacing at the tab once you open it, and change the 1971 to the year you were 14.

Six weeks to the day of Mr. P.'s crazy trip down our riverbank stairs, he goes across the street to the riverbank and finds the oddest thing......a Canada goose carcass. It was a skeletal frame - not a bit of meat on it - with feathers intact on its wings only. We're not sure if something (a hawk? an eagle? or land animal?) dropped it there or what, but it was a first. We don't know of any predator of the Canada geese, and I'll be careful what I wish for, but....
Mystery Canada goose
There's an older, funkier section of town where one daughter lives that has an annual, one day yard sale, offering anything from basement and attic stash to food for fundraisers. It's quite festive. I swung by where said daughter was set up with an informational booth, and picked up a little morning refreshment. I think more yard sales should offer Bloody Marys and Mimosas. Sales would probably increase. I think Ki Nassaeur's Junk Bonanaza in Shakopee, MN has been doing it for a number of years.....
Curbside service
Now that the 4th is over, one of the holidays many take advantage of to also host family reunions, I think some of us have admittedly felt the way Maxine does in the cartoon below:
I'll leave you with this t-shirt I spotted recently. I liked it.
Work like a captain. Play like a pirate.
Have any musings lately that you want to share? Leave a comment, feel free.....
Rita C. at Panoply

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