“Ladybug, Ladybug, Fly Away Home . . .”


Ladybug 2

Traditions.  We love them as much as we love ladybugs.  It’s one of the reasons we bake Christmas cookies.  At any other time of year, they seem out of place — but in December, they fit (and taste) just right.

Right now, traditions are everywhere in my day job, where I am not the Nitty Gritty Dirt Man.  I’m a social worker in a suburban high school, and as the school year comes to a close, the traditions are all lined up.  Junior Prom.  Senior Picnic.  Senior Cut Day.  Graduation Count Down.  Senior Banquet.  Senior Prank.

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A Labor Of Love — Lost


It’s Labor Day weekend – a time tailor-made for beaches, barbecues, parades, and speeches.  But on this particular holiday, I’m staring at the remains of a small, neighborhood garden center on Long Island.

I’m not sure exactly what happened here.  Did the owner retire, unable to sell the business?  Did some sort of illness interfere?  Was the small nursery unable to compete against the box stores that sprout like weeds?  Or perhaps, this nursery is just another victim of an economy that has failed to thrive?

It’s amazing how quickly the weeds and wildflowers have turned this once manicured plot into an overgrown prairie.  Slowly, however, it gives up its secrets.

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Breaking Up With August Is Hard To Do


Hi, August.  It’s me.

Listen, I’m not going to beat around the bush on this one.  I’m just going to dive in and let you know . . .

It’s over between us.  I know I waited until the end of your days to tell you this, but I was really hoping you and I could have worked things out – maybe come to some sort of agreement on the nature of our relationship.  That seems to be out of the question now.

Each year, I hope to look forward to your arrival, but you are very skilled at trying my patience – and as quickly as my expectations rise, you find every opportunity to walk all over them.

Take my impatiens.  Please.  When I first saw that they weren’t thriving, that their stems were barren of leaves, I blamed myself (not enough water).  Then I blamed the slugs (they had to be munching all night).  And then I learned about the fungus.  Maybe you didn’t create the fungus, but your heat, humidity, and rain games certainly didn’t help.

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Bloomin’ Update 28: I Went To A Garden Party . . .


It seems that quite suddenly, summer has brought the entire world into bloom — and that means hosting a whole bunch of guests to a bloomin’ banquet.  There’s plenty to eat and drink — so, bring a chair, sit back, and relax.

First up: butterflies.  I’m not sure what type of butterfly this is, but the garden is full of them.  They really don’t socialize with the other guests, and can often be found in pairs, fluttering about in mid-air and playing among the lavender.

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Smile, You’re On Arachnid Camera!


Have you ever caught yourself looking so ridiculous that you say to yourself, “I’m glad I’m not the subject of a hidden camera show.”

That is my thought each morning as I leave the house, walk to the car, and feel the silky threads of spider webs across my face.  And this morning was no different, as I tried to balance my briefcase and tote bag while frantically wiping the sticky filaments away  —  only to feel them invisibly drag across my ears and into my hair.

When I remember to, I’ll leave the house empty handed – so I can walk to the car swinging my arms in front of me like a malfunctioning robot to knock down any webs that might be at face level.  Then I’ll walk back to the house, grab the brief case and tote bag, and race back to the car before the little buggers have a chance to reload.  (I suppose a broom handle could accomplish the same thing, but that would look odd — wouldn’t it?)

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Book Review: Wicked Bugs


I’m good when it comes to bugs.  For the most part.

I mean, I generally do not become hysterical when I cross paths with a 6- or 8-legged creature.  In fact, there are some bugs I actually enjoy.  I’m captivated by a trail of ants going about its journey; I love the sultry summer chirp of cicadas; I’m totally in love with praying mantis; I’m mesmerized by the flicker of lightning bugs; I’m completely overjoyed by the arrival of a butterfly (which is why it received top billing);  and when it comes to bees, we have a firm understanding.  I’ll let them do their work, if they let me do mine.

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Bloomin’ Update 10: Autumn Joy


My plan was to have a post featuring the blooms of the waning days of summer.  With camera in hand, I captured bees tending to their chores on a day that felt more like July than September.  If you could see their bee faces, I’m sure they were aglow with autumn joy.

 Then, in a matter of hours, a cold front roared through.  The clouds thickened and darkened, the wind grew stronger, and fat drops of rain splattered everything.  And all the while, the temperature plummeted — so much so, that by sunset, it felt like late October.  When I looked out of a window, I saw the last canna bloom (was that a shiver?) glowing.  I again grabbed the camera, this time to capture the canna’s last stand — and I was blown away by the vividness of color.

 
I wondered what other flowers and plants would look like surrounded by chilled darkness and then the glare of a flash.  I was limited in my selection because of the time of year, but I did (surprisingly) capture a noisy cricket in the ivy that climbs up the maple tree.  He’s resting on the large leaf at the bottom of the photo.
 
   
Now the Zinnias, a little battered and chewed up, but still holding on to their color.
 
 
 
This Blanket Flower is probably wishing that it had a blanket.
 

A few of the old standbys:  a faded Hydrangea (take that Madonna!), Liriope spikes, Coleus “Tartan,” and a Caladium close-up.

 

The Sunflower Sisters, one streaked with orange, the second like a faded version of the first, and the third looking more like celestial eclipse.

Finally, another glimpse of “Autumn Joy” Sedum.  The bees were probably in a state of suspended animation at this hour and temperature.

My late-night expedition into the garden was a wonderful way to close-out summer.  (Note to self: Next year, don’t wait until the end of summer for a nighttime photo shoot.)  Looking back on this growing season, it was exciting to enter the blogging world and to share my life and garden with you.  I appreciate greatly all of the comments and encouragement.  Now, it’s time for cleaning up, digging and storing tender bulbs, protecting terracotta pots, and the never-ending raking — in other words, the joys of autumn.