Hello August

Hello August. I hope you intend to be good to the world again. Usually, you give us balmy dewey wet mornings followed by beautiful hot sunny days without much rain. You are the perfect month for lazy days by the seaside, and for birthday parties outside at night. Your daylight hours are noticeably shorter giving us a hint of the many light deprived days that are headed our way. Alas, let me not dwell on those dreary days but rather bask in the beauty of your warmth.

All around me I find birds busily scurrying to feed their last brood of the summer, the Comets dart from under the lily pads to grab a bug coming from the brook, frogs hunt amongst the spent foliage for something to eat while rabbits graze on clover blossoms and hop about the yard. Many new flowers like the native hibiscus with its giant bright flowers begin to pop open. Rose of Sharon blooms profusely in white, pink, and blue while the foliage of the peony bushes fade and wither. Day lilies continue to open new blimagejpeg_0.jpgoms among the spent ones, and the lawn is still lush green from the late summer rains.

Yes, August you are perfect for a birthday celebration, and I will enjoy my own in all your glory, and I thank you for giving me your magnificence.


I’m Taking Orders

Since September I have been burrowed in my wood shop creating works of art. Actually, the art is by Judy Gale Roberts whose patterns I used to craft her vision of flowers. At this point I am ready to take orders for any or all the flowers I have executed in wood. The only warning I have is that if you have to ask what the price is you cannot afford one of these pieces. I am getting quicker in my execution, and my skill level is improving, but it still took over forty hours to make each of these seemingly simple designs. Here they are:

Sunflower-September, 2015

Sunflower-September, 2015

Rose, October 2015

Rose, October 2015


Phalaenopsis Orchid, October 2015

All orders received will be delivered in the future. Specific dates cannot be made since I don’t know when or how I will be able to work on your request. If I commit, I promise to surprise you with a beautiful flower from the 2015 Monet Vision- Wood Flowers

Secret Places Where Features Hide

Each year I try to make my garden different. Even though there are elements that cannot change easily like a pond, hard-scaping, and all the perennials. There is however, plenty of opportunity to paint a picture in the blank spaces using different colors and plant materials. This year one of my goals was to plant a garden that would deter rabbits. I think I succeeded, that is the rabbits have given me the impression that I have succeeded. The episodes of Wabbit Wars have been sparse because the Wabbits have not been able to get to me as often.

My color palette is yellow and orange. I elected different varieties of Marigolds and sought out other species of yellow flowers to mix in like the gold Celosia, Lysimachia, Lantana, Marguerite Daisy, and Orange Joy Asiatic lily.  Close planting and weekly foliar fertilization helped the plants spread out and finally fill in the canvas. A seven minute video of the same plants would be terribly boring, so I decided to add some interest with winter scenes and an escape to the desert while I waited for Spring to arrive.

Yesterday, I posted a trailer using a new version of iMovie. It was my training session on how to use this new version of a program I was very comfortable with. The new version made posting on YouTube easier, but I felt it harder to compose the movie. There are so many short cuts built into this version that I had trouble doing things that make a movie a movie. The older version is more oriented to real movie makers. This new version targets a person interested in speed. I am sure all the features of the old version are in this new one, but I’m too old to want to spend all that time looking for the drop downs and secret places where features hide. In that regard, iMovie is a lot like Windows, it is the same stuff reorganized to make it look new and to make you work to find things. In a way, iMovie 10.0.4 is like my garden, it has many exciting things to see, but one must explore to find them.

Personal guided tours of the garden are available upon request. My favorite time to give a tour is between January and March, I spend less time touring and more time imbibing.

Please enjoy my garden called “The 2014-Monet Vision, Golden Glow”



Light Speed to Reality






This morning we left a chilly rainy 65 degree day in the Valley of the Sun. Two hours later we reached the top of a 7500 feet high peak and moved through a snowy white out. The car thermometer dropped to 28 degrees. The weather followed us to our first destination city with two additions, wind, and hail. The wind-chill drove the last spike through my Phoenix warmed heart, ugh. We will follow a major weather pattern across the United States and we might even meet some severe rain storms with possible tornadoes. I don’t need an adventure like this anymore, packing the car was adventure enough.

I often tell friends “in May when I return the weather is colder than the weather I experienced in Phoenix in January.” Another big difference is that in May, Illinois doesn’t have many flowers in bloom, while in January, the valley is abundant in flowers.

Our last week in the Valley had us basking on the patio enjoying 90 degree days. I don’t think I will see another ninety degree day for another three months.

How deprived am I?

Burning Gas-Butchart Gardens

The following morning we drove out to see the Butchart Gardens. I had been there before and knew what to expect. Peggy didn’t have a clue. We stopped at the entrance kiosk and I paid the man to enter. She looked at me and said,”we’re paying forty dollars to see flowers?”

I ignored her question. We parked and walked through the gates into the garden. For the next six hours we oohed and ahhed at every turn in the path. It was cloudy, but bright. A perfect day to take photos, and I did take a few pictures.

I hope you enjoy the photos as much as I did taking them.

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The Wabbit War Begins

Image courtesy of Warner Bros, free use agreement.

When I was a kid, Elmer Fudd was a popular cartoon character. I had to go to the movies to see him star in a cartoon. That was before television was invented. Elmer spoke with an impediment and pronounced “r’s and l’s” as “w.” Today his speech would be offensive to many liberal senses. The libs would protest that the character was demeaning speech impediments. To me it was funny, and is still funny. If you are offended by written words about lispy speech, stop right here and go to the ACLU website and register a complaint.

Elmer loved hunting and was always in pursuit of a rabbit named Bugs Bunny. He pronounced rabbit as wabbit, and his favorite saying was “siwwy wabbit.” Each cartoon episode involved Elmer in some hilarious attempt to catch the wabbit who stole his carrots. I love Elmer Fudd.

I tell this story because I too am in pursuit of wabbits or illegal aliens as one of my gardening friends refers to them. For some reason, this season the wabbit count is high, and they are voraciously hungry. I have a collection of Asiatic lilies, which I am very proud of, but this year they have been decimated by the wabbits. At first, I thought it was a bug, but one day, I witnessed a long earred furry thing chomping on the tender leaves of a lily plant. By the time I reacted, and placed a wabbit barrier around the stubs, it was too late; the liwys were eaten to the ground

A year ago, I wrote a story titled “Dumb Ass Squirrel #!!&+*^(#?” It described my battle with a squirrel and my bird feeders. Later in the summer, I wrote a trilogy of pieces about another garden creature titled; Mystery-Riddle,  Dumb Ass Squirrel Has Competition,  and Answer to Riddle.

Eventually, I gave up and conceded to the ingenuity of the squirrels. The wabbit is another matter. The squirrels are entertaining; the wabbits are destwuctive. There is no pwant matter thing they wiww not taste. In the pwocess, they destwoy bwooms. One of the fiwst fwowers of spwing is the tuwip. The wabbits wait untiw the bud is high and about to bwoom, then they chomp the stem. The bud ways on the gwound with an uneaten stem stiww attached.  (If you think it is easy to write with a lisp, think again. I want you to get as frustrated reading this as I am chasing the wabbit.)

My war with the wabbits is compounded by, my sweet wife, Peggy. She has a motherly fondness for all living creatures and goes out of her way to feed birds, squirrels, and now wabbits too. Her attitude is that the animal kingdom leads a hard life and they deserve a little tender loving care. (But not my prize lilies dam it.) Peggy will dump a cup full of birdseed on the patio for the ducks, and the wabbits. On the way to the seed pile, the wabbits pass through my flowerbeds and partake of appetizers. A bite here, a nibble there, aren’t they cute?

For the last week, instead of drawing Obama bashing cartoons, and blogging, Grumpa Joe has been busy installing wabbit barriers at considerable expense. Every day he discovers that the wabbit has figured a new route into the flowers. So far, He has discovered a huge chunk missing from his favorite cactus, a denuded potted geranium, coral bell stems, and leaves lying on the ground. All the buds from a bellflower are gone, chrysanthemum buds gone (that one is a favor to me), bell pepper, hosta, and sedum leaves eaten to the stem. What do they leave alone? Wabbits avoid dandelions, clover, thistle, Queen Anne’s lace, and so far, day lilies.

 The war continues.

White Flies, Right On Schedule

Red HibiscusWhat a great day this was. Peggy and I were greeted by three bright red  hibiscus blossoms. Here it is March and we have the joy of  tropical flowers. This is another plant that has been with me for several years; four to be specific. It came into the family through Peggy’s daughter, then to Peggy, then to me. The plant had outgrown it’s quarters and I had a nice basement with an atrium to winter it.  It didn’t need a lot of attention, just some light and water once in awhile. 

Every spring, I place it on the patio in full sun and watch it grow. Within a few weeks the bush has so many leaves on it you can’t see through it like you can right now. Eventually, with a regular regimen of fertilizer it begins to bloom. It gives us blossoms all summer and fall. It is late September when I finally bring it in again. That is, not before it has been washed thoroughly and sprayed heavily with insecticidal soap. Usually, there are so many flower buds on it, that I don’t dare trim it back. Peggy would kill me if I cut one budding blossom. 

Once the plant is in the house again, the leaves begin to turn yellow and start to drop. The flowers continue to bloom. We’ve had as many as twelve blossoms at one time. Considering that they last only a day or two it is pretty remarkable to see flowers nearly every day. That is until three weeks ago. the final bud opened and that was it. The plant took a rest until today. 

Notice the Yellow Stamenleaf-with-holesThis morning, all I saw  were red blossoms. I decided to photograph the beautiful red trumpets with the bright yellow stamen. When I returned with the camera, I began to see things differently. First, I saw a perforated leave. It looked like swiss cheese. Then I saw a curled one. As I combed the leaves looking for signs of bugs, I spotted the creature. A tiny white speck darted past the side of my head. Drat! White flies. Now I have to spray again or they will take over the house.

The white fly is not unusual. They arrive on the plant every year in March.  They are right on schedule this year too. They are  a major pain in the ass. I could take a practical approach and say, “I’ve had plenty of pleasure out of you plant, and now it is time for you to go.”  That would be too easy. There is something in the genes of a gardener that keeps wanting to sustain horticultural life.

Looking into the Trumpet

As a boy, mom took me with her when she visited freinds. They had plants all around their houses.  I thought to myself, I’ll never get that old that my house will be filled with pots of flowers everywhere. Well, guess what? You got it, I have pots of flowers all around my house.

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