Entries to Win Afghan

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Friday, May 31, 2024

What's Blooming Today

 I've been working on weeding the front flower bed. Not done yet, but this one is much easier than the rock garden. The Fleeceflowers are still looking good, two weeks after the first picture from this year. Wow. I don't care for this very much, but if it's going to be this nice, I'll call it a winner. You can see that things behind it are somewhat weeded.

Also in the front bed is the white deadnettle I got for free a long time ago when someone threw a planter from the cemetery into the gully. This only thrives when it's weeded, but I guess it decided I'd done an adequate job last year. I like it for the white leaves, but the white flowers are nice and bright too.
white deadnettle

Of course, the best of the front bed at this time of year is the poppies. This year, both the red and the salmon ones bloomed. This one skipped last year for some reason. When it blooms, it has three flowers. Always... three.
salmon poppy

The really good news is that the other Brunnera that I thought hadn't survived the winter was just hiding. Hooray! The leaves aren't white when they first come up, so I just didn't see it in the weeds. It's smaller than the one I've been showing you, but fine.

Now we'll go out to the bed that only was partly weeded last year, and hasn't been touched yet this year. There are two perennial Salvia, also called Meadow Sage, out there, both purple. I had a pink one too, but I think that's gone. If you deadhead it, it will bloom a long time.
meadow sage

This is not an actual rock garden report, but there are a few things blooming. The magenta and pink geraniums are all over, but they keep blooming a long, long time. They kind of provide a backdrop for other things.

First, I want to show you the Red Mountain Flame Ice Plant again. I am SO excited that this is happy. What a burst of color.
red mountain flame ice plant

I decided to get another, but this one is 'Ocean Sunset Orange Glow.' It's not as well established yet, but I have high hopes. Can you tell that the flowers are orange in the middle, but magenta on the margins?
Ocean Sunset Orange Glow ice plant

This is another new plant. I've killed one before (maybe not this variety), but this was inexpensive, so I decided to give it another shot. This is a Sea Pink, "Armeria maritima." variety 'Dusseldorf Pride.' It's supposed to be a rock garden plant, so perhaps this one will shape up. It only grows about 6" tall.
Sea Pink Dusseldorf Pride

And we will end with a rock garden surprise. The last time I saw this plant was in 2016 when I blogged about it (link below). This is supposedly a perennial Dianthus, but mostly it just self-seeds and comes up wherever it wants to. The variety is 'Brilliant.' The flowers are tiny, about 1/2" across, and this picture is in dappled light, but they are bright, deep pink. There are two patches of them in the rock garden. They are just starting to bloom. You can see there are lots more buds.

The thing about plants that are pretty but self-seed all over is that you never know where they are going to come up, and it may not be in a suitable place. I used to have California Poppies all over the rock garden too. When I was happy to have anything at all blooming, they were OK, but I'd rather have plants stay where I put them. Anyway. I'll take them. If the other Dianthus like this one, 'Arctic Fire,' ever shows up again, I'll be really happy. Also last seen in 2016.

The Dianthus 'Kohari,' and 'Red Dwarf Eastern Star' are also blooming. Some of the sedums are just beginning.

I edited about 4 hours, and worked on the gardens. I still have some things to get ready for the vendor event tomorrow. I have to get cracking and get them done because I need to leave here at 7:30 in the morning.

See I Used to Have Nice Plants

Thursday, May 30, 2024

An Adventure Day

 Colette invited anyone from our random hiking group, but it turned out to be just three gals: Colette, Sue and me. Our goal was Pyramid Point at Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore. But did we get there in a straight line. No, big NO.

First we made a quick stop at the relatively new Arcadia Marsh boardwalk. We saw over a dozen sandhill cranes, a lot of sunning painted turtles, a muskrat, ducks, trumpeter swans and lots of redwing blackbirds and sparrows.

This post is going to have to be a brief sampler. I chose to share some of the sandhills from that stop.
sandhill cranes

We had to stop at the Arcadia Bluffs overlook, because who can drive past that on a nice day? This is looking south from the top of the overlook, and the marsh trail we had just walked is down in the valley between this point and the far bluff.
Arcadia Bluffs Overlook

Then we decided to swing in to the Point Betsie Lighthouse since I'd never been there.
point betsie lighthouse

OK, we finally made it to the Pyramid Point Trail. Looks harmless enough, right?

It wasn't terribly hilly. Only about 100 feet total elevation change, but the final climb up to Pyramid Point was steep. From Pyramid Point you look out over Lake Michigan from 375 feet above the water. It's considered to have one of the best views of Big and Little Manitou Islands. I didn't do a very good job with pictures of that. I was too focused on the amazing color of the water. But that's Big Manitou on the right side of the picture, and Little on the left.
pyramid point view

We had planned to hike the loop trail there after going to the lookout point. This turned out to be the big wonderful surprise of the day. The trail is through rich woodlands and we saw something like 15 species of flowers in bloom, not to mention ones already gone to seed. I'll just share the best (to me).

Jack-in-the-pulpit was everywhere. We weren't sure if we'd ever seen so many in one place. This was my favorite.
jack in the pulpit

I love the yellow lady slipper orchids even more than the pink ones.
yellow lady slipper

Botanically, this was the best find of the day, although there is so much greenery going on that it's hard to know what you are seeing. This is rattlesnake fern, Botrychium virginianum, one of the moonworts. It's the most common of that group, but still a very nice find. It only grows in moist, rich woodlands. It has a Coefficient of Conservatism of 5.
Botrychium virginianum

All that, and it's not yet 2 pm. So we went to get some lunch.

Still not satisfied, we hunted up one more little trail that none of us had ever been too. That was a feat in itself because one or the other of us had been to almost every one of the 46 hikes in the Jim DuFresne book of Hikes Along M-22. We found the Portage Point Nature Preserve Trail, which I think has to be relatively new. It was a quick hike of a little more than a mile through more typical dry woods. But it was a great ending to the day. Just to emphasize how interesting the previous trail was, we did not see a single flower blooming along this trail.
Portage Point Trail

Was this the end of our adventures? Well, almost. Colette veered off in Manistee. Then Sue and I stopped to look at plants. Yes I came home with plants. More on that another day.

Now we are at the end. We think the total miles hiked is about 5.5.

Miles hiked so far in 2024: 249.2.

Arcadia Marsh, about 1 mile. Pyramid Point Lookout and Loop, about 2.8 miles. Portage Point, 1.25 miles. Miscellaneous at Betsie and the Bluffs ? But we are calling the total 5.5

See Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Shiawassee Wildlife Refuge

 Driving home today, I made a stop at a place that I can write about for my next "Get Off the Couch" column in the paper. Did you know there is a national wildlife refuge over near Saginaw? It's the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge.
shiawassee wildlife refuge sign

Some refuges have more hiking trails than others. This one has multiple choices. I did all of the Woodland Trail (almost 4 miles), and sampled the Fergusen Bayou Trail. It's over 4 miles long, but I went in as far as the first observation platform and back out. The two areas are quite different. The Woodland Trail is through a wet woodland. The Bayou Trail is on dikes through a marshy area with wildlife observation decks.

This will just be a sampler. Of course I came home with too many pictures. For you, I have 2 trees, 2 flowers, and 2 wildlife picture.

The Swamp White Oak, Quercus bicolor is supposedly found in Mason County, but it's a lot more common south of here. It's easy to spot. The leaf is much wider at the tip than at the stem end, and the leaves are very white on the back side-- "bicolor."
swamp white oak

Another one I don't see too often is Red Hickory or Pignut, Carya glabra. The odd thing is, this is pretty much an upland tree, but it was in this bottomland hardwood area. But the bark and everything I can see at this time of year makes me fairly sure of the ID. Anyway, another cool find I don't see locally.
pignut hickory

Flowers in abundace were the Canada Anemone, Anemone canadensis. This is a really handsome late spring flower, and it will agree to grow densely enough that it could be used in flower beds.
canada anemone

And yet another wild rose that I have trouble sorting out because I can't seem to remember what to look for. However, I'm pretty sure this is Smooth Rose, Rosa blanda. Ha! The U of M Herbarium says R. blanda does not grow in Michigan. Well... it has very few thorns and the leaves are very blunt at the ends. The wet habitat makes me suspect it's Swamp Rose, Rosa palustris, which would make sense here. But the leaves aren't right, and of course I didn't look for other key characteristics when I was there. I can definitively say, "it's pretty."
smooth rose

There was the requisite spring picture of a family of Canada geese. Actually, I saw several families, but the babies were smaller and cuter in this group.
canada geese with babies

I saw a number of birds, but getting pictures of those was illusive. The birds were pretty active for mid-day. Several great blue herons, a pileated woodpecker, a brown creeper, and all the usual suspects.

Here's another typical spring picture. Mama was there, but stepped out of the picture. The baby stood completely still, as they are "supposed" to do.
whitetail fawn

I think there is a particular kind of beauty in wetlands, sometimes even the places that some people might not find so attractive. Here are two examples.
shiawassee wildlife refuge

Busy day. Chatted with my host, took two walks, drove 3.5 hours, unloaded the car. Tomorrow, another adventure is planned. Stay tuned

Miles hiked so far in 2024: 243.7.

Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge, Woodland Trail and part of the Ferguson Bayou Trail, total 6.3 miles

See Montezuma Wildlife Refuge

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Clouds and SOLAR

 On the way to Livonia today (3.5 hour drive), the clouds put on quite a show. I never drove in more than some sprinkles, however.



The purpose of the drive was to give my program for the SOLAR Outdoor Club, which has been around since the 1970s and is still going strong. There were about 70 people there.
group of people at a meeting

I had a chance to visit with some people afterwards, and some went out for a social time after we had to be out of the building.
author visiting with people

I'm spending the night with one of the members. Great day, but I'm beat. Have to sign off and get flat.

See Sky Day

Monday, May 27, 2024

Oyster? Hedgehog? Angel?

  I thought I was going to pull photos from previous blog posts to really illustrate the answer to this question. However... Although I know I have taken pictures of all of these choices, I apparently haven't put them on the blog. Huh.

OK, so the question is: When you see a stacked off-white pile of fungus growing on a tree, what is it?

The first question to answer is: Does it have gills or teeth on the underside? This one clearly has gills.
oyster mushroom

That narrows the choices to Oyster Mushroom or Angel Wings. Well, I'm no fungus expert. I asked a friend who is. She says this is oyster because the gills are fairly far apart and the caps are thick. But I should have smelled it. The oyster smells (strongly?) seafoodish. It was too high up for me to smell it, but next time, I'll try.

I did find one picture from 2104 of old, decaying Angel Wings. I always think of them as having thinner, upturned caps, but maybe they don't start out upturned since the pictures in the book I'm using don't really show it that way.

Both of these are edible, and pretty highly favored. I haven't sampled them.

The Hedgehog has teeth (lots of them) and Stacka Hydnum Mushrooms have pores instead of gills. Hedgehogs are pretty spectacular, actually. I know I have at least one picture of a Hedgehog. I might even know where it is.

So far today, I've edited campsites for 6 hours. Might try to do a little more. Minnesota was a mess because I hadn't really settled on a format when I went through it the first time.

The biggest news is that Om and I went to see the movie Sight. Highly recommended. True story, inspiring and touching.

See Sterling Marsh Again

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Just for Jean

 OK, this was just for fun, but how awesome is it to have a chicken-head friend? I mean I have a chicken-loving friend (Jean), and maybe a chicken friend (Kay-Kay).
crocheted chicken hean

Today was the second day of the vendor event. It went well, and on top of yesterday, I had a great sales weekend. This is going to be a very busy week.

See Bring Your Chicken to Work Day

Saturday, May 25, 2024

Other People's Flowers

 Vendor event all day. I did well.

Walking to my car, I enjoyed other people's flowers. These are allium (in other words, an onion, but these are ornamental for the flowers)
purple garden allium

Red lupine, also a garden cultivar.
red lupine

The presentation of these was nice. White iris in front of a yellow-green tree, with the red lupine.
garden with white iris and red lupine

This garden had purple and yellow iris.
purple and yellow iris

And a stunning rhododendron bush. This was all just in two blocks!
purple rhododendron

The vendor event was very busy. Pictures of these events all look alike. Here's the food tent alley. The good news is, I'm doing great. The bad news is that I have another event next weekend, and even though I have books that will arrive this week, I'm going to run out of a couple of titles. It's always a total guessing game how much to order.
vendor event

I weeded a few minutes after I got home, but talking with people all day long is exhausting. And I'll be doing it again tomorrow. I'm probably going to crash with a book.

See What's blooming now