29 November 2007

The catchildren do the Blissteam Meme

The Bliss Team over at Yolanda Elizabet's tagged our furball family to play Questions, so after some discussion, snacks, scraps and snoozes, here's what they have to say:

1. Name 5 favourite "Songs", real or cat-created

Mungus: 'What have you done now?' (by Within Temptation)
Toby "Wicked Game"
Simon Q: "Light on my Feet"

Nibs: "Hopalong Kittycat"
Spunky Boomerang: "I needa needa nap now!"

2. Name Five Favourite Toys:

Nibs: Anyone else. I can take them all! So what if I have three legs!

Simon and Toby: Flowers, real or silk. We're master flower arrangers!

Mungus: I can only have FIVE toys? What will everyone else have? Okay....BIRDS! If I could just open this window...

Tigger:Long blade of wild grass, or the horse's longe whip

Spunky Boomerang: Water!

3. Name Five things you like to eat:
Spunky: Cat food, or a little chicken, but I'll look seriously at you whatever you eat.
Thistle: Shrimp, please! Tail off.
Tigger: catnip, catnip, catnip, please!
Simon: Butter! Butter! I'll lift the lid off the butter dish. I'll sit and look at your knife. I'll knock the dish on the floor, but I MUST have butter!
Mungus and Simon: We'd like to try pan-fried squirrel, please!

Rowdy: Anything that I can get my teeth into. Except moles. I leave them for Mum to step on in the grass.
Nibs: I'm the littlest, and I have three legs. I get canned cat food all by myself, but don't tell anyone, okay? And I love barbecued potato chips!

Toby Soprano: Whatever comes out of the fridge is fine with me! Here, let me help you!

4. Name 5 favorite activities you'd like to indulge in:

Toby Soprano (with the babycats Spunky and his sister Mango): Sitting in a sunny window with friends.

The late, much lamented Quincy: Yoga while sleeping.

Toby and Simon: Playing Lazer Eyeball Tag with Thistle

Mungus: Want. To. Go. OUT!

Rowdy: Helping Dad rebuild the boat. Don't I make a handsome figurehead?

Spunky: Basic and applied napping on Mum's desk.

5. Name 5 bad habits

Mungus: What, me? Just because I open cupboards, bug Thistle, wake my parents up, try to go outdoors at every opportunity, chew on socks and plants...

Simon Q. Okay, Maybe I THOUGHT about knocking the tree over. But I didn't. Not yet.

Thistle: Me? I'm little, cute, and have no tail!
Toby Soprano: I'm the flying furball, the boss of this here family, and a good fluffy boy.

Tigger: Me? I'm the senior cat, perfectly elegant and well behaved. Especially when I'm intoxicated on catnip, or catmint.
Spunky Boomerang: Moi? Je suis always too tired to be bad. Well, mostly.
Nibs: Well, I never....I'm perfect, and I have only three legs! I'm disabled so I get special compensation, right?

Rowdy. You talkin' to ME?I go outside where no one can find me when I want to be bad. But I'm never really bad. Much. Well, except when I fight with others. So I'm territorial. Whaddya gonna do about it?

Simon Q: Who me? Would this face get into the butter dish?

You see why it's never dull at our house???

Rhapsody en bleu....

I promised a few posts back that we'd get to the blue flowers in a little while, and here are a few of my favourite blues. (To cleanse your palate after putting up with magenta, neon-coloured ice plants, and then the great Orange Festival). We grow several different types of sea holly here, with the most reliable and prolific being flat seaholly, Erygium planum. It's much beloved by the bees too, who spend a lot of time bobbing from flower to flower during the weeks the plant is in bloom.

This little annual is Nemophila, or Baby Blueeyes, which grows easily from seed, but which also seems to get chewed up by slugs every year. Nevertheless, I'm partial to its soft blue, very similar to forget-me-nots, so I always have some in spring.

Virginia bluebells naturalize for many gardeners, but I haven't had success in getting them to spread yet. I'm hopeful that they're finally going to take off next year, because they're one of my favourites of the spring. Their salt-loving relative, Mertensia maritima, grows along beaches but apparently will grow in well drained soil above the shoreline too, so I'm going to try moving some of it to the alpine bed next year.

Do you know Starry Eyes? Omphalodes cappadocica is also known as Navelwort, and while this cultivar is probably 'Cherry Ingram', some gardeners refer to all forms as Starry eyes. This is a great shade garden plant, flowering about the same time as forget-me-nots.

One of the easiest of the gentians to grow is Willow Gentian, Gentiana asclepiadea, which also will take some shade. Some forms of this are bluer than others; one in our garden tends more toward purple than blue, but this one is definitely gentian-blue.

Oh, I guess everyone knows what this is! Just remember, I can't grow hollyhocks!

In the spring, much of our property is awash in Myosotis, or forget-me-nots in several different species. While we have some pink and white flowers, it's the china-blue flowers I love the best. I grow them for my Dad and for his sister, and for others stricken with Alzheimers Disease. We will forget-you-not....

Whether you call this by its botanical name (Nigella) or love in a bush, devil in a bush, love in a puff WITH the devil...it's a wonderful hardy annual, selfseeding nicely. It comes in rose and white as well as yellow (in another species, called the Transformer Nigella) but I love the blue most of all.

I raved on about Salvia 'Black and Blue' quite a bit this year, but I've really become a fan of most every salvia, hardy or annual, except maybe the overused red one found in gas station bedding schemes. But this is definitely a star; it doesn't like cold in the spring and it will pout, but once the warmer weather comes, stand back and let it do its thing. It finally succumbed to the chilling cold we've had intermittently over the past couple of weeks.

I know Kate shares a love of pincushion flower, or scabiosa, with me, (and with other gardeners too). Isn't it obvious why? It's a graceful, gentle flower, much loved by butterflies too, and if you deadhead it it keeps on flowering until just a couple of weeks ago.

As much as I love blue, I don't care as much for the mophead hydrangeas as I do for the lacecaps, which I also find to be hardier and more prone to flower properly. I think this is 'Blue Billows' but it might be 'Blue Bird'. I get them mixed up regularly!

Other gardeners have lamented about not being able to grow delphinium. Despite the wind here, they do well for me with a little creative staking, because it's not overwhelmingly hot here. I divide them regularly and so far none of them have dwindled away on me. A favourite is the Chinese Delphinium, which is shorter in stature but covers itself with remarkable, cobalt blue flowers.

I even use a lot of blue planters, and of course you've seen the blue chair, arbour, and other accents around the yard. For those wooden things we use periwinkle-blue paint, because there's not a lot comes in that colour in garden flowers,

...with the exception of chicory, and a few others. Even in the drab fall and winter, the arbour and short fences with their bright blue colour really show up and chase away the dreariness of a cloudy day.

I've left out some other obvious choices; borage, anchusa, pulmonaria, lobelia, false blue indigo, lupins, and probably many others. Do you enjoy a little rhapsody in blue in your garden too?

28 November 2007

Leggo My Eggo!

I know, I know, this is usually a blog about gardening...so before I start this love story to my horse, here's some flowers. Hmmmm. Red roses....where could those be???

One of the members of our family is Leggo My Eggo, my 11 year old Morgan gelding. He's a BIG Morgan, an old-fashioned sturdy one, not one of the little peentzy ones that look like Arabians. His dad was Equinox Admiration, one of the stallions that came from East of Equinox Farm in Vermont, although he lives in Nova Scotia. I got Leggo when he was just four and called Teddy. He was grumpy from being taught reining--he's a Morgan, after all, and they tend to be bright but to mature later than some...and he didn't like his owner anymore. I took one look at him, rode him a couple of times, and knew he was the horse i'd been waiting for my whole life. I made a deal with him; I'd never show him (and he's very show-quality) and he would never live in a huge barnful of horses again, and in return, he wouldn't buck me off.

We've kept that deal, but that doesn't mean he can't buck in the pasture. We were playing 'fierce wild horse' today, a modified game of tag that only Leggo and I understand. It's a bit like free longeing; I don't bother with a longe line when we do this because he listens pretty well without one.

The object of this game is for him to race around the paddock, either trotting or cantering or galloping (or flying). I took these photos this afternoon, so he's not his shiny sleek self. He's a hairy, fuzzy, and very muddy boy, but a happy one.

He cranks his tail back over his rump when he's happy (and he's usually very happy.) I say it's to fire up his jet propulsion system.

While JennyManyLumps, our donkey-from-Mars, sometimes joins in and gallumphs around a little bit, she usually watches these performances with this sort of expression. "I don't think so! I'm twenty seven years old..that makes me eighty-something in human years!"

And when it's time to stop playing, "Whoa" usually works very well. There's always the chance, when Alpha Horse (me) says whoa, that there are treats in my pocket. And Leggo loves treats!

Leggo is what you would call 'trail safe." While he gets offended at birds in bushes and at grasshoppers, and is very curious about cows, he is unphased by tractors (with plow, mower, bushhog or baler on behind), combines, motorcycles, four-wheelers, semi-tractor trucks, dump trucks, or even asinine drivers who blow their horns at him. I take him in the woods, down the road, along the beach...and during warm summer days, into the water. He's a good swimmer, but the most fun is when we come bursting up out of the water! We're not swimming these days, though.

Oh, about those roses? Well, my longsuffering other half thought I needed some cheering up to get me through the rest of November...Have I mentioned what a rare jewel he is?

27 November 2007

Blue Birds and wild seeds and bad cats, oh my!

As November quivers and shakes itself towards its end, it's throwing everything it can think of at us, weatherwise. Along with the usual rain, wind, cold, wet, dark dreary November-ness, we had a brief lull with temperatures in the high 50s (F) and into the low 60s. Now it's plummetting again! Have I mentioned how much I dislike November?? The weather tantrums are most of the reason (mostly the lack of sun, to be honest.)

There have been a few decent days in this month. A week ago, there wasn't too much wind and there was some sunlight, so I amused myself by sitting outside watching the bluejays stuff themselves at one of the feeders.

That same day, our photography class traipsed off to the Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens at Acadia University, one of my favourite places. In one of the greenhouses used by the botany professors/researchers, there's a collection of blueberry species (Vaccinium) from all over the world, including Madagascar and Africa. I'm not sure which one this is, because it had Lost Label (Lola Syndrome), but isn't it lovely?

Here it is with the blossoms open. Can you imagine the size of the fruit from flowers that are nearly three inches long?

Out in the gardens, we captured milkweed pods releasing their seed on the wind. Of all the seedheads there are, this is one of my favourites, but this is also a favourite plant, as I've indicated in the past. Without milkweed, we have no monarch butterflies, plain and simple.

Does this grow where you live? It's Myrica pensylvanica, the northern bayberry. It grows in great and wonderful profusion around here, and some like to use it in wreaths and flower arrangements. Like hollies, it's usually dioecious, (male and female plants) but a quirk of Myrica is that it sometimes can be monoecious. The waxy, blue berries are used in making bayberry candles, but I like this plant because it's a great shrub for birds, who nest and shelter in it and eat the berries too.

Yolanda at Bliss tagged our furball family to do a meme, which they said they'd get to later this week. Meanwhile, Mungus thought he'd show you one of his favourite activities: attacking wool socks on his 'mother's' foot. Look at that innocent expression: "Who me? This foot came up and attacked me. I was just protecting myself, honest!"

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