Camellia

Watercolor study of a camellia.   In Victorian tradition, the camellia symbolizes perfection.Camellia

My scanner has died and my digital camera is on its last legs (it has a smear on its lens and turns everything blue). I used the camera to photograph this, then tried to tweak it back to its true colors with Gimp. Hopefully later this month I'll be able to borrow my brother's fancy camera and fix all this.

Miraculous Watermelon

My homemade watermelon trellis. Will it actually bear the weight of watermelons? I don't know. Yes, I know there are several problems other than the spindly trellis-- the tiny container, not enough sun-- but in spite of this, I have a watermelon growing.

This watermelon is something of a mystery. First of all, watermelons have male and female flowers. In the absence of bees, the flowers have to be hand pollinated for fruit to happen. There are NO bees where I live. So I was planning to do some hand pollination, since this worked very well last year with my cucumbers.

But SOMETHING ELSE pollinated my watermelons.

I'm blaming fairies.

Tomatoes!  No mystery here.  Tomato flowers just need a bit of wind and pollinate themselves.  (Or vibration from an electric toothbrush.  Yes, I tried this method.)

Basil in bloom, companion-planted with the tomatoes.  One of my fruitless attempts to attract bees.

Blaming fairies for the lack of bees.  Fairies are bee-eaters, as everyone knows.

Glories

Glory be.  Glorious.  Gloriful.

Morning Glory.  Ipomoea purpurea. 

To the Victorians, they symbolized "Love in Vain."

Moonflower, which opens at night. A relative of the Morning Glory. Its buds are spiraled like a unicorn's horn, and its blooms are white. The moonflower symbolizes "Dreaming of Love" in the language of flowers.

Stories in Stone

Once upon a time there was a small town in the backwoods of Florida. This town is so small that if you turn right or left off of Main Street, you find yourself bumping along dirt roads. There's a farmer's market, a couple of art galleries, and a Mom-and-Pop's grocery. Not much else. About a quarter of a mile from town is the old cemetery. Old cemeteries are like old libraries: full of dusty, half-forgotten stories.

"Mother" Mary E. Herbert lived through the Civil War. I wonder if she lost any sons in the battlefields of Gettysburg or Bull Run. At the end, she was remembered as "Mother." Not wife, daughter, or sister. Mother.

C.P. Huffman.  Here's a tale.  A Union Army veteran who came South and never left again.  Maybe he fell in love with a Florida girl.  Maybe he loved the sunshine and orange trees and never wanted to pass another dark Northern winter.  He was buried here, "At Rest" behind old enemy lines.

This family protected their burial plots with a fence delicate as lace, strong as iron.  Someone still cares enough to leave the fence, but not enough to restore it.  Is there any iron left under the rust?

Inside the fence is the grave of Benjamin K, just sixteen when he died.  I wonder if he had a sweetheart.  I wonder if he was a wild, spoiled rich boy, notorious for flirting with the girls, but secretly loving only one.   His heartsore parents bought him a handsome stone...

...with a cupola on top.  Eventually the cupola toppled over, too heavy for its skinny columns.  Poor Benjamin.  I suppose there's no one left with the money or the concern to put his cupola back.

Old Mr. Crom.  When he was born, women wore bustles, gloves, and bonnets.  When he died, women had discovered the miniskirt, free love, and LSD.  After Queen Victoria, two World Wars, a Cold War, and Woodstock, all Mr. Crom wanted was a nice quiet game of golf.  I hope he got it.

 

Here lies Dr. McRae, who wore grey and saluted the Rebel flag.  Now a tiny Union flag pokes out of the soil over his grave.  He doesn't mind it.  Perhaps he was a doctor during the war.  Perhaps he sat up at all hours of the night pulling bullets from wounded men-- the Grey and the Blue.  He closed the eyes of the dead and soothed the fevered dreams of the living.

Long after the war, as an old man dozing in the sun, he still imagined he heard the thunder of cannons, and smelled the burning reek of gunpowder.

Disclaimer: Any resemblance to anyone living or dead, friend or relation isn't entirely coincidental, but nearly so.

Topper the Turtle

When I went out to water my plants this morning, I turned on the hose and heard something rustling.   This sent me into a moment of panic, because my first suspicion was that it would be a snake.  But it wasn't.

It was a little turtle who had gotten stuck between the fence, the hose, and the air conditioner.  I named him Topper.  Isn't he cute?

While I held him, I discovered that turtle shells are not the rigid, inflexible things I always imagined.  His under-shell had membranes along the sides and  across the middle, which allowed it to flex whenever he moved or breathed. 

The next order of business was to put Topper in a nice, damp, leafy area away from the road.  So I crept though a neighbor's shrubs down to the creek behind their house.

I pointed Topper towards the creek and waited a while, hoping he would come out of his shell so I could get a photo of his little clawed feet.  But he'd had enough of me at that point, and stayed well tucked in.  So I left him in peace.

Dreams in Green

Lavender's blue, rosemary's green.

Nasturtiums tumbling out of their pot.  They don't exactly climb, they sort of flop and tangle around.

Baby lemon growing on my mother's Meyers Lemon tree.  It had dozens of blossoms earlier this spring, but only a few of them seem to have been fertilized.  Lazy bees.

A shamrock in bloom.  I bought it on sale after St. Patrick's day.  By the way, I have red hair. Back around St Patrick's day, a strange man saw me walking across the parking lot and yelled, "Oh, the luck of the Irish!"  Not Irish, sorry.

Baby cucumber!  Cucumber vines have male and female flowers, and I don't trust the bees to figure it out.  (Not many bees in my area.)  So I've been experimenting with hand pollination, and this cucumber finally "took."

Of all the bean seeds I planted, only this one has germinated.  It's shooting for the sky. 

Pea plant!  It may be too late in the year to start peas.  Apparently pea-plants don't like extreme heat, which Florida certainly has.  But I'm dreaming of fresh peas, lying in their pods like little green pearls...

Broccoli, so stately with its silvery leaves.  I coddled my broccoli plants through the winter, recently transplanted them to a large pot, and they finally are thickening up.

Miniature climbing rose.  I love having roses growing in between my vegetables: beauty mingling with humility.

The first tomato of the summer.  This is a Beefmaster tomato plant.  Yes, fear the Beefmaster!

When I am queen, you shall be king.

Leaves and Earth

Last weekend I went up to Tallahassee to pick up my friend Lauren, who has been teaching English in Korea for the past year. On the way to bundle her and her luggage into my car, I stopped by Tallahassee Nurseries to indulge my green thumb. I love the Tallahassee Nurseries.  When I was at FSU I went frequently: their plants are always healthy, and they pack them in a cute brown paper bag.

Peppermint, mentha piperita.  I love this herb, even though I've never really liked the taste of mint.  It smells so cold and fresh when the leaves are crushed.  It's practically impossible to kill, as long as it gets water and sun.  And there's nothing like fresh mint leaves in iced tea. 

Lavender, lavendula.  Smells.  So.  Good.  Rumored to soothe insomnia, and also good as a cooking herb.  Last week I made some blueberry-lavender ice cream, which I'll be posting about soon!

Little Lanterns Columbine, aquilegia canadensis.  Columbine flowers are so delicately beautiful that they don't seem quite real-- they look like the wild invention of a fairy tale.  But my plant doesn't have any blooms on it yet.  I tried to grow columbine from seed once with no success at all.

Snapdragon, antirrhinum majus.  I just love snapdragons.  I love the name, I love the blossom clusters, I love the rainbow of colours and varieties.  And I use them as a rain barometer for my other plants!  When the snapdragon starts to droop, I know it's time to water everything.

In her book  Hidden Art, Edith Schaeffer said, "Human beings were made to interact with growing things, not to be born, live and die in the midst of concrete set in the middle of polluted air." 

So here's my patch of green.