Friday, May 30, 2008

We've Got a New Baby!

The daffodil season has been one of the best yet here at Our Little Acre, and amazingly enough, it's still going on. We even have one variety that is just emerging from the ground! (Narcissus 'Faith') I think I planted them too deeply and they've struggled to make their way to the sunshine, so I'll be surprised if they actually bloom. We'll see.

Most of our daffodils have come and gone, but a little charmer is at the height of its glory. 'New Baby' is a teeny weeny thing - so small that I nearly missed its first blooms. Each tiny flower is no more than an inch across. Its foliage is appropriately thin-bladed, making this a delicate addition to the spring palette. I just love it!

To give you a better perspective on just how tiny this daffodil is, here's a picture of them with their bedfellows:

Can you see them? They're at the right front of the bed, between the Tiarella and the Pulmonaria. Look very closely and you can see a couple of very tiny blooms. This is the first year I've had them and I expect them to bloom better next year. I think I'll need to move them though, because with as late as they bloom, too many leaves are on the trees by now for them to get as much sun as they like.

One little 'Thalia' is hanging on, but the rest have been gone for a week or so. It's the first spring for those, too, and I really like them. They're truly a white white.

One of my very favorites is 'Avalon'. It's sturdy-stemmed and has a large-sized flower. I like the white highlighting around its white cup. They didn't bloom as heavily this year as they did last, though.

I've only got a few 'Lemon Beauty' daffodils, but they're a nice accent to the other yellow petaled ones.

They have a split cup, though not as frilly as that other one I have that I keep threatening to dig up and feed to the squirrels. I don't think even the squirrels will want them though. They're so ugly, they're scary.

You can't really tell how ugly they are from this photo, though...

'Replete' Glamour Shot

'Sagitta' made its first appearance here this spring and I'm glad I bought two bags of them last fall. The cup is almost apricot and the flowers are quite large. They last a long time, too.

'Rick' borders on having a pink cup...

...but 'Pink Charm' truly is pink.

I thought 'Jetfire' would have a more orange cup than it did and that it would have a larger flower. It's on the smaller side. Regardless, I really like this one. I'll just look for another yellow with a solid orange cup to plant this fall.

is a real stunner.

is a reliable bloomer and is a somewhat smaller version of 'Avalon'. Many times it has multiple blooms on one stem.

There were various other unnamed daffodils that graced us with their presence...

This all-yellow is the largest daffodil we have.

Little 'Tete-a-Tete' never fails to bring cheer to the gardens. Just before Jenna's bridal shower in April, I bought more at Walmart and dotted them throughout the flower beds for some more color, since not a whole lot of anything else was blooming when these were.

'Rip van Winkle' only managed to produce one measly bloom this year, and 'Golden Bells' didn't bloom at all. I use bulb food, so I'm not sure what happened with these. Maybe they'll do better next year.

And of course, we've got the classic Poet's Daffodil spotted here and there around the yard. Some of them are thirty years old, because we dug them from a ditch down the road shortly after we moved here. But in all that time, did you know that I didn't realize they were highly fragrant? I accidentally caught a whiff this spring while weeding near them and I was so surprised by how good they smelled.

It's hard to believe we're so far into the growing season that the daffodils are nearly finished! It's been a lovely spring and it's gone far more quickly than winter did. Why is that always the case?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Captivating Bluebirds - A Book Review

The bluebird carries the sky on his back.
Henry David Thoreau ~ 1852

Romie and I saw our first bluebird last spring. We were working in the garden, near an ornamental birdhouse, and I saw a flash of brilliant blue out of the corner of my eye. I looked up and saw the bluebird perched atop the birdhouse. I whispered to Romie, "Look!"

We stood for a moment, in awe of the beauty of this rufous-chested bird and we knew we were in the presence of something special. Neither of us had ever seen one before. It took a look into the small hole of the birdhouse, and then it flew away.

The very next day, we bought a bluebird house and mounted it on the back side of a tall shagbark hickory at just about eye level, hoping the bluebird would return and make its home there. It didn't, but a small wren decided it was just right.

From this point on, we both were fascinated with bluebirds, which recently led me to discover a great new book about them. Captivating Bluebirds: Exceptional Images and Observations is written by Stan Tekiela. It's a treasure of a book, chock full of just about anything you'd want to know about bluebirds and amazing intimate photos of them.

We were familiar with Stan's work because we turn to his Birds of Ohio field guide time and time again to identify the various birds that visit the feeders and gardens at Our Little Acre. Just last night we looked up the Belted Kingfisher because we were sure we had seen one down by the creek that runs near our house. Stan's information confirmed it for us.

But back to this bluebird book he's written... All of the stunning photographs (more than 100) were taken by Stan and feature every aspect of a bluebird's fascinating life. Each is accompanied by text containing facts that confirm that this bird is truly special and unique among songbirds. For example, did you know that a bluebird's feathers don't contain blue pigment? Did you know that a female bluebird sometimes has three broods in a season?

Captivating Bluebirds
is written in an easy-to-browse format and can easily be read in one sitting, if you so choose. But why do that, when there's so much to look at and savor? I've read and reread this book several times already and will no doubt turn to it again and again. In fact, we plan to place another bluebird house and Stan has included suggestions for purchase, construction, and placement of houses, at the back of the book.

The 9 x 7-inch book is softcover, but it's a "Perfect Paperback," meaning it's bound somewhat like a hardcover in the way its pages are grouped together. The front and back covers have a wrap-around section like a dustjacket has, and these add stability and strength to the edges of the softcover as well as being handy to use as a bookmark.

Captivating Bluebirds: Exceptional Images and Observations by Stan Tekiela, Adventures Publications, March 5, 2008. 144 pages. List price $14.95. (Amazon price $11.51.)


Stan Tekiela is an award winning author, naturalist, columnist, wildlife photographer and radio personality. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Natural History Interpretation (Naturalist) from the University of Minnesota. He has been a professional naturalist for over 20 years and is a member of the Minnesota Naturalist Association, the Outdoor Writers Association of America, North American Nature Photography Association, and Canon Professional Services.

Stan actively studies and photographs nature throughout the U.S. You can visit his website at

The product or merchandise being reviewed in this blog post was the sole compensation for testing and reviewing the product. All opinions expressed here are mine, with no suggestions whatsoever by the manufacturer or distributor. If I like it, I'll say so. If I don't, I'll say that, too.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

How About Some Seeds With Your Gas?

Today we made a trip to Van Wert to pick up a few things we needed to complete some projects we're doing in the garden. We also stopped in to see the progress that's been made in the Smiley Park Children's Garden and WOW - it's really looking great!

Walmart is the only one-stop shopping place we have, so that's where we went to get some groceries, food and litter for the kitties, the supplies we needed for our projects, and oh yes, that refined black gold our car requires to get from one place to another.

Walmart's price for regular unleaded gas was $3.97 a gallon, but when you use a Walmart credit card or gift card to purchase it, you get three cents off, making it $3.94. On Thursday, it was $4.15 in Fort Wayne, so this seemed like somewhat of a bargain. Ha.

As we were checking out, Romie handed me a gift card for the checker to load with dollars we'd use to buy our gas. "Here," he said, "have some seeds."

Now this was pretty cool. They had two styles of cards where a small packet of seeds was attached. One had sunflowers pictured on the card with some sunflower seeds; the other pictured white baby's breath with a small packet of seeds for Gypsophilia elegans.

What a charming idea for spring!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Speaking of Lilacs...

As May draws to a close, so has the blooming season for lilacs here, and what a glorious season it was. Each time I walked by our neighbors' large lilac, which borders our property, and caught a whiff of its scent, I was reminded of what my grandma told me years ago. She said that people used to plant lilacs near their doors so when people came to visit, they could enjoy the scent too, as they entered the house.

Our own lilac history began with a white double one I received for my birthday in the early '90s from my friend Jane.

She knew I loved lilacs. When we chose a planting spot for the white lilac, we decided to put it in a place that had lain bare for a few years. There had been a white peony there, planted by the original owners of our house, but had strangely disappeared a few years before.

The white lilac grew and bloomed for many years, until one day, a few weeks after the lilac season was over, I was mowing the lawn and something white caught my eye as I went past the lilac bush. I got off the mower and walked over to it and couldn't believe what I saw. White peony flowers!
That silly peony had come back to life! It was so enmeshed with the now well-established lilac bush, there was no way to separate the two. We dubbed it the "Peolac" and they continue to co-exist to this day, both giving us beautiful white blooms in their own seasons.

The "Peolac" - circa 2004

The second lilac we planted was a Syringa meyeri. It was planted near the trellis, which at that time didn't have a garden surrounding it. Only the honeysuckle clambered up and over it. The lilac grew and became a very nice small green shrub, but it never bloomed. I mentioned it to my mom one day, and she said it was likely not receiving enough sun, so we moved it, and sure enough, the next year we were rewarded with beautiful blooms. (Another reason a lilac might not bloom is if they're pruned in the fall or early spring. Lilacs bloom on old wood, so the best time to prune is right after the flowering season has ended. Like now.)

Then my grandma decided we needed a Japanese Maple. (Oh YEAH, baby!!) Where to put it? The perfect place for it was ... oh, dear ... where the meyeri lilac was. And the lilac was in bud, ready to bloom. Sometimes you just have to make choices that aren't fun to make. We moved the lilac and miraculously, it didn't show a single sign of transplant shock and gave us beautiful lavender blooms for the next few weeks. Then it promptly died.

Two years ago, we bought another lilac, Syringa vulgaris 'Sensation', which has beautiful deep purple blooms with white picotee edges. This year, I bought another. So now we're surrounded by beautiful lilacs and in early May, we're rewarded with heavenly scents when soft breezes blow.

Perhaps the most unusual lilac we have was purchased last year. It's a cut-leaf lilac (Syringa laciniata) and it has a very lacy open look.

The foliage is graceful and reminds me a bit of Corydalis foliage, and its blooms are petite and fragrant. This shrub gives a very different look and provides a more attractive foliage than the common lilacs when it's not in bloom.

Each kind of lilac has its own little bloom season, one overlapping the other. While this extends the lilac season a bit, it's over all too soon.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Here Comes the Bride!

All week, rain and wind and cold temperatures had been predicted for Saturday, May 17th, but when the day actually got here, only the wind decided to show up. It was nearly perfect for a spring afternoon wedding. Our younger daughter Jenna married her college sweetheart, Joe.

They'd become engaged in October 2006, so there was plenty of time for planning the wedding. Jenna planned the entire affair nearly single-handedly, arranging all the details down to a "t". We all were sure she hadn't allowed enough time for pictures, but we were proven wrong. (I'm sure we'll be reminded of this later. LOL)

The night before, we rehearsed the ceremony at the church, then traveled north a little ways to Lone Star, where Joe's parents hosted the rehearsal dinner. When we'd all filled our tummies and enjoyed the fellowship, we went our separate ways to get a good night's sleep for the big day ahead.

Two of Jenna's bridesmaids, as well as her sister Kara, who was her Matron of Honor, spent the night at our house, while several of Joe's groomsmen stayed with Joe at his apartment. In the morning, the girls headed out early, so they could get their hair and makeup done.
We arrived at the church at noon, snacks in hand for the girls, and finished getting ready.

My mom was really worried the girls would spill food on their
dresses, so I provided bibs. LOL

We tried to get as much of the formal picture-taking completed as possible, including a four-generation photo with my grandma, who is 93 years old.

Finally, it was time for the main event. Jenna was escorted by her dad down the aisle to
Canon in D as her sister stood teary-eyed, watching. I saw Joe wiping his eyes later, too. She truly was as beautiful as I've ever seen her.

After the ceremony, Jenna and Joe dismissed the guests by row, then came back into the sanctuary for more pictures. The wedding party left the church in a limo and traveled downtown to Freimann Square, where more pictures were taken.

Shortly a
fter the wedding party arrived at the reception, toasts were made by the best man and the matron of honor. As Kara related stories about growing up with Jenna, she mentioned a time when Jenna was mad at her and was chasing her around the family room with a kitchen knife. (As Mom and Dad cringed in horror.) When Joe heard this, he scooted his chair back away from the table, looked at Jenna with shock, and promptly grabbed Jenna's knife and passed it down to the end of table. LOL.

Joe's mom gave the blessing after relating how we as parents had prayed for our children's spouses even before they were old enough to think about such things. She said while Joe believed he was going to Manchester College for education and to play football and Jenna was going there to become an athletic trainer and play golf, God's plans were for the two of them to meet. Amen!

I recounted how Jenna had always been her dad's shadow as she was growing up and that now she would likely be Joe's. But both sets of parents would always be behind them, supporting them and being available when they needed us.

As they prepared to cut the cake and Jenna grabbed the long-bladed knife, someone in the crowd yelled, "Joe! She's got a knife! RUN!" I have a feeling we won't ever forget the knife moments!

Much celebrating and dancing ensued. Even Nannie was coaxed onto the floor, and loved every second of it. When she left the party, she declared, "If I die tonight, I'll die happy." Her entire family was together in one place (minus one grandchild's husband) and she'd danced at her great-granddaughter's wedding.

My shoes were quite popular with several people, to the point that I was afraid to take them off or they'd be stolen! (Just kidding!) I was asked what size they were, where did I get them, were they comfortable, did I want to sell them, etc., and more than once they were declared to be "hot". They really were great shoes!

Jenna and Joe left Sunday night for Indianapolis, from where they departed the next morning for Riviera Maya, on the Pacific side of Mexico, for their week-long honeymoon. I'll leave you with more photos from the wedding and reception...

Again, thank you to my mom, who did the flowers, as she had done for Kara and Adam's wedding. She's a true gardener in every way.

Other photos can be seen here and here, as well as on the wedding photographer's website (click on DeCraene Wedding).

Wedding Trivia

  • The flower girl wore the same dress that Jenna wore in 1989 in her cousin's wedding.

  • Jenna and Joe got married on the same date that Romie and I became engaged in 1974.

  • Joe's mom and I were escorted down the aisle to The Carpenters' Sometimes. This is the same song that Romie's mom and my mom walked down the aisle to at our wedding in 1975, and Kara had it in her wedding as well.

  • Jenna's Something Old was her great-great-grandmother's gold wedding band, Something New was her wedding dress, Something Borrowed was her sister's veil, Something Blue was my blue wedding garter, and she had a 1982 penny in her shoe (the year she was born).

The pictures here are a collection of those taken by my Aunt Kay, Kara, Lisa Johnson and me.

blogger templates | Make Money Online