Saturday, August 4, 2012

Various garden pictures from spring and summer

I have a few things that I could write about, but I'm not a very good writer so I keep putting it off.  In the meantime, may I present some photos of my "semi-wild" garden from over the past few months.

 The path from my driveway up towards the door.

 Daylilies and hosta blooming, early July.

 Closeup of wildflowers - I think that these are Daisy fleabane (Erigeron annuus).

 Berry on a honeysuckle bush, with a small insect just to the left.

 Lilac flowers in May.

 My entire lilac bush in bloom.

 Seeds developing on a Red Maple in May.

 Siberian Iris

Pink geraniums and forget-me-nots

 Closeup of an unknown variety of iris

 Spiderwort (Tradescentia)

 Yellow irises (unknown variety) next to my driveway

A closeup of one of the yellow irises

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Brief update

 It's been a while since I've blogged.  I've been going through a long period of several months when my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder has been especially severe, and a lot of my energy has been spent coping with that.  This means that most of the other facets of my life have suffered at least a little bit - both the OCD and fighting it take a lot of mental focus and energy.  At times like these, I tend to become more withdrawn, have difficulty focusing on work and other everyday tasks, eat more (and gain weight accordingly), and spend much of my free time doing nothing in particular but thinking and going through tumultuous emotions.  

In spite of this, I have been able to give my Dad some help for his upcoming move.  Most of the assistance he has gotten, however, has come from a company that helps with arranging and packing materials in preparation for moves.  Their assistance has been vital - he is probably 75% of the way through packing, whereas him and me alone would be much less far along without professional help.  I can only go over to help on weekends, and he has both a bad knee and a bad back, so it's a bad idea for him to do too much.  Picture a 4-bedroom house with 2 stories and a basement, filled with 30 years of material accumulated by what was once a family of 5 that lived there, most of whom had at least slight "pack rat" tendencies, and you might have some idea of the size of the task.  A lot has been thrown away or donated, including books (Dad estimated that he had over 2000 books before we began the process).  Within a couple of weeks, though, most of the boxes and furniture should be moved into his new house, and then the task will be unpacking.

There's obviously nothing going on in the garden to photograph lately.  Overall, we've had a very mild winter, with little snow after the freak storm we had last October.  We've had some cold spells, but overall the temperatures have been less cold than usual.  Today has been very, very windy, and the power even went out for a short time.

Well, that's my brief update for now.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Autumn storms, odds and ends

Two weekends ago, we had a freak autumn snowstorm that dropped a little more than a foot of snow on trees that still had the majority of their leaves. As a result, some people lost power for a week, and trees and tree limbs went down everywhere. (I was lucky, losing power for a mere three days, but darn was it cold at night in my house!) A maple tree in my yard had a large, horizontal limb partly break off and fall onto a privet hedge. Part of it was sticking out into the street, and I had to grab my pruning saw and go out while it was snowing to cut that part of it off so that it wouldn't block cars. The part that wasn't sticking out into the street is still where it fell, still partly attached to the tree. The tree-pruning companies are so booked up that I couldn't get an appointment for someone to come and remove it until the 22nd of this month, still a little more than a week away. Here's the branch:
Here's another view:
Here's the tree just a little more than a week before the storm - you can see the branch that broke off in the lower right:
In other news, my father will be buying a new house this week. I will be helping him gradually pack and move stuff out of the old house where he has lived for almost 30 years, and where I grew up, and into his smaller new house. We will be able to do this gradually because he plans to sell the old house to neighbors who are interested in it, and they won't be ready to move in until around March.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Flowers, fruit, insects

I haven't been posting many garden photos, mainly because the garden at my current residence is long on plants but relatively short on showy flowers (at least compared to the garden at my dad's house, which is where I took photos in previous years).  I've also been a bit negligent about taking photos in general this year.  Nevertheless, I 've managed to take some decent photos over the last 2-3 months.


Spiderwort (Tradescentia)

Roses (past their prime - I wish I had gotten a picture a few days before this).
Daylily (I don't know the different varieties - I just call them all daylilies).

Daylilies and Hosta in bloom together
More daylilies
A different variety of daylily near an ostrich fern
 Daylily closeup - can you tell that - 1. I like daylilies, and
2. Daylilies are some of the few large, colorful flowers in my garden?
Wild blackberries - various kinds of berries grow prolifically
(i.e., like weeds) in my current garden
Wild black cherries ripening

Same dragonfly at a different angle
I've rarely seen an insect stay still for this long, which is
why I have so many photos of this dragonfly.
20 minutes later, what I think is the same dragonfly came back
and landed near me again - talk about a helpful subject!
A typical view of my semi-wild garden, with goldenrod starting
to flower on the left, and wild berries ripening to the right.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Random observations

  • One of my projects at work is going through the biographies section and polishing up the catalog rec records there.  I've recently run into a lot of biographies of Grover Cleveland.  He was a big deal in the late 19th century, when he served two non-consecutive terms as President of the United States.  Between those two terms, he barely lost the election of 1888, in which he came in first in the popular vote but second in the electoral college - this would not happen again until the 2000 presidential election.  In spite of coming in first in the popular vote for President three times, he lost much of his popularity when the country was hit by a major economic depression during his second term as president, and he was largely forgotten in the 20th century.  It makes me wonder if even the most influential political figures of recent times - George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Dick Cheney, Hillary Clinton, etc. - will be forgotten by almost everyone except historians in 100 years or more.
  • A few weeks ago, I bought the cheapest garden hose I could find.  I soon realized why it was the cheapest available.  It is basically impossible to roll or coil this hose up neatly.  Every few feet, the hose bends in a different direction, and when I try to force it into a proper coil, it springs back to its original position or folds up so that the water is blocked.  Every time I try to roll it up, I end up with a series of large knots that I need to untangle next time.   
  • I used to enjoy driving a lot more before I had my OCD-inspired fears of hitting people and animals.
  • Last week was damn hot, getting into the upper 90s for several days.  This is nothing special for people who live in the southern part of the country, but for us northerners it was unusual, and very unpleasant for someone like me who sweats a lot.  I was very lucky - the air conditioning in half of the office space where I work broke, but I was in the half that kept working, thank goodness.  More importantly, the AC in the stacks where we keep all of our books, newspapers, and other printed material, never stopped working.  Our collections are kind of like me - they much prefer cool and dry over warm and humid.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

It weighs me down


Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and depression are still pressing down hard on me.  I see a psychiatrist, but  he no longer does active counseling, and only monitors medication at this time.  Furthermore, neither of the two best psychologists in my area are currently taking new patients.  I've definitely had better times, mentally speaking.  Compared to the better points of my life, I feel like I am dealing with the burdens of two lives - my external life of everyday responsibilities, and my internal life of obsessive anxieties and self-hating depression. I feel like I'm barely treading water in my "normal", everyday life because most of my energy goes into dealing with my anxiety and depression.  Doing ordinary things like getting ready in the morning or driving or washing dishes seem much more difficult and energy-consuming than they used to be.  It definitely weighs me down and narrows the scope of my life.  Fortunately, it's not bad all the time.  Hopefully things will improve soon, and I will have something more positive and interesting to write about!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Working with a "semi-wild" garden

I like to think of the garden at my new house as a "semi-wild" or a "woodland" garden.  It's unruly and unkempt, but also very lush and full of healthy plants that seem to like their current location.  There is an abundant mixture of geraniums, ferns, lily-of-the-valley, hostas, irises, daylilies, barberries, blackberries, violets, strawberries, and a couple of other plants that look nice enough but that I haven't identified.  There are also, however, plenty of weeds, including tree seedlings and saplings (some resprouting from stumps), the invasive weeds garlic mustard and oriental bittersweet, and of course, the bane of my existence, poison ivy. 

I've ruled out trying to dig a large part of it up and starting over.  I don't have the energy for that, and it isn't my style anyways.  I like to try to work with the plants I have as much as possible.  I see my job as removing the weeds, encouraging the existing plants that I like, and making a few additions of my own wherever there are gaps.  So far, I have gotten a good start on the first two.  It isn't always the easiest job.  I need to carefully separate the weeds from the desired plants when the two are all mixed together in a lush mass of plants.  I have to try and avoid stepping on anything, which is almost impossible in many parts of the garden.  With some plants, especially the blackberries and barberries, I want to have a few of them in the garden, but not too many, so I need to decide which to pull and which to leave.  The blackberries and barberries also have thorns, which catch on clothing and occasionally break through even leather gardening gloves.  Then, of course, I always need to be on the lookout for poison ivy.  I've brushed it with my gloves a few times already, but I haven't actually gotten any rashes.  I get a little paranoid about touching things with my gardening gloves on, however, since poison ivy oil can be transferred from one object to another.  I don't think I've touched enough poison ivy with my gloves for this to be a serious problem, but I'm not 100% sure. With Obsessive Compulsive Disorder I can easily get too paranoid and spend more time worrying about poison ivy than actually gardening, if I don't fight my excessive worries.  All in all, I think I have done a pretty good job so far - both with the gardening and with the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
Here are a couple of pictures at different angles of the main garden bed.  I've done some more weeding since these were taken, but it basically looks very similar:

The little pink-white flowers are geraniums.

Meanwhile, in other parts of the yard, two bushes are in full bloom without me having to do anything whatsoever.  The first is the rhododendron in front of the house, which turns out to have flowers of a lovely  lavender color.

Here's a closeup, with an ant crawling around one of the flowers.

Here is one clump of flowers near the ground ...
... and what I think is the same branch of the plant in March, when there was still snow on the ground and the flowers were enclosed in a tight bud:

The second bush in full bloom now is a Spirea of some kind, with pure white flowers :

Here is a closeup of the little clumps of flowers:

Unfortunately, neither the rhododendron nor the spirea will flower for long - very few flowering bushes have long-lived flowers.  Still, there should be plenty of more flowers coming - the irises are just starting to open, and they are beautiful.  Unfortunately, I broke my old digital camera yesterday by dropping it.  Fortunately, I got a new and (hopefully) better camera today, and I should be ready to take some more pictures (as well as pulling some more weeds) tomorrow.