Zip a Zee…..


Final in our alphabet of living things. (Little did I know when I started they’d all turn out to be plants.) Certainly not last in the garden or in childhood memories.


When I was a child, most flower gardens included Zinnia. Plant them in a border after the vegetable garden is in and you’ll be rewarded by mid-summer with a splash of color which continues to frost. They make a fine cut flower to add a dash of class to the dining table. Or you can pause in your vegetable harvest and enjoy the butterflies and occasional hummingbird they attract.

They are a fitting end — planted along the end of our spring and summer exploration of plants. So breath deep, enjoy our alphabet garden. You’re sure to find something to strike your fancy and grown in your 2016 garden.




Silence not required

Library. Food. Talking.

Not the usual trio of suspects.

Times have changed from the stereotypical library. They are not a hall of silence between rows of books. Wooden tables are not occupied by silent adults pouring over bound periodicals.

Today a library can be a lively place. Bright, small furniture makes a reading corner in the children’s section. Puzzles, games, and computers supplement traditional bound books. Adults browse among books, magazines, audio offerings, and public use computers. They relax in comfortable chairs, chat with friends in soft voices, discuss the newest read or class. For serious or quiet study, a reference room offers tables, chairs, and electric outlets.

Tomorrow I’ll be trying something new: breakfast at a library.

Several local authors have been invited to share our stories with readers. Do I have enough notes? Will I be able to fill my time at each table? How much coffee to repeat my presentation eight times?

Return next Friday for the answers to these and other questions.


Yes. Yeah. Yup.

There you have it — three positive “Y” words.

Oh, that’s not what you asked for? Let me choose another word, this time a useful plant — YARROW.


This patch of multi-purpose plant posed for me early in July, near the end of the blooming season.

Multi-purpose suits this flower. It will make a lovely garden border in dry to medium water conditions and thrive in full sun. All of the above ground portions are safe to use for other purposes too. An accent in dried flower arrangements heads the list.

Native Americans used Yarrow as a medicine and some modern people follow their lead. You can brew a tea to sooth fever, shorten the common cold, relieve GI tract discomfort, or induce sweat.

Have a toothache? Chew a few leaves to ease the pain.

Need an accent in your salad? Add fresh leaves and flowers.



A Time to Feast

Sunlight hours are getting shorter. Summer days contain a hint of cool at the beginning. Garden crops ripen amid late season weeds.

And wildlife of all sizes takes advantage of the bounty in fields and gardens. And on trees. Some are very particular and select food from specific trees. Others are limited by what they can reach — unless the fruit is cooperative enough to fall to the ground. Others are mobile and inventive enough to obtain food from multiple sources.


This crabapple tree in Wisconsin is holding tight to a bumper crop this year.

While visions of jelly, and relish, and cider may dance in human minds — the wild turkeys have full stomachs on their bird brains.

Reliable witnesses tell of each tree hosting up to half a dozen gobblers at a time. And if the mornings have been frosty, and the fruit a little fermented… Shall we say the birds know how to party???



X…X…Where are you, X???

The internet and the search engines and sites it contains are great research tools. They help a blog writer such as myself, confirm facts and dig up little tidbits of trivia to pass along.

But — don’t trust them exclusively.

About six weeks ago, I strolled the grounds of the local botanical garden, keeping a sharp eye out for plants beginning with X. I knew it would be a tricky, difficult alphabet letter to find a plant partner. I went to the Latin names and snapped a nice shot — complete with official label.


Tapping in the name today gave me the “sorry, no items to match your criteria” message. (Hate that response on the rare occasions I have spelled correctly.)

One other search gave a secondary common name of Rat Aloe. The plant is threatened due to loss of habitat. Sorry, folks. This is not the common Aloe vera matching the one on my patio. Not a hint that this species is good to sooth small burns and bug bites.

The result? I’ll keep my patio plant.  I happen to like my small First Aid Kit from the Xanthorrhoeaceae family.



Remember by Serving

A National Day of Service. Somber ceremonies of remembrance.

In the United States today many people will participate in one or both of the above. It’s been fourteen years now and memories are beginning to fade. High school students have either faint or no memories of these events beyond media replays and adult conversations.

It is a sad commentary that each generation experiences at least one large, national, moment of grief.

The World Trade Center attack

The Kennedy Assassination

Pearl Harbor

Let your thoughts and actions today reflect the positive feeling of patriotism, citizenship, and unity without tragedy. Participate in a community project. Pick up litter. Smile at your neighbor.



Wonderful, Wonderful, Weeping

We approach the final portion of the alphabet with a graceful beauty.


A person’s attitude toward the weeping willow may vary with age.

As a child, I would duck low and thread my way through the slender, draping branches of a neighbor’s tree and enjoy a quiet, cool “hiding place”.

Decades later I appreciate the effort my friend takes to trim the branches even for good appearance and high enough to permit ease of mowing.

You’ll spot these beauties along streams and rivers in the wild. They also find homes in suburban yards and cemeteries. They love water. Does your property have a low spot away from buildings? Moisten well and a playful tree like this will add interest. Allow lots of room — the house in the background is a split level (1 1/2 stories high).


Time to Read

Minutes. Hours. Days. Weeks.

Humans have been keeping time for millennia. Often the guide for this timekeeping is the movement of the sun across the sky. Larger spans, such as seasons, are noted with changes in vegetation or behavior of wildlife.

More recently, humans have used clocks. Some are simple and practical. Do you remember the clock in your elementary classroom? Ours was round, with large black numbers and hands to mark the time to recess, lunch, and dismissal. Digital clocks are popular today. Some of them show hour, minute, and second in a large display.

Clocks can also be whimsical, showing the sense of humor or the interest of the creator and owner. Examples would be cartoon characters with moving arms, cuckoo clocks with a bird darting out to proclaim the hour, or a clock face mounted into a cross-cut section of wood.

The example below comes from a small town library.

A Book for Every Hour
A Book for Every Hour

Verily, Verily…

Violet. She has a reputation for shyness. I’ve not noticed it.


Perhaps the people who assign that sort of thing are referring to her presence in woods, thickets, and along stream banks. Or they’re simply comparing her to her brighter colored cousin — Pansy.

This little patch of violets shares the sunlight with early dandelions. They are growing next to a busy street, not shy about traffic or fumes or students walking to the nearby school.

Once you have violets they will stay. They love to re-seed and to be close to others. So go ahead — start them in a little border, or as ground cover in a shady spot. They’ll treat you every spring with a happy flower and a promise of warmer weather ahead.