Pied Beauty

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)

Glory be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:

Praise him.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Re-Animation...

After more than a year away from the blog, I've finally returned! I have to admit, I've been out gallivanting with Facebook, experimenting with social media in a shorter format. And I like it fairly well, really I do. I especially like working with the Facebook page for my garden center, Papershell: A Garden Gallery. One of the neat things about Facebook is that it's relatively easy to communicate quickly and visually. Uploading pictures is a snap, and it's fun to swim in the stream that is the Facebook mob.

But I have really missed having the opportunity to write longer pieces, and do the sort of thinking that comes when writing longer pieces. It's not that I'm writing deep, analytical or psychological pieces on the blog, but Facebook is ephemeral in the extreme, even more so now with the rollout of Timeline.

In returning to the blog, though, I've decided to make a few small changes. I felt it was important to host the blog on my own site, rather than here on blogger.com. Wrestling with Facebook for a year or so made me really wary of being at the mercy of tech sites. I've transported all the old entries, along with the comments, to a new site under the Papershell domain name, here. The look and feel is not quite the same (now instead of wrestling with Facebook, I'm wrestling with Wordpress) but we'll get there.

I've missed our conversations and looking forward to hearing from you again. I hope you'll join me at the new site. First topic? What to do with all those satsumas from a bumper crop this year...

Join me over at the Papershell site - I'd love to keep in touch with you!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Absence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder

In the garden, at least!  Of course, I like everything I've planted in my garden, but the ones I really love are the ones that pop up and surprise me.

Zephyranthes or Rain Lily

Since we got an inch or two of much-needed rain last week, the rain lilies are blooming all over the garden.  I adore these little bulbs, and all the more, I think, because they aren't always there.  I love how they bloom so reliably in the summer, but on their own timetable.  They have an orrnery sense of self-possession, blooming after it rains but not after you water them.

Mostly pink but sometimes apricot, white, or yellow.

There are perfectly nice plants that bloom all summer here in Sugar Land, and quite a few of them are planted in my garden.  But perhaps because they are always in flower, I just don't LOVE them the way I love rain lilies.  And it's not that they're exotic or strange: rain lilies are quite common and even grow wild around here.  I imagine it's the way these intermittent bloomers add surprise and change to the garden.

Containers or flowerbeds, sun or mostly sun.

Don't knock it -- there's something to be said for the sense of wonder that we might not get from a begonia.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Ladybugs Make Me Uneasy

I just don't know about ladybugs.  I've heard a lot about them as natural predators and I guess Earth Day is as good a day as any to confess that I have deep misgivings about that.  I don't sell the cute little easy-to-merchandise bags at my garden center -- here's why:

Ladybug gives me the evil eye.
1. I don't think releasing clouds of ladybugs into your garden is an effective way to control soft-bodied insects like aphids.  Yes, I know.  Ladybugs are natural predators of aphids.   I've seen them with my own eyes, stalking aphids like cheetahs after (very slow) gazelles.  But I can't find any evidence that store-bought ladybugs area more effective than just doing nothing.  Want ladybugs to eat your aphids?  Stop spraying broad-spectrum insecticides and just wait awhile.  Native ladybugs will show up and eat until the populations are under control. 

Volunteer soldier in the aphid wars.
2.  I'm not okay with relocating huge populations of ladybugs from one part of the country to another.  Doesn't that seem ill-advised?  If it's not a good idea for red imported fire ants to move northward up the continent, how come it's a good idea for sweet little ladybugs to move south?  Ladybugs are harvested in great numbers from overwintering grounds, where they lie waiting docilely for the return of warm weather.  They're whisked out of the mountains in jet planes.  When they awaken from their slumber, they find themselves in red net bags at the checkout counter of your local garden center. That's if they are, in fact, native ladybugs.  There are reports of imported Asian ladybugs sold commercially as a green alternative to pesticides.

Maybe there's no harm in collecting, selling and releasing ladybugs.  But something about just doesn't seem right.  I'm all for maintaining populations of beneficial and predator insects.  I'd rather they be homegrown, that's all.

Friday, April 1, 2011

And The Garden Falls Beautifully Into Disrepair

I love how lettuce looks good even when you completely ignore it for weeks at a time.  And how the purple oxalis creeps in to offer such a nice purple contrast.