Queen Ann Lace and More Stuff

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Queen Ann’s Lace (Wild Carrot)

Queen Ann’s Lace grows along the roadsides, along lanes and trails, and while a lot of people treat it like a weed I’ve always thought the flowers are absolutely beautiful. We had it growing on the farm when I was a kid. It would pop up along the lanes, on sunny, sandy hillsides in the woods. It was very common. Still is.

It’s actually a wild carrot. Supposedly the roots are edible, at least when young, and taste like, well, carrot. Apparently some people claim they eat the leaves and flowers, and other people claim it’s poisonous and will kill you. I certainly am not going to volunteer to try it and find out which is true.

My mother loved them too. She’d collect them during the summer, tie up bunches of them and hang them in the garage to dry the flowers. She also told me that some people apparently made tea out of the stuff. According to the stories she’d heard as a kid the local Native Americans made an herbal medicine out of it by steeping parts of the plant in water. Years later I learned that apparently the stories were more or less right, although not in the way she thought. A local historian told me that it was used as an abortifacient and contraceptive.

Then along one of the bike trails this stuff is popping up:

It’s a striking plant, can get very tall, and the flower head is spectacular when it’s in full bloom. This stuff used to grow along the trails and fence lines on the farm too. My father called it “Indian tobacco” or wild tobacco.

It’s actually the common mullein, and isn’t native to North America. It’s fairly common. It isn’t a nasty plant, but it can harbor some nasties, like cucumber mosaic virus and powdery mildew, so you probably don’t want it growing in your garden.

And it seems my father wasn’t really wrong because while it is not tobacco, the Native Americans apparently did smoke it as a treatment for breathing problems. it’s also been used in a wide variety of other allegedly medicinal preparations.

It’s interesting how I seem to have come full circle. As a kid, seven, eight years old, I’d spend hours wandering around the more wild areas of the farm, watching the animals and insects that congregated around the stream, walking through the woods examining the plants and wildlife with intense curiosity, and now that I’m retired I find myself doing the same thing and enjoying it just as much as I did when I was a kid.

Stuff, Nonsense, and More Garden Photos

Mr. Spiny, the cactus we rescued from the town compost pile, has gone totally goofy this year. He now looks like this:

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I counted around 13 flowers, with about a dozen more buds ready to flower in the next day or two. I kinda, sorta knew that cactus flowered, but I had no idea they did this! We thought it was a really neat plant before, but now– Wow.

Mrs. GF picked up a packet of old seeds on sale for a few cents earlier in the season, threw them in one of the gardens, and then these things came up —

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I had no idea she did it so I was astonished and delighted when these brilliant orange poppies started to appear last week. The color on these guys is so intense they almost glow in the dark.

With some plants you don’t appreciate their beauty until you get up close to them and really look at them. Like the oregano we’ve been trying to kill off for years now. The stuff turned out to be horrifically aggressive, taking over the entire plot of ground, and even taking over the lawn in that area. And while it does smell amazing when I mow the lawn over there, we would like to grow something besides oregano there, so we’ve been rather ruthless in keeping what’s left in check.

But that very annoying plant, well, even it looks neat when it starts to come into flower as it is now.

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The Fuji camera I use has a pretty darn nice macro-zoom lens on it and while depth of field and focus is a pain to get right when I get this close to something, the results are worth it.

Heck, even the lowly cucumber looks pretty when you get close to it:

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Other stuff–

We’ve been going to state parks this summer. Wisconsin has one of the finest state park systems in the country. The places are absolutely beautiful.

Or perhaps I should use the phrase “had one of the finest state park systems”. The state government has decided, in its infinite stupidity, to cut off all funding for the entire state park system. It does not get any funding from the state any more and is going to have to survive entirely on entrance and camping fees, donations, and any other money it can scrounge up. I wouldn’t be surprised to find them out on the beaches with metal detectors looking for change people dropped to try to keep the parks running. The new paradigm down in Madison seems to be that if it doesn’t make a profit for someone who can funnel bribe money [ahem, excuse me] campaign contributions into their bank accounts or fund their PACs, it isn’t going to get any of our tax money. Sigh…

 

Along the Road…

More stuff along the roadside–

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Well technically these were in a parking area in the wildlife area not actually on the road, but close enough.

 

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This was along the roadside. They don’t look like much until you stop and look closely at the flowers. It isn’t until then that you see how pretty they really are.

Then there was this goofball–

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This dopey killdeer… Not exactly a good place to lay your eggs, bird.

Spring Photos

How about some spring photos?

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Baby pears! The tree is loaded this year. It’s a long wait, they won’t be ready to eat until mid to late September, but they’re worth it.

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I normally prefer bright, showy flowers, but there is something to be said for subtle colors as well.

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Hostas! These guys have been thriving in the cool, wet spring we’ve had so far.

DSCF3719.JPGDSCF3728.JPGWe have several different varieties and colors of iris here, and they’re doing really well this spring as well. They’re just on the verge of popping open. They should be in full flower in the next day or two

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I’ve always been fascinated with these guys. I have no idea how they keep growing. They’re basically growing in nothing but rock, areas where nothing else can survive.

Let’s wrap things up with this one, one of the brighter, more showy flowers we have going at the moment.

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That’s it for this time!

Get out there and play in the dirt!

 

It’s Dark and Rainy so Time for Flowers

Took these this morning

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Taken with an iPhone 7S from the jungle we have growing in the living room. I’m experimenting with the camera in the 7. It’s a significant upgrade from the POS that was in the 6. Still not as good as a ‘real’ dedicated camera, but they’re starting to get close.

Also experimenting with how media shows up here on the blog. Never tried a slide show before. Alas the photos are only showing at a fraction of the full resolution so here they are again in a better size.

IMG_0056IMG_0058IMG_0059Egads, there’s cat hair everywhere, even in the flowers

 

Catching Up

Catching up with what happened this past week.

Sleep

As in I wish I could. I occasionally suffer from insomnia and it’s been pretty bad the last Screen Shot 2017-03-25 at 10.20.56 AMfew days. I’m not sure why. Which is why I’m writing this at two in the morning instead of being asleep. I know, I’ll try looking at photos of, oh, blossoming apple trees. That will put me to sleep!

Ah, well, apparently not. Didn’t work. Still it’s a really pretty tree.

Spring!

Spring is coming! I hope. Getting so tired of cold, wet weather, and especially the lack of sun. So I’m going to drop in some photos of spring and summer flowers in an attempt to lure spring a bit closer.

Agriculture Secretary Hearings

The senate ag committee hearings and questioning of the administration’s nominee

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Sunny Flower, not Sonny Perdue

Sonny Perdue finally took place on March 23. Unlike the hearings for most of the administration’s nominees, this one was relatively short, cordial and even pleasant for the most part. Mr. Perdue is perhaps the least controversial nominee put forward by the administration. He is also unusual in that he actually seems to know something about the agency he would be running.

Brazil Beef Scandal

The government of Brazil arrested 38 people involved in an alleged scam where inspectors were bribed to permit rotten and tainted beef to be passed for sale at a beef exporters JBS

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Wouldn’t you rather look at chive flowers than diseased beef? I know I would.

and BRF. Several countries have instituted temporary bans against beef imports from Brazil. Here in the US some government officials are calling for a ban as well but there is none as yet. USDA says it is stepping up inspection of meat coming from the country. But USDA also certified Brazil’s inspection system as being as good as that here in the US, so who knows…

Addendum: Since the US was forced to repeal the Country Of Origin Labeling law (known as COOL) US consumers no longer have any idea where their food comes from. But there is nothing to prevent beef processors, wholesalers, etc. from doing it voluntarily.

The Great Water Fight

It seems to have slipped under the radar of most media, but there is a rather nasty (and expensive) fight going on between the state of Mississippi and the city of Memphis, Tennessee. At the core of the fight is the question of exactly who owns the water being pumped out of wells.

Memphis sits on the Mississippi river but gets it’s water from wells that draw from the

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I wish I could remember where I took this picture

Memphis Sand Aquifer that stretches under Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee. And like most aquifers, water is being pulled out of the ground far faster that it is being replaced.

Back in 2005 Mississippi demanded that Memphis pay for the water it was withdrawing from the aquifer, claiming that the city was actually sucking up Mississippi water. The state is demanding over $600 million from the city.

This has been dragged through the courts ever since, with Mississippi losing at every level. But now the state of Tennessee has been dragged into the case as well giving it new life, and it’s going to the Supreme Court.

This case has the potential of setting off a hornet’s nest of problems if the SC rules in favor of Mississippi. It could cause major legal problems wherever large aquifers are used for water supplies and could even extend into international disputes. it will be interesting to see how this one plays out.

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There, now I’m going to try to get some sleep!