Larry.s Creative Zone

Larry.s Creative Zone

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Colors galore.....


My neighbors' hybrid iris survived our wet season last year and are all planted around a flagpole. It makes it hard to individually photograph with them planted so closely to each other. One can also see some bad color combinations when your see the overlapping shapes of iris. I am glad hers survived and I wanted to share them with you.

I am getting a start of this plant also and I haven't a clue what it is, but it looks like it would be good on the south side of my house where it is hot and dry. This is growing in direct sun for most all of the day. Thanks for reading.....

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Penny the dog and Plant Identification.....


My neighbor lost her 16 year old dog a few months back. She was really missing her dog. Yesterday she found a new Terrier at an animal rescue. Her name is Penny and she is about 5 months old. I got the privilege to take her first photos for her new mom. She is such a sweet little dog and I can see that she is going to make a great companion for my neighbor, Judy.


On a happy footnote, one of my blogger friends on my garden side of my interests, identified a plant for me. Far Side came through again with the answer. It was a plant that my mom had taken a start from a neighboring yard in Osceola, Iowa. My parent's property originally had a very old ornate Victorian house on it so the plant could have originated from my mom's own lot.
Her plant has grown very large and I took three starts from it. I wanted to call it a Japanese Peony, but they don't make them, I must be making that name up from who knows where. Anyway she identified it as a Fern Leafed Peony. She states that it is rare and hard to purchase. She sees it in a local cemetery growing there. I did see that one can buy seeds from Ebay, so maybe I need to watch the seed pods and start saving them. I don't want to make money from it as much of how fun it would be to grow them from seed.


Below is my original plea for help in identifying the plant. It was coming up and I couldn't find it's name.

WHAT IS THIS??????

Friday, May 29, 2009

Antique Chest of Drawers.....

When I was young, 16, in the sixties I learned how to refinish furniture. My grandmother had given me an old walnut table, and I stripped it and put a new finish on it. I gleaned ideas from antiquers and it was a joy to take something so bad in color and take that off and find the grain of the wood.
In a small town of Murray, near our farm was an auction and my mom surprisingly bid on two different pieces and paid about six dollars each for them. This chest of drawers and another low chest with a mirror. They were both oak and that became my summer project. I never dreamed that I would have them some day. I thought older brothers would claim them or something would happen to them before I could ever take them home with me.

Yesterday, my wife and I put in a rough day of throwing things away and going to the horrible landfill. It is like going to a horror film and the land is alien and scary. I had to back down into this location, down a hill, as it was muddy, then I had to drive back up the same hill to get out of the hole. The smell was beyond belief and the clay of southern Iowa was sticky and yellow and stuck to everything. They only good thing was that we brought back in the truck this chest of drawers. It is sitting in our art gallery right now and we will eventually move it upstairs.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Potentilla, Peony, and Pink dianthus (I think)...


Potentilla were very popular a few years back but they don't always like our weather. They don't like heat but will take it if they remain in moist soil. They don't die in the heat they just don't bloom. My white one is pretty but I have seen some neat orange potentilla.

















My old fashion peony bushes are just starting to bloom. They seem a little late this year but it makes the flowering season last longer.
I stole this glimpse from my neighbor's front sidewalk. I think it is a dianthus with the kind of foliage that it has on it. It does remind me of spring flowering phlox but it isn't phlox.
Spent the day at my late parent's home and went to the landfill for the first time. What a horrible place. It reminds me of driving into the depths of hell. It was wet and we had to back down a long winding hill so that we could drive back out. My folks didn't like to throw things away, and we will be revisiting the landfill again. I have a neat chest of drawers that I want to show you tomorrow. Thanks for reading....

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Another studio.....

I spent the morning working on the room that Della's dad lived in the past six and a half years. It was a spare downstairs room which worked great for him to live in with a bathroom and shower downstairs. Now that he has passed away it was time to take the bed out of there and reclaim the room. None of it is easy but the more we change and the more we move in different furniture the better it becomes. When he had moved in I installed a large picture window in the room and it really makes the room bright like a sun room. Our new purpose for it is to create another studio area for us to create art. It will work well for that and we can spread out from out other studio area which shares a framing business.


As you can see that I found a picture of my wife at work in the other studio and I did find a picture of me in a very serious state of creating.










The horse painting is one of Della's creations in pastel.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Memorial Day......



As the memorial weekend is over I still want to pause a minute and talk about my thoughts about the day. I have always understood the meaning behind it and I also see the confusion that takes place when the new generations think that it is purely a day to decorate graves. It is good that we have a time to rethink our past and know from where we have come. We never could have understood the hate behind 9/11 but our people have so easily forgotten the thousands of innocent lives that were lost. We can not become sheep and not remember that we need to always be defensive in action to prevent such things. We as a country have faced many wars. We have lost many lives because of so many different misunderstandings.
When two different countries decided to take over the power of the world, many people died. Many died before the world even took notice and many more died to stop it.
My dad was drafted into the army to help the United States to face the effort to stop Germany and Japan during WW11. He was young with a wife and two boys. By the time he ended his service he was put in harms way at the Battle of the Bulge. Many men died in that final part of the war. Actually only 35,000 men died in that effort compared to the total of 400,000 American men and women who died in the entire war. The irony of it all is that most did not volunteer to do this effort, but were drafted and directed to obey their country's wishes. In a way a time for memorial is for those who obey their country's orders in order to help in a large effort to stop a tide of hate. We tend to see it happening over and over again in our life time.
As my father returned from the war, he was very emotionally affected by its cause. He had carried a radio for the scouts that preceded the front lines. He had been in great danger most of the time and had seen more horror than a country farm boy would ever expect. The effects were life long for him and he revisited the war in his conversations continually. He never got it all talked out throught his life, as he was still remembering another nightmare on his way to the hospital for his last time. He never knew that the World War 11 Memorial was to be built. He never knew that there were actually elected senators that didn't want it built nor did they want it placed where it was built. He never saw the Iowa monument which is a part of the 50 states exhibited around the memorial.
His scars inside were many and it affected him with fears most of his life. His sisters told me at the funeral that he was never the same person when he returned from the war. He was the war victim person that I knew as dad and never knew any difference. He was a very kind man and loved his family. He did the best he could and maintained life the best that he could. With a fishing pole in one had and a cigar in the other he made that his heaven on earth. Always in bib overalls and he would never know a stranger.
So as memorial day has passed, I am glad the we get a chance to visit the cemeteries and visit all of our loved ones that we have lost. It is a good thing. It also is a good thing to remember that Memorial day is a time to reflect and remember all of those that have served and those who had lost their lives. I miss my dad a lot and have so many unanswered questions for him now. I am proud to show him in uniform, that would have made him happy. He was proud that he had been involved and hoped that someone out there understood. If anyone listened to his story, he was comforted. If he only could have known how many people really cared.
Thanks for reading...

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Ghost eyes.....



Our house faces a street that has one row of houses east and then it is farm field and then timber. Every spring for a least three years this raccoon mother comes into town, walking down the street late at night and makes her nest in the hallow of our old silver maple tree. We rarely see her but the neighbors see her often from their porch. The neighbors keep dry cat food on the porch for their many outside cats and I have the fishpond with water so she makes herself at home each year. She brings her young ones onto the neighbors porch and they tell us about it, but we have never seen her with her babies.
Last night the dog got very irritated and when I went out she was crawling back up the tree. She is very large and her tail is very fluffy but my pictures don't show that. I took shots on a chance that I may get something and this is what I have. Thanks for reading....

Saturday, May 23, 2009

How not to group your plants.....

I am taking a picture of the single peonies that I inherited and I am thinking what I am seeing here is insane. Last year I planted three rhubarb plants in a new area so I could get fresh plants. When I planted them, it was not a very organized area but I was proud that I got them moved and that they grew. The phlox plant you see there has moved itself into the area from an very close adjoining flower bed. I had four of these peonies last fall that I just needed to get into the ground. I was very busy and planted them quickly in four very different areas on the property. My various locations were all good as the plants did well.
As an artist I can see that it all works, tall, wide leaf and spots of color with gray green foliage. But as a gardener, this combo is crazy. I will move things later this fall. I want to see the phlox bloom and the rhubarb is doing very well. The peony seems extremely hardy so I can move it probably after it blooms. The phlox I can move this fall. I guess right now it is time to make rhubarb cobbler. Thanks for reading.......

Friday, May 22, 2009

Wren, front and back.....


I have taken photographs of my finches, cockatiels, and parakeets, but never before have I tried to venture outside for pictures of birds. I was scouting my double lot property and could hear the singing, but that has changed. My male isn't singing for a mate anymore, he is singing territorial songs. The birdhouse has bunches of little twigs packed in it again and I assume eggs have been laid.
The camera was on automatic and when I heard the singing of the wren I looked up into the ash tree and there it was, climbing up and down the bark of the trunk looking for insects. It kept bouncing higher and ended up in the fork of the tree. I zoomed in a little but really couldn't see if I had a bird in the frame. Thus you see a front view of the wren and also a back view. My very first outdoor wild shot of a bird. On the very light side, I could have taken shots of my indoor birds outside on the patio yesterday, as I had the three cages out there, dry vacumming the bottom of the cages.
When I do that the indoor birds listen so carefully to the songs of the outdoor birds. They are really fascinated about it but are glad to get back inside the house.
Ok, I just thought of something I have shot of birds before. I use to take Canada Geese pictures and Swans on Lake Michigan. Wow, that was a long time ago, 1989. I also get an occasional sea gull pictures but they have been lost on a crashed computer. I will never be an Abe Lincoln but I can feel how he feels now. If you haven't seen his blog, check it out. Thanks for reading....

Abe Lincoln's Bird Blog

Iris rescue....



Another thing that I rescued from my mom's is the container of starts of the iris shown in the bouquet. The color is such a rich blue-purple. I wished that they bloomed for longer periods of time. I will pot the rhizomes tomorrow and put them in the garden this fall. I may go back for more and design a long row of these, just like Monet's garden in Giverney. Thanks for reading.....

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Spirea bushes......


My neighbor Mike back in the seventies had a beautiful hedge of spirea in his backyard. The original owner had landscaped his property in the forties with special fish pond and planned design. Well, Mike was a banker and he didn't like that the hedge was not directly aligned behind his garage. The hedge actual sat a few feet off of the alignment to frame a vegetable garden behind the garage. Mike, thinking it was going to be easy, decided to move the entire fifteen foot long hedge back two feet. Needless to say, he was a physical mess and it took him two weekend days to pull it off. He had many starts or strays from his work and he gave them to me. It worked out well as I planted next to the house and put a row next to an old garage foundation. Every spring I am grateful that he moved his hedge. Poor guy, I thought I was going to call an ambulance for him, and 911 didn't exist back then.


I am amazed how this shrub can look dead until suddenly it just bursts forth. I can tell that I am going to need to take Clariton for awhile to get through their season of bloom.

When you do a close-up view of these bushes they really do look like rolling plains, landscapes of the foothills of Nebraska, or some sand dunes on the coast. Thanks for reading......

Scattered brain day...

Most of you are already saying he is a lot nutty so nothing is new, but today I have no theme. I spent most of the day at mom's house yesterday, digging things from her garden to plant in my garden, mowing her yard, and also going to the cemetery.

I know this isn't the time to move Iris but if the place sells I don't get to go back to get them. I have dug iris from cemeteries before and I just put them in pots and leave them in the shade of my garden shed. In the fall they go into the ground. It does work.
My neighbor lady is part Lakota Indian and she went to a convention last year where they sold Aronia Berry bushes. She gave me one to grow as an insurance policy in case her plants didn't make it. Aronia Berry is a black chokecherry. It was a staple for the Indians as it added flavor to different foods for them. I saw on pbs that they dry buffalo meat and pound it into a powder and mixed it with aronia berries. It became like their trail mix that they could carry for nutrition out in the wilderness. I did hear them say that they have to be crushed to release the poison or toxic part of them into the air. Then they don't choke you.

Agapanthus plants are beautiful. When I first heard about them, the article said they were kind of boring in California as they are planted like filler plants and grew readily. Well not here in the central United States. They have to be placed in the basement to keep them from freezing. I have had two containers of these for about three years now and last year was the first time that one of them bloomed. I have reread information and that they need to be crowded and that I have not been fertilizing mine enough. As my two start to be reborn, I will get on a fertilizer schedule and see if I can get so more blooms.
My red twig dogwood is blooming this year for the first time. I read about these in Garden Design and a famous designer pruned his back every fall. They showed a mixture of yellow twig and red twig spaced in a design. His trimmed beds were probably six or seven feet in diameter. I don't know that I can stand not seeing those branches in the snow during the winter. I guess if one wants a thicker plant that it has to be pruned. Thanks for reading.....

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Cemetery Iris....


We have had 84 degree temperatures and lots of wind. You can look closely and this little fellow is pretty beat up. I looked these up on the net and I found that they also call them cemetery iris. I have called them that as I collect them from cemeteries. I have three other colors that I will show as they bloom. They are old original plants brought over from Europe and the Asian areas. They are small, not large like a hybrid but they are tough. I lost hybrids all around this plant because of too much rain, and this guy just keeps plugging along. I have creeping charlie in every picture I take and it is time to buy the Twenty Mule Team Borax and start spraying. Thanks for reading........

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Going really green....

The spring rains and cool weather has been good for greening up our world. Iowa eventually gets so hot and dry so it is time to really appreciate it.

I bought a snowball bush a few years back not really knowing what it was but it is a nice specimen plant and the little white flowers are nice. It is a few years old but this is the first it has ever bloomed. The mungo pine is sprouting new points and it looks good nestled between two other kind of yellow green shrubs.

The hostas are a great investment also when the heat hits. I want to redo an entire area under a tree with a fence surrounding two sides of it. The things there have not done well with the installation of the fence.
And my Asiatic lilies have been my greatest success. I planted them when I didn't know much and each year they keep performing. I will have a lot of nice photos of those, but he foliage is great also. Thanks for reading.....

Monday, May 18, 2009

Time will prove me wrong.....

I whined all through my last blog about the loss of a clematis. Gosh I hate looking stupid. I was out and about and decided to starting to trim back and take out that clematis. Well, after the first cut of a major vine-like part of it, I took a look at the inside of it. Thank God it was still green inside. I don't have a clue why it hasn't sprouted out yet but maybe our impending 80 degree weather on Wednesday will make it take off. It is on the west and gets sun in the afternoon only, so that may be why it is slow. Now I can whine about the one stem that I cut out of the clematis but I can be of great joy that it is still alive!!!!
The lily of the valley is a lot blurry but I like the photo. It reminds me of a scene in "Honey, I shrunk the Kids." That automatic camera got everything in the background perfectly focused. I will retry tomorrow and take a better photo.

This little clematis is planted under my lattice covered gate. It is two years old and looks like I will see blooms this year. I think it is a white one. I need to start work on the creeping charlie. I will mulch as much of it out as I can with my new bagger mower. I love grass clippings for instant use. I am subbing for an English teacher today so I am stuck inside on a sunny day. Thanks for putting up with my whining and for reading.....

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Flowers live, flowers die....


I have had this clematis growing on the front porch post for many years. It was planted with hostas at it's feet so it could remain moist. There also was a red peony at its base that helped to shade its base. With our rainy summer last year the excess water around the area must have caused it's roots to rot and die. It just rained every week all summer. It was an ideal spot for it except for one unusual summer. I am now going to rethink if I even want it there anymore. I don't like the dead looking vines that remain all winter so that it can bloom off of those canes, so it is a positive that I don't put one back there. I was planning to show you the dead plant but that is not good. I am just glad I have a great picture of it.
I lost a lot of iris because of our monsoon weather also but it won't stop me. I will regroup, rethink, and replant. That is what we crazy gardeners do. Thanks for reading....

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The artist hat is ready to be worn.....




As an artist, I have quit working for awhile. I finished the ragatta painting about 6 weeks ago and I have not returned to clean up my mess. But things are going to change. My wife and I went to a garage sale today at our Art Store and we bought stuff. I purchased some very large canvases. Two of the canvases are three foot square and one other is a little smaller. I also purchased some small ones to paint on also. I have paint, canvas, brushes, the works, and I have not any excuses. When I start and get enough work done, I will have to set up my art blog for art work for sale. It has been a year since I decided to do that and now it will happen.
My first new painting, A Brave New World, I have decided not to sell but will sell prints of it so that more people can enjoy it. I am hoping to sell some of my photographs on the new art site. It sounds like a lot of work ahead but it will be fun to join my wife in the art market. Thanks for reading....

Friday, May 15, 2009

The wren's are back!!!!


I was whining about how the wrens were back at my neighbor's house and I still had a birdhouse laying on the ground. Well, joy is back in my yard. There is music out there again. I picked up the birdhouse, cleaned out the hundreds of old sticks and put a new fastener at the top and I rehung it. Just yesterday I could here the singing of the male wren. I was concerned that they went somewhere else since there house was gone but I guess they were just waiting for me. I will try to photograph one or both of them once it stops raining.
The photo may seem strange to you but I manipulated it with Photoshop. I captured it, shrunk and repasted it down four or five times making a distortion of the photo creating a design. It actually looks like a modern trellis but really it is my grape vine fence that has only three rails on it.
My wife and I are finally seeing the end of the flu around here. I don't think we are contagious anymore. We may go to a garage sale this afternoon at the Art Store in Des Moines. Our bodies will need naps yet today before we will be able to do that but we do feel better. The odds of getting the flu were stacked against us as we live next to a town where we shop for groceries with high risk potential for flu from Mexico. I have also been substituting in the public schools here way too many times. There were a lot of contagious looking students hanging around all day. They should have stayed home. Life is just always an adventure, just like the photo I submitted today.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Weary Thursday.....

I finally got out and mowed yesterday afternoon. I had been hindered by substitute teaching for a couple of days and the rains keep coming so the grass was getting way too long. I could mow two rounds and would have to empty my lawn bag of grass. It was almost damp yet and I had so many grass clippings. I put it all around the shrubs and trees as I mowed so I didn't have to carry back and forth to the grass pile. I did find new things happening in the garden areas but I am going to spread those pictures out for a few days. I am waiting for this single petaled peony to open before I show it to you.
The statue is a cheap one but I like it's color. His little basket is broken but I figure if the great sculptures in Rome have broken parts, so can I. I have an interesting picture to put up for my Photo a Day site with him in it. That will be up tomorrow. I did help my wife get a painting ready to be shipped to New York today. She keeps me busy being creative box maker to fit her artwork sizes. A picture of a raccoon.
While at school I picked up one of the colds for the week from one of the students so I am being a lazy man today. I can mow a small area of the dog's yard today but not going to move too fast. Going to get a few supplies today and go to Panera with my wife for hot soup and a sandwich and great coffee. It will be a short journey but the sun is shinning today. That horrible tornado storm affected our state moisture wise but stayed to the southeast of us. We have had our share of tornadoes here in this town for a while but I really am feeling sorry for those who had lost lives in Missouri. Thanks for reading...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Seeing triples.......


I purchased these by mistake a few years back and I didn't think they were still producing blooms but look at this. Blurry and all, they are triple headed daffodils on one stem. The wind is blowing and I had a difficult time getting them to stay still. They are sort of cute and if you don't look closely you think you are seeing groups of flowers. They are individual flower size about half the size of a normal daffodil.
From the stories one hears I am assuming this is a mutant that they discovered and the nurtured it to be a consistent bloomer. I don't remember it being so much later than the rest of my daffodils. They are fun. Thanks for reading....

Monday, May 11, 2009

I found those patches....



This is still a mystery photo for me. I know all who are in the picture except the little boy with a gun. He could be one of my two older cousins, but I still don't have the exact dating of the picture. My dad is on the far right in uniform and his brother in uniform is on the far left. I don't know why both brothers from the army would be back home at the same time. The brother was stationed in Alaska the whole time of the war. I know also that dad was stationed in DC for a while then retrained in Georgia to go over seas. This could have been a time when he was transferring.
The thing that struck me about this picture just today was the patch on my dad's left sleeve. I and a friend were cleaning out a chest of drawers in my parent's home last week and those two patches were in that chest. I hadn't made the connection other than they were dad's war things from the trunk that got flooded. All the things that could be saved from that trunk were put who knows where and they were found in different closets and furniture in the house. They had not been kept together. I am assuming like most of those army uniforms that the moths had eaten up the jacket and after it got soiled from flooding that they three the coat away. I really am glad we found those patches. Also was found a very small wooden shoe from Holland with hand painted scenes on it, also a pin cushion from France and letters that my dad had sent to my mom when they were first dating. All of these things are special to me now and I am glad that I can make sense of some of the things. I am going to quiz cousins about the photo though as maybe older cousins can figure the year it was taken. Thanks for reading....