Friday, July 31, 2009

Zoo stuff 2........

This is the large display of a snow leopard over the entrance door to the zoo. I liked his expression. The one real snow leopard was sitting on top of a platform asleep, and I got a picture of his tail.
Peacocks like to be on top of anything. This guy was at the top of a an outdoor staircase and he either was use to being fed by someone behind that door, or he was eating insects off of the glass door. I guess he could of been looking at his own reflection, but I doubt it.
One of my blogger friends in Canada could have taken a better picture than this but I gave it a try. Two other friends in U.P. and Minnesota could of handled it too. And Abe would have blown me out of the water with his camera. You guys are all great with birds and waterfowl. Oh yes, my French friend is really handy with wild life also. Any other blogger friend who do wild life, your cool too, I am just too tired to think of any others. Anyway, I really liked the light patterns in the water so I just went with it.
I have blogger friends who have chickens so I took this photo for them. You are right my Backporch Friend, it is difficult to take pictures of chickens. They wouldn't stop moving around so I could even get them in the viewfinder.
I have more photos of the zoo. I may do a different theme tomorrow and come back to them. Have a great Friday and enjoy the weekend. Thanks for reading......

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Zoo stuff, etc.

These dinner plate hibiscus were doing well in the hot sun on the east side of a zoo building. They do well in Iowa in spite of our cold winter. They are late to come up so beginning gardeners are known to pull them up and out at spring because the think they have died. In reality the are a month later than iris and they just look dead into late spring. Once they start to sprout up, they grow very fast. I have a neighbor who has one that grows on the west side of the house so it isn't very protected in the winter and it does fine come spring.
The young goats, kids, at the zoo are special. They bounce around on four feet like bucking broncos and scoot all over the place checking everything out. They had an overhead wood walk way for them so they can climb and run up and down ramps. They don't allow people to get into the pens with them to pet them but they have constructed openings seven or eight inch squares in the wire fences so they can poke their heads out for petting.
Taken through glass I had a hard time getting a photo of the parrots. They had junky pipes and wood and things hanging here and there which made for bad backgrounds. The light on the glass reflected badly so I took what I could, blurry and all.
I have many artistic photos of the koi feeding area. They had a wood ramp out in the middle of the pool where you can walk around the square opening and feed the koi, as well as a renegade swan that gets in there for a koi food snack. You can see our Iowa black dirt makes for muddy ponds and not clear water like a sand-lined lake in the northern states. I had fun taking many photos of the koi and cropping out a good composition.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


All flowers are related right, at least they are of the plant world. Anyway, when I took this I thought of how the lily is a single flower struggling alone but with family. That is the only lily sitting among the coneflowers and a few black eye susans.
I had a good day at the zoo today taking resource pictures with my wife for her painting and drawing and me I guess for my blogging. It was a good day even though it is such a small zoo. It sits on hills and valleys so we got a lot of exercise.

As a teaser, there were also flowers at the zoo. I use to have a pink dinner plate hibiscus but the William Baffen rose squeeze it out. A neighbor gave me a new start this spring but it needs to grow for a aeason.
I have some really great macros of these zoo hibiscus. When you see the macro's you will see how large these flowers really are in size. I will share them off and on. Thanks for reading....

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

They finally bloomed.....

I took pictures early in the spring and showed textures of the different plants in the garden. That was early June and here it is late July and they finally bloomed.
When it would rain they would lay down on the ground so I have to tie them up each year. I planted this many years ago and the bulbs really have multiplied into almost a bush.
They didn't tie up easily and they all have a drunken sway as the heads of the flowers turned toward the light when they were on the ground. I know it is a good problem, but I am amazed how I have to deal with it each year.
I was able to get some good close shots but now they are into their final blooming and there are so many dead flowers to remove. If time allows, I will deadhead it.
I mowed most of the morning and worked on framing jobs that I have been putting off for some time. I guess I got some fertilizing done this am. I was going to go back out in the afternoon but once I started framing I just stayed with the flow. It got to be 85 degrees out there anyway and we are expecting rain tonight. I still haven't planted my new purchases from last week. Maybe it will be cooler in the morning after the rain. Thanks for reading....

Monday, July 27, 2009

Everywhere but......

not in the backyard...
I have a few stray pictures of things going on out and about on my two lots, but not in the backyard. The roma tomatoes are really taking off and I can't guess when they will turn red. I have blogs that I follow who are eating ripe tomatoes, but that isn't happening yet here.
I couldn't find a big flag that worked for my porch this year so I am using the smaller version. They look great with the geraniums on my porch.
I am a design freak and I know that it is just a birdfeeder. But my wife gave this to me as a gift many years ago and it is a great Asian design. I like good design and in the winter the birds really like it. I am not getting many takers this summer so I couldn't take a bird picture with it.
I really like this coneflower color but will investigate getting another color. The one in the background is not a white one but is young and will turn color.
I bought this coreopsis new this spring and it is doing well. I put it in a spot that filled in fast so I thing I am going to have to move it. I had dead yucca plants in the area and apparently a stray root that I didn't get dug out has decide to come up in gang busters. I am glad I will have new yucca plants there but coreopsis is feeling very crowded.

Finally, this is an old photo of my lilies coming up in the front yard. This is what they looked like early spring. I will show you soon what has happened to them. Tomorrow.......oh yes, thanks for reading.....

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Garden Gate.......

I finally started on Thursday on the gate project by putting primer on it. I had to paint it, as I built it with a recycled piece of plywood material that wasn't weather proof. The top layer on both sides was failing so I have now sealed it with this very expensive outdoor primer.
I had an interesting experience with the Menards guys. They were nice guys but they weren't paying attention. I wanted a quart and I got a gallon. The assistant caught the mistake after it was mixed, and I smiled and said I will go ahead and take it. I did reason that I would be upset if the one quart wasn't enough and if I had to go back to get more then I would be sorry. So, I am planning to add blue as my accent color all over the garden. I may paint a couple of lawn chairs blue and my door on my garden shed. I sound like an interior decorator don't I?
During the process one tends to doubt your decision but I had always thought our sherbet red house and light green shutters could use a blue for an accent to balance the whole scheme. It works. I have seen so many ideas in magazines with seeing people who have rustic wood fences and gates and the gate is painted a nice color.
My Japanese gate is going to be painted blue also. Someone I am married to said that Japanese usually do red doors in their Japanese gardens. Ok, I will have to think about that, I guess I could get a quart of that red too.
Thanks for reading.......

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The back yard.....update in the heat.....

It is only 90 degrees but when you are in the direct sun it is very uncomfortable. Florida is sweltering in the heat right now and they would think we were cool. I have been working in the backyard the past two days. I had to build a frame for a customer from scratch. I had to move my miter saw in the shade of a tree and run a cord to it. I have finally got the back gate primed and today put the final two coats of color on it. I will show you tomorrow what color I painted it. I have talked about painting that gate for two years. Huh>?

This poor rose needs to be moved. It is too hot now. I said I was going to do it and in the time being I will put out this wonderful photo of the flower. It is tough to survive where it is growing.
My monardia, beebalm has thinned out this year but the bumblebees are so busy flying around to them getting nectar. We have a lot of bees this year which is good, we haven't always had so many.
A lot of my hostas are blooming in the back yard and the blooms lie on the ground. I just look the other way. The bees are loving them though and this one variegated hosta has straight, upright stems. It is going to be more beautiful in the next few days.

This is the present view of my mass planting that sits next to our patio, former basketball court. It is so amazing how flat and desolate the whole area is in the winter and then this all comes up and becomes a jungle. It is somewhat crowded, but I am not going to address it until this fall. I have phlox coming up in every different area and they are wimpy in color and size. It is too shaded for them to get blooms but good enough for good foliage. The field lilies next to the pond aren't blooming well this year either. I suppose they need to be thinned, but not this year. Pruning back the ash tree above all of this would help a little.
The pond is my first water feature that I have ever had. I dug it years ago and it went underneath a sidewalk, which worked as a bridge. With little money, I lined it with an eight dollar plastic tarps and when doubled up, it works well enough. A few years back I got ambitious and redug it and made a dirt ledge and lined it with brick in the top area, like a rim to help hold the plastic. This year it was a mess and sprung leaks and I didn't deal with it for a while. Now I have put in seven loads of wheel barrows of dirt in it and raised the bottom of it. This fall I want to line it with concrete. I don't want a deep pond anymore with young children living next door. The area is fenced in but I don't want it to ever hurt anyone. So I am not filling it with water and whatever rains come that will be it's meager moisture.

A shop kid threw this birdhouse away after in the dumpster after he got a grade for it. I salvaged it but I see I need to nail it up a little and I think the hole is too small for wrens even though he must have tired to use it as it is full of twigs.
My wife says I have to quit blogging now as I am watching Cultivating Life on tv, in which they are planting catus. Mamma Mia music came up on the computer by itself and that is playing and I am also blogging. So I guess I am done. They are eating catus on tv now and I have shut Mamma Mia off and I guess I have done enough. We have a large Mexican population in a nearby town, 9,000 or more now, but they have cactus for sell for eating at the major grocery store for them. I have never tasted it so I can't even say, yuuuummmm.
Thanks for reading.....

Friday, July 24, 2009

Bringing in the Cat.......

The other night I went out on the porch to bring in the cat and I saw this ominous bunch of clouds. (A serious question now, when Fred Flintstone ended his show each time did he throw out the cat and bring in the dog, or vice versa????) Living in a town that was hit by a tornado four years back, one does pay attention. I checked on the tv for warnings, nothing, so I grabbed the camera. I remember in the old days with those old snap and click cameras we would try to take pictures of cloud formations while traveling in Wyoming or anywhere out west. Once developed they were worthless. But we now have digital, and wow I am impressed what that camera can do.
This is a shot from my back yard looking to the west. I couldn't really get the best shots as I needed to get in the car and drive five blocks to the other end of town. I was really getting ready to go to bed. So I didn't go get the keys and take off like I really wanted to do.
The weather guy at ten said that this was a spotty rain cloud that hit Jefferson, Iowa, a good thirty miles from us. By ten o'clock it had traveled south and dissolved into a small little blob.

I took a series of shots in a row moving the camera from left to right. Someday when I have time and the snow is flying I will get on Photoshop and edit them together. We once framed a set of 15 or 20 photos that had been developed and printed and then placed in a composition, of the remains of the world trade center. The guy who had gone there to help as a fireman took a large amount of photos then glued them all down to make a composite. Anyway, this winter, I will try to do that on Photoshop, I will have to bone up on my skills to pull it off as I haven't taught it for a couple of years now.
We rarely see skies like this in Iowa. The last time I ever remember seeing one like this was on a road in Minnesota that was south of Mile Lac Lake. It was the leftover of a storm. Thanks for reading......

Thursday, July 23, 2009

New Plants.........

Those of you who know Iowa weather, we know that it is not time to buy any new plants. We are going to go into a long heat spell and new stuff will wither away in the heat. But I was at the Woodsmith Store and they have a wonderful garden center. It is very expensive and I rarely buy plants there but the prices are starting to drop on insignificant things. I bought a Janpanese iris called Imperial Magic, I will spend my days keeping an eye on that. It is growing out of that small pot with full length leaves. I will trim it even if I can pull off planting it without distrubing the roots. I also picked up some catnip which I have been viewing on some of my friendly garden blogger sites. Then I bought this off the wall plant for Iowa, two of them as they were half off, called Aeonium Arboreum Atropurpureum. It is a succulent for zones 9 or 10. I am in zone 5 or 4 depending on the winter so it will be turned into a houseplant. I may try to add it with a cactus on a flat bonsai planter. We will see. I remember seeing it growing rampantly in California in large bush form.
We bring in our Yellow Kitty every night and I looked out and she had made herself at home in the box of plants. She has always loved boxes and I think most cats do. I took the picture through the glass of the door as I was concerned she would spook or move on me. It took and then when I opened the door you get the last picture.

Once I was out to bring in the cat, I had to return and take a lot of storm cloud pictures. Digital cameras are wonderful as you can snap them easily. It was a somewhat threatening sky so I had to stay and see what was going to happen. Having had a tornado come down our street a few years ago, you don't take weather lightly. Those photos will be coming soon on a blog.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Rose garden.....

along Lake Superior, Duluth, Minnesota....

First the story of this park. A woman donated a fountain and many roses to this lakes shore rose garden. About 6 years or more back, the city decided to build a freeway, I-35, along the lake side and they had to move it. It was dug up and placed in a temporary location for a couple of years until the freeway was done. The new park sets on a parcel of land that actually is sitting on a covering of the Interstate below it. It has been planted inside of five or six large rings of hedge to help protect it and they moved the fountain over to the new location.
If you look up the web site for this park on the internet you are going to be disappointed with the pictures. They need to renew their photos on the site. The information is interesting though as that they have the whole story of how it all took place. If you are thinking about visiting it, do look up the info on their web site.
One of the beautiful things about this park site is that you are overlooking the lake with its metal wrought iron fence. The sky is always a beautiful backdrop for any picture.
I have a few close shots of the roses but I will save them for later. The wind played havoc on taking good close shots of the roses, but I have a few.
The lady walked into the picture so I just went with it. We were almost ready to leave and the camera was crashing. Our batteries were down and I had to shut the camera down, turn it on, snap a photo, then turn it back off again. It would give me just enough energy to take one more picture. I couldn't zoom as that the was more power than I had in the batteries. What a joke but it worked. So when the lady walked in to the picture I said what the heck, shoot!
I don't have a picture that shows all the hedge planted in rings but you can see a partial hedge in this photo. It was windy and rainy when we were there but was glad we stop to see it.

Leif Erickson Rose Garden
over 3000 roses
Click here for info

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Canal Park...

At Duluth, Minnesota there is a large harbor that is used for shipping out goods. Large boats, and I do mean large, come through the maze of all of the great Lakes, from the east coast of the United States. It is nothing to see these shipping vessels coming in from Yugoslavia and other foreign countries from across the ocean. Wheat and iron ore is shipped out of here most often but I know there must be other things that get shipped. Iron is mined in the area and processed into small pellets, size of large marbles, brought down by train from the north shore and also from a major mine west of Duluth. The harbor is protected from weather and the water there does empty into the Mississippi River. They have tight controls over the water from Superior and it is common for them not to share the water when their is drought to the south. The Mississippi needs a certain amount of water to allow barges to run the length to New Orleans. That is another story.

The large vessels come through a man made channel with concrete walls on both sides. The boats are required to enter the channel at a very slow rate as a ship like that out of control, even if it is empty could destroy the channel walls in an instant.

As the large ship enters the channel the man on a lift bridge gives them a welcome with a loud horn sounding a long sound and two short sounds. The bridge has been in communication with them for quit some time to coordinate the lifting of the bridge, making sure traffic is off of the bridge before it is lifted and making sure the harbor is ready for them to enter to their loading dock. The boat answers back with it's horn to the bridge engineer with one long sound and two short sounds. Again, this vessel is coming in slow enough to not be out of control but with enough power to allow it to be controlled and steered.

This particular ship is 1000 feet long. The height of them is great as when you see the people on board, the people are dwarfed to it's great height.
This is a close-up of the front of this big guy.
Normally there is a painted chart on it's side telling at what depth the boat is in the water. I assume it must be on the other side.

Here at the back end you can see some of the workmen and make a size comparison as to how large this ship is. People actually do travel on these boats and they have visitor hotel like rooms for them to travel along with the shipping boat.

Do you see the men standing in the opening on the side of the ship. People come to see this happening and they are always friendly with the crew, waving back and forth.

When the coast is clear, they lower the deck of the bridge so the cars can again cross over to the point area of Duluth.
In this last photo you can see the crowd that lines the channel. Tourist of course come to see this but locals are always fascinated by it all also and you see them there. Until winter hits and all freezes over this is a daily happening for most of the spring and summer months.

As a non-navy person, you can notice I floated around with boat, ship, and vessel. I hope no one is too concerned if I didn't use the right terminology as I don't know any better. Thanks for reading.....