Monday, June 23, 2008

OCSD - Obsessive Compulsive Statistical Disorder

Sometimes I mean to do something, and then I get busy and forget all about it, until I am reminded that I never did it.  I think that's what happened when I opened my FLICKR account a couple of years ago.  I meant to check it out more, but all I ever really had time to do was throw up a few pictures or scanned artwork every once and a while.

Then, a few days ago, I was reminded about Groups.  Then I realized there are Groups for everything.  Then I had to post some things to Groups.  Then I had to start sorting through thousands of pictures to find more things to post to Groups.  Then I had to look for more Groups to post some of the things I had already posted to other Groups I had joined.

It is getting to be a problem.  There is something I really like about trying to make the graph go up on my DAILY AGGREGATE VIEWS ON YOUR ACCOUNT chart.
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Transplants That Work - Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle'

So, sometime in April I added to a planting bed which I filled with plants and starts of plants from elsewhere in the yard. I've had some failures, but this beauty, which came from the mess I call my nursery, is definitely a success. Its kind of a cool story.

When my mom was moving three years ago, I took a couple of feeder starts off her huge hydrangea and placed them in an area of rich soil in my back, back yard (back yard is behind the house while the back, back yard is the often neglected half an acre expanse beyond the creek and treeline, which I'm going to get to someday). For two years they sat, sad solitary sticks with just a few leaves. This year, they looked better. They were starting to branch out and I decided it was time to try and move a few of them. I took two, put them together to get a better shaped bush, and placed them in the sunny new spot I had chosen. Three weeks later I had about a dozen buds.

This thing is beautiful. I guess I could call it a successful double transplant.
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Welcome Guests

There is something I love about finding a snake living in my garden. First off, snakes are, simply put, awesome. Secondly, the fact that I have helped to make a habitat that some reptile wants to call home is very satisfying. And my kids love snakes. The excitement of catching one and then adjusting to holding it, and calming it down as it wriggles between your fingers for a few minutes before carefully placing it back in its habitat is quite an experience.

If I were ranking cool things you find living in your yard, a snake is right up there with frogs, a notch above salamanders and toads.

Not cool, however, is looking in you wheelbarrow after lifting and dividing a huge clump of grass and finding half a snake.

Blog Layouts

So, it turns out that I liked the prints from the following post juxtaposed to the title block to the extent that I had to add it as a permanent fixture to the layout.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Block Printing 102 - Registration

A huge thank you out to Steve M, a friend with extensive knowledge of the commercial printing industry, who this past weekend, in five minutes and with a two-inch sketch, totally took the mystery out of creating a pin-based registration system for use in my block printing experimentation. The examples above have between 5-10 impressions each and the registration was effortlessly spot on.

Next up will be "Unleashing the Secret of Thin, Transparent Ink." A good starting place would be the moment I realized, after struggling with ink coverage, that that I am using opaque ink and to get it transparent I'll need something called extender. Probably, I should pick up a tube of yellow ink as well. Trying to mix colors using gold in its place has yielded some interesting, yet slightly too metallic, results.

Updated once I saw the image next the title block:
The background from the title block is a section of a pastel I did a couple of years ago...two years later, different medium and almost the exact same color combination. One of these days I need to throw some other colors into the mix. It is fairly obvious which colors I reach for first, time after time. No wonder I have yet to buy yellow ink.
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Friday, June 13, 2008

Stella d'Oro - Maybe not so hateful afterall

So, I hate my day lilies. The Stella d'Oros. The ones that everyone and his brother has used at the entrance to anything. They are everywhere. I started off with about 4 nice sized plants 6 years ago and now I have about 25. I have discovered, however, that I don't find them quite so hateful when they are all out of focus and blurry in a picture. And I could lift them with success to cover up a lot of dirt in that new bed.

Oh yeah. Lavandula angustifolia is in bloom. Gotta love lavender.
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Transplant Fail

OK. I so know better than this. I've added about 40 S.F. of bed this year and I just really needed something that was about 30" tall. Having a surplus of spirea everywhere, including this unfortunate one which was growing along the edge of a bed and starting to block some better plants, I momentarily thought I had a solution. It wasn't easy to get it out of the position it chose to grow, and a lot of roots were lost in the process. For the first day it looked good, and from that point on its been all downhill. I'm sure it will be fine next year, but for now I'm left with a whithering, wilted, what-used-to-be-green plant, in a position of prominence. I'm afraid it will end up tossed or exiled once Lowes marks down its shrubs next month.

Also, looking at these pictures, seeing dirt in one of my beds is like fingernails on a chalkboard. And Mom, I hope that is more acceptable than "it really pisses me off to see dirt in one of my beds."

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

block printing 101

leaf print.jpg

So, lately I have been experimenting with some block printing. I use the term experimenting because I have yet to come up with anything interesting that is actually printed. Maybe a more accurate statement would be that lately I have been experimenting with some block carving.

More on this some other time, once I am finally successful at getting the carving and the ink and the paper to harmoniously work together as a team, a process which has thus far proven to be elusive.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Tradescantia L. - Spiderwort Rocks

My Spiderwort is about to come into bloom.  I'm behind, as I noticed that others have been blooming for a week.  But I have it in a partially shady spot, so no complaints.  They are just too cool, and I tend to think that no woodland or woodland-ish garden is complete without them.
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Paeonia - A Love/Hate Relationship with Peonies

somewhere in the garden, 2007

I love peonies. Who can resist these gorgeous, full flowers, the bushy foliage and the wonderful scent? I adore them, and I have a lot of them. But yet, for all their glorious properties, they have the potential to totally piss me off.

I have a dozen or so, scattered about the yard, which all came from another yard. I hit gardener's pay dirt a few years ago. A relative's relative, who was a plant collector was moving out west, and her house and yard were being turned into a gas station. I don't know how many trips I made, but I wish I had a picture of my Explorer filled to capacity, with leaves hanging out the doors and windows and sunroof. The peonies were one of the payoffs from the plant gathering expeditions.

I think it was July, a point in the season where the best option was to cut back the foliage and put them all in my little nursery until the next spring when they found their permanent positions. Planted along the tree line, and as accents in beds, they quickly grew to produce some nice, bushy foliage. Flowers, of course, didn't come until the next year, and I was lucky if maybe two buds per plant developed into one of the beloved flowers.

Now having a son, who is fascinated by ants, is like a death sentence to what would be a potential peony flower. I wish I had a dollar for every time I've said, "Do NOT touch the ants on those!" And then gone onto some lengthy explanation that they only send out a few flowers and if the precious buds are bent or ripped off in the interest of ant study, I would be pissed. Needless to say, I have found countless potentially fragerant huge blossoms on the ground, victim to random acts of ant collection and unfortunate magnifying glass violence.

External forces have subsided this year, and now that I've entered into the fifth year for these beauties, what a promising year it was. The ones with the most light opened first, and I was treated to maybe seven or eight blooms on each plant. Only a few days later the others began to open. What a show. For a day, anyway.

Of course, we couldn't have had a few nice sunny days. It had to rain. Rain hard, for hours.

There is not much of a more pathetic sight than a shitload of peonies laying on the ground. Everywhere people have them it is the same, bent over pathetic blooms laying in the grass, sad giant flowers that don't have the power to stand after the added weight of a few hours rain. Freaking wimps. Even worse are the blossom's that still had a few more day's bloom left who are totally stripped of their petals.

At least mine are all part of something greater, scattered around with my other perennials. The most pathetic sight I see when I drive around is the lone peony or group of peonies, planted somewhere in the middle of a yard collapsed to the ground. The promise of could have been good lying in ruins.

Thanks a hell of a whole lot for that one, mother nature.

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