Gardener's Grapevine 2011.07.20

Written by David Green.

What a beautiful Sunday afternoon. It is sunny and, of course, hot.

I guess all living things like water for one or more reasons. We sure could use about 24 hours of a steady rain. Everything is so dry and sun-baked. We’ve been watering the gardens daily. I think I heard the beans actually sigh when we set the sprinkler on them yesterday. 

Everything is doing nicely except the sweet corn. It was planted late and did not come up well. No “knee high” corn at this house.

We picked the first ripe tomatoes and squash this week. Summer tomatoes are like heaven on earth and we eat so many I’m surprised we don’t turn red. Soon we’ll have yummy green fried tomatoes.

I’d like to discuss things different plants attract. One is hummingbirds. These tiny little birds love anything purple or red, including a shirt or porch cushions. I have two hummingbird stories to tell. The first was a few years back when I somehow got talked into creating a history booklet for our church’s 150th anniversary. In order to do this, I needed to know our church’s history, which I did not. So every weekend I sat on our side porch in a comfy wicker chair with my feet up and a drink and read this wonderfully put together war and peace book on our church history, and most of it was so riveting, too.

One Saturday as I sat reading I realized something was buzzing around my head but didn’t sound quite like a bee. Every time I would try to see what it was it would stop, and it was really beginning to annoy me. My husband happened to come out on the porch and told me there was a little hummingbird buzzing just over my head at the flowers. Sure enough, there were purple petunias in a hanging basket and the hummingbird was trying to tell me they were his.

My other story involves Mary Johnson, my best friend and the sweetest person in the world. Unfortunately, when God made Mary he accidentally made her allergic to many things and bees are the worst. Needless to say, she is terrified of them and justly so.

One Saturday my daughter, Mary, and I were sitting on the porch and something the size of the end of your little finger kept buzzing Mary and wouldn’t stop. Of course, being deathly allergic to bees, she thought that’s what it was and had quite a time trying to get rid of it. Fortunately, we realized it was a baby hummingbird and he was trying to see if Mary’s purple shirt would taste good. For such a small animal they sure move fast!

Another plant that attracts hummingbirds is butterfly weed (orange milkweed) and butterfly bush. Butterfly bushes come in different colors, the blooms, that is, and my aunt has a yellow one which is really quite pretty.

Daylilies will attract both hummingbirds and butterflies. Peony bushes attract ants, and while my daughter Jacquie thinks they are nasty, they are really quite necessary if the blooms are to open. There is a nectar in the bud that the ants enjoy and as they clean it up the flower opens up leaf by leaf.

A friend of mine told me a way to bring the peonies inside without the ants. Using a large bucket of water, turn the blooms upside down in the water and shake them gently to get the water off and put them in a vase. The ants are not a nuisance, but a necessity—unless they are red and biting you.

  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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