Saturday, January 31, 2009

Identify a tree

I was walking down my Georgia driveway the other day and noticed these strange leaf's on the ground. They fell from our trees in our front woods and I wanted to know what type tree we have. I collected several specimens then headed to the house. I have two small books about trees that I refer to for Identifying my trees. Both books are totally different and you will see more of that later. I also have many different books about birds and find no two of them the same. I prefer the book which shows the bird in Male, Female as well as Juvenile Plumage because they are so different.
I need a tree book that is much better then the two I have as they are not so great with descriptions. Like my favorite bird book, I would like a tree book that would show the tree's Bark, Shape, as well as close up of Spring, Summer and Fall foliage. Then I may have a better chance at identifying it correctly.
I open up the book and look at the leaf shapes and sizes. As you can see there is a big difference in the shape of each of the leaf's I have collected. This is the best I can come to matching these to a picture. They don't really look like this leaf to me so lets take a look at the second book shall we....
Ah, now this book shows the leaf looking a bit more like one of the leaf's that I have. What do you think? See how differently this book represents the leaf compared to the first book?
Once finding the pictured leaf which mostly resembles my leaf, I then move on to geographic location. As you can see this leaf is found in Georgia so I think we are on to something here. Next, I read the description. I don't agree with the bark color as none of my trees bark appear black. Hum, but the remainder is right on the money. Especially the part I underlined for you with the leaf's being variable in shape. So I do believe I have Blackjack Oak tree's in my front woods.
This is how I IDENTIFY A TREE, In the Garden...

Janet over at Queen of Seafood sent me to this sight to see that I may have a Water Oak instead of Blackjack. Strange thing though, this sight says: The tree should be in Full Sun, my trees are in full Shade. Should be in moist area, we don't see much rain fall throughout the year. Will NOT find them in Sandy Soil, my trees are in Sandy Soil. Hum, this is why I have trouble identifying trees in my yard.

of Defining your Home hubby has a Forestry degree and agrees this is a Water Oak....

Thanks for the corrections ladies, this is a wonderful thing about blogging! I have now truly identified my tree. I am off to the book store for a new book!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Fort Campbell's Clarksville Base Trail

I have spoken of my walking trail before, and will again as it is the best kept little 'secret' on Fort Campbell. Those of us who live close by have a real gem in this roadmarch/ruck march/walking route at Clarksville Base on Fort Campbell. This is a most treasured spot for me to commune with nature and today I'll take you along.
I was first introduced to this route when having to complete the 12 mile roadmarch as part of the 18th Airborne Corps requirements. Little did I know that despite: the blisters, the pain, and the blur of simply trudging along praying I would make the time and not collapse due to the physical toll this roadmarch took on my body; that this route would become such a favored part of my life. Even the rocks smile when I walk by. Can you see the face in this rock formation? It is clear as mud, look closely and let me know if you can't see it.

In the seven years I have lived here I have endeavored to walk this 4.5 mile route weekly. It has not always worked out this way, but it is an admirable goal is it not? One of my favorite times of year to walk the route is in the winter. I have traversed the paved road when it has been under snow and ice, and when it has been covered with puddles full of beautiful butterflies. I enjoy the artwork at my favorite 'wade in the stream spot', and I enjoy the towering sycamores which help provide food for the numerous deer, turkey and other assorted wildlife that make this sanctuary its home.

Clarksville Base is a historic area of Fort Campbell. Many may know it as the 'Bird Cage'. Its exact original purpose is not known to me, but I have read that nuclear weapons were stored here during the last world war. The walking trail is bordered by cool underground bunkers that are used for storage, not of the nuclear kind.
The building where I worked when I was in the Army used to be the fire station for Clarksville Base. I once tried to upgrade the drafty, leaky windows in our building and was told by the engineers that it was not allowed due to the building being historic. Historic must mean non-energy efficient because the wind sure blew through on cold days.

A favored and truly treasured spot is this stream area. There is a system of several bridges, one of which walkers and roadmarchers will pass over when navigating the trail. I almost always walk down the concrete bank and sit and listen to the water. Many folks do the same. On a sunny day there will be whole families walking the trail and some will even cast a fishing line or two. Look closely in the picture below and you can see tire tracks of some brave soul who decided to spin his car around in the stream. This would have been possible only when the stream was low. Wonder if it was fun to the silly drivers? Beavers, swallows, turtles, deer, wild turkeys, geese, and blue herons are all in abundance in this area. I have seen them all and so enjoy the tranquility of their lives. They coexist peacefully with walkers like me. Whenever the Jimster is with me it is a given he will take off his shoes and socks, roll up his pants and go wading. On a recent trek to the stream around dusk, the Jimster, his friend Christian, and I were enthralled when a 'little bird' helicopter showed up. It was doing night flying above the tree tops. As an air traffic controller we called this type of flying NOE, or nap of the earth flying. This helicopter gave us a show by landing on the bridge above. We were sitting right where I am taking the picture, quite close to the helicopter. Water spray and dust flew everywhere. I still get a tingle being around this type of activity or whenever I hear a helicopter fly overhead or a 'freedom bird' does a low take off just west of my home. It is the air traffic controller part of me coming out. Some of my aviation friends who spent their lives working on helicopters around here HATE the sound of helicopters now. They purposely buy homes far away from flight routes and avoid Fort Campbell altogether. But not me, I love the helicopters and all their noise. Now, the blasting from Fort Campbell I can do without:)

I thank the Army everyday for the wonderful experiences I was able to live during my twenty years of service. To travel to the Middle East, or fly over the Alps in a Huey, to fire a rifle and throw a grenade, to work in a bubble in the sky with air conditioning, to help a pilot land his aircraft in the thickest of fog, to get an education and to meet some really neat folks, to live in Italy and ride a gondola on the canals of Venice, to see King Ludwig's Fairytale Castle Neuschwanstein is something that most people never get to experience in a lifetime. And I was able to do it all and more during my twenty year tour of duty.

This post is really not about the Army, but about a wonderful walking trail on an Army base. This walking trail and walking in general always makes me appreciate the little things in life: like walking on a clear and sunny day and giving myself time to just be me with no pressures, no blogging, no stressors, just life. Walking does this for me. I am going to finish this post with a short video of the stream. You can hear the water running which is such a soothing sound for me. There will be more posts on this super great walking trail. It is filled with wildflowers and noises and vernal ponds full of bullfrogs and fish and geese and life. For now....

I'm in the garden....walking with Bella on the Clarksville Base Trail.

Hi all. I've been contacted by a few folks who are interested in Clarksville Base and from what I understand it was a most special place to be stationed during the Cold War. I am currently working on a post concerning some stories and some information about a few reunions that involve Clarksville Base. The page links are no longer valid for these reunions. Sorry.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Icy Arbor

All I could think of this past summer when looking at the sweet autumn clematis growing on the PVC arbor was ice. The flowers were sparkly and frosty and white, though they didn't cool me down!
I don't need any cooling down now, in fact, thanks to the recent ice storm I have a truly 'Icy Arbor'. No need to try to feel cold looking at it now, it is cold!

in the garden....clearing ice and tying up trees.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Ice Storm and Trees

Just how much weight from ice can a pine tree withstand before it breaks? That is the question. Wait a minute, I'm getting a head of myself. Actually, the question of the morning from the Jimster is, "HOW DO I FIND OUT IF SCHOOL IS CANCELLED? THE TV DOES NOT WORK!" at 5:30 in the morning. We here in my part of Tennessee had a terrible ice storm last night. Prior to going to bed I was hopeful it would not be too bad, but the pelting of my windows with freezing rain all night left no doubt there was ice on the ground. So I simply told the Jimster to go back to bed, and I slept in too. The ice storm did not claim the power lines as casualties, but the cable line and evergreen trees such as pines and cedars did not fair as well. Without cable, I have no telephone and no Internet and no television. Sigh.

Enter my one pine tree in the front yard. It is a short pitch pine and a treasured tree in my landscape. It shelters me, the house, birds, provides many pine needles for mulch, and pine cones for crafts. It is a favored food source of the yellow bellied sapsucker (one of these days I'll catch him with my camera) and is a tree I would be terribly distressed to lose. So upon looking out my front windows I see my view has changed-dramatically. I actually kind of like the new view, but it is not normal for these limbs to be touching the ground. I mean gee, I spend hours limbing up my trees just so I can look out and not run into them-what will I do now? The above pictured limbs are normally 15-20 feet off from the ground. Just look at that one limb that is bent nearly at a 90 degree angle! I am amazed!

I am also very lucky, especially because as I was walking around the garden (in the freezing rain) I heard several very loud cracks. C--R--A--C--K! Not a welcomed sound for my neighbor two houses a way. They had several pine boughs break and fall onto their deck. Such a shame for the trees. The deck can be repaired, not so the trees. The pine tree grove belonging to my neighbor is pictured above. You can see the broken limbs on the ground if you look closely. See how much those trees are leaning? Bad situation for a homeowner.Update: As of 8 pm, one of these tall pines fell on my neighbor's cable line-see the telephone pole there? No telling what else will happen by morning.

Speaking of homeowners, the Eastern Red Cedar pictured above is my tree. It is one of two leaning cedars in my backyard. The other one is leaning over the pool. It could spell dire consequences should it fall. The last time we had a big ice storm was in December 2006 (the same ice storm where I snapped the pictures of the meadowlarks) and the same thing happened to the cedars then. They recovered nicely and I expect they will recover this time too-provided we don't get too cold tonight with the other winter storm coming in. I have my fingers and toes crossed.

What can you do when this situation happens? Well first of all, losing a few branches is not going to kill a healthy tree. Splitting down the middle might, but hopefully it has not come to this point in my garden, though many of my neighbors are facing this challenge. But it is okay, it is the way it is sometimes. No panicking allowed. If a branch breaks off the first thing a homeowner should do is get a professional opinion from an arborist as to what to do. (That is the book answer) In my case, I know what needs to be done. The tree should be laterally pruned back to the trunk so there is no unsightly stump left for insects and disease to enter. This is an easy fix. Pick up the leftover branches and burn them in the fire pit, that is the next step.
Now the shrubs, they are a different matter. I took the time prior to the ice storm to tie the dozen or so 6-8 foot tall arborvitaes together. The precaution worked wonders. Though the trees are leaning a bit at the top, all stems have stayed together. I am relieved.

I knew the above pictured Arizona Cypress would be a different matter altogether. This is not the first time it has been laid horizontally, and probably won't be the last time. This tree was planted as a 3 foot stick in 2003. It now towers to about 15 feet. It is a gorgeous, gorgeous color blue and the foliage is so textural that it is a big asset in the garden. Additionally, it has the classic pine scent when brushed up against by the gardener. I suppose I could've tied it to Mr. Fix-it's garage, but chose not to do so. I know from past experience it will bounce back. The trunk; which is a good 6 inches in caliper; is pretty pliable. Once the ice melts I will brace the tree back up and tie it off down low to keep it from swaying. Tying it off prior to the ice storm would not have prevented the total bending of the tree but will help the tree stabilize itself now. (I hope)

I just don't know how northerners deal with so much ice. I always worry so about my trees and shrubs, but have finally come to a point where I just deal with it. I tried in vain to shake off the ice this morning, but since the temperature hovered around freezing all day and the ground was very cold, the ice was not budging. Such is life. At least we are safe and have heat-and now cable too! Oops-spoke too soon-the power is coming on and and off and more freezing temperatures and danger is forecast-gotta go...hopefully by the time this posts tomorrow THE storm will be behind us.

in the garden....straightening and staking trees.

As an aside, I am now a member of a German Blog called Ruhezone. What does Ruhezone stand for? Relaxing Zone. I intend for any posts I do over there to be very relaxing-for me and the readers (at least that is the intent:)

I met Kathrin online just yesterday and we hit it off. This is the thing about most of the German folks I know, they are very trustworthy and in return trust you, as she did me in order to invite me to occasionally guest post on her group blog. Thanks Kathrin for your trust!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Little People

Not much going on in the garden for the month of January in New England, unless you count snow, snow, and more snow. By best guess, we won't have anything living, budding and growing until March. Now that I made myself feel more cabin fever, I'm electing to show you a partial showcase of my garden whimsy. We call them The "Little People", only because when we have company and my hubby shows off the grounds, he affectionately calls my gnome area "junk". I must say....I fire back, responding " Don't make fun of the little people!"

Here's the little guy that started it all. Papa, (think Smurfs) he's the only one painted by myself on a quiet winter's day when my infant daughter (at the time) was napping. He has a frog companion but I'm told he's jumping from building to building, hubby's (Jack of all Trades) humor for diffusing my frustration in not being able to locate it! They all have the same face and I found they were popular ceramics in the seventies, I've picked them up here and there at a inexpensive cost. This is a estimated third of my collection and for the sake of this posting, I've named them. Some I didn't have to, they were already painted with their names, this is Derek, he's labeled on one of the balloons. So be it!

This is Drew, after all the only suited businessman I know was Drew Carey! The one gnome I ever passed up was the housewife with the curler, perhaps I should of bought her to be Mimi!

The next five are new to this past year. BTW, I forgot to mention the area we keep the community of the "Little People". To the far right you'll faintly see a split rail fence. The fence borders a two foot high, planted, rock wall that drops down. In front of the wall is a small path that circles the want-a-bee-pond, it has white crushed rock bedding it. This is where the "Little People" live. Right now they are on vacation. Here's Pete the policeman keeping law and order!

Next up is Darcy. I also have a blond cheerleader, she found her head full of nesting wood ants one year! No offense to blonds.

Andre' the agitator, that's self explanatory! All the Little People have a copper pipe pounded into the ground and up through, mainly because I have a ball chasing, big dog. I don't want a accident!

This guy is named on his stick, Chipper. Hopefully it's not indicative to loosing his teeth!
Rudy off on the snow machine. Looks in the right place to me!

The last five pictured are new to this last past year and I may have to expand the village......

for now we'll be In The Garden....with the Little People.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Winter Goodness...Citrus, Here in the Deep South

Here in the deep south (Florida), winter is the best time to enjoy the fresh products that nature provides.

Lemons are a favorite fruit down here. There they are on the tree at left. I took these pictures so you could see different distances as we approached the tree. This tree grows at a friend's house.
The next Picture is the fruit that I picked off this tree. I didn't even make a dent in the amount of fruit that was growing on that tree.

There are many delicious uses for lemons. Some favorite ones include: fresh squeezed lemonade, pies and zest.
Zest is the skin of the lemon that has been grated from the lemon. When grating the skin, you must be careful not to get into the white part that is just under the colored part as it is bitter.

And just look how sunny and delicious the freshly picked lemons look! The next picture shows how the lemons look after they have been scrubbed and washed. I used a Dobie pad to do this task.

In the next picture you can see a few different citrus fruits. Also you can see the difference in sizes between the different fruits.

From left to right from the top left is: grapefruit, orange, tangerine, and lemon. Grapefruit grows the same way as the oranges and lemons.

These next trees have a lot of oranges on them . The bright orange color will draw your attention to them. There are quite a few trees in my area.
But further south a lot of the groves were destroyed due to a virus that invaded the trees.
There is also another citrus fruit called Kumquat Fruit. It's a very small, oval fruit usually between 1 and 2 inches long and has a leathery orange or yellow skin. They are generally in season from late autumn to mid-winter. The skin is much sweeter than the inside so most of the time only the skin is eaten.

No matter where you are, there is always something------

In the Garden.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Winter Blues

It is really getting dreary and cold down here in my Georgia garden. I think it is time to look at some beautiful colors to get me out of the winter blues....
During one of our visits to Tennessee this past year, we took time to stop at the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga. We have been to the Aquarium before but not since they added the second building which houses the Ocean Journey and Butterfly Room. The Saint and I enjoy the butterflies that visit our gardens so we knew we would enjoy the butterfly room.
Upon entering the room, you soon discover these butterflies are not native American Butterflies. There is a handy guide to let you know what butterfly you are admiring but we did not discover those cards until departing the room. Duh, on our part.
If you are gentle, the butterflies will crawl on your hands such as this beauty did to me!
It is amazing to hold one of these creatures and examine them up close while they examine you in return. See the fingers in the background encouraging a visit?
I was fascinated by the beauty of this Green, Brown, Black and White butterfly.
The Saint enjoyed solving the puzzle of how to get one on your fingers. He was picking them up for a while before showing me the trick of getting one to visit your hands. The only trick is to place your finger slowly in front of them and they will crawl onto your finger. Then you can gently move your finger or hand to examine them up close. When they start to fly off, let them go on their merry way and don't chase them as another will be by your side in not time at all.
I wish I knew the names to all of these beauties but for now, just sit back and enjoy the beautiful colors of this winter day.
Ah, Red and Black with a lush Green backdrop.
They glow from the sun peering in the glass enclosed room.
The Saint had one fully open while in his hands. It was a proud moment for the Saint. Now I must call him the Butterfly Whisperer. Ha...
This was the largest of the butterflies. See my hand beside it. Yep, this was a large fellow indeed. A bit intimidating with that size!
Look at this beauty looking at me looking at him or is it her? Hum, any butterfly experts out there know that answer?
This one reminds me of the Zebra butterflies I see in my garden but it is not the Zebra.

There are also Sharks and Jelly fish in this building! What an adventure we had while there...
After we left the Aquarium, our next stop was a Rest Stop where we spotted this native Painted Lady sipping on what I believe to be a Zinnia bloom. We were happy to see another butterfly while on our journey that day.

If you are near the Chattanooga area and looking for something to take those WINTER BLUES away this winter, then stop in at the TN aquarium as it is a great substitute from lack of color, In the Garden...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Bloggers family visit

Do you remember my Post titled Georgia Drought you say? from last month? Well, it was not a pretty sight with water standing in my Georgia Garden while awaiting a Garden blogger's visit! I took the advice of the commenter's and just let the water flow off my mind.

As you can see the blogger friend was "In the Gardens" very own Master Gardener, Tina and family! Tina looked right over the mud and we splashed our way all over the yard. I was so excited of her visit that I forgot to change shoes and ended up sinking into a hole that once housed a plant! Arggg, my once white tennis shoes... Not much to see in the winter but it was fun talking gardens a few weeks before Christmas.

We were able to get in one quick sight seeing trip to the Savannah river before night fall. Sorry, no pictures of that. You may recall seeing a picture of Fall Colors snapped at this spot. All pictures you see today, were snapped by Tina as I never touched the camera the entire time they were visiting. Ever have so much fun you never snap pics?

Off to the Pizza Joint for dinner, (thanks for picking up the tab guys) then to a surprise for everyone! Light's of the South, is located near our home and has become a tradition for us. This is a wonderful place to experience and will surely put you into the holiday spirit. A family has opened up their farm to visitors to see their fabulous light display. Everything is custom made and set up by family and friends of the land owners. This castle was one of many new additions this year. It is made from 60,000 lights! You can either stroll the lighted pathways through the enchanted forest of lights or opt for a Hayride which we always do. With hot chocolate, fudge and apple cider in hand, we had a wonderful ride together. This was the Jimsters first Hayride! I was happy to have been there for his experiencing a hayride. Sorry we did not get to roast marshmallows over the open fires. Can we say long line for fluffy sugar cubes? Tina had told me the Jimster had started to play the guitar. I told her to have him bring it along so he and the Saint could jam together. The Saint pulled out his guitar and showed the Jimster a few cords. Notice the Jimster is not wearing any shoes. Tina, you have had him in Tennessee too long! snicker snicker, I can say that since I was born in TN. Jimster was really impressing us with his self taught guitar skills! The Saint would show him something and the Jimster would repeat on his guitar in no time at all. The Saint even handed over his electric guitar for him to pick on. Wow, I have never seen the Saint let anyone play his guitar before that night!

Jimster really does seem to have a talent for picking up cords quickly so maybe one day, I will be talking about attending one of his concerts. Don't forget us small people when you hit the big time! I think those two could have stayed up all night given the chance. As you can see, Mr. Fixit was about to fall asleep. Not really, Tina just caught him with his eyes closed as she snapped the picture. Heck, the guitar was so loud who could sleep if they wanted to? Mr Fixit was holding the Jimsters keyboard. Yep, that young man is also self teaching himself to play the keyboard! Can you tell I was enjoying the concert?

We enjoyed a glass of wine during our concert and now Tina has a pretty blue bottle to add to her Bottle Tree. I think we all ended up getting to bed around 1:00 in the morning.

The next morning the Saint took off for work and I made breakfast for everyone. Tina, loved my eggs. Tina, they were just scrambled eggs! Jimster took a sausage and biscuit to go as for some reason, he was too tired to get out of bed. And he is the young one that is supposed to be ready to take on the world! Ha, young whipper snappers don't have anything on us old hoot owls!

After breakfast, Tina, Mr. Fixit and the Jimster took off for Ft. Jackson to see Christine (daughter) graduate Basic Training. Again congrats Christine!

Tina, you have a wonderful family and we thoroughly enjoyed having you in our home. Although too short and we must do this again soon! This was one really nice BLOGGER'S FAMILY VISIT, In the Garden...