Tuesday, April 30, 2013

burns and blisters and nausea, oh my!

We have some beautiful irises coming up in a side bed...

...but I was surprised to find a huge bare-root tangle of them by the side of the road.  Who would throw away irises?!?  They were so heavy that I couldn't lift them alone, and both Todd and I had to struggle to get them into the back of my car.

I also grabbed some ferns and 'mystery tubers' that were mixed in with the irises.  Now, I didn't know if they would grow, but I chopped the heavy mass into four parts and planted them around the bird feeder in our back yard.  They looked pretty terrible and droopy, and some are starting to yellow already, but success!  Three of the four bunches have already put up flower stalks.

I'll leave them up until all the foliage yellows, and then chop them back.  I have a feeling that they'll look amazing next year!

Meanwhile, it's been leaves...


...and more leaves.

The beds have been positively choked with them, and next year I will rake them out BEFORE things start to grow.  Todd and I have been raking diligently, though...

...and thankfully, they're slowly getting cleaned out.

Since I've been spending so much time outside, it wasn't long before I noticed this...

...and this:

...and this:

Yes, like most everyone else in South Carolina, we have red imported fire ants (Solenopsis invicta).  They look like the normal small black ants I saw in Indiana, and their nests are just a little bit bigger than the Indiana ant nests.  But people here have some real horror stories about these southern pests:

"They're super aggressive.  They swarm.  They bite you with their jaws and then sting you.  They're vicious and their stings and bites swell up and fill with pus. They itch like crazy and get infected easily."

"They destroy plants and local insects and kill small animals that step in their nests."  

"They are next to impossible to kill."

Red imported fire ants are native to South America but have been in the U.S. since the 1930s.  They aren't bothered a bit by droughts or floods.  They actually use their legs to bond together into a cohesive floating mass and can travel easily over water that way, as seen in this video.  Fire ants are found in every southern state and up the east and west coasts.  Besides destroying local plant, animal, and insect life, they apparently chew on insulated wires and cause damage there.  An average nest has over 250,000 fire ants, and people actually die from their venom!  From gardentech.com:  "A fire ant's sting burns, blisters, and causes nausea, vomiting, disorientation, dizziness, asthma, and shock. In sensitive victims, the sting can cause anaphylactic shock or even death."   As much as I hate to use chemicals, Todd and I are going to put out some kill powder this week to try to eradicate these colonies.  Until they're gone, I'm going to be limiting my outside work (burns and  blisters and nausea, oh my!).

Most of our camillias and azaleas have stopped flowering.  The bulbs are gone, and the helleborus are getting there.  The irises only last a few days in water, so I've been suffering a bit from lack of flowers in the house.  I have been pretty spoiled by the winter and spring full of flowers here, and the summer flowers (magnolia, butterfly bush, gardenia, most of the clematis vines, etc.) haven't started flowering yet.  Today I noticed these tulip tree 'flowers' all over the lawn:

They barely have a stem, but I have narrow-necked vases to support their little stubs.

Ahhhh...that feels better!

I've been doing some work in the house while I wait out these fire ants.  I bought this old bench at a yard sale YEARS ago for $20:

My original plan was to strip it down to the original wood and either remove the pain from the wicker or cover it with fabric.  Needless to say, 15 years later, it still looks the same as when I bought it.  This week, at least, I was able to cover the bottom seat with a nice heavy fabric.

Next I'll work on the top part, which doesn't detach as easily as the bottom.  Baby steps!

I also finally put together the mini greenhouse I bought at IKEA 2 years ago for $14.  I set it up on a $3 wine rack I'd bought, planning to rip out the wine cradles and make it into a plant stand.  Well, apparently Scotty was right when he said, "You canno' change the laws of physics", because apparently those cradles are integral to the structural integrity of the stand (per my husband).  Oh, well.  The top is a perfect fit for the greenhouse, and I'll figure out how to get rid of the cradles eventually.

I love it.

I divided up different sedum plants that I already owned and put them in various containers.

I love the different shapes and textures of sedums.  I am totally delighted with this setup.

I've also been knitting.  Using Mary Mucklestone's "200 Fair Isle Motifs" book, I drew up a schematic:

Using scrap yarn, I knitted up the patterns:

It's a hot water bottle cover for my brother-in-law (his wife said that he needed one) and I'm really pleased with how it turned out!

I love any chance I get to do stranded knitting.

I will try to get that extra post up this week...it's just been so busy.  Hope you're having a great spring!

1 comment:

  1. Fire ants . . . they sound like something out of a horror movie :(