Monday, July 29, 2013

Hydrangea Hideaway

The sun has come out at last!  It seemed like we alternated cloudy days and rainy days for weeks and weeks.  Truthfully, because of the rainy weather and the swarms of mosquitoes that seemed to come with it (including the Asian Tiger mosquito, who doesn't bother with the 'dark or dusk' rule of most mosquitoes and feels comfortable attacking at any time of day), I've been staying inside most of the time.  At the first sign of sun last week, however, we packed up and went to the South Carolina Botanical Garden.

Because of the near-constant shade at our property, I was naturally drawn to the shade gardens there.  One of my shade favorites, the hydrangea, was blooming in full force.

White hydrangeas...

Pink hydrangeas...

Blue hydrangeas...

And one of my favorites, oak leaf hydrangeas...

Look at those flowers!  Green and white is one of my favorite combinations, too.

The "non-ruffled" are still beautiful, though.

My blue hydrangeas never bloomed, probably because of overcast skies and too much rain.  I have high hopes for next year, though.

I'm still learning about how colorful shade gardens can be.

It's still strange to me to use leaves instead of flowers for impact.

Next year I'm going to fill in our bare shade patches with impatiens.  They're annuals, but they bloom all summer long and provide nice color.  If you're lucky, the leaves help out too!

Even though I'm laser-focused on shade, I couldn't help but admire the sun-lovers there.  Crepe myrtles are blooming all over the Upstate area, in pink, purple, and white.  They bloom all summer long and have lovely, smooth trunks.

Coneflowers are great too, and very hardy.

Where you have coneflowers, you have butterflies!  This yellow swallowtail butterfly is very common here.

 Butterflies also graced the aptly-named butterfly we have a black swallowtail.

I bet these plants were happy to finally see the sun!

This interesting plant's petals formed a kind of balloon when closed.

It's a kind of bellflower (campanula), I think.  Very unique!

Borga *loves* a walk in the park.  The more new friends, the better!

SCBG has a large lake lined with lily pads.  Someday I want to have a huge water garden, and these plants are at the top of my list.  The "dirt" on top is debris from the trees, brought down by the rain.

No self-respecting lake is without a few turtles.

This turtle was sunning himself, but most turtles were swimming close to shore.

Of course we saw lots of dragonflies...

...and a motley assortment of ducks.

Hooray for the sun!

I've been "clicking" but not really "knitting" or "stirring" much.  I've finally started a new knitting project, and hopefully I'll be whipping up a new recipe when more company comes in two weeks.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

beach bums

Reunited and it feels so good!  I'm finally home from my family trip to Charleston and solo trip to Indianapolis.  It's been a whirlwind two weeks, but I feel like I got to see and do so many things!

First, the boys (our honorary nephews) came to South Carolina for a week.  We've been experiencing an incredible amount of rain this least every other day.  It was no surprise that their first two days here were spent inside because of torrential downpours.  But we had games and movies, so we still had fun.  When the skies cleared, we headed to Jocassee Gorge.

Todd and I love Jocassee (by where "Deliverance" was filmed) because it's never very crowded and the water is so clear and clean.  In the shallow parts, it's turquoise.

There's a great view, too.

We brought our snorkels, but there were too many sediments in the water because of all the rain.  Still, we gave it a try.  Two thumbs up for effort!

Mostly we splashed...

...and splashed some more.

It's hard to tell with teenage boys, but I'm pretty sure they had fun!

Next, we headed for the coastal city of Charleston.  First stop:  the beach.  I love all the green surrounding the coastline!

It's so different from the northern west coast beaches I'm used to.  The water is warm, like bathwater, and there isn't a rock to be seen.  The drop off is very gradual, too.

It was so beautiful!

On the way back to our car, I couldn't help but notice the palm trees.  They line the streets everywhere, and seem to be in everyone's yard.

We have palm trees in our upstate city, but not like this!

We drove over the big bridge that connects old town to new town...

We didn't have time to walk around on this trip, but I saw a lot of placed I'd like to go back to!

The second day, we headed down to the harbor to catch a ferry to Ft. Sumpter.  I loved seeing all the boats...

...and the interesting birds.

Goodbye, Charleston harbor!

The first shot of the Civil War happened at Ft. Sumpter.  It's only accessible by boat, and seems isolated and lonely, with nothing but the Atlantic Ocean all around.

The black part you see above was added at a later date, but those front brick walls are all original, and supposedly the cannons are, too.

It's hard to imagine this peaceful harbor full of attacking boats!

All in all, it was a great trip, but I'm glad to be home again. 

Hope you have a great week!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

May the fourth (of July) be with you

We have house guests coming this week, the first of a whole series of guests.  We're both really excited, but I have to admit to being a nervous hostess.  When I was growing up, my grandparents never - ever - entertained.  When I moved away from home for college, I lived with other people.   When I finally had my own house, I just wasn't used to having people over, so it rarely occurred to me to do so.  After I married, with our small house and Todd's busy dissertation schedule, we didn't entertain much. But now we have a big house with a guest room and bathroom, and I am finally ready to have guests.  I'm still nervous and feeling my way through this, though.  Will they have fun?  What will we do? How much down time?   I'm a bit high-strung by nature and anything that pulls me out of my routine/comfort zone is a challenge.  I'm sure it will get easier, and I'll focus on the basics.  My first instinct - flowers.

The flowers in our one full-sun spot are in full bloom.  Shasta daisies...

Bee balm...


I was pleased to see that the 25 blazing star bulbs I planted were coming up nicely, too.

I filled my basket with these flowers, and ferns, magnolia leaves, mint, gardenias, japanese maple branches, and other greenery.  Then, I made bouquets and put them...everywhere.

Lantana and ferns for the bathroom (not too much, since our guests are teenage boys!)...

...and simple shasta daisies by the bed.

And many, many others.  I've put them all over the house. 

While the cats relaxed...

...I cleaned the house and got everything ready.  Bring on the guests!

While I was outside picking flowers, I saw some really cool fungus growing out of an old magnolia seed pod.

It's so beautiful!

I had planned to post a Fourth of July cake today.  I made the cake - white, with alternating red and white layers and a top "tube" of blue, so that it looks like a flag when you cut into it - but I cut the stabilizing layer accidently and the whole cake fell apart.  I cemented it together with icing and it's waiting in the freezer to be devoured by our not-too-picky guests.

I'll be back in 2 weeks with a new post.  Have a great holiday!