Thursday, May 31, 2012

Hyssop - an invasive plant

So when taking photos of the Common Sage I came across a similar looking plant.

After some search in various books in a book store by rapid leafing through them and noting the possible names mentally I made another search online and finally found the name of the similar plant:
It's a Hyssop (in German: Ysop )

This plant is rather new to our region, but due to the climatic changes with milder winters and hotter (and dryer) Summers it feels "at home" here now too. It has been cultivate in more Southern and Eastern regions as early as the 16th century.

Here the photos I took:

And finally as a sort of reminder the "Common Sage" (Wiesensalbei), so they don't get mixed up (although both have their leaves used as a flavoring herb):

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Lady's Mantle

It's a herb with tiny green / yellow flowers that gets used as tea from the parts above the ground to relieve monthly cramps and after menopause in women.
For more information on this go to:  Frauenmantel (Lady's mantle - The English wiki page is mainly list of of them with no photos).

I have one growing wild in my garden; didn't plant it but letting it grow in my grass. And it seems to be spreading as time passes.
Here two examples I found in the internet:
Alchemilla mollis
Alchemilla monticola
Both are close but are not quite the plant I have.

The specialty of mine is the "lotus" effect of the leaves. So nice photos. ;)

Here a photo of the full plant growing next to the palm tree:

Suddenly there were flowers over the leaves!
Same plant three days later! 
And a close up of the flowers:

Single flowers look more green with a tiny bit of yellow leaves.
As group they look yellow!
A new plant - but the grass needs cutting and it will get cut too :(
Some more smaller plants - those at the pedestal can stay!!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Iris

Once upon a time there was an Iris growing in the garden. (And had been called a Lily all the time)
It had been planted by an elderly lady. Just one tuber she had been given as she loved flowers so much.
It was said she had a green thumb. The Iris flourished and grew.
But he lady had to abandon the Iris. The house in which she lived and to which the garden belonged was sold to a different owner. One, that wanted to move into the house himself.
She took some of her favorite plants along. Even dug up the Iris and took it with her.
But she must have forgotten a part of the tuber in the ground.
Form this, the Iris grew again - spreading now even better than before as all the other concurring plants and flowers that had been growing so close to it had been removed. Only grass now growing in its vicinity.
For a few years it could grow as it pleased.

The Iris is showing it's leaves in Spring 2008, left-hand side  just below the wall of plant pots.
But then it happened. It was in the way of the new owner. After so many years (13 actually)!! Flowering only a short time in the year and otherwise only big leaves covering all the grass at that spot. It had to go! And it went - into a bucket:

Early Spring 2012 - an Iris tuber heap!!
Feeling sorry for this beautiful plant another woman, that loves flowers just as much and has seemingly a green thumb too, took the tubers - some still connected with each other - and placed them around the garden where they surely would not be in the way of the grass (and mower).

And waited what would happen. At first, it looked as if they would suffer and die. But after some time the leaves grew. =)
And then even buds and flowers showed.
Now it's not just one Iris patch but quite a few, in full sun as well as in shade. And all are having flowers!!

just budding

and now flowers a few days later!!

Just 4 years passed!!
I can't find the photo, were the original plant is in full flower, I took one or two years ago  - will add as soon as I find it. It might be still on my old computer ^^;; 
Now I'll watch to see how they make it through the next winter and if they will grow even more and stronger than before!! 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Blue Bird

I was only visiting the family. For the first time. I knew nothing of them, and they knew nothing of me. But from  the very first moment I was there, I was accepted and shown everything as if that was the most normal thing to do. Their small house was in a suburban settlement area with small gardens around them, all flat. No hills or slopes. The first impression was all green. It was just after lunchtime and hot outside. 

I had arrived a few moments ago. Before I had the time for a good look around, I was asked in by a girl about my size. She acted as if she had been expecting me and knew me. But to me, it was as if I was seeing her the first time. And oddly enough at the same time as if we had been friends for some time already and knew each other well. As if I was visiting a friend from school or a similar place for the first time. 

The mother was sitting at a small table practicing some soldering. It was tedious work and it did not turn out well. I asked the mother why she hadn't simply pulled the wires apart a little bit more so it would have been easier for her to do the soldering. She told me that indeed it would be easier for this piece of work here. But for the actually big work she was practicing this technique it would not work out well. She explained a few more things about it, but I did not understand this technical talk at all. I just smiled and kept on watching.

Then her son came in. I saw him for the first time now, but to me it was as if I had seen him before and we acted as if we were brother and sister. He casually greeted me, walked over to his mother, watched for a moment and then just took the tools out of her hand and did the work perfect. It was as if he had always done this kind of work. His mother was astonished by his ability. And then sent him off with the father of the family to a church like place where there was this kind of soldering to be done at some bells. At least that was what I understood by the few words they exchanged to get them started.

I helped them get all the material into the car. Quite a few boxes and some were very heavy. For a moment I feared they would not all fit. But then we were done and the men drove off. The mother went back inside to clean up the table. The girl and me stayed outside. There was a light breeze now, the air not so hot. And some faint bird song to be heard too. To me it was all as I would expect it in such an area. However, I couldn't recall ever having been here or some place similar before. So different from home and yet - it felt so familiar like home. 

Slowly it grew dusk and we saw some lights in the sky, moving rather fast and then suddenly disappear. The girl casually mentioned that it was a UFO. A common sight. I frowned at that, but didn't remark anything. I had recognized the lights in the sky as a the blinking lights of an airplane that was making a sharp turn and thus suddenly vanished from sight.

As it grew darker I noticed some more lights in the sky. It looked like tiny stars to me. And a tiny galaxy made out of red, blue, green and even white dots! As I stared longer into the direction of the lights I realized that they were not far off in the sky, but close by. Hanging from a tree, partly hidden by the green leaves and many twigs. The girl noticed were I was looking and blushing explained that those were Christmas lights that they had forgotten to take down after the festivities and then later left them on purpose because they looked so nice. 

And it was from this tree that I heard the bird song coming. Well, sometimes it was a bird, then some phone ringing and once I even thought it was an engine roaring to a start and then coming to a screeching stop. 
The girl walked closer to the tree and stretched out her hand. To my surprise the bird song stopped for a moment an then turned to a cheery chit chat. As if it was talking.

The girl stepped closer to the tree and a bird hopped onto her shoulder, rubbing it's head to her face. I must have stood there with open mouth as the girl turned toward me and just smiled and cuddled more with the bird. Then she placed her hand close to its feet and it hopped on. She held it out to me and I gingerly patted the back of the bird. To my surprise it purred and then called out: "Pizza!" And then fluttered back on the tree, sitting on  a low branch with cocked head, waiting. 

She rushed inside to get a piece of leftover pizza crust. I had the time to study the bird more closely as it chirped it's odd song. Feathers were a sky blue, darker on the wings with rose and pink colored head and throat. A very long and thin beak. Thin, nearly to short legs and a funny looking plumage on the head. It looked a bit like a punk bird this way. And a darker blue tail that it could hold very straight upright but also spread out like a peacock. It did that only once though as if to show off. It's more natural position was the upright one. I tried to compare it to birds I had seen before and knew from photos. I couldn't. It had features from all sorts of birds but not all matching to just one. 

While the bird gladly nibbled on the pizza crust, holding it up with one foot, the girl, after it had returned with the crust and the bird had fluttered over to get it from her outstretched hand, told me the story of how she first met this bird. Right at the bottom of this tree, sitting next to two haphazard heaps in blue and pink like itself  and all depressed. Those heaps had been it's baby birds. They were not laying eggs like other birds but live-birthing. The girl had felt sorry for it and had promised to help, picking it up and sitting on the highest branch of the tree it could reach so it was safe from any cats or other bird predators. 

Then, as the bird had finished the crust and was back to chirping and singing and making all sorts of funny noises, she pointed to the side of the bird. There was a bulge. A new baby bird developing that would be born soon. She promised again to the bird that she will continue to take good care of it, and the baby once it is born. The bird once again hopped my her shoulder, rubbed it's head on her face and then fluttered to a branch at the top of the tree, singing a beautiful night song. 

Yes, it was all dark now, only the lights in the tree shining and the air becoming very cold. We both went back inside to a nice smelling and superb tasting evening meal. After the table was cleared, I took a piece of paper and some colored pencils and made a drawing of the bird before I went to bed. Maybe tomorrow I could take a photo with my camera in daylight.

When I woke, I was not at the house of the family anymore. I was back "home" - at least it looked and felt that it was my home. I was not sure of this at all. It was as if I had been only dreaming. But, I had the paper with the drawing in my hands. A piece of paper I did not have here. And there also were no colored pencil anywhere in this place. I checked thoroughly. I had been some place else the day before - the drawing was my only proof.

Salvia pratensis (Common Sage) - Wiesensalbei

With a keen eye I can spot lots of healthy herb plants growing wild where I live.
But to actually pick them and use them I have to be quick.
They get cut down so fast for the "neat" look of the grass, or for silage food in preparation for the winter.

This one is:

Salvia pratensis (Meadow Sage; in German: Wiesensalbei )

This plant is about 75cm high!!
Same plant - closer look at the leaves

I took this photo of a wild growing one at the train station. It can be used for flavoring food like with the
Salvia officinalis (Garden Sage - the leaves have a grey touch to them; in German: Echter Salbei).
This also gets used for infections in the throat area - but should be used sparingly. Over-dosage is toxic.

Not to be mixed up with this plant:

Sorry, don't know the name of this one -- maybe someone can tell me??!!

Same color and size -- but different flowers (first red than turning to purple) and leaves growing all along the flower stem. The leaves of the Sage plant are on the ground.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Tree Hugging - Bonsai experiment

Yes, I admit, I like trees.
And sometimes I do hug them.

Today I found one growing beside a bush that is living in big pot (about 50l).
Well, for a tree that is a bad place to grow. Eventually it would destroy the bush.

So, it had to come out. It had just sprouted. Two big leaves and two more tiny ones starting. 
The soil was soft and loose. I could easily pull it out.
But now - where to relocate that tiny tree??

My garden is not that big that it could support a (another) tree. 
Finally, I decided to give it a chance as a Bonsai tree. 
Already had one many years ago from a lemon seed. 
It grew eventually (after about ten years) to a 1 meter big tree. 
Too big for a Bonsai - and a indoor window sill pot. 
I gave it away to someone with a winter-garden. 
Don't know what happened to it from  then on. 

So, here it is!! The start of my new Bonsai "experiment"!!

Another thing I will update!! 
As to the heart shaped pot: 
I had gotten it last year with seeds for a Bonsai - but they never sprouted. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day

A day that should not only celebrated on one day of the year but every time you can think of.

Without a mother none of us would be here now. 

This morning - rather unintentionally - I had seen this:

Very interesting and informing and reminding of the wonders of life and that without the self-less giving of a mother from the first moment on we would not exist. 

Still, sometimes we forget this. 
And then have get reminded to think about it on such a day like this. 
As I was in 1978, a teenager then. And to thank my mother although I could not be with her on that day as I was in a boarding school and had no chance to go home just for that one weekend, I wrote her a poem:

Times Have Changed

I don’t know her anymore.
I can’t get across to her.
The way she acts,
And talks, and
The things she wears
Are so different from my time.

She doesn’t understand.
And I don’t understand her.
I say: “Please, wear a dress
When we go and visit grandma.”
She says: “Why should I?
I like jeans better.”

I like her, and no
Doubt she likes me,
But times have changed.
The youth is different now
Than it was thirty years ago.

(For mother’s day in 1978.)
Written from the view point of the mother about her daughter!!

By now I have grown children of my own. And we do not understand each other every day. But I know that  I love them and that they, in their own way, love me too.
On mother's day it is not only a day to thank our mothers to have born us, but also to thank our children that we have to have been born to us - to teach and learn from each other.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A weed?!

OK, I love to draw flowers.

This one I already have done some time ago:

It's actually a rather small wild, growing flower - both at the wood edges and in any barren parts where Dandelions don't grow. I had seen it growing on a stone pile much larger than the one I draw. At the time then I did not yet have the use of a photo camera - So I had drawn it from my mind after looking at it for some time.

This week on my way home from work I came across this plant growing next to a concrete wall. And, as it has become my habit, I had now a photo camera along and took a few shots.
Here the photo of this flower:

Use at own risk!

It was cold. Not freezing, icy cold. But cold enough to feel the pain of it in his body. And to numb his mind.

And it was dark. Not pitch black dark. From somewhere some light illuminated the area around him enough to make out faint lines. He estimated the place he was in to be about four square meters. His back was propped up to a wall of some sort.

With his mind so numb, he found it hard to recall how he got here. Where he had been before he woke up just now in this cold, dark place, half sitting. Was he sitting? His body felt odd. Not quite his and with an awfully aching back and resistance in his legs when he wanted to stretch them fully.

With reawakening awareness, the cold feeling left him. His mind was starting to be more active too. He had to find out where he was. He turned his head, but there was not enough light to see where he was. So instead, he moved his hands slowly behind his back to feel the wall. To his surprise the wall was soft - not hard as his aching back told him.

Soft, and warm, and... furry. Yes, that was the word, furry. He must be leaning on an animal. And with the dark all around he concluded that he was in a cave?? Of a bear?? He took a careful deep breath. Yes, could be a bear from the size - and the smell. Yes, bears smell that way. He knew that from one of his students jobs at the zoo; cleaning out the ice bear cage. The bears had been outside in the pool at that time. The head animal caretaker had made sure of that. No one knew how the ice bear would react to a stranger inside his territory. All assumed it would attack any stranger. This memory made him feel afraid for his own life right now. Very afraid!!

Carefully, as not to wake what he assumed to be an ice bear now, he once more tried to stretch his body. Again he noticed how odd his legs felt. Not the way they should. His whole body didn't feel as it should. Slowly, he moved his hands away from the furry back wall and onto his own belly. It felt furry too. He couldn't remember putting on a fur coat. He lifted the hands of his belly and moved them a little closer towards his eyes. In the dark he could barely make out the silhouette of them. But those were not hands, not human hands!! They were PAWS. Bear paws seemingly and when he touched one with the other he could notice the soft for on them and the sharp claws that were at the place where he had expected his fingertips to be.

Not believing what he could feel of his hands, he bit by bit felt over his body what he could reach. All of it felt like bear now. And he was not feeling as cold as he had been when he first woke. Actually it was quite snugly warm in here. A tiny smile hushed over his face and vanished as fast as it had come as he turned back to investigate more. He moved very slowly, afraid he would wake the "bear" he was leaning on and be discovered. Afraid of what might happen then.

When he reached his face he stopped in shock. That was not his head. Not at all!! It was the head of a bear!! The snout, the cold nuzzle, the sharp teeth the ears some place else than he was used too. Involuntary he let out a small sound. This could not be true. Not at all.

Before he could investigate further, the "wall" behind him moved - pushing him over the land on his, yes, PAWS. And with a soft push on his behind the being past him and opened up an opening into bright, blinding light.

Slowly his eyes adjusted to the light and he could see the outside. All was white - snow and ice. And fresh air wafted in. This made him move, following, what he now could definitively recognize as ice bear, into the open. Crawling on all four, not walking on his legs. He just could not get up and walk as a human would. He was in full disbelieve of what he was but could not actively change his "outside". "Inside", in his mind (and soul too he guessed) he still knew to be human. he always had been human. Not a bear.

Right outside the cave he took a deep breath of the fresh icy air. And, after a soft nudge on the shoulder from the ice bear, walked clumsily, more crawling like in the cave, a few steps more to an opening in the ice where the ice bear stood waiting for him, behind toward him. The ice bear never had taken one look at him, as if he was not a stranger to it. Calm water greeted him from the opening; the sun reflecting on the surface. And the ice bear too.


It was TWO ice bears starring back at him out of the water. A big one and a small one. And no human. Where was the human image, his image!!??

Suddenly, and with shock and realization he recalled and understood the warning:

Long Distance Transporter.
Out of order!
Use at own risk!!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Low water in the little creek - a few different views

Today I had time off from work, so I walked to the next village and took some photos of the low water levels of the creek there.

It HAS rained over the last few days - but besides the "clean-up" it had on the creek from Saturday to Sunday it did NOT have the effect to fill it more.

To start with once again the photo from last year May, 7th; followed by the others taken earlier this year to compare them:

Now the ones form the weekend: all "clean" of the sticks ;-)

And now the ones from the next village: the grass was not growing that far into the creek last year

This concrete creek is only half filled of what is usually is, with sand filling in as well as the water is slow streaming.

Keeping an eye on it!!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Supermoon May 2012

OK -- so we are having another "Supermoon" tonight this year

That's when the moon is closest to the Earth and appears larger in size than on other full moon days/nights.

Already the days before I took some photos - so I can compare if the moon really appears larger than on other days.

Here they are - the first ones still in daylight on 4th May.

The moon rises over the hilltop - 5th May around 20:15. Compared to yesterday we had so many clouds.

And finally I could see the moon for some moments fully (the circle around the moon is NOT a "halo" but a lens-reflection). It sure is a lot brighter than on other full moon nights with clouds (and even without clouds). And there is that light orange or red glow on the clouds too.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

From Winter to Spring - TREES

(Well -- just catching up with nature; from the temperatures it nearly could be Summer by now.)

Trees in the turn of seasons: (there surely will be an update on this too -- as times passes ;-))

First pair is a Walnut tree at the train station close by my village:

still Winter and snow

now in Spring - the Cherry trees in blossom

Second pair is a Linden tree close to my house I pass by every day:
early morning mist

May sunshine brought out the leaves
(and the flowers too -- what a smell!!)

Third pair is the Bloodplum tree at my house:
Spring flowers - one of the first trees to have them

and the typical red leaves