Archives for October 2011

Monet and the Spiders

Let Us In!

It wasn’t until I downloaded some photos from my camera that I saw the swirling, Monet-looking reflections on the glass panels of this appealing front door. Before, the spiders were just whimsical attachments to the side of the house. Now, they seem to be in limbo between the world outside and the green and gold one waiting beyond the door.

Rosy Hue and Morning Coffee

After Sunrise

Skink in the Sink

Rescued Five-lined Skink

We live in the woods and have a lot of small critters outside – lizards,bats, chipmunks, turtles, and non-poisonous snakes, to name a few. I have no problem with any of these creatures – in fact, they help make the garden an ever-changing, entertaining place to be. I just want them to stay outside where they belong.

A few weeks ago I went to the kitchen and was startled to see a blue-lined skink profiled sharply at the bottom of the white ceramic sink. The lizard had climbed down the slick sides, but was unable to get back out. It’s not easy to catch a live, squirming lizard, but I was able to get him into the dish strainer, which I covered with a plastic glass and lifted with a fork into a large stainless steel bowl. Then…outside to freedom!

Blue-lined skinks (Eumeces fasciatus) are actually immature five-lined skinks. They live primarily in wooded areas of the southeast. Some people (my sister, especially) are scared of small lizards, but skinks are very beneficial to the landscape. They eat slugs and mosquitos and are fun to watch as they catch the sun’s rays or chase one another over rocks or under deck surfaces. Kitchen exploration is not encouraged, however.

Sourwood: The Reddest Red

Red in Carolina

Over the years, I’ve recommended Oxydendron arboreum to my Tennessee clients as a good specimen tree for home landscapes. Sourwoods have multi-season interest, are a realistic size for small lots, and have fragrant, long-lasting white flowers that readily attract bees. As summer temperatures get increasingly hotter, though, sourwoods are having a harder time reaching their full potential for vigor and beauty in the cultivated landscapes of east Tennessee.

In western North Carolina, sourwoods seem to thrive in a diverse range of settings. I see these small native trees along highway ramps (not exactly a nurturing environment), the edge of pastures, even home and business landscapes, and they are lovely and vigorous. I think they just like the cooler temperatures of the mountains and reward us with their magnificent fall color in return.

Study in White

Oakleaf Hydrangeas - Berea College, Kentucky

Leaving Greenville

Blue Skies at Night: A Passenger's View