Mussolini vs. Stalin

Had Greg Brown been from the Ukraine instead of Iowa, he might have written this enigmatic little song, performed acoutically by Gogol Bordello. If anyone can translate the graffitti in the video, let me know.

Mussolini was a-shavin’, whistlin’ Tarantella,
Stalin was keeping eye on barbeque
When their fish line bell started to jingle,
Mussolini caught a-nothin’, Stalin caught two

You know my friend, It’s a kind of pretty,
Said Josef Stalin and loosened up his straps
Mussolini turn to him, with a restling glitter
Mussolini turn to him, and then, then he said: Yah!

Update 1/21/08: Original YouTube is no longer. The replacement is by Galucucu, who I know nothing about other than they are from Sao Paulo and sing mostly in languages I do not understand.


Clipped verbascum

Six weeks ago, Kim (aka blackswampgirl) over at A Study in Contrasts was curious what would happen to the verbascum that I topped for one of my June bloom day scans.

It didn’t take Tracy DiSabato-Aust to predict this one: It threw out some side flower stalks from just below the cut, bloomed later and stayed shorter.

The image below also shows off one of the other features I like about this verbascum. After a good rain, the petals scatter like confetti and collect on the lower leaves.

clipped verbascum

And of course, I can’t shoot a verbascum without shooting the honeybees:

bee on verbascum

And this one with another pollinator:

pollinators on verbascum

Full disclosure: 7 ugly images from my garden

When I shoot and edit pictures, I’m painfully aware that I’m focusing on the good. Now it’s time to share the bad and the ugly. (This craziness was inspired by Elizabeth’s post over at GardenRant coming clean on her garden’s shortcomings in preparation for visitors coming to the Buffalo Garden Walk. But, at the risk of sounding boastful, my garden sucks more than hers.)

grass clippings

This was a nice little patch of sweet woodruff. But it got overrun by buttercups. Plus the deer found the hosta in the rear. I’ve got half a dozen spots around the yard where I’ve thrown in the towel — ripping everything out (rescuing a few plants that were hanging in) and piling on the grass clippings. I hit some spots with the lawn mower first, they were that bad. This fall or next spring, I’ll weed out anything obnoxious that survives and plant something more competitive.

bummer coleus

Every year, I get a couple of nice coleus as a thank you for doing floral set-ups for Cornell’s graduation. Every year, I put them in a big basket in front of an ugly, foil-coated wooden box that houses potting supplies. Every year, the coleus stalls out in August. I cut it back hard and it bounces back goes until frost. This year, ‘Fish Stockings’ stalled in early July and despite my best efforts, continues to look like crap. I moved the two pots to the cold frame and hope that it may yet rebound.

slugs on darmera

Slugs. And snails. ‘Nuf said. Actually, they haven’t been as bad as usual this year.

west bed, yuk

The west bed. Oy. It gets a little direct sun in the middle of the day. (House to the east. Norway spruce to the west.) Soil’s not good. Care is neglectful, at best. The ‘Cuisse de Nymphe’ roses there threatened to take over a couple years ago. So I sat back and relaxed. This year, they barely came back. Lotsa good plants in there. But unless the roses come back with a vengence, this bed is due for some serious renovation.

water garden

Oh my. I love the water garden. And the fish are healthy and give me no end of pleasure. But the liner has developed a serious bubble. One pot of water lilies has tipped. The other lily’s roots have detached from the soil in the pot. The cannas that I usually have in the background bed failed. (Three buckets of seemingly sound roots and only three plants came up. Dahlias and elephants ears from the same buckets did fine. Go figure.) Compare this with my banner image from a couple years ago.

golden raintree Critters. Can’t live with them. Can’t serve them for supper. The rabbits that graze the clover in the lawn also like the redbuds (below) I transplanted out of the veggie garden this spring in their salad mix. And my experiment to see if deer like golden raintree (Koelreuteria paniculata, right) have some pretty definitive results. Oh well.

Great gardens look good everywhere all the time. I don’t think I have the patience or skill to ever get to that point. But I’m always fascinated and thrilled when something turns out great and I can always use my camera or selective vision to focus on that. The other stuff? Maybe next year.


Hank’s back

Hank Wilson's Back album coverIf you’ve been going through withdrawal lately, Hank has a new post about hydrangeas (15K words worth) over at Lake County Point of View. (Thank goodness for RSS.) Go read. Enjoy.

(No, that’s not Hank. Too much hair. It’s the cover of Leon Russell’s 1973 album, Hank Wilson’s Back, a seminal classic that introduced many of us to Hank Williams and other country classics.)

Pink Filipendula

pink filipendulaThis is the first time that I’ve had this pink Filipendula flower. It’s been in the ground a couple of years from some pots leftover from a local plant sale. (The deer have nipped off the tops before flowering in previous years.)

It goes close to 6 feet tall. So I’m guessing that it’s Filipendula rubra ‘Venusta’, but there are others that fit this description.

It’s in ‘the wet garden’ along with monarda, eupatorium, veronicastrum, Verbena hastata,  tradescantia and others that appreciate the constant and sometimes excessive moisture.

There has been a lot of discussion about PhotoShopping images on several other blogs. I did fiddle with these a little. But I was amazed with the differences in bloom color in these evening shots depending on the angles — backlit vs. sun over my shoulder vs. shooting perpendicular to the light.  The differences in my raw images were even greater than I’d ever see when fiddling around with the images in PhotoShop.

More pix …

pink filipendula

pink filipendula