Scientist’s blowtorch weedkiller backfires

From The Telegraph:

Robert Gailey, 79, watched in horror as sparks from a gas-powered garden tool caused the lawn and shrubs of his neighbours, Stuart and Phyliss McLean, to catch light. Read more.


weed wand gone wild

I’ve got a flame-weeder that I use very sparingly and gingerly. If you use one, all I can say is be very, very careful — especially around mulch and dead plant material.

The best — or rather safest — time to flame weed is during dead calm when there’s a heavy dew or soon after rain while vegetation is wet. The object is not to set the weeds on fire. It’s just to heat them enough to boil the water in their cells, bursting them. The plants turn a darker, perhaps bluer color. The tissue shouldn’t look charred when you’re done.

Anyone who flame-weeds should keep this story — and that image — in mind when they do.

Ellis Hollow from the air

I love aerial photos. (See previous posts of old aerial photos and online views from

I was googling around the other day and found this image from May 2005 from fellow local blogger Simon St. Laurent’s Living in Dryden website.

aerial view from Simon at Living in Dryden
Larger image.

That’s our house in the middle of the picture on the far side of the road from the white church, which has been renovated into an as-yet-unsold house. Our 7 acres extends more-or-less in a skinny strip through the woods parallel to the wetland to the field.

Simon has a gallery of area aerials on his blog. (Thanks Simon.)

KCRW concerts: Ditty Bops

moon over freeway artIt’s been awhile since I’ve made time to listen to Morning Becomes Eclectic, the flagship program of Santa Monica’s public radio station, KCRW. But I credit that program with broadening my taste in contemporary music.

I especially enjoy the program’s in-studio concerts. That link will take you to a page of the most recent concerts. Browse it and I guarantee you’ll find new music you like. (Also some that won’t be your cup of tea.)

Since I last visited, they’ve upgraded their website so that you can now embed many of these performances. (They’ve got budget. Last pledge drive I listened to, Ted Danson called in. They raised more in one break than the entire pledge drive of our local public radio station.)

I first fell in love with the Ditty Bops when I watched this concert. They’re very artsy, very green (they started an LA-to-NY tour the next day via bicycle, which I followed on their blog) and their harmonies ooze sweetness. Creative videos and concert footage on YouTube, including a performance for an audience of goats.

I suspect that this will be the first in a series.

From May 2006 in-studio. Don’t miss the shadow-puppet show.

Their most recent in-studio from this past June.

Serendipitous plant combos

I’m not known for purposely putting together plant combos that could grace the back cover of Fine Gardening. (I don’t know how their editors stole that prime real estate from the ad department.)

But if you plant enough stuff and get it mixing around, you can’t help but come up with a few mixtures that don’t look too bad.

Verbascums, albutilon and more off the patio.
plant combo

Clematis, goatsbeard (Aruncus) and grape vines.
plant combo

Heucheras, violets, lysimachia, alchemilla.
plant combo

Hosta, astilbe.
plant combo

Monarda, lysimachia, volunteer grass and sumac. (Actually, I hate the color of this monarda. But it’s the one that thrives around our place.)
plant combo

Napaea dioica, geranium, daylily, iris. Flowers aren’t great now. But I like the foliage combo.
plant combo

Phlomis, Scotch thistle, Bottlis cobaltis, lots of other stuff.
plant combo

A verbascum species I don’t remember, necteroscordum, coneflowers and more. I like ripe seedheads among other blooms at all stages. Or maybe I’m just too lazy to deadhead.
plant combo

Stachy, chives, trough sedums and more.
plant combo

Sorbaria and Asimina (pawpaw).
plant combo

Bog garden is still a few weeks from peak. Filipendulas, malvas, veronicastrum, monarda, tradescantia, lysimachia, Verbena hastata, buttonbush, willows. Will shoot again.
plant combo

Telekia — 2007 and 2008.
plant combo

Banana and Jade.
plant combo

Back where we started.
plant combo