FOTD -“The Penthouse” Doth Fall

Cee Neuner has created a wonderful challenge called Flower of the Day where we can share beauty, amazement…and laughter. Today we are sharing amazement with a hint of laughter. Last week I posted a FOTD called “The Penthouse” where I highlighted my last sunflower that had been taken over by my Birdnest gourd with a gourd hanging from the drying flower. So we are going to give a little history of this summer’s fun time so you can get a better idea of “summer’s last effort” to hang on.

The sunflower itself grew 13.5 feet tall before it created the largest bloom of any of the other sunflowers planted. I thought it interesting that although all the seeds came from the same package…they indeed did not have the same parents. Or maybe its the magic the bees create as they move from flower to flower. Some plants created many smaller blooms and some created one massive bloom.

The picture to the left was one plant with 16 blooms while the picture to the right is one huge 9.5 inch bloom. The plant that created the penthouse was featured in a separate post due to the massiveness of the stalk – 4 inch wide and 13.5 feet high.

Picture taken early summer , now much thicker

“The summer’s last effort was a thunderstorm to mark the end of 90 temps of summer. While I love summer, this was a hot one and I am glad to see the season begin to change. Although if Farmer Almanac and my exterminator are correct – its gonna be a cold rough winter here in the upper midwest.

When you have a huge sunflower, weighing in at 3.5 pounds, two Birdnest gourds, one weighing 2.5 pounds and mix in 35 MPH winds, that is no match for that 13.5′ high, 4 inch stalk, and down she came. The sunflower measured in at 14 inches and while one the gourds is still attached to the the mass of vines, one broke lose and I brought it inside to hopefully finish curing.

The glare on the tape of the first picture did not show its numbers so I added a second photo. You get a visual of just how large these flowers can get and then the gourd is no small fry. This is not even one of the bigger ones, so we will see how they all do.

Now I wait for the cold air to come in and dry out the vines. It will make an interesting Halloween decoration. Not a big fan of Halloween but it is what it is.

In closing I remind you the beauty and power of being kind. It creates a brightness like nothing else.

Always Be Kind

FOTD – September 14, The Penthouse

Cee always challenges us to share with Flower of the Day, using most anything that grows…so today we have…”The Penthouse”.

“The Penthouse” will probably come crashing down before it finishes growing as these things are heavy. But the vine was determined to grow ‘hog wild’ to the top of my sunflower plant and now I have a gourd growing 13 feet in the air around the dead sunflower. The sunflower itself is a good 10″ across and the birds are just now starting to peck at the seeds. So hopefully the movement of the birds and wind won’t knock it down too soon.

If they all dry properly without rotting, I will have about 30 gourds for the kids at church to have fun with in painting and making birdhouses. That was the purpose and fun for the project. I will post pictures of dried and painted gourds in the spring.

Remember as you go about your day, try to be kind. Kindness should be smooth and creamy like butter. Spread it everywhere and often.

Always Be Mind

FOTD – September 8, and Macros

Cee Flower of the Day challenge to day looked to be a macro so I thought I would share some of mine from today’s play in the front yard. September is marching on by and this beauty we now have won’t be around much longer.

First off we have the FOTD star of the day, my last giant sunflower with the rich blue fall sky behind it. And of course the gourd trying to make sure he is in the picture as well.

Lemon Yellow 1en footer

The birds due to their messy eating habits planted 5 sunflowers this year but only two are currently blooming. These are smaller guys at 3-4 feet high.

I have enjoyed watching the different phases of growth on the sun flowers. Due to their size, you can get a good look at each stage of development. The bees are really enjoying these as well so I played a bit with my macro lens. You can see the hair on the bees legs as he gather the pollen to feed his crew.

The breeze was playing havoc in me not getting a good clear shot but his legs are amazing as he walks on top of stamens

The beauty of macro is that you see things you just don’t see with the regular lens.

Check out the stripe of sunlight as it slipped between the petals, the curl of the pollen covered “thingys” and then the star topped “thingys” toward the center of the flower. Can you tell I know very little about flower definition. I know stamens but not which which is which. Regardless, nature is amazingly beautiful.

I am also showing other flowers currently blooming. My baby mums are lovely. And my double dianthus is trying to sneak out from under the gourd plant that has taken over the yard,

Both blooms are small, about 2 inches across but they shine with all their worth. The “bug guy” as we call him jokingly, came by the church today to do the monthly spray for insects and check for mice. He did not have good news for us about the coming season. He was telling us that the wasps, insects and mice are not behaving normal per this time of year. They are all ahead of schedule for their seasonal behaviors. He told us that last time he saw this behavior was the year we here in Iowa had the polar vortex. UGH!!. Even farmers Almanac is prediction a colder that average and longer than average winter. This was a really hot summer this year so it may be followed with a really cold winter. So enjoy the beauty of fall while we can and remember to always be kind.

FOTD – Sept 4, More of the Same

Cee’s FOTD shows us again the beauty of gardens even as fall approaches with her post for Flower of the Day. I am adding more photos of my accidental growing hobby, a plant that I did not realize would give Kudzu a run for its money, Birdnest gourds. I trimmed them back some yesterday to cull the attempt for full takeover of the yard, 2 garbage bags worth of cutback. I will not plant them again here out front but in reality I have enjoyed watching them grow. They bloom twice a day. One bloom in early morning and one in early evening, so that has been interesting. Each bloom does not create a gourd.

Here we have the baby gourd
And here is how we look today, the one on the far right.

These average 8-10 inches in diameter but when you take in at the circumference, they are huge, 27-29 inches…and they are still growing. You don’t pick them until their stems dry out on the vine, then you store them in cool, dry and dark place until fully dry and hard. I will be curious to see how much they shrink when they dry.

Three more gourds, We currently have 15

But we do have 1 ten foot tall sunflower still growing, not counting the 3 four foot ones the birds planted by the feeder this year that should bloom in the next week.

Sunflower refusing to be over taken by the gourd.

So I give you fruit and flowers for today’s FOTD. Enjoy them and have a great weekend. And as always, remember to be kind.

Always Be Kind

FOTD – August 28, The Workers

What would we have if we didn’t have the little workers who pollinate our flowers? We would miss out on all the photographs plus the unimaginable benefits we get from the work they do. Cee’s Flower of the Day challenge reminds us of the beauty we see all around us throughout the year. So today while I am showing various picture of my sunflowers(before they fell) the true subject is the bees that so loved these huge flowers.

When a bee lands on a flower, the pollen sticks to the tiny hairs on it legs. Then the bee takes this pollen, which is high in protein, to other flowers and finally to feed its developing offspring.

When water is added to the flower’s sugar, it creates nectar. The nectar is a food source for the bees that gives them energy to fly from flower to flowers, pollinating as it goes. If we didn’t have bees pollinating our plants, we would not have the vegetables and fruit we enjoy eating. It is all a part of the many intersecting rings of life.

So enjoy the many circles of life and understand how very much we need each other to survive. And in doing so, remember the extra advantage of being kind within all the circles. Kindness can be sweeter than any nectar from any flower.

Always Be Kind

FOTD, August 26 – Jungle

Cee gives us great challenges for us to be creative and have fun and today I am going off the beaten path a bit with Flower of the Day and show you my jungle. Those who have read my post in the past know I had the jack-in-the-beanstalk sunflowers (12 footers) going there for a while until a storm came through and knocked them down – all except two. And the reason those are still standing is because of – my jungle. Every year I get a crazy flower in my bonnet and try to grow something I think would be fun only to have it take over my yard. This year was not exception.

My Jungle

You can see this crazy vine has even taken over the sunflower with wisps of the vine protruding outward at several places goin up the stalk. So what is this crazy vine that I thought would be fun to grow…

Birdnest Gourds…

Currently I have about 8 -10 if they all make it and I don’t kill them first. My thought would be -“wouldn’t it be a fun project for the kids at church to paint the dried gourds”. Well we will see if I can complete the process. I will post pictures if we get that far.

In the mean time, remember to be kind. It is something you can always do even when not deserved.

FOTD – August 18, Violets

Thanks to the fun challenges that we enjoy through blogging, we share that fun with others. Cee’s challenge for Flower of the Day is a favorite of mine, so today, I am sharing my indoor flowers.

My violets are three different colors but right now only two of them are blooming. The baby plant, which is supposed to be pink, has not bloomed yet.

Flowers share their beauty with us so that we can enjoy them and maybe share that beauty with others. Flowers can make you smile, some will make you sneeze, but their beauty can bring you peace. And we all need some of that. So enjoy the flowers you find in your area, smile and remember to be kind. That can also bring you peace.

FOTD – Aug 13, Sad Day

Today we say goodbye to the beauty of my sunflowers. The tallest of the spiers was well over 12 feet high with over 15 huge blooms on one stalk. Some blooms were over 9 inches wide.

Then Wednesday a storm came through and all but one of my sunflowers hit the ground. The picture below was taken less than one minute before she snapped. The weight of even more blooms that the earlier picture proved she was no match for the wind.

The storm took out power as well as limbs and some trees. One year plus one day ago we had a derecho come through that caused massive damage to trees, crops and power. I am afraid that as our oceans warm due to human carelessness, that the collapse of that important system for the entire globe will only make our weather more erratic.

The weight of each of these blooms was almost too much to carry indoors but the are making my table beautiful for now. I had to use a heavy cut-glass vase to make sure the weight of the flowers did not pull the vase over.

But I enjoyed them so much that yes, I will plant them again next year. If you love flowers as a lot of us do, join in on Cee’s wonderful challenge of Flower of the Day. And as always I remind you of the beauty of kindness. It complements any flower of any garden.

Faith Hope & Love, Encouragement & FOTD

Faith, Hope and Love are to me the top attributes to the Christian faith. Today I want to tie that in with flowers and Cee’s Flower of the Day as I show off my sunflowers, again.

When my sunflowers started growing, because I am on the quirky side, I gave them names. Some got a name change due to how they bloomed and some remained true to their name. First we have the King and Queen. The King was the first on the scene, planted by the local bird population. King kept his name due to his flower being the largest of all at 9.5 inches (214.3mm) across. While his height was less impressive, King still stands 4.5 feet (1372mm) high. He looks to be on his way out but he actually is just about fully ripe. If you look at the top you can see the seeds starting to show their heads. Soon he will be a feast for the birds.

The King

Queen is much more flamboyant and beautiful as any queen should be. While her blooms are much smaller at 6 in (152mm) she does showoff with14 blooms and she stands at 8.5 feet (2591mm).

The Queen

As beautiful as these two are, the three that guard my gate as I go in and out have been named Faith, Hope & Love. Faith is closest to the gate to refresh me as I go in and out. Hope is furthest from the gate but like his namesake, he is strong, protective and holds the three together. Love is in the middle radiating his name by reflecting his beauty with leaves larger than my hands together.

Faith, Hope & Love

These three have yet to show their flowers but their stature is quite impressive. Hope, on the far left, is 9.5 feet (2896 mm) tall showing 10 buds to share his smiles with those who see them. Faith, on the right, is a little taller at 10 feet (3048 mm) and seems to have only 1 colossal bud, which is fitting for our faith should be large and strong to carry us through any crisis we face. Love takes over the center position which is fitting as love should be centered in who we are and how we are. Love is also the tallest and the largest at 12.5 feet (3810mm) tall. Its stalk is so large that I can barely wrap my fingers around it. Love has more than 12 buds thus far and I still see buds forming because it is still growing. This is how our love should be – strong, with multiple buds and height to be seen from afar.

I am a firm believer that God shows His beauty of faith, hope and love in all things that he creates for us to enjoy and learn of His caring nature. So look at nature with a different eye and let the fullness of Christ fill you with its various forms of beauty.

And in closing, I always like to remind us all of the power of kindness. Kindness can calm, soothe, encourage and give hope for almost any situation. So remember to always be kind.

FOYD – July 23

Cee’s Challenge of Flower of the Day gives us a chance to share the beauty we see around us. Flowers are a gift that we get to visually share and enjoy. Today I have one of the many sunflowers in my yard and it has a visitor.

This is one planted by the birds,

My giant varieties are out by the fence and will get shared later. And as always, remember to be kind. Kindness like the sunflower can bring about big smiles.

Always Be Kind