Monday, July 13, 2020

Borage and a Bush Cricket

You're thinking, "Didn't he just post a picture of a butterfly on a hydrangea two days ago?" Well, yes, I did. But it was a different butterfly and a different hydrangea, so I'm calling it justifiable.

Dave and I have both marveled at the number of peacock butterflies, like the one above, that we've seen this year. There were two of them in our garden yesterday at the same time, even. Maybe our dry spring was good for them?

Dave is considering a couple of gardening ideas, including digging out the area around the bird bath to expand the flower bed.  "I need a project," he proclaimed yesterday. I think he's feeling a little stir-crazy. I told him to go for it. He's also wanted to install a water feature for ages, and I'm cool with that as long as it's a small one -- like a basin with a little solar-powered fountain, or something like that. I don't want to have to haul some concrete installation if and when we eventually move.

Here was my own project yesterday:

Remember the gigantic borage plant that appeared in the pot with our passionflower vine? Well, of course it set seed, and now we have seedlings coming up in the same pot and in surrounding pots. We can't really have that because they'll take over, so I removed some seedlings and potted them up on their own. When they get slightly larger I'll move them to the wildflower area in the back of the garden, where they can run rampant. (We have a lot of what we call borage back there already, but it's really green alkanet, which is related but not the same plant.)

Here's a cool insect I found on Saturday while walking back from the Heath with Olga. It's a speckled bush cricket. It clearly didn't get the memo that its natural camouflage only works if it's sitting on a green plant.

Yesterday was my mom's 83rd birthday. The staff at the retirement center where she lives set up a Zoom call so my brother and I, and our families, could sing her "Happy Birthday" and chat with her a bit. Singing over Zoom never works very well, and the call was a bit chaotic -- my nieces were making balloon animals at the same time -- so I'm not sure my mom could really follow what was going on. But she smiled and laughed and seemed happy with her cake.

I'm continuing on with Mark Doty's book about Walt Whitman. I was struck yesterday by these very germane words, quoted in the book, from Whitman's preface to "Leaves of Grass" (1856):
This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem...


  1. A good quote.
    I saw a solar powered fountain on a TV gardening programme last week..brilliant, just a small black floating disc!

  2. OH I love the quote. It sort of strikes at home to my soul. Some of it fits perfectly.

    I do love the butterfly and I am so glad that you are seeing them in your garden. I haven't seen many butterflies this year and maybe it was too wet here. We have had lots of little showers.

    I think a small water feature would be a great asset to all the birds and good insects looking for a drink. :)

  3. Thank you for taking the trouble to type out Whitman's wise words. The 45th President - can't remember the guy's name - would do well to follow some of that advice.

    I noted that Olga received a brief mention in this post - which is something I suppose.

  4. You should never apologize for any photos. They are always so beautiful. You have the most fascinating insects in your garden. We have primarily little ones (like aphids) that eat our plants! I love garden fountains!

  5. I'm writing an ad for a part-time cashier at the thrift store, and a lot of the Whitman quote could describe the job.
    Maybe especially, " have patience and indulgence toward the people". Also, "the crazy and the stupid." LOL!

    Lovely garden photos as always.Soooo much work!
    Would you like an actual job as a gardener? At Kew?

  6. Oh! I love peacock butterflies! I've never seen one in person but it's on my bucket list. They are so beautiful, and such a European butterfly that one of my prized possessions is a Swedish birthday card decorated with a traditional Princess cake and a peacock butterfly.

    Walt's words are typical of him. I am inspired by most of them, but I'll pass on standing up for the stupid and the crazy. I've been to Walt's family home here on the north shore of Long Island, which is near one of the island's crappiest shopping centers called The Walt Whitman Mall. There's a nice display of The Leaves of Grass in the many editions he self-published during his lifetime. Some f them are works of art in their own right (the book binding, I mean).

  7. With very limited experience, Zoom is often chaotic. But good on you all for celebrating your mother's birthday online. I like the Whitman quote. I can't imagine #45 reading that out. A water feature? Be afraid.

  8. Very little makes sense to me right now but that Walt Whitman quote does. It always has.
    Thanks for reminding me.

  9. That quote by Walt Whitman is beautiful and touching and I needed it today. Thank you.

  10. Zoom can be a little chaotic and hard to follow but, it is certainly a welcome diversion these days. I'm glad you got to spend some time celebrating you mom's birthday. That's a beautiful quote and a good reminder to all.

  11. Such an apt quote for this moment. Happy birthday to your mom!

  12. That peacock butterfly... WOW! I so want to see one. What a beauty.
    Lovely that you got to "see" your mom for her birthday.
    The quote is truly beautiful. I'm going to copy it and put it in my Saved Gems folder. Thank you for that.

  13. I've never seen (I don't think) a speckled bush cricket. What an interesting name. How wonderful that you and your family got to spend some zoom time with your Mom for her birthday. I have a bird bath with a little fountain in the middle of it. It's a nice addition to the garden. Enjoy your day, hugs, Edna B.

  14. The last paragraph has a very powerful message. Sometimes quotes like this need much more publicity.

  15. the cricket photo is
    the best! Gorgeous colors, amazing posture. "Stand up for the stupid and crazy" just now ,is a bridge too far.

  16. I love that quote! He was a strange dude, but sometimes wise...

    Happy birthday to your mom! We're trying to figure out how to (safely) add music to our worship services & someone said something about the choir singing on zoom, separately in their own homes. That would NOT work - unless we had someone with some serious editorial skill!

  17. That is a great Whitman quote and it is the second time I've read it recently. I think the first time had something to do with the anniversary of the first publishing of "Leaves of Grass". I tried to read the book once but couldn't get anywhere with it. I'm not good at poetry anyway. Doggerel, yes, but serious poetry, no. Glad your mom had a happy birthday.

  18. it doesn't have to be a concrete feature. you can buy heavy duty preformed plastic ponds that are lightweight.

    I've never read Leaves of Grass, not a big poetry fan but I love the preface!

  19. Youtube is covered in how to do inexpensive light weight solar powered fountains. I watched several while doing time on the rowing machine. Do you have hummingbirds? Apparently they do enjoy a good fountain. In answer to your question, we have an irrigation system than runs three times a week, they're all drip lines. Now that it's finally raining, we'll turn it off. Everything in the yard is drought tolerant, but they do so much better with a little water.

  20. What a beautiful quote. I am glad your mom had a happy birthday. The powers of modern technology still have their glitches though. I hope she stays healthy and avoids COVID.

  21. I'm glad you and your family got to make contact with your mom for her birthday, chaotic or not. If she looked happy, she probably WAS happy!

    That is a very, very green bug. Very. It almost doesn't look real!

  22. Happy 83rd birthday for your mother. We wish you all health and happiness. And I also support the project of your gardening activities.

    Greetings from Indonesia.

  23. GZ: I think we saw the same show! That's what gave us the idea! LOL

    Beth: We have a birdbath already, but you can never have too much water in a garden.

    YP: That was my first thought, too -- how Trump needed to both hear that lesson and consider the fact that his government epitomized the "stupid and crazy." (There are limits to what we should stand up for!)

    Mitchell: Thank you! We've had good luck with the bugs this year!

    Fresca: Oh, lord, no -- I wouldn't want to do pro gardening. My standard of care is much lower than what most gardeners would be expected to do. For example, I am very indulgent with weeds, letting them grow and reproduce, and that would go nowhere in the pro gardening world!

    Vivian: The thing is, if it weren't for Trump, standing up for the "stupid and crazy" WOULD be good (if slightly impolite) advice. I think it assumes the stupid and crazy are downtrodden and in need of representation, though -- not that they're running the country!

    Andrew: A small water feature! I will insist on SMALL! LOL

    Ms Moon: Whitman is very sensible and was so far ahead of his time that many of his readers didn't even fully understand what he was trying to say!

    Lilycedar: Something to aspire to!

    Sharon: Yeah, Zoom is better than nothing. I was glad we got to do something to celebrate the day.

    37P: She says thank you! :)

    Robin: It is a "gem"! I hope you get to see a peacock at some point.

    Edna: I don't think I'd ever seen one either. I didn't even know what it was until I looked it up. I'm not sure there are any in the states. It may be a European insect.

    Red: Maybe my blog will help it to go viral!

    Linda Sue: Yeah, although the cricket isn't well camouflaged, the colors DO work, don't they?

    Bug: I've heard of Zoom choirs. I have no idea how that works, if the recordings are sung separately and later synchronized or what, but it's definitely being done. John Gray might know something about Zoom choirs.

    Catalyst: I can read Whitman when there's someone (an author or teacher) to explain his work to me. But I've never been able to LOG on its own, either.

    Ellen: I just don't want to do a lot of terraforming. We don't own this property!

    Allison: Yeah, I'm sure there are lots of options. We need something small that sits (preferably) on the surface of the soil. Maybe just a basin of some kind.

    Michael: Fingers crossed! She lives in Florida, and it's such a hot zone right now.

    Jenny-O: It's always hard to tell what my mom is thinking, but I do think she's basically happy and enjoying life.

    Himawan: Thank you, and glad you enjoy the garden! Thanks so much for stopping by!