Saturday, July 31, 2021

Signs of the Times

Yes, I know, another teasel. Sorry about that. I just had to post this picture to show you how purple the flowers are on the wild-type teasels. As I recall, this one grew from a seed I brought back a few years ago from Wormwood Scrubs. The much bigger teasels that are descended from the ones we bought several years back, meanwhile, are white.

So did you see us on TV? If not, I'm happy to say I recorded the segment on my phone and posted it to YouTube (not publicly). So click here to take a look! We originally submitted about six minutes of video, in which I talked about not mowing the lawn, our wildflower area in the back corner, and gave specific plant and insect names and reasons for keeping many of our "weeds." The show used two minutes, and cut out a lot of those specifics. But you know, we're still happy. Two minutes of fame is better than nothing!

Those of you who have questioned my decision to plant burdock will be amused by the host's warning at the end of the segment that it gets badly tangled in dog hair. He's absolutely right -- for anyone with a long or even medium-haired pet, it would be a risky plant to have around. Olga has such short hair that it's not a problem for her.

These rather reproductive-looking structures appeared on our canna lilies. At first I wasn't sure what they were; I thought the plant might have some kind of disease. But no -- they're just seed pods!

We did have some wild weather yesterday as a result of Storm Evert. Lots of gusty wind and occasional downpours. I never left the house, so it didn't affect me much, except that I always had one eye on the garden to make sure it fared OK -- and it did.

Here are some signs of the times:

These scrawled messages appeared on temporary parking restriction signs on our street. There was an anti-vaccination rally at Parliament on the 19th. I disagree with this person's viewpoint, but I was nonetheless intrigued to find those messages.

This one just made me laugh! The things people do...

Friday, July 30, 2021

Bugs and a Hollyhock

We're supposed to get some windy weather today as a result of Storm Evert, which is blowing ashore in Cornwall. It's going to be the first true test of my work to rig up the teasels. Fingers crossed!

Not much happened around here yesterday. I read, I went grocery shopping. YAWN.

Later, I was texting with Dave and eating dinner, sitting out on the garden bench, when I looked up and realized with horror that Mr. Russia was clambering around on the roof. It's quite high and quite steep, and he had no safety equipment. My first thought was, "We have no insurance!" (I'm not sure we could be held responsible for his stupidity, and he is part owner of the property whereas we are only the downstairs tenants -- but if he fell and hurt himself landing on the patio furniture, for example, could we be liable?) The Russians have been grousing about a small leak in their roof but they still haven't had roofers in to fix it, and it looks like Mr. Russia took matters into his own hands and installed some kind of jankety (that word again) patch.

Anyway, he didn't fall, thank goodness.

I wandered around the garden taking some photos of our insect life. Above, you'll see a speckled bush cricket on one of our roses.

Here's a bee, dining on the aforementioned teasels.

This wasp caught some sort of tiny green caterpillar on the teasels. Wild Kingdom!

And here's a bee digging deep into one of the burdock flowers. Can you see it, with its head entirely buried?


Some of our hollyhocks are finally blooming. These are the ones I grew from seed and planted out a couple of years ago. I think this is the last surviving plant. We had one flower last year, on a different plant that didn't reappear this summer. Overall, they haven't exactly thrived, but I think they needed a sunnier location than we gave them. If I get seeds from this one I'll try again and put them in pots on the sunny side of the patio.

Now, off to check up on the teasels-in-traction!

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Five Minutes of Fame

Remember how I was just saying I hadn't seen many butterflies this year? Well, this peacock came around yesterday morning, checking out our butterfly bush. A welcome visitor!

And that wasn't the only excitement around here. Dave and I were officially notified that our garden video will air on the next episode of "Gardener's World," on BBC Two, tomorrow night! So those of you in the UK can tune in at 7 p.m. and see our little segment about "re-wilding" our garden by mowing less and allowing more weeds to grow. We're both in the video and Olga makes a brief appearance, too. (At least, she was in the footage we submitted -- the BBC routinely re-edits viewer videos so I'm not sure what will actually air.)

The only way I know of seeing the show in the USA is to watch it on Britbox, which is a subscription service. Some episodes do turn up on YouTube, so you might catch it there -- look for Episode 19 of the current season. I'll record it myself but I don't know if I can post it, since I think whatever airs becomes the property of the BBC. I'll look into it.

Thank goodness I filmed the video before the great teasel collapse of 2021! Yesterday I went to Homebase and bought some long bamboo plant supports, which I jammed into the ground around the teasels in order to tie them upright. I WILL DOMINATE THESE PLANTS! Originally I had them tied to each other, which I think is what precipitated the collapse -- a weakness in one plant brought all three of them down. Now they're supported individually, which seems more stable.

And yesterday, they endured...

...yet another downpour, and this time they didn't budge. They're upright as I write this. Again, in a high wind, all bets are off, but at least this fix seems longer-lasting. They're a bit droopy but I think they'll grow more upright over time. They've been traumatized!

OK, enough about the bloody teasels. I'm sick of writing about them and I'm sure you're sick of reading about them.

I also walked to work yesterday and made a visit to the library. I wanted to bring some of my finished books back and check up on the construction occurring there over the summer. The place is still a mess, but we've got two or three more weeks before we go back to work so the facilities people can still whip it into shape.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

The Orange Fly

Well, my Day 8 Covid test came back negative, as I knew it would. I got the results just before setting out to Homebase to pick up a bag of compost, so I could walk among the public with a clear conscience. Back to real life!

While there, I also bought a couple of flats of coleus, which I love but haven't planted in ages. The monkeyflowers and calceolaria I bought back in May had both gone to seed, so I replaced them with the coleus. It's funny that Dave and I used to avoid planting annuals -- they're actually quite liberating to work with. When they start looking shabby, there's no need to go to heroic measures to save them -- they're going to die anyway. Just chuck 'em and plant something new!

I found this weird little orange fly on our wounded teasels -- which, incidentally, have collapsed again. We had some wind yesterday and that was that. Their days are numbered, but I'm leaving them for now, leaning on the bird feeder and some nearby rose bushes, while they continue to bloom and provide some insect habitat.

I have no idea what kind of fly this is. I'm sure I've never seen an orange one before.

I also saw this the other day -- a big hornet hoverfly. It looks a bit scary, which wards off predators, but it's completely harmless.

We've begun a routine with Olga where we give her a can of dog food every evening. We used to do it only occasionally, but she loves canned food so much and gets so excited that we figured, why not daily? Well, last night, as I went to fetch her food, I realized with horror that we were out -- so I had to leave her standing in the kitchen, puzzled, while I zipped down to Waitrose. I bought two cans of dog food and a bottle of red wine, and as the clerk was ringing up my purchase, I said to myself, "I hope she doesn't think this is MY dinner!"

I watched the first two episodes of a TV miniseries from the '70s called "Holocaust," featuring Rosemary Harris, James Woods, Michael Moriarty, Tovah Feldshuh and a young Meryl Streep. I remember watching it when it came out, in 1978 or '79, and finding it riveting -- and watching it again has not been disappointing. What strikes me now is the similarity of the Nazi rhetoric against Jews to the way many modern conservatives contemptuously speak about liberals and Democrats -- and let's face it, among some anti-semitic people on the far right, those are essentially code words for Jews and the old tropes about Jewish conspiracies. It was chilling to make that contemporary connection.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Jankety but Upright

I'm free! I'm free! As of today, quarantine is officially over and I am able to go out and have a life. The only complication is that I still haven't received the results of my Day 8 Covid PCR. I'm sure it's going to be negative, but I wonder if I'm supposed to wander free before I know for sure? Then again, people coming into the country from the USA just a few days after me not only got to skip quarantine but didn't even have to take a Day 8 test. So I guess I'm fine.

The NHS didn't call me at all yesterday. I've been dropped like a hot potato. Like a bad date.

Believe me, I wasn't waiting by the phone. I had plenty to do. For one thing, I decided to try to tie up the collapsed teasels one more time -- and I did so, as you can see above. I anchored them to that heavy garden chair. So now they're tied up from three sides and they seem pretty stable. I'm not sure what's going to happen in the first high wind, but at least I've tried.

To what end, I'm not sure. I guess I just want them to live and bloom a little while longer. I saw bees on the flowers yesterday evening and got some satisfaction from knowing that I'd spared the plant long enough for more insects to dine.

As Dave might say, they look "jankety" -- haphazard or badly constructed.  I love that word. It's not one I ever used until I met him, but it's very handy. My teasel rescue is admittedly jankety.

I texted Dave to tell him I'd saved them, but my phone's autocorrect changed "teasels" to "readers," with the result that I told him, "I tied up the readers again."

I guess that's YOU. I've tied you up. Sorry about that.

I haven't mentioned our canna lilies much this summer, but they're both doing fine. One of them is quite big and blooming (above). The other one -- the sad little pathetic one -- is still small, but it's looking healthier than it was last year. Hopefully by next summer it will be more established.

Food-wise, I'm surviving quite well. I haven't even had to do take-out, at least not since Dave's last night in town, when we ordered sushi. After he ordered it, he got a text saying "Eduardo" was on his way. I said, "It's so London to have your sushi delivered by someone named Eduardo!"

And speaking of food delivery, here's a discarded pizza box I found while walking Olga. I was amused by the name. As far as I know, English homes don't have "yards," they have gardens, and as a result the English also don't have "yard sales." They have car boot sales, when they bring their junk to a common location like a schoolyard or car park and sell it out of their car. I suspect whoever named this pizza outfit was trying to sound American.

Finally, remember the jackhammers I've been hearing? This is what their operators are working on -- channeling the street to run fiber broadband lines. This is on West End Lane, which is normally a fairly major roadway, and Finchley Road is also closed off, which is an even bigger traffic artery. Makes me glad I don't drive.

I've been catching up on movies that I've had saved for ages because I knew Dave wouldn't want to watch them. One was "What Happened, Miss Simone?" a documentary about the troubled life and career of jazz singer Nina Simone. Last night I watched "The Treasure of San Bosco Reef," a Disney movie from 1968 that was mildly amusing. It was a mystery set in Italy and it reminded me of "The Moon Spinners" with Hayley Mills, one of my favorite childhood Disney films, which was made a few years earlier and set in Greece. I'm always up for a Disney adventure set in an exotic locale.

Monday, July 26, 2021

Walnut Bombs and Teasel Collapse

We've come to the season when I spend way too much garden time picking up walnuts -- and this is why (above). Every summer the squirrels ravage our walnut tree, racing around, chirping and squeaking, breaking off leaves and sticks and feasting on the nuts, which they drop half-eaten onto the lawn. I don't mind, really, because we don't eat them ourselves. But a green walnut is a fairly heavy thing, so I try not to linger under the tree!

I spent yesterday morning tidying up the garden, lightly trimming so I can more easily move around. I also cleaned the house and took Olga for her walk.

She got into a scrap with her nemesis the cat-behind-the-door, who managed to slash her nose. This is not the first time and believe me, it won't discourage Olga. She'll just as eagerly go after that cat next time, too. They've both been at it for years.

I thought you might like to see the results after the garage guy hammered the "No Parking" lettering off the street -- and painted it over, too, from the looks of things. Still seems like a lot of work for dubious gain.

In the afternoon, I decided to take Olga to the cemetery. After all, today's my last day of quarantine and I figured I could go that far without interacting with anyone, and she needed a longer walk at least once over the weekend. But the gods had other plans, because no sooner did we get there than it began to thunder. I brought Olga right back home again, and almost as soon as we crossed the threshold the heavens opened.

I took some video to show the intensity of the rain, and elsewhere in London there was once again flooding -- for the second time in a couple of weeks. We had some minor damage here at home. In the video you'll see that the very tall teasels by the birdbath in the garden are leaning to the left. Well, yesterday evening they collapsed entirely, RIGHT ON TOP of my dahlias!!

I went out and tied them up with twine, using the bird feeder and a nearby bush as support, which wasn't easy because I think they weigh about 30 pounds...

...but this morning I see they've collapsed again. So, sadly, I may have to just cut them down entirely. We have plenty more teasels, so it's not a crisis.

(Oh, and the dahlias, surprisingly, are fine.)

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Bon Voyage to Dave

After I posted the photo of the crocosmia buds the other day, one of my commenters mentioned that he wanted to see it when it bloomed. So here it is, with some of our hydrangea bushes in the background. This crocosmia is a popular variety called "Lucifer."

Here's a picture that might be a little clearer.

And here's some other garden stuff going on right now:

Our purple sage, a variety called "Amistad," is blooming.

Quite a bit of this has appeared alongside the cornflowers in the wildflower bed. It's called pale flax (Linum bienne) and I assume it came from that wildflower seed mix I sowed.

The spiny flowers of the burdock are blooming.

And speaking of spiny, here's a seed pod growing on the jimsonweed. It's approaching the size of a ping-pong ball.

I just saw Dave off on his trip to the USA -- a car came at 6 a.m. to fetch him and take him to the airport. (This is the difference between me and Dave. When I went to Heathrow, I took the tube. Dave called a car service! I'm a cheapskate, but Dave doesn't have a problem spending money to be comfortable.)

As I mentioned before, he'll be gone three weeks, at a professional development event in Texas, visiting family in Michigan, and going to Drum Corps finals in Indianapolis. I believe this will be the longest we've been apart since we got married 11 years ago! I felt like my own two-week trip was pretty long, so I can't imagine how he'll feel after this one.

Olga was nervous when the suitcase came out. I think she's relieved that I'm still here.

Meanwhile, I'm going to have to re-learn how to feed myself, since Dave usually does all the cooking. I'm seeing a lot of peanut butter in my immediate future.

Saturday, July 24, 2021

White Teasels

The teasels have started putting forth their tiny blossoms -- and all of our large teasels appear to be blooming white, which means they're probably descended from the ones we planted several years ago. Those had white flowers too. All the wild-type teasels I've seen around London are purple.

So, more of the same yesterday. I read, did some light housework and spent time in the garden, where the temperatures have cooled. It's 61º F out there now (16º C) and rainy. I'm staying inside.

At least Olga had some high-quality garden time yesterday:

As you can tell, things were quieter -- the jackhammers weren't going for some reason. One of the Russian boys upstairs was whooping it up, though.

I am so sick of this quarantine. Today I'll take my Day 8 test, and assuming it's negative, I'll be set free on Tuesday. You never really realize how long ten days is until you have to stay home all that time, not even going out to the store. At least during last year's lockdown I did the grocery shopping and made occasional runs to the gardening center!

Friday, July 23, 2021

Jackhammer Summer

Another day in the garden. This hoverfly landed to rest on some crocosmia buds...

...and one of our gazanias offered up a big, beautiful blossom.

It was kind of noisy around here yesterday. There's some utility work going on (again) on the streets surrounding our flat -- something about installing fiber-optic broadband -- so there are jackhammers and all manner of groaning equipment rumbling around.

Dave and I always joke that whenever we try to have a quiet moment in the garden, something disrupts it -- Mrs. Kravitz's gardeners begin mowing her lawn, or the gardeners for the neighbor on the other side bring out the hedge trimmers, or a police helicopter starts circling overhead, or someone fixing up a nearby apartment starts running a power saw. (All of this has happened within the last few days.) Evidence that although we have a fairly bucolic back garden, we do in fact live in a big city.

I was telling Dave yesterday that I haven't seen many butterflies this summer -- only cabbage whites and, as I recall, one peacock and one common blue. I wondered if the dramatic weather about ten days ago, when I was in Florida but there was flash flooding in London, affected them. Not long after I said it, we saw a red admiral flutter past, so maybe they're around after all. (We're supposed to have more dramatic rain this weekend. Fortunately, Dave and I live on a hill.)

When I walked Olga yesterday morning we came across this guy, who owns a garage up the street. Evidently he's trying to remove the "No Parking" sign from the pavement, and rather than paint over it, he's trying to hammer it off. That seems like a lot of work, not to mention potentially damaging to the pavement. Does this mean he's going to let people park there now?

The NHS only called me once yesterday!

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Cornflower and Inula

Holy cow, did I sleep well. I just got up about half an hour ago and I'm still kind of dazed. I must be catching up after all my traveling and jet lag. Despite the fact that we have no air conditioning and the daytime temperatures have been pretty warm, at night they're almost perfect, especially when accompanied by the soft white noise of the whirring fan.

More flowers today, because that's basically my ENTIRE LIFE at the moment. Our first cornflower opened (above).... did our first inula.

Our upstairs neighbors, the Russians, have been wrestling with getting a small leak in the roof repaired. You may remember that they hired one team of roofers who did some shoddy work and abandoned a ladder. Well, yesterday another couple of guys came, and they tried to use the abandoned ladder to reach the roof -- and finding that it was too short, they simply left again. They were here for ten minutes, tops.

No word on whether they're returning or whether they have their own ladder (one would think), but we're told they may need to erect another scaffold. Argh!

Dave, meanwhile, is preparing for a journey of his own. He's leaving Monday for a teaching conference in Texas, a visit with his family in Michigan and Drum Corps finals in Indianapolis. He'll be gone three weeks, right up until the start of the new school year in mid-August. I think he has mixed feelings about traveling now, given the high Covid infection rates both here and in the USA, but as I've told him, we have to live our lives. And he is vaccinated, so even if he catches Covid, God forbid, he shouldn't be severely affected.

It makes me nervous even to say that, but we can't hide out forever. Right?

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Day Lilies and White Privilege

I finally caught one of our day lilies in bloom. They're buried so deep in the underbrush of our garden that they're almost impossible to see. This clump by the bird bath gets the most light and I believe it's the only one that has a flower. One of the many tasks on my someday-I'll-get-to-it list is to liberate our day lilies from the twilight darkness in which most of them live, either by moving them or pruning the plants around them.

I showed you the bud of our pink dahlia a few days ago -- here it is in full flower.

I had a relatively low-key day yesterday. I got two calls from the NHS wanting to know the results of my Day 2 post-travel Covid test. Unfortunately those results didn't come until 1:30 this morning (negative), so no doubt they'll be calling again today to follow up. I honestly don't mean to complain about this NHS contact, because I understand the need for it, but I wonder why they call me so often. Wouldn't once a day, or once every two days, be sufficient?

Then again, the NHS is the only excitement I get at the moment.

I'm reading an interesting book called "Life of a Klansman: A Family History in White Supremacy," by Edward Ball. It traces the life of the author's ancestors -- one in particular -- in 19th century Louisiana, bringing to life the racism and violence of the Civil War and Reconstruction eras. I've found it quite illuminating, and also painful -- I come mostly from Southern ancestors myself, and it's not difficult to imagine them holding similar attitudes to Ball's. I have never heard, though, that my relatives joined the Ku Klux Klan, as Ball's did -- and I'm still unclear on the extent to which my family owned slaves. They were farmers, and somewhat prosperous, but they weren't wealthy.

One thing I like about the book, though, is its insistence that we consider the effects of our racist past on the structure of our current society. While I was in Florida I had a discussion/argument with my brother-in-law about white privilege, and how I understand that although I personally try to hold racially progressive views, I have benefitted from wealth and opportunities accrued by my ancestors through the labor and oppression of black workers. And I recognize that while I can link no specific incidents to my family, anti-black violence is part of my heritage.

For example, Ball relates the story of a brutal attack by white supremacists, including his great-great grandfather Constant, on a political gathering at Mechanics Hall in New Orleans in 1866:

It is not a distortion to say that Constant’s rampage 150 years ago helps, in some impossible-to-measure way, to clear space for the authority and comfort of whites living now — not just for me and for his fifty or sixty descendants, but for whites in general. I feel shame about it. That is not a distortion, either. I am an heir to Constant’s acts of terror. I do not deny it, and the bitter truth makes me sick at the stomach.

Whites are my people, my tribe. They were Constant’s people, his tribe. In that way he belongs to us, and to hundreds of millions. I know the honest way to regard race violence is this: American history is full of it. It is pandemic. The United States was founded upon racial violence. It is within the core of our national identity.

Here is a way not to see these events: The marauders like Constant are immoral, abject and bad people. They are not like us, they belong to someone else. 
It is truer to say this: the marauders are our people, and they fight for us.

I think that pretty succinctly summarizes the concept of white privilege. I would add -- not to deny but to more broadly acknowledge that privilege -- that while the American South elevated racial violence to extreme levels, we are hardly the only country or society to oppress, or benefit from that oppression.

It's also interesting how little I know about some of these events. I know Reconstruction was a violent period, but I don't ever remember hearing about the Mechanics Hall riots, in which hundreds of people were killed, wounded and arrested (mostly black, many of them attacked simply because they happened to be on the street at that time). It makes me realize the blind spots in my own knowledge. Was I just not paying attention in history class, or did we not talk in detail about episodes like this?

Anyway, it's a thought-provoking book.

Here's one more garden picture. Our wildflower seedlings, which I planted several weeks ago, have finally grown to a respectable size, and some of them are about to bloom. It looks like a few blue cornflowers made it after all!

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Lilies, Foxgloves and Datura

We have a couple of blooming stargazer lilies in the flower bed near the back door. Getting a photo of them is always tricky because they point downward, and they're in a relatively inaccessible place, being surrounded by densely planted foliage. But they're having a good year.

I spent quite a bit of time in the garden yesterday -- not surprising since I can't leave the property. I finally repotted and planted out some of our foxglove seedlings:

I put seven of them straight into the ground, and another six into bigger pots. I have several trays still to deal with. I hope I can give some of them away at work. Foxglove overload!

The teasels should be blooming very soon. Those spiky seed heads will be surrounded by a ring of purple (or white) flowers.

And here's our jimsonweed, blooming away. It has several more buds and already there's a spiny seed head in the middle of the plant (jimsonweed or datura is also known as "thorn apple," apparently).

I got called by the NHS twice yesterday. I missed their first call while digging in the garden but picked up on the second, and a guy ran through essentially the same script the other three had used the day before: Am I isolating at home, did I take my Day 2 test, etc. Am I going to get multiple calls per day?!

Monday, July 19, 2021

Keeping to Myself

On my walk back from the tube on Friday morning, I noticed that the former Nam's Heel Bar now features some new street art, courtesy of artist Nathan Bowen. I wanted to go back and shoot it in full sun, but since I'm isolating, this will have to do.

Yesterday I got called three times by people from the NHS following up on my after-flight procedures -- making sure I isolate and take my Day 2 test, for example. They all followed the same script. Why I got three calls is anyone's guess. I suppose being thorough is better than being lackadaisical.

I was under the impression that my isolation might end early because, as of today, British residents traveling from amber-list countries (like the United States) don't have to isolate at all. But no! The NHS folks tell me that because I entered the country before the new rules took effect this morning, I have to isolate the full ten days. I asked them how that could possibly be true, what scientific justification might exist for such a policy, and they couldn't tell me. We are not amused.

Nonetheless, I took my Day 2 test yesterday like a good little peasant, and Dave will mail it off for me today.

I suppose I shouldn't be too resentful -- England has good reason to be cautious, given that case numbers are exploding here and I was traveling through Florida, which is having a Covid burst of its own. And yet, the UK is opening up more as of today. Inconsistent, you say?

OK, I'll stop being grumpy.

This is how I spent yesterday, lying in the garden and reading next to Olga. Temperatures were projected to hit almost 90º F (32º C) but although it felt warm, it didn't feel oppressively hot like Florida did. I could stand to be outside without suffering.

I got some little tasks done in the garden -- there's always more to do -- and I put out our old, rusty barbecue grill and old vacuum cleaners for collection by the council, as arranged before I left. They're still sitting in front of the house, last I checked, but they should vanish any time.

Oh, and I almost neglected to recognize a major anniversary for me and Dave. Ten years ago on July 14, we first arrived in London, lugging five large suitcases and intent on making new lives. Who could have foreseen all that would follow? My library job, Olga, walks on Hampstead Heath, our garden, travel to places as diverse as China and the Seychelles, Covid -- ten years ago seems like a long time.

Sunday, July 18, 2021


Our dahlias are hitting their stride. The Bishop's Children variety is blooming like crazy, and the plants are bushy and healthy with their coppery leaves. A hoverfly is lingering on this particular blossom.

Our red dahlia, a variety known as Gallery Valentin, is also looking good.

Our pink one, though, is getting off to a slow start. The plant, which I bought just last year, was small for most of the spring and it's finally put out a few buds, but it's not exactly vigorous. Maybe some dahlias come through winter storage better than others?

Not much happened yesterday. I am, of course, still in quarantine, so it was mostly a matter of pottering around the garden and doing housework. I cleaned out the refrigerator at lunchtime -- Dave had several science experiments going in my absence.

I realized I have to take my Day 2 Covid test today -- the day I arrived is day zero, according to the testing company -- and I was concerned yesterday morning because I didn't have it yet! The company hadn't mailed me a test. I checked their communication and they said it would be dispatched for arrival on Day 2, which seemed to me to be cutting it close. So I e-mailed them just to be sure, and they said it was in fact out for delivery -- and sure enough it showed up at the door a couple of hours later. Even though it's a PCR, it's a nose-and-throat swab just like the rapid antigen tests I usually take. So I'll get that done today and mailed off tomorrow.

I had a terrible time sleeping last night. I couldn't go to sleep until 1:30 a.m. (which is 8:30 p.m. Florida time) and the dog had me up at 5:30 this morning. I am going to be like the walking dead until this jet lag passes.

Saturday, July 17, 2021


This is the scene that greeted me when I returned home yesterday and looked out the back door. Crazy, right? A wall of green! I don't remember the garden ever looking so dense and lush. We can barely even see the buildings around us.

The teasels, in the center of the frame just behind the barely-visible birdbath, are huge. They must be ten feet high and they have at least a dozen flower heads apiece. Allowing those to grow -- they appeared on their own, from seed -- has really created a showstopper.

Here's the scene from another angle -- the back of the garden looking toward the house, along what is normally a narrow path between two flower beds. As you can see, the plants have encroached on the path to such a degree that Dave didn't even try to mow it the last time he mowed the lawn. There's red persicaria to the left, a large burdock to the right and beyond that, another teasel.

Olga is so happy to lie in the sun. I love how she's perfectly using the leaves to shield her eyes.

I've been calling this lamb's ear (above) but apparently it's actually a species of Verbascum, commonly known as great mullein or Aaron's rod. It grew wild, with no encouragement from us, and sent up a big flower spike. Now it's blooming yellow. 

Our jimsonweed, or datura, is blooming too. Even though it's in a pot and sitting up on a table, something's eating the leaves -- but it's a tough plant so it will be fine. Out of that entire packet of jimsonweed seeds I bought, we got only one plant. The others never sprouted.

On the front porch, the snapdragons are doing their thing.

As long as we're talking about the garden, I have some exciting news. I've mentioned the weekly BBC show "Gardener's World" here on the blog many times. Dave and I love it and have been loyal viewers for years. Last year -- in order to develop content during the lockdown -- the producers invited viewers to make videos of their own gardens and submit them to the show, and this year they've continued that feature. Each episode normally features two or three viewer videos.

Well, just before I left for Florida, Dave and I pulled together a video of our garden and sent it in, talking about how we've allowed many so-called "weeds" to grow and had some luck creating wildlife and insect habitat. The BBC asked for additional footage, which Dave shot while I was away, and now they've slated us to appear on a future "Gardener's World" episode -- number 19, to be specific. Woo hoo!

Nothing is final yet -- I get the sense that this could all change at any minute -- but apparently they've re-edited our video which is a good sign.

Dave is going to be in the states when that show airs in a couple of weeks, so I hope he'll have access there. We'll let our friends know closer to the date -- you're getting the news before anyone else. And yes, Olga is in the video too.

Can you believe it -- our garden, on television?!