May 31, 2016

May End-of-Month Views

Hello, and welcome to my garden!
I live in Eastern Washington state, USA, zone 5b.

This time around I've decided to take a few steps back for my "views," and do more general overviews of the beds.

So, here we go!

Starting out front, next to the porch, here is the porch bed:

Bleeding hearts are done now, and the oakleaf hydrangea hasn't started blooming yet, but it's close.

Okay, I can't resist a few close-ups.
I really like the various colors/sizes of leaves here, and that pop of pink from the heuchera.

Also--bright photo--but the spirea is blooming!

Moving down some, to the end of the driveway, you can see my 3 front terraces in all their glory:

This strip of sod in front is new--so we're still in the stage of watering it once a day.

I'm excited that my "William Shakespeare' English rose (right in front here) is filling in so well!
It has reached the top of the wall!

I absolutely love these sky-blue irises.
Interestingly enough, they have a slightly different scent than the purple.
Sometimes, I go out and just smell the irises for several minutes!

Okay, moving on up and around to the east-side terrace:

The 'Rose Queen' salvia blooming already.
It's kind of a thug, but a pretty one--and it's easy to pull out where you don't want it.

My salvia here is badly crowded by the sorbaria, but I love the color combination so much that I'm hesitant to move it.
The orange in the background is a columbine (a pass-along). There's also nepeta (catmint)--the billowing purple--oh, and some wild daisies.

Ninebark's blooming now.

My 3 little butterfly bushes have tiny blooms on them--hard to see here.

Now we're in the back yard.
Here's what my vegetable garden looks like at the moment:

Mostly doing fine.
My spinach get some kind of disease, so I just pulled it all up yesterday.

We've been harvesting lots of butter lettuce (the package spilled when my son was planting it!)

A few more to go!

The shed bed:

The irises are holding this bed together right now!
I need to fill in a few spots where the flowers died over the winter.

The pretty little geum isn't too shabby, either.


These bushes are loaded this year!
The berries are just now forming, so I'm hoping we'll be able to start harvesting them in the next few weeks.

Finally, last but not least, my back flowerbed:

The poppies are the real stars right now.
In this picture they look orange, but in person they're a lovely peachy pink, with deep purple middles.

My mockorange is just starting to open up some blooms.

The penstemon is covered in colorful blossoms right now, and my 'Abraham Darby' English rose has just finished one round of blooming, with several more buds almost ready to open.

Hope you've enjoyed your tour today!
Thanks for visiting!

I'm linking up with Helen at The Patient Gardener.
Head over there to see some more beautiful flowers.
Then go outside and sniff your irises for awhile, if you've got 'em!
Iris season comes but once a year!

May 27, 2016

Series Spotlight: Time Warp Trio, by Jon Scieszka

I had heard about The Time Warp Trio series for a long time, but had never read it myself. Then the other day at the library, my oldest son was asking what other series he could read, since he had pretty much exhausted all of his usual options. I picked up a bunch of these and away we went.

I have been reading through them myself, and they are great! Just like everyone has been telling me for all these years. (Sometimes it just takes a catalyst, you know? Like your own child wanting to read them.)

So the setup is a bit like Magic Tree House, if you're familiar with those books. There are 3 friends, Joe, Sam, and Fred, who are all at Joe's birthday party. He opens up a present from his magician uncle, "Joe the Magnificent," to find a book. A very strange-looking book with stars and moons on the cover, titled simply "The Book." They open it up and one of them happens to state a wish out loud--in the first book, it has to do with knights being real. A green mist envelopes the boys and they are transported to the time of Camelot. To get home, they have to find The Book in the place they've been transported to.

Here are a few things I like about them:
1. They're short. You're looking at around 60 pages and 10 chapters each. So they would make a nice bridge between the very short "Frog and Toad" type chapter books, and longer chapter books. There are also 2-3 illustrations per chapter which help break up the text as well.

2. They're funny! I was smiling most of the way through, and I'm not even the target audience. The boys make wisecracks and goof around throughout their whole adventure.

3. They're fast-paced. At least in the ones I've read so far, the boys are dropped into perilous situations right away and have several others come up as the story progresses. Of course, they always manage to defeat the [famous historical] bad guys/creatures.

4. They don't have to be read in order.

I would say they are bit more geared toward boys. Of course the three friends are boys, and while there are women and girls in the books, most of the action centers around the boys. There's also plenty of gross humor--not bathroom humor, per se, but a lot of talk about how disgusting certain things/people are. For instance, in the Ancient Egyptian one, Tut Tut, the main evil priest is called Hatsnat, which is pronounced "Hot Snot." That gets no end of one-liners throughout the book.

After I read the first, I had my son hold off so I could read it to all 3 kids at the same time. We just read the first one together yesterday, and they were all giggling. It took about 30 minutes to read the whole thing. Just perfect for the after-chores, pre-dinner time slot.

There are 16 of the original series. According to Goodreads, there's also a tv show, plus several graphic novels based on the tv show, a few full-length novelizations of the show's episodes, and even some written for the Easy Reader level. 

Have you read these? Any particular ones that are your favorites?

May 26, 2016

Tomatoes Before Potatoes?!

This has been a very different sort of spring.
For starters, we haven't had a frost in at least a month.
Our last frost date is generally around May 21 or later, so I usually wait until after Memorial Day to plant tomatoes, just to be on the safe side.
On the other hand, I plant potatoes by the end of April.
This year it's all topsy-turvy!

I bought the tomato plants a couple of weeks ago, and knew they needed to get in the ground soon to survive. So the very next day, I got some compost tilled in to that spot, and got them in the ground.
 (Yes, I was proud of me too!)

Let's see...that would have been May 14.

I put in 4 'Cougar Reds' + 4 'Sun Sugars.'
That's going to be a whole lot of cherry tomatoes, but maybe I can roast them for sauce, or something...?

I also planted these marigolds ('Inca II Gold' and 'Bolero' mix) at the same time, along with 4 Italian basil plants, and 4 'Profusion Double Deep Salmon' zinnias.

Meanwhile, my potatoes had been sitting on my kitchen windowsill for 3 weeks now.
I just got them in yesterday.
10 hills, up on the very tippy-top terrace, next to the strawberries.

Now all I have left to put in are squash and cucumbers.
Possibly a few more flowers, as well. :)
I bought some morning glory to grow up the bamboo tepee on top.

I do plan to grow beans this year, but I usually wait until one of my spring crops is done, then plant the beans in that space. They grow so fast that you can still get plenty to harvest.

How are things going in your vegetable gardens?

May 25, 2016

Now for Some Adult Books

Just trying to catch up on reviews here!  As usual, my adult books are all over the map as far as subject matter and genre. I like to mix it up--keeps me from getting bored! If I've been reading a lot of juvenile or teen lit, I usually need some nonfiction or something a bit meatier to balance it out.

...Which brings me to the first book:

The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife, and the Missing Corpse: An Extraordinary Edwardian Case of Deception and Intrigue,
by Piu Marie Eatwell

4.5 stars: Proof that truth is stranger than fiction. I couldn't put it down!

Okay, let me try to summarize this. So there was this eccentric guy, who happened to be the 5th Duke of Portland. He dug tons of tunnels under his estate, including an underground ballroom, he was a recluse who communicated with his staff only by letters, and he died in 1879. The last bit is probably the most important.  Oh--perhaps it goes without saying, but he was fabulously wealthy. Since the 5th Duke had no children, upon his death the title, money, estate, etc., went to a cousin. Okay.

Then there was a business man, by the name of T.C. Druce, who ran a well-known and successful Bazaar and had several children--some legitimate, some not. He died--supposedly--in 1864.

In 1898, Druce's daughter-in-law came to court asking for permission to exhume Druce, because--she claimed--Druce was actually an alter-ego of the 5th Duke of Portland, who had gotten tired of living a double life, and faked his (Druce's) death 30 years before.  She insisted that the coffin would be empty, except for lead put in to mimic the weight of a body. Therefore, her son (Druce's oldest legitimate grandchild) would/should actually be the 6th Duke. Are you still with me?

Druce's daughter-in-law received permission for the exhumation, but then was blocked in the courts by a brother-in-law--for reasons of his own. As time went on, she kept trying to get him dug up, stuck to her story, and even began referring to herself as the Dowager Duchess. Things just got more bizarre from there.

This case was in the court system for 10 years! Nobody could figure out if Druce and the 5th Duke were one and the same or not. Meanwhile evidence and counter-evidence kept piling up on both sides, with no-one sure who or what to trust.

By the way, yes, it did eventually get resolved. Craziness.

Make the Bread, Buy the Butter, by Jennifer Reese

3 stars: Some good information, though I don't think I will make most of what she suggests.

Reese lost her job and decided to help economize by making a lot more things from scratch. Then she began to realize that sometimes it's just worth it to buy it. So the journey began that created this book.

With sections on all kinds of things from breakfast to junk food to cured meats, there are quite a few recipes here for the intrepid. Adventure cooking!

* * * * * *
This was a fun read for me, but then--I enjoy reading regular cookbooks (yes I know, I'm weird). This one had segments of stories interspersed with informational bits about the various items. Recipes included, even if she recommends buying it. For each one she also includes hassle, and a cost comparison of purchased vs. homemade.

She comes down pretty heavily on the homemade side. Some things I've already thought about making my own, like bagels, but some that have never occurred to me to even try--i.e., Worcestershire sauce.

Anyway, I found it entertaining, and it gave me some good ideas.

Maisie Dobbs, by Jacqueline Winspear

4 stars: More depth than I expected, with WWI history woven into the narrative.

Maisie is a private investigator, hanging up her own shingle after WWI. She used to be a housemaid, but when her quick intelligence and thirst for learning became readily apparent, her employers paid for her to get an education. Then the War came along and she stopped school to go to the front as a nurse.

One of her first cases is pretty simple--a man suspects his wife of infidelity. Maisie is able to solve the case without too many problems, but in so doing comes across something else that doesn't seem right. There are several veteran's graves in a cemetery marked with a first name only. The deeper she searches into this mystery, the more dark it becomes. When a personal connection comes up, she must act quickly to prevent a tragedy.

* * * * * *

This was different than most mysteries I've read, in that the case Maisie investigates is really almost tangential to the story. The real story is her life and upbringing, with a dash of mystery thrown in. The secondary mystery that became more important as the story went on also drew me in. There was a nice twist relating to her personal life.

I will be interested to see how the later books compare to the first. This one relied quite heavily on flashbacks to tell Maisie's backstory, which presumably wouldn't be needed for the subsequent novels.

* * * * * * *
What have you read lately that you can't stop talking about?

May 24, 2016

Blooming Irises

This one's for you, Mom! :)

Not quite peak bloom with the irises out front, but getting close.

Love the pink peony in the background, too.

This little blue iris on the left-hand side is so beautiful!
There are a few in each section and they're just now starting to bloom.
I may have to do another post once all the blue irises have bloomed!

Closeup on this peony 'Paula Fay.'
She's a beauty, but doesn't smell very good.
Just FYI.

Speaking of scent, right now you can smell the irises as you get out of the car.
Can't get enough!

By the way, this is almost exactly where we were at the very end of May last year, so we're still running a good 2 weeks ahead of last year.

May 23, 2016

A Handful of Middle Grade Books

On my last trip to the library, I picked up several J-level books that caught my eye, and I've been working my way through them. One reason I like them is for their shorter length--I can read them between other things in my day and still finish them in a reasonable amount of time.

The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester, by Barbra O' Connor

3 stars: Just enough within the realm of possibility to catch your imagination!

Owen's family has fallen on hard times. His dad lost his job at the hardware store, and they've had to move in with his grandfather (very sick) and his grandfather's live-in nurse Earlene (very clean and very super extra grumpy.)  He does have a few good things going for him, though. He FINALLY managed to catch the huge bullfrog he has been stalking for weeks--he named him Graham Tooley-- and also, his buddies Travis and Stumpy are almost always up for some mischief fun. If only know-it-all Viola from next door would just leave them alone!

Then one night, Owen hears something unusual as the night train passes by their town. It's a thudding sound, and a tumbling sound. He is dead sure something fell off that train, and he is bound and determined to find it. Never mind that he's been forbidden to go down to the tracks--that's never stopped him before, has it?

* * * * * * * *

This relationships in this one felt so real. Owen is a good kid at heart, but put him in a house with someone like Earlene, and it's almost like he can't stop himself from causing trouble--she's pushing so hard he's just got to push back some.  His friendship with Stumpy and Travis also felt very genuine--they get tired of each other, they get bored, sometimes 2 gang up on the other one and get him to do something he might not have otherwise--but most of the time they work together on projects.

Likewise, their bullying of Viola is all too real. They are so mean to Viola! Usually one saying mean things and the other two laughing and egging on their buddy. It never progresses much beyond that, though they do throw things one time.  She seems to not care and keeps coming around. Owen eventually changes his attitude toward her some but it was a little hard to read. I get it--she's a pest and they're mostly trying to ditch her, but yeah. That wasn't my favorite. Very real, though. I think most kids would relate on some level, to one side or the other.

The fantastic secret itself is very fun. There are some problems associated with using what they have found, and I really liked how they solved those problems. Owen does grow up and mature some through the book, in many ways.

I want to read some others by this author.

The fantastic secret brought to mind Henry Huggins' and his lifetime supply of bubblegum! Didn't that fall off a train as well?

(Finished reading May 19.)

Fridays with the Wizards (Castle Glower #4), by Jessica Day George

3.5 stars: Enjoyable character-building, but left me with more questions than answers.

Celie and gang have their hands full, back at the Castle. There's baby griffins hatching, and an unexpected wedding to plan. Then the evil wizard Arkwright escapes from the makeshift dungeon they were keeping him in!  Before long, they realize that he must be hiding somewhere in the Castle itself, which leads them all on a hunt through secret passageways galore.

* * * * * *
Celie's worries, attitudes, and growth seemed spot-on with this one. I liked how it showed even in close families, there are issues of miscommunication or jealousy or misunderstanding--as well as how they resolve those issues. The griffins added a lot to the story, as well.

The Castle is seeming more and more like a sentient building--I'm ready for some answers on that score! (Though, perhaps with the visiting wizards doing their thing that will happen in the next book...?)

Glad I found this one!

(Finished reading May 18.)

The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing (Tupelo Landing #2), by Sheila Turnage

4 stars: Thoroughly enjoyed spending more time with Mo, Dale, and the gang in Tupelo Landing.

The incomparable Mo Lebeau is back, ready to solve some more mysteries, along with her reluctant partner Dale. Also, they have to figure a way out of some trouble, which came by way Miss Lana accidentally buying a haunted inn at an auction. Also, more trouble, by way of signing up to interview the ghost for their 6th grade class report. It should be noted that Dale is deathly afraid of ghosts.

Mo's determined to get to the bottom of all this, even if it takes digging into the past that some people don't want dug into. Who is this ghost and why has she been hanging around all these years? More importantly, what can they do to help her move along?

* *  * * *
I don't generally go for ghost stories much. I am a total ghost-story wimp. I do not like them one bit.
This one, however, was okay. One of those with a few sorta-scary moments in the beginning, that turns bittersweet as they figure out who it is and what happened to her.

It's not just a ghost story, though. This is the continuing story of spunky, determined, hilarious, Mo Lebeau! She's in love with Lavender, Dale's older brother, and she pretty much asks him out every chance she gets. (He just laughs at her.)  Dale is her perfect foil. The other characters in town are just that--characters. They each have their quirks, that everyone knows about and kind of just lives with. Miss Lana and the Colonel are awesome.

This book was just funny! There was one part in particular where I laughed out loud, drawing curious looks from my husband across the room. Especially when I kept laughing for awhile every time I thought of it.

I would say read Three Times Lucky first, if you haven't. It will give you a much better background for appreciating all the goodness going on in this one. I just found out on Goodreads that there's a third. Sign me up! I'm with Mo!

(Finished reading May 19.)

How to Catch a Bogle (City of Orphans, #1), by Catherine Jinks

3.5 stars: Well-written; a bit darker than I'm used to for middle-grade books.

Birdie is an orphan who assists Alfred the Bogler in killing the various creatures that live in dark places and eat children. You see, she has the voice of a angel, and she also happens to be very light on her feet, in order to jump out of the circle of salt just as the beast steps into it. Getting to the bottom of it, Birdie is bait. For the bogles.

Though often morose, Alfred is kind to her in his own way, and Birdie is quite content with her lot in life--even proud of the work she does. Then a rich lady--a Miss Eames--takes an interest in them, Birdie in particular, and their work also. She studies the creatures of myth and folklore--and is quite taken aback to find that they are not as mythical as she had supposed.

Unfortunately, there are other sinister plans afoot that Birdie knows nothing about, but happen to feature her and Alfred quite prominently. Birdie's determined not to let her courage falter, no matter what happens. After all, if she can sing to a bogle, she can handle the worst of what mere humans may have to dish out.

* *  * * * * *

A grittier side of London than I usually see in children's books, with scarier monsters, to boot. The bogles are all different, but all terrifying, even to our brave Birdie. She has several close calls, and there's talk of those who did get eaten at various points in the story.  I enjoyed the interplay of the various characters from the underbelly, along with Miss Eames, and those between the two in station. It reminded me in some ways of Oliver Twist, with its cast of characters and setting, except Birdie was in a much better situation with Alfred as her protector than poor old Oliver ever was during his sojourn on the streets.

I don't plan to give it to my oldest. I am pretty certain it would be too dark and intense for him (he's 8.) By the time it probably wouldn't bother him (10? 12?) I don't know if he would be interested anymore. So there is that--I'm not sure who the audience would be for this one. Middle-aged moms, perhaps? :) Well-written. I will probably read the sequels if I happen upon them, but don't plan to seek them out.

(Finished reading May 17.)

Have you come across any good J fiction lately?

May 20, 2016

Featured Authors: Steve Jenkins & Robin Page

I was first introduced to the work of Steve Jenkins through his book Actual Size, while I was working as a librarian. It was tucked away in the nonfiction section and as such, didn't see nearly as much use as such an engaging book deserved. I talked it up and put it into parent's hands every chance I got.

He has written many more since those days, each with his very distinctive cut paper illustrations that are layered and super realistic-looking. It wasn't until I was looking up some more titles, in order to choose some to highlight here, that I realized that he and Robin Page (his wife) have collaborated on a whole slew of them. He does the illustrations, and they both author it.

Reading levels vary. Some are great for even preschoolers, while others are more geared for elementary school-aged kids. Even the ones with longer text, though, have headings plus those fantastic pictures to read and look at on each page. Also, at the end of nearly every book, he has a short section for each animal mentioned with further details.

Nearly all of their work is remains in the nonfiction section, so again, it probably doesn't see the light of day as much as it really ought to. They have a gift for asking a question, or looking at some aspect of animal life with enough of a twist to make it really fun to learn about.

I have to admit--one of the reasons I chose to highlight them was to figure out which books I want to purchase!

His website is:  Among other things, he has a link to how he makes the books, including a short video. I get the feeling that his wife wants to stay out of the spotlight--there's not much about her on there!

The following are just a sampling of their books. Books written with Robin Page are marked. I have also included a Dewey Decimal number for the books, just to give you an idea where to look in your own library. (If you look in the 591's you'll be off to a really good start!)

Actual Size
J 591.4

I have yet to find a kid (or adult, for that matter) who can resist putting their hand on that big gorilla's hand to see how they compare! As the title suggests, the illustrations in the book are the actual size of that animal (or animal part) in real life. So cool! This one has full size fold-out pages in the middle, which are a little worse for the wear in our home copy. Doesn't stop us from reading it though!

Bones: Skeletons and How They Work
J 573.7

Compares bones from people to various animals. For instance he shows how almost all human and animal arm/hand bones are made up of the same basic pieces: 1 long for the upper, 2 smaller for the lower arm, lots of little wrist bones, plus the finger/paw bones. A note at the bottom of each page lets you know the scale he used to create the bones. One set of foldout pages in the middle shows the skeleton with the highest number of rib-bones--a snake! Another set shows skulls in comparison with a human skull--actual sizes, while a third set of foldouts shows all the bones of a human body separated, then put together.

Down, Down, Down: A Journey to the Bottom of the Sea
J 591.77

In this book, Jenkins starts at the surface of the ocean, listing what lives here, including animals or fish that frequently jump out of the water. The measuring stick on the side of every right-hand page lets you know where you're currently at, and how far down there still is to go.

The narrative continues on down through the Sunlit Zone, the Twilight Zone, The Dark Zone, The Abyssal Plain, Hydrothermal Vents, and finally the Marians Trench. Each zone gets at least a 2-page spread, most get 3 or 4 sets of pages. Each page has1-2 paragraphs of text on it, written in a conversational style as though you were on the expedition.


Eye to Eye: How Animals See the World
J 573.8

This one starts off by talking about 4 different kinds of eyes, then it starts into several different animals and how they use they their eyes. A bit more text in this one than some--a paragraph per page. I read it to my 4 year old recently and gave a short summary while we stared at the pictures. One thing we both liked about the illustrations in this one was that each animal has a close-up of their head, then a smaller, complete version somewhere on the page.

Hottest, Coldest, Highest, Deepest
J 910

Just what it sounds like: extremes. In addition to places referred to in the title, there's everything from windiest to most extreme tides. Each 2-page spread includes a map, and an inset comparison chart. The cut-paper collages are quite beautiful, too. Lower reading level for this one, with 1-2 sentences per page (though there are quite a few names that would make it harder.) Smaller-font paragraphs on each page give a little more info.

My kids can't get enough of this stuff!

How Many Ways Can You Catch a Fly?
by Steve Jenkins & Robin Page
J 591.5

This book is in question/answer format. So you start off with a question: "How many ways can you snare a fish?" Underneath the question are pictures of several predators that eat them. Turn the page, and dynamic illustrations show each of the predators in the act of catching the fish, with short explanations next to each. Everything from hatching an egg to eating a clam. More detailed information on each animal included at the back of the book.

How to Clean a Hippopotamus: A Look at Unusual Animal Partnerships,
by Steve Jenkins & Robin Page
J 591.7

So much to learn here! Symbiotic relationships have always fascinated me, and this explores several that I didn't know about. The illustrations are different than in most of their books. They're still the cut-paper realistic-looking animals, but these pages are laid out in panels, rather than blank space with the animals overlaid on top. Many of the panels are full-scene collages. some done in silhouette. Each panel has text on it as well. It's a little bit harder to follow, so this one would probably be best for older readers, or to read out loud so you can point your kiddos to the next one in the sequence.

The info in the back lists only size, habitat, and diet of the animals discussed in the book.

How to Swallow a Pig, by Steve Jenkins & Robin Page
J 591.5

Step-by-step instructions for all kinds of practical survival techniques, from building a web to disguising yourself like an octopus. Each step is illustrated with humorous encouragement. "If you want to make a paper wasp nest, get ready to do a lot of chewing." As usual, additional information on each animal can be found at the back.

This one is a lot of fun!

Just a Second: A Different Way to Look at Time
J 529

Time is something made up by humans. Jenkins illustrates several things that can happen in one second, then one minute, one hour, one day, one week, one month, and one year. Then a few pages show things either very quick or very long. It ends with a timeline chart showing average life spans of several plants and animals (illustrated). 

My First Day: What Animals Do on Day One, by Steve Jenkins & Robin Page
J 591.3

Perfect for preschoolers, this one is written in 1st person, as many different baby animals share what they did on the day they were born. More information on each one at the back. There's a sweetness to this one that I really love. Also, more of a narrative than most of the others, which tend to be more collections of facts.

Sisters & Brothers: Sibling Relationships in the Animal World, by Steve Jenkins & Robin Page
J 591.56

See what I mean about making animal topics interesting to kids? This book has all kinds of tidbits you probably didn't know. For instance, did you know that nine-banded armadillos are always born as identical quadruplets? Yep. Or that there is no such thing as male New Mexico whiptail lizards? Weird, right? Only sisters! Somehow they have babies without males, though it doesn't go into any detail on how that works out. (Even in the back. I checked!)

After a few pages about different numbers of siblings, it shows examples of animal siblings fighting, playing, learning together, working, and so on.

Each page has about 2-3 paragraphs of information to read; as usual, there's further details on the animals in the back.

Time for a Bath, by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page
J 591.5

Another one geared for younger readers, this one shows how several different kinds of animals bathe. Simple text and those awesome illustrations.  I wish this one was around back when I was doing storytime! It would have been perfect for the bathtime theme!

This is part of a series--some of the others are Time to Sleep and Time to Eat.

What Do You Do With A Tail Like This?
by Steve Jenkins & Robin Page
J 573.8

This one won a Caldecott Honor in 2015.

Written as a guessing game, each set of 4 pages start off with a 2-page spread featuring just one animal body part: so tails, ears, noses, etc, and the question: What do you do with a _____ like this?"
The following set of pages shows the whole animal and gives a brief description of how they use that particular body part.

This book is a guessing game that never gets old for my 4-year-old! Even though he knows what they all are, he finds great satisfaction in pointing to each body part in question and naming the animal it belongs to, then proving that he was right as we turn the page. Good thing this is the other one we own. For the win!

* * * * * * * * * *
Can I just buy all of these? I kind of want them all....

Are you familiar with these authors? Do you have a favorite?  If you're not, please do yourself a favor and check them out! You won't be disappointed.

May 19, 2016

4-Plant Wonders

With the help of my mom who was visiting, and my 2 younger children, I was able to get my pots filled up this past week.

This year I'm going totally boring: each one has just 4 plants.
The same 4 plants, actually.

So I've read that when designing containers, you should have a "thriller," a "filler," and a "spiller."
That's basically what I did, but I left a little bare space that I'm hoping will be filled in by my fillers and spillers.

These 3 pots are out front, each on their own little platform.

For some reason I feel compelled to show all 3, even though they are all the same.
Feel free to skim.

Here are the four plants:
1. My thriller: Dahlinova, 'Lisa Dark Pink.'
2 & 3. My fillers: dark pink petunia and blue lobelia
4. The spiller: creeping Jenny, otherwise known as Lysimachia nummularia 'Goldi' (but creeping Jenny is way more fun to say, so I'm sticking with that!)

I'm really hoping I can manage to keep these watered this year, so that they'll bloom happily for me all summer long. I'm adding it to the kids' chore list, so that should help somewhat! 

The kiddos were a bit more creative in their efforts:

My daughter's, in the blue boat:
She's got another Dahlinova, the bright orange there.
Then she's filled in around it with bright pink asters 'Pot 'n Patio Mix', bright yellow Bidens, orange Diascia 'Juliet,' and trailing orange calibrochoa 'Noa Orange Eye'.

She loves it bright, can you tell? :)

Finally, my youngest would not be denied a pot of his own.

He has more of the yellow bidens, the orange calibrachoa, and some deep pink petunias.

Oh, I guess I do have a 6th pot over by the shed door (very small in the background of the above photo.)
It's got the asparagus fern in it that I [barely] kept alive through the winter, from last year's containers. It's actually doing quite well outdoors again. So hooray for cheap!

I feel like my containers are very hit-or-miss.
Here's hoping this year is a hit!