Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Larry and the Gnomes

Despite last Sunday night's loss to the New York Giants, Larry is unwavering in his support of the Packers and dressed to let the whole world know what team he supports.  Let's hope they take inspiration from Larry and beat the Vikings this week.

Yet another gnome has found his way to Dove Manor and this cute little guy is really little, standing about 2.5" tall.  I think I may find him a home in a fairy garden this Spring, or maybe put him in the hen and chick garden.  Hopefully a few of his brothers will join him at Christmas.

The gang was sighted playing in the fallen nectarine tree leaves this afternoon, frolicking in the knee deep leaf litter without a care in the world.  Maybe the sign is the reason they're so care free, but with all those leaves to play in, how could you possibly anger them?

Lastly, Mr. B's Garden has hit a couple of milestones recently, going over 4700 page views, with visitors from 64 countries.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

November Update

It's been a while since I posted any happenings in the garden, so here's a November update.  I picked my first home-grown salad of greens and radishes and have continued to pick habaneros and Takanotsumes 2-3 times a week, using some to make homemade hot sauce.  I put about a pound of the peppers, minus the caps, in the mini chopper with 2 tablespoons of kosher salt, then placed the mixture in a glass jar to ferment for 12+ hours with the jar lid placed loosely on top.  I then added 1 1/2 cups of white vinegar to the mixture and shook it up daily, then loosened the lid; I let this mixture ferment for almost 2 weeks.  Finally, I poured the mixture into the mini chopper to blend it, then strained it and put in into jars and refrigerated them. The hot sauce has a pretty good bite to it and I'll definitely be making more.  
Home grown salad with olive oil and balsamic vinegarette.
Habaneros and Takanotsumes
The Eureka lemon has grown to over 7' tall and still has a few lemons ripening on it; they should be ready to pick in January.  I found this interesting caterpillar on one of the branches and identified it as a Giant Swallowtail, Papilio cresphontes; it looks a lot like a lizard until you touch it, then it rears up and tries to look menacing.
A lemon is visible next to the trunk.  When ripe, they can weigh over 1/2 lb!
Caterpillar of Papilio cresphontes, The Giant Swallowtail

Display meant to scare of potential predators.
The cannas I started from seed are spreading and flowering, I've already saved 5 seeds to share with friends.  The salvias that share the bed with the cannas are still blooming and will continue to do so year-round in my zone.

Lastly, I recently received confirmation from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology that I have had a 5th species of dove at my feeders, an African-collared Dove, Streptopelia roseogrisea.  I joined Project FeederWatch, run jointly by Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Bird Studies Canada and for a modest $15 fee, they provide the materials needed for the project, as well as newsletters and some basic bird identification charts.  I'll be doing my observations of Mondays and Tuesdays and then reporting my sightings on-line; this week I had 10 species during the 2 day observation period.  I strongly encourage my readers in the U.S. and Canada to join Project FeederWatch and become citizen scientists.
Africa-collared dove on the left, Eurasian-collared
dove on the right.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

In Memoriam

We lost a dear friend, Frank Tamburro, on the 6th of this month and prior to his passing we spent as much time with him as we could, then spent the rest of the week helping his family with the estate. Frank was one of my wife's co-workers who became like family to us.  We went to plays together, had dinner parties and even went on an Alaskan cruise together. Frank will be greatly missed, but his family was kind enough to gift me some of Frank's plants and garden decor to remind me of him daily.  One of the items was a seated lion statue and a pedestal to place it on; it had been been out in the Arizona sun for many years and the paint was faded and peeling, plus it has been knocked down during a few of our summer monsoons, so it was in need of repair.  I was able to fix several of the cracks using cloth strap clamps and then used a wire brush to remove the loose paint and gave him two coats of fresh paint.  I named the lion Fred and he now looks appropriately regal and I like to think Frank is smiling approvingly as he watches over us.
Fred before restoration
A strap clamp being used to mend one of Fred's cracks
Fred restored to his former glory, waiting to have his name stenciled on the pedestal
Knowing of my love of gnomes, Frank and his sister Nancy insisted that I take this little guy home to live with the rest of the gnomes in my garden; they also gave me this wonderful elf, who has been accepted into the community by the gnomes, since they're cousins after all.

I also received numerous potted plants and I'll hi-lite a few of them here, including a large elephant food plant, Portulacaria afra, and two bonsais.

Portulacaria afra

Rest In Peace

Frank Angelo Tamburro


Son, Brother and Friend

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween at Mr. B's

Halloween is one of the favorite holidays here at Mr. B's and each year the decorations get a little bigger and more fun, if not more gruesome, and this year as no exception.  We had over 400 visitors in a 3 hour span, despite it being a school night, but it was about 20%  fewer than last year.  Those who did come by got plenty of thrills and chills, with a few refusing to enter even though candy awaited them at the end on the line. I got a lot of compliments on the decor and my costume, which made the work put into setting everything up worth the effort.

Don't answer the phone!

Our greeter.

Sisterly love

The grand kids, Kathryn
(pirate), Morgan (dead bride), Logan (Transformer) and Kaleb (The Hulk)

The local "watering hole".

Time to call the exterminator

Hoisting the colors

The graveyard
Here's a short video of the yard after dark.