Gardening 2006-Recognizing a Weed; Guest Writer-Recognizing a Spider

Gardens: Telling a Weed from a Plant; Guest Writer-All About Spiders.
Pic of the Day
Cats Everywhere

Quote of the Day

"early Thursday morning, Rep. Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island was stopped by Capitol Hill police after he crashed into a security barrier. He was released and driven home after supervisors prevented the officers at the scene from giving him a sobriety test. Mr. Kennedy waited 19 hours to issue a statement saying that while he had been under the influence of anti-nausea medicine, he had not consumed alcohol. It was his second car accident in three weeks. The incident is significant because it feeds into a general public perception that members of Congress are treated differently."
- John Fund, Political Diary, 5/5/06

State Names
-Alabama, Means "tribal town" in the Creek Indian language.
-Alaska, after the Aleut word "alaxsxaq" meaning "the mainland."
-Arizona, based on Pima Indian word "arizonac" for "little spring place."
-Arkansas, a French interpretation of the word "acansa," in Sioux meaning
downstream place."
-California, comes from "Califia" a mythical paradise in old Spanish romance
-Colorado, means "Reddish" or "Color Red."
-Connecticut, based on Mohican and Algonquin Indian words for a "place
beside a long river."
-Delaware, for the early Virginia governor, Lord De La Warr.
-Florida was a Spanish territory, and the name is in Spanish too. Florida
means "Flowered."
-Georgia, Named for King George II of England
-Hawaii, which of course is in native Hawaian could be based on their word
for homeland, "Owhyhee."
-Idaho, is just an invented word.
-Illinois, word in Algonquin Indian for "warriors."
-Indiana, from "Land of the Indians."
-Iowa, Indian word for "a beautiful land."
-Kansas, From the Sioux Indian for "south wind people."
-Kentucky, Based on the Iroquois Indian word "Ken-tah-ten," meaning "land of
-Louisiana, Named in honor of France's King Louis XIV, this territory had
French influence.
-Maine, Assumed to be a reference to the state region being a mainland,
different from its many surrounding islands
-Maryland, named to honor Henrietta Maria, wife of England's King Charles I.
-Massachusetts, named after local Indian tribe whose name means "a large
hill place."
-Michigan, for the Chippewa Indian word "meicigama" meaning "great water"
(for the big lakes).
-Minnesota, based on the Dakota Sioux Indian word for "sky-tinted water,"
referring to the Minnesota River or the state's many lakes.
-Mississippi, probably based on the Indian "mici zibi," loosely meaning
great river.
-Missouri, named after the Missouri Indian tribe.
-Montana, based on the Spanish word "MontaƱa" that means Mountain.
-Nebraska, Name based on an Oto Indian word that means "flat water,"
referring to the Platte River.
-Nevada, comes from a Spanish word that means "snowy" or "snow-clad."
-New Hampshire, named after the area of Hampshire in England.
-New Jersey, named after the area of Jersey in England.
-New Mexico, from the country of Mexico.
-New York, named after the city of York in England.
-North Carolina, named in honor of England's King Charles I.
-North Dakota, for the Sioux or Dacotah Indians.
-Ohio, comes from the Iroquois Indian word for "good river."
-Oklahoma, a Choctaw Indian word for "red man."
-Oregon, may have been derived from that of the Wisconsin River shown on a
1715 French map as "Ouaricon-sint."
-Pennsylvania, for the Admiral William Penn, father of the state's founder,
William Penn.
-Rhode Island, after "Roode Eylandt" by Adriaen Block, Dutch explorer,
because of its red clay.
-South Carolina (see North Carolina).
-South Dakota (see North Dakota).
-Tennessee, Named after Cherokee Indian villages called "Tanasi"
-Texas, comes from the Spanish "Tejas" when it belonged top Mexico (they
exchanged the J for X as an English contribution).
-Utah, from the Ute Indians (people of the mountains).
-Vermont, from the French "verts monts," meaning green mountains.
-Virginia, named for England's "Virgin Queen," Elizabeth I.
-West Virginia (see Virginia).
-Washington, after the first President of the US.
-Wisconsin, from the word "Ouisconsin" believed to mean "grassy place" in
the Cheppewa tongue.
-Wyoming, Indian word meaning "large prairie place."

Web Site Worth the Visit
Medicines...what not to mix, everything you might need to know.

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What's a Weed; a New Garden

Every year a new garden is added to this rather simple lot I like to call Serendipity Shore.

All year I consider where, how, when and what plantings will fill the new garden. Keeps me on my toes and helps me through the grey winter months.

This year we have a "container garden". Right now, while it is installed, it's still a work in process. Soon I shall post a picture of this new garden but for now know that I am NOT growing containers, heh, but plants INSIDE of containers.

I will however, include a picture of the beautiful blooming azaleas just because they are, well, blooming.

azaleas in bloom

In fact, this early spring there are quite a few new plantings all abloom and this pleases me. A new Wigelia in the center lawn garden blooms beautifully to my complete surprise. I had a Wigelia bush in my former eco-system, one I called "Critter Cove". Critter Cove was in Merryland, a pie-shaped lot that abutted a small cove of water off of the Chesapeake Bay. This lot, while beautiful and filled with the shore birds who stopped by during migration, was very shady and difficult to garden.

The Wigelia in Critter Cove was variegated and it too bloomed. But it never bloomed anything like this new little bush I planted here in Serendipity Shore just last year. This could be, and I'm guessing here, that the gardens in Serendipity Shore get waaaaaay more sunlight than any single garden in Critter Cove ever got for the endless shade of fifteen oak trees that studded the lot. Way I figure, if this Wigelia blooms like this in only its second year of
growth, this will be quite a handsome bush in its maturity.

For now I am wrestling with the age old problem of what exactly is a weed and what is actually one of the many new perennials that I planted last fall.

I do have the catalogue pics of those items I ordered but go with me here, those handsome plants in the rotogravure look a whole lot different than the tiny green thing poking a leafy arm into the air. Now I can identify a lot of weeds but some, well I'm not sure.

So I wait until that leafy arm becomes a bit more recognizable and even then, heh, I am still not sure. Fortunately, at least in terms of weed growth, spring here in the wilds of Delaware has been very cool in this year of our Lord 2006. The weeds thrive in hot, dry weather when they can rob proper plantings of moisture and nutrients in the soil.

So far we have two new coreopsis growing happily, new iris, a lambs' ear, a couple of purple sage plants and several native plants I purchased at a native plant sale last year. The peonies are threatening serious bloom, this after I hauled them in to sensibility by the artful purchase of a peony ring, designed for just such a purpose.

A rosebush I discovered struggling in a far corner of the eco-system struggling to survive under the heavy shade of a tree was transplanted last year into a sunnier spot. I only see two rosebuds now trying to bloom but as the rose's protective petals unfold, I marvel at what looks like a yellow rose with beautiful red edges.

I've moved plantings hither and yon around this eco-system to better please me than the landscapers who originally designed it all. Stubborn creeping juniper was ripped out to its roots in front of the porch to allow for a garden that I can gaze upon from my porch perch. Huge bushes that were leaning out clear across the sidewalk for want of more sun have been uprooted and re-planted.

The landscapers installed two beautiful Scotch broom bushes and they were absolutely breathtaking with their gorgeous bloom. Alas, scotch broom is not perennial to Delaware's weather and boom, one died. In desperation I actually bungee-corded the other to the house for winter warmth. It lived one more year then it too died.

Plants, ladies and gems, not to state the obvious, should be happy where they sit happily in the soil. The landscapers were aiming for a short-term beauty that would not last over the long haul.

There had to be a thousand hostas studding Serendipity Shore and hey, I don't much like hostas. There were also about six "burning bushes" fronting the house front. I don't much like these either.

But I never kill a plant intentionally, so I ripped them all out and placed them in spots more pleasing to my garden aesthetics. A fine line of happy hostas now lines the front of the porch and the burning bushes? I just moved them the hell out of the way but they now sprout bright green leaves that will turn bright red in the fall and remain so throughout the winter.

It's a fulfilling experience to carve a garden setting completely anew. I've enjoyed the experience and have many plans for the years to come.

After all, somebody else is already enjoying my 15 years of gardening design in Critter Cove. Now I must begin again.

More Gardens and Bird posts HERE
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Spider Fighter

I am reminded of my own experience with a spider, HERE. It was NOT a black widow but it sure scared me.

Below, Michelle's spider experience.
So I find this spider one morning at work.

It's big, and dark brown... the legs, the look, scream "black widow," but the body mass is pitiful. My guess? A very underfed, extremely emaciated black widow who hasn't had the nutrients to build the glossy black abdomen.

No web where I found her.

I inform the Powers That Be, and when they call in for exterminators, who say that it's ridiculous to think that widows would be in our building. But they'll send someone out. We have the hapless (dead) spider in a small plastic bag, and a day's time has gone by before the guy comes out.

He's full of himself. "No way that's a widow."

I stand firm."It *is* a widow," I state, "just a very poor specimen."

He tells me there's never been a widow in our building.

I know better; I've seen several. And *those* were big and black. (Briefly I considered a nighttime flashlight hunt.)

He tells me widows are never brown. For proof, he brandishes the now falling apart dead spider encased in its plastic tomb.

I counter with the life-cycle colors -- how they start white and darken, and how half-grown ones have the most exquisite patterns. And how the trademark hourglass is only orange on a brown half-grown widow and yes you can see it on this one, except that one leg has broken off and is now resting directly over where the hourglass should be.

Black Widow SpiderThe adult female black widow spider has a shiny, jet black, spherical abdomen with two connected red triangles on the underside that form a characteristic hourglass marking. Note, however, that the hourglass color may range from yellowish to various shades of orange or red. Adult females are about 1/2-inch long, not including the legs (about 1-1/2 inches when legs are spread). Adult males are harmless, about half the female's size, with smaller bodies and longer legs. The male's abdomen usually has red spots along the upper midline and white lines or bars radiating out to the sides. Newly hatched spiderlings are predominately white or yellowish-white, gradually acquiring more black and varying amounts of red and white with each molt. Juveniles of both sexes resemble the male and are harmless.

Adult female northern black widow spiders are shiny black or brown-black with a row of red spots on the top of the abdomen along the midline. Two reddish triangles resembling a split hourglass are present on the underside of the abdomen.

He shakes the bag, but the leg doesn't move.

I said, "I used to raise them, I should know about the colors."

He didn't even bat an eye at that one, but tried, "You see those things that look like eyes?" while holding our dead specimen upsidedown. (You can't see the eyes from the bottom!)

I said, "You mean the palps?" (I didn't know til I looked up the spelling that I'm using old terminology. One old reference says "palp", one newer one says "pedipalp".)

His eyes crossed briefly, not expecting somewhat proper terminology from one who should, to his mind, run screaming for cover or a desk at the first sight of anything with eight legs.

"Yes..." he pauses, then adds,"Well, those make it look like a male." (The first indication I might have the right species?)

"But a male," I say, "is *much* smaller. We'll make Guiness' Book, if that's a male."

He grows thoughtful... and says, "You know, the leg configuration *does* look like a widow. We'll let the ag department tell us."

I should have bet lunch on the ag department's findings.... but my co-worker says he'll probably switch spiders, anyway.

Likely I'll never know for sure.

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