Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Garden Progresses...

Things have really moved along on the American Gothic front since my last garden post. I have had to make adjustments in response to too much shade, not enough water, and most of all time. But, where there is a will there is a way... and I have discovered I have a lot of will. As usual, click each photo for a better view.

After my sprouts began rising I realized that my old friend the big oak tree was providing a little too much shade and preventing a full range of sunlight to get my crops going. So, I had to dig more ground further out from the tree and transfer several sprouts. But, the corn seems no worse for the move and is progressing nicely.

Next I learned that the soil for the garden is rich but also very sandy and required almost a daily watering to make certain there was enough moisture for the plants. This required a lot of time standing around holding a garden hose.
And then I remembered that awhile back Alex had constructed me a little irrigation tool for some flowers. A quick trip to the garden store with the sprinkler contraption in hand and considerable dollars lighter (this garden thing was beginning to cost) below you see the new irrigation system. It took a little effort to put the sprinklers together but I regarded it as a puzzle which sped up the process.

I now have six sprinklers attached to a hose and the hose is attached to a timer. It comes on at programed intervals, covers the entire garden and then shuts off. The sprouts have begun to thrive.

The addition of regular watering has generated all kinds of growth and greenery. So much growth that Daddy and I are now in a contest to see who has the biggest harvest. He has warned me that he is a fierce competitor with a long outdoor history so I am in the fight of my life!

But, so far I can project that I will have a bumper crop of cucumbers, corn, squash and tomatoes.

I just wonder if it will be enough to beat Daddy? He has been known to cheat...!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Fly Florida One

Some of you know about my love affair with Southwest Airlines from the mishap that occurred during my last trip back to Denver. When I saw this video about the creation of Florida One, a South West Airline plane painted in bold colors with the Florida Flag, I could not resist showing you. Yes, there is a little Boeing propaganda in it but I will forgive them that because it is interesting to watch the plane being assembled and then painted.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Butterfly Festival

I had almost talked myself out of going this weekend... But, after visiting the Butterfly Museum in Gainesville a year ago, when I heard there was a Butterfly Festival right here in Jacksonville I pushed myself to go!

There was plenty to see and experience, and I am certain some of the children who attended will never forget the experience. As usual click each photo for a better view.

First, there were the bubbles which were a big hit!

Followed by the Jacksonville Herpetology Society. The snakes were fun to watch and I am announcing that I actually touched one!

JLBO, whatever you do... do not watch this video! And YES, the snake is under his shirt.

There was even music from a harp player who was just setting up as I arrived.

But the undisputed hit of the festival was the Butterfly Encounter.

A trainer showed everyone how it was done and then the race was on...

There were those who were very direct,

those who used the gentle approach,

and those who were just happy to get a nibble from the first butterfly that came along. But pretty much if you were patient everyone got a chance to feed a butterfly.

It was a wonderful experience to watch and I felt pretty good as the Butterfly Lady waved goodbye.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

April Flowers

I love this time of the year in Florida because everyone is gearing up to work in their yards , there are all kinds of gardening events, the sun is not yet oppressive, and the weather is perfect.

As some of you know, I love visiting St Augustine and the Annual St Augustine Flower and Garden Expo provided the perfect excuse to wander around. As usual, click each photo for a better view.

I took a wide angle shot to give an idea of the size of the area that is the St. Johns County Agricultural Center. The Center surrounds this little lake and is a great place to just walk around and enjoy all the foliage they cultivate.

I was not alone in my desire to enjoy the sun and the view. Many people arrived with little wagons to buy plants and some just wanted to get ideas for the growing season.

While there were a number of vendors, two in particular caught my eye:

First, there was the Aroma Affair soap lady (, which had a number of decorative and heavenly smelling glycerin soaps.

and Garden Strokes, with painted windows that had the look of Italy right here in Florida!

I particularly liked this one, and thought of using this approach for French doors I want to lead out to the pergola.

And now on to the flowers... I came looking for good subjects to photograph and was rewarded with a flower design competition. There were numerous categories, but I decided to focus on the most exciting areas: multi-media (flowers and objects) and pure flower design (the entire design made out of plants).

Multi-media: Best in Show

the design on the left took first place, the one on the right second place...

and center piece here had a bit of whimsy with an Asian theme, which took third. All three look more like sculptures don't you think? I'll leave it to someone like Chrissy to come up with the names of the flowers. If you know be sure to let me know!

Plant Designs:
Best in Show

These I found really magnificent. Again, you have the concept of living sculptures in that every part of the piece is made out of some form of greenery.

the design on the lower left took first place and I can understand why. It is a testament to creative design and construction. Enlarge each photo so you can see the flowers or plants that were used. I was really amazed at the creative use of both.

And there you have it... I got some wonderful pictures, bought some plants for my yard, and had a wonderful time in St Augustine... What more could anyone ask?

Monday, April 5, 2010

A Glorious Day and Wondrous Art

Last weekend it felt great to be alive because I had really been working a lot and needed a break. It was Easter weekend, the sun was shining and I was off to the 42nd annual Mandarin Arts Festival.

Sometimes you go to these events and come away disappointed. This group did not disappoint! The sun was shining, the weather was nice and I had a chance to meet some wonderfully talented artists. As usual, click each photo for a better view.

As soon as you entered the festival you immediately encountered the very soothing sound of a cross between smooth jazz and classical guitar. have a listen below:

I found myself instantly relaxed as I listened to the sounds of people walking by and the lilt of the guitar. The musician is Russell Donnellon, and after visiting his website I can wholeheartedly say I am a fan. So take a moment and go by and I think you will be too!

After a very long moment, duty called and I was on my way. My first encounter was with a very talented glass blower by the name of Nick Beaman, and fancy that... he is from Jacksonville!

His work has a sense of beauty and whimsy that almost takes your breath away. His website is one of those wonderful adventures you encounter by accident but find you are glad you made the detour and want to own a piece of it. I learned later that the piece he is holding is titled "Pollock" and I understand now why I was drawn to it.

These pieces also caught my eye and set my mind racing as to how he was able to create these shapes and colors.

Wandering further, still listening to the lilt of the guitar my eyes fell upon a flash of color that was almost magic. I did a close-up so you could see the very beautiful ordered chaos.

The talented acrylic artist is Kevin W. Hendersen, of Fruits of the Spirit Fine Art.

I learned that he was designated Artist of The Year 2006 in Baltimore, Maryland in addition to several other awards for his work.

In the middle of the grounds... do I have some bronzes for you! The artist was shy but his works are not. They are bold imaginative pieces from Bob and Jo Wilfong.

They did not have a website but can be contacted at if you see something you like or want more information.

And finally one of my favorite pieces in name and by design: STEEL ALIVE. I love puns so of course this artist got my attention. But, Rommel and Courtney's work displays that same sense of play that the name works off.

This flower was about 4 ft x 4 ft and in two different versions. It was really a show stopper! You decide which one you like best...

But, this frog set the tone for the day! It is about 3 ft x 3 ft and has a surreal quality I just love.

I took tons of pictures and had a chance to talk with a number of friendly and talented artists. My only regret is that I did not have the space to include everyone I met. A wonderful day indeed!