Articles (Blog)
Posted on February 8, 2019 8:00 AM by Gerry Trout
Yoohoo!!!!   Daffodils getting ready to bloom in my garden!!!!  
The bright yellow trumpets make me happy, but so do these buds.  I know they will bloom soon, well, March.  Whenever they bloom, I'm happy to see them!!!
Did you know that daffodils are in the same family as onions and garlic and Easter lilies?  It's true!  Liliaceae is the family name, and the family contains onions, garlic, lilies, and trillium.  Or is the plural Trillia?  Whatever.  Daffodils are also in the Lily family.  What great relatives.  I love them all.
If you turn left when you leave the neighborhood, on your way to Blairsville, then right onto Moccasin Church Road, you'll see Daffodil Hill on the left.  I love that there are so many of them all on that little hill.
I hope you have daffodils in your garden, or at least in your travels.  
Posted on January 20, 2019 8:00 AM by Gerry Trout
This is Camellia japonica.  I was surprised to see it blooming in January. But I just read that it's sometimes called Rose of Winter, since it blooms between January and March.  OK.  Normal.
My sister, Julie has these huge bushes (15 feet tall) growing in the middle of her circular driveway. They are beautiful right now.  The blossoms are about 5 inches across, and each branch is loaded.  Kinda messy on the driveway, but beautiful when you look up.
Camellias will grow in our area too.  They like bright light, but will do well with a little shade.  Roxanne and Jim have some in their yard, and they seem to do fine with a lot of shade.  The leaves are thick and leathery, making me think the deer probably don't eat them.  I'll get back to you on that assumption.  
Maybe I'll write a blog all about deer and their food preferences.  For Karen.  ;)
There are several species of Camellia.  They are all evergreen shrubs or trees. Camellia japonica has large leaves and big, showy flowers and the plant can grow to 36 feet!  Camellia sasanqua has smaller leaves and flowers and the plants grow 5-6 feet tall.  These two species are common garden plants, available in local garden centers.
Another species grown mainly in Asia is Camellia sinensis. It has small white flowers and is sometimes called tea plant or tea shrub. Because the leaves and leaf buds are used to make tea.  Leaves are collected at different stages of development producing different tea qualities.  Too much science for this blog entry;  I just like knowing that Lipton tea comes from a familiar plant.  
If you see a bush booming in winter, look closely, it might be a Camellia.  
Posted on October 19, 2018 8:00 AM by Gerry Trout
My girlfriend gave me some seeds....Castor beans.  
She told me they are effective in keeping the moles out of the garden.  She also said that her husband had to use a chain saw to remove one from their garden last year.  Hmmmm.  Do I really want to plant that?  Let me think:  NO!!!!
I didn't mean to plant it, but apparently I did.  Slam in the middle of the garden!!!!
Now for some interesting information about castor bean plants.  Castor beans were discovered in Egyptian tombs, looking a lot like polished bits of marble.  The Egyptians used castor oil as lamp oil, and an unguent which they drank with beer to purge their systems.  Some people still use castor oil as a laxative.  AAK!!!
I also read that castor oil is used for lubrication of airplane engines, and for hydraulic brake fluids.  That just sounds toxic.
So....We're NOT going to eat any part of this plant, but it is interesting to me that we haven't seen too many moles in the garden this year.  I have also seen castor bean plants in some local gardens.  Maybe it does work.
Posted on September 25, 2018 8:00 AM by Gerry Trout
I love mountain mint but even I am tired of that picture.
Jon and I were at the Methodist church in Blairsville last week and I saw a Monarch butterfly floating around the zinnias. I only took one picture with my phone and LOOK what I got!!!!!!   How beautiful!
I hope you see butterflies everywhere you go.
Posted on August 22, 2018 8:00 AM by Gerry Trout
Maybe you've seen this along the trail, or on the roadside.  It looks like it's been dusted with baby powder.  It is Hoary Mountain Mint, Pycnanthemum incanum.  That's a mouthful!  We just call it mountain mint.  
Mints are distinguished by their square stems, and opposite leaves.   They also display compact bunched flowers atop their leaves.  Enlarge the picture and you can see the bunches of lavender flowers.
Be sure to notice it;  and if you're up close, crush the flowers and leaves, and smell it.  It has a fresh, clean mint fragrance.  Delightful!
I hope you see some mountain mint in your travels.   
Posted on August 18, 2018 8:00 AM by Gerry Trout
I was just fluffing around in the archives, and found this picture of one of our apple trees last August. It was in an article about foraging etiquette.  I said the apples weren’t quite ripe, but when they are you can come pick some. 
That was LAST year. This is THIS year, and I’m here to tell you that the squirrels have taken EVERY single apple!!!  We could see them up in the trees knocking down the apples. They would eat a little bit from each apple then go back for another one. The deer hung out waiting for their piece of the pie!!
So, apple season at our house is over.  No apple pie, no apple fritters, only apple cores that fed the critters.  
Oh well, it’s still apple season all across North Carolina, and Mercier Orchard sells great apples.  They’re more expensive than my free ones, but if we want apples this year, we’re going to have to pay for them. 
Maybe next year...
Posted on August 11, 2018 8:00 AM by Gerry Trout
No, I couldn't.  I was hoping to cut and paste an article I wrote last August.  Couldn't do it that way, but you can access it through the archives. You can find the archives all the way at the bottom of this blog section.  Scroll down past July 15, and you'll see the archives.  All blog articles written are listed there.  Good to know, because there are lots of good articles in the archives.  Check it out!
This is Spotted touch-me-not, also known as Jewelweed.  It grows down by the creek, and is blooming right now.  
For my friends who are unable to search the site, go to the archives and open the post for August 9, 2017. You can read about Jewelweed, and Poison ivy. To learn more about Poison ivy, see the post for September 29, 2017.
Posted on August 7, 2018 8:00 AM by Gerry Trout
Look who was hanging out at our house tonight.  It is a Luna moth, Actias luna.  
You can see how easy it was to spot her, because she's so big!!  Typical wingspan is about 4 inches.  They have hairy, white bodies, and vestigial mouthparts, as they don't feed.  They only live a week as adults, and get energy from fat stored when in the caterpillar stage.  Their sole purpose as adults is to breed and lay eggs.  Luna moths are not uncommon, but since their adult life is so short, we don't often see them.
Luna moth was named by Linnaeus in 1758, after Luna, the Roman goddess of the moon.  
It always feels special to see a Luna moth.  I hope you get the chance to see one.  
Posted on August 6, 2018 8:00 AM by Gerry Trout
I was thinking today as I was walking:  it's camping, hiking, outdoor season.  You need to know about poison ivy!!!!  I  have a very personal relationship with poison ivy.  We've been acquaintances for years.  Too many years.
Rather than my rewriting what I wrote last year, I'd like you to practice a new skill.  
Go back to the main menu, and scroll down to Searching the Site.  Put in poison ivy and you'll see several articles I wrote on the subject.  If you're interested.....
Posted on August 1, 2018 8:00 AM by Gerry Trout
First of all:  it's called "a mess of beans"
And the beans are called "rattlesnake beans"
Neither of which I understand.  Don't care. 
This is a mess of rattlesnake beans from our garden.  They are the BEST beans ever.  They are heirloom seeds from my friend at Ingles in Blairsville.  They reproduce true year after year.  And they just keep on producing all summer!!!  
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