Tuesday, July 26, 2011


            As the final straw breaking the back of that undignified camel called July, poison ivy blisters dot my arms, neck and face, itching and oozing. Aah, it’s a lovely feeling; ooh, it’s a lovely sight. Feeling perversely relieved—the poison ivy rash marks the third bad thing, after heat exhaustion and food poisoning—I am drawing a line under the seventh month of 2011, bidding it good riddance with a series of random thoughts (and accompanying links), starting with the hectic and unpleasant and gradually mellowing out.

            My ‘Lemon Queen’ sunflowers did bloom on time for the Great Sunflower Project’s Great Bee Count of July 16. I participated, perspiring profusely as I stood beside the patch for a quarter-hour, and counted bees: to be exact, nine sweat bees, one each bumble and carpenter bee, and a reddish wasp I don’t know the name of. No honey bees. Tim forwarded me a snippet from Inhabitat with a possible suggestion as to why. Seems the ubiquitous cell phone plays a part in the demise of the species. How? Signals emitted by phones in use—and this includes text transmissions—confuse, dismay and disorient honey bees, prompting them to leave their hives and follow erratic paths to who-knows-where. Think about that the next time you can’t possibly wait one more second to share the excruciating minutiae of your life with someone as obliviously glued to their instant-communication device as you are.

            Sorry. Did I say that out loud?

The narrowing food tree graphic,
top half
            Okay, that’s it for cell-phone bashing (for the moment). On to my next favorite love-to-hate hobby-horse, Monsanto. Appears diversity in the seed world is getting quite a bit less, um, diverse, thanks to the proliferation of patented organisms and agricultural monocultures. Check out this graphic portrayal of a global tragedy in the making. Think it doesn’t matter that we’ve lost 516 varieties of cabbage? Better think again. Diversity is our only hedge against catastrophic crop failures.

            I did mention I was starting out hectic and unpleasant, didn’t I?

A jellyfish crafted
from beach garbage
            Do you recycle? The Fitzes do. Our two-person household produces only one 13-gallon Bio-Bag of garbage-garbage a week. Everything else we compost and recycle. I insist on using cloth or paper bags for groceries and sundries, reducing by a skillionth of a percent waste plastic slowly choking land and seas. Tim started out rolling his eyes a lot, but humored me. Now he participates of his own volition, even forwarding me an article entitled “Washed Ashore,” about artworks created entirely out of trash picked up on Oregon beaches. Now on exhibit at the Marine Mammal Center, Fort Cronkhite, Sausalito, California (through October 15, if you’re headed that way), the art makes any inconvenience involved in our “Reduce, reuse, recycle” lifestyle seem niggling indeed.

            For locals only: the Verizon Wireless Call Center at the corner of Shipyard and Independence Boulevards in Wilmington is collecting unwanted electronics and small appliances (coffee-makers, can openers, toasters, etc.) for recycling on Thursday, July 28. Don’t let all those devices sit around taking up space—dispose of them responsibly.

            Moving right along… Here are some thought-provoking statistics for you. In the June 2010 issue of American Nurseryman, Maria Zampini cites National Wildlife Federation’s Kevin Coyle’s presentation of “…some unbelievable—more like disturbing—figures about how kids spend their time nowadays:
·         unstructured outdoor play=30 to 50 minutes per week;
·         organized sports=four hours per week; and
·         indoor ‘screen’ time=53 hours per week.”

Do you read books?
You're in the minority.
Maria goes on to say that Kevin claims this lack of “face time” with other people creates children with stunted social and interpersonal skills. It also figures in the disconnect from nature afflicting youngsters that some schools are starting to address.

            Do a kid a favor: unplug whatever machine he’s currently staring at, and take him out in the garden with you.

            And, after perusing the “Who Reads Books?” factoids linked here, do the same kid another solid and take him to a library to check out a volume, even if it’s about electronics.

Joshua Bell and his Strad
              You’re a gardener, right? You appreciate beauty, and try to make some in your own space. But would you recognize beauty should you happen on it out of context? How about if, on your way to work one morning, you stumbled upon Joshua Bell playing Bach on his priceless violin in a subway station? Check out “Do You Have a Moment for Pure Genius?” to learn how 2000 Washington, D.C., commuters reacted. (Teaser: what little kids did is instructive.)

The mystical kneeling trees of Poland
           Okay, we’re rising out of the murk of July and heading for the unsullied possibility that is August. See these crooked trees? Aren’t they cool? No one knows why this particular patch of Polish pines does that kneeling thing. I’m not at all religious, but the trees make me think of the best part of church.

            Back in May, I started a post called “Penny Wisdom” (May 4, to be precise), about the folly of stinting on things that are good for your soul, with the story of Tim’s reluctance to buy himself the David Sorg easel he really wanted. Not too long ago, I found him (Tim, not David Sorg) on the floor in his studio, measuring a piece of tempered glass salvaged from our old refrigerator. “Whatcha doin’?” I asked. “My palette’s too small,” he says. “I’m going to find a Wal-Mart table to fit this glass on so I can mix colors on it. I’ll get one with drawers so I can lose that plastic kids-stuff bin I’ve been using.” “Uh-huh,” I reply. “Didn’t you mention a really nice taboret [see picture of smiling Tim] you found on the Internet a while back?” “Oh, I can’t get that. It’s too expensive.” “Look,” I urge him. “Order the damn taboret. You’ll jury-rig something that won’t do at all, and you’ll hate it. Just leave out the whole unsatisfying middle part, and order your taboret. Please. For me. Besides,” I said, “I like to sing it,” breaking into a chorus of “Life is a taboret, old chum, just buy the taboret!” (“Taboret” rhymes with “cabaret,” in case you didn’t know.)

Smiling Tim
in his elegantly equipped studio
(taboret at left)
             So, probably to stop me massacring the entire score of “Cabaret!” (“Money makes the taboret! The taboret! The taboret!”), he ordered it. His hand shook as he hit the “submit order” tab, but he did it. It’s a beautiful piece of honest-to-gosh hand-made furniture, and Tim hasn’t stopped smiling since it arrived. (For all the gardener/painters in the market for a primo piece of studio equipment out there, do go to Casey Childs’ website.)

            Why do I include this story? Because what lifts Tim’s spirits lifts mine, and, as I said, we’re rising into August.

The totally uplifting
gravity marimba
         Lastly, please take time to view this lovely video of a painstakingly constructed gravity marimba playing Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” as it wends its way through an ancient Japanese forest. Yeah, it’s a commercial, but remember about stopping to appreciate beauty in unexpected places.


            Thanks for helping me lift myself out of the gloom and drought of July to Zen serenity reborn. And thanks for dropping by.


Thursday, July 21, 2011


            If you read the post before this one, you already know what the delay was all about. But here it is at last, a terse weedy post providing mug shots, names, (common and botanical), hangouts, how each makes more of itself, and any other pertinent information for a dozen more usual suspects flourishing at this time of year. Remember, you can click on the pictures to make them bigger.
            Some terminology notes: basal means “at base, at the bottom”;  leguminous means “a plant with nitrogen-fixing root nodes, a member of the pea family”; stolons are runners that travel aboveground; rhizomes are runners that travel below ground.

             We begin with six perennial offenders.

Dog fennel, Eupatorium capillifolium
Sunny natural areas and lawns
Seeds, suckers and regrows from a woody base (sheesh!)
Roots hard to pull out on established plants
Rather pretty, with aromatic ferny foliage, reminiscent of asparagus
Dog fennel,
just getting started in your lawn

Dog fennel, all grown up

Fleabane, Erigeron quercifolius
           Lawns, areas of dappled to part shade
           Leaves pull off easily; roots are another matter
           Little white to pinkish daisy flowers

growing where it's not wanted

Pretty, pernicious fleabane

Buckhorn plantain
(not the banana)

Buckhorn plantain, Plantago lanceolata
Lawns, road verges
Basal rosette of foliage, flowers on bare stalks
Crushed leaves relieve bug-bite itch when rubbed
     on the spot

Threeflower beggarweed

Threeflower beggarweed, Desmodium triflorum
            Lawns, open natural areas
Seeds and stolons
Mat-forming, taprooted, dark green leaves with three heart-shaped leaflets
Tiny pinky-purple pea-like flowers

Narrowleaf vetch

Narrowleaf vetch, Vicia sativus subsp. nigra, V. angustifolius
            Lawns, natural areas, fields
            Compound leaves with three to nine pairs of leaflets, lax to ascending habit
            Little pinky-purple pea-like flowers

The mystery weed
Mystery Weed, possibly a Euphorbia of some kind: a sample has been sent to the Weed Clinic at Virginia Tech for identification
            Lawns, road verges, dry natural areas
            Linear leaves whorled around an upright stem, flowering structure
branching from the top like a candelabra, producing numerous tiny white blooms
            Easy to pull

          Now let’s look at a few grass-like weeds.
(Note characteristic "V" seedheads)

Bahiagrass, Paspalum notatum
           Lawns, playing fields, disturbed places
           Seeds and rhizomes
          Mat-forming warm-season grass, may be mistaken for centipede or carpetgrass
           Seedheads form a distinctive “V”

Carpetgrass in Bermudagrass

Carpetgrass, Axonopus affinis 
            Lawns, dunes
            Seeds and stolons 
            Looks very much like centipede grass: the giveaway is its runners are above ground instead of underneath
            Long runners pull up like a zipper, which is kind of fun; grubbing out the roots is another matter

Your basic crabgrass
  Large and Southern crabgrass, Digitaria sanguinalis, D. ciliaris
            Sunny lawns, natural areas, road verges, disturbed places
            Seeds and stolons
            Aggressive annual, tufted or prostrate in habit
            Seed spikelets have two to nine branches

Sand spur, Cenchrus echinatus
            Lawns, dunes, road verges, disturbed places
            Wicked annual, with branching blades emanating from a central, reddish-purplish hub
            Seed a spiny bur, with barbed spines that hang on like grim death
            If you (or your dog) ever stepped on one, you’d know it

The purplish basal hub of sandspur 

The business end of a sandspur



The seedhead of globe sedge

           Globe sedge, Cyparus globosus
              Lawns, natural areas, disturbed places
              Perennial with smooth, shiny, bright green blades
              Seedhead resembles an exploding green firework
              Hard to eradicate


Horrid purple nutsedge,
purplish stems, little brown tubers,
rhizomes and all

Purple nutsedge, Cyparus rotundus 
    Lawns, planting beds, disturbed areas, everywhere
    Tubers and rhizomes
    Aggressive upright perennial grass with distinctive channel the
length of the blade; bases purplish
    Little brown hard tubers linked by rhizomes
    Really hard to eradicate, as pulling it just seems to piss it off

Well, whew. Not perfect, having an indention problem, but not too bad. Google's feeling better now, and so am I. Weedy vines and wildflowers next time.

Thanks for dropping by, and for your forbearance.


Monday, July 18, 2011


            Where’s the post? Where, indeed. I’ve been working on the damn thing seems like forever, but it won’t allow itself to be finished. Thought I had it knocked yesterday—pared-down text (under 600 words, a major miracle for a lexophiliac like me); pictures were taken or downloaded, then uploaded into Picasa, and we’re ready to roll, right?


            As you probably know, Google is updating its image to faster, stronger, free-er or something like that. I don’t really get it. Anyway, a side effect of this cyber-makeover is occasional mysterious disappearances of information, screen freezes, cryptic fugue states, and having my account closed out every ten minutes. The pictures wouldn’t load. After several attempts to get them where I needed them to be, I decided to sign back in for the 34th time, check email (nothing critical there), and turn the machine off.

            Where’s the post? Stuck in Word and Picasa. To my credit, I only swore a little bit, and didn’t slam or throw anything.

            Plus Tim and I are back to work and the heat makes me headachy and cross. I’m watering all the plants in my yard by hand, er, hose, which takes 75 minutes a time and needs doing every freakin’ day. Then there was the food poisoning incident (not life-threatening, entirely my own fault—I knew that broccoli slaw was past its sell-by date).

            Okay, I’m done whining. Just wanted you to know I’m still out here, plugging crankily along. I will try the pictures again, as soon as the Tylenol kicks in and my eyes open all the way. Keep a good thought for me, and thanks for dropping by.


Monday, July 11, 2011


-            Anal compulsive that I am, I check statistics on this blog twice a day. Readers endlessly surprise me with which posts top the hits list. Through February, “Stuffing Stockings” (Dec. 10, 2010) far surpassed all the others. Lately, however, stockings have been left in the dust of “Winter Weeds” (Jan. 4, 2011) and the “Am I Blue Bonus” pictorial (Apr. 15, 2011), reinforcing my gut intuition that, when it comes to gardening matters, people want pictures—especially photographs—more than anything else.

            (I tried to explain this to Tom Fischer, editor-in-chief at Timber Press, when pitching my excellent but spurned Best Gardening Book Ever to him. His reaction to the revelation that I had in excess of 600 photos to illustrate the text was that pictures are expensive to reproduce. My reply that a gardening book without them is pretty well useless met with stony silence. Line drawings are lovely, of course—and cheaper to mass-produce—but don’t do the job as well as photographs. The rejection form-letter arrived several weeks later.)

            Publishing woes aside, the popularity of “Winter Weeds” speaks to a dire need that remains unmet for the gardening public: good pictorial references to common weeds. Which brings us, at last, to today’s subject.

            Summer weeds are more numerous than winter ones, which should come as no big surprise. There is also the whole when-is-a-weed-a-wildflower grey area to consider. So we’ll take up the subject in two, maybe three, maybe four, parts, starting with broadleaf annuals that are definitely weeds.
Spotted spurge
This ubiquitous fellow I call “the spurge of my existence.” His proper name is Euphorbia maculata, or spotted spurge. He can flower and produce seed in about five weeks, meaning he and every other member of his clan account for multiple generations each season. Prostrate and mat-forming in habit, spotted spurge has a taproot, explaining its infuriating ability to survive droughty conditions. He has many, equally prolific cousins, including garden spurge, hyssop spurge and sand-dune spurge. Find the center of the beast and pull straight up: it’s the only hope of removing this muggy-weather breeder taproot and all.

            Here is Phyllanthus urinaria, a.k.a. chamberbitter. One of two mimosa imitators, it is immediately identifiable later in the season when it sets seed. They’re the little greenish-yellow balls hanging beneath each pair of leaflets. Don’t bother looking for the flowers from whence the seeds emerge: they’re so inconspicuous as to be invisible.


Florida pusley
              Another common lawn invader is Florida pusley (Richardia scabra). An attractive weed with thickish bright green ovate leaves, it produces tiny, six-petalled, darlin’ white flowers later in the summer. Its habit is prostrate and spreading. But beware the ugliness behind the beauty: it reproduces rampantly by seed.

            This one, Diodia teres, is called poorjoe, and no, I don’t know why. I tend to confuse it with the similar-looking carpetweed, Mollugo verticillata, because both have prostate, spreading habits, reddish stems, whorled-looking leaves, and cute little white flowers. Poorjoe blooms have four petals, carpetweed’s have five. When you see flowers, regardless of number of petals, it’s time to yank it out of the ground, no matter what its name is.

Hemp sesbania
  The second of the two mimosa imitators, hemp sesbania (Sesbania exaltata) also shares the touch-me-not characteristic of sensitive plant. Although spuriously similar to chamberbitter, upon closer inspection you will discover that sesbania leaflets are finer-textured and a darker green. Sesbania blooms are a sunny yellow and reminiscent of pea flowers. They form in the leaf axils (where the leaf joins the stalk).

            Moving right along, check out these three perennial rhizomatous nightmares.

Pennywort, or dollarweed
            First is pennywort, or dollarweed, as the upscale call it (not really), the evil genus (pardon the pun) Hydrocotyle (that’s pronounced hi-dro-COT-ih-lee). I’m sure you’ll be thrilled to hear there are several species of this attractive but insidiously thuggish spreader. The one slowly taking over your planting beds and lawn is H. bonariensis; but as you may have surmised from the “hydro” part of the botanical name, there’s a water pennywort as well. When asked about controlling large infestations of this one, Tim and I generally advise clients to learn to love it. The alternative is to get your hands dirty and pull out some of those miles of white runners crisscrossing your property, because pennywort is notoriously chemical-proof.
Florida betony
          Next up in our gallery of difficult-if-not-impossible-to-eradicate thugs is Florida betony. Believe it or not, this dainty-looking little monster shares a genus name with silvery lamb’s-ears: betony is Stachys floridana, soft and fuzzy lamb’s-ear S. byzantina. Betony also goes by several other common names, including rattlesnake weed and false artichoke. The rattlesnake bit comes from the appearance of the tubers that ensure the immortality of this weed: the artichoke reference obscurely refers to the tubers, too. They are edible—meaning it won’t hurt you to eat them—but I can testify that they don’t taste like anything at all. Certainly not like any artichoke I’ve ever enjoyed. The tubers are connected by white rhizomes depressingly like pennyworts’, in behavior and quantity.
            Third is the Harry Potter-ish-sounding mugwort, Artemisia vulgaris. An interesting case of adaptation in the botanical world, mugwort doesn’t flower or set seed. It reproduces itself entirely by rhizomes. It looks sort of like chrysanthemum foliage, and is not unattractive. But my weed-ID guy at Virginia Tech, Scott Hagood, says mugwort has definite aggression issues, aggravated by being difficult to eradicate.

            Two other see-everywhere perennial weeds will wrap up today’s post, because it’s almost time for “Jeopardy!” 
Yellow woodsorrel

Creeping woodsorrel

            Many people consider members of the genus Oxalis to be ornamental… and I can’t say I entirely disagree. The neat foliage, reminiscent of clover, and the pink flowers of the species everyone’s mom and grandma grew when I was a kid evoke summer memories, hot pavement under bare feet and the mingled smells of road tar and cut grass. But when Oxalis edges over into its woodsorrel incarnation, the charm rapidly dissipates. Here on the eastern coast, we see two species: Oxalis stricta, or yellow woodsorrel; and O. corniculata, creeping woodsorrel. The yellow variety is upright, with light green foliage. The creeping type is prostrate: its leaves can be green or red, and it spreads (and spreads and spreads) by rooting from nodes on its lax stems. Both are prolific seeders, so try to catch them while they’re blooming. Because once the seed capsules form, it’s too late.

             I’m of two minds about bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis). On the one hand, it’s pretty in foliage and flower, as one would expect from a morning-glory relative. On the other hand, its wiry stems expand at about a mile a minute, and its capacity to smother and strangle other plants is impressive. So how do I handle bindweed outbreaks chez Fitzgerald? If I spot its distinctive cotyledons, or seed leaves, anywhere in the yard, I root them out right away. But if it shows up in other places, draping a scrub tree in the vacant lot next door, say, I’m completely okay with that.

            As I mentioned back at the beginning, there are lots more summer weeds than winter ones. Next time, we’ll continue our tour through the perennials and move into the grass-like species. See you then.

            A quick astronomical note: tomorrow, July 12th, the planet Neptune completes its first orbit around the sun since it was discovered by German sky-watchers Galle and d’Arrest back in 1846. They were clued in about where to look by calculations made by French mathematician Le Verrier, who couldn’t interest anyone in his own country to take him seriously. Those wacky French!

            Thanks for dropping by.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


            One of my dad’s favorite sayings was, “She’s a day late and a dollar short.” Having been a dollar short all my life, I can now add “a day late” to my many shortcomings. To all of you who live and breathe GFTGU, my sincerest apologies. Since I suspect that number is pretty close to zero, I’m already kicking myself for mentioning the tardiness of this post at all.

Seen any of these guys lately?

            Okay, Fourth of July weekend was probably not the very best time to run a poll—only six people voted. And one of them was Tim. In order to beef up the numbers (I hope), I extended the response period by seven days. Now that all the street fairs, fireworks displays, family reunions and heat-related trips to the emergency room are over, maybe you’ll take a second to share your lightning bug sightings.

Now, as promised, some things to think about before adding a water feature to your garden.

A birdbath with a solar bubbler
does double duty, providing
water for wildlife and sound

      1.      What is it you want water in your garden to do? Is your aim to supply drink for the critters, or do you have something more aesthetic in mind? Both the sight and sound of water delight and calm overheated senses, but how to achieve them? A birdbath with a circulator? A container water garden for the deck? A fountain? A pond? A waterfall? A small tinkle that draws you down a shaded path, or a large feature visible from inside the house and audible from the porch, lanai or deck? Give serious consideration to how big an investment in money and time you’re willing to expend on installation and maintenance.
This is not a good source of power
for your water feature's pump

2.      As to installation, think location, location, location. It may sound stupidly obvious, but you will need a convenient water source. Doesn’t matter what size feature you have in mind, evaporation happens. Nobody relishes dragging a hose or—worse!—hauling buckets and watering cans a couple hundred feet. All the damn time.

3.      If your chosen feature requires a pump, you will also need a convenient source of electricity. Those orange extension cords running from porch outlet out to the garden are unattractive, unreliable (think lawn mowers and trimmers), and unsafe. Have a licensed electrician install a ground-fault interrupter outlet near the site. Don’t scrimp on this step, kids: your homeowners policy may not cover any fire loss on your property if the fountain-pump line is a do-it-yourself job.

Koi add color and movement
to a pond, but also more work
    4.      Regarding maintenance: nobody enjoys a scummy water feature. Birdbaths require a weekly clear-out and refill; fountains the same. Ponds without fish need regular water-level monitoring and occasional algae treatments. Ponds with fish top the maintenance chart because consistently good water quality is essential to piscine survival. Elaborate filtration devices, like those for swimming pools (and just as attractive) help a lot: but they need maintenance, too. If you landscape around your feature—and who doesn’t?—the plantings will stake a claim on your time as well. Tim and I have talked ourselves out of any number jobs simply by describing the time-sink a water-feature can be.

Ponds mean wildlife:
a mallard laid her eggs in this pot
in the float we put on a client's pond
(and an otter ate them)
    5.      If you go the pond route, remember ponds are, by definition, ecosystems. Water attracts wildlife. Frogs, toads, turtles, lizards, salamanders and snakes are likely to visit and/or take up residence. With enough depth and surface area, ducks, otters and dreadful, dirty, pugnacious Canada geese may move in too. Still water, a necessity for water lilies, encourages mosquito breeding. If you plan on stocking your pond with fish, plan to protect them from predators like raccoons, herons, cats and hawks. At the same time, keep in mind that netting can ensnare unwanted diners or squatters, opening up a whole other can of worms.

This example is a little over the top,
but demonstrates the beauty
of low-voltage lighting
      6.      Consider safety. A little person can drown very quickly in very little water. Even the most meticulously cared-for pond will have a slimy bottom, which may result in slip-dunk-type accidents. Plan for nighttime illumination with low-voltage fixtures (solar stick-in-the-ground ones are too unreliable for this important purpose) to alert the oblivious evening visitor to the hazard.


     7.      If you’re going for a waterfall, please consider aesthetics. I’m rerunning the picture of the embarrassing monument to Tim’s and my stupidity as a reminder that nature never runs water uphill for the express purpose of having it flow back down. Scale your waterfall to the lay of your land, backing it into a natural rise or natural-looking constructed one. No matter how much you want it, you can’t convincingly pull off Yosemite Falls on the coastal plain. Or, indeed, any plain. Aim for a streambed effect, with gentle changes in grade marked by boulders for water to tumble over.
A dumb-looking waterfall

A non-dumb-looking waterfall


Features with small reservoirs
are prone to pump burn-out 
 8.      Pumps are always problematic (meaning, in this case, “probably a problem”). Make sure yours is rated for the gallonage of your feature. Too big a pump, it’ll empty the basin in short order. Too small a pump, it’ll burn itself out trying to move the water. Submersed pumps must stay submerged in order to work. We warned the owner of the cute little wall fountain shown here that she couldn’t leave it running unattended: the reservoir held only about a cup of water, and if the water level fell enough to expose the pump, it would burn itself out. Only took her a week to blow through two pumps and become disenchanted with the whole idea.

      9.      In water features as in life, be prepared. Anything that can go wrong, will. Pond liners and plastic reservoir basins spring leaks. Lightning strikes fry pumps and, occasionally, fish. Algal blooms develop overnight. Oxygen levels in the water can vary wildly. Reptiles get stuck in the protective netting and you’re left to puzzle how to get them out without harm to either party. Even birdbaths have their woes. Raccoons pull the dripline out of ours, so it goes bone-dry four times a week. When I refill it, the squirrels hold a splashing party in it. Grackles steal the pennies I put in the basin to deter algae formation. The list goes on and on.    

My best advice? Start small. Try a birdbath, a few lilies in a water-proof container on your deck, or a small fountain, just to get your feet wet (so to speak) before plunging into a larger commitment. Personally, I haven’t progressed beyond the birdbath stage. A bigger water feature means more work, which is something I’m not anxious to sign up for. If I want the sound of water in my garden, I pop outside and take a shower.

July is Smart Irrigation Month, so get out and make friends with your local contractor, and/or your system’s controller. Think about what you’re watering, and why.

Speaking of efficient users of water… The “Winter Weeds” post of January 4th has been a perennial favorite in the stats, so we’ll give the summer ones a go next time.

An astronomical fact of interest: on July 4th, Earth reached its aphelion with the sun, putting a distance of about 94.5 million miles between the orbs, measured center to center. (Didn’t cool us down any that I noticed.) Not to worry—Sky-Guy says we started inching back immediately, and will cozy up to perihelion on January 4, 2012. (Probably won’t warm us up any either.)    

Thanks for dropping by.