I got my knees sandy taking this picture

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Wake up, old blog. I summon you from your long nap to be my online journal and scrapbook again. (I’ve still got the bird blog.)

How delightful is this mushroom? See how it just lifted the sand right up on its cap? It was sprouting from a sandy trail in Hawk’s Bluff Preserve where I took my new camera for a walk this morning.

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The water lilies, Nymphaea odorata, are not blooming at this time of year. But the saucer leaves are still appealing.

On the trail through the old dunes, with views back to the wetlands, I met a family of four, from Sweden, who asked me where the animals were.

Are there alligators? Can we see them? Are they dangerous? Will they come after you?

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These questions have longer answers. My answers were short. “I didn’t see any alligators today but I know they’re there. I try to walk slowly on the trail by the water and watch where I’m going. Alligators don’t really bother people.”

Later, when they had walked on, I had a tiny flash of horror that I would read the news about the family of four from Sweden who did not take the proper precautions around Florida’s ubiquitous big fat aquatic very-occasionally-deadly reptiles.

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I also told them about the gopher tortoises that live here, and bobcats, raccoons, possums, coyotes, and many types of birds including bald eagles. (Here are some Hawk’s Bluff birds I saw on a late September field trip.) Many, especially the mammals, are more active at night, disappointing the tourists.

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Also, I had just taken some pictures of these bees. “Here are some bees,” I pointed. “They are animals too.”

“Our children are afraid of alligators,” the father confided. The children, who looked between 5 and 8 years old, stared at me as I spoke to their parents. I don’t think they understood English. They stared at me like I was a funny/ scary Florida lady-in-a-birdwatching-hat animal. Giver of alligator advice.

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This is some kind of swamp rose-mallow, Hibiscus grandiflora. About half of the rose-mallows growing “wild” in Florida are native. But only 36 percent of humans living in Florida were born here.

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We moved to Florida’s “Treasure Coast” two years ago in early December 2016. It was mainly for my husband’s airline pilot job. Taking pictures of flowers on the last day of December is a nice extra.

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In the half wild, late July morning

Whooper Swan

There is a feral or vagrant Whooper Swan visiting our pond. The species is native to Europe and Asia; the closest wild population is in Iceland. But it is legal in the U.S. to keep them as decorative though ill-tempered pets and you can buy them from breeders.

This one is likely an escapee. Fly free, my friend! Though I’m sorry you seem to have no friends right now.

More on my bird blog: July 27 and July 28.

wildflower

Yes, I like to take pictures of flowers.

I was out in my wildflower patch this morning at 7:40 a.m. The light was very good.

cosmos

A variety of cosmos are thriving from the wildflower mix I sprinkled in the old corn patch. I do love the flowers in the Asteraceae/sunflower family.

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Blue flower crown for fairies.

Speaking of fairies, I think one hatched out of this egg I found a few days ago…

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Too small for robin and probably too small for bluebird, so maybe one of those woodland songbirds in the thrush family like a hermit thrush? The ones we have nicknamed liquid crystal warblers for their sweet eery echoing song.

This egg shell is on the kitchen windowsill with a black crow feather and a white swan feather. Soon the spell will be complete and I will understand the language of the birds, ho ho!

“Feed us some more black oil sunflower seeds and homemade suet dough,” they will say.

But what do you feed a swan? Pond weeds and algae, for now.

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More from the untended wildflower patch. I did not follow the planting directions on the package very well. I was more like the wind than a gardener. Some flowers are successfully battling the unwanted weeds and overgrown grass better than others. Darwin’s wildflower garden.

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Queen Anne’s lace. I will add it to my photo bouquet. It goes well with Swan.

More flowers on Flickr: Flowers in our back field

A blooming tradition in North Hampton

Garden north of the fish houses, North Hampton

Hampton Union: Floral laurels: Club has kept garden growing since 1930s

By Amy Kane

NORTH HAMPTON — It’s a blooming tradition.

Yellow, purple, white and fuchsia flowers flutter in the breeze from east of the sea wall. Once again this summer, members of a local garden club have planted a picture-perfect garden just north of the fish houses on the ocean side of Route 1A.

This year’s theme is “whimsy.” There is a winding stone path, with a small bridge over a miniature pond, a tree stump with a front door fit for a gnome, a “clock” made of groundcover plants and delicate metal chairs at a table bearing an oversized tea cup brimming with flowers.

“It’s a little bit Alice in Wonderland,” said Margaret Schoenberger, president of the Rye Beach-Little Boars Head Garden Club.

Sarah Coorssen, club vice president, said, “The economy is bad, so we chose something lighthearted. I think we accomplished that. People are raving about it.”

There has been a garden in this location in the Little Boars Head District of North Hampton since the mid-1930s. It was first planted as a defense against messy picnickers. As automobiles became more common, day trippers began parking their sedans and coupes there to walk or swim at North Hampton Beach. Often, they left their trash behind.

Miss Mary Frost, whose family owned a summer home across the street, obtained permission from the state Highway Department to add more rocks and soil and to plant flowers, thus transforming the litter-strewn “parking lot” into a rock garden.

Frost was a member of the Rye Beach-Little Boars Head Garden Club. When she died in 1939, at the age of 83, the club adopted the garden. They called it the North Garden, to distinguish it from the garden south of the fish houses, now planted in wildflowers.

In the early years of the club, most members did not grub around in the dirt themselves; they had gardeners. The purpose of the club was to cultivate beauty in their homes and community, learn about plants and, most importantly, to socialize.

The two women who founded the club in 1916, Mrs. George Allen and Mrs. John Hobbs, are Katherine Southworth’s great-grandmothers. Southworth and her husband, Robert, own one of the fish houses that were once used by fishermen and now serve as rustic summer cottages.

When the Southworths came home to North Hampton in 1973, Katherine Southworth’s mother — an accomplished gardener who won many of the club’s flower shows — took her aside and politely informed her it was time to carry on the family tradition.

“I’m not much of a gardener,” said Southworth. For years she had blue plastic hollyhocks “growing” behind her house. Her husband had given them to her as a joke.

But she had a knack for organizing and was club president before she knew it.

For years, staple plantings were red salvia, purple petunias and yellow marigolds. A man named Mr. French cared for the garden. After he died in 1989, the club funded a landscape company for several years until it became too costly for their modest dues to support.

Southworth described what happened next: “I had a brilliant idea that we were a garden club ­— maybe we should garden.”

She developed the summer calendar of work that is still in use, with members volunteering for a week of duty that includes weeding, deadheading and watering to keep the flowers in top form.

“There are people who have been walking by this garden for 30 or 40 years. On summer vacations, they look for it,” said Southworth. “It is much appreciated.”

This year’s garden was planted after the last full moon in May and will be put to bed in early October. The plants, a mixture of annuals and perennials now, are purchased locally. This year the mulch has some seaweed in it. Spring installation was three days of hard work for volunteers, but worth it.

“It’s a labor of love,” said Helen Coorssen, who served as club president in the early 1990s. (She is Sarah Coorssen’s mother-in-law.) The idea of having an annual theme began with her tenure. “I got creative and planted a whale made of white petunias. Imagine the deadheading.”

People liked it and another tradition was established. Last year’s theme was “serenity.” A few years ago, a pink ribbon made of flowers honored victims and survivors of breast cancer.

Leslie Asadoorian remembers the “tropical” theme of 2008. She discovered eight large palm trees on sale at Home Depot in early spring, purchased them, and kept them in her house until it was warm enough to plant.

Asadoorian lives across the street from the garden, in the same house where Mary Frost spent her summers keeping an eye on the litterbugs of the 1930s. Asadoorian likes to look across the street too. She takes “enormous pleasure,” she said, in watching people admiring the garden she helped to plant.

The Rye Beach - Little Boar's Head Garden Club in 1919

Garden club members, from left, Sarah Coorssen, Leslie Asadoorian, Helen Coorssen, Margaret Schoenberger and Katherine Southworth.

Squill

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Frost again last night, but the Siberian squill now blooming in the lawn is undaunted.

Also known as wood squill and spring beauty, it is best grown in cool, moist places… like New Hampshire and Siberia.

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The 90 or so species of squills winter as bulbs and are members of the hyacincth family.

Flowers are the sweetest things God ever made and forgot to put a soul into. – Henry Beecher