Today we had a visit from friends, Tricia and Al, and their dog, Gracie. Tricia and Al rescued Gracie a couple of years ago, finding her in their yard, barely alive. They came to visit today and Gracie is now a beautiful, healthy, sweet, loving dog. Of course I ran inside to grab my camera:)
We took a walk to the backyard and Gracie checked it out thoroughly. She seemed to approve!
Finally they had to leave. Gracie was such a good visitor of course and is welcome back anytime! Tricia and Al too:)
Just a note: Pit bulls get such bad press, so I was comforted to see the other side of their breed - Gracie is so well mannered, calm and loving, not what you usually hear about. She let me pet her and love on her. I especially liked it when she leaned on me while I talked to Al and Tricia. Of course this would not have been possible without the patience and time Tricia and Al have spent helping Gracie to acclimate to people and situations and she is still learning. Aren't we all!
Yesterday a friend of mine, Tricia, and I met at the Blue Ribbon Grill for lunch. We had a wonderful time and the food and service were excellent!
Tricia gave me a belated birthday present, a plexiglass? cube with three kitties playing in front of the fireplace. When I got home I placed it on a pedestal light which usually houses a Christmas tree. The effect was wonderful although these pictures don't do it justice!
I now have a beautiful nightlight that I can use year round. Thanks Tricia!
Aggie is an agriope aurantia spider, more commonly known as a black and yellow garden spider. She built a web outside our kitchen window next to the screen porch. We've been watching her all summer and it has been a wonderful learning experience. I wish I had taken pictures sooner, but at least I finally did my get my act together.
August 8, 2014
The photos are taken from inside the porch or the kitchen window. From outside you mostly see the white zig-zag part of the web that she creates. At first when we would go out on the porch she would shake her web, which we learned was to warn predators (us) that she was big and ferocious. After a few days though she got use to us and remains still.
One evening after sitting on the porch talking to my sister, I decided to go back into the house. Glancing over at Aggie, I noticed she was not in her usual spot. Instead she was hanging from the lower part of her web, motionless, her limbs drooping (sorry, I don't have pictures). She looked like a tiny squid. There was a larger brown spider above her which I later learned was her exoskeleton. She had shed it because she had outgrown it. Unfortunately we didn't know that until the next day and I was teary-eyed and sad all evening. When we arose the next morning, the skeleton was on the ground and she was happily working on her web!
August 21, 2014
Aggie is growing larger and fatter. Her web is more intricate and layered. She disappears once in a while but when we search for her she is usually working on shoring up her web.
August 27, 2014
We woke up this morning to find Aggie missing again. Later I went outside to find that she had built an egg sac and was in the process of laying her eggs. From what I have read, the eggs will hatch and live inside the sac. Aggie will care for her babies as long as she can, but she will not live past the first frost. I know I will be sad at losing her, but I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to learn about her species.
And the test begins! With climate change and more severe storms over the past few years, SC has experienced a drainage problem in the back and side yards. The water drains off or evaporates after it stops raining, but when you go days with too much rain, it begins to take its toll on the yard and my sanity.
The Before Pictures
During one of the downpours (4" in 2 hours) I waded out and took some pictures...
Before pictures when it was dry - side yard from the back (no grass and no drainage)
Side yard from the front...
We had six wax myrtles along the side fence giving wonderful privacy and lots of shade. They were removed and stumps ground to make way for new sod and plants. Here's Kyle with his remote-controlled grinder. It was really cool to watch and took him about 20 minutes to grind six stumps!
The black landscape fabric was laid down to keep the dirt (mud) from washing away when it rained. (The wind bunched it up in the following pictures.)
The backyard looked like a wasteland! Now, I should mention, that part of my problem was due to my love of trees, which creates shade. And guess what? Shade kills grass, well, at least the beautiful Bermuda grass we'd originally planted. I wish someone had told us 15 years ago that Bermuda doesn't like shade.
More fabric following the wash downstream...
Back yard, lots of shade and no grass:(
The green is moss - at least something was growing!
Note the black drain corrugated pipe. It was extended from the gutter to keep water from flowing to the side yard.
The crepe myrtle tree my dad brought over years ago...
So, we did what all good homeowners do and brought in several "experts" on drainage. After speaking to more than four different companies we decided to go with removing some of the shade barriers (wax myrtles), regrading the property and laying down new shade-tolerant sod.
The After Pictures
Backyard behind the gate. Three zhou zhou lorapetalum and a crepe myrtle (impossible to see in this picture) replaced the wax myrtles.
A dry stream bed was installed so that the water draining from our neighbor's yard is dissipated and flows downward through the back of our property.
Looking downstream so to speak - the water is supposed to follow the rock...
Stream bed from the opposite end...
The dogwood tree (afternoon)
(and early morning). The grass is Emerald Zoysia and is supposted to be shade tolerant.
Lots of pine needles
The water now drains from the gutter underground to the dry stream bed.
We had some minor rain a week ago and everything worked well, but only a huge downpour will tell the test. We'll keep you posted:)
Welcome to Sweetbrier Cottage! You might say that Sweetbrier Cottage is a metaphor for all the good things in life. It’s relaxing atmosphere, warm colors, antiques and collectibles invite you to sit down, have a cup of tea and enjoy a good book or conversation.
With life's stresses, it’s important to have a place, that “special retreat,” to rest and gather your thoughts. Retreats come in many forms – a room, a porch, a garden or even a garage. If you don’t already have a retreat, create one! It only takes a few special touches to make that room or porch your special place. The cottage’s hosts look forward to your visits.