a nature break

Posted on Posted in designing, food and garden, lace/shawls, projects

ahhh, finally my july book chapter is done and in the hands of our webmaster. while i can’t exactly sit back and relax just yet, what i can do is get us all caught up.

on friday we went to the swan pond to shoot photos for the final chapter of the BNK ebook. the two ponds are across the road from each other, one for black swans, one for white. david gave me the second camera to keep me busy take background photos while he worked with our model, ellie.

i took all these awesome photo of the swans—the white ones with their six babies and the black ones with one teenager. that’s mister fancy pants in the foreground there . . . he seems to be in charge, much more so than the male in the white swan family.

i ended up with WAY too many photos for just one chapter, so i had to cut out a whole grouping. i figured, it’s ok—most of our club members read the blog and i can show them off here without ruining any of the surprises in this month’s chapter.

i was happily clicking away and the swans didn’t seem too bothered by my presence

the male must have realized how close i was, because suddenly, he started advancing. i backed up but could not resist continuing to take photos—i’m such a tourist

but then all at once, he veered off course and started chasing ellie for no reason! i never saw her move so fast; good thing she took up running this year!

he chased her right over the fence. we were hySTERical (from a safe distance now, of course). every time i think about it i start laughing all over again. our only regret is that david did not get it on video. ah, me.

back at home, i’ve been continuing to focus on just two projects for now—one is a secret and the other is twig an leaf, which i have to say, finally seems to be growing; can you tell? look how gorgeous this briar use stella is knitting up—now you can really see all the different colors in it, especially in the sunlight.

the silk content gives that stitch pattern a lot of dimension. i am truly within striking distance of completing the lace hem section, having finished several more rows the other day while visiting with susie and a couple in class yesterday as well.

i think that tonight i can get through the decrease row and begin the short rows of the garter stitch body. then it will be travel knitting, perfect to take away with me to erica’s house later this week.

and if don’t, i have plenty of other projects sitting in bags, ready to go—lots of second socks and shawlette samples to add to the trunk show.  i could grab any one of them to throw in my travel tote.

i bet you’re wondering how my garden is doing in this heat aren’t you? haha, yeah, i know it’s the first thing that comes to mind when i think of my friends . . .

as you can see, it’s doing rather well despite the drought—thanks to david’s careful schedule of watering. a couple more weeks and the aisles won’t be passable any more.  that’s a good thing; with a nice canopy forming, the ground will stay cooler and less exposed to the sun—less habitable for weeds near the roots and better able to retain the water it does get.

i’m starting to pick a little of everything, nearly every day, too, yay!! this was my haul from the day before yesterday. i’m picking everything small and tender so it doesn’t get out of hand. we prefer baby vegetables anyway; they are SO much more tender and tasty.

this is from today. squee—i love that striped zucchini. this doesn’t even count all the greens—we can pick those every day if we want, pretty much as many as we can carry.

it’s shaping up to be a bumper year for potatoes, peppers, and eggplant . . . which hopefully means a good one for tomatoes as well, since they are all nightshade plants.

oh, speaking of nightshades, i was surprised when, in the comments, several readers mentioned that they didn’t realize that eggplant came from a flower. above ground plants flower before fruiting; most root vegetables don’t, but potatoes are an exception—they are included in the same family as eggplant—nightshades.

anyway, i prepared a little photo story chronicling the progress of the eggplant growth.

eggplant flowers come in a variety of purple, orchid, lavender, pink, and white shades. the fruit does too, though the color of the fruit is not necessarily reflected in the flower. all the nightshade plants have similar flowers, with four to six fused petals that radiate from a central cylindrical tube.

they can be an herb, shrub, bush, vine, or tree. nightshades that you might be familiar with include tomato, eggplant, pepper (above), potato (below), and tobacco

you can see that the flowers are remarkably similar from one type to the next—and pretty too in a delicate way. the flowers usually last less than a day; if you sit there long enough you can see a visible difference in an hour.

these tomato flowers come and go so fast you hardly know it’s happening.

they open, they close, and when they open again, wah-LA, they are fruiting.

here’s the dark purple flower of the long asian eggplant.

besides edible vegetables, the nightshade family also includes medicinal plants and poisonous ones—as you know, there do exist plants that produce both an edible fruit as well as poisonous leaves or stems.

once it fades and dies back, the outer shell closes back around that center tube and it begins to grow protective spines. these can be very sharp

but since eggplant are prone to attracting insects, it makes sense that they have something to defend themselves with.

the flowers of the bigger eggplant have even bigger spines.

at first the spines are soft, like guard hairs, but eventually, they become very sharp and thorny—probably to keep larger slugs and vermin off the fruit, which is big enough to support a small climbing creature.

within the closed shell, the fruit begins to form.

it grows very quickly if the conditions are right—what you see here happened in the space of about three days from flower to five-inch fruit (i like to pick them small)

i think i photographed every half day or so to catch it.

is it any wonder i don’t get as much knitting done as i’d like??

32 thoughts on “a nature break

  1. I truly do live vicariously through you and your garden. Love the eggplant photo essay! Very cool seeing the daily progression from flower to fruit.

  2. I agree – VERY COOL! Thank you for the lesson and the lovely photos. I’ve had gardens many times, but never grew egg plant and I think it’s just fascinating. To show how much I don’t know about them, I didn’t even realize they came in different colors. Yup – just always looked for those big purple eggs. I’ve grown tomatoes and potatoes but it never occured to me that the flowers would be so similar, both being nightshades. nature is a marvel, isn’t it?
    The swan families seem to be thriving. They’re so lovely and graceful – despite being territorial! LOL. Thank you Anne for this fascinating post today.

  3. Your photos of the swans are just great. And then you topped that with the grrowth of an eggplant. You are so talented and observant.

  4. Wow I love the eggplant pictures, it’s SO cool to see it progress like that! And those swans, I don’t think I ever saw a black one and they are so beautiful.

  5. Fantastic pictures, Anne. And a great learning experience for me.

    However, you’re killing my curiosity on the new pattern for the club. I’ve worn all of the lettering off of my F5 key.

    Love how the new shawl is shaping up. Just beautiful.

  6. Thanks for all of your beautiful photos. With your busy schedule, it’s very nice that you take the time to share with your readers. You’re also very brave to get that close to the swans. I’ve heard that they can be quick to chase people away; as you found out!

  7. My Dad and I are big egg plant fans, lightly dusted with flour and then satueed in a bit of olive oil & butter. I can’t wait for them to start showing up at the Farmer’s Market!

  8. Your photos are amazing! Isn’t it mind-blowing to think that egg plant started as a tiny seed?

    I must admit I have project bag envy—I am tempted get the sewing machine out. Since quilting is so popular now, there are so many beautiful fabrics and threads in the shops—I love me some pretty knitting accessories.

  9. In my experience, the black swans, while beautiful, are some of the most viscious (sp.?) creatures on the planet! They attack for no reason and their bite is…well, it just plain HURTS!

    I was wondering how your garden was doing with the drought. Here in Indy, if you are caught watering your lawn or garden, it’s a $100 fine for the first offense and multiplies from there. Periodically the police will check neighborhoods to ensure compliance. We are hoping our water supply will last the summer but it won’t if people keep watering. Not so much if they don’t. It’s gonna be a looooooooonnnggg summer!!!

  10. Thanks so much for the wonderful photo essay on the growth of the eggplant, Anne. What an excellent teacher you are!
    Happy gardening to you and David.

  11. I have a special spot in my heart for solanum flowers, and your photo essay is wonderful. It was a seamless transition from the swans to Twig and Branch… looks like another perfect pairing of pattern and yarn!

  12. I have just logged on this morning and looked at the last chapter of BNK! What a tease you are Anne, I bet you were just chuckling away with those swan photos!! We have never been that successful with aubergines here, I think it’s the climate. Courgettes and tomatoes are plentiful thank goodness. I do like making ratatouille.

  13. Love the new club pattern! I have to admit I immediately saw it in red in addition to the “naked” club color – I’ve been looking for the perfect scarf pattern for Claire’s band senior night in October!

  14. I’ve never seen a black swan before they are quite beautiful. The Chronicle of an eggplant was a delightful picture story:)

  15. I do love watching your garden, Anne. I miss my Kenya farming days! I just downloaded my BNC pattern this morning–it is simply gorgeous, and you’ve outdone yourself again!

  16. I also didn’t realize eggplant came from a flower! Thanks for the photo evidence. I think all of your project bags are adorable, but I’m also itching to see what’s inside them. Good luck with the gardening.

  17. Thanks for taking the time to showcase the eggplant. Really interesting.
    By the way, I have my Stella yarn from Briar Rose in YOUR color way waiting anxiously for the pattern release of Twig and Leaf. Can’t wait!

  18. Well all I can say is WOWIE ZOWIE!!! What an enjoyable read for mind and eyes, and how lovely twig and leaf pattern is, thank you again for a moment of ZEN!!

  19. As a biologist, I can only say…I LOVE the botany lesson! Your pictures are beautiful!

  20. Still waiting to see eggplants on my plants. Have to tell you of the next door neighbor (young girl) asking me, when I was showing her my plants, if I got eggs from that plant.

  21. Love, love, love the awesome eggplant photos. (and the lesson). My garden is pathetic this year, so it’s a treat to come see yours!

  22. I wonder if the swan chased Ellie because the shawl looked like golden wings. He may have seen her as another swan out to get in his territory.

  23. I just love reading your blog Anne, it’s a highlight of my day! Thank you for taking the time to share not only your knitting but also your gardening and travels (I really enjoyed the entries from your N.Y. trip). All the photos you include are wonderful and the new club pattern is beautiful.

  24. Love the time-lapse photo essay. I have not tried to grow eggplant, but given my current addiction to caponata I may try next summer. Are they subject to the same diseases as tomatoes and peppers? Any varieties to recommend? We are in Pennsylvania, so fairly similar in climate to Ohio. Love the swans (and the new BNC pattern) as well!

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