Showing posts with label sunflower. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sunflower. Show all posts

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Final Sunflower Update 2015 #atozchallenge

        The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge is now history with A to Z posts tucked away into the archives of the many who participated in this year's event.  The last of the A to Z Reflections Posts have been added to the list.  There are many to visit and there have been many excellent suggestions made along with numerous kudos to the Challenge.  Be sure to visit as many of these Reflections as you can and let the bloggers know you were there to visit them.

One Worn Out Sunflower!

The A to Z Sunflower on Saturday May 9th.

      After a grueling month and a battering but well needed rain, the A to Z Sunflower is about to keel over as the week of Reflections come to an end.  This flower stood tall throughout April and became an apt symbol for all the A to Z participants.  What began as a seed planting in tribute to our late A to Z Challenge co-host Tina Downey, the Sunflower became my official A to Z Mascot for the 2015 Challenge.

The A to Z Survivor T-Shirt!

       Did you get your A to Z Survivor T-shirt yet?  Mine came in the mail this past week.  I ordered it on Tuesday morning, received shipping notification that same afternoon, and the next day it was in my mailbox.  The company that makes these is about an hour from where I live so I got mine faster than you might, but still I've got to give NeatO credit for fast service.

      I thought I'd prop up my A to Z Sunflower to pose with me while I modeled the shirt for you.

        Here's a closer look at the shirt design. My wife absolutely loved the design and colors.  Now I can't guarantee you that you'll look as pretty as I do wearing your shirt, but I think odds are you might look even better.   When you get your shirt have a photo made to put up on your blog and share it with us.  Maybe we'll even put up a photo gallery of A to Z shirt wearers here at the A to Z Blog site if we get enough of you sending them in to us.  Leave us links in the comments if you have any photos on your blog of you wearing your shirt.

        If you're interested in the shirt then visit NeatO Shop.  If you go right away you might even be able to take advantage of the special sale prices they've been offering this week.  But even at the regular price the shirt is still a bargain.

       Our thanks to all for participating in the 2015 A to Z Challenge.  An added thank you to everyone who added their Reflections Post.   Be watching this site on Wednesday May 13th for the announcement of the 2015 A to Z Road Trip.  The A to Z fun is not over yet!

         Has anyone else's Sunflowers for Tina bloomed yet?   Have you ordered an A to Z Survivor T-shirt yet?   Are you or have you already put up a picture of you wearing your T-shirt?



Sunday, May 3, 2015

#atozchallenge Sunflower Survivor

A to Z Sunflower as it appeared in the afternoon of
Saturday May 2, 2015

         Anyone who has been following my Sunday A to Z Blog posts probably has figured that I've adopted this sunflower in my backyard as a sort of A to Z symbol or mascot.  I've followed its progress from first bloom on the Challenge opening day on April 1st, 2015 with my Tribute to Tina post and followed it to the end of the Challenge.

           Considering the story (which can be found by going back to the first sunflower post linked in the preceding paragraph), this sunflower is an apt symbol to represent the participants of this Challenge.   Most of us are a bit weary after our month of blogging and networking, but we're still standing and ready for whatever is coming next.

          The first A to Z  related post-Challenge event is the A to Z Reflections post which we hope you will put up on your site any time between now and Friday May 8th.  Some of you already have your posts up and I've seen some good reports.  But keep in mind that your Reflections don't have to be all good.  We'll listen to the downsides as well though we hope there aren't many of those.  For full details about this please visit Wait! A to Z Is Not Over! Not Quite.  This post should tell you just about everything you need to know about the Reflections Post and if you still have questions then just ask.

           Don't forget to add the Reflections badge to your Reflections Post and be sure to flaunt your A to Z win with the Survivor Badge in your sidebar.  All artwork is courtesy of our official A to Z graphics guy and hard-working co-host Jeremy Hawkins.  Be sure to drop by his site Hollywood Nuts! to say hello and thanks.   And be sure to order your A to Z Survivor T-shirt (see badge link in the sidebar of this page).

A Bit Tired, but We Survived !

Here's the A to Z Sunflower on May 2nd getting ready for the beginning of the Reflection Posts during the week beginning on Monday May 4th.  We're all still hanging in there!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Weary Sunflower of the #atozchallenge

Tina's sunflower as it appeared on April 25th, 2015
     Each Sunday I've been doing a sunflower update post.  To read the series from the beginning you can start with The Special A to Z Tribute and the follow each Sunday after that one.

       I'm guessing that more than a few of you are feeling a bit like the sunflower pictured above.  This flower has managed to make it through April and looks like it will make it to the end of the Challenge.   I'm also pleased to report that the majority of those who began the Challenge on April 1st are still hanging it there and will be crossing the finish line at the letter "Z" on Thursday of this week.  

        At my last count we had lost 328 links from the opening count of 1888 when the list closed for sign-ups.   Over 1500 bloggers will finish the Challenge they set out to accomplish.  You all are to be congratulated.  A few might come up short for one reason or another--we understand that things can happen to derail participants sometimes--but many of those have indicated that they still plan to continue blogging the letters even if it takes them until sometime in May.  We honor everyone who at least tried.  If you didn't meet the Challenge this year you can still give it another try in 2016.

        Hang in there those of you who are blogging until the end!    On May 1st be sure to check this site for information about the A to Z Reflections Post on Monday May 4th.  This is the annual event where you have a chance to reflect on your A to Z experience and tell all of us what you think of the Challenge.  Full details coming up on Friday, but be sure to reserve May 4th on your blogging schedule.

        Let's make this final few days the best ones of all.   Get your posts up on schedule and try to make as many blog visits as you can.  Four more days!   Can you believe the end of April is so near?

        Do you have your last posts ready to go?  Will you be joining us for the May 4th Reflections?  Are you just a wee bit weary as we reach the end?


Sunday, April 19, 2015

Sunday Sunflower #AtoZChallenge Update

          As we head into the final ten day stretch of the 2015 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge, some of you might be feeling a little worn and ragged like my poor sunflower in the above photo.  If you don't know about my sunflower you can read the beginning of the story here as well as the follow-up here.

         I've mentioned previously that I'm not much of a gardener and this sunflower is essentially on its own as it struggles during our current California drought.  Maybe this is what a sunflower bloom is supposed to look like after two and a half weeks, but I wouldn't think so.  In any case, this flower is still hanging in there and hopefully will continue to stand until at least the May 4th A to Z Reflections Post.   This Reflections post has become a yearly tradition of the Challenge and we hope that everyone who finishes the Challenge will join us in this event.  Be watching for more information in the days to come.

Stay Strong!

        My sunflower is hanging in there for April.   Are you hanging in there as well with your posting and commenting?    Maybe your initial A to Z bloom has wilted away some, but we hope you're still meeting the Challenge as it was initially stated.   Since opening day approximately 250 links have been removed from the list due to not keeping up as the Challenge calls for.  We hope you aren't one of them and hope you don't become one of them.

        So how are you doing right now?   Up to date with posts?   On the right letter (tomorrow will be the letter "Q")?  

Don't Slack Off!

         As we find those of you who have fallen behind or just slacked off for some reason you may feel is fitting to not post, we are trying to leave reminders and notes of encouragement to nudge you into catching up or at least letting us know that you are there.  The co-hosts don't want to appear to be insensitive, but keep in mind that this is a challenge and not just some idle blog hop where you put your name on a Linky List and just expect it to stay there.  

        If you are not keeping up, not keeping readers informed about your status if you are not keeping up, and not communicating with the co-hosts when they attempt to find out what's going on, then you will be removed from the Challenge list.  We want to be fair to all participants including those who are faithfully posting according to the guidelines we've set for the Challenge.  When these participants take the time to visit a blog only to find that blog hasn't posted according to the letters or has shown no activity for many days then they are wasting their valuable time because that slacker blogger wasn't considerate enough to keep their blog updated.

        If you look at the instructions in the "Sign up List" tab you will see that we clearly state:
Blogs on the list showing no activity once the Challenge starts or miss five days in a row will be removed. 
We try to show some leniency and compassion for most of you other than the blogs that are obviously only on the list to be on the list and having no intention of participating--those blogs are cut without mercy when we find them.  But the others we try to give a chance before removal.  It would be unfair for anyone to say that the A to Z Team is unfair in maintaining the list to reflect actual participants.  

We're Only Human

       Admitting mistakes can happen, but we do everything we can to correct the errors when they are brought to our attention.   If you feel that you've been unfairly cut from the list then we apologize and hope that you will let us know so that we can do what we can to fix the situation.

        We are still weeding through the list in hopes of finishing with a list of bloggers who mightily made their way to the end.   And I hope that if you are reading this, you are one of those champion bloggers who cross the finish line with your letter "Z" post and stand with us in the winners circle of the May 4th A to Z Reflections Post.

          You are almost there.  You can do it!  Don't give up when you are so close and catch up to the rest of us if you have fallen a bit behind.  This Challenge is doable.

          Are you keeping up to the letter of the day?    Has there been a point during the month where you fell behind or maybe even considered giving up?    Will you be joining us for the Reflections Post on May 4th? 


Sunday, April 12, 2015

Sunflower Update

           Here is the updated sunflower photo taken on Saturday April 11th.  It's looking a bit raggedly perhaps, but still standing strong.  Hopefully I'll have a good harvest of seeds from this flower.  For those who might be wondering what the heck this sunflower photo is all about you can find the story at A Special A to Z Tribute.

Making Progress

       We are approaching the halfway point of the 2015 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge and it appears that the majority of those who originally signed on to the list are still going strong.  To date we've lost maybe 150 of those who originally added their links to the list.  Most of those either backed out and asked to be removed or were Link List opportunists who had no intention of participating.

         The A to Z Team of co-hosts and their assistance teams have been busy scouring the list for bloggers who have fallen by the wayside and stopped posting or never started.   We are trying to keep a clean list so you don't have to waste your time on the non-participants.   I think overall we are doing a better job than any previous year of keeping the list cleaned up.   Still a few get missed.  Some of you have been reporting problem sites to us and that has been a great help to us.  Feel free to let us know if you run across a site that you don't think should be on the Linky List and we'll check it out.

         Just a notice to those of you who have fallen behind but don't wish to be removed from the list quite yet.  At least update your blog with an A to Z post and if there is a problem note that in your most recent posts so we'll know what's going on with you.   We don't like to have to remove links, but in fairness to everyone else if you aren't keeping up with the Challenge then you shouldn't expect the rest of us to be reading old posts.

           Also, there are some blogs that can be a bit confusing to the new visitor.   Make sure it is clear on the landing page that you are participating in the A to Z Challenge and be sure that each A to Z post is clearly identified with tags, a badge image, or a mention that your post is A to Z related.  This is especially true if you do multiple daily postings and your A to Z posts get covered up by other posts.

          I applaud this year's team and helpers and all of you bloggers for helping us maintain the list.  And a big acknowledgement goes to Alex J. Cavanaugh for maintaining the list so well along with all of the other things he's got going with his blogging and book release.

Interested in an Official A to Z 2015 T-Shirt?

          This week be watching co-host blogs and this site for a special announcement about an A to Z souvenir that will be offered to show your support and participation in the 2015 A to Z Challenge.  We've been asked about T-shirts in the past and this year we're going to run a marketing test to see what kind of interest there would be in this.    Be watching this week for the official announcements.  I believe we'll start seeing something on Wednesday April 15th.

          Have you been keeping up okay with A to Z this year?   Have you found many sites that need to be removed from the list?     Is an A to Z Tee-Shirt something that might interest you?

Sunday, April 5, 2015

A Special A to Z Tribute: Tina Downey

         On this day when many of you celebrate Easter I wish to greet you in your celebration of that important event in our history.   Spring is well underway as is the 6th yearly Blogging from A to Z April Challenge.  We are off to a wonderful start and I want to thank all of you for keeping your posts active during this time.   I've been finding some outstanding posts on an array of topics as I'm sure you have been reading as well.  

       There is a beloved member of the A to Z community that I want to acknowledge and she is one that I'm sure that more than a few of us miss greatly.  I also have a story to tell that has inspired this special Sunday post.   I'll let you decide the significance of this story.

Dedicated to Tina Downey

      I've received a number of inquiries as to why the 2015 A to Z badge says "For Tina" on it.  Some thought that they had received the wrong badge that was intended for someone else.   In order to answer this question for any others who might be wondering why Tina's name is on the badge it's because this year's challenge has been dedicated to Tina Downey who passed away last August 23rd.  For several years of the A to Z Challenge Tina had been a strong motivator and the backbone of the April event, working on A to Z throughout the years as her labor of love for A to Z to make each April more successful that the previous one.

      If you'd like to read more about Tina and her A to Z legacy you can read my tribute or the A to Z Team tribute to her.  On September 8th, 2014 there was also a A to Z community wide tribute to Tina on many blogs of those who loved and appreciated her.   My Sunflowers for Tina tribute tells the story of what I did in her honor and that leads up to my story of what happened recently.

A Message from Tina?


      A couple days prior to the Sunflowers for Tina tribute I planted 20 to 30 sunflower seeds in a area behind my house.  About half of these were planted in the area shown above.   Sometime in late January--about the time the A to Z list opened-- I noticed a plant sprouting that I initially took to be a weed of some sort, but in hopes that it was one of the sunflowers actually growing I let it be.   Over the next month or so this plant began to grow rapidly until it was over 6 feet high.  I watched daily for a flower to bloom as April approached.  A few days prior to the first of April signs of a impending bloom became evident.

     On April 1st, the opening day of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge, the blossom opened.  In the photo above you can see the complete sunflower plant.

   Here is a closer view of the bloom as it appeared on April 1st.

     On April 2nd the flower had opened a bit more.

      By April 3rd the sunflower bloom was becoming more robust.

       Here is how the flower looked on April 4th.   The plant appears to be doing well and I'll be keeping watch over the course of April to monitor its progress.

What Do You Think?

       Is this somewhat miraculous?   Or merely a well-timed coincidence?    I'll leave it to you to decide.  All I know is that out of the over 20 seeds that I planted in drought-stricken California in what is lousy and perhaps even toxic soil and receiving no care other than a few rains, in my backyard one sunflower bloomed for Tina Downey on April 1st as the first day of the A to Z Challenge was underway.

        Let us know in the comments what you think.  What I do know is that right outside my kitchen window is a daily reminder of Tina and A to Z.  Every time I walk into my kitchen and look out the window there is one sunflower standing tall.   When I go into my backyard I take a moment to walk over to that flower and marvel.  Few of the things that I plant in my yard actually grow or remain for long if they do grow.  But there is one sunflower there now.  And at just the right time to watch over the A to Z Challenge.

         If you planted any sunflowers for Tina last fall, did any of yours appear yet?   What do you think about the uniquely timed appearance of my sunflower?


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Sunflowers and other garden themes

You've probably been out and found a sunflower this month.  Or even just a picture.  A long, long time ago I had a little book called "The Language of Flowers" and if it didn't belong to my mother, it belonged to my aunt.  I've looked everywhere and I can't find it.  I can't find anything online about the meaning or symbolsim of the sunflower, although I have a feeling that constancy is associated with it, because the heads follow the sun. I wouldn't trust me on that, though. That's frustration for you.

My garden is another frustration.  I am fairly relaxed about where plants decide they want to grow, but I do object strongly to stinging nettles in amongst my vegetables.  Apart from using up the nutrients that my vegetables need, they sting me when I pull them out - even if they are teeny-weeny ones and I'm wearing thick gloves.  They have little hairlike structures on the undersides of their leaves and stems that deliver something like acetic acid into your skin.  Think poison ivy and you get the idea.
Peacock butterfly on buddleia
The good things about nettles: they are fantastic food plants for all sorts of butterflies and moths, including the beautiful Red Admiral and Peacock butterflies.  They also make great nitrogen rich plant feed if left to rot down in a bucket of water for a month or so.  Nettles for leafy growth, comfrey for fruiting plants.

Quite a few readers will be nodding their heads sagely at this.  I know that because I've seen a lot of lovely gardening blogs during the April A2Z, and some that blossom afterwards, especially Sue Ann Bowling's Homecoming blog.  I was blown away by the varieties of plants she grows in her garden - herbs, mints, lavenders, squashes, beans...  I do grow these... but I'm not in the Arctic Circle!  Sue's garden is an inspiration, and I must try and keep up with her!
Sue's garden (c) S A Bowling
If you're in the southern hemisphere, I expect you're just gearing up for planting your tomatoes and squashes and other plants for the summer.  Here in England I'm making last sowings of winter lettuce and carrots, hoping they get big enough to see themselves through the winter for some early spring produce.  The ones I hope to eat during winter were sown at the end of July and some slugs ate half the seedlings.  That's life in gardening.

Gardening for vegetables needs a lot of planning ahead.  I must do some more work on my theme for next year's A2Z , too - anyone know of a natural phenomenon beginning with X?

Other garden-related blogs I've enjoyed:
Marcy Howes: Creation and Compassion
Stepheny Houghtlin G is for Garden Shed
Sharon Himsl: Shells-Tales-Sails

Do you ever blog about gardening - or growing things on your balcony or windowsill?  Add your link in the comments!

Guest author Jemima Pett blogs at about books, life, gardening and anything else that she fancies!