The Colors of Summer

E58EAF4F-5D79-4BBE-9853-088AF57286C0

I love color, don’t you? Whether it’s clothes, decor, cookware, or paint, I adore all things colorful. One of the reasons I specifically love this time of year is because it’s when New England is at its most colorful! It’s also when we see the most “visitors” – some good, some bad, and some paws-tively adorable! Come on over and take a walk around my yard with me!

When the frost finally leaves and warmer temperatures become the norm, gardeners in New England make the most of every minute of our short growing time. I have an herb bed, a veggie garden, and a cutting garden, all of which I planted. When we moved into the house over two decades ago, there was nothing but overgrown grass. I look forward to this time of year outside, despite the humidity, and the constant weeding, trimming and scouting for pests. By fall, we’ve had enough, and the colder weather and less time in the yard becomes a relief. Having four seasons gives us something to look forward to during the year, because each season is different and has its charm. However, this particular summer season has been really strange – we’ve run the gamut of everything from super hot, to unbearably humid, to so rainy we thought we’d float away. In between, we’ve also had those perfect, breezy and sunny, temperate New England days that are just dreamy. 

FC0C89F2-0B1C-4F9F-82E1-D779E26D3BD7

We walk by the cutting garden a dozen times a day because it’s near the door where we take our three dogs out, and leads to the path to the chicken coop. Mid-summer is when it is in full bloom, both with flowers and colorful insects.

DD2B2387-7112-47F2-833F-4FF4FF8FC88C

I first spotted these two aphrodite fritillary butterflies on the coreopsis.

B027BE97-D176-4B6A-A180-F701E12EFBB4

It’s been nice to see butterflies this season. I was getting worried because at first it seemed we were not seeing any. I love spotting them; they are such pretty beneficials and one of the reasons I first planted my cutting garden twenty years ago. 

59BAD3E1-1530-4878-8B18-074774D91113

E91CB2CD-8FB1-4D4C-89AE-9C67C82E13C2

This beauty is drying recently emerged and was drying his wings.

This beauty had recently emerged and was drying his wings.

I took this on a walk. There are mikweed plants in front of our house. Despite the massive efforts, monarch butterfly numbers are still declining, down another 20% from the previous year.

There are mikweed plants in front of our house. Despite the massive efforts, monarch butterfly numbers are still declining, one report listed them as down another 20% from the previous year.

My favorite flowers to pop up in summer are my red bee balm blooms. They look like firecrackers, and are deer-resistant. This year they have drawn all sorts of colorful bees and birds, including a hummingbird moth and a ruby-throated hummingbird. 

This little hummingbird moth loves my bee balm.

This little hummingbird moth loves my bee balm.

36337428-92C8-4C8D-973E-DEFCCF2919AA

Can you spot the ruby-throated hummingbird? She comes every day and when we sit by the firepit on nice evenings she hovers nearby.

Can you spot the ruby-throated hummingbird? She comes every day and when we sit by the firepit on nice evenings she hovers nearby.

It’s been a great year for roses.

53896915-F1F7-42A1-92EE-091F1E97211B

Throughout the years, I have planted little tea roses here and there; this color rose is my favorite because it reminds me of my grandmother, who was an expert at growing roses. 

3887262E-0002-4A8F-A285-422B9A37E820

I have always found insects interesting, and noticed them even more after my daughter was born. When she was little, she would point out every one, and for several years now I have worked on an insect identification project as a Master Gardener. Butterflies and moths aren’t the only insects with some amazing colors. 

Two members of the Hymenoptera order are busy and buzzing on a coneflower.

Two members of the Hymenoptera order are busy and buzzing on a coneflower.

The salvia is always so full of fuzzy bumblebees, the plant vibrates with a constant low hum!

The salvia is always so full of fuzzy bumblebees, the plant vibrates with a constant low hum!

We’ve seen a great number of dragonflies this year. They are great beneficials that eat a lot of “bad” bugs. They also don’t hurt humans and are considered good luck in many cultures, especially if one lands on you. This one decided to rest a spell on my vintage metal hotel chairs.

63E03285-AC38-463C-9706-C89AFC57489C

4DA4B01F-4B17-45E7-A61E-C1756B044E51

My favorite beetle is the Six Spotted Tiger Beetle, a great beneficial insect. 

Not every “visitor” is a welcome one, though they still can be interesting. 

A7933941-AEDE-41BB-8E8C-BECB50DF3EB4

Following the week-long rain, there were many more visible insects, especially flying ones. Some are really fun to see, like the tons of fireflies that pepper the yard like glowing fairies from a storybook each evening. Some are more startling – it took only a few days for this huge wasp nest to appear inside the bench. We’ve seen quite a few nests this year, and had to call our exterminator (an eco-friendly one) for a nest of “several hundred” that had made themselves comfy just under the clapboard where my bedroom air conditioner is housed. Wasps are beneficial insects, but if they threaten human life they need to be removed. 

Even though they are a pest who can bring plant disease, I noticed these leaf hoppers are a lovely shade of lavender. 

6D67D853-B928-4DC7-91A6-3574DD42BFAD

9DB10870-0549-47A5-9DE1-FC760EBE6867

I love seeing  the deer, but this year, the big-eyed Bambis decimated my hostas! Look at what they did…no matter how much I sprayed or tried to chase her away, one girl in particular ate her way through my hosta beds like she was at an all-you-can-eat-buffet salad bar. She even knocked about the rock border! Oh well…I will plant some mums in fall and wait until the hostas come back next year. 

My poor Hostas!

My poor Hostas!

Let’s head over to the veggie garden. Currently, the kale is beautiful with its dark green leaves and orchid-colored veins. I could eat kale every day and never get tired of it. 

487B86BC-D385-41AE-8301-6F829AB24B24

The tomatoes are finally starting to turn from jade green to ruby red. 

575D22BD-ADF1-4CCE-B4A9-39B4EB57557F

It was a great year for snap and snow peas, but it was time to pull them out. I noticed this fuzzy guy munching on the spent plants. He reminds me of Halloween with his orange coloring. 

580A306C-38D7-46E0-923C-CFB52D42D900

The deep purple of the emerging eggplants is one of my favorite colors. I can’t wait to pick them! Everything is really starting to bear fruit now. 

986C15CE-4496-4A6B-A826-EA7E6EFF46DA

We have woods that border our property and driveway on one side. The wineberries that grow wild all over the state were really juicy this year.

2EF862C5-D04F-4CEC-AE1A-FC56FA7A18B1

As a Master Gardener, I learned that they are on the “Invasive” list, but it is almost impossible for us to get rid of all the canes that show up each year. The forager in me loves to pick some of the fruit for jam, cobblers and morning muffins. They are so tasty! 

191C7144-7DC1-4631-A62D-91239242E1B6

Our blueberry bushes have not disappointed either; we’ve been picking blueberries to go with breakfast for a full month now!

Just enough for atop my oatmeal…

Just enough for atop my oatmeal.

 

As we approach the run, my chickie girls look for treats. They don’t care for the super humid weather, either. “Mama” chicken is my rescue; someone cut her beak so far back I worried she wouldn’t make it. She is now one of my oldest (and funniest) girls.

As we approach the run, my chickie girls look for treats. They don’t care for the super humid weather, either. “Mama” chicken is my rescue; someone cut her beak so far back I worried she wouldn’t make it. She is now one of my oldest (and funniest) girls.

Now we’ve walked ‘round to the herb garden. I have to admit, sometimes I let them go to flower because some of the flowers they produce are beautiful and fragrant.

D8DE376B-6191-41A8-8C63-36EBD0FCD83B

We need to pause to let the family of turkeys pass through. The babies are now “teenagers”!

61A7B14C-E4FE-47D8-A315-AF45F6358041

We are back round now. We enjoy sitting on the “shabby chic” porch, especially to eat dinner and watch the little brown and large brown bats that fly at dusk. The past week, it has been warm during the day but cooling down in the evening. On rainy evenings, it is covered enough to stay dry and safe but relaxing to listen to the falling rain. The lettuce and herb pots get a nice drink!

FAF0895E-4557-4683-BEC3-6B80875B27E3

The shabby chic porch is a nice place to chat with friends, read, and watch the birds that visit our property. This summer, the table I had been using was getting too rickety. I found this adorable little 1950’s ‘cracked ice’ child-size table. It works perfectly there, and adds retro red color! In the winter, I will bring it inside. Wouldn’t it look cute atop with cookies at Christmas?

My little thrift find…can’t you see a little girl in the 50’s setting the table “just like mom” ?

My little thrift find…can’t you see a little girl in the 50’s setting the table “just like mom” ?

Speaking of cute, one paws-i-tively cah-ute visitor is the little bunny that lives in our yard. She is sometimes in the back (and nibbled my beautiful rainbow chard in the veggie garden until I fixed the bottom of the fence). Her coloring is beautiful, and she has a big white cotton tail and one lopped ear. We think she has been the same little rabbit that has been around for a year now. She likes to hide among the plants in the herb garden. I am also happy to report that our regular visitor, “Radio”, the opossum, made a recent visit!

4626BD17-B1BD-4B77-A222-F48159600FDB

Here in Connecticut, we have at least a month before summer starts to end and gives way to fall. Until then, I’m trying to remember to take those moments, savor time outdoors, and literally stop and smell the roses!

B3072C75-29CD-4093-9CCD-851249518CBB

Thanks for the “walk”! How is your summer going… are you in the garden or by the shore? Whatever you are doing, I hope you are having a great one! Leave me a comment and say hello so I know you stopped by!

 

Until Next Time…Farmgirl Hugs,

Nicole

Leave a comment 45 Comments

  1. Charlene Littlewood says:

    Your garden is gorgeous and I just love the way you let Mother Nature lead the way
    Most gardeners think of deer and rabbits as pests

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Charlene, thank you. I don’t mind the animals at all. I love to see them. Thanks for reading and commenting! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  2. Love this! thank you for sharing

  3. Nancy Bonner says:

    Enjoyed the lovely walk around your yard!! The deer have eaten my Hosta as well – two fawns, two mamas and two bucks (one four and one six point)…since we have woods all around us the Hostas do really well. I have found putting blood meal around them helps sometimes. Right now we have four raccoon babies and two parents that are digging in my pots on the deck so have to figure out how to deter them from doing that…may have to live-trap and relocate. We have a few butterflies that visit and enjoy my Buddlia. Thanks for the wonderful tour!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Nancy, thank you! The deer this past year have been reminding of the game “Hungry Hungry Hippos”, munching everything in site. I thought maybe it was just me, that I did not use my deer spray enough, or that I got a bad batch. Then, the other day, I was in Tractor Supply to buy a new bottle of spray. This couple and their two children were in the aisle, and when I picked up the spray, they started a conversation. They were so friendly. Anyway, they are from another town and said the same thing, that the deer had eaten even things they normally don’t. (Hostas, however, are a deer delicacy). They reminded me of something I forgot this year…hair to deter the deer. I will be spreading hair around my remaining hostas from our haircuts, and when I vacuum up dog hair, out it will go instead of the trash can. It won’t keep them completely away, but I can try. I don’t mind the deer otherwise. I enjoy seeing them. Your raccoon family sounds cute, but that sounds a bit close for comfort. Have you tried the deer spray? It might deter them from your pots, or maybe some hot cayenne pepper? I use that in my pots at times, especially when the squirrels start trying to dig. I also love to use blood meal. I put it in the cutting garden, but will also try it on the hostas. Thanks for the tip! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  4. Sandi King says:

    Hi Nicole
    I love your post, your visitors, your gardens, and the walk around to the porch. I could almost imagine walking beside you as we strolled along. The pictures are wonderful. I congratulate you on being a Master Gardener also; I think everyone should be a master of something they are good at. You have done a beautiful job with yours. I haven’t seen as many butterflies, dragonflies, lightning bugs/fireflies, as there used to be around here in years past and I miss all of them. We have a few bees but even they are not as numerous as they used to be. I worry that there is too much spraying of poisons on our earth and too many species are being harmed. We do have hummingbirds and I do make food for them and watch them. Our feeders are hanging on our porch and the little birds chase each other all around from feeder to feeder. I notice they like the wild flower area also that I planted earlier this year. Our veggie garden was a big flop with all the rain we had. I did get a few zucchini, cucumbers and tomatoes, but the corn didn’t make it, the cabbage and lettuce didn’t either. Not sure whether the potatoes will be there when we dig for them. Waiting to see if the sunflowers will make seed heads. Until next time, God Bless.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Sandi, thank you so much! I agree with you…there is just so much spraying going on! The funny thing is, most bugs and insects in a person’s yard are just “flying through” and many are not going to lead to an infestation. I am sorry to hear about your garden. Ours has been a struggle this year with the weird weather, too. Everything is later than normal. I planted potatoes this year, too, as well as sweet potatoes. I hope mine are there, as well! Good luck! Thank you for reading and commenting! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  5. Jacqueline says:

    WOW! Can I just say amazing. You have created such an amazing, meditative, earth friendly space! Kudos to you! I would love to sit and chat in a garden like this. It is so magical and beautiful :)

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Thank you, Jacqueline! When I started out, I honestly didn’t know what I was doing, as I had never gardened in a four-season area. I would go to a local garden place, see what was in bloom in the perennial section, and pick something each year. Over the years, I have learned what works and what doesn’t, and am still learning. That’s one thing I really love about gardening – there is always something new to learn! Thanks so much for visiting the blog today! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  6. Just a BEAUTIFUL composite of Summer by you Nicole! This blog really uplifts the spirit and teaches us when we need it the most…

  7. Beverly Battaglia says:

    I love the pictures in this blog! The dragonfly is beautiful and I have not seen one in years. The bunny and deer are so cute! The eggplant is beautiful. You see so much beauty of nature where you live!
    Love,
    Mother

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Thanks, Mama. We have seen more dragonflies this year than we have in a long time, and I noticed one species I had never seen before, but he was so fast it was hard to get a photo. I can’t wait to eat that eggplant! Wish you lived closer so I could bring you fresh veggies from my garden! Miss you! Love, Nicole

  8. Donna Kozak says:

    Loved your walk around your yard…now out to mine to water my garden and free the chickens. It’s been very hot and dry up here in British Columbia but we’re hoping for a little rain this week-end to end this dry spell and bring back the green grass !

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Donna, thank you! This summer has been a strange one for us. Today it was so much cooler in the morning – almost like fall. Just a few hours later, it is warmer with rain on the way, but next week supposedly will be hot and dry. Crazy weather! When it gets super-hot and dry here, my chickie girls love cool treats like frozen peas and fresh mint. Thank you for reading and commenting! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  9. Sherry says:

    I just loved reading your blog. I am a Maine girl who relates to your descriptions of your home.
    Thank you,Sherry Stine

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Sherry, thank you! I have been to Maine a few times and just LOVE it there! Such a beautiful part of New England, as well, especially right now! Enjoy the rest of your summer! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  10. what a comforting trip. thank you.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Marlene, thank you. My yard is never going to be a “perfect” weed-free one, but I have tried to make sure something is blooming all of the time during the three seasons. Life sure does get stressful sometimes, especially nowadays, but the flowers and nature around us are just like you said – comforting. I am glad you enjoyed the walk with me! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  11. Deanna Taylor says:

    What a wonderful, beautiful reminder for us to always be aware of the world around us and it’s oftentimes overlooked beauty. The little creatures, flowers and growing things that are sharing our world with us are gifts that we should take time to notice and appreciate. I embroidered a pillow with the following saying that is a good daily reminder.. “God blesses us every day and it is up to us to notice”. Enjoy the rest of your summer.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Deanna, thank you for the comment! I love the saying you embroidered on the pillow! I have not heard that before, but what a great reminder! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  12. Beth says:

    Hey, Nicole — beautiful gardens! I live in a small semi-rural town in Western Oregon and we’re “blessed” with deer here as well (not counting “my” skunks, opossums, raccoons, etc.). In past years, the deer have only eaten the Hosta flowers, not the flower stalks or leaves. This year, not even the flowers for some reason. What it makes me think of is the Addams Family TV series where Morticia cuts the blooms off the rose stems. In their world, the flower detracts I guess LOL. It’ll be interesting to see if I get any potatoes as the deer have been enjoying feeding on the foliage. As for the raccoons…. Cute, yes. But just into everything! And so many babies this year. With the horrendous heat we’ve experienced this year, I’m always careful to keep buckets of water out for all of the faunas. Enjoy your beautiful place!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Beth, thank you…sounds like you have a lot of “visitors”, too. I agree the raccoons are cute, but such rascals! Once, we had the grill going and were sitting inside the camper for dinner. I heard something outside by the bird feeder, so I poked my head out, only to catch a racoon on top of the grill, “helping” himself to dinner! He grabbed a hot dog and scampered off into the woods to enjoy it. Thanks for stopping by and sharing with me! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  13. CJ says:

    Thanks Nicole! Lovely walk and photos of beauty! We are having another severe drought year and so things are struggling to survive. I haven’t tried to plant a garden for years because of drought, pests and my health.

    You are blessed and I thank you for sharing those blessings!
    Hugs to you!
    CJ

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi CJ, I am so sorry you haven’t been well, and also to hear that your beautiful area has been going through such a drought! That is tough and worrisome. It’s good to hear from you, my friend. Thank you for “stopping by”! I hope things improve there and fall brings some relief from the dry conditions. Big Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  14. Marilyn says:

    So lovely and colorful. Thank You for sharing.
    Marilyn

  15. Marilyn says:

    So lovely and colorful.
    Marilyn

  16. HemetGardener says:

    Love your garden. I am missing the Monarch butterflies since there are only a handful that visit my Lantana plants in the last two years. Thank you for telling me the dragonflies won’t hurt you. One landed on me that other day and I jerked my arm to make him fly away. Next time I will be more patient.
    P.S. I think I have the same yellow strainer as you. I use it for washing blueberries too.
    Thank you for sharing.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hello! Thank you! I used to be fearful of dragonflies, especially the really large ones. They LOOK like they could bite, but they do not. I wish I could show you the photo I just took this weekend. I “rescued” a dragonfly that was drowning. It sat on my hand for several minutes, flapping its wings to dry them. It was so amazing! The dragonflies little wings felt like a fan blowing! When its wings were dry, off it went, but hovered for a few seconds as if to say “thank you”. They are pretty amazing creatures and a great beneficial to have in a garden.

      The Tupperware strainer is my favorite. I use it all the time, and I think I only paid $1.00 for it at a thrift shop. It is exactly like my mom’s, which she has used since I was a child! I love the shape and the sunny color. Another great and useful vintage piece!

      Thanks for reading and commenting! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  17. Barbara Deming says:

    This is one of the most wonderful blogs you have sent us! I am a country girl at heart, still have a small garden, fruit trees, and flowers on a small city lot. I am showing my age and not keeping as much going as in the past, so I so appreciate your sharing. My heart is there with you, Nicole.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Barbara,thank you so much! Your garden sounds wonderful! I would love to put some fruit trees in. I did have a pear tree at one time that I had put in (never got around to adding a second) but lost it in a snowstorm. I have now put a small Japanese maple in its place as a focal point. I would love to plant some apple or pear trees, but I think I have waited because I know in my climate they are a lot of work! We will see. Thank for visiting the blog, and for your lovely comment! Enjoy the rest of summer! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

      • Barbara Deming says:

        No apples trees here. Avocado’s; we lost our nectarine to the cold winter last year–can you believe it was cold enough to kill a tree in San Diego County? I grew up with pear and apple trees plus fogs in South Texas.

        Barbara

        • Nicole Christensen says:

          Hi Barbara, yum! I love avocadoes! Sorry to hear you lost your nectarine tree this year. Wacky weather…my brother in Texas had beautiful fruit trees. He was babying orange and grapefruit and has such a beautiful yard. This year, the freak freeze they had ruined so much. He lost all his fruit trees, too. Just makes one feel sick. I still miss the pear tree we lost in an October snow storm years ago. I planted a beautiful Japanese maple there instead last summer and am happy that this year it is thriving. Next year, I think I will try again and add some fruit trees. Enjoy the rest of summer! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  18. Linda Pavey says:

    Thank you for sharing your gardens.

  19. Tammy L Thomson says:

    Hello Nicole, Thank you so much for taking the time to share your beautiful gardens and yard! I enjoyed the stroll very much–felt almost like I was there :)
    Very therapeutic….Speaking of the deer, oh deer! It must be the deer who have eaten all of the leaves of a potato vine and also they seem to like the leaves of my morning glories. I use a concoction of vinegar, water and a heavy amount of peppermint and rosemary essential oils. This seems to work pretty well but; has to be applied nightly or nearly. At least it smells nice, if nothing else.
    Thank you again for the garden stroll!!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Tammy, thanks for the tip! The deer have been eating things this year that we never had them eat before, too… plants that are “deer resistant”. I guess “resistant” is the key word…notdeer “proof”. That’s okay, I have enjoyed seeing the fawns that have been joining their parents lately. The one that ate my hostas brought her baby the other day. So precious! Thanks again, Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  20. Denise says:

    Once again, I enjoyed reading your post. You are so lucky to have so many different visitors to your yard, even if a certain one did destroy your hostas. I am just now seeing butterflies at my house & thankfully my milkweed it blooming away too. And I now have two hummingbirds too. Happy end of August!!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Denise! I think my deer friend who ate my hostas was eating for two…she was here again, but this time with a little deer in tow! So precious! I cut the hostas down to the ground and put some mulch on top and guess what – they bloomed again, though not near as big. And just yesterday, I saw my first bear! Thankfully, he was not in my yard, but he crossed my path as I was in my car down the street from my house. He was big, fuzzy, with shiny black fur, and FAST! It was truly a beautiful creature. (Just hope he stays down the street, lol). Thanks for reading and commenting. Enjoy your beautiful flying friends! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  21. Pamela says:

    Nicole, Have not checked your post for a while since I am recovering from open heart
    surgery. It was a birth defect which they JUST discovered, and I am not a young chick.
    Bless all my doctors and also those who have given all to COVID patients. We live in a
    wonderful country!!! What an unexpected joy to catch up and walk the paths with you in your yard. Wish you were my neighbor. Gorgeous flowers, delightful animals, herbs,
    retro pieces…………not only have you shared JOY with us, but also the blog has great
    hints & ideas. You have inspired me to start again next year. This year with much help, I have just managed to keep the weeds at bay and maintain some potted plants on my front porch. I have enjoyed it more this summer even in rain storms just like you. Friends have shared some great picks. When I started cooking again, I enjoyed delicious pesto, cold cantaloupe soup, best corn ever and even made tzatkiki!
    THANK YOU for brightening my day and sending HOPE and wonderful ideas for next
    year. Pamela – former New Englander and current rural KANSAN farmgirl

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Pamela! Thank you for this wonderful comment! Your comment means so very much to me. I hope you are recovering well from your surgery. Oh my! You dear farmgirl, sounds like you have been through a lot lately but are on your way to feeling better! If you still lived in New England, I would be bringing you some yummy dinner, a loaf of homemade sourdough bread, and flowers from my garden. I have never been to Kansas, but I have always thought it must be beautiful. Sounds like you have been cooking up some tasty treats lately! Tzatkiki is one of my most favorite things to make when the cucumbers are so available. Mine just started producing this week. Take care of yourself and I am so happy to hear your surgery went well and you are feeling better. Much love your way! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  22. Pamela says:

    Awww………..Nichole, your message warmed my heart and made my Day! It is little things & kind thoughts that make our world a better place. They may not always get
    noticed but they sure make a difference! Thanks for your lovely response. Much love back to you. Pamela

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>