Sunday, April 22, 2018

Hope Springs Forth

I'm feeling extra grateful for spring this year.  The arrival of spring has given me hope and purpose.  My mind has been focused on bird watching and back yard landscaping.  Flower gardens are getting a makeover and new landscaping projects have begun.  Migrating birds are passing through and resident birds are preparing their nests for offspring.  There's been so much activity going on in my back yard and I'm enjoying it. 

A pair of Carolina Wrens have claimed one of the bird houses in our back yard.  Each morning the male perches on the back deck railing and sings his little heart out.  He packs a powerful voice to be such a small squirt.  The past couple of days I've noticed the parents have been bringing insects to the nest and removing fecal sacs from it.  That lets me know there are nestlings in the bird house.  Hopefully I'll soon see little wren heads poking out of the hole.  

Carolina wrens have begun building nests in these bird houses each spring but have never completed the nests until this year.  I hope the young ones survive and fledge soon.  It will be exciting to watch!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Back Yard Project: Flower Garden Makeover

This flower garden desperately needed a makeover.  Though I started it only three years ago, most of the plants had died.  Those remaining were destroyed by the colder than usual winter this past year.  I really didn't have enough soil and compost in it to begin with- maybe that contributed to the demise of the plants.  

Before planting, Sandy added a mixture of several bags of garden soil and topsoil.  After each hole was dug, I added "worm poo compost" to the hole and blended it into the loose soil.  When the plants were placed into the hole and covered, I blended more compost into the soil surrounding it.  When all the plants were placed, they were covered in a layer of red mulch.  I hung two baskets of flowers on the 4x4 post and moved one of the bird baths into the garden.  

I have my sister to thank for all the hard work she contributed toward this flower garden makeover.  She worked her butt off and I'm so grateful to her.  The garden turned out beautiful and I love it!  (Photos taken with my cell phone)

Monday, April 16, 2018

A Few Back Yard Snapshots

I'd never seen a moth like this one before so I grabbed a couple of quick photos of it.  I haven't researched it yet but I think it's pretty with the yellow blocks of color against black and the puffy orange appendages.

The Northern Cardinals have been pretty aggressive with each other lately.  I think it's because breeding season is near and they are displaying territorial or dominance behaviors.  The females have been fighting each other as well.  I haven't seen any of the males feeding a female yet, one of their signs of courtship.  The males outnumber the females at least 2:1.  I love their bright red feathers, especially in the sunlight.

Mourning Doves visit our back yard every day.  This one particular dove couple decided to dine together...

Just another ordinary day in the neighborhood.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Flower Fever

Mom used to say to me, "You remind me of a bumble bee when spring comes, buzzing around from one flower to the next".  She was right.  I just can't help myself.  I have a seasonal disorder called Flower Fever.  It begins every year when March arrives with warmer, sunnier days and ends during the hot, humid days of May or June.  During this time I must dig in the dirt and put some new plants in my gardens.  It may be as few as two plants or as many as fifty, depending on our circumstances at the time.  My sister made it possible to add several additions to my back yard gardens this year.  She did the majority of the back-breaking work.  All I had to do was place the plants where I wanted them in the gardens.  I was able to re-pot some new plants for our back deck.  

Pictured below are Purple Hearts which are planted in a beautiful aqua colored ceramic pot that I purchased last year from Barrett's Garden Center.  Below that are some Portulaca Cupcake or Purslane, Verbena and some pink Creeping Phlox.  Charlie purchased some wonderful planters with coconut liners which look great on our back lower deck.  The local titmouse has already been stealing beak fulls of coconut fiber for her nests. 

Charlie also purchased five big, beautiful Knock-out Roses for me- three red and two pink.  We moved a vacant garden box (a handmade one from the year before) to a spot further back in the yard and we'll use that for a rose garden. It's going to take several bags of soil, compost and mulch to fill in this 4x8 ft box.

My favorite lantana didn't survive through this past winter :(  I searched for the same variety of lantana but couldn't find it so I purchased something similar.  I'll have to wait and see how it does.  I like for lantana to be bushy and fill in a space thoroughly but I'm not sure yet if this variety is going to work well.

Two bleeding heart plants have been added to our back yard gardens.  I chose a spot that I initially thought they would thrive in, but after planting them I'm not so sure.  Another one I'll have to watch.  I love the tiny heart shaped flowers that dangle from the plants tender limbs- can't wait until it reaches full bloom!  Also added to the garden are 6 small Encore azalea shrubs, Autumn Embers.  This is the first time I've planted Encore azaleas.  From what I understand, they're supposed to bloom twice annually- during spring and during autumn.  Since the spring bloom has passed, I'll have to wait until autumn to see the dramatic fiery orange-red blooms claimed to be produced by these azaleas.

I decided to give in and purchase a Hibiscus this year.  I love the big bright orange-pink tropical blooms and it looks great on our lower deck.  I hope it does well.  But wait- one more "first"- Charlie bought me a gorgeous Bromeliad plant.  This one takes the prize on good looks! It is stunning!  I placed in on our upper back deck, between the pair of wicker chairs.  It really dresses the area up.  I love it.

There's still a lot of garden work to be done- pots of plants sit and wait on our deck to be placed into their new homes.  Thank heavens for my wonderful sister who intends to help as much as possible.

Just look at all of those plants!  I felt useless when I tried to plant several of them myself and couldn't do it.  The bending really intensified my back pain.  I felt guilty placing the extra work load on my sister, but she said she doesn't mind doing it and I believe she's sincere.

Count the garden by the flowers, never by the leaves that fall.  Count your life with smiles and not the tears that roll.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

No Spring Skips Its Turn

It's been a little over a year since I last wrote a post for my nature blog.  Much has changed in my life since then. Without going into details, I'm just going to share that my 34 year old son passed away suddenly and unexpectedly in September 2017 and I continue to have some health issues and will have another back surgery soon.  Life has been tough, but it continues.  I take it one day at a time.

Gone are the frigid cold days of winter.  The earth is warming up and the first perennials of a new spring have made their appearance.  Once they peep out from their pine straw covering, the Daffodils and Hostas grow rapidly.  I'm astonished at the size of the hosta leaves this year- they're huge!  The African irises completely died down during winter and the new plants have multiple bright yellow blooms on them.  The Asiatic lilies have multiplied a little and look promising. 

The St. Joseph's lilies are gorgeous!  They're among my favorite blooms and it's easy to see why- just look at those beautiful red flowers!  Nearby the calla lilies are peeping from their bed of pine straw and leaves.  A few of the pretty pink carpet roses have opened up in bloom and there's a ton of new rose buds on the stems.  They will be heavy laden with blooms in just a couple of weeks.  Sandy cleared all the weeds from the rose bed and applied fresh mulch so it looks great now.  

No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.  

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Just Jays

I'm still working on clearing some of my photo files.  These aren't great, but I love blue jays so I'm posting them anyway.  This old Cleveland Pear tree has dozens of tiny twigs which partially obscure the view, but it's a favorite of my back yard birds.  Most of these photos were taken in December 2016 & January 2017.

As always, thank you for your interest in my blog and comments.  Have an awesome Thursday!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Squirrel Tales

Sharing some squirrel photos that were in my files:

February 2017: A hungry squirrel plundered for a snack in a mound of dead leaves and pine straw...

while another chattered and vigorously whipped his tail up and down.  He seemed to be looking dead at me- it's probably for the best that he doesn't speak English, lol.  

September 2016:  This precious little mama needed to steal away a few minutes to feed herself...

and this one had a parasite (larval stage of a warble botfly)- yes, it's pretty gross but it's a common parasite on squirrels (and other small mammals) and I posted it for those who are unfamiliar with botfly larva.  Read more about it here.

Poor baby- botfly infestation causes intense itching in the area and the result is hair loss from scratching.  He was fortunate to have only one and probably healed just fine once the warble dropped out.  If you really want to be grossed out, just watch some of the you tube videos of botflies- they're guaranteed to make your skin crawl.  *shiver*