Thursday, April 30, 2015

April Wildflowers

popping up everywhere
Our side of the earth is shedding her winter blanket
and bursting forth with her lively spring colors.

Nothoscordum bivalve or False Garlic
Field of False Garlic
Wild Violets?
More Coreopsis
Prunella vulgaris or Heal all, Self heal, Wound wort
Taraxacum officinale or Dandelion
Trifolium or Clover

I almost hate to see the lawn mowed!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Red-Headed Woodpecker

There's a new bird in the hood and I'm not quite sure as to whether I want him (or her) to hang around or not- perhaps just long enough to capture a few more photos.  This gorgeous Red-headed Woodpecker has been visiting our back yard consistently for the past couple of weeks.  So far I have only one half-decent shot of him...

Since this species is new to me, I did some online reading to learn more.  According to the information, the red-heads are aggressive, particularly during breeding season.  Many bird species are, so that's nothing new.  What worries me most is that they may remove the eggs of other species from nests and nest boxes or destroy other birds’ nests.  Also, they sometimes raid bird nests to eat eggs and nestlings; they may occasionally eat adult birds.  I know it's nature, but still it bothers me. Only a few weeks ago a Sharp-shinned Hawk stalked and attacked some of the birds at the feeders- a daily occurrence until I temporarily took some feeders down and moved the others.  I haven't seen the hawk around in several days and I hope he's moved on.  Perhaps this red-head will find plenty of insects, fruit and seeds to satisfy his appetite and he'll avoid preying upon other birds and their eggs. I'll be watching him as much as possible...

We'll soon be over the hump of this week.  I hope yours has been a good one thus far.  Thank you for stopping by and leaving your comment- they are much appreciated.  

Linked with Stewart for Wild Bird Wednesday-
I invite you to visit Stewart's blog and browse through the great posts
and gorgeous images of birds from all over the world- you'll be happy you did!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Luna Moth

While relaxing with a cup of java on the back porch a few nights ago, I was startled by the rapid, crazed movements of a giant moth as it fluttered around the porch light.  It took several seconds for the moth to secure a comfortable spot on the weathered back door.  He stayed in the same spot for a while but after being disturbed (by me), he moved to a porch beam.  

Because I had never been so close to a luna moth, I took advantage of his temporary presence. I was fascinated by his beauty and size.  His bright green and yellow wings were edged in deep purple and his long hind wings featured two beautiful circular eye spots.  His white body appeared soft and fuzzy which reminded me of cotton.  His large, bushy light yellow antennae helped me to identify him as male.  

Luna moths are among the largest moths in North America, having a wing span of up to 4.5 inches. They fly, only at night, in spring and summer.  The adults don't eat- they don't have a mouth!  They live for only about a week and their only purpose is to mate.  The females release a chemical at night which attracts males.  The adults die shortly after mating or laying eggs.  

It seems unfortunate that these beautiful creatures have such a short life span, but nature has her reasons, though we don't always understand them.  

Monday, April 27, 2015

Spring Blooms

Some of the many reasons I love Spring...

Beautiful blooms from the garden
April 2015

Sunday, April 26, 2015

April Blooms in My Garden

Despite all the rain, our newly planted flowers and shrubs did well during April.  Daytime temperatures have been comfortable enough, so I've spent a good portion of my spare time outdoors. Our flower gardens are fresh and lively.  I wish they would stay as colorful and fresh as they are now, but the summer heat will soon set in and destroy some of their beauty.  Some of my favorites from the month of April...

Blue Salvia is a favorite for bees, butterflies and hummingbirds
The St. Joseph's Lily bud attracted a tiny visitor- anyone happen to know what kind of spider this is?
One of three varieties of Hosta planted in my gardens
I love the color combinations of this Lantana- "Luscious Berry" from Proven Winners 
I did a mass planting of them a few feet from the back porch- they're so pretty!
Gaillardias aka Fire Wheels or Blanket Flowers are always a hit with their bright orange & yellow petals 
The Scarlet Milkweed is already growing like crazy!
A beautiful "weed"
The Scarlet Milkweed attracts butterflies, in particular the Monarch.  It also attracts Milkweed bugs.
The Kleim's Hardy Gardenia shrubs have bloomed beautifully
I love Gardenias!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Short, Sweet Moment

I caught a quick glimpse of something moving near a brush pile in our back yard. When I turned around to look, I saw wings flapping wildly.  Initially I thought it was one of the birds in distress, as if it were being attacked.  But as I got closer, I realized it was a young mourning dove and it was begging for food from its parent.  

The photos aren't that great, but it was a sweet moment.  
I hope you're all experiencing some sweet moments this week :)

Monday, April 20, 2015

Pretty Pinks

Good morning folks!  I hope you're all doing well.  I'm still at it- working my full time job and trying to get as much done as possible in my back yard before the heat of summer sets in.  When summer arrives, I'm basically done in the yard.  I'll water and deadhead my flowers and that's about it.  The intense southern heat zaps all the energy from this old gal- after a few minutes of working in it, I become limp and useless.

Have you done any spring planting yet?  I thought I'd share a few shots of the pink ones I've planted, since I have several of them...

Pink creeping phlox
Goldflame honeysuckle
New guinea impatiens
Pink caladiums
I love the wavy foliage of these
Some of my favorite among caladiums
Pink and red ones
These are more of a traditional variety of caladiums
A favorite of Mr. Garden Fly

Thank you for visiting.  I wish you a wonderful week ahead.  

Friday, April 10, 2015

Sneak Peek of My Gardens

Good Evening, Everyone!  I thought I'd share a few of my garden photos with you so you can get an idea of what I've been so busy with lately.  When my husband and I purchased this property, the back yard was (and to a lesser degree, still is) a mess. The privet shrubs have literally taken over most of the acreage on the back side of our property.   Many of them have been cut back, but many remain. It's going to take a while to get this place in the condition we want it to be.  

Our property slopes from front to back and there are several areas which hold water. It was so bad during all of the rain in March that I thought I might need a boat!  The first photo below shows one of the low lying areas- a muddy mess during wet periods.  After removing the piles of pine straw and leaves around it, I tilled it, then placed several layers of purchased garden soil, cow manure, top soil and compost. The new plants went in next, then they were topped with a layer of pine straw/leaf mulch.

I would guess that the length around this circle of trees is about 75 to 80 feet and the width is about 4 feet at the narrow end and 7 to 8 feet at the wide end.  One side of the trees receive morning sun while the other side receives afternoon/evening sun.  On the morning sun side, I planted gardenia bushes, hawthorne, hostas, a few lilies and white caladiums.  On the afternoon sun side, I planted agapanthus, foxgloves, calla lilies, day lilies, bulbine, blue salvia, candytuft and alstroemeria. There are some empty spots which need small plants, but I'll add them intermittently throughout the remainder of spring and summer.  My sister promised she would bring her heavy duty wire cutters to cut the barbed wire that is embedded in the trees (apparently at one time the trees served as posts for a fenced in area).  

In another area of the back yard, which receives a good bit of afternoon sun, I placed a raised bed and planted my 2nd-year bee balms, gerbera daisies, shasta daisies, milkweed and liatris.  I saved a spot to the back for coneflowers.  

In a corner of the back yard is yet another area where I've planted some red and pink caladiums.  A few hostas will be planted between the caladiums.  

I hope you enjoyed a peek into my back yard gardens.  There's still so much to do...but in time it will all come together.  I'm not as fast as I used to be.  

Have a great weekend, Everyone!  Many thanks for visiting and leaving your kind, supportive comments- you're awesome!