Just ‘one’ more

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I somehow neglected to add these pictures in my post on Wildlife in the Garden and they give me a few chuckles so I thought they might for you too.

My backyard is a popular place for squirrels and chipmunks because there is a huge black walnut tree next door that deposits nuts in my yard also.  I have no outdoor pets, cats, dogs, etc. to chase them so they normally love my yard.  My neighbor, however, has several cats and have also discovered my yard.  I have seen her at the feeders and I thought she was looking for birds but I now see that birds are not all she’s interested in.

chippy stealing birdfood

chippy stealing bird food

chippy stranded

chippy stranded

yikes!

yikes!

It’s a standoff.

cat and chippy in a standoff

Wildlife in the garden

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Roaming about the yard, thinking about getting the plants that will come in for the winter free of any pests, got me thinking about all the wildlife that frequented the garden this summer.

hummingbird sidehummingbird back

 

The hummingbirds that love the tiger lilies.

 

 

 

Hummingbird Clearwing, Hemaris thysbe (4)The moth that would like to think he’s a hummingbird.  From a distance we thought we were looking at a baby hummingbird but he was really a moth that measured 3”+ named Hummingbird Clearwing, Hemaris thysbe.

 

 

 

swallowtailThe swallowtail that also had a blast in the tiger lilies.  He got so full of pollen.  I wonder if it will come off of him more easily than it does me.

 

 

 

 

pm far awaypm looking at meThis praying mantis was just minding his own business and then I came along with my camera.  As I was taking my shots and getting closer and closer his head turned more and more in my direction.  I started wondering if I was looking like something yummy to him and figured I had plenty of pictures and had invaded his space long enough.

 

green darner on pepper pot (10)green darner close (9)The green darner dragonfly sitting on the pepper pot is trying to fool someone with his one-eyed marking.  I sure hope he is just waiting to catch whatever it is eating holes in my plants.

 

 

 

downy woodpeckernutty wpThe downy woodpeckers flit from the apple tree to the seed feeder.  They seem to prefer the pressed seed cakes and won’t touch suet.

 

 

 

 

chickadee at the doorchickadees making a nestChickadees can’t read.  That’s fine.  Even though the sign above the door says this house is for Wrens I am happy to know the Chickadees have found a home in my front yard.

 

 

 

chickadee on the lookoutchickadee in false cyprusThey must always be on the lookout for the neighborhood cats and can perch in the false cypress, Chamaecyparis pisiffera, nearby.

 

 

 

 

I’m always delighted to see healthy, happy bees.  This guy was so energetic, just tumbling all over the flower gathering pollen and you can see the sacks just bulging on his legs.  The buzzing of his friend in another flower on the gorgeous knockout rose has a different tone to his sound.

While the birds are migrating to their winter locations, the squirrels are digging up my flower beds planting their black walnuts from the trees next door, the toads are burrowing under to hibernate, I’ll get back to thinking of the houseplants that must be readied to come back indoors before the temperatures drop too much.  Vacation is over for them.  I need to get them acclimated to the changing weather and cleaned up of any pests so they will be healthy for another winter and will not bring any unwanted guests in with them to infect other plants inside.

Edible gardening

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Each year I plant tomatoes of all sorts, cucumbers, green and hot peppers, herbs, beets, and kale, peas, beans and the like.  All of these, except for some of the herbs, are annual.  A few years ago I decided I wanted some perennial things too.  We have a Macintosh apple tree that gives us all the amazing juice and fabulous applesauce that we and all of our friends can handle.  The tree is beautiful in the spring, bountiful in the late summer, and delicious in the tummy.  I had fun making labels for bottles and jars to give to family and friends.  I needed more fruits!

apple tree  in spring

apple tree in spring

apples in summer

apples in summer

apple in tummy

apples in frig

A friend was going to get blueberry bushes.  I love blueberries!  We ordered them together.  I have very heavy dense soil so while I was waiting for delivery I added a lot of sphagnum peat to help improve the drainage.  I had room for 3 plants and chose 1 early, 1 mid-blooming, and 1 late variety to be sure I had cross-pollination, berries for as long as possible through the summer, and did not get them all at once.  They are planted along my sidewalk and will grow into a very nice shrub row.  They have their white flowers in the spring, attract the birds all summer, and the leaves turn a bright red in the fall. There are many varieties to choose from and you will have nice choice from 6 footers to ground covers if you live from zone 3 to zone 10.  Although the variety I have (hardy to zone 4) need a cold winter temperature for a good while, I was concerned about the plants because of the sub-zero temps and mountains of snow we had this winter.  The piles along the walks and drive have never been so high.  Last year I got several bowls of berries from each plant but this year I have enough for pies, scones, cobblers (I made a wonderfully smoky blueberry crumble on my charcoal grill), and friends.  The bushes did great under the insulating blanket of snow.

blues in winter

blues in winter

blues in summer

blues in summer

blues in tummy

blues in scones

It is a great morning when I can go out to the front yard with my bowl of Special-K and pick berries to top it off.   YUM!  Then I sit on the front porch, in my bare feet, enjoy my homegrown breakfast, and watch the birds play in the bath and at the feeders.  I get myself ready for the day with breakfast, coffee, and a nice chat with the neighbors on their early morning walk with the dog.

I hope you enjoy your morning too!

Container gardening

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Playing with my container plantings this year.  My neighbor has a black walnut tree that hangs over into my yard so the root system also creeps over into my soil.  It carries with it a substance called Juglone that is toxic or growth-stunting.  This is intentional by the black walnut to keep other plants out of its territory.  Boo hoo! for a gardener – it works very well.  I have learned that if I want success in my back yard I must use pots. Here is what I came up with.

Clockwise from largest leaves

keeper of the gate

keeper of the gate

chinese lantern flowers

  • Colocasia esculenta
  • Glossy leaves and red flowers of the Dragon Wing Begonia
  • Vining Flowering Maple ‘Chinese Lantern’ Abutilon megapotamicum 
  • Cardinal Flower “Queen Victoria’ Lobelia x speciosa

Close-up of the flowering maple – easy to see why it’s common name is ‘Chinese Lantern’

 

Clockwise from evergreen

dwarf container

  • Jean’s Dilly Dwarf Alberta Spruce ‘Iseli Introduction’
  • Sedum spurtum ‘Elizabeth’
  • Hens & Chicks
  • Sedum pluricale ‘Ezawe’

 

 

Clockwise from large white leaves

caladium container

  • Caladium candium 
  • Verbena Tukana White
  • Licorice vine petiolare
  • Morning glory (tucked in back – heart shaped green leaves vining up the trellis) heavenly blue

 

caladium flower budCaladium flower bud snuggled under the shade of the leaves
caladium flowerI’m seldom fortunate enough ot have a caladium flower – nice!

 

DSCF3240_0452 (2)The experiment out front is with the window boxes.  I put the grass with its soon to be tall plumes waving in the center but put one type of  salvia, hummingbird, and white lobelia on the right and another type of salvia and superbells on the left.  I have decided that the yellow tint to the superbell leaves really detracts from the white of the flower and the very white of both the lobelia and hummingbird salvia already looks quite striking against the dark red grass and I can’t wait for that side to fill out through the summer.  There have been hummingbirds in the salvia too that I can see out the window every evening about 8pm!

Clockwise from dark leaves

dalia container

  • Dalia with nice dark leaves – will have a lavender flower
  • Licorice vine Helichrysum petiolare
  • Verbena with brilliant white flowers
  • Osteospermum lavender flowers
  • Euphorbia ‘Diamond Frost’

 

 

fuchsia do

  • Fuchsia for her stylish hairdo this year

 

 

 

 

begonia and creeping jenny2

  • Brilliant flowers of the white Begonia tuberhybrida
  • Creeping jenny for the cascade Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’

 

 

 

green peppers container

  • Growin’ Green Peppers
  • Threw in an orange Gerbera daisy for a bit of fun

 

 

 

tomatoe container

  • Growin’ tomatoes – started ’em early – nearly ready!
  • Always add merigolds to help keep pests away

 

 

 

beans and superbells (calibroachoa)

  • Growin’ green beans
  • Threw in some red superbells for a bit of fun

 

 

 

beets, lettuce amoung the cukes

  • Growin’ beets and lettuce in the pot surrounded by cukecumbers

These are in the front yard so no black walnut toxins among the cukes

 

 

 

There are other baskets and pots about…nasturtium by the kitchen so I can pick the flowers for salads, strawberries for breakfast also out the kitchen door,and gerbera daisy (not in flower) & portulaca along the walk to the shed

nasturtium
strawberries
along the walk

 

 

The lizard and the turtle hold their little pots of sedum on the shed.  I used pencil holders packed with sphagnum moss to hold the soil for a small hanging basket.

sedum
shed
sedum 2

 

Past the shed, on the new benches along the fence, is where the colocasia etc., dwarf spruce etc., yellow oenothera with portulaca, and zinnias with portulaca sit.

keeper of the gate

keeper of the gate

right of the gate

right of the gate

 

It will be fun to see how the dwarf spruce grows.  I was told it should be 2-4″ taller each year until it reaches about 3′.  Perfect for my pot on this bench.

 

 

 

 

 

Around the yard in spring

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Walking around the yard in the early spring with my head down searching out all the emerging plant life is always amazing to me.  The snow drops, crocus, hyacinth, tulips just peek out to say,’it’s time, the season is changing‘.  Several weeks later come the first early perennial blooms, paying attention?‘, and I am amazed once again.  It was a terribly hard, cold, snowy winter here in Michigan so I am pleasantly surprised at all the tough plants that have pulled through.  There was a bit of damage to the 30+ year old boxwood that had to be trimmed up, my neighbors many year old holly that had to be removed, and perhaps my fun little false cypress (Chamaecyparis Pisiffera) that anchors one end of my front bed, still hoping for that one to recover, but miraculously I think that’s it.  Because the snow was so deep and the temps were so cold there was no freezing and thawing.  Yea deep snow.  Since that nice thick blanket of snow was keeping things cozy, when the temps finally rose, the plants had more chance of survival.  Here are a few pics of things I was able to capture this late spring morning after our thunderstorms through the night.

tradescantia (2)
This tradescantia, on the left, has such delicate petals but is strong enough to withstand the torrential rains we had and the hummingbird salvia among the forget-me-nots, on the right, is standing as sturdy as ever.

Salvia in forget-me-nots

Whether they are pink, purple, red, or white the complicated flowers of these columbine put on a beautiful display.  They and the salvia really attract the hummingbirds.

pink columbine (2)
The columbine love the cool, sunny days of spring and really show off after a good rain.

columbine in forget-me-nots (2)

purple columbine (3)

There is very little shade in my yard but the trillium, left, have found a home safely nestled beneath a barberry shrub.

trillium (2)
The allium, right, is just sparkling with the rain drops waiting for the warmth of the day, and the armeria, below, loves the bright, sunny morning.

Armeria (2)

allium

Around back is some lively color.  The brilliant red tulips are done, the deep orange poppy’s are getting ready to pop but the soft reds and purples really catch the eye.

bleeding heart and centaurea (2)
The bleeding heart and purple centaurea, on the left, make a striking contrast and you can see the poppy buds getting ready.  The cardinal vine and hydrangea beneath the bird feeder live in wooden barrel to escape the black walnut tree roots in the yard next door.
cardinal vine and hydrangea

Well, that’s the tour for this day.  I wait with eager anticipation for the poppy’s to burst, the potent fragrance of the peony’s in the air, the soft red of the rugosa rose at the curb, the subtle scent of the lavender bells of the clematis covering the arbor, the containers on the patio to fill in and spill over – the caladmium is about to send up a flower! – … This is such a wonderful time of the year.

I am responsive!