"One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it brings."

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

March end of month view.

March has just flown by this year. Often March feels like one of those never ending months to me. I think because I've been able to get a head start on a few garden projects it hasn't felt as long as usual. But now the April showers, which will hopefully bring May flowers, have begun a bit early. Our 10 day forecast shows rain for all, but one day. So getting back to finish the projects may not happen as soon as I had hoped.
The end of the month also means it's time to join in with The Patient Gardener's Weblog for the end of month view
Things are really beginning to fill in here now. Something is missing from here, although I doubt anyone besides me would notice. I mentioned last week that our pipe that led to the outside faucet must have frozen during the winter, leading to pouring water inside the garage (no damage luckily). The upside to this was that we moved the faucet to a new place. It used to be on the wall behind the plants, leading to many broken plants and bad words as I would unroll the hose to water. Now it is located in a much better place on the front of the garage making watering the whole front yard much easier.

This is the Sedge (Carex hachijoensis) 'Evergold' which I decided to plant under the maple tree. It supposed to get 1 foot by 1 foot and is a clump forming grass. I'm waiting for the rest of the Hostas to reappear before I plant the three of them.

Jacob's Ladder (Polemonium) already has buds on some of the plants.

The beautiful variegated leaves of Japanese Maple 'Orido Nishiki' are so nice against the red twigs that the new growth appears on. Oh, I love this tree! I recently read that it is a slow grower, but in our garden it has grown quite fast.

By the end of next month hopefully I'll have those Sedges planted along with rearranging Hostas and Astillbes. There's a possibility there may even be some small buds on the Hydrangeas. I have a Hydrangea in my backyard with tiny buds already. Hopefully the Columbines in this bed will be blooming by then too.
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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Flyaway - A book review.

Anyone that reads my blog on a regular basis knows that I'm a bird lover. I am fascinated by watching the birds that visit my yard. I've done as many things as I can to attract as many species of birds as possible. So, when I was asked to review the book "Flyaway" by Suzie Gilbert I was very excited to do so. Suzie Gilbert is a wild bird rehabber and since my only bird rehab experience has involved scooping a small bird that flew into a window into a shoebox and then placing it up in a safer spot, I was interested to see what a real rehabber does.

Suzie started off early on being a bird lover. She tells of her childhood experiences with birds and about reading a book that taught her how to actually gain the trust of Chickadees to eat from her hand. Through different life experiences she eventually was led to work in a raptor rehab center where she enjoyed getting to know the birds and watched as many were healed well enough to be released back into the wild.

Eventually Suzie decided to start a bird rehab center in her own yard as a place to help songbirds that needed to spend time in a flight cage to strengthen their wings and practice things like foraging for food. She first decides she will not accept injured birds at all, but as the calls for help come in, she has a hard time saying no to people that need a place to bring injured birds. It's not too long before not only her songbird flight cage begins to fill, but so does her bathroom where she keeps everything from baby ducklings to a heron before she can find the appropriate bird rehabilitation center for them. Being someone who has a hard time saying no when it comes to animals (just ask my husband), it was easy for me to relate to her situation. I enjoyed reading about how her husband and two young children become involved with the birds too. The children took part in naming and caring for nestlings (baby birds too young to leave the nest). The amount of time and work that is required to feed them was exhausting just to read about. At one point she is called to help an injured Peregrine Falcon, an endangered species, whose beak has been split after flying into a window.
Many of her stories telling of how the birds behave with each other are quite funny. One of my favorites was about the turkey vulture and the pigeons who she named Jerry Garcia and the Deadheads. Unfortunately some of the stories have sad endings, birds that died from injuries or would never be released back into the wild again.
In her book she frequently mentions what humans have done to cause the need for so many birds to require being rescued. Everything from pesticides and habitat destruction to flying into windows and domestic cats causing them injury. She has a lot of information on how many birds are injured or killed each year by domestic cats. I found the numbers to be quite shocking. As a former cat owner I had always kept our cats indoors for fear of them being hit by a car or injured by a raccoon or coyote. I had never really thought about the impact they could have had on birds. After witnessing our neighbor cat catching a hummingbird, which thankfully was fast enough to get away, I can understand her reasons even more for encouraging cats to be indoors.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I learned so much about birds and how they are cared for and why wildlife rehabbers are so important. I had no idea how much was involved; time, money and emotions. I highly recommend this book if you are a nature lover or if you just want to learn more about what is involved in rehabilitating wild birds.
If you visit here you can read more about Suzie Gilbert and Flyaway, Inc. her non-profit wild bird rehabilitation center. There is also an interesting video of her releasing a female red-tailed hawk.

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Monday, March 29, 2010

Path garden blooms.

The path garden is looking better and better everyday. There seem to be new blooms almost each time I go out looking. Spring is definitely it's best time of year. There are three large trees that line the path garden. The tallest is the Ponderosa Pine which has the most beautiful bark and seems to be the most interesting to the birds. This weekend we saw a female Pileated Woodpecker on it. Then there is the Japanese Maple and then a large Cedar tree. All three are difficult to grow plants under. I've actually found the Japanese Maple to be the most difficult and the Cedar to be the least difficult.

The Japanese Maple which was named "Ashley" by my girls last summer, is just beginning to leaf out. Each Spring I'm always amazed at how suddenly the leaves appear. The tiny red flowers are also about to bloom. This is Sweet Pea's favorite climbing tree.

A Fernleaf Bleeding Heart (Dicentra eximia) surprises me each Spring with it's return. It's never grown very big, but usually it has a few flowers before it dies back for the summer.

An Epimedium that I planted last fall. I thought it had died, but now the new leaves and flowers are just showing up.

One of the grocery store Frittilarias ended up being a checkered one. Yeah!

Pink Flowering Currant (Ribes sanguineum) is in full bloom now. I haven't seen any hummingbirds by it yet, but I anxiously waiting for them.

Solomon's Seal (Polygonatum) is blooming.

Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia) only has one flower bud so far, since I've only had this for a couple of years I'm not sure how fast it grows. It seems to be fairly slow growing.

And my current little favorite Navelwort (Omphalodes cappdocica) 'Starry Eyes' keeps blooming and blooming.

Our pretty Spring weather on Saturday has given way to wind and rain. It's so hard to have one nice day followed by many days of rain. I just want to go outside and weed and work in the garden. Hope you are having sunshine where you are!
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Friday, March 26, 2010

First Fertilizer Friday of Spring!

Spring has started off nicely around here with several days up in the 60's. I had a little time to get some gardening done while it was nice, now we are back to rain which is very normal for us this time of year. I've taken the lids off of several of the wintersowing containers that either have perennials or annuals like Nigella and Larkspur that I know can handle any more cold we get.
A couple of days ago I planted a new rose 'Tamora' in an area that I've been wanting to add more roses to. The dirt in that area was pretty bad, but over the years I've been adding more and more compost which seems to have helped quite a bit. I worked in lots more compost around the planting spot for the rose. Then it was time to water it in. When I went to turn the water on that goes to the outdoor faucet I heard a very strange noise. As I walked outside to turn the faucet on I knew something didn't seem right. Walking back into the garage I saw water pouring from the ceiling and down through the wall. We had two weeks of record breaking cold back in December and we think that whatever water was left in the pipe must have frozen and cracked the pipe, but we didn't discover it until I turned the water on that flows through it to the outdoor faucet. We are lucky that there was a valve to turn the water off where the pipe comes off the water main and nothing was damaged. Looks like we have another project for the to do list, but luckily the soldering skills we learned this winter will come in handy for it.
Now for the good things going on around here:

These are my indoor seedlings. I don't usually start too much inside because of lack of space, but I do enjoy starting a least some. Here there are tomatoes, Morning Glory, Cleome, Verbascum, Nicotiana, Hibiscus, Amaranthus, Butterfly flower, Lupine and more. The only one that I'm having trouble with are the Morning Glories which germinate and then rot within a couple of days.

I've started two types of tomatoes; 'Black Krim' and 'Tigerella'. I really need to pot these up and see if I can separate a few seedlings.

The Amaranthus 'Love Lies Bleeding' has the prettiest colored seedlings. They germinated very quickly.

Lupines are doing pretty well. Not too many germinated, but I seem to remember that being a problem before too. I did nick all the seeds before I planted them.

Outdoors Daphne 'Summer Ice' is making the backyard smell delicious. This will bloom all summer and into the fall. I was happy to see it sent up a new plant which I'm letting get a little bigger before I try moving it.

Tulips have just started blooming. I planted these many years ago and they continue to bloom every year, where as others bloom one year and then never return. I'm glad these are the ones that return though, I love the coloring of them.

Visit Tootsie to see who else is "flaunting their flowers" this Fertilizer Friday.
It seems like once it's Spring it gets even busier around here and I haven't had a lot of time to visit very many blogs, but I will try to get to visit more over the next few days.
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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Monthly Garden Bouquet - March.

Last month Noelle from Ramblings from a Desert Garden... came up with what I thought was a really fun idea, creating a monthly bouquet with flowers that are currently blooming in our garden. She has had beautiful bouquets both months so be sure to visit her and see them. While I was choosing flowers to pick I remembered that I have a very hard time cutting flowers from my garden. Every year I vow I will pick more flowers and bring them inside, every year I find that I barely do. I think my reasons are: 1. They live longer outside and 2. I'm not very good at flower arranging. This monthly meme will hopefully help me to start bringing flowers into our home to enjoy more.

Here is my March bouquet. I used a small baby food jar (which are great for little flowers) and decided to put it in the terracotta pot. I've never tried this before, so maybe I'm already overcoming my lack of creativity!

I have lots of Bleeding Hearts (Dicentra spectablilis) blooming, but still could not overcome my not wanting to cut off more than a couple. Am I the only one that has a hard time cutting flowers off a plant?

I love little birds and find them at craft stores often during the Spring. I thought it looked kind of cute by the pot.

Pink Flowering Currant (Ribes sanguineum) are just starting to bloom, so I found one with a few open flowers.

I have Pansies, Muscari, Pulmonaria, Bleeding Hearts, Navelwort and Pink Flowering Currant in the bouquet. Now this bouquet is sitting on my kitchen window sill.

I hope others will join Noelle in this fun meme as flowers begin to bloom in your garden.
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Monday, March 22, 2010

This is what I love about Spring.

We had a very busy weekend getting the side yard emptied out and ready for the new "potting shed" that will be built next week. We were so busy dismantling the old shed, getting rid of debris and organizing things that I hardly got to just enjoy how the garden was looking. Today the girls are out of school, but between play dates and soon their dentist appointment I wanted to take time to look at the front yard.
As I was walking around I was reminded what it is about Spring that I love so much. It's not just about the flowers and the birds, it's about the color of all the new growth that's just coming up from the ground or the new leaves on the shrubs.

This time of year there is so much color just from the foliage. Aside from Anemone blanda, Muscari and Crocuses there aren't that many things blooming in the front border.

The new growth of the Peony 'Festiva Maxima' and Penstemon 'Mystica' have a beautiful maroon color. 'Mystica' is a Penstemon which is the improvement over 'Husker Red'. 'Husker Red' never did too well here, it would bloom one year then slowly die. 'Mystica' looks about the same but performs much better here.

I love the orangey-yellow of the new Coreopsis coming up at the front, Bloody Dock (Rumex sanguineus) is the green and red leafed plant to the right of it. The iris and foxglove are really starting to grow quickly. Of course Spirea 'Magic Carpet' just glows right now.

More of the Spirea 'Magic Carpet' with iris and Penstemon 'Sweet Joanne' nearby.

Lots of different greens here. The shiny looking shrub on the far right is Mexican Orange (Choisya ternata) and Abelia is to the left. Both will begin blooming soon.

Another Peony 'Sorbet' is coming up here, although not as maroon as the other one. I love the colors of the new leaves on the rose bushes.

Looking over a Spirea (whose name I don't know) I love looking at all the different shades and textures of green.

Before long this bed will be full of flowers and I'll be enjoying them, probably forgetting at that time how beautiful it looked before they were blooming. But for now, I want to remember what it is about Spring that I enjoy so much.
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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Happy first day of Spring!

To all of my fellow gardeners I want to wish you a very happy first day of Spring!

Hopefully it'll be a day of:

Birds singing,

Hearts filled with joy for what this season brings,

Flowers blooming,

and sunshine!

Happy Spring from my garden to yours!
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Friday, March 19, 2010

Last Fertilizer Friday of winter!

Finally Spring begins tomorrow. I think I put my Spring countdown up when it was still over 60 days away, and now like many things I've had to wait for, it feels like it was just yesterday that it felt so far away. The closer Spring has gotten, the higher the sun has gotten in the sky creating beautiful lighting. Lighting can be everything in taking pictures. The same beautiful flower can look completely different in pictures depending on the light. We've had some beautiful sunny days with more on the way. Temperatures in the 60's make us sure Spring really does start tomorrow even with another recent light frost. And since daylight savings time started it has been light until almost 7:30 p.m. already giving us longer days to enjoy the outdoors.

So for the last Fertilizer Friday of this winter I found these beauties blooming in the sun:

The White Bleeding Heart (Dicentra spectablilis) looks perfect in this light.

The double Hellebore 'Mardi Gras Double' that I bought this year continues to bloom.

One of my favorite spring bloomers Pink Flowering Currant (Ribes sanguineum) is just starting to open.

Muscari seems to be everywhere in my yard now. They are perfect to put in little Spring bouquets.

The Crocuses soak in the sun.

Navelwort (Omphalodes cappadocica) 'Starry Eyes' in the shady path garden didn't see as much sun. I've found a few of these popping up in other parts of the garden which I'm very happy about.

Fertilizer Friday is hosted by Tootsie at Tootsie Time every Friday. Visit her to join in or to see what other flowers are being flaunted this week.

On my previous post I mentioned that no birds had moved into the pond birdhouse yet, well yesterday morning I was surprised and happy to see a Chickadee spending a lot of time checking it out and eventually going inside for awhile. Hopefully he'll bring his mate along and they'll build their nest.
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