Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Pause That Refreshes

We had a break today. The heat and humidity disappeared and was replaced by high 70-degree weather and no humidity. It meant I could go outside to weed in the morning for an hour or so and not have to wear a towel around my neck. The rains yesterday made the ground soft for pulling up the invasive crab grass and that newcomer, the Japanese stilt grass! When I was done I went inside for my second cup of coffee. While sipping on it and looking out the patio window I saw this...

That crazy ten-foot sunflower plant in the pot on my deck had attracted two hummingbirds. Both were territorial and fought for space making it twice as hard to capture them.  But, as you can see, my sunflower is blooming very well!

While I have not seen the goldfinch, I expect them any day as the first blossom in the photo above is drying and producing seed.

I could see the little hummers flitting through the trees as I sat on the patio waiting for them to return.  They are such fierce fighters with each other.  One even flew up to my face within two feet as if trying to figure out my species.

Friday, July 21, 2017

While I Was Away

Those who read my other blog know that I have been in New York City for the prior week. Those of you who garden realize that being away from your growing plants for a long time is a bit traumatic.  You try to plan your vacation trip around the growing season.  Or you either throw things to the hands of fate or you try to find someone to water and check on things and keep your fingers crossed . 

We did not have anyone to really check on things except the man who helps mow and trim on the weekends. But we "lucked out" in that a heavy rain came mid-week. My roses are bereft as there was no one to pick off the beetles and deadhead to encourage more blooms. My other flowers have almost completed blooming before the fall time. 

This time in my yard with the heat and humidity there are a few late lilies, the ever patient phlox and the rather weedy annual flower bed full of zinnias and sunflowers all overshadowed by a thousand coreopsis!   The crepe myrtles are still in bud.

The vegetables had grown large and watery...cucumbers and tomatoes. We will pick and eat them anyway. 

This year hubby planted a new variety of sweet blueberry and we had amended the soil to finally get a decent crop.  Granddaughter helped us pick a pint or so for pancakes the next morning.

I also noticed that the planters I had placed in large bins of water (with mosquito dunks) had managed to hold their health if indeed looking a bit haggard from wind and pelting rain. But there was one surprise...

This sunflower, that volunteered from the bird seed this past winter, I staked well and it is  now 10 feet tall!  Soon goldfinch will flash their golden beauty and start picking away at the seeds and chumming down on the golden petals.

My gardening will have to wait as the weather is now unbearable!

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

I Have Volunteers

Each year I purchase a few annuals to put in pots on my deck. Every other year or so I change out the soil. This year I did not replace the soil as I was in California. When I returned I got a fertile sunflower from seed dropped by a bird during the winter feedings on my deck.  (All photos were taken through a somewhat dirty window!)

This sunflower is one of those giants you see in fields in France or perhaps our own Midwest. It is huge and I have staked it in the hopes of saving it from our winds and torrential downpours. Of course, it really sucks up all the moisture and I have to go out and water each day.

It seems that the goldfinch are impatient for it to flower.  

The male and female are not as disheveled as they have probably gotten their young ones out of the nest and on their way.

But their impatience is strong.  So now they are tearing apart the seeds of another volunteer in my petunia pot...the zinnias.  It is a colorful show I must admit, although it will probably ensure no zinnia volunteers next year.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Flower Painting with the Computer

I have been hiding from the hot sun and very humid days recently.  I sneak out early in the morning and water a few places and weed a few others in my flower gardens.  Then I lumber back inside with cut grass covering my feet and twigs in my hair and bugs on my back and go to my computer in the air-conditioned cave and spend time "painting."

This 'artwork' hides the weeds and softens the dead-heads on the flowers and evens out the harsh sunlight.

And I can pretend my garden looks as nice as yours. Your know who you are up in the lovely Northwest with all your soft and misty rain!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Scary or Just Lucky

The world is a scary place sometimes.

Above is a click-eyed beetle.  This one was about two inches long and quite and an eye-catcher.  It does not bite or sting and those round outlined circles on its back are not the eyes.  In the adult stage, it eats the larva of other insects, so it is considered beneficial.  I understand that if you catch it and put it upside down on the ground it will click its spine and right itself.  I was not brave enough to do that.

Above in this photo is the Hummingbird moth that is a voracious feeder of nectar.  This one is loving my bee balm.  They also are beneficial and do not sting or bite.  They almost look like a hummingbird when flying.

According to one website, "Hummingbird moths have been seen as a lucky omen. In particular, a swarm of the moths was seen flying across the English Channel on D-Day, the day of the Normandy landings in the Second World War."

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

And the Sun Returns

The sun has made its farthest reach to the west in this photo and now that summer solstice has arrived it will begin its journey back again to the left in the photo above.  I have been indoors during this magic hour most evenings because it is after dinner and dishes and I have put my feet up.  But the red in the window caught my eye and even though I had just changed into my nightwear I put on sandals and hurried down to the dock to capture such a lovely sunset.    (At my age I no longer care if neighbors catch me in my jammies.  It is an honor to be the subject of gossip rather than forgotten.)

The menhaden have started their dance up into my small finger of the river.  They are small fish that flash silver when they flip to swallow more plankton for dinner.  They swim in ballet groups of dozens and we saw several of these groups.  Next, they will be followed by those that eat them.  It is a constant drama.

There was a soft breeze that swept away the heat and humidity of the day and there was an added bonus of no biting flies or mosquitoes to distract from trying to keep the camera steady.

(Colors are true and not enhanced.)
Even when I turned around to head back to the house there was a different show going on behind me.

Glad to share my blessings on this day.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Who is that Tapping at My Window Pane?

The Blue Birds remain at my house this week.  (My prior post on this is here.)  The male and female arrive each morning just before sunrise and start at the deck perching on the backs of the chairs and staring at me on the couch with my laptop and coffee in hand.  This photo below is grainy because of the darkness of the morning I had to push the exposure.

I know they must see me because it is too early for the sun's reflection to hide the room. There is a lamp over my shoulder which has to open that part of the room to some glow and reveal my movements. They twitter almost timidly as only the Blue Bird can and then they thrust themselves at the windows for about ten minutes.  Their tapping against the window sounds careless as if they have tripped on their way somewhere and have to catch their balance.

I recently moved the potted geranium to protect it more from the hot summer sun and the Blue Bird appeared almost immediately to eat the bugs that I had exposed.

Lately, they have moved to the front of my house and do the same window pane "thrust and parry" there. I have recently discovered that they have a nest in a box on the post below the deck and at the side of the patio below. Not sure how they will have energy left to raise young ones since they seem to be constantly fighting with their imaginary neighbors. It is well into June and this will probably be a second nest for experienced parents, or a first if they are new to the routine this year. 

Hubby says they are defending their territory and seeing reflections of themselves in the windows around the house and I am sure he is correct. I am startled some mornings when I go to make coffee and find both of them peering in from the kitchen windowsill only inches from my nose until I flick on the light and they fly away.

A few years ago it was the constant and gentle tapping of the male Cardinal and that went on for about a month.  Cardinals do not nest in boxes, so they must have a had a nest high in the trees somewhere.  I wonder if I will miss the Blue Birds as I did the Cardinal.