Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

This gardening year will be so interesting since last year I started using the 10-yr garden journal. Last year several people talked and wrote about how good it was to be able to look back on the same date to see what was happening in the garden. So I thought I would try it.

I believe I did a fare job of writing down the minimum of what was happening. This has really helped me keep the temperatures of most days if nothing else. However I have kept a different type journal for so many years that it is a difficult habit to break. Actually it is one habit I don't want to break because it works for me on many levels. As you can see my 2008 garden journal is what I keep the most records in. I am one of "those" people that like to take my book out into the garden with me. I sketch in it, write whatever is running through my mind about the garden and sometimes other things happening in life.This is how it starts out the first of the year. All neat and tidy, tied up in the leather cover that protects it from most dirt and spills. It will end up fattened up with receipts, flower tags, pictures and notes galore.I usually write, draw, paste in a picture in the front page. What ever the mood brings during the time of getting the journal ready to use. I like to prime it with what ever mood the first of the year brings. It is great fun to look back over the years and read what was going on in the garden.
Those ribbons are how I keep track of the pages of chores or happenings, projects that I need/want to keep track of.
This year I have an added delight to work with when it comes to journaling. It is a gift given to me by Sherry of Q's Corner. She is such a generous loving friend and I want to thank her for surprising me with this journal. It is different than any I have ever used. It has pockets for "stuff" and prompts and quotes to keep you thinking about the garden. Thank you so much Sherry for feeding my journaling soul. I look forward to finding things to put into those pockets and filling up the spaces that call for descriptions of other gardens visited. I hope you have your garden journal ready to capture all the action in the garden this year of 2009. I want to wish all of my gardening bogger buddies the best, healthiest, most flower/plant filled new year and I hope that all your Garden Dreams come true.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Winter sun

The winter sun was not the only thing that drew me out into the garden today. I looked out to see that the winds of the past couple of days did a little rearrangeing of some garden ornaments. This is a bad thing. It is the first time that wind has ever knocked over the bird cage. It is very heavy and with it being made of wire the wind usually just flows through. I guess the cage then knocked over the huge concrete basket planter. Geez, it took all of my strength to set that concrete basket back up on its pedestal. There are minature hostas planted in this planter. They have survived the past few years in this very spot. I hope the toppling of their planter doesn't disturb the roots to make them not be able to survive the winter. We will have to wait to see. After I got outside I realized how mild the temperature is so I got my last bag of bulbs into the ground. I found this bag of 12 Chionodoxa marked way down and thougth it would be nice to look out my window this spring and see a clump of these little flowers. I have never grown them before so I don't know what to expect. Have you ever grown them? Another name on the packate is 'Lucilaea'. I hope they make it through the winter. I think it is awfully late to be planting them but they at least have a chance being planted rather than wasting away in a bag in a landfill.
I also got the blower out and cleaned off the patio, cleaned the water feature. I am sure the birds will appreciate some clean water and feeders with fresh food.Why even Lincoln looks happier with the sun shining on him. It is just amazing what a little sunshine can do for you especially during winter. Now if I was feeling better I would pull some weeds. It is amazing how the winter weeds don't need much encouragement to flourish.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Skywatch Friday

While our skies are all cloudy and gray today I thought I would share a picture of the sunrise I took while we were out birding last week. The sun was working hard to burn off the steam from the lake. It couldn't quite do it. The temperatures were to conflicting. Does't that big yellow orb look warm. I can't wait to see it again.

For more Skywatch Friday you can go here.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

From our house to yours I wish you all a Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Out of the Garden

The annual Christmas Bird Count in Western Gibson County in Indiana where I bird was held yesterday. Yes, during that awful abnormally cold conditions. We were out from 5:30 a.m. until 7 pm. I really shouldn't say out, we were in our car for most of the day.

Despite a constant wind with gusts up to 29 mph and wind chill temps as low as -11F we braved the weather and saw quite a few good birds. We figured it would be a birdy day with a sunrise looking like a big bird was coming up with the sun. Can you see it in the photo below? That cloud looks like a big eagle soaring about. We did have 5 Bald Eagles during the day. There were 2 adults sitting near their nest. They usually start doing this around this time of year. The rest of the Bald Eagles were young, first year, birds.
Of course out on the lake it was difficult to count birds when you look out and see this.
The steam on the lake made it nearly impossible to see all the ducks that were congregating on the lake since this water was the only water within miles that wasn't frozen.

Occasionally there would be an open window of clear enough that we could scan the thousands of ducks. It was a little easier when they went to the surrounding fields to feed. Mallards dominated the flocks. I won't bore you with all the details but suffice it to say we were pleased with the results since the conditions were arctic. It was most appropriate that the Snow Buntings were still on the break. This weather probably made them think they didn't go far enough south for the winter.

Highlights were, the Whooping Cranes were still here, we had two species of swans, Trumpter and Tundra. Falcons were well represented, Peregrine , American Kesteral and Merlin. Close to the end of the day we were saying that no CBC would be complete without an Owl. We were pleased to find 3 Short-eared Owls as our last bird of the day.

This will be one CBC that will be remembered for some time due to the weather. Dust and debris was flying about more so than the birds. It took two people to close some of the gates we had to go through and the steam didn't ever fully disapate from the lake surface. It just makes you wonder what we missed.

I hope you all were tucked in safe and warm this weekend and if I don't get back here the next few days... Have a Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day - December 2008

I can tell you that there are no blooms in my garden this month. It is cold and I guess I can just be happy that there are several bushes with berries yet. The Pyracnatha has lots of berries at the top of the bush. The berries at the base must have tasted better to the birds as they have eaten them first. It is odd that the hollies out front have oodles of berries on it and yet the birds leave these until the last to be eaten. They must not be as yummy as say the Beauty Berry bush berries.
While little ice balls are coming down in waves this cat is trying to act like a garden ornament hoping that the birds think just that. The birds weren't fooled. They stayed aloft while the cat was here. You can see behind, upper right hand corner of the picture some berries are still on the Nandina. If you would like to see some gardens with blooms go to Carols at May Dream Gardens for the round up of Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. You won't be disappointed.
I also want to add that this is not my cat. It is a feral cat. One of our neighbors feeds the feral cats in the area. All I can say is that at least she captures them and has them spayed or neutered. I don't believe in cats being outside, loose, without supervision. They kill too much wildlife. My DB just took this picture. Through two panes of glass I might add. Good job Dear.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Winter Window Boxes and Planters

This fall when the shade loving plants begin to fade I like to do something different with the window box. When we look out the kitchen window I like to look through plants. It makes me feel like I am sitting in a meadow. So this fall I cut some Hawthorn limbs that had berries on it. On the right hand side if you look closely you can see the remmanents of a Cardinal nest on one of the limbs.

I think someone mentioned concern about how big the Purple Fountain Grass would grow when I planted it in this window box in spring. It didn't get too big luckily. It didn't have great growing conditions here but it did fill a space and the blooms lasted until I cut it down. Hawthorn limbs don't last very long. They dry up and lose their leaves, the berries dry up and look ugly after awhile. So when it gets cold I like to do a little something different with my window box. It looks so boring sitting there empty. Now when we look out the window we can feel like we are in a forest.

I hate that I don't have pine boughs to cut for the window box during winter since our pine trees came down during storms last winter. There are lots of cedars around. This year I cut some limbs of cedar, a few berries of the deciduous holly and some grass plumes. The wren box is one of several that I had in the garden. I thought this looked like a cozy place for a wren to roost and keep warm during winter. Once I got going with the trimmings I decided to fill a pot to set on the front porch. The front porch looked a little naked without a pot of something to greet friends coming to visit.
Do you do seasonal decorating with your window boxes and empty planters? I would love to see/hear about what you do to your empty window boxes and planters.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Out of the Garden

When we got out early this morning the temperature was 14F with a wind chill of 4F. All I can say is brrrrrrr. Needless to say we didn't get out of the truck much today. We did our birding from inside the warm cab.
Where we bird the water doesn't ever freeze due to it being a lake to recirculate the water that cools the energy plant. It makes for some interesting micro climates.
The sky turned colors as the sun rose. The gulls were cruising the edges of the lake looking for an easy meal. The herons were all hunkered down on the warm side of the break trying to keep from freezing.
All that mist from the lake was freezing as ice on the plants and heavy frost was on the rocks at waters edge.
When we came to the other area where we bird there was a a van sitting there with a big antenna on it. That was our first clue that the Whooping Cranes were still in the area. Eva Szyszkoski, the biologist that was manning the tracker this morning, was sitting there listening to the device.

I asked her how far away the WHCR could be and still hear the tracker. Of course there are many variables but on the ground up to 7 miles and in the air 30 miles. WOW I should have taken notes because Eva was a wealth of information. She also told us that one of these Whooping Cranes is the youngster that was here last year on its journey South. It is a female and is now in its adult plummage. Thank you for being patient and answering my questions Eva. I am still wondering if this female introduced this group to this area since she was safe here last year.
CORRECTION: Not only should I have taken notes for information I should have taken notest to get my information correct. Please see Eva's comment for tracking milage correction. Plus you can go Here for more interesting information.Eva also gave me this pamphlet that has lots of information. One of the web sites that you can go to for more information is the Whooping Crane Eastern Project here. They tell about how they raise the whoopers. All very interesting. Plus you can find ways to help with the project.
Our luck held as we drove around the county scouting for the annual Christmas Bird Count. We were blessed with a sighting of the Whooping Cranes that are loafing in this area. They were in a group way out in a field feeding. We stayed in our truck on the county road and viewed the cranes with our telescope. I digiscoped the pictures since they were so far away. There are two rusty ones in this group. They are the youngsters.
You can see the transmitters on their legs. The biologists can tell which crane it is by the color coded bands and transmitters. I am amazed that the Whoopers haven't departed from here what with how cold the weather we have had the past few days. It is time they departed for Florida.
When we were settling in for the evening my DB called me to the window to look at the red sky. It will probably be another sunny cold day tomorrow. A lovely sky to watch as the day ended. I hope you had a nice weekend.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Garden Bloggers First Snow

Whoooo Hoooo, we had our first snow this morning. I looked out the front window this morning and sure enough there was a nice dusting of snow on the ground.
I went to the back door to let Luna out and it was still snowing. Whoo hoooo.... I just love the first snow.As soon as we could get ourselves moving we headed out to the park for a walk. The only thing better than walking in a warm rain is walking during a winter snow. Someone asked me once how I could find Luna in the snow. If you notice in these photos, she has a lot of yellow in her coat. You don't notice it until she is standing in snow. That is how you find polar bears in their snowy environment. You look for big yellow blobs instead of white on white. As you can see at the entrance of the park, they have a display of holiday lights now. The nice thing about this is that there is rarely any traffic here during the holidays except after dark. We have the park mostly to ourselves.
The lighted carousel below is one that looks good even during the day. It is big and colorful.

Around on the back side of the drive there is a sign that is most intrigueing. When it appears that there is nothing here you are directed to look up at night with lights.
High up in the tree above this sign is a lot of mistletoe. I wonder who thought up this display??
I hope you all are having a great weekend. If you like snow you can go over to Nancy's blog and see whose blog to look at for other first snows. There are some really beautiful heavy snows to see.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Skywatch Friday

The beautiful morning sunrise

gave way to lots of puffy clouds

then the wind threw a gray blanket over the day. For more skies to watch go here.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Another Grey Day

This morning before work I took a stroll through the garden. It is looking quite tired and mostly naked. There are a few spots of green. The Autumn Clematis is still hanging on some tired looking leaves. Right beside it... the bittersweet is naked except for a few berries. It is odd that the Robins departed before the berries were eaten this year.
Another spot of green was some tall garden phlox. It doens't want to give up yet either.
The butterfly bush is fairly protected by surrounding plants so it has a few leaves. These will all probably be gone shortly. That is if it gets as cold as they say it will.
I wonder where our snow is? They keep saying we will have some. Only some flurries so far. Maybe it is waiting until Christmas to visit us.