Our area is running a few degrees colder than normal this December. Those few degrees don't look so bad when you read it on the tv but when ever you are out and about it feels pretty darned cold.
We took Annie to one of our favorite parks. This park has roads all through it and we often stick to the roads for our walks but today the sun is shining and we couldn't resist taking off on one of the trails through the woods. After all the name of the park is Ouabache Trails Park.
We wound our way around the hill down to where a creek runs.
With the sun shining the outcrop of stone along the creek was displaying some fine ice icicles. I was a little surprised that the creek wasn't frozen. This creek runs as long as we aren't in a drought so it has to get severely cold to freeze.
I got down a little closer to see if I could spot any walking ferns along the outcropping. I didn't see any but there are other ferns, lichen, moss and some sort of wort along the rock ledge.
We left this area and crossed a bridge where we stopped to look for some birds we heard vocalizing.
Annie left her foot print in the frost.
I hope you all are having a good week and are able to get out and about to enjoy the sun even if it isn't very warm. It feels good to get out, stretch and get a whiff of fresh air.
This year we have done a phenology study for CISMA on some invasive plant species in our county. I have driven by and stopped to look at this clump of Teasel at least once per month. This small clump is one of several plants that make up a whole colony of Teasel along this fence line.
The extraordinary thing about this clump is that a Red-winged Blackbird had it's nest in this plant and I didn't notice it one time during summer. Yet when we stopped to see this colony of teasel this month after all has been frozen I could see this neat structure of a home.
Red-winged Blackbird is a ubiquitous summer nester in these parts. Most people ignore them either because they are so prevalent or they don't sport the more colorful features of other birds. I have always loved them since you can count on them being the harbingers of spring as the males swoop in from their Southern wintering areas to claim their territories in February. Sitting along the fence lines throwing their red epaultes singing that song that the females are attracted to. Then soon after the females clothed in their best camouflage move in . They work hard to knit these nests and raise their young.
With all that I don't have a good picture of a Red-wing. They are very leery of humans. Who can blame them? If you don't know this handsome blackbird you can go here to see them.
I can't help but think of spring this morning as our area is blanketed with fog and the Carolina Wrens are singing. I hope you all have a great weekend.
Cheryl, a friend of mine, posted a picture of an Oak gall. I am always fascinated by these growths. I always wonder what has set up a nursery on these leaves. To see the gall she posted you can go here.
Her oak leaf gall is a single rather large gall. As you can see in my photo these galls are smaller and in a cluster.
I had never seen a cluster of galls like this. Usually they are singles as in Cheryl's photo.
I am not even sure what kind of Oak tree this came from let alone the type of galls. Have you ever seen such a thing? If you know anything about it I would love to read it.
It seems like this fall is full of surprises. Yesterday as we were finished walking Annie and were driving out of the park we stopped to watch a Mockingbird defend a holly tree from a huge flock of migrating Robins. This lone Mockingbird was dive bombing robin after robin that dared to get near the Holly full of red berries.
I noticed a tiny bird in an adjacent tree. Without binoculars or camera we watched in amazement a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher appeared searching searching for food. It hopped around splaying its tail and wings hoping to stir up something to eat.
We took our camera to the park with us today hoping that the bird would still be there. Sure enough we refound the little fellow. It is so overcast it was difficult to get a photo but we couldn't resist trying. The little bird looked as gray as the skies.
In the following photo you can see a glimpse of how blue it can look in certain light.
In our area these little birds have usually gone South by mid September.
If you would like to see a good picture of this little bird or read / hear more about it you can go to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology All About Birds here for more information.
We are hoping this little bird finds enough fuel to get out of town fast. There is snow and general yuck predicted for tonight and tomorrow.
There is a bit of color in the garden this fall. Lots of yellow it seems with a splash of red here and there. I almost have my own yellow arch on the right side as I walk off the patio down the gravel path.
The predominant color in our garden seems to be golden yellow. Even the fungus is bright yellow.
The last of the blooms in the garden are yellow (Witch Hazel).
Even when you leave the garden you can find a carpet of gold almost everywhere you go. When the sun shines on it...Wow.
We had a big change of the feeling of the garden this week. Our old wooden fence was rotting and falling apart. We were beginning to think that if Annie wanted to she could bust right through the gate to chase rabbits or any other furry creature passing by. I took the following picture shortly before the crew arrived to remove the fence.
We had already taken down the wooden arch that was by the gate. We moved it over by the patio where the big arch used to stand. It is now it's permanent home. I didn't think I would like a wooden
arch by a metal fence and gate.
It didn't take the crew long to dismantle the wooden fence. So many of the posts were rotted off. They dug out most of them which was a chore since there was concrete anchoring the posts.
The gate is what I am most happy about. We searched all through the internet and our town looking for just the right gate. We found this one on Etsy. It was made by Modern Iron Works out in Idaho. Yes, it traveled a long way to get to our garden but it was well worth it. The craftsmanship is excellent. I had it custom sized for our opening and it turned out perfect.
Here is a close up of the gate. It is very expressive with the heron being the focal point and the cattails, frog and dragonflies adding character.
The chain link fence certainly gives the garden a more open feel. I am not so sure I appreciate that. I believe that I will be planting more shrubs in the near future. I am hoping that the shrubs already along the fence line will fill out below the 4' mark now that there is more light.
Annie who is the cause for all of this change is of the mind that she just doesn't care about what happens as long as she gets her nap in.
I am the one that can't get used to the changes. To me it is the gate that made it all worth it.
How about you? Have you had any projects in your garden this fall?
It sure hasn't felt much like autumn until the past few days. The nights were finally getting cool. Today it feels like autumn even during the day. The wind is blowing in some cool wet air. Brrr. This got me going to bring in the few plants I am saving this year.
Those of you that read my blog regularly might notice a missing plant. It is the large Staghorn Fern that I have wrestled with the past few years. I finally decided I wasn't going to bring it in this year. As the nights grew cooler I couldn't bear to just leave it out to die so I asked around and found someone that has a big greenhouse that would give it a good home. This was a difficult decision for me as I had that plant for many years (14). It seemed more like a pet to me.
My largest plant now is this night blooming cereus epiphyllum-oxypetalum (above). If I can't pick it up and move it next year I might re-home it too.
Anemone Honorine Jobert
Since the change in weather has brought a bit of much needed rain I seem to have a few blooms for Bloom Day.
The Asters are certainly performing well. I just love the way this one hangs over the edge of the sidewalk out front. You can see remnants of Russian Sage and Solidago 'Fireworks behind it.
This white wild aster that just bullied its way into the front bed by the driveway is still looking perky. Someone that was visiting thought I should pull it because it is sort of bossy but I rather like strong characters. This area gets no supplement water so if it wants to grow and thrive here so be it.
The cheeky aster made its way across the drive and into the remaining black eyed Susans that the rain has revived.
The Toad Lilies are blooming up a storm. You can see their poor little leaves are half dried up but the rain seemed to pump up the blooms. I always look forward to them. I have planted several types of Toad lilies in the garden but this one is the only one that lasts more than a season. I am not ever sure of which one it is. I have had it so long and divided it and planted it here and there.
Lastly the surprise of the season, the Azalea is throwing open a few blooms to celebrate the rain.
What is blooming in your garden now? Please do share and head over to Carols May Dreams Garden to share with one and all your lovely blooms.
Last month I found this caterpillar on the sidewalk out front. I helped it by moving it across the sidewalk in the direction it was headed so a bird or other predator wouldn't find him so easily. I watched to see if I could see where it might go to pupate. I lost it, I could never find it again.
Then today on the Butterfly Weed that is growing out back I found another Monarch caterpillar creeping up on some of the nearly dried up Butterfly Weed plants. This does give me hope for the future. I look at these plants daily. I am surprised I haven't seen more of these caterpillars before today. This is the first time I have found Monarch caterpillars in my garden in a long time. I hope they grow up and return next year.
While out and about I came across this huge pile of scat. I am not even going to try to id it but what was so fascinating about it is that it was covered with butterflies, bees and beetles. You can see the Monarchs, Pearl Crescents, Buckeye and Painted Lady Butterflies. Did I say Lady? Anyway...
If we have a little closer look you can see the bees.
and the beetles.
I wish I knew the bees and beetles a little better. Can you tell what they might be?
It wasn't pretty but boy was it ever sweet relief. This shot was just before I emptied the gauge the first time.
I couldn't get a thing accomplished around the house from watching out the windows. It had been so long since we received any measurable rain. I watched out the front window as the water crept up the drive.
Then I would dash to the kitchen to look out toward the Circle Garden. You can see around the edges that the water was gathering. The center of the Circle has been built up over the years with mulch and compost. These newly installed plants are loving this rain.
Now we can look out the patio door windows. The patio was full of water. All of the flower beds around the patio have been raised over the years too. With so much rain I doubt it would make much difference.
I decided to take a little break in my office. I looked out and there was a small creek between our house and the neighbors.
During a lull in the action I went out to check for any downed limbs etc. We kept hearing limbs hit the top of the house.
I didn't get far away from the house due to full paths.
This morning I emptied another 1.25" from the gauge. I had quite a bit of debris to pick up. One of the limbs came down on our Lemon Tree and dislodged 3 of the 4 lemons that were on it. I hope the remaining lemon grows in girth since there aren't any others remaining on the tree. The odd thing was I could only find 2 of the loosed lemons. I wonder if an animal came and got one. Hmmmm
This is the first time I got to use my shiny new wheelbarrow. It is much larger (6cu ft cap) than my previous wheelbarrow. Yet it is as easy or easier to use due to having 2 wheels for stability and a poly tray to keep it light weight. I got the entire mess from yesterday to the truck with one trip.
All of this rain was pushed into our area by the tropical storm Gordon. I hope that all of my gardening friends are finally well watered yet not over watered. If you need rain it looks like a hurricane is going to hit the East Coast this week. I think we are caught up with rain now but I wouldn't mind to get a bit more after a few days. All the plants are seemly beaming. I hope your garden is happy too.