Sunday, December 22, 2019

Solstice

What have I been doing on these long dark days before the Solstice? 
Since the compost pile is nearly full and
the garden is asleep 
my Dearly Beloved and I have been doing Chirstmas Bird Counts. On our wanderings through our assigned areas we have come upon some nice birds. I wish you could hear the cacophony of sound that a great flock of Greater White-fronted Geese make when a Bald Eagle gets them all up off their comfortable pond. You can go here to see a good photo and hear their call.
I have a few photos you might like to see of birds that come into our area only for winter. Like the Lapland Longspur pictured below. When I try to take a picture of birds they always seem to be in the wrong light or in awkward positions. I thought I would share a few of them anyway. 
These little birds are usually in a good sized flock but they blend into the background so well that they are difficult to see unless the flock gets up and moves around. 
They are in their winter plumage now but by late winter they will begin transforming into their breeding plumage before they head back North to their breeding grounds. They are quite a sight to see then.
We are lucky enough to have Whooping Cranes that winter in our area. We found a family group in our area. The bird that has the rusty looking feathering is a juvenile. If you click on the photo to enlarge you can see that they are all wearing tracking telemetry and  bands on their legs. These gorgeous birds are endangered. Just a few years ago there were only 200 of them in existence. With breeding in captivity and protection they have made somewhat of a come back. You can read about them here and here.
When we are out counting birds we find that we have many challenges such as looking through this field for sparrows and other birds that might be about. It is like watching popcorn pop. The little rascals pop up to see who/what is coming through their area and then they disappear.
Even when they are up it is difficult to see them and then to id them you have to hope they will stay up long enough to zoom in on them. As this Savannah Sparrow demonstrates, they pop up. 
They usually either have their backs toward you or...
They just won't stay still. A lot of people don't like sparrows because of this plus their plumages are often seen as similar because they rarely stay still long enough to see the differences. You can see better pictures of this sparrow here. Yes, there was more than this one species of sparrow in this field. I could go on and on.
All of the big birds get the press it seems. Most of it is well deserved. Like this Great Blue Heron. It often patiently awaits a meadow vole, mole or other unsuspecting prey to come by. 
Birds aren't the only things that catch my eye when we are out and about. I often see something like this great log with fungus growing on it.
Or this fuzzy wuzzy plant still standing after snow, rain and powerful winds. I hope to identify this so I can get a stand of this going in my garden. Wouldn't it be fun to have these fuzzy wuzzies to look upon on bleak winter days. 
I hope that if you are reading this you have taken time out in your busy holiday season to treat yourself to some calm, no stress relaxation. 
Try to keep an eye on nature. Nature always leads you to that happy place.
Enjoy the holidays and stay well and happy.







Sunday, December 8, 2019

Holiday Decor

For those of you that don't like Christmas and especially all of the hoopalah that goes with it you need not go any further because a blog friend of mine, Carol at A Shutterbug Explores, asked me a perfectly innocent question " do you celebrate the Holidays?" She went on to say "I am dragging my feet ~ Xmas spirit is non-existent at the moment ~ "  
What are friends for?  We are here to answer questions and to encourage and support our friends. So Carol this is for you... In answer to your question, yes, we celebrate the holidays. Christmas is one I used to be manic about. After you peruse the following photos you might think I am still a little sick. Yet if you had seen our place in years past you would know my amour with Christmas is slowly waning. I think when the children grow up and then the grandchildren grow up one sort of loses that drive to go all out. As you will see there is still a lot of kid in me though. I hope a little rubs off on you. You know you have to do what ever makes you happy to be happy. 
Here it all starts with the table in the corner of our living room. On goes the snowflake table topper.
Then up goes the little tree with our most treasured ornaments. 
Then we clear the regular dishes from the hutch.
In goes the Christmas dishes. This is some years only decoration. I have to get the dishes out because I love to use them. This year we did carry on...
The kitchen table got a little swag.
Then I went a little further and decorated around the fireplace. You gotta use your imagination now. ;)
Then the library got one set of bookcases decorated because you can see them when you stand in the foyer. Plus it is my room now that we moved my office in there. I must have a few of those Christmas lights this time of year for cheer.
After all this we get our stuff we usually use on the corner table back on there and clutter up the table with all the things we need and it looks more homey. 

So Carol, and anyone else reading this blather and needs a little push into the Christmas spirit, I hope it lifts you up or at least makes you smile. 
Blessings and good cheer.

Monday, November 25, 2019

House Transformation By Painting

This is our house as it sat in June. The front is brick veneer and the rest of the house is siding that has been on it since it was built 45 years ago. Nice enough but As I have mentioned before I am going through my blue phase. So in June we decided to paint the house as it was looking quite tired. 
 The pretty Pansy Redbud got split for the second time during a storm after this photo so was removed.
Before Painting
This above photo makes me think I might mow the labyrinth in place next summer. I have missed it.
After
I didn't really have the exact angle for the after of the front. I am a little lazy about taking pictures out front. For one thing when I am out there people, neighbors driving by mostly, stop to chat. I had two of them fuss that they couldn't see the front of the house and I should take out the shrubbery and trees. I had to tell them that I have it there to block the traffic as we live on a busy street. Also nosy neighbors are to be excluded. 
A different angle - Before
After
The front walk Before.
 After
Around in back where we do most of our outside entertaining and being was a little more work to get things ready for paint. As you can see the siding was in great need of paint as a lot of the paint had worn off over the years. 
So with this closer look you can see that the paint did the trick.
It certainly was a transformation and is more lively. We love it. 
 Thinking about home it brings family to mind. I hope you and your family are safe over the holiday.
From our home to yours Happy Thanksgiving.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Book Review - Emily Dickinson's Gardening Life

I will say this first, I like Emily Dickinson's poetry. I think even if you didn't like her poetry and you are a gardener you would like this book. One reason is because the way the author, Marta McDowell, presented the poetry that goes with the information about Emily's gardening. 
Marta being a gardener seemed to know how to express so many things that all gardeners love about gardening. Marta includes stories about Emilys gardening  and shows how her poems reflect her thoughts about gardenings ups and downs. 
I think this book would give you a weekend full of entertainment and maybe even some enlightenment about Emily and gardens in general.
I just happened upon this book through Timber Press. They didn't send me this book to review or anything of that nature. I was just so pleased with it I wanted to share it with you.
Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day - October 2019

I must say that this year feels a whole lot different than past Octobers but in reality the blooms are much the same. As I looked back at some past Octobers I was somewhat surprised that I find a lot of the same things blooming. It feels different this year because of the moderate drought we are in. 
This spring I moved the above sedums into more sun.  I had such high hopes in for stronger blooms and more full plants but was a disappointed. While the plants are stronger and taller only about half of them bloomed at all. You can see the darker heads in the foreground. They bloomed, barely. The ones in the back tried to set some blooms but what you see is what I got. Not terribly impressive. I guess I will have something to look forward to next year. 
The old stalwart Hamamelis Virginiana'Witch Hazel' seems to have more blooms this year than ever. Go figure?!
The few Asters I have seemed to not be too fussy about the weather conditions. As you can see in the back ground I have purchased a few mums to set here and there. The diciduous holly in the background is full of red berries that the Mockingbird has been protecting already. It usually doesn't eat those berries until late winter/early spring. I guess he just doesn't want any competition.
The poor Toad lilies are full of blooms but the foliage looks pitaful.
The wirey bloom of Persicaria corporal look good just because, I mean really, how could you tell they weren't.?? Ha... I guess that is one reason to grow these things. They never look bad. They are difficult to make a nice picture. 
Most of the rest of the blooms in the garden are the annuals that don't really take much water or care. Such as these impatients that stood sentinel by the gate all summer rarely requesting a drink.
Zinnias of various colors are still hanging in there. 
As are the Mexican Sunflowers 'Tithonia'. 
The Canas are still blooming despite a shot of frost. They are under some trees where they get a bit of protection. 
I almost forgot about the fall blooming anemone Honorine jobert,
as well as a sprinkling of tall garden phlox 'David'.
So just when I think I don't have much blooming, I get out there and look to find a few things. It is just that they are few and far between. 
How is it in your garden this October?  Has the frost got most of your blooms or are you just beginning to see your spring bloom?
What ever do pop over to Carols blog to join in with those that want to share what is blooming in their garden the 15th of this and every month.

Friday, October 4, 2019

October Consolation

We have had only .9 inch of rain since the last time I wrote with half of those days in the 90's which made news because a lot of those 90's were record breaking heat. This time of year we normally have plenty of rain and cooler weather. 
As of today the cooler weather has come in but still no rain. My poor garden is looking quite drab. There was a spot in the garden that gave me great consolation today. I wanted to share it with you.
The compost corner is nearly surrounded by Tatarian Aster. The Missouri Botanic Garden says that  Tatarian Asters will grow to 3 -4 foot tall. I am here to tell you that these will grow much taller. I am was so surprised to see that the range this summer is 4 to 8foot tall. The chain link fence you see is 4' tall quite a few are double that.
They lift my spirits high too
This afternoon the blooms were buzzing. There were so many bees, flies, bugs and Butterflies floating around. It was a joy to just stand there and watch.
You should be able to click on any of the pictures to enlarge them so see if there are smaller critters in the blooms too.
There were a couple of American Painted Lady Butterflies.
There were also some large Sulphers and Cabbage Whites flitting about but they wouldn't stand still for  a picture.
There were several different types of folded-winged skippers. 
Those tall plants were bobbing and weaving in the breeze. The bugs were flying from bloom to bloom so I didn't get shots of everything. The wind blew my patience away.
Such a nice introduction to the weekend. I hope you all are planning a good one.



Color Changes and seed planting

There has been a slight change in the color wave. A little more purple and some white. A few new visitors to the garden. This magnifice...