Monday, May 30, 2016

Summer Kicks In

Chatter of young house finches that have found their voices fills the early morning air at the Garden Spot. The sun shines brightly, sparkling on the heavy dew that clings to lawn. The ires are opening up one by one, revealing their brilliant color. Miss Kim, the Korean lilac in the front courtyard blooms after the tradition lilacs have faded, extending the lilac season just a little longer.

Chanticleer crows, calling for the Head Gardener to feed him and his gaggle of hens.

So, life at the Garden Spot begins another day.

Today's collage for Mosaic Monday sums up the week:

  • Hanging out on the patio watching the little gold finches come feed on the thistle feeders
  • Great blue herons on a country pond
  • Young Holstein steers feeding in the rich grass
  • Newly planted pots that haven't died yet after their first week.

With the help of the Head Gardener, we worked on the flower bed south of the water garden. I am gathering plant material to landscape the barren area. Yesterday we sprayed the bindweed that stubbornly continues to heckle us. The plan for this spot also includes a pole with a bird house atop and a pink clemanits to climb it. Perhaps the pole and vine will go in today. 

The pond has an awful algae bloom. We have been treating it, but I fear that we must drain it and start all over with fresh water. I have thrown fish food out for the two koi, but they are either not hungry or or are slow to find the flakes. The gold fish have disappeared. I know that the little green heron got a few; I just don't know how many. I am imagining that the fish are so traumatized that they are hiding in the murky depths of the water in the protection of the water lilies.

The iris are just beginning to open. We took a drive the other night out east to see if our favorite (only) iris farm is still in business. It is. I plan to make a trip out there this week to see what's new and  what I can add to my collection. She also grows peonies, which are really hard to resist, too.

Still shaded in the early morning sun, the lawn looks so rich and green from all the rain that we have had. We mused as we rode the EzGo around last night at how beautiful the lawn looks, knowing full well that as the heat of the summer bears down on us, the green will turn brown. The lushness just won't last once the spring rains stop. So I am enjoying all I can now. 

The peonies are taking their time.

I haven't potted plants for a couple of years because it is so hard to keep them watered, but this year I have filled the patio with potted plants, here's one--two. I used mostly pansies and petunias, hardy favorites.

Miss Kim, the Korean lilac blooms after the traditional lilacs have ended, extending the lilac season. She is doing so well in this garden, better than I expected. She gets cool morning shade and hot afternoon sun, but doesn't seem to mind the two extremes. This is the fullest that she has boomed in her 4 years here.

I have wanted to photograph the great blue heron for a long time. They are easily located on many  bodies of water locally, so when we travel to the Big City I like to take the country route that takes us around a huge lake full of water fowl and this small pond across the road. Unfortunately the road is curvy, narrow, and heavily traveled, so photographing the giant birds is challenging. 

Nor do they like having their photo taken. When we stopped two were right by the road side, but not for long.

There were 3 cranes the pond, not wanting to be disturbed.

The last photo in the mosaic shows the cattle grazing. The steers are always in this pasture next to the shallow pond. I am sure they are being fattened for market, but don't they make a pretty picture?

While one daughter and family travels home from a holiday weekend trip the Santa Fe and the other family takes the boat to the lake to fish, we will be here planting today. We have the seed vegetables to get in, my zinnias and sunflowers, and dahlia tubers. We will work until noon then I want to tour the garden centers looking for a few more perennials to fill in some bare spots in the center circle. 

What will be you be doing today? States' side, we are celebrating Memorial Day, a day when we take time to recognize, remember, and honor not just our fallen soldiers, but those who serve us every day. We thank them for their sacrifice and their service and we owe our gratitude to their families who preserver while their loved ones protect freedom. God bless them, all.

Thanks so much for visiting. I'd like to invite you to drop by the dollhouse blog. I am on the downhill to finishing this project. This week I'll be helping the granddaughters build their dollhouse. Now won't that be an adventure? They have also recruited me to teach them grammar. What? Grammar? I purchased two workbooks for them, one for grammar and one to teach them how to write narratives. Now won't that be fun? Thankfully I did not get a request to tutor math. 

So it looks like summer activities are in full swing now that school is out. Next week we will have the grandsons. There will be lots to write about. 

Thanks so much for visiting. Linking up with Judith at Lavender Cottage for Mosaic Monday. Join us.

Monday, May 23, 2016

More Bird

We had so much fun last week watching the orioles and western tanagers coming and going into the garden. They put on quite a show as they sparred for the best perch at the feeders. Their favorites were the grape jelly and the commercial suets cakes. They had some completion for the feed, the backyard bullies and pigs: grackles and starlings that devoured the suets cakes as soon as they were put out. I did catch a robin sneaking jelly, apparently a treat for this one with a sweet tooth--beak?

We decided that we had 5 mature male Bullock's orioles and couple of immature males along with females. The females were hard to count because they look so much like the tanager females, a drab olive.

We decided, too, that there 4 mature male tanagers coming to the suet cakes. Once we started looking for them, we saw them all over the yard high in treetops, in low pine branches, and even in the not much used bird bath in the front center circle.

I took these shots with the Canon Rebel using the the 75-300 mm telephoto from inside the house thus the  blurry edges.

He had a great time.

If you look closely, you will see the water splashing. 

The Tanagers are so beautiful with their bright yellow plumage and red heads. They are hard to miss in the garden once you see them. They are gentle and quiet, and wait their turn patiently at the suet.

I took so many photos; some great, some not so good--a lot. I began to think that I needed a bigger, better telephoto lens and began a Google search for the next size up.

I discovered two things: the next size lens is thousands of dollars. Out of my league. And one expert convinced me that the lens I have is the best size to use along with advise to just get closer to the birds. Yeah. I guess. 

So is this close enough? I was snapping photos left and right one after another standing on the patio so close to the tree. To my surprise the bird flew from the feeder to the window ledge. I was left wondering just what he was thinking as he looked in the bedroom window.

Meanwhile back at the grape jelly, the Bullock's Oriole indulged his own sweet tooth.

The Garden Spot is coming alive after all of the rain and the cold. The first bearded iris has bloomed: Edith Wolford.

At her feet grows the new clematis that I planted last year to grow up the fence of the chicken pen. I started to weave it's stems in the fence only to have a hen quickly begin to take bites. I changed my mind.

Here is a very late bloomer. The Head Gardener found some stray bulbs in the barn and stuck them in the ground late last winter. There are two of these gorgeous daffodils, one at each end of the hen pens. They are buttery yellow with very large blooms. A happy surprise. 

Tool of the Week:

I have seen the bulb diggers thing-a-ma-bobs that I thought would make planting easier. They are actually used to make the deep holes the spring bulbs require. Does anyone else use these diggers? 

The HG planted the tomatoes, cabbages, broccoli, and peppers today, along with his favorite little marigolds, while I used this digger to make holes for 44 gladiola bulbs. Used in the soil that has been tilled and worked, the digger works great. It sinks down easily and leaves a nice plug of soil to back fill the hole, covering the bulb.

However in other parts of the garden where the soil is heavy clay and not tilled, it isn't so handy.

 I am excited to see two rows of glads by the end of the summer. They will be a favorite.

The potatoes are doing nicely, along with the onions and peas planted the middle of March. We now have the seed vegetables to plant: red beets, carrots, and a variety of squash. Tomorrow.

I had to take this shot with the iPhone. The pastures are green with tall hay growing quickly with all of the rain that we had. I enjoy watching the neighbors' horses graze. 

Out front the clematis is in full bloom. I didn't get it cut back this spring, so it has a rather odd shape, but it blooms.

I do think it needs some fertilized. I've heard that brick tends to leach iron out of plant material planted next to it. Have you heard that?

The center circle in front thrives. This is the hollyhock we dug out last year. Oops. Didn't get it all. Now it is bigger than ever. I may just leave it. But the chamomile will get pulled out tomorrow for it is crowding out some perennials that are not getting the sunshine that they need. 

Plant Challenge: What is this?

I am not sure if Heather gave me this plant or if it just found its own way in to the back garden. Last year it bloomed for the first time with one spike. This year it has divided and bloomed even more beautifully. Now I would like to know what it is.

I have forgotten what this plant is, already, but isn't is spectacular this year?

If I think long enough, I might remember what this is, too. It is planted next to the patio in the raised succulent bed. I love it. I also have some planted in the front courtyard with next to the water garden.

May has been a very good month for spring blooms.

And the fairies have returned. They always seen show up when the little girls are here. Lucy spent the night with me last weekend, and after she left I found this offering. 

We have more to do this week. More planting. More weeding. Just more of everything garden. What will you be doing in the garden? 

Thanks for visiting. I always enjoy your comments. I'll be around to visit you, too.  Have a good week.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

A Rare Bird

April's transition to May occurred seamlessly with more cold, wet, rainy weather, while the spring blooms carried on. With the daffodils, hyacinths, tulips, and flowering trees fading, the lilacs began to dazzle, scenting the air with their intoxicating perfumes, but they, too, are winding down. What a shame it is that these beautiful spring flowers don't last forever. But May offers her own exciting fare.  The bearded irises are beginning to show buds, with the dwarfs already blooming. The peonies are still weeks away; hopefully by Memorial Day.

Here at the Garden Spot, we have a variety of lilacs. They make a nice backdrop for the water feature, along with the pagoda.

We have had so much rain that that lawn and pasture are green and healthy, including a bumper crop of dandelions. They have already gone to seed. The Head Gardener sprayed the pasture this week, hoping to mitigate the hefty crop of the weeds. I am sure that the neighbors trying to keep their yards dandelion free don't appreciate our pasture full. While the yellows do make for a scenic view, the weeds soak up a lot of water. We rely on the grass to supplement the horses' diet.  This week, he'll use the weed whacker to trim the edges. There is a lot to whack.

Can't wait for these peonies to bloom. The HG found the supports for them this year so that hopefully they stand strong and pretty instead of flopping all over the garden. We will see. 

Birds fascinate me. I love watching them. I was hoping to get a stunning photo of this handsome lad with the lilacs in the background. He actually is a proud papa standing watch as momma sets on her nest in the tall Blue Spruce behind the honey locust.

I am sure that I have shared this little clump of dwarf iris each year. They are a favorite and an heirloom. They have survived transplant from great grandma's garden, to our first house early in our marriage, to our next home, and finally to the Garden Spot. 

Unfortunately they don't last long.

A while back--a few years ago--we planted giant globe alums in the front circle. Their blooms are nearly the size of soccer balls. I always leave the heads on after the flowers have faded because they are so unusual looking with their star shaped, wheat colored skeletons accented black seeds. The grand kids love playing in the center garden and as kids do, they pick things. And shake things. And fly with things. And do all kinds of things with things. 

Thus I have hundreds of alums growing in the center circle. Not only are they growing, but some are mature enough to bloom. I cannot wait to see how many of them do bloom and how big the blooms are. 

This one found it's place in the courtyard right next to the sidewalk and bloomed last year. 

Speaking of birds. The HG first spotted this fellow in the pine tree near the swing set. I tried to get a good photo of him, but he was too far away and hidden in the tree.

While I was watching this fellow from the patio, the HG went inside to check the bird book to see just who he is.

Meanwhile, he was getting rather brazen, approaching the water garden It's hard to say if this was his first visit to the pond or not; he seemed to know where he was going and what he wanted.

I took dozens of photos of him from the patio as he stalked the goldfish in the pond. He was even successful.

A tasty morsel.

As it turns out this is a green heron, rare for our area. They will be found in eastern Colorado where they nest, but this would be considered a rare sighting. When I contacted the Ft. Collins Audubon Society, I was cautioned not to be too specific with the location of this sighting when I posted the sighting on their Face Book page, for obvious reasons. You won't tell, will you? 

This photo was taken May 9 and he is still hanging around. We have an algae bloom in the pond right now, so I don't know just how many fish I have lost. The koi thankfully are too big for him.  As I told the HG, we have had a water garden for years and never lost any fish to the fish eating birds. Our friends have had such problems with the blue herons that they have given up their water gardens. But we have been lucky. And now we end up a rare bird making his home here. Lucky, aren't we?

More welcome visitors to the Garden Sport are the orioles. We have 3 males coming regularly now and one female that we have seen. There is an oriole nest in the neighbors' cotton wood from last year, so they will nest and we will see them all summer. We put out grape jelly for them. The robins have learned to eat jelly, too. We will be going through a lot of jelly this summer, I think.

Yellow headed black bird. There were several makes in this cattail marsh keeping guard as their hens nest. I could have sat there all afternoon listening to them. What a variety of sounds they make. 

We like to take the country route home when we dive to Ft. Collins. I took my camera with me so we stopped by some farm ponds to watch the birds. 

Ducks are fun to watch, too. On this pond there are several varieties.

This cinnamon teal was fun to watch, along with his hen. 

And the red winged black bird

On another lake we found a fresh water pelican. Yes, we have pelicans in Northern Colorado. They are actually quite abundant on a good many lakes and ponds.

This lake also has a large variety of water fowl, including these western grebes, another bird that makes a variety of sounds.

The sun just hasn't been hanging around much lately. Our skies are more likely to look this one, with storms thundering in and out. While we tend to complain, the truth is the rain nourishes the land, feeds the plants, and makes everything grow green and pretty, so while I am eager for sunshine and warmth, I'll not take the rain for granted, for once summer arrives we may get very little rain.

This week, hopefully, we can get the vegetable garden planted and get some pots planted. What garden plans do you have? 

While Judith spends time tending her beautiful garden rather than Mosaic Monday, I am linking with Eileen's Viewing Nature Saturday's Critter's. I hope you will join me.  (There will be plenty of time for mosaics later.)

We have lots of work to do. I may talk hubby into a trip to Bath Garden center after church. (He's easy). Enjoy your week.

Thanks for visiting.

Just a Hint of Spring with a Dose of Cuteness

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