Sunday, March 30, 2008

This is Really Ducky!

We were sitting at the table eating this evening, when my son noticed a duck coming up to the patio. Of course I immediately jumped up from the table to grab my camera. The male mallard was soon joined by not one, but two female mallards.

They were quickly scarfing the sunflower seeds on the patio. Because of the constant motion and near darkness, it was difficult to get clear pictures of them.

The male walked right up to the patio door. I believe if I would have opened it he would have joined us for our evening meal.

It has been a very interesting bird day here at Robin's Nesting Place. I really don't think I could have chosen a more suitable blog name.

Bluebird at the New Nesting Box!

I put up a nesting box a few days ago and had been keeping an even closer eye on the bird activity in the back yard. We had just arrived home from church and I was sitting and talking to my husband when a flash of blue outside caught my attention.

There was a bluebird checking out my nesting box! Our important conversation was momentarily interrupted as I ran for the camera and watched the bluebird with breathless excitement. It never went inside the box, it just did a little window shopping. Oh, I hope it comes back! I would be so delighted if it chose to nest in my box! Maybe I could offer it some mealworms and bribe it. I definitely need to do some research now and make sure that my conditions are ideal.

Look what else showed up in the back yard today. It was sure making a loud racket when I got too close. We have a few ponds in the neighborhood and occasionally I'll see a duck flying by, but they rarely stop by to visit Robin's Nesting Place. What fun! A bluebird and a duck within minutes of each other! That was almost too much excitement for one day, I think I'll go take a Sunday afternoon nap now.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Signs of Spring at Robin's Nesting Place

The goldfinches have almost completely molted.

I shot this picture just as he was taking flight.

Buds on the Bradford Pear.

I believe this is muscari coming up.

Daffodils are up and have noticeable buds.

The hollyhock that I grew last year is up, I'm looking forward to seeing it bloom this year.

Another sign of spring here, is that the kids from next door and their friends are cutting across my yard to get to the playground, they just walk right over my flower beds. I noticed today that they are trampling the plants that are coming up and have even stepped on the small viburnum shrubs. The maddening thing is that first of all they are teens, not little children, and secondly I have asked them several times already not to cut through my yard, but they do it anyway. SO RUDE! I'm seriously thinking about a hedge of thorny roses. Sorry for the rant but this frustrates me to no end.

Another tulip coming up beside a plant that has apparently heaved out of the ground during the winter.

A large bird flying overhead this morning caught my attention.

On another note, the house sparrows have diminished in number since I stopped using the cheaper bird seed. I don't mind feeding a few of them, but I didn't like the crowd I was attracting before.
I also bought a bird house and am watching to see if it will be occupied. I sure hope so. I've been seeing the birds frolicking and mating, maybe soon a couple will be house hunting and use my nesting box. That will be a sure sign of spring.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Delightful Ranunculus-Dumb Mistake

I bought this gorgeous ranunculus last year and was delighted with its rose-like blooms.

I found ranunculus bulbs a few days ago at Meijer's and purchased two bags for a total of twenty bulbs. I had never planted them before and discovered today, quite by accident, that I had planted them upside down. I'm so glad I discovered that huge mistake. I should have done the research before planting the odd shaped bulb.

I assumed, (or misunderstood the package instructions), that the stem went on top with the tubers pointed up. Not so, according to several internet sources, you plant it pointed down. Now I have to replant 20 ranunculus.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Indoor Growing Update

So far, all of my seedlings are doing well and I'm quickly running out of space on the shelves. The upstairs loft area has been a perfect location for growing plants. The combination of corner windows and overhead lights seems to be perfect too since all of my plants are growing straight and are filling out nicely. I just bought another light to put on the bottom shelf because it is time to transplant more seedlings.

The impatiens are getting too large and a few have tiny little buds. They really should be planted outside soon, that is, if it was already past the frost date. They grew faster this year than in 2007. I need to remember not to plant them as early next year.

I just checked and I started these on Feb. 5, last year they were started at the end of February and it took them a while to bloom once they were planted outside. They definitely did better and are healthier this year, but starting them in early February is too soon.

I've never grown liatris before, it grew much faster than I expected. They are so easy to grow from the little bulbs and they are inexpensive too. I planted three bulbs to a pot and now have six nice sized plants to add to the garden. The Butterflies and bees loved the small clump I already had and I'm very excited about adding a few more to my butterfly garden.

The Purple Wave petunias are growing well. Last year I had trouble with the lower leaves turning yellow, (probably from too much moisture), but so far, no problems this year.

Growing and propagating plants is a lot of fun for me, I love to learn new things and I like to experiment to see what works and what doesn't.

I'm a little embarrassed to tell what all I have growing inside right now, but here is the list any way. With a few notes to myself, (and you too, if interested).

Impatiens - Feb 5- 37 plants - Beginning to form buds. Start in late February 2009.
Petunias - Feb. 28- 40 plants- Need to transplant the other 34 in containers.
Balloon Flower Feb. 28 - a lot of them germinated- thin and transplant
Pansy- Feb. 28- 8 plants- transplant
Feathertop grass - Feb. 28- growing well
Hare's Tail grass - Feb. 28- growing well
Fountain Grass- Feb. 28- growing well
Scabiosa - Feb. 28- ? lost label and can't remember where they are.
Blue Flax- Feb. 28- Several- transplant
Bee Balm- Feb. 28- 10 plants- transplant
Irish eyes Rudbeckia- Feb. 28 - several germinated - transplant
Blanketflower Feb. 28- ?
Candy Mountain Foxglove Feb. 28- Several -thin and transplant

Liatris- 6 plants- Growing too quickly; in the future plant bulbs outside.
Larkspur- 12 plants so far- Recently germinated. Transplant soon.
Lilies- 6plants- Buds have formed, grew way too quickly, shouldn't grow these inside.
Hyssop- hundreds- Thin and transplant.
Lavender Hyssop- 17 plants - Transplant
Bonfire Salvia- 16-18 plants - still germinating- some ready to transplant.
Hollyhock Maroon- Some have germinated- didn't label well
Butterfly weed- growing well but didn't label - (Can't distinguish between butterfly plants)
Pink Butterfly plant - growing well but didn't label

Mallow pink beauty -March 12- a few are growing - transplant
Rudbeckia Maya - March 12- just germinating
Frost Hardy Geraniums - March 12- two have germinated - transplant

Coleus, March 22, hasn't germinated
Cilantro - Planted March 22, hasn't germinated
Parsley- Planted March 22, hasn't germinated
Mint- March 22, hasn't germinated
Dill- March 22, hasn't germinated
Roma tomato - March 22, a few are just beginning to germinate.
Tomato Super Sweet 100 - March 22, a few are just beginning to germinate.

Ranunculus - 20 bulbs- no growth because I planted them upside down, (post to follow).

This doesn't include what is being winter sown outside, or the many seed packets I still have, many of which I will direct sow.

Anybody want to volunteer to help me plant all of this?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

I'm Sure You'll Understand Dirt Envy

Today is a lovely day with highs in the mid-fifties. I have a few of my windows open and have been enjoying listening to the birds. I sat outside on the patio for a little while and decided I was in the mood to work on a neighborhood project.

I live beside the neighborhood playground and this is what it has looked like for the last several years. I decided to join my Home Owners Association this year rather than being extremely frustrated and angry because certain things weren't getting done. I am now the person who is responsible for seeing that things get done in this common area. As of last night's meeting, I now have approval to order the mulch. I wanted to remove the weeds before the mulch came rather than have someone come out and spray weed killer on the children's play area, (which had been planned).

So, I went out and started pulling the very weeds that have been the source of much frustration. (Man, did that ever feel good!). The ground was perfect for weeding, not too wet and not too dry. Even the dandelions popped right out of the ground. It wasn't long before I discovered why the weeds are so prolific in this area and why they came up so easily. It has the most loamy soil, a perfect dark rich well composted soil, from the years of mulch and leaves breaking down. I'm sure that very few people can imagine dirt envy, but I'm sure you all will understand perfectly. What I wouldn't give to garden in dirt like that rather than the hard clay I have. I think maybe this is where my topsoil may have gone. Anyway, I'm planning a flower bed in another part of the common area and I'll be asking for permission to move this to that area rather than buying the dirt and amendments as planned. I'll still add some manure but this should work beautifully.

The robins aren't having any trouble finding worms. I watched this one for a while and it had a feast. Well, I must get back to work. I'd love to get that weeding job finished today.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

That Isn't Weird

I was tagged by Viooltje, from Lady Greenthumb's Garden for a meme. I'm supposed to tell ten weird or random facts about myself. I had already participated in a meme back in November telling eight random facts about myself, but I thought it might be fun to participate in this one too.

I mentioned the meme at the dinner table tonight just to see if my family could help me come up with some things that are weird about me. My fifteen year old son said that I go nuts when I see a new bird in the yard. My twenty year old daughter said that I'd rather shop at Lowe's, Home Depot and garden centers than regular stores. That is not weird. It is perfectly normal behavior. Apparently they couldn't think of anything more weird to contribute, (my husband wisely kept silent).

I guess I should be thankful that my kids don't think I'm weird. However, it is now all up to me to figure out ten weird random things about myself, I think I'm pretty normal too so this is rather difficult. H'mm......

1. I hate roaches because when I was 19, one crawled into my ear while I was asleep. I woke up and ran to the bathroom to run water in my ear to try and get it out. I was hysterical, slapping my head and screaming, STOP! STOP! The thing was tormenting me by clawing and scratching on my eardrum. Thankfully, when I got to the emergency room they quickly ushered me back and removed the big roach that had attached itself to my eardrum. After I calmed down, I noticed that my pants were unzipped and I had a wet bedhead look. I was so embarrassed! The people I worked with started calling me the "Roach Motel", roaches get in, but they can't get out.

2. I am terrified of heights and absolutely hate flying. I've had to fly anyway to accompany my husband on numerous business trips. I don't get up unless I absolutely have to while flying because it makes me dizzy and nauseated. In October 1995, after an Alaskan Cruise, we flew into Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, we only had a few minutes to make our connecting flight and I HAD to go to the bathroom because I was feeling sick with an upset stomach. I quickly went to the bathroom and we took off running as fast as we could through the airport. We jumped onto a tram that happened to have several of my husband's co-workers and their spouses on it. I felt someone grab something from my pants, I turned to discover that I had been running through DFW with a 2 foot long toilet paper tail flapping behind me. How humiliating! To keep from dying of embarrassment, I thought about all of those weary travelers that must have needed some comic relief, even though the laugh at my expense. Thankfully, everyone was gracious and the incident was never mentioned again, at least not to me.

3. I'm a very serious minded person, but will occasionally act silly and out of character just to surprise or embarrass my kids.

4. Being the serious minded person that I am, I don't laugh at jokes very often. They are usually dumb and corny to me. When we first met, my husband spent our entire first date telling jokes and trying to get me to laugh. They weren't funny, so I didn't laugh. He finally said something that was spontaneous and truly funny and made me laugh. After nearly 26 years of marriage, he still tells jokes and I still don't laugh. God was gracious though, and blessed him with a beloved daughter who will laugh at anything and everything he says. And what a delightful laugh she has, her generous laughter has been beautiful music to our ears from the time she was two months old.

5. I am weird about using chemicals. I don't want perfume to touch my skin and on the rare occasion that I use it, I spray it on my clothing. My black hair is turning gray, but I refuse to put any coloring on it. I don't use harsh chemicals when cleaning my home, and I garden organically.

6. I'm sure my neighbors think I'm weird because just about every day, (sometimes twice a day), in July and August I can be seen outside picking Japanese beetles off my plants by hand and placing them in zip-lock baggies. Remember, I don't use chemicals for pest control.

7. I'm weird about taking medications too. It has to be a pretty bad headache that lasts longer than twenty-four hours before I will even take anything for it. When I'm sick, I'll drink barley green or take a number of other things to boost my immune system, but I hate taking any kind of cold medication.

8. I didn't become a cat person until about three years ago. I didn't like cats at all, because I couldn't trust them after being bitten a couple of times by cats who acted like they wanted to be petted. I love my wonderful kitty now and can't imagine not having her. She has won me over to the cat side.

9. I'd rather stay outside all day, sitting on the ground weeding than being in the house cooking or cleaning.

10. I've been a stay-at-home mom for almost 21 years, devoting my life to my husband, children and home. Now that my two children are pretty much all grown up, I'm trying to decide what I want to do with my life now. That, is so very weird to me.

I'm not sure who has been tagged already, so please join in if you'd like to play along.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Bird Pictures and Lantana Update

We had beautiful sunshine this morning and even though our highs were only supposed to be in the lower 40's, it felt warm enough for me to have my morning coffee on the patio. I have so missed doing that. Being right beside the common area/playground, early morning is the only time I truly get peace and quiet in the yard. The birds were singing and there was quite a bit of courting going on.

There are quite a few robins here at Robin's Nesting Place this year. I went outside this afternoon to piddle around but it was a little cloudy and too cool to stay out long. I did take a few minutes to pull up some scraggly lamb's ear that had been spreading out of control. I saw a lot of earth worms, so the robins should have plenty to feed their young.

The goldfinches are beginning to molt and will soon be sporting their bright yellow plumage. A sure sign of spring. I adore the sweet sound of the goldfinch, I'll be glad when I can raise the windows to hear it better. I have several feeders with nyjer seed in them, so I was surprised to see this little cutie come to the patio to eat the black oil sunflower seeds that I put out for the cardinal.

I was elated today when I checked my winter sowing containers and saw a sprout in the lantana container. I hope it survives and that more will sprout. The seeds I had inside were a complete bust, because the gnats really liked the peat pellets since they had molded, I have them sitting out on the patio, but I don't really have much hope for them. This was just an experiment, because lantana is very difficult to grow from seed. I will consider it a success if I just get one plant from the seeds I collected.

I hope everyone had a lovely Easter weekend.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter

Spring bursts today,
For Christ is risen and all the earth's at play.

Christina Rossetti

May you all have a blessed day.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Winter Sowing Update 3-21-08

Even though it's spring, it doesn't feel like it today. It's cold, but thankfully we aren't getting the snow the upper Midwest is getting.

I took a stroll around the soggy yard today to see if anything else was blooming besides my lone crocus, other than one other purple crocus, there isn't. I wasn't too disappointed though because I'd rather the blooms hold off just a little longer until it warms up so I can really enjoy them. I saw a lot of tulip, lily and daffodil sprouts coming up. Soon, it will really look and feel like spring!

This picture was taken spring 2007. I hope the pink tulips are as pretty this year.

I checked on my winter sowing containers on the patio and there are more sprouts. Here are the containers that have germinated so far:

#1- Foxglove, Candy Mountain
#2 & 3 -English poppy
#10 & 11- Cosmos
#17- Alyssum
#18- Gazania

I don't think I had ever made a complete listing, in one post, of what I had winter sowed, so here is my winter sowing list for 2008:

1- Foxglove, Candy Mountain
2 & 3- English Poppy
4- Foxglove Excelsior Mix
5- Blanketflower Gaillardia Aristata
6- Delphinium, Blue Bird
7- Delphinium, pacific Giants, Mixed color
8- Milkweed, Rose, Asclepias incarnata
9- Viola
10 & 11- Cosmos
12- Bellflower, Campanula carpatica -Blue
13- Lantana (This is just an experiment since I had plenty of seed. Considering this is zone 5, I doubt it will be successful.)
14- Columbine
15- Daisy Garden wildflower mix, (Black-eyed Susan, Blanket flower, Coreopsis, Cosmos, Shasta Daisy, Tricolor Chrysanthemum)
17 Alyssum
18 & 19 Gazania
20 & 23 Larkspur
21 Milkweed
22 Hollyhock
24 Ipomopsis Hummingbird mix
26 Butterfly bush
27 Malva

I'm missing numbers 16 and 25, I'm not sure what happened, I may have skipped the numbers or just forgotten to write down what I sowed.

Monday, March 17, 2008

First Crocus and the Swizzle


Saturday was Garden Blogger Bloom Day and I didn't have one single outside bloom to report. I had forgotten to look on the side of the house where I have a new flowerbed. I just happened to walk past that side of the house on Sunday and notice this purple crocus in full bloom.

Swizzle Zinnia
One of the flowers that brought me immense pleasure last summer was the Swizzle zinnia. At the end if the season I collected what I hoped were seeds, they were terribly thin and didn't seem like viable zinnia seeds. A few days ago I decided to plant a few just to see if they were really seeds.
Well, I'm very happy to report that my first attempt, has been successful! Now I will try a few more. FUN! FUN! FUN!

The Purple Wave petunias are getting larger and all forty of them are growing!

I've been asked what I will do with all of my plants. Most of them I will keep and plant around the perimeter of the yard. I'd love to start a butterfly garden in the courtyard of the nursing home where my mother-in-law resides, so, many of the plants will go there.

Also, I'm on the neighborhood HOA committee and I've volunteered to help beautify the common area that is beside by home. I plan to plant some of the flowers on the street corner around the new playground rules sign we are installing. With the new flowerbed and the new sign posting the rules, hopefully it will be a more beautiful and pleasant place to live. I can only hope.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Garden Blogger Bloom Day, March 2008

This will be a very quick GBBD post because not much is blooming around Robin's Nesting Place in March. Inside the house I have four gerbera daisies in bloom that have been overwintered, two yellows, a red and a pink.

Outside nothing has bloomed yet, however this crocus will open up very soon.

Since I don't have pretty flower pictures to show, I'll show the cardinal pictures I took yesterday. This little fellow flew right up to the patio while I was preparing my lunch, of course I forgot all about lunch and grabbed my camera.

This was a very special treat to sit and watch the shy male cardinal, that has pretty much eluded me all winter, this close to the house.

I've already enjoyed looking at many of the lovely Garden Blogger Bloom Day posts from the gardens to the south of me. Spring is definitely in the air. Thanks to Carol, from May dreams Gardens for hosting this fun monthly event.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Verbena IS a Perennial. It is, it is!!!

Butterfly on Verbena

On January 31, I posted pictures of the many little creatures that had enjoyed the Verbena Bonariensis in my butterfly garden and I made the statement that it was my favorite perennial. Jodi left a comment saying that it was an annual where she lived. I was curious to see if it was indeed a perennial or an annual in my zone 5 garden. After checking several sources I saw that it was only hardy in zones 7-10. Embarrassed and feeling a bit foolish about my mistake, I posted again telling why I had thought it was a perennial.

Nearly in a panic after reading that so many people had trouble getting this to grow in their garden, I went outside in the cold weather and snipped off the seed heads of just about every verbena in the garden. I winter sowed some and sprinkled seeds in every flower bed.

The weather was absolutely perfect here today, in the mid-fifties and I spent a considerable amount of time outside cleaning up in the flower gardens. I started pulling up the verbena, my poor verbena that I had thought was a perennial, but was really only an annual....wait a minute... what's that green stuff at the base of the plant? It is the verbena coming back! It is a perennial here in my zone 5 garden! I'm not crazy after all. I really had been seeing the same plants coming back for the last several years, not new plants that had grown from seed. Just about every verbena that I checked had new growth. I wonder why it is hardy here when it really isn't supposed to be. I mulch for the winter, but not a thick layer. I'm so glad the verbena is hardy in my garden. Even if the thousands of seeds I planted don't grow, I will still have verbena in the butterfly garden again. That is a very good thing!

The snow is just about all gone. Another very good thing!

Look what I found! I do have crocuses coming up after all, not many, but hey, I'm very happy seeing these two.

More spring blossoms on the way!

My first winter sowing sprouts are in container #17, which is Alyssum.

I was shocked to find that the parsley had survived the winter. I saw little sprouts coming up all over the place. I even did a bit of weeding pulling out those little dandelions that were coming up in the flower garden.

I cut the ornamental grasses back, gave Lilly a good brushing and went for a nice long walk with her. Spring, a very good thing.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Rock Water Features, All the Rage

Water features have been popular for a while at garden shows, but this year rock water features are all the rage at the Indiana Flower and Patio Show. Annie in Austin, thrilled us a few weeks ago with a post on her new rock fountain. Either Annie is a trend setter or this is just beginning to catch on here in Indiana.

There were some lovely stone fountains, large and small. I really like the natural look of the rock in the gardens.

I imagine that the birds would enjoy a trickling rock fountain.

This one kind of looks like a drinking fountain, but I bet it makes a great birdbath.

So, who wants one of these in their garden now?