Sunday, May 30, 2010

A New Appreciation

The poppy has been gorgeous, but like the peonies it is a fleeting beauty. I noticed this evening that the petals had already begun to drop.

I usually sit on the patio swing in the mornings, but yesterday morning my husband and I decided to sit on the front porch to enjoy our coffee. The curbside trees in our front yard are in bloom.

I noticed quite a few butterflies at the tree. After I finished my coffee and conversation, I quickly grabbed my camera to get some pictures.

I have no idea what kind of tree this is, I've searched and can't identify it. Maybe a Linden tree? It is very fragrant with a strong sweet smell. Do any of you know what it is?

There were several Red Admirals on the trees. I am excited to see so many butterflies this year! I saw precious few last year and I missed them.

I can't believe that I had never noticed the pollinators on this tree before now. I never really liked the two trees so I payed very little attention to them. Every spring I would be disappointed because the city placed these in front of my house rather than some of the prettier
spring flowering trees that all of my neighbors have.

These little bugs look like lightening bugs and they were all over the tree mating.

The bees were covered in pollen!

After today my opinion of the two trees is totally different. I have a new appreciation for them and I'm so glad that I have trees in my yard that attract so many wonderful pollinators.

Thank you all for you comments, regarding my parents. Your thoughts and prayers for them mean so much to me. My mother is continuing to improve but her recovery will be long and difficult. Please keep her in your prayers.

I hope everyone is enjoying this Memorial Day weekend!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Thankful for Distractions

Sadly the peonies are already past their prime. They are so gorgeous, I just wish they lasted longer. (I think I say that every year. )

I bought this chippy blue picnic table at a garage sale last weekend for $5.00. It is a large oval table and quite heavy. It will replace a small wrought iron table that fell over whenever the wind blew hard. One of these days I will probably repaint it, but for now I like it just the way it is.

I love this poppy! I wish it had more than this single bloom. It looks so pretty next to the lavender. I will definitely save the seeds and try to grow more of them.

I've never had much success with roses before, but the pink double Knockout roses are easy to grow and they are so pretty. I like them so much better than the single Rainbow colored one I have.

I need to get outside tomorrow with my spray bottle of soapy water and get the aphids off of them.

I noticed this robin at the birdbath yesterday. It kept its mouth open. I was curious about this behavior and read that when the weather is hot they open their mouths and pant to keep cool.

We went from cold and rainy to hot and humid. I was looking forward to warmth, but not quite this warm yet.

I am definitely seeing more butterfly activity this year!

The hummingbirds are back too!

My mother has been in the hospital for over two weeks. She had a serious case of Diverticulitis. It ruptured and set up infection and sadly she had to have part of her colon removed and now has a colostomy. I haven't been able to go home to Alabama to be with her. My heart is so heavy and I am very concerned about her. At times like this, it is very difficult being so far away from home.

My dad is still in so much pain after his lung cancer surgery last year. It is really painful for him to stay at the hospital so much with my mother, but he does it anyway. He had a spot on his rib during his last scan. He will have another scan in a few weeks. I'm concerned that his cancer may be back. If it is, I don't know how they will take care of each other. I try not to think about that.

I am so thankful for the beautiful flowers, bees, butterflies and birds that provide a little distraction from the worry and concern.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Nesting Chickadees

I am delighted to report that the chickadees have successfully nested in my nesting box!

I wasn't sure that they would choose my box because the house sparrows were determined to use it and were constantly sitting on the peg and chewing the wood trying to expand the small hole. I read in an older magazine that I bought recently at a garage sale, (I think it was Birds and Bloom), that you could discourage the sparrows from doing this by hanging something from the tree. It would spook the sparrows but the chickadees were brave and would still use the nest.

I decided to give that a try, taking the risk that it would scare off the chickadees too. It actually worked! The sparrows left it alone and finally the little chickadees could nest in peace.

The eggs have obviously hatched and the sweet little chickadees are very busy feeding their young.

Both the male and the female are frantically going back and forth to the nesting box.

I don't know how many mouths they have to feed. I read that the average clutch size is six and there can be as many as eight.

They must be feeding them suet because they go straight from the suet feeder to the box over and over and over. It is amazing to watch how many times they both go to the box with food! It is constant activity all day long.

I hope that I am able to see them when they leave the nest!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Container Gardening is for the Birds...

and the butterflies too!

I was very impatient to fill my clay chimney tiles with plants, but I made myself wait until after Mother's Day, like a good girl. Especially since it has been cold, rainy and threatening frost right up until the Monday after. Since the chimney tiles are in the butterfly and hummingbird garden...well, one of the butterfly and hummingbird gardens, I decided to buy plants for the containers that would attract both hummingbirds and butterflies. In the clay tiles I planted my beloved lantana, verbena, Calibrachoa or Superbells, and the purple wave petunias that I grew from seed.

Lantana is one of my favorite plants for attracting butterflies to the garden. Last year I bought five plants and put them in the ground. It was a cool and rainy summer and they never bloomed. It was a great disappointment to me. This year I decided to put them in containers so hopefully, even if it is cool, there will be a better chance for blooms.

I spent a lot of time outside today and I have seen more butterflies today than I saw all of last summer! I even saw a tiger swallowtail! Most of the butterflies were flitting around so fast that I couldn't even tell what they were. I didn't see a single one of them land in my garden. I think they were on a mission, like trying not to get eaten by the mama birds!

I am loving this bright turquoise ladder in the yard. As I was contemplating what to plant that would climb up this unique trellis, I noticed that something was already growing. I believe this is the morning glory that I planted last year to climb up the diseased tree before we chopped it down. It was so cool and rainy that the seeds never germinated. I can't remember what color I planted, knowing me, it was probably pink or purple. I wish I had saved the seed package.

I hope everyone has a lovely weekend! I'm hoping it will dry out and be warm enough for me to do some painting and more planting!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Finally! An Oriole!

Last year I bought this, new in the box, orange oriole nectar feeder at a garage sale. A couple of weeks ago I filled it and forgot about it because I knew it would be a long shot attracting orioles to my yard. Tonight as I was cleaning up in the kitchen I thought I spotted something at the feeder. I ran outside and brought it in to clean and refill. Within thirty minutes I saw the oriole back at the feeder eating! This is my first oriole to ever see in person. I was so excited!

I had to take the picture with my point and shoot camera because I didn't have the zoom lens on my Canon. I changed the lens after taking a few pictures but I didn't see it again. Maybe it will come back tomorrow or hopefully others will find their way here.

This little goldfinch was hanging around Saturday. It was pretty cold and the poor thing was trying to keep warm. I don't know if it was sick or just old, but I knew it wasn't going to live much longer. I tried to get it to leave the yard, but it kept coming back to the patio. I found it dead later that evening. I'm not sure why they like to come here to die, but this is the third one since last year that has come right up to the house or patio to die.

On a brighter note, the clematis are blooming! This one is growing beside the front porch. I planted it two years ago and it is filling out quite nicely.

I hope everyone had a nice Mother's Day!