Friday, February 29, 2008

Where in the world is Robin's Nesting Place?


Jodi, from Bloomingwriter, cleverly thought up an interesting and educational winter diversion for us. She challenged us to tell about the communities where we live and garden. Procrastinator that I am, I'm pushing the deadline turning in my homework assignment.

I would probably have done mine on Indianapolis since it is where I usually tell people, who know nothing about the area, where I live, but Carol, from May Dreams Gardens, has already done an ingenious post on the Top Ten Reasons You Would Love to Garden In Indianapolis.
So, instead I'll tell a little about Hamilton county and my small community of Noblesville.

Noblesville was recently named one of the top 10 places to raise a family. It truly is a wonderful place to live. In 2006 Hamilton county was listed as the 18th fastest-growing county in the United States. Why is that? What is so special about Noblesville and Hamilton County, Indiana? Well, I'm glad you asked.

Hamilton County has many wonderful parks and nature trails.

Cool Creek Park
This is Cool Creek Park and Nature Center in Carmel.

Squirrel at Cool Creek Park

Winter 2007 Potter's Bridge
Here in Noblesville, we have Potters Bridge Park and Forrest Park within walking distance of each other. Potter's Bridge has a wonderful walking trail along the White River. Forest Park has a large community aquatic center, golf course, play ground, miniature golf, extreme skateboard park, carousel and wooded walking trails.

My husband and son love that there are eight golf courses within a 10-15 minute drive of where we live.

We have wonderful public libraries in Hamilton County, (very important to a family of bookworms), really the best I've seen yet in any of the large cities where we've previously lived.

Morse Lake
There are many recreational opportunities for those who are interested in water activities.
Morse Reservoir and Geist Reservoir are two scenic lakes where you can take advantage of those glorious sumer days.

Just Ducky
I took this picture of the duck last year at Morse Lake. It is one of my favorite pictures and I actually have it as my screen saver right now.

Hamilton county is very proud of its rich history, and you can hear all about it at Conner Prairie.

Conner Prairie

Conner Prairie is a 250-acre living history museum, where you can experience how life was lived in Indiana in the 1800's. It offers many hands on activities and even opportunities for up-close and personal contact with farm animals.

Lambs at Conner Prairie

A great place to visit in the spring!


Hamilton county is still largely agricultural, although sadly many farms are being sold for housing developments and shopping malls.

Still, it is very, VERY, common to see corn fields and barns dotting the landscape.


Farmers Market Produce
One of the things I love about Hamilton County is that each of the larger communities has a farmers market, making it easier to get local produce...

Indiana Corn

especially that wonderful Indiana sweet corn.


There are many family owned farms that sell produce too and allow you to come and pick strawberries, blueberries, apples or pumpkins.

While Hamilton County is very sophisticated, (actually one of the wealthiest communities in the US), it has just about anything you could want in the way of shopping or dining, yet it still has that small town, friendly, Mid-western atmosphere.

While preparing to move up north from Alabama, we could have chosen to live anywhere in Ohio, Southern Michigan or Indiana. I spent months doing county by county internet research and chose Hamilton county, Indiana based on several factors, one being the cost of living index. It is one of the most affordable places to live and also one of the safest. While there are no majestic views of oceans or mountains here, it is a combination all of the little things that make this a great place to live and raise a family. We certainly have enjoyed our time here, and while I will always cherish my southern roots, Noblesville, Indiana is home and a very good one indeed.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Sowing Seeds

Lilly was here beside me a few minutes ago licking and cleaning her baby. She loves her stuffed animals and just like a child she drags them all out and her favorite place to leave them, for some strange reason, is on the stairs.

I played in the dirt today! So desperate was I to feel the dirt, that I didn't even wear gloves. Nope, I was barehanded and it felt wonderful, (usually I wear surgical gloves for this task)! The only thing missing was the outdoors. It isn't exactly the same gardening in the kitchen, but it was fun none-the-less.

I did get the impatiens into larger containers today. There were 26 of them. I decided that I would go ahead and sow a few more of the seeds for indoor growing. I sowed two packets of the purple wave petunias, blue flax, balloon flower, bee balm, pansy, foxglove 'Candy Mountain', rudbeckia 'Irish eyes', scabiosa, and blanketflower.

I also sowed some grasses: Feathertop, Hare's Tail Grass and Fountain grass.

I prepared eight more gallon containers for my winter sowing. Numbers 17-24 contain:

17 Alyssum
18 & 19 Gazania
20 & 23 Larkspur
21 Milkweed
22 Hollyhock
24 Ipomopsis Hummingbird mix

It was fun planting and preparing for spring, even though we have snow in the forecast AGAIN tonight.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Dark-eyed Juncos

I threw a few seeds on the patio this morning to bring the birds up close for my kitty and the two little children that spent the day with me today. The dark-eyed juncos were the only takers we had.
I love the little squeaky sound the cat makes when she sees the birds up close, it always makes me laugh when I hear it. As you can see in the picture we were having a few flurries again today.

I was pleased that I actually got the eyes to show up, even a little. Their face is so dark that in my previous pictures of the junco I couldn't see the eyes.


This group of impatiens are growing so fast and are very healthy. The roots are now showing through the peat and I really need to get them into larger containers tomorrow.

I know there are people who avoid using peat for environmental reasons, but I have had great success with the peat pellets on those plants that are fussy about transplanting and will continue to use them.

Notice the huge difference in the impatiens? This group was sown at the same time, from the same seeds and under the same lights as those in the first two pictures. The only difference is that these were the ones that were gently pulled from the peat pellets when I thinned them and the others were left undisturbed. The impatiens I planted last year did the exact same way. I probably won't even bother transplanting them next year. It is just so hard for me to throw them away, on the other hand, it is very time consuming and takes up valuable space that I could be using to grow other things. Considering that, I'll give these a few more days to perk up and start growing, if not, I'll not waste any more time pampering them. I do have two other impatiens seed packets that I can use to grow more if I want. This makes so much sense, why is it so hard to do? It's really kinda dumb.

I just got up from my seat went over with the resolve to pluck those inferior plants right from the dirt while I had the nerve, but I couldn't do it. O.K. be brutally honest with me, do I have a problem, is this abnormal? Never mind, I don't think I want to know.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Snowflakes the Size of Tissues

My daughter looked out the window tonight and was surprised at the large snowflakes, she said it looked like tissues were falling. They were the largest snowflakes I've ever seen.

Both of my children are beginning to groan and complain when it snows now. We are all so ready for spring, but according to the forecast we have several more days with snow this week.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Indoor Garden Update

I think I would go absolutely nuts if I didn't have a little gardening to do inside during these long winter months. Here is a little update on whats going on right now in my indoor garden.

The gerbera daisies have almost made it to spring. I've had at least one of them blooming at one time or another throughout the winter.

The pink one is blooming now. I took over a hundred pictures of it this morning, with three different cameras, trying to get the lighting correct and a good close-up.
I still am not satisfied, but I'm tired of editing pictures.

For some reason, I love the center of these flowers. It looks like little ribbon curls in there.

The sun was streaming in through the window while I was having the photo session with the gerbera and I notice the back of the flower.

I'm usually so focused on the front that I haven't really paid attention to the back. It's actually quite beautiful too.

The red gerbera has new buds and a full bloom too.

The yellow one has a new bloom and seems to be the healthiest of the five, with a lot of new green growth. I am having a problem with white flies and gnats at the moment and have to spray regularly with soapy water.

I don't think I've ever mentioned that I brought in four containers of the sweet potato vine to winter over, (2 blacks and two chartreuse). They all have new growth and are doing well inside. I plan to get cuttings and propagate new plants from them. I also saved some of the tubers from the plants I discarded. I don't know if they will be any good, since I didn't store them properly. I just threw them in an open box in the garage, it may have gotten too cold for them.

I'm beginning to wonder if I started the impatiens too early. I started them at the end of February last year and they weren't quite ready at planting time. These seem to be thriving and growing quickly. I'll soon have to plant them in a larger container.

This little experiment isn't going so well. The lantana seeds need warmth to germinate, with the lid on it gets too humid and stays too moist. Now I have some kind of algae or moss growing on my peat moss. I may try to heat from the bottom and leave the lid off. Does anyone have any advice? I know it's a long shot growing these but I'm not ready to give up yet.

It will soon be time to start my other seeds, but before I do I really need to get rid of the fungus gnats. Any suggestions on that little problem?

Friday, February 22, 2008

Bird Brained Part 2

Here is part two of my bird post. I thought I'd show Lilly doing her Elvis lip curl first!

All winter I've had one cardinal couple that comes regularly to my feeders. Today I saw another male cardinal! The bright red against the snow is quite beautiful. One of the males lingered around until dark and it was a joy watching the flashes of red in my neighbors shrubs while I was busy in the kitchen.

Mary, once posted that she had twenty pairs of cardinals, they looked like red berries on her tree. I can't imagine having that many in my yard; I would be so thrilled.

I usually see the hawk fly through the backyard at least once everyday, it usually perches in the tree for a while and then flies away empty handed. One other time when we had several inches of snow I saw a Cooper swoop by my feeder and catch a bird. Some unfortunate bird met its demise today. It was probably a starling since the feathers looked short and black. And there were a lot of feathers!

I've also had a downy woodpecker couple that have been faithful visitors to my feeders all winter.

It's funny, I never really thought the females were that pretty until I started photographing them. They really are gorgeous birds.

While I was outside, (without a coat), trying to get pictures of the hawk, I heard the goldfinch in the tree above my head. I haven't seen them lately. In the beginning of the winter I had quite a few of them, one even came to the window during a snowstorm to drink water from the window.

A house finch on the frozen birdbath.

Several people have mentioned that they don't see as many house sparrows where they live. They are still plentiful here...

as are the starlings.

It will be very interesting to see how many of my seeds actually germinate. When spring comes I'm going to have so much to plant...I hope!

Bird Brained Part 1

We've had more wintry weather today that has brought quite a lot of bird activity to Robin's Nesting Place. I apologize in advance for the number of bird pictures I'll be posting, I've been just a little bit bird brained today. I'll do two posts to divide up the pictures.

This blue jay was quite upset that the acorns and peanuts were covered with snow, (this picture was taken yesterday). It was making quite a racket. It never tried to move the snow out of the way to eat, just squawked angrily. Notice the whack job the rabbits have done on the burning bush? I saw little rabbit prints in the snow. I actually spotted the little menace a few days ago for the first time.

I went out and scraped away the snow this morning and filled it with fresh acorns and peanuts; the blue jays have been much happier today.

It always amazes me how many doves can sit together on a thin limb. There were more but a few flew away when I walked up to the door to get the picture.
Doves are so common, but they are such beautiful creatures.

I haven't really minded winter too much today. It always thrills me when I have beautiful birds within camera range.