Sunday, June 29, 2008

A New Camera and a BIG Thank you!

I wanted start off by thanking you all for your kind words, your thoughts and especially your prayers regarding my husband's job loss. The initial shock has worn off and a deep sense of sadness has taken its place. We are trying to have faith and not give in to fear. A little fear is good, however, because it tends to make us very proactive.

My husband traveled frequently and always put expenses on his Rewards card. He graciously let me use the reward points on my photography hobby. Last year I used them for a 75-300mm lens for my Sony Alpha 100. My beloved Sony F717 was not performing very well anymore and I wanted a new camera to replace it. I recently purchased a Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H50 and it was delivered right about the time that we found out about the job loss. Needless to say, my enthusiasm about the new camera was dampened.

This afternoon I tried to nap but soon became restless. Instead, I went outside with my new camera and sat in the swing. There is something very satisfying to me about holding a camera in my hands. I love the way it feels. Taking pictures is far more restful and refreshing to me than a nap. I'm sure that may sound strange to some people, and I can't explain it myself. Hopefully I'm not totally crazy and there are a few others who love photography who might understand. Anyway, I sat there swinging and watching for anything that might catch my eyes. There really wasn't much going on. Just a few bumblebees and a brief glimpse of an American painted lady.

This bumblebee was huge!

I took a few pictures of the flowers. I marveled at how different and interesting the flowers on the echinacea looked.

This is my favorite container planting.

The highlight of the afternoon was seeing this large dragonfly land on the 'Veronica' speedwell. It flew around the garden several times and would light on this every time. I wonder if it was the color, the stalk, or something else that attracted him to this particular plant.

I'm still learning the camera and it has been so windy that it has been difficult to get good, clearly focused pictures, but so far, I think I'm going to enjoy it. It has a 15x optical zoom lens which is equivalent to 465mm. This will come in handy for capturing pictures of birds. Now I'm getting antsy for a field trip!

I hope you all have a marvelous Monday!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Random Things and Sad Family Situation

I was a little concerned that I had not been seeing butterflies. After all, I've filled my gardens with butterfly loving plants including many host plants. A few days ago I went back through my blog archives and saw that it wasn't until July last year that I really began seeing the butterflies. Yesterday morning, while I was outside watering, I saw this butterfly on the parsley. I believe she was laying eggs. Parsley is a host plant for black swallowtail butterflies and I plant it in the butterfly garden just for this purpose.

I've always treated my parsley, as an annual, (it's a biennial), and I clean it out of the garden in the fall. However, last year I didn't get around to pulling it up and surprisingly it survived our winter. It is now in bloom and the insects love it. It seems to be the preferred bloom right now.

I'm not seeing the goldfinches too often anymore. It always delights me to see them. This almost dead maple tree is the favorite perching place for the birds. It's rather nice for me too because there are no leaves to obstruct the view.

I can't believe it this time of year again. I saw the first Japanese beetle yesterday. Today I found one on a purple coneflower at the mailbox. Now, I will have to spend time each morning hand picking these awful bugs off of my trees and plants.

The white hollyhock is simply gorgeous. I've decided that she is definitely a keeper so I'll let her drop seed and hopefully next year I'll have a few more of these beauties.

I walked to one of the neighborhood ponds a few days ago and was surprised at the number of dragonflies. I'm looking forward to going back one evening or on an overcast day and trying to get some better pictures. The sun was pretty bright when I took these.

A few weeks ago I went to a garage sale and found a purple bowling ball for $2.00. I don't think I have to worry about the high winds breaking this gazing ball. I'm not really sure that I like this particular arrangement. Knowing how heavy that thing is, I look at the little guy holding it up, and he just looks like he's straining under all that weight.

This moth was on the patio door.

I thought this was odd. This bee was flying around the patio yesterday, well, he was trying to fly, he was really weighted down and could barely carry his load. I thought it had something like an egg sack but when I downloaded the picture I saw that it was a leaf. Can anyone explain this behavior?

On a really sad note, my husband is now a victim of the bad economy. We were notified yesterday that his job was terminated. He has been in sales in the RV industry for about 20 years, with gas prices and the economy this particular industry is really suffering right now. So many people have lost their jobs and very few, if any, of the RV companies are hiring. For those of you who are inclined, please pray for our family, especially my husband.

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Yoke's On Me

I've always been partial to pink and purple flowers and this pink mallow is such a delight. I just read the seed packet and this is 'Pink Beauty' mallow. I also just noticed that it isn't recommended to start these indoors as they can be difficult to transplant. I'm very glad that these have survived my ignorance.

I've never been partial to white flowers and was so disappointed that the one and only hollyhock that survived from last year's planting was white. It's very pretty in the evening by the light of the full moon. I really don't want more white hollyhocks though, and will pull this one up before it goes to seed.

My one and only real rose bush, ( I have several Carpet roses and Knockout roses). It produces a few red roses each year, but isn't really thriving. It does look healthier this year than in years past. So far, no black spots or pests, the aphids aren't even bothering it this year.

While I was outside, I had the pleasure of seeing a hummingbird. For some reason they are scarce this year and I'm not seeing them frequent the feeder.

I've spotted my first preying mantis. I was watering and almost missed seeing this little guy.

Our house was egged for the second time last night. This is so frustrating and maddening. This area gets morning sun and by the time we saw it and the police came to file the report, the eggs were baked on. We had to spend the morning cleaning the siding and the patio.

The maddening thing is that they had to be right at the patio to do this. This is not a harmless prank, it is vandalism. It permanently damages the siding. We never did get it all off of the side of the house last time, even though we cleaned it up right after it happened, at 1:00 AM.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

What Is This Bird?

It has been such a beautiful day today and I've spent a good portion of the day outside. I did a little bit of work but didn't feel like a lot of physical labor today. I enjoyed some reading and relaxing and just enjoying the glorious day. Later this evening my son dug a few holes for me and I got the rest of the shrubs and the last two pink Knockout roses planted.

I was sitting on the patio this evening and spotted this, (new to me), bird. I've looked through the Indiana Bird Watching book and did an internet search and I can't ID it. My first thought when I spotted it and heard it was that it was a gray catbird, but after seeing the picture in the Indiana bird book, I didn't think it was. It also reminded me of a flycatcher the way it caught insects and because of the tail feathers, but I didn't see a flycatcher that resembled it. Now I'm confused. Help! Could one of you talented birdwatchers ID this bird for me, please?

The top of this maple tree is dead. It has been driving me nutty, but after sitting this evening and watching the birds land on the bare branches, I'm rethinking pruning it. They love those dead branches. Funny how my perspective changed on that. Here I was ready to buy a tree saw; I even thought about chopping the ugly, sorry tree down. After tonight, I realized it's not so bad after all.

Caught in the Act...Nature Update

Every morning one of the first things I do while I'm stumbling through the house, making my way to the coffee maker, is open the blinds. This morning, as I raised the blinds on the landing, I noticed a lot of activity at the bird feeders. Not only were there birds, but I actually caught two rabbits munching on my burning bush. This is the first time I've actually caught them in my yard.

Momentarily I forget the coffee and grab the camera instead. Not wanting to startle them, I started quietly and slowly taking pictures from inside the house.

Then I slowly crept outside and of course they immediately started hopping away.

This one hunkered down for a few seconds for a photo-op and then quickly scampered into the neighbor's thick hedge of shrubs.

This is the same burning bush they nearly destroyed during the winter, chewing it within inches of the ground. I was shocked that it actually grew some branches this spring and looked like it might survive. Now they are attacking it again. I let Lilly outside after the rabbits were out of the yard. I was sitting on the swing and she was beside me. I notice she was sniffing and had become very alert and focused on something, I turned around and spotted the rabbit again. About that time Lily took off after the rabbit and chased it away. Hopefully, that scared it and maybe, just maybe it will stay away.

I put some peanuts out and it wasn't too long before the blue jays came. This one wasn't too sure about me being outside and was hesitant at first.

It was making an awful racket too.

After several minutes of screeching and squawking, it started gathering the peanuts. They don't take time to eat them, they hoard them, going back and forth gathering and hiding, until all of the peanuts are gone.

There were quite a few birds here this morning, the robins, doves, chickadees, grackles, cardinals, and sparrows. I also saw a great blue heron flying over head, and a hawk giving chase.

"George" is still taking up residence in the five winter sowing containers that remain to be planted. Today he is in the foxglove.

The pill bugs are still eating my plants and I've yet to discover anything that works. I've tried the grapefruit, and they do like it, but the minute you remove it they scamper like crazy and are very difficult to smash. I was hoping they would be all neatly clustered inside the grapefruit and I could remove the grapefruit and all the bugs would be inside. That isn't the case, they cover the ground underneath the grapefruit. Same with the newspaper. They love the wet newspaper and will collect underneath it, not on it, and when you lift it they scamper. Smashing bugs is not exactly my favorite gardening task. YUCKY!

It was about 70 degrees this morning, perfect weather for sitting outside and observing the creatures who are making Robin's Nesting Place their home. Unfortunately, not all of them are welcome guest.

Monday, June 16, 2008

June Garden Blogger Bloom Day

Another late Garden Blogger Bloom Day post for me. I look forward to visiting other gardeners who posted at May Dreams Garden to see what everyone else has blooming in the month of June.

I've never had success with roses that require spraying and fussing over, but I have several of the carpet roses and Knockout roses and they are doing quite well this year. They have smaller flowers and aren't all that spectacular, but they are trouble free and they provide a lot of blooms.


Petunias that were grown from seed indoors this winter.

The verbena bonariensis is blooming already.



Annual verbena



The mallow was grown from seed indoors this winter.

'May Night' is almost finished blooming. I've been dead-heading it to get another flush of blooms.

The pansies are looking a little weather weary. They won't last much longer in the heat.

I don't remember what this is. I'm not even sure when I bought it, but this is the first time it has bloomed. Does anyone know what it is?

The gerbera daisies that I over-wintered are just beginning to bloom. They bloomed all winter long, but stopped blooming when I put them back outside. One of them died, but the others have perked up and are putting on a show right now.


Knockout Rose
Lambs Ear

Front porch container with begonias.

Butterfly bush

Cherry Red butterfly pentas


My one and only daylily plant.

Here's what else is blooming for the month of June:

Purple coneflowers
Rondo Bearded Tongue
Blue-eyed Grass
Veronica Speedwell