Tag Archives: nature

Birds In The Snowy Garden

Eastern Towhee, male Northern Cardinal, female Northern Cardinal (above the feeder)

Eastern Towhee, male Northern Cardinal, female Northern Cardinal (above the feeder)

When yesterday’s snow let up yesterday we were left with a lovely 6 inches of powder, but freezing rain and sleet overnight brought an icy coating. Several more inches of snow are forecast for today.

Today the birds—amazing creatures—are back out in force at the feeders. Yesterday I took a lot of (mostly) blurry photographs of them as I enjoyed watching the garden’s snowy transformation. While I viewed it all from a safe and warm vantage point indoors, the garden’s feathered friends meanwhile were seriously hard at work finding food through all the daylight hours.

Snowy day Feb 12, 2014 4:15-3

Snowy day Feb 12, 2014 4:15 - Version 2

Looking closely at this colorful scene below there are at least eleven birds gathered around. Sitting at the feeder I believe is male American Goldfinch. I had just remarked to a fellow blogger at the wonderful site Petals and Wings that I had not noticed the males getting their yellow coloring back, but here it is.

Can you spot eleven birds?

Can you spot eleven birds?

The spirea shrub is always a popular place for the birds to wait close to the feeder. Yesterday it was like a bird condo.

Snowy day Feb 12, 2014 4:15-4

The blue hue of the gazing ball that sits in the center of the meditation circle disappeared under the snow.  When walking along the meditation path last weekend I thought I really must cut back the Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue), but now I am glad they are still here to add some interest.

Snowy day Feb 12, 2014 4:15

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)

People who are used to measuring snowfall in feet, not inches, will wonder why there is such a fuss about a little snow, but it is unusual to have this much snow in my area. More often is the scenario where there might be a dusting of snow, then the following day is sunny and 70°F.

Neighbors on our community email list were remembering the last such storm in 2002, when we lost power for more than 3 days. Indeed many in the state are without electricity this morning and the roads remain dangerous, with cars abandoned along the sides. Fortunately there is nothing pressing to do today but to enjoy the peaceful scenery.

Snowy day Feb 12, 2014 4:15-2

Basking In The May Flower Garden

The weekend weather has been ideal—sunny with low humidity and slight breezes. With a high of 81°F. today it would have been an enjoyable day to garden.  Instead the garden provided perfect surroundings for lunching on the back porch and later, for sitting on the patio in the warm sun, being very still and watching the birds.

Among the species at the two feeders today were Eastern Towhee, Northern Cardinal, Tufted Titmouse, Mourning Dove, House Finch, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Eastern Bluebird, Common Grackle, American Goldfinch, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Brown Thrasher and some other little ones I could not identify. Spotted a rabbit in the middle of the western border. No hummingbirds yet. That should change when the Monarda, now three feet tall in some places, opens its red flowers.

Monarda didyma (scarlet beebalm)

Gladioli and zinnias are coming up in several places around the garden (although that rabbit may explain why there are not more zinnias).  They were planted just a couple of weeks ago to fill in some of the bare spots: around the foundation of the house where shrubs were removed last year that had become too overgrown and in the northwest corner where a Carolina Sapphire Arizona Cypress died. Yesterday I transplanted some self-sown cleome into these same bare areas to add more height and texture later in the summer.

Cleome (Spider Flower)

The garden has never seemed so full of bees as it is this year. The Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue) in the meditation circle is attracting them, and along the southern path so is Lychnis coronaria (Rose Campion) and Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear). Bees also enjoy Tradescantia (Spiderwort) but I am currently battling its pushy encroachment.  The delight at seeing its first blooms has worn off and I am cutting down large cart loads of it to make room for other emerging perennials. My skin has become very sensitive to its sap and breaks out into a rash if in contact for very long.

Bee enjoying Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)

This year I remembered to prune back the Buddleia in early February. That, plus the good rains we have had, encouraged it to a height of five feet and it soon will be providing some color in the western border.  Buddleia is now on a watch list for invasive plants in my area.  If it does not put on a much better show than last year, it will be easier for me to choose to remove it.

Buddleia (butterfly bush). [Maybe Buddleja davidii ‘Black Knight’]

I intend someday to locate the tag for this Coreopsis. It is a dwarf variety with lovely, strong color.


In front of a long row of Shasta Daisies, which grow along a sidewalk, is a tall spire of Gaura lindheimeri ‘Passionate Blush’ (Butterfly Gaura). In its first year the gaura has not filled out very much and it is hard to tell if it is just in its sleep year or really does not like its location.

Gaura lindheimeri ‘Passionate Blush’ (Butterfly Gaura), Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

Several Shasta Daisy buds are slowly, slowly unfolding.

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

Achillea x ‘Appleblossom’ (Yarrow) is very floppy, especially in one area where the soil is heavy from clay and though amended, may not drain well enough. The flowers are cheerful anyway and are long-lasting when used in indoor arrangements.

Achillea x ‘Appleblossom’ (Yarrow)

Another plant with a lost tag, this Clematis is still forming a few flowers but has not been very showy this year.


Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower) is starting to bloom around the garden and should provide color and flowers for cutting all summer.

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

A Perennial Sweet Pea is entwined among salvia, chrysanthemums, yarrow and daylilies in the southern border. Unlike annual sweet peas, this is not fragrant but I enjoy its old-fashioned appeal.

Perennial Sweet Pea

Early May Garden Views and Notes – Part 1

Forecasts warned today would be 92 degrees. Since there are a few new things in the garden I spent some time selectively watering them very early this morning. With the garden still sheltered at this time of morning by shade from the house, it was a peaceful time to be outside.

View from the Southern Border

With the grass freshly mown the garden is vibrant.

Tradescantia (Spiderwort) has moved into every available bit of soil, making the garden burst with color during the morning. By mid-day the little blue-violet flowers close up, diminishing the garden’s overall impact. I began cutting back large swaths of spiderwort this morning to make room for emerging echinacea purpurea, liatris spicata, foxglove and maybe a few more plants.

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine) has bloomed prolifically for six weeks and is beginning to go to seed. I removed many of the flower stalks today to make the garden look tidier and to prevent further proliferation of this native wildflower.

The one-year-old ‘Blue Point’ Juniper hedge is growing well, although I did notice a worrisome brown branch on one. Probably I need to clear some room around the trees to give them adequate sun and air to keep them healthy.

Japanese irises and white and black bearded irises continue to provide color and interest at one end of the southern border. The old-fashioned rose at the other end of the border is waning quickly. A group of Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear) caught the early morning sun as light began to enter the garden.

Afternoon Stroll In A Conservation Garden

What a great place to spend an afternoon! The nearby North Carolina Botanical Garden (NCBG) is a lovely public garden, a conservation garden full of native plants. Many wildflowers were blooming today throughout the habitat gardens. Especially beautiful were the paths lined with Eastern Blue Phlox and Golden Ragwort.

Phlox divaricata (Eastern Blue Phlox) and Packera aurea (Golden Ragwort)

The restored cabin of playwright Paul Green and a storytelling area are features that add to the garden’s charm. From trilliums in the Mountain Habitat to the Christmas fern against a mossy rock and cedar knees rising out of water in the Coastal Plain and Sandhills Habitats, the garden was full of interesting vignettes.

Foggy Morning Garden

Clouds And Other Sightings

Substantial early morning rain left the garden soggy and provided a good excuse to put weeding chores on hold. The day reached a lovely 76 degrees with sun and clouds trading places throughout the afternoon.

March Sky

One little flower has popped open on the native Eastern Redbud. After tomorrow’s projected eighty-degree warmth more will probably be encouraged to follow suit.

Cercis canadensis L. (Eastern Redbud)

A grocery store hydrangea has lived on the screened porch for three or four seasons, while year after year nice quality nursery ones have failed to survive in the garden. I will keep trying to get one established in the garden proper, meanwhile this little faithful one lives on in its original pot.

Hydrangea Growing In Pot

Iberis Sempervirens (Candytuft) is planted in several places around the garden. The structure of this flower is captivating and its pure white draws me in. This one is probably ‘Alexander’s White.’

Iberis Sempervirens (Candytuft) 'Alexander's White'