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September 2013

August 2013

Cardinal Baby

 Pappa CardinalThis summer I have kept the bird feeders full. I have been rewarded with two families of cardinals, probably the same nesting pair. DSC_0003I have seen indigo buntings along with the gold finches and chickadees. GoldfinchWrens are also nesting in the houses on the fence posts and in the silly metal watering can house which is simply stuck on the post for lack of a better place to put it. Watering can houseAs you can see, the plant holder catches the wayward finds of nature hunts including a small deer rack. Bluebird houseThere were also bluebirds nesting in this house on the fence. They raised their brood together. Bluebird pairBluebirds seem quite devoted to one another. BluebirdI haven't seen them in a month or so. The cardinal pair also seems to be dedicated. They work together raising their young.  I had the pleasure of watching one of the chicks from the cardinal's nest struggle for first flight. Of course it happened on a day I was going to clean off the patio. That had to wait. The nest is located in a rose bush right by the back door. Not the quietest spot for raising a family but it is quite close to the feeders. I often startled the mother cardinal when I opened the door to let the dogs out. She got a bit used to that and towards the end of her nesting she would stick it out in the nest unless I got too close. Then she would fly to the lowest tree limb and chirp her displeasure. Cardinal eggsThere were three brown and white eggs in the nest . The first nest was located in a Dutchman's Pipe vine growing on the fence. That one contained three eggs. It was only a week or so after that brood left that I noticed movement in the rose bush and found the nest there with three eggs as well. This one I could watch from inside the house. It really doesn't take much time from the gangly, hairless and gaping mouth stage of bird infancy to the awkwardness of adolescence. Is there a busier mother than a mother bird? All those wide opened mouths to feed must be nerve racking. According to this website,  It takes just 12-13 days for the eggs to hatch and 9-11 days for the hatched chicks to leave the nest. Mohawk hairThis little mohawked chick poised on the edge of the nest for quite some time while both Mom and Dad whistled encouragement. It then made it over to the suet hanger and sat there looking a bit nervous before it attempted flight which ended in a scurry across the lawn to the border. Baby cardinal's first flightMother and Father stayed by its side all this while. I am hoping it made it up into the trees before anything untoward happened to it. It is a privilege to witness a wild creature in the garden. I wonder how many of us really notice what is happening right in our own backyards. What marvels have you seen lately?


Bloom Day - August 15th, 2013

Hosta and phloxToday is actually the 16th but the flowers are still blooming this August. It has been a 'green' summer. There has been an abundance of rain and while there was a spell of high heat and humidity in July,  August arrived with clear skies, moderate summer temperatures and low humidity. Perfection. Bee BalmThe borders are showing signs of wear. The daylilies are about done with blooms but the phlox are in high color. I have been deadheading the bee balm and there is the reward of extra blooms and happy hummingbirds with that task done. Shadows are lengthening, the corn is in full swing and the tomatoes are coming in albeit a bit slowly after a cool spring but they are ripening even though they are not staked and look quite shabby. Some jobs just don't get done on time. I was lucky enough to travel this June and I neglected a few key garden tasks. Life is a balance and the scales were tipped in a different direction this season. The hydrangeas do not care if I am here or not. Vanilla StrawberryHydrangea 'Vanilla Strawberry' is blooming. The deer enjoyed some of the tips of this shrub. I do like the pink stems. This is this plant's second year and I did prune it a bit to even out the shape this spring. LimelightNevertheless, the hydrangeas thrive with little attention and this 'Limelight' is true to its name. I should have more of these. VeronicastrumVeronicastrum is also blooming. It benefits from a June chop to contain its size. It attracts quite a few different pollinators. Queen anne's LaceI usually add annuals to the borders to extend and augment the palette. I did not add many this year but the Queen Anne's Lace, Daucus carota, actually a biennial self-seeder, is as delicate in appearance as it is tough in nature. Butterfly bushThe butterfly bush is pretty in pink providing a landing pad and nectar for butterflies. There are many this year. The usual suspects are blooming, the sedums and the hostas but there is not enough room for all here so the pick of my litter is shown. I look forward to seeing what is blooming in your garden. Many thanks to Carol at May Dreams for hosting another bloom day.    

Dog Days

CooperIs it possible that summer is on the wane? It is August already and this month has arrived with decidedly cooler temperatures, less humidity and, wait for it, corn! Almost everyone loves corn and no one more than Cooper pictured above. Every time I wander the garden he makes a dash to the corn patch and picks an ear usually with the stalk attached. I have no picture of him dragging that corn stalk and dismembering the ear of corn but here is the corn patch. CornI wish you could smell its sweetness. The smaller vegetable garden is also producing and a late crop, if one can call three rows a crop, of carrots is starting to emerge.  Vegetable garden
The pepper plants produced the first peppers and then a nice little hornworm stripped three of the plants before I could locate him. The hornworms are very well camouflaged among the stalks and stems of peppers and tomatoes.
We have picked swiss chard, yellow squash, a few cherry tomatoes, beets, dill, basil and cucumbers and there is much more coming along.  There is nothing better than home grown. Long BorderThe borders are full and lush with phlox at this time of year. The tall garden phlox, Phlox paniculata, is a rampant self-seeder and reverts back to its plain purple parentage. It is plain but pretty and oh so fragrant. GlobeSummer nights scented with phlox were the beginning of my lifelong garden dreams.  Its fragrance takes me back to my grandmother's garden. Do you have a color, fragrance or particular plant which brings back a childhood memory?