Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Anything that hops, creeps and flies... anything of any size

Wonder if she's flown the coop? There was a lot of activity here, but the little wren that had so happily announced her presence every day seems to have finished her business and has left.

This fellow's size may take care of anything that normally would threaten a toad... it looks as though he's quite content to think he's toadally in control. His good points: He doesn't leave, he's not noisy, he's rather cute, and he's reliably on duty.

Little bitty Chorus Frogs are some of the smallest frogs to be found here... several would fit in a teaspoon. However, they make up for their size in the loudness of their call!

They have a "camouflage" tan body with darker stripes running the length of their bodies. You can gauge the size of this little guy by the size of my finger.
I don't know about the fellow below... it looks as though he's sneaking off the corner of the flower bed. Perhaps in hot pursuit of something delectable?Guess that's about all the "wildlife" I could find. Not much "hoppin' " in the shade today. :-)

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Mild Meanderings over our Prairie

Prairie Grasses and Tall Cinquefoil

My husband continues to work hard at establishing, maintaining and appreciating our 30+ acre prairie. Abutting the prairie are a number of acres of woodland forest (oaks, walnuts, etc.) He actually spends a lot of time in both areas. He plants many tree saplings every Spring in and around the forest areas. And he has some pretty impressive prairie burns in the early Spring.

I've displayed a few photos from the March 18, 2007 prairie burn.

They began in the SE corner. Some people were on the east side and others were on the west, both sides burning diagonally until the fire reached the NW corner. The wind was from the northwest, which means that the fire crept into the wind.

Each of the men involved has had a lot of experience with prairie fires. As you can see, it worked out perfectly. One person on each side carried a drip (fire) torch. They each carried water backpacks with a sprayer attachment to curtail fire that might creep "out of bounds." In the end... any smoking area was sprayed, "just to be safe."

Now I'll show you some of the grasses and flowers that were given a boost due to the fires. They are within the same areas that were burned in March.
Gray Coneflower and Common Milkweed

Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) Gaillardia grandiflora amongst goldenrod and wild parsnip

Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) close-up of Black-Eyed Susan

Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) Wild Rose

Isn't it wonderful? Nothing shady here except me, I guess. :-)

Friday, June 22, 2007

It's a Garden-Garden Party!

I've been retired from teaching second grade for exactly one year, now. I wanted to retire before I was re-tired every year! ;-)

Anyway, for the past few years, we "garden ladies" have taken turns hosting a summer get-together every Friday afternoon. Today was my turn... and what fun! I had thought I'd take pictures of us roaming around the yard, sipping cold water/lemonaid, and eating chocolate chip cookies, etc.

I forgot.

First things first, however. After everyone arrived, we made garden markers (you might want to check out the link!). I didn't get pictures taken until almost everyone had taken theirs home. The kit comes with some molds, letters and numbers for making impressions, and one bottle of tinting powder. You purchase your own bag of cement/sand mix. Mix with water, and... tahdah!

I made these last two markers last summer. It's fun as a group project or all by yourself. They also make great little gifts.

Just thought you might like to know.

Markedly, or re-marker-ly yours.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

One of the Greatest of all Privileges

My neighbor strolled over on Tuesday morning (June 19) to tell me she'd discovered the nest of one pair of our Baltimore Oriole residents. So, even though I was only partway through the planting of my Blue Muffin Viburnum, I left the bush wondering about its new home and followed my neighbor to her driveway. About 25 feet or so (I'm only guessing) above the ground was the bag-like nest that I've only read and heard about. As we stood, gazing up into the tree, the father flew to the opening at the top. He brought home the bacon and we were treated to the clamoring for food. After a few minutes I returned to my bush, none the worse for the brief episode of "neglect," and finished the planting ceremony.

(Want info about orioles? Click the link) Baltimore Oriole

So this morning, after a brief walk, I again strode to their driveway with a camera around my neck. Before YOU get too excited, you have to remember that my new digital camera - as fond of it as I am - has a somewhat major drawback. It only has a 3x magnification. Wonder if they make a gizmo to put over the lens to increase the strength?? Anyway, all that is to say that I really didn't get any good pictures.

As I approached the driveway, I heard little "chee, chee, chee" sounds. As I neared the foot of the tree and looked up, I spotted three, nearly-grown chicks fluttering and "climbing" the branches of the tall oak tree. Each was stopping to rest, chirp and wait for their parents' attention (and food). The parents were doing "double time" bringing goodies to their offspring. As a parent neared one of them and landed on a branch, the chick really increased its volume and tone!

One chick was quite high. A second chick was nearly halfway up the tree, and the third little guy spotted me and ducked back into the nest. It wasn't long before he was urged to climb out, and he did. He wasn't quite as adventuresome as the others, but as he climbed higher, he too was treated to some delicate morsel by one of his parents.

I rather think that's the way life should be. We don't all reach the same height. We don't climb at the same speed. But, climb we do and climb we must. And all the while, our parents, our family, our friends urge us on and give us those "warm fuzzies," which help us to keep at it.

Or at least I think that's the way it should be, right?

Just one of those reflective moments from in the shade of a tree.

In case you have a little more time to spend...

and the inclination... you will find, on the bottom right quarter of the photo, a clear space with a narrow branch angling from the bottom to the top of that space. At the top of that branch is the young bird. If you click on the picture to enlarge it, you can search for that space and try to locate the bird. It really looks like one of the surrounding leaves... but, that's the best I could do. (It's a little like "Find Waldo.")

Have a great day!

Yours truly,

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

I'm Home Again!

I'd been away from home for nearly two whole weeks! It was wonderful to drive into the driveway last night, and see . . .

. . . our new flowering crab tree! It's a (click name for info) Sargents Crab. This tree was planted in memory of my sister. We're all missing her a lot. We were to have had our fifth "Sister Weekend" this summer. And we missed the planning of it as well as the participation.

Anyway, it's a beautiful tree (like my sister), and it has multitudinous white blossoms in the very early Spring. Hopefully I'll have a picture to post at that time.

I planted a (click name for info) "Blue Muffin Arrowood Viburnum" bush in the backyard this morning. Its berries, hopefully, will attract birds in the fall and winter.

And then, there was the matter of walking around the yard a couple of times. I saw:

They just grab your attention, don't they? Wowee! And there is sun enough, even for a "Shady Gardener!"

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me!

My birthday was actually Monday (yesterday). Wow, what a nice day that was. An enjoyable walk around town, lunch with a friend, a library trek and refreshing "sodas" with another friend, dinner with my hubby - sounds like the day was all about food! But it didn't stop there... cards and e-mails from several special people and a phone call from my brother-in-law. A special day!

But then, my birthday "stretched" into today! It was another beautiful day, weather-wise. Got my hair cut, had lunch with a friend, scooped up a whole pickup load of "used mulch," mixed with bush trimmings that someone was getting rid of (!), unloaded and spread it on flower beds, had Bible Study with another friend in my backyard :-), more cards from special people, and now I'm home.

I'm never sure if I want to continue remembering my birthdays... you know how it is: Every year it's another year older. Somehow I just don't seem to feel older. Oh well. It sure is nice to be specially remembered!

Thanks Kris! My birthday Bleeding Heart surrounded by the free mulch! Looks pretty "chipper," wouldn't you say?

Lady's Mantle. I moved a smaller one from a spot that was too shady to her new residence next door to the gal shown below. I'm sure they'll get along famously.

And here's a snapshot of our fox! I was driving the truck back to town when I spotted him in the ditch. I stopped the truck, on the road, on the downside of a hill. Needless to say, I didn't stay long enough to take a good photo! Oh well. He seemed very satisfied with himself and his environment. (Click on the photo for a close-up.)

Monday, June 4, 2007

Just a Quick Note

Just a few views of tonight's short-lived downpour. We received .3" last night and another .1" just now. The pan in the second photo hasn't been emptied for two days... nearly full again. The third picture was taken from the bedroom window, looking towards the raised beds (and my compost pile). Note the running "river."

It was a beautiful day, all day, and I was able to mow the lawn(!). It really needed it! I raked the front yard and emptied three, full, five-gallon buckets of grass clippings in the compost pile. If you look closely, you can see the grass in the compost pile! Now the grass can grow again! The forecast for the week is... more rain.

I can't really complain. It doesn't help, anyway. But, the good thing is... I haven't watered a single hanging pot for many days! Everything looks Really Good. And flowers are beginning to bloom like crazy!

A thought . . . I wonder if Oregon and Washington states are receiving their normal rainfall. Or, have we gotten theirs, somehow?

(And it's begun to rain again...)

Your Soggy Shady Gardener

Saturday, June 2, 2007

My It's Been Rainy!

On Friday (June 1) we had 2 1/2" of rain by noon! It was an amazing downpour. There were a couple of sharp lightning cracks, but that was about it. The mailman told me there was more rain and severe weather forecast for later in the day. That wasn't the best news I'd heard that morning. (This is generally where I get the weather forecast... from husband, neighbors and the mailman! ha.)

Flowerbeds, lawns, and everything outdoors were already "soggy." There's no sense in trying to garden at this point, but things are most definitely lovely and lush. Here are some photos. This is the front of the house. It does get some sunshine.
At left is the hanging basket of impatiens. NOTE the Giant Swallowtail that's been settling down during the past couple of weeks.
On the right is the front "sunny" bed, looking towards the house. Red husker penstemon, daylilies, cat mint, one lone yellow iris, a hanging dianthus, and some little blue allium behind the hanging basket.

And here's a close-up of a very wet daylily saying, "What happened?"
Last night, from 6:30+ was June's "First Friday Art Walk." Store owners, craftspeople, artists, organizers, (click here)Musicians, food vendors, etc. had put much effort into this month's extravaganza entitled, "All Things Italian." The weather cooperated beautifully. Not a drop of rain. Hardly a cloud in the sky. It was a lot of fun and very well attended.

There was another 1/2" in the rain gauge this morning, which I left in the gauge, from last night's rain. I took a few short treks across the squishy front yard today. The squirrels continue to drop small clusters of leaves as they attempt to make their nests in the branches. Oak leaves are hard on the grass, so I try to keep them picked up and in the compost pile.

Today (Saturday) began high school graduation parties. The day was "balmy" - a relief!

However, tonight as I began to write, it began to rain again. It really poured for awhile. I don't know what it's doing right now (it's raining) there are so many trees. Moving leaves often sound like rain...

Well, I guess it's time to check the rain gauge again. (9:30 P.M. - the total was 1.6" for the day.)

Your Damp Shady Gardener!