Monday, December 31, 2012

"raindrops on roses"...IT'S RAINING!!

                                                             

                                           "raindrops on roses" and wet "whiskers on kittens",



                                   I really do love "bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens".

                                                 These are a few of my very favorite things!


IT'S RAINING!!

(Thank you!!  Thank you!!)

Saturday, December 22, 2012

LESSER GOLDFINCHES GALORE!!




There are five thistle feeders hanging in this tree and the lesser goldfinches are all over them.  They're such beautiful little birds.  I have a few all year, but in the fall they're all over my trees and feeders.  
I have three bird baths in my back yard and I put fresh water in them every afternoon.  The birds seem to know when I do that because all of a sudden there are lots of birds coming to the bird baths, drinking and bathing.
I love birds!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

I LOVE MY HOME

I was in the front yard watering and a lady in a bright yellow mustang with a black convertible top stopped and told me she loved my house and she drives by all the time, just to look at it.  That was so nice of her and especially to stop to tell me.  I know of a couple of other people who drive by, when they're in the neighborhood, just to look at my house.  That is very special to me and makes me wish I would do a lot more trimming and deadheading.  Oh, and I LOVED her car!



In this photo, you can't see it, but in that big space between the windows, I painted a pink crepe myrtle tree and a little bird flying to it. (I'll show it, later.)



This is my garage door and I painted my cat, Mr. Smith and a pot of blue plumbago.  On the left, there is a kitty door in the middle of the pot plant.






I LOVE MY HOME!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

BUTTERFLIES IN MY YARD

Even though we've had a few chilly days, on the warm days there are lots of butterflies in my yard.



This is a red admiral.  So beautiful!!  Resting on the stone for warmth.

 The butterflies in my yard are bright yellow, orangy yellow, beige, black and orange, orange, and I saw a small white one.  I always feed the flowering plants in my yard with Medina granular organic fertilizer.  I just throw a hand full of fertilizer around the base and roots of the plant.  It is just so special to see butterflies and I want to encourage them as much as I can.  But, I do wonder where all of the different varieties come from, to find my yard.  A few blocks away, there's a Lowes and I always wonder if some of these butterfly eggs and larvae are brought in on their plants.  And, I think they probably blow in with the cold fronts because there are so many varieties that I don't usually see.  Often, when I'm driving down a street, I'll see a butterfly crossing in front of me.  As they find the appropriate place to rest, they will lay eggs on a host plant, producing more beautiful butterflies.


I'm so glad they do find my yard!

Monday, November 19, 2012

SNAKES FOR MY KEY LIME TREE

For my birthday, my friend gave me a key lime tree.  I got to choose the one I wanted.  So, I went to my favorite nursery, Shades of Green.  They had several trees that had baby key limes all over them.  I was so excited!  They told me it needed to be in a pot, so I could bring it in when the weather was really cold.  I brought it home, got it planted in a large blue and white ceramic pot and it looked so beautiful!!  For a couple of days I watched it and could hardly wait til the key limes got big enough for me to use them in my tea and make limeade.  One morning, I looked out of my kitchen window and there were grackles (big black birds) all over it, eating my key limes.  Ohhhhhh!!  I ran out and chased them off.  A friend suggested snakes would scare them and keep them off of my tree.  So, I went to the dollar store and found some play snakes and put two of them in the branches of my key lime tree.


I'm very happy to say that putting snakes in my key lime tree has TOTALLY worked!  Every couple of days, I change the limbs the snakes are hanging on.  During the hot summer months, there were no blossoms or baby key limes.  Finally, when the weather cooled off, my tree started blooming and producing baby key limes, again.  This second batch is doing really well and they are close to the size when I will be able to pick them.  I check them every day, hoping the squirrels or birds haven't gotten to them, first.



I think they're supposed to be the size of ping pong balls before I can pick them and I can hardly wait!  But, the very first ones, I'm giving to my very generous friend. 
Thank you for my key  lime tree!!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

MOWING THE YARD AND REDISCOVERING NATURE

Lately, I've been so busy with work that I haven't paid much attention to my yard.  Today, when I mowed the yard, I noticed things that have been happening without me.

From my kitchen window, I have seen lots of monarch butterflies fluttering around my eupatorium and butterfly weed.  I always think they're so focused and busy, getting to their Mexico destination, that they just don't have time for reproduction.  But, today, there were several monarch caterpillars on my milkweed and they have almost devoured every single leaf on several stems.  In years past, I've seen one caterpillar at a time, but I found four today and my flower bed is so thick with flowers and weeds, there may be several more that I didn't see.


For years, I've grown butterfly weed, just for the monarch butterflies.  Toward fall, I keep feeding it, so it will have lots of flowers and leaves for the caterpillars.



These caterpillars are big enough that they will stop eating, soon, and start weaving their cocoons.  They need to hurry up with the process because it's going to be getting cold, soon.  As soon as they hatch, I'm sure they'll be heading for their Mexico winter home.



And, I found this little chameleon peeking in the birdhouse, probably looking for insects.

Remember the cage photo that I posted with the squirrel nesting in it?  Well, today I was going to lock it and I shook it and a big rat ran out of it.  I have locked that cage FOR GOOD!!!  No more unwanted nesters!!

So, my yard is mowed and looks so nice.  I really miss being and working in the yard.  Today was a good day!!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

VISITING "THE FRENCH FARMHOUSE"


Yesterday, I visited a friend who has the most wonderful home and property!  She has several flower and vegetable gardens around the property and a small fruit orchard.  She picked and gave me two very large, juicy pomegranates.
This photo is not her home, it is her Poultry Palace!  The chickens roost in here and I took a photo of them out back of the Poultry Palace.


From time to time, I've considered building a poultry palace
but, just haven't decided if I need ONE MORE THING ON MY LIST TO DO!!  It would be so nice to have fresh eggs.
My friend's store is on this property and it's called The French Farmhouse.  She sells wonderful old furniture, mostly from Europe.
Yesterday, I took a photo of one of the pieces.


She said she sees this in a bathroom with a cut out for a sink.  It would be beautiful as a desk, tv table or just about anything you could think of. 
I did enjoy my visit!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

MY GARDEN SHED

When I was designing my studio I knew I needed a place to
move all of my garden things that were in one big cabinet on my patio.
 Gus is the guy I always call when I need help with a project.
 I just wanted a little boxie shed over to the side of my yard.
I told him what I wanted and this is what he built!!!  
Not a little boxie shed, for sure!
When I was planning my garden shed I wanted to find a stained glass piece to go in the front.  
Gus was going to build the front straight across and I said "NO!" 
I want a peak, a place for my stained glass window.
I found this little window at an architectural salvage outlet.
I hand painted vines on the shed and hand painted a big blue plumbago.  
I painted the vines where I knew they would be mixed with 
the natural vines of my potato vine and queen's crown.
Loving birds, I had a big collection of birdhouses and hung lots of them on and around the garden shed.  I've seen the wrens going to them at night.  It is a safe place for them to be.
I built large shelves out of pine boards and they're such a good place for storage.  
All of my bird seed is in here, too.  Everything stays dry.
There is lots of storage in the rafters, too.
I LOVE my garden shed!!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

EUPATORIUM, ONE OF MY FAVORITE FLOWERS

One of my favorite flowers is this purple eupatorium.  All spring and summer, the butterflies are attracted to it.  In this photo, it has just been stripped of allll it's leaves because of one certain kind of caterpillar. 


The flowers are very attractive to the migrating monarch butterflies.  So, starting in late summer, I put extra organic Medina granular fertilizer on it, so it will be really full of flowers when the monarchs are passing through.  Medina granular is the fertilizer I use spring and summer on everythng and extra on all the flowering plants throughout the blooming season.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

MY RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRDS ARE FINALLY HERE FOR THE WINTER

     Every year I get rufous hummingbirds and they stay the winter.  They travel all the way from Canada and Alaska.  I've read that they winter in Mexico, but I always have them at my feeders, all winter.
     Sometimes, I can tell that certain ones have returned from year to year.  Some of them hover a certain way, some of them squeak a lot and it's easy to recognize them.  Recently, I moved my feeder from one area to a few feet away to a different window.  A few minutes ago, I was in the kitchen and a rufous hummingbird, (I guess he just got to town), went to where the feeder used to be and kept hovering, like he was looking for it and then saw the new one and flew to it.  That was so neat to see!!  I love watching and learning about animal behavior!
    

Sunday, September 9, 2012

MIGRATING BALTIMORE ORIOLES AND OTHER MIGRATING BIRDS IN MY BACKYARD



Yesterday was the most amazing day!! A new flock of Baltimore Orioles came in with the cold front. About 10 of them were here early morning.  I got photos of 5 or 6 other migrating birds at my bird bath, but there were others that got away before I could grab my camera.  These orioles were chattering and chirping at each other to share the orange, so, I put out two more and they were very, very happy.  I've never heard their chirps before.  Just so glad I got to work at home, today, and witness all of these migrators.  How do they find my yard???
Look at the one flying away.  He's so beautiful and look at the colors in his tail feathers.
I've always felt that birds can see colors. Maybe, that's how they identify each other.  In the very back of my yard, I have a red and blue birdhouse and the cardinals, through the years, have always hung out, right in that area.  So, since they eat oranges, these little orange zinnias, possibly attracted these Baltimore Orioles. But, I do have them every year at this time, and each year, I see more and more of them.  I'm just so curious about how they find my yard.  In this world, this country, this city, how do they find this one little plot of land??  It just thrills me and I wonder who's passing through, when I'm not looking, (with my camera).
These two very large brown birds with speckles came in for a drink of water and a bath.  It was amusing how, suddenly, all of these sparrows flew over to bathe with them.  Did the brown color make them think it was kin?   The birdbath was just full of sparrows.
            This beautiful little bird has visited for several years.  This time, he had a tiny mate with him.  Maybe, I just didn't see her, before.  Early this morning, he was here, moving quickly from bush to bush, I'm sure, eating caterpillars and bugs.  He's beautifully bright yellow with a little black cap on top of his head and black back and wings.  Approaching fall, I always leave everything in my yard, kind of bushy and overgrown.  I feel it attracts more insects for the migrating birds.
           His little mate is not as brightly colored as he is and doesn't even have a tiny black cap, like him.
I don't know what these birds are, but, they came with the orioles and, even, ate the oranges.  They're not as large as the orioles, but, have similar wingbars, so, I'm wondering if they're some kind of oriole.  I googled them, but, couldn't find them in any of the photos.  As soon as they landed on the birdbath, they were fighting each other.  Then, as the orioles came in, they stopped fighting.  All day, they were coming and going with the orioles.
The bird in the middle of this photo, is the same bird and you can see how yellow his tummy is.  The tan bird is an oriole at some stage of maturity.  They were all so colorful!
This is all so much fun for me!!  Today, I'll be watching for new migrators!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

BALTIMORE ORIOLE (FNALLY A PHOTO)

     For three days, now, I've seen the most beautiful, large male Baltimore Oriole.  But, when I look out, he's flying away from the birdbath, with the evening sun shining on his, oh so bright, neon orange tummy.  I've been trying to watch, so I can get a photo of him, but not yet!  I don't see any family, just him.  Maybe Charlie, running out to chase the grackles and doves, makes him leery of hanging around.  I'll keep trying!!
     HERE HE IS!!!  Finally got a photo of him!


    I was at the kitchen window watching for him.  I usually see him around 5:30.  When he first landed, some doves, guarding the birdbath, chased him off.  I knew he'd be back, so I was ready with my camera.  And, I wonder where he's been today, because he drank and drank water.  Maybe, even for a minute or so.  He was really thirsty.
I have a lot of swallowtail butterflies in my yard, lately.  Black and giant tiger (I think) swallowtails.  Yesterday, as I was watchng the oriole, there were two very large tiger (I think) swallowtails flying near him and I thought that was so beautiful and colorful.  When I see two at the same time, I guess they have just hatched.  I've seen giant swallowtails hovering around my key lime tree and maybe one laid eggs on it.  I just didn't notice.
So, I'll be watching for the Baltimore Oriole tomorrow, because they will all be gone soon, and I won't get to see them again, until next fall.
Thank you!  Thank you! that I got to see them in my yard, again.

Friday, August 31, 2012

MIGRATING BALTIMORE ORIOLES IN MY YARD

     They're here!!  or, they were here.  This first flock of beautiful migrating Baltimore Orioles, the family, got here on the 28th.

Then, I saw the very beautiful male Baltimore Oriole on the 29th and this was the best photo I could get of him.

Usually, they hang out in my yard for several days to two weeks.  But, I think this first flock has already moved on.  And, I wondered if the wind currents from hurricane Isaac might have influenced their early departure. 
Anyway, I'm sure I'll see two or three more flocks passing through and, hopefully, hanging out here for a while.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

BEAUTIFUL LITTLE YELLOW WARBLER


BEAUTIFUL LITTLE MIGRATING YELLOW WARBLER IN MY YARD, YESTERDAY
and, he has his family with him.

Monday, August 27, 2012

MIGRATING BIRDS, BABY SQUIRRELS AND FALL IS IN THE AIR

     For me, summertime is not a fun time in the garden.  It's just so, so hot and unpleasant.  Years ago, I planted lots of trees for the birds in my backyard, but they're not quite big enough to shade my whole yard.  So, all I do each day is change the water in the birdbaths, feed the fish, water anything that really needs it and get back in the house, where it's so cool and comfortable.
     But, things are changing...maybe because of the drought and bad weather up north.  A couple of weeks ago, I started seeing the migrating birds in my backyard. They were happily flying back and forth and hanging out at the birdbath.  They're here a bit earlier than I've seen them in years past.
These orchard orioles were the first migrating birds I saw this year.  They stayed in my yard for several days and I haven't seen them for a few days, but if they're still around, I'll see them here, again.



This is a migrating yellow warbler and he has a couple of buddies with him.  When I see two or three of them at the birdbath, I run to get my camera, but they've already flown away.  They've been here almost two weeks, so maybe I'll still be able to get photos of all of them together.
   It is so interesting and I don't understand how all of these migrating birds find me.  I feel positive that I'm on their migrating path.  After migrating thousands and hundreds of miles, how did they find my yard the first time.  After they find me, they do keep coming back year after year.  I always see the baltimore orioles between August 15 and September 10, but haven't seen them, yet.  Each year, the first time I see them, it takes my breath away and I think "they're here!!", because I'm always looking for them.  Their coloring is sooo beautiful with the contrast of the bright, bright orange and bright black.  I'm looking and waiting for them, now.

In the meantime, everything is having babies and getting ready for the winter.  A mama squirrel kept protecting one side of my garden shed and when I exlplored, I heard babies squeaking.  I didn't mean to let that squirrel nest in my yard!!  If they're born here, they seem to "claim" it and think they own the bird feeders.  But, I'll let her nest here, this time.  It'll be cute to see the baby squirrels.

And, this toad frog has been hanging out at my pond laying eggs.  Did you know a toad frog can swim?  They lay their eggs in water.  Many years ago, when I first started my fish pond, I only had baby fish.  I would have nine or twelve toad frogs, at and in the fish pond singing loudly and laying eggs.  I guess my baby fish couldn't eat the eggs and tadpoles.  As the fish grew, the frog population slowed down, because the larger fish would eat the frog eggs and tadpoles.
So, my interest is growing again, in the backyard.  Just waiting for the cooler weather, now.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

BLUE BUTTERFLY BUSH IN THE RAIN

     This is such a beautiful plant.  Butterfly bush/clerodendrum.  I love blue flowers!  It's growing next to my garden shed and I can see it from my kitchen and studio.  It was just starting to rain, so I couldn't get a good photo, but will try again tomorrow, if the rain doesn't crush the butterfly blooms.
     My goldfish in the pond love when it's raining.  They dart up and down and around, playing in the rain.  A redbud tree spreads it's branches, just above the fish pond and that keeps the rain from hitting the water too hard.  It's fun to watch the fish playing.
     Can't believe it's raining again!  We've been in such a horrible drought.  But, the weather people have been saying we will have a wetter summer and I guess they got it right this time!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

ANIMAL CONTROL AND A VERY SAD DAY!!!

     Today has been a sad day.  I have a neighbor who had several cats and two or three of them were from stray mamas dropping them off because my neighbor would (only) sometimes feed them.  But, their diet was the worst!!  Her cats were weak, not terribly healthy and I felt so sorry for them.  I always left water out and extra food.  Finally, one of her friends reported her to animal control because my neighbor would laugh about not feeding them.  It has been a very sad situation for a long time.  Yesterday, animal control came by and told her to bring the cats in today.  This morning, she was rounding them up to put them in cages.  Because they weren't in the best shape, I'm afraid they are going to be put to sleep and I keep wondering if it's happened yet!!!  A little while ago, as I passed by her house, there were no cats in her front yard. 
     I'm just so sad because I'll miss seeing them.  And, it's just so sad that so many people are insensitive to the suffering and welfare of animals.  Maybe it's for the best that they are gone, but it's still very, very sad.  And, this situation could have been prevented, if only my neighbor had been more sensitive and caring.
     (I've tried to keep this post decent and as I was typing, I had to keep revising my thoughts.  But believe me, I have very strong thoughts and very strong words in my mind, when thinking about the #x!%^ next door!!!)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

BIG OL' FROG FOR MY FISH POND

I was in T.J. MAXX and found this big ol' frog.  I LOVE the color and just had to have him for my fish pond.  I can see him from my studio window and love all of these colors.  Because of the good rains we've been blessed with, everything is looking so lush and green. 

    

Sunday, July 8, 2012

COOKING YOUR EGGSHELLS FOR THE BIRDS


 For many years, I have saved eggshells to give to the birds.  Eggshells are a good source of calcium, which they need for their bones and to help their eggs  have a stronger shell.  When I'm cooking with eggs, I place the eggshell back in the carton and save it until they've all been used.  Then, I place them on a piece of foil and put them in my  toaster oven at about 350 degrees.  I bake them for only a few minutes, until they are slightly browned.  Be careful not to overcook.
Then, I put them in this wrought iron basket and the birds and the squirrels, and not sure who else, love pecking and eating them.  Maybe the squirrels are eating the part of the egg white that is still in them.  And,  there are lots of bugs on the eggs for the birds and squirrels.  If you don't want to bother with hanging them in a tree, you can crumble and place them on the ground in your flower beds and any place that is easy for the birds to find.
By the way, I buy organic cage free eggs. 
 I'm sad for the chickens that are kept in small cages.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A SPECIAL LITTLE DOG

     I just found out about special little PeeWee.  He was a little rescue dog at about two years old and lived to twenty two years old, at least.  He had the cutest personality!  In this photo, he's wearing a fiesta collar because his mom is having a party in their home.  So, so cute!  I'm very sad about PeeWee.  R.I.P.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

MOWING THE YARD AND HAPPY ABOUT IT!!

     I love! this combination of colors. After all of this precious rain the plants will become bigger and even better. Today, while I was mowing the yard, I kept looking at these colors and they bring such joy to me.  Because of all the new rain, my herbs in this big flower bed, were hanging over their barriers and I just mowed right over them.  The fragrance was amazing!!  The whole time I was in the yard, the fragrance lingered.
     After mowing the yard, I had to trim my lizard tail water plant.  It was so full and the heavy rains made it fall into the pond.  It looks much better, now.  And, when you trim lizard tail, it has an amazing fragrance, too.  I do love my fish pond and maintenance on it is never a problem for me.  I love keeping it nice and clean and beautiful!  And, I know that helps keep my fish healthy.  I think I have about 16 fish in this pond.  At the deepest, it's 3' and holds around 715 gals.  I have plenty of room for the new babies.  When the new babies are first born, they are black, so they can easily hide from predators.
     That mama wren is guarding the portal to her babies.  When I get a new birdhouse, I always drill holes on the side that I'll be able to see.  And, since I want the wrens and chickadees, who are clingers, I drill the holes about 6" or so above the base.  Sparrows need a larger house and they know their babies can't get out of a nest with the portal so high.  On this birdhouse, a squirrel chewed the portal until it was large enough for it to get in, but certainly not big enough for a squirrel's nest.  I meant to patch that to keep the squirrel and bigger predators out, but forgot about it until I saw the mama wren guarding it.  It, also, has the smaller, higher portal that I drilled on the side for two entrances.