Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Come on SPRING!

I'm ready, ready, ready for SPRING! I've been sick since the holidays and need some sunshine and flowers, butterflies, the smell of mulch and dirt under my fingernails. I want to work hard until my body aches with pleasure, and then stand back and water in new plants. I can't wait to clean out and clean up, rake and hoe. The best part is daily monitoring green shoots emerging, flowers unfolding. I'm even looking forward to the insects - preying mantis, spiders and all manner of beasties. Bring it on.

Despite the drought, most plants seem to have fat buds awaiting Spring's e-mail telling them to open up. The Doublefile Viburnum should be glorious this year. It's well over 8 ft. tall and loaded with the typical lateral budding. This winter I pruned out the weird watershoots and odd branching that had started to occur, and the result is a nicely shaped shrub with lots of open air for breathing.

The sweetspires are doing fantastic. These are native plants and the drought hasn't bothered them one bit. In fact, I think they've thrived on the heat as I'm having to beat them into submission so that they won't take over the sidewalk.


My possumhaws are struggling. My golden berried possumhaw didn't berry at all this year, The Ilex Decidua berried weakly, but also bloomed at the same time. Not a good sign. Natives, they've been performing well but obviously they're struggling. Keep your fingers crossed.

Have you ever planted something in the wrong spot entirely? My rosemary is taking over the front walk. It's huge. I've pruned it so much it looks horrid. It's trunk is like a tree trunk. What to do? It's beautiful and I use it for cooking - my neighbors get clippings for their recipes. But it's HUGE! Proof positive that even Master Gardeners make mistakes.


You can't go wrong with a Siberian Iris. These are so beautiful. The lesson THESE guys have taught me is to thin them out yearly. My friend, Carroll, helped me last year and we were only able to hack out (literally) a small section. They are thick and entwined and it will take a stick of dynamite to separate them. So, you know what? They're on their own.

I've many plants that haven't been immortalized digitally but since joining Blotanicals I thought perhaps I should actually do a "gardening" topic instead of worrying about missing birds. The woodpecker is still on guard, still no signs of eagles, and the songbirds are elsewhere so I'm moving on. Time to concentrate on my yard and make plans for SPRING!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Sentry

A persistent Red-Headed Woodpecker bored a hole through a limb in our tree. The hole was so large that it weakened the limb which fell during a windstorm. We're thinking that wasn't his intentions. We're thinking he was just trying to create a home. He has created one, we think, and we always see his little red head sticking out from behind the branch. We can see him from our picture window. The broken branch, the red head and sharp beak always pointing in the same direction, like the photo above. This fellow, or gal, will chase squirrels and jays and any other bird away. I'm partial to the Red-Headed Woodpeckers. Yeah, yeah...they can wreak havoc among homeowners but there are safe methods available to discourage them from drilling holes in your house. They're raucous birds; very loud during their mating time, and any other time really. Their bright heads and stark black and white bodies stand out and just make me happy.
Maybe my love for these birds stem from growing up a Woody Woodpecker cartoon fan. I loved that silly bird. Seeing my first Red-Headed Woodpecker was sort of magical. One day it was a drawing in a book, an insolent cartoon character, the name of a drive-in burger joint, but the moment of my first sighting these beautiful birds became flesh and blood - a living creature.
Red-Headed Woodpeckers are on the Threatened list in Alabama. Like everywhere else, humans are encroaching deeper into their habitat and building more and more into natural areas because we want to live among the beauty of nature. (I can't think of a soul who wants to live by a landfill, do you?) Woodpeckers need dead and dying trees for their nests, and tend to create holes in trees - humans don't like that, but that's what woodpeckers do.
I'm not a woodpecker expert but I do appreciate their beauty and individual contributions to nature. We call our Red-Headed Woodpecker "The Sentry" because he's ever watchful, and always on guard. Perhaps we'll have little baby Red-Headed Woodpeckers this Spring. Stand by for any breaking RHW news...

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Singing in the Dark

For weeks now I've been hearing the most beautiful birdsong outside my window. Surely a warbler, I said to myself. So lyrical and crystal clear and unusual. Finally, I spied the singer sitting atop my front porch light singing for all the world like he was Pavarotti. Is it already time to seek a mate? It's January, my birdie friend, and freezing cold outside. Yes, the nest from last year is still safely ensconced within the porch light frame (we removed the bulb so they could safely and privately procreate and raise their family last summer), however shouldn't you do a little housecleaning first? Obviously he disagrees, as he sits within the nest and calls out for hours hoping for love.
This morning, walking Miss Baylee at a chilly 5:30am in the complete dark I hear him singing loudly. Why does a house finch sing in the dark, on a cold January morning? Frost is glistening in the sodium lights. His song is so beautiful, his heart so filled with love and longing.

That he sings in the dark is to me a metaphor for hope, and for determination, and an example of the eternal optimist. I wish you well, little house finch and pray you find your mate soon!

Oh, the porch light is yours for another year.

Monday, January 14, 2008

It's a Brand New Day

This morning I was greeted via e-mail by an old friend far away who I've never met. Strange isn't it, how in this day of blogging and websites and chat rooms we can make friends and receive joy from them daily, talk of achingly familiar subjects, and share photos of family and friends and over time true friendships form? Not strange at all in my personal experience. Conversely, I think it a marvelous way to expand my horizons and experience the world, learn about new cultures, marvel at different insights and enjoy new lands.

I belong to several fan club websites, but one in particular talks to my soul and is where I have cultivated deep friendships. Sting's music is my passion, and as all of us say in the Stingdom, Sting's music has been the soundtrack of my life. Sting himself is an interesting person, and his life has shaped his thoughts and energies into some of the most complex and beautiful music I've ever heard.

Well, one of my Stingdom pals has created a blogspot here and I couldn't be more thrilled! Please visit Inside Island of Souls and say HELLO! (There's a link to the right) Her blog's name is the leading song's title from Sting's incredible CD, "Soul Cages."

Okay, hang in here with my odd early morning epiphany: Where I live on this beautiful lake I can watch the sunrises, but sunsets evade my sight due to the house that juts out to our west. I see the top and northern side occasionally and know when it's glorious, but all I get to see from my window are the sunset's effects on the lake. My neighbors get The Grand Show, but I get to see the ripple effect. At first this annoyed me. However, take a look at the photo above. The sunset was a riot of colors thanks to storm clouds. While neighbors were enjoying the show my house became filled with a vivid, soft (yes, there is such a thing) pinkish golden light that washed everything in an ethereal glow. Watching my own show gave rise to the epiphany - and that is simply that true artists who seem larger than life, like Sting (sunset), creates through their art a unique and beautiful blend of elements that include people with like minds from different cultures -the eastern view. Hm, I'm not getting my entire point across but I'm running out of time being here. It's almost time to drive the daughter to school so please meditate if you so choose, come to your own conclusion and perhaps you can come up with a better way to say what I'm struggling to this morning.

That's awfully deep this early since I haven't yet finished my second cup of coffee. However, I welcome my friend to this blogging world and am overjoyed to be able to communicate with her in yet one more way. Welcome Patti!


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