Sunday, May 30, 2004


We now have two Carolina Wrens visiting us.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Happy Vicki!

Guess what I just saw out my bedroom window?!

A black squirrel!! :) He was walking along the top of our neighbors' fence. I hope he finds our back yard soon! :)

Tuesday, May 25, 2004



Our squirrels have been putting on quite a show lately. We have a mother and two youngsters that come very regularly. They continually remind me of the ceramic squirrel figurines that adorn the fire place wall at my grandmother's cabin at Priest Lake, Idaho. The figurines are placed on the wall in such a way as to look like they are having a wonderful time scampering around the cabin. Our real squirrels do the same thing all over our shed.

Meeting Catbird

I have been refinishing our dining room table. Over the last few weeks, when good weather permits I drag the table out onto the deck to work on it. Yesterday I was sitting under the table quietly brushing on a prestaining undercoat, when a catbird flew down to the bird bath for a drink. He took one big gulp before he noticed me, and promptly froze.

We looked at each other for a few moments, and I watched as he slowly relaxed. Soon he was gulping down water. I had never really watched one drink that close up before (it was only 4 or 5 feet away). He scooped the water into his throat, and then sort of gargled with it before swallowing. After drinking his fill he jumped in for a bit of a splash. I must admit that I did spare one nervous glance towards my drying table leaves which were mere inches from the bird bath, but not for long. Watching him enjoy himself was too much fun. He gave me one long steady look before he flew off. :)

Rock garden

I made a little rock garden around the air conditioner today. I already had a lot of rocks there, but I have added nine succulents in amongst them. I don't have time to fiddle with making the rocks look the way I want right now, but hopefully in the days ahead I will create something that looks more natural. Isn't it funny, how when you want something to look natural and unplanned it takes ages of twiddling to get it just right?

Monday, May 24, 2004

Trumpet Vine

The buds on the trumpet vine are opening. I wonder how long it will be before the hummingbirds show up?

A New Arrival

This morning a goldfinch arrived in our back yard!

Tuesday, May 18, 2004


Monday, May 17, 2004


My peony has finally bloomed! One of its buds has opened completely, and two others look like they will be open by the end of the day. :) Three years of waiting has paid off.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Mother's Day Weekend

For Mother's Day we decided to get some items to attract more birds to the yard. We purchased a suet feeder, a cheese cloth thistle sock, and a regular bird feeder we have already nicknamed "the cottage."

We didn't have long to wait for the show to begin. A bright red cardinal was the first on the scene. He couldn't figure out how to land at the cottage, even after flying by and attempting to hover several times. I watched for a few more minutes, and a large grey squirrel came and decided to see what smelled so good. He managed to slide down the side of the shed, and balance himself between the shed and the feeder. I could see however that the feeder was slowly getting further and further away from the side of the shed. He was eventually stretched to the point that when he tried to change position the feeder swung back against the shed with a bang, catching his tail. After this I decided to bring the cottage inside and make some changes. I fastened a 12 inch square piece of plywood to the bottom of the feeder so that there would be more room for the bigger birds and squirrels to sit/land on. This had the added benefit of holding the feeder against the shed so that it no longer swings back and forth.

Later that day a male house finch landed at the cottage. After spending what seemed like a very long time eating sunflower seeds, he spied the thistle sock. It took a couple of fly-bys for him to decide that it was worth getting close to that strange thing, but once he landed on it he loved it.

During the last week we have had some more birds become regular visitors. The house finch finally got around to showing his mate, and other friends where our feeders are. The cardinal has figured out how to land at the cottage. A couple of cat birds have found the suet feeder, and the squirrel has brought her youngsters to the smorgesborg. The robins seem to be willing to share the bird bath with the cat birds, for the time being anyway.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

A (Sort-of) brief History

We moved to this townhouse in October 2001. One of the many things that drew us to it was the beautiful pear tree in the front yard. To have a tree seemed very important to me for some reason, perhaps because I had always had one to look at right outside my bedroom window as a child. The fact that this particular kind of tree would shower us with lovely, red, leaves in the fall, and delicate, white, petals in the spring was a bonus.

After having lived in an apartment for six years, I was very eager to get my hands in the earth and make something of it. I managed to restrain myself long enough to get the necessities of daily living unpacked, and my children's rooms painted. As soon as I could though, I got started making over our little bit of land out back. This little bit of land is actually a 18 square foot, 80% deck, blindingly sunny backyard. The previous owners had left us with two beautiful clementis, and a very vigorous row of irises. These were in a 1x12 foot planter on the east side of the deck. On the west side of the deck was a 3 x 12 foot gravely area that had been the home of a rabbit hutch in time gone by. In the far west corner, was a patch of good soil that had previously been used for a vegetable patch.

The first thing I wanted to do was to remove the gravel so that I would have more room for plants. The ground below the gravel was in very poor shape, and extremely difficult to dig. After a lot of digging and a fair amount of mulch I felt I was ready to head to the store for bulbs. I ended up planting 50 pink and white tulips, 25 daffodils, and two peonies that first fall. The following is a picture of the result the next spring. (The daffodils have already died down, and I added a dogwood tree and four rose bushes).

When my tulips began to die down that spring a mother rabbit and her babies graced us with their presence for a while. They seemed to love eating the fading tulip leaves. They weren't interested in the fresh ones to my relief, so we got along quite well.

I wanted to make a try at growing sweetpeas and lupins. This was a really bad year to try it, but who knew in the spring... The summer of 2002 was very hot and dry. We lost the dogwood tree and two of the rose bushes. The sweetpeas only grew a few inches then died, the lupins never sprouted at all. The peonies came up, but they were very small and had no buds. Due to the lack of rain, I decided to get a bird bath for the back porch. It got very little attention form the birds that year, but a little chipmunk fell in love with it. The bath was already rather low to the ground, but I put a stone beside it so that the little fellow could sit comfortably while he drank. He had tumbled in one time before I did that and didn't seem to appreciate the wetting very much at all. He seemed to understand what to do with the stone right away, and know that it was his. He would spend quite a bit of time sitting there even when he wasn't interested in drinking. In the fall I planted a few more tulip bulbs (some lacy edged purple ones).

2003 was extremely wet. I decided to try adding another rose bush, a rhododendron, and a small cypress tree. All of these have survived very well. I tried again with the sweet peas and lupin. I also tried to grow some cone flowers to attract gold finches. The lupins and cone flowers never showed themselves, the sweet peas grew fairly well, but produced few blooms. The robins discovered the bird bath and promptly took over. I haven't seen the chipmunk since. As an after thought late in the summer I stuck a half dead miniature rose bush in the corner by the air conditioner. I figured I would probably be digging the poor thing up within a very short amount of time. I was mistaken however!

So far this year the plants have been putting on a spectacular show. My roses are already covered with blooms, including the little one I thought would die. The larger of the two peonies is loaded down with buds, and just today is starting to open its petals. The hostas are huge and rapidly taking over. I think I will transplant some to the front yard in the next few days. We planted a large number of seeds this year including sweetpeas, lupin, canterbury bells, and cone flowers. We also planted some squash, cantelope, and a surprise for William.

A Beginning

In the dim and distant past I seem to recall my English teachers urging me to keep a journal. They would stress how important it was not only for developing writing skills, but for discovering things about yourself and the world around you that you might not otherwise notice. I feel woefully out of practice. And, being a teacher myself now, I sense the need to get back into the habit of writing daily.

If one is going to try to start writing again, it seems wise to choose a topic that one can feel passionate about as a starting off point. Gardening, and the wildlife that call my little bit of earth home, definately fits into that catergory. At this point my plan is to write about what I do in my garden, and what I see out the window each day. I have a feeling that other topics may slip in from time to time, but then, if Thoreau's mind can be forgiven its wanderings, why not mine. :)