Saturday, June 25, 2022

A Garden Shed and More Color...


Here Millie and I are looking through the open screened window into the little garden shed.  She is wanting to go inside to take shelter from today's fierce heat, as it is a very hot day here. We will do that after we take a quick look around outside to see what is going on in the garden. 

There are lots of zinnias blooming now, and in so many wonderful colors. The ones, not quite open yet, are such a joy, all fresh and new.  

We are not hearing the summer tanager today which makes me wonder if he is helping more now to feed the young ones.  Or, perhaps, it is just too hot today to sing pretty songs. 

I am sure O'Keeffe would enjoy the poppies that are beginning to bloom, even though she would probably enjoy them more in red. I, however, am loving them in pink.

With the windows and door opened wide, the Shanty does provide some relief from the sun's blistering rays.  There's seating enough inside for five, so we sometimes have our young friends from across the pasture come for tea.  They wouldn't mind drinking from cups that are well over a hundred years old, but I discourage that and bring out some newer ones for the parties. Millie drinks from a dish. 


The ducks, loons, or terns, or whatever they are, delight me to no end.   The old, waxed canvas from which they are made is quite wonderful. They have definitely helped define this garden shed for what it is. I love them so much, and especially the old canvas cloth from which they are made. 

Last year's zinnias and other favorite flowers still add splashes of color about the Shanty.  The red salvia, I think, is more beautiful dried than it was fresh, and the dried zinnias are still quite lovely.  I suppose I could replace them with fresh cut ones from the garden, but I'll not be taking those away from the bees and butterflies.  

"Elvish singing is not a thing to miss in June under the stars, not if you care for such things."

~J.R.R. Tolkien

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Summer Begins... (Pictures from our first day).


I love this picture of the setting sun taken by my son in the hay field. 

It may have been the longest day of the year, but it still wasn't quite long enough.  

Millie and I mowed our trail.  Then, we walked it.  

And, she took a dip in the pond.

Millie watching Coyote... ( She spends a lot of time these hot days dug into the flower bed by the back porch.  She is careful not to harm the plants.  She's a good girl.)  I can't decide if she likes or dislikes these distant cousins.  If she dislikes them, then I am their only friend here. 

And the tanager sings his summer songs.

Happy Summer to you all.

Monday, June 13, 2022

The Longest Day and a Study of Color...


How did we get here already?  The longest day of the year is right upon us again.   To my way of thinking, the longest and shortest days of the year should be holidays. If you'd care to walk with me over the hill, I could show you the point where the sun will set next week on that longest day. It's the most northern point the sun will reach before heading back south.  Millie and I know it well.  If  the good Lord's willing and the creeks don't rise, we will be there to watch it set on that day.  

Things are happening in the garden.  The first of the shaggy zinnias are starting to bloom.  I sowed only seeds that I collected from all my favorite colors.  Hopefully, there will be fewer yellow ones this year.  We are off to a good start with the first ones being pink.  Pink was not always one of my favorite colors, but over the years, I have developed more of a liking for it in the garden.  

A couple of years ago, when I enrolled in a Karen Ruane's class, we did a color study journal in which we selected five of our favorite colors to work with.  Since that time, I have been more acutely aware of those colors and work at fitting them in wherever I can, even in the garden.  Pink was not included, but I think a bit of it works out just fine.  

Pansies and Nasturtiums come in such a wonderful rainbow of colors, so those are good selections for any gardener's color study.  This year I have added Mother of Pearl Poppies to the garden and anxiously await them to start blooming.  There must have been a thousand tiny seeds in this 1/8 gram packet for they have come up so very thick.  I know I should pull some out but I just can't get up the nerve to do that.  What if I pulled out a pink one.  Ha!  A friend tells me these will look like crepe paper. 

Of course, yellow will always creep into the garden and that's not a bad thing for it is the bees preferred color.    The black swallowtail butterflies love tansy and milkweed as well as other yellow blooming flowers, so they should be happy in my garden this summer.

It has been a good year for the little Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds.  I am seeing several smaller ones at the feeders which makes me think this year's offspring are already up and going.  It's hard to imagine they will all, adults and juveniles, be heading south in about six weeks.  (And the Summer Tanager will be too.  :~(  He always comes to sing at this time of day, so I will hurry out of here to go listen to his song.)   ~ Mary 

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

My Rustic Gardens...


When the weather is nice on these May evenings, Millie and I go walking over the hill late in the day just to hear the whippoorwill's call.  My how that brings back wonderful memories of when I was a child visiting my grandparents.  It seemed there was a whippoorwill in every tree. I loved those lonely calls then, and still do to this day.

 Dan keeps warning me to watch for bears when Millie and I are out walking through the woods.  (A couple of weeks ago, my son saw a mother bear and her two cubs making a bee line straight toward our hill.)   But, of his warnings, I just reply, "There are no bears on Hemlock Mountain."  (The kids loved that story when they were young.  Of course, as you might guess, there actually were bears on Hemlock Mountain.*) 

The Summer Tanager still makes regular visits to the backyard to sing his sweet song when I am out and about.   A little earlier, when I was out hanging sheets on the line, the ruby-red male perched on the fence and put on quite a performance.  He seemed totally unconcerned that I was shaking out wet laundry.  I think he likes me!

 I have seen the female only a couple of times.  I love the orangish coloring on her underparts and the olive on her top with olive brown wings and tail.  Her taste for dressing is exceptional, I think.  

In the picture to the right, the Tanager has come to serenade me as I feed the hummingbirds. It was another excellent performance.  He is, for sure, running a close second to Merle Haggard and the whippoorwill, two of my other favorite performers.  (And, of course, I should mention the oh-so-beloved mockingbird that delights us every day.)

Before the Tanager heads south to Mexico or beyond this fall, I hope to get at least one good picture of him, and hopefully, one of the pretty female Tanager too.  I would also like to record that pretty song the male sings so well.  (I already have several of the whippoorwill's song recorded on my phone.)

And, finally, another small garden, which is pretty much a work in progress, has a mix of veggies and flowers.  And blueberries.  Most of the flowers are marigolds and mints planted to keep away the deer and, hopefully, the aphids that have had a field day with the tomato plants the past couple of years.

The hummingbirds are busy in the honeysuckle thickets now, having their fill of nature's sweet nectar, and most assuredly, beginning to raise their families.  A few still visit the feeders during the day, and especially early in the morning and late in the evening.  But, they will be back, lots of them with their young in tow, and that's when feeding hummingbirds becomes lots of fun.  And lots of work!  

   *The Bears on Hemlock Mountain by Alice Dalgliesh  


Saturday, April 30, 2022

Neighbor to the Birds...


"The Harivansa says, "An abode without birds is like a meat without seasoning."  Such was not my abode, for I found myself suddenly neighbor to the birds; not by having imprisoned one, but having caged myself near them.  I was not only nearer to some of those which commonly frequent the garden and the orchard, but to those wilder and more thrilling songsters of the forest which never, or rarely serenade a villager, - the wood thrush, the veery, the scarlet tanager, the field sparrow, the whippoorwill, and many others."   ~ Henry David Thoreau

Throughout the cold days of winter, I sometimes thought of the Summer Tanager who had so beautifully serenaded me on the warm days of the previous summer.  Oh, how I hoped he would be back for another summer to sing at least  just one more song.  "Chick-tucky-tuck, chick-tucky-tuck..."  much like a Robin's, but softer and sweeter.  And, wonder of wonders, this week I have seen him several times, perching in all of his same old favorite spots.  It is a good omen, I think.  Or at least, I hope it is!

The precious little Hummingbirds are back.  Some days there are more than on other days, so I suspect our backyard is a migratory pit stop for those on their way farther north.  It's hard to imagine how these little birds, and in fact all birds, like the Tanager, find the exact same places year after year.  I am humbled that, that same spot is my own back yard.   

I don't feed the songbirds during summer, and sometimes question the practice of feeding them at all.  But, by doing so I have become better acquainted with many of the little birds that I would have never known had I not.  One of my favorite pairs that come to the feeders regularly are the House Finches.  They are so friendly and unafraid of me, and love their sunflower seeds, which actually tempts me to leave up the feeders all year long.  I know they are still here now for I recently saw them drinking at the bird waterer.  Come to think of it maybe just a few seeds wouldn't do any harm!  

My list of favorite birds is a long one.  I have chased after the Great Blue Heron for  many a long mile trying to photograph that elusive fellow.  The mockingbirds, however, haven't been so hard to catch up with.  One year, I took a good scolding from the Missus every time I got close to a certain honeysuckle vine and finally found out why.    

The bluebirds are nesting in the boxes now, and most already have their first brood of babies.  Those pretty birds must catch a million insects before summer's end, for they are almost constantly carrying some poor critter in their beaks to the boxes to feed their young.   

The winds are still blowing here almost every day, but at least those winds seem to be getting warmer.  I think someone forgot to change the calendar from March to April.  Take care and enjoy the warm winds of May!  ~ Mary

Saturday, April 2, 2022

Spring Migration...


My favorite little bird with my favorite flower - the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird and Monarda or Red Bee Balm.  This photo is from last year's files.  There's a story behind the photo that tells how it came to be, but I won't get into that now.  It doesn't matter anyway for I love how it accidently turned out.  

Earlier today, I checked the Hummingbird Spring Migration Map and realized that these little birds are getting mighty close to our neck of the woods.  It is definitely time to get a couple of feeders out. 


Linnie Butts & Co. finally got together for a final photo shoot.  If you'd care to take a look just click on the old sewing machine near the top of this page.