Friday, April 4, 2014

This Year is For The Birds

**Picture heavy post**

Well, not really, but they do help fill the gardening void in the winter! We love watching the birds and feed them all year round. Keeping birds in your gardens help with insect control...a nice benefit.

Some of the regular visitors to our yard, especially in the winter, are Redheaded Woodpeckers and Red-bellied Woodpeckers. While in the lower part of the yard (closer to the lake) I was watching a Redheaded Woodpecker peel off bark - or was it insects under the bark?- and then cache these treasures in another tree.

Here he is putting the newly acquired treat into his secret hiding spot.  Redheaded Woodpeckers are wonderful to see flying- the bold contrast of white and black are quite distinctive.

This guy went back and forth multiple times, he was quite busy!


Other Woodpeckers also cache their food - this female Red-bellied Woodpecker thought the soffit of our screened porch was a perfect spot to hide nuts she got from the feeder.


She used this spot a number of times, I guess she thought we wouldn't clean out the soffit.  Female Red-bellied Woodpeckers have red on their heads but only on the back part, males have red all the way from the back collar area to the beak.


Where did they get the nuts to hide? In the feeder hanging on the deck. I use a fruit and nut mix with sunflower seeds added, it is quite a favorite for many varieties.


See the red on her head? This is the female Red-bellied Woodpecker. 


It is hard to tell male and female Redheaded Woodpeckers apart...so I don't worry about it. Guess they are the ones who need to know!


Yes, the Redheaded Woodpecker waiting its turn at the feeder. 


He will share the feeder with the smaller birds. Here he is with a Brown-headed Nuthatch. Love those little guys, their song sounds like a squeaky toy.


This Red-bellied Woodpecker also has a cache in the hickory tree near the deck. He (yes, see the red coming between his eyes?) likes to use this spot while the female uses the soffit.



Sometimes the birds are hard to see while on the ground.  Can you spot the female Eastern Towhee? She has muted colors of rust and tan.



No? Well here is another picture of her closer---

Some birds aren't really wanted around the house.  One of the neighbors had a bunch of Vultures hanging out on his roof.  Those with the red heads are Turkey Vultures. 


Here are his friends-- waiting in the nearby tree. These birds do a good job with roadkill. 



One of my favorite little insect eaters is the Eastern Phoebe. It is such a sweet little bird and isn't very skittish around people. Her song sounds like her name- Phoebe.



These are the sweet little Brown-headed Nuthatches with a Carolina Chickadee. It was not unusual to have four or five nuthatches on the feeder at once.

 One woodpecker who doesn't come to the feeders but checks out all the trees is the Downy Woodpecker.


Like the mess on my deck? I bought one of those dried mealworms blocks and then it rained...a lot! The Pine Warbler and the Cardinals were just as happy to eat off the deck as on the feeder.



And now, it is time for the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds in our garden. I plant a lot of trumpet shaped flowers for them as well as keeping a couple feeders on the railing of the deck.  March 31st was my first sighting of a male Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Since I was watching the hummingbird migration map, I was ready for them, had the feeders out and was keeping watch.

Last year we had quite a bit of hummingbird activity. Was really tickled to see so many at the feeder at once.


Having hummingbirds is a regular event at our house, but this past year we had a hummingbird's nest just off the railing of the deck.  With binoculars or the zoom on the camera we could watch mama feeding her babies or sitting on the nest.



We watched and watched, waiting for the eggs to hatch. A couple babies!!!


Mama took care of the babies for a while and then they were gone.  Was hoping we would be able to watch them fledge, but missed it.


We did get a short video clip of the mama feeding her babies- 



About the time the babies left we had another visitor- a Rufous Hummingbird! This hummingbird is typically found west of the Rockies or wintering along the Gulf Coast. Some other sightings of Rufous were in Georgia and along the coast of South Carolina. You can read about Karin's Rufous and its banding here and here.


See how orange he is? His coloring really jumped out at me. 



He claimed the feeder and chased off the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds for a couple days........then he left.


So if you are on the fence about putting up feeders - either suet or mealworms or seed or nectar- just do it! You will have hours of entertainment!

©Copyright 2014 Janet. All rights reserved. Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford. words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Harbingers of Spring


(här′bĭn-jər)  One that indicates or foreshadows what is to come-thefreedictionary.com 

Some of you are still in the grips of old man winter, I am so sorry.  We are fully embracing spring in my little area of South Carolina. It is time for the Winter Walk-off, hosted by Les of A Tidewater Gardener. The rules are simple, walk and take pictures (though not of your garden) and link to Les' blog.  I have participated in Les' Winter Walk-off in 2013, 2012, and 2011. Most of my walks begin the same way...with the dogs and our long winding road. So let's get this show on the road....literally!


Here are my two companions getting ready for the walk.  As they have gotten older they are less interested in a long walk....


And would much rather enjoy a free run. Newton is 12 now and getting whiter around the muzzle.


Skyler is Mr. Energy, a 10 year old Australian Shepherd.  He loves to run and is seldom far away from his ball.


I love how the light plays through the woods.  It won't be too much longer and you won't see this far into the forest. 


Many of my previous Winter Walk-off posts have been wide views, so today, we are looking for those smaller signs or harbingers of spring, starting with the beautiful and much aligned, Henbit, Lamium amplexicaule. Such a pretty little flower, one I like seeing in landscape.


See the little polka dots? Who wouldn't love this little flower?


Mosses are putting out new lime green growth, water droplets hanging on each stem.


Another 'weed' with a sweet little flower, Bittercress, Cardamine hirsuta.


Many of you know the little Houstonia pusilla, some are white and some are blue.  My favorite harbinger of spring.



Earlier this winter when we took a walk after a snowfall (yes we got some as well!) this fern was peeking out of the cover of snow.  This time, it was hard to find, hiding with the other green growth. I am not a fern authority, so I will leave this guy unnamed for now.  Thanks to Marian we have a fern ID- Christmas fern, Polystichum acrostichoides. thanks Marian!



After seeing ground level signs it is time to look up, into the trees for signs of spring.
Cornus florida 'minarets' plumping up, ready to open


Maples in the woods, possibly Chalk Maple, Acer leucoderme,  sporting bright reddish pink blooms.


Pines putting forth new candles and emit a heavenly pine scent--nothing like the pine cleaners!


A tree I have been eyeballing for a while, trying to get a firm ID has its spring catkins. Final verdict, Cottonwood, Populus deltoides.


Almost a trash tree, Winged Elm, Ulmus alata, blooms early in our woods. Don't you love the fuzzy seedpods?


In addition to the sights and smells of spring, we have the sound of water rushing through the creeks/streams that feed our lake.  You can see the stream through the trees. 



One last sound of spring, the frogs singing their spring song. So I leave you with a small clip of the frogs searching for love.... 
Enjoy! 
(be sure to visit Les!)
Randy says these are most likely Southern Chorus Frogs, thanks Randy!

video





©Copyright 2014 Janet. All rights reserved. Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford. words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Joys of Blogging

Garden blogging has been such a great pastime for me since .....December 7th, 2008!  Time sure flies. Thought I would get my post done for this yesterday...but I had no idea what the 'date' was...or rather hadn't paid too much attention to it.  Oops.  So happy belated Blogiversary to me!  Five years have gone by quickly.  I have been enjoying being a part of the garden blogging community.

Some of the garden blogging community got together this past Friday to celebrate South Carolina's Arbor Day.  This was the third year I have gone to USC Upstate to listen to the speaker, the first time was Dr. Michael Dirr, second year Traci DiSaboto-Aust, and this year was Dr. Alan Armitage.

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The treat was meeting fellow bloggers at the speaker program.  Last year I met with Julie Thompson-Adolf - Growing Days and this year not only Julie but Daricia McKnight - A Charlotte Garden and Karin Hicks - Southern Meadows came to the Arbor Day presentation.   Julie, Daricia and I have met before at the past two Flings but we hadn't met Karin in person before this past Friday.   It was a lot of fun, such nice ladies!  We talked about past and future Flings...Portland is next... can't wait; about blogging and the technical side of the blogs...like adding alt text to our photos; and of course we talked about plants.   We also made plans to meet again soon.

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Our Garden Blogger Flings have been a lot of fun, seeing gardening- large and small, hearing representatives talk about new plants and of course getting to know bloggers from near and far.  After the Asheville Fling many of us received some plants from Southern Living to trial in our gardens.  You might remember my Mahonia eurybracteata 'Soft Caress' and it getting eaten by deer.  Sad -- I really like the yellow blooms during the winter.   Southern Living sent more plants this year.  I received two more Mahonia eurybracteata 'Soft Caress', a Loropetalum 'Purple Pixie' and a Carex oshimensis 'Everillo'.
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All packaged -- arriving in great condition.  Now where to plant my new goodies?   Before planting, I kept them in my holding area.   Loving that bold yellow foliage on the Carex.  The yellow blooms on the Mahonia and the yellow foliage are super... quite the complement to the purple leaves of the Loropetalum.

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Before planting  I sprayed my newbies with some Bobbex, a deer repellent.  This one is supposed to be 'rainproof'.  I will spray them again once the rain quits for a few days.  

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 Here is what those poor babies look like from last year--- still might come back, still crossing my fingers.  They have been sprayed, marked with sticks, protected with some leaves or a log to keep dogs and people from walking on them.
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This one is a lot smaller...but I have faith that it will come back...as long as I have deer-proof spray on it.
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In a location up the hillside from the other Mahonia, the new ones are planted.  
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The Carex is planted along the edge of the pathway through the garden.  A nice bright bit of foliage in the shady garden.
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The Loropetalum needs more sunlight, so it is planted in the front garden...next to two other 'Purple Pixie' plants.  
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Since planting these new plants we have had some cold weather, not as harsh as some parts of the country, but cold nonetheless.   Checking on the M. 'Soft Caress'  I see they have experienced some cold damage

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The frost-bitten leaves have fallen off and those leaves/branches that were covered with leaves are fine.  I have heaped more leaves over the remaining plants to continue protecting them from further cold weather.  The Carex and Loropetalum survived the 20 degree temperatures just fine.  Will check on the plants all through the winter and give updates.

Earlier this fall I had the pleasure of participating in a podcast with John Markowski from An Obsessive Neurotic Gardener who interviewed me, Julie, and Mia - Modern Mia Gardening.  If you have about 45 minutes, give it a listen.  John has five podcasts done now and you can find them in the sidebar on his blog.  He is a fun interviewer.  If you like the podcasts, offer yourself as the next interviewee.  

As I said, garden blogging is a lot of fun and you meet some nice people.  

©Copyright 2013 Janet. All rights reserved. Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford. words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.