Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sharp Shootin' Susie or Wildlife in NYC

This story and the accompanying photos are from my dear friend Susie. She and her family live in New York, just outside New York City. REALLY! Just outside- 40 miles from midtown.

Their home backs up to Sterling Forest which is a 17,000 acre greenspace. She and I have been friends for many many years. We conquered the cities of central Germany together as new brides with husbands in the field. But, those are other stories...this one happened this past weekend.

As Susie tells it, her neighbor called her to say that on Saturday he walked out of the house and there was a large bear sitting in his driveway. OMG!! Well, the neighbor shooed him off...until....... later that night he heard what he thought was thunder. The shed at the end of the driveway next to the house had both doors ripped off and they had been padlocked with a heavy chain. The bear was back! Susie took in the small bird feeder attached on the kitchen window, but forgot something. There was a Fry Baby on the deck from when the kids had made homemade potato chips last time.

He was on the porch and got grease all over everything and pulled the fryer apart. If you look closely you can see the paw print next to the shoe...this was not a small bear!

then his footprints down the steps to the yard---

He also got into the bird feeder that was suspended 25 feet up on a cord.

Susie is sure he will be back. She promises to get a picture- or at least try. I don't think I would want him knowing I was on the other side of a window with a camera. Now, Miss Sure-shot also thinks a BB gun 'could' scare him off. I think it will just irritate the crapola out of him.

Here are some shots from last year when Mr. Black Bear strolled through. This one is a smaller bear. Either Yogi grew a lot or this is a different one this year. Notice the tomatoes in the fenced area, that is one way to ensure the wildlife will let you have a few 'maters to yourself.

These are stealing last year's bird feeders.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Cherry Blossoms

Every spring I try to remember to deviate from my usual path when I am out and about so I can see the cherry blossoms along Canon Boulevard. Canon, Inc., a Japanese based company landscaped the grounds of their Hampton plant with numerous cherry trees. If you time it correctly, the site is beautiful.

I tried to make it there two weeks ago but forgot my camera. This past Wednesday on my way home from ballet I went by way of Canon Blvd. The trees were just past their peak and if I were to choose a day to drive down that street, it wouldn't have been a workday. The traffic made it difficult to stop and take some photos.

In addition to the cherry blossoms I also went by a friend's house who has very mature Saucer Magnolias flanking his driveway. Again, I should have gone earlier in the month, but I am glad I went. He has three or four trees on either side of his driveway and the sight is beautiful in the spring. Along one side of the property is a hedge of Camellias that are also in bloom at this time. His whole garden is really a sight to behold. I may be able to see more of his garden this coming week, so look for more photos later in the week.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Standoff with a Fish

It is a dreary foggy day, nothing much going on….so I thought. I got the “Osprey alert” phone call from Kim. Up in one of the pine trees in the backyard was an osprey. He had a fish and was settling down to eat it. Kim couldn’t get a good shot of him from her yard, but she wanted us to know it was there. I got out my camera and took some pictures. He was busy eating.

After cropping the photos and emailing them to the kids and Kim, I got out the binoculars. It was interesting to watch him up in the tree as he ate. He started fluffing up his feathers and I wondered why… thinking maybe he was digesting what he had just eaten. I moved the binoculars aside and there was the reason for the defensive position! A Great Blue Heron had landed on the next branch. They were having a standoff. This lasted for a little while…long enough for more photos. Think Kim may have some of this as she was out in her yard at this point.

Finally the Heron flew off and the Osprey got back to his meal. All of a sudden, out of the blue, there was a Bald Eagle. I couldn’t believe it!! He chased off the Osprey and then settled in a pine tree next door!! Again I tried to get a good shot, but to no avail. Here is what I did get. He ended up getting chased off by a Mockingbird. As I turned to come back in the house three Canada Geese flew overhead. (Sorry no pictures of that)

So a busy day in the world of nature in my backyard!!!

UPDATE!! Here are some photos from Kim---

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Do You See What I See?

Do you see what I see? Look closely. I saw one this morning. He was pretty busy diving in and out and around the marsh grasses. Now that I have you looking closely…how many do you see? (four)

We have river otters that swim in our creek. I think we had lived here for more than ten years before we saw one. It was pretty spectacular with the first sighting as there were four of them. First we heard some chirping…loud chirps. It certainly didn’t sound like any birds that we have had out here. There was a lot of commotion in the water. Something was churning it up and moving quite quickly. It turned out to be three pups, swimming around and crying for their mother. She finally swam up to them and the four swam around for a long time.

We see the otters very occasionally and the alert goes through the neighbors…Otter alert!! As I said at the start, I saw one this morning. He was in the branch of the creek that runs by my bird feeders and bulkhead. As he was swimming close to the bulkhead I wasn’t sure if it was an otter or a cormorant. Finally he surfaced. I was hoping for more than one, but this guy was out solo today. I called my neighbor Kim, the one with the great camera, so see if she could get a shot. Unfortunately he was quick to retreat …so these great shots are from other times that Kim was able to catch one or more of them.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Learning Garden blooms March 2009

In York County the Master Gardeners have a Learning Garden and Arboretum. It is approximately 7 acres in size and was started in 1994. Over the years we have added, maintained, nurtured, and shared this garden with any and all who would like to see it. The plant material varies from Magnolias to Zelkovas in the Arboretum to Pulmonaria in the Shade Garden. We have almost more azaleas than you could count. There are Rhododendrons and Camellias and various shrubs in the Rhododendron area. Recently added are some trellises that support various Clematis, native honeysuckle, roses, and other vines. There is a Rock Garden showcasing some of the drought tolerant plants. A true center of activity is the Wildlife Garden area... many natives that attract a host of butterflies, bees, and birds. There is a Color Corner that is very colorful. To see a more complete list of garden areas and plants that we have in our garden check out the Learning Garden section of the York Cooperative Extension web site.
This collage is just from this past Thursday.

During the months of May through October we offer tours the second Thursday of the month at 10 AM. The garden is open year round and free to the public. If you want to visit, there are plant lists in mailboxes throughout the garden and many plants are labeled. As in your garden, the Learning Garden is always changing, blooming, growing. If you are in the Tidewater area, come and visit.

Friday, March 20, 2009

She's FINALLY got her top on!!

The mermaid table that is.......... the glass top came and once my sweet husband returned from his travels we were able to put it on the base. Since it weighs 120 lbs. I didn't want to try it before he got back.

For those who didn't see her without her top -- go to this link.

I love having her complete.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Inventorying The Green

Thought I would stay in the St. Patrick's Day theme. After walking the dogs and throwing the ball for Skyler, I took inventory in the front yard of what was happening in the garden.
First an update on the Yorktown Onion...not much action.

Three new additions seem to be taking off rather well. First is the Tanacetum vulgare 'Isla Gold'-- a bright yellow tansy. It looks like a bright yellow fern and takes full sun. I first saw this in Pam Harper's garden and found it striking.

Next to the tansy is a variegated iris. Iris ensata variegated. When I bought it there were a few in the pot. I put one in the front garden and the other piece in between the driveways in that bed. Well, the voles got the one in between the driveways. Glad I didn't put all my 'eggs' in one basket.

The third newbie is a clematis. Clematis 'Miss Bateman'. It was a find on the discount shelf at the big box store last fall. Can't go wrong for a buck. She seems to be doing fine.

One shrub usually nibbled down to a stub by the bunnies is the Spirea x bumalda 'Goldflame'. It doesn't hurt the spirea as this is one shrub you can prune hard and it comes back just fine. There were other 'veggies' in my garden that the bunnies took interest in this winter, so the spirea is a good size. The Goldflame leaves emerge reddish- orange growing a bit more yellow with red tones. It blooms dark pink flowers. As the season goes on the leaves green up a bit more. In the fall the leaves are fire-y again. Truly a shrub for many seasons.

Last but not least is the Hydrangea macrophylla - one of the two mophead hydrangeas that are out front. I have been trying to remember to add some aluminum sulfate in the fall to get these guys back to blue. They were blue before the hurricane. After being flooded we have had almost no color. I was real smart (I thought) and put the schedule for adding the aluminum sulfate on the computer calendar. Then somehow, Microsoft Works disappeared from the computer... along with birthdays, hearworm med reminders, and garden timing dates. Oh well, there is always next year.

May the green be with you...............

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Meet the Girls and their friends....Garden Blogger Bloom Day

Here is the bride...... Bridal Wreath Spirea that is. A relatively new addition to our garden, seems to be growing and thriving. I love the delicate white blooms.

Next comes Jane.... Magnolia x 'Jane'. Another new addition to the garden. She was planted a year or two ago. We had been looking for something to take the place of a dogwood that came out a few years earlier. My neighbor cut a cluster of about 4 or 5 mature pines that shaded my garden....fun coming home to find a complete change. It was one of those decisions that was made because she had the guys there doing another tree. 'Jane' seems to be doing very well. Here is what she looks like now and then in a few more weeks when she opens all the way.

Not all of my daffodils are blooming yet, but Cum Laude and Tete-e-Tete are certainly putting on a show.

I have one daffodil from the previous owners...I had forgotten it was in and among the paperwhites.

Here you can see the Cum Laude and Tete-e-Tete from the front porch. They are in the front bed with a Japanese Maple, a few Heuchera, lots of Delosperma (ice plant), and some Forget Me Nots that reseed profusely. On inventory I saw there is still one Gaillardia still out there. Maybe the others are still there as well. On the crest of the ditch is Pennistetum 'Moudry'. And of course a JMU flag. You know the story...all my kids and all my money goes to (insert college name here).

Today is Garden Blogger Bloom Day. This is hosted by Carol over at May Dreams Gardens

Quick update-- saying goodbye to one of the girls heading back to JMU, I saw 'Jane' opening up a little more...

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Gardening songs-- Hearts A Bustin

I have been thinking about how to share some of my favorite music via youtube or later perhaps some other vehicle. The desire is to share gardening themed songs. The first one is one of my husband's favorites. It is a shrub that we will plant in the future. There is no video with this audio link but the song is so sweet. Here is the picture of the Hearts A Bustin' Euonymus americanus courtesy Flickr photo sharing

and here is the song.... Hearts A Bustin' written by Billy Joe Shaver, performed by Jimmie Dale Gilmore

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Words for Wednesday...images in mud

Ok, who was it that said..."oh throw the ball for him" "he is asking so politely" Les? Tina?? Dave? Army of 4?? Tiffany?

Do I have an volunteers to clean him off?????????? Ugh, I really do not like muddy days.. here he is --ready for more.

Wordless Wednesday- Images in Ice