Saturday, May 30, 2009

drowning in the purple sea

Hooray for rain! It has done wonders for the garden. And the weeds, but nevermind. I had a bean plant sprout and grow two inches in less than two days! And the beets are all up. The squash and pumpkins, cucumbers... everything except the fennel and the brussels sprouts are up and happy. I am assuming neither the fennel nor the brussels sprouts are unhappy, just not up yet.

fishy and I spent part of this afternoon drifting around one of our local nurseries, picking up plants for the garden. We decided on a plan for the front boxes, and picked up two more (different) hostas, some 'May Night' salvia, an interesting little perennial ornamental grass, a few more herbs, marigolds for around the square foot bed, creeping thyme for around the front flagstones, a lovely yellow potentilla shrub, and four foxglove plants. I managed to plant the grass and the foxgloves before the thunderstorm hit, so they're in and well watered now. Everything else will be fine for a day or three as we get organized.

(also: unuseable as cut flowers because they smell just awful)

We're hosting a shower here in about five weeks, is the thing. And I am feeling a little nervous about that. I don't mind people we know well coming in and seeing that the garden is pretty okay, but that some of the beds desperately need weeding and renovation. I do mind a whole enormous group of people I don't know coming in and having a garden party in the garden, in the state it is now. The major problem, I think, aside from the weeds (yes yes) are the giant alliums, which are growing dangerously close to the "weed" category in my books. They are bloody everywhere, including many places they shouldn't be. They are taking over. I am on the warpath. I pulled up a bunch today and I'll do more tomorrow, too. I'm not sure where they should be, or how to use them effectively. Right now I'd be happy to never see another one, I'm that sick of them, although they are really quite striking and take no care whatsoever. They thrive on neglect... which should be just my kind of plant.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

a perfect garden morning

It has been a morning of puttering in the garden and I could not be happier. The morning started with me tearing inside so I could grab my binoculars... a new species for the backyard was in range! And he's stayed around all morning, too: a beautiful black-throated blue warbler. In addition, I've heard a redstart singing, a wood thrush, a red-eyed vireo, and chimney swifts, a house finch using the bird bath, as well as the regular cardinal and robin.

And the robin! This year we have a nest tucked on the eavestrough of the garage. And this morning, for the first time, I saw someone other than mom moving in the nest. I am desperately hoping that she can fledge a few, despite the coons and the squirrels and the crow who caused a hella commotion this morning. I wandered over there to make him think twice about nest robbing, but the neighbourhood birds were doing a pretty good job of it without me.

I've planted strawberries, beans, dill and cucumbers this morning, and replanted some beets and chervil that got dug up by squirrels. Yesterday afternoon I planted the squash and the pumpkins. The strawberries, cucumbers, squash and pumpkins are all a bit of a gamble, since they're hot-weather plants, but the next week is supposed to be really warm and then we're getting into acceptable planting time anyways. If we have a cold snap and I don't cover things in time, I'll just plant them again. I have lots of seeds. Well, except for the strawberries.

The tomatoes are just about ready to be transplanted to their big home containers, and the tomatillos are soon ready to go into the square-foot bed. The ground cherries got repotted this morning, as did the artichoke. The basil and peppers are being really slow again, but with the hot weather coming (it's supposed to be up to 27 C today, and 29 C tomorrow) I think they'll take off.

I can't think of a better way to spend a beautiful sunny morning. I'm inside now to avoid the heat of the day, but I know I won't be able to stay inside for long on a day like this. I might even just sit in a lawnchair and do all my necessary computing outside on the laptop in the shade...

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Point Pelee and Rondeau 2009

I twittered the experience, which was an interesting exercise. I'm likely to do the same this coming weekend, when the Family Birding Extravaganza comes around again. But we are now back from our annual trip to Point Pelee and Rondeau, and I have lots to report.

First of all, the lifer: I can now confidently add Cerulean Warbler (Dendroica cerulea) to my life list, as I saw a male not once but twice, in two different parks, on this trip. In fact, we saw the most warblers we have ever seen, including a Blue-Winged Warbler (Vermivora pinus) and a couple of wonderful looks at a Prothonotary Warbler (Protonotaria citrea), always lovely. The warblers were everywhere. So, despite my initial concern at their seeming absence, were the thrushes -- Wood, Hermit and Swainson's, not to mention Veerys and ubiquitous American Robins. The Solitary (or Blue-Headed, depending on who you talk to) Vireos were always somewhere to be seen, and they're one of my favourites. There were Northern Orioles and Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks every time we turned around. There were swallows (every conceivable species except Cliff) and grackles. There were all sorts of woodpeckers, although the most glaring hole on our list was the missing Hairy Woodpecker -- there was not one to be seen.

There were a couple awesome looks at Wild Turkeys, including a big, beautiful (or so ugly, yet regal, that he was beautiful) male walking leisurely by the road at Point Pelee. We also had a chance sighting of a flock of Sandhill Cranes coming in to land while we were at the point. I'm sure it was my imagination, but they looked tired to me. That's a lot of gangly leg and neck to hold aloft across a Great Lake.

We had a really, really lovely trip. I'm very tired now, with a serious case of warbler neck from staring up into the canopy and snapping my head around everytime something flicked in the corner of my eye. My problem here is going to be that this year's trip is going to be hard to top, with our highest-ever total of 114 species for the four days. Luckily we didn't see the Yellow-Breasted Chat reported to be in a couple of the areas we were hiking in, which means he can be my target species for next year...

Friday, May 1, 2009

Friday Photo, and 100 posts!

Just sayin'. The fact that I've managed to keep this blog going impresses even me. Actually, I'm pretty easily impressed, but still. I am really pleased with the fact that I've really started keeping up the entries again. We'll see how it gets once I'm into the busy summer season again, but I'm feeling pretty good.

For today's photo, a pretty little moss having a party on the back lawn:

I am not one of those people who thinks a lawn should be perfectly even grass. The back of the lawn is more of a meadow, really. This moss is entirely welcome to stay.