Sunday, July 13, 2008

Kinky Bugs!

I took a picture of a pretty flower in my garden:

Afterwards when I was looking at it on my computer, I noticed a funny looking bug on the flower, so I zoomed in to get a better look. No wonder it looked funny!!! I can't say I have seen a menage a trois with bugs before:

Hummingbird Garden

Obviously the more room you have for flowers and plants, the better your chances for attracting hummingbirds and birds to your garden. But just because you might only have a small yard doesn't mean you can't do anything. Here's a small brick planter we built in the easement between our sidewalk and the street. It's about 4' across (give or take). I've planted it with daylilies and annual plants (this year Salvia Lady in Red and Cleome - spider flower). These plants provide nectar for the hummingbirds, as well as spiders (did you know hummingbirds use spider webs to build their nests???) and insects (hummingbirds eat lots of insects!). Later in the summer and fall those plants that I don't deadhead will provide seeds for lots of other birds.

Last year the hummingbirds visited this area twice daily, like clockwork. Work with what you have!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Got Milkweed???

Milkweed is a vastly undervalued plant in the landscape. People just think it is a weed (perhaps because of its common name...). In fact, though, this prairie native has beautiful flowers and can be quite statuesque. Most important though, it belongs to the ONLY host family of plants for monarch caterpillars. A good number of pollinators spend time on the milkweed (which probably also scares people off, but shouldn't!).

Look at this gorgeous flower!!! Can't you find room for a few milkweed plants in your garden???

Sunday, July 6, 2008

My Own Little Jungle Corner

I really love this picture, though I am not quite sure why. I think it is because it makes my yard look so lush and jungle like. In fact, that's just an optical illusion of the zoom lens plus me kneeling down to get the shot at ground level.

This is just my swiss chard (which is at the edge of my vegetable garden) silhouetted against my corner perennial bed (which includes monarda fistulosa about to bloom, prairie coreopsis, and catmint (plus a few weeds here and there).

It's just a striking color combination with all that greenery and the two goldfinches perched there checking out the plants. Didn't see two? Look closer, there's a male goldfinch in the center and a female in the top right corner.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Before and After - Western Border

I have a confession to make...

Unfortunately I am terrible about taking "before" pictures. I guess nobody really likes showing their yard when it isn't at its best.

On the other hand,I love looking at other people's before and after pictures. Gives me hope that my yard will look like their "afters" someday. Well, I figured it's about time I put some of my own up and gave back to gardeners of the world!

Here's my western border showing before and after. There's a few years between the pictures. Last year my neighbor's weed killer had some drift into this bed, so I am very relieved that it has come back so strongly. That's my neighbor's yard behind this bed. I am taking the picture from inside my own yard.

In this bed I have ornamental grasses (seeds for the birds, winter interest), coreopsis (nectar for butterflies, seeds for birds), baptisia (fixes nitrogen in the soil, nectar, seeds, cool pods for four season interest - make a noise like mariachis!), holly (berries for birds, winter cover when it gets larger), a dwarf evergreen (seeds for birds, winter cover), sedum (nectar for butterflies), forsythia and lilac (early nectar for birds and bees). It's coming together really nicely and I am very pleased with its progress.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Raccoons Come a Visiting

Well, I have been too busy gardening to update this blog, but that doesn't mean I haven't been working on my backyard habitat.

Why are people so quick to want to give Mother Nature the boot? When I (rarely) tell people about the raccoons that have taken up residence beneath our porch, most people immediately leap to fear and disgust and worry about them getting into our house and wreaking havoc. While I don't go out of my way to make friends with the raccoons (I am not deliberately feeding them or trying to pet them, for instance), in reality, most wildlife can live quite peacefully with humans if we would just leave them alone.

This cute little visitor came to our window to peer in, but that's all he was doing. We had a nest of these last year too and they were no trouble at all. They are beneath the concrete porch and other than digging a hole to get under there, they are doing no harm at all. My kitty is none too sure she likes them, but heck, that's why she stays indoors!

Come on, how can you resist those faces???