Blog, flowers, gardening, gardens, Spring

Living In The Moment

Day 204

img_9647Yesterday was our warmest day of the year thus far. This morning the temps were a little cooler which made perfect walking weather.

The visual landscape around here is changing fast. Most of the azalea blooms are gone as well as the dogwood flowers and the native azaleas. We seem to have an abundance of rhododendron blooming this year. The irises continue to bloom but the spring flowering season is coming to a close. This morning I was greeted by a splendid white iris that had evidently bloomed. It was spectacular.

I love spring. It has to be my favorite season. I am always a little sad when the warm days and cool nights make way to hot days and equally hot nights. Right now we can still open the doors and windows, but with many more hot days, it will soon be time to close the house up and turn on the air conditioning.

We have a good start on our gardens. We have already had a salad out of our lettuce garden. It is so divine to have our own greens topped with the punch of flavor from fresh dill and cilantro. (Yes, I am one of those that love cilantro. Thankfully, so is hubby.)

I mentioned earlier that hubby raised our container garden. Last year we had so much rain and the ground was so saturated the garden could not drain. Our plants literally drowned.

Raising the garden was cumbersome. I told hubby I thought he over-engineered it which did not go over well. Sorry, but it was so heavy we almost could not turn it over. He basically attached legs of 4×4’s and put planks across the bottom, leaving spaces so the soil could drain. Then he covered it with landscape cloth to keep the dirt from falling through, then comes the soil and the mushroom compost then the planting. I asked him to keep the little ledge rather than even it up. Makes a good place to put pots and the watering can.

Friday we will go to the Asheville WNC Farmers Market for their annual Growing in the Mountains Plant Sale. This is where we usually find a nice array of native plants. We have a bad habit of buying more than we have room to plant, thus a lot of garden plants end up overflowing into individual pots.

Yesterday afternoon we went to help our friend unload his kiln after a 40+- hour soda ash firing. He is an amazing potter and the resulting work was beautiful. The community of artists in this area is inspiring.

Tonight we will go see our grandson at his final track meet of the season and next weekend we will drive to Charleston for our granddaughter’s piano recital.

It seems this retirement life is jam-packed full of things to do.

birds, Blog, gardens

Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows

Day 195

Today’s post is brought to you by the jukebox in my head, and Lesley Gore of course. Yesterday was a cool and breezy day, but today has the promise of being a bit warmer. Looking outside and seeing the sun made this song pop into my head.

Birds

We love to watch the birds at the feeder. It is a favorite pastime of our grandchildren as well. I use a very cool and easy-to-use app called Merlin Bird ID from Cornell Labs to identify birds and learn about their habitat and their behavior. The app also lets you share your findings which is nice!

The ruby-throated hummingbirds are back. Our first sighting was on the 14th. We see them off and on throughout the day now. They are already exhibiting their swooping behavior. This can either be a territorial or a mating display. The poor hummingbirds spend more energy defending their territory than they do eating.

At the feeder today:

  • Goldfinches galore (bright yellow now that spring is here)
  • White throated sparrow
  • Blue jay
  • Northern cardinal
  • Tufted titmouse
  • Carolina wren
  • White-breasted nuthatch
  • Chickadee
  • Eastern Towhee
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • Brown thrasher
  • Indigo Bunting

The Indigo Bunting is a rare sight for us. They winter in Central America and the blaze of blue flying through the trees is unmistakeable. Seeing this bird always makes me feel the presence of my sister and that makes me happy. She always had Indigo Buntings at her feeder.

Plans for the Day

Today I will get back outside. Hubby raised our raised garden to improve drainage. Today I will plant radishes, tomatoes, peppers, rosemary, cilantro and basil to kick things off. We still need more tomato plants. Tomatoes bought in the store have no flavor compared to tomatoes straight off the vine.

Oh, and I picked the only ripe strawberry off my small basket. It was delicious.

Blog, flowers, gardens, nature, Plants

How to Garden On a Rainy Day

Day 191

Today is overcast with intermittent rain. I love spring so much and love being outside and enjoying all the gifts of nature and working on our predominately natural landscape. The forecast for the weekend looks to be much of the same.

Last weekend we went up on the Blue Ridge Parkway to the Southern Highland Craft Guild to see art demonstrations by metal and glass artists. It was an interesting day. As we were preparing to leave, I went into the gift shop to browse for t-shirts. What caught my eye, however, was a book: Wildflowers & Plant Communities of the Southern Appalachian Mountains &Piedmont: a Naturalist‘s Guide to the Carolinas, Virginia, Tennessee, and Georgia by Timothy P. Spira. I thumbed through it and knew I needed to add it to my collection.

I have never met the author, but he is married to a relatively new friend of mine, Lisa, who authors the blog Natural Gardening. I have learned so much about the plants and trees native to this area through them. I am really enjoying trying to put my new knowledge to use.

Yesterday, I snapped some photos of new blooms which happens almost daily during this time of the year.

I also see non-native plants like this wisteria along the road where we walk each morning. Look at the size of the vines! The wisteria vines are completely taking over this native dogwood. You only need look around at the kudzu in this area to understand what non-native species can do to an environment.

So back to my original question. How do I garden on a rainy day? Well, I am making use of a wonderful book my sister-in-law gave us, The Naturalist’s Notebook, by Nathaniel T. Wheelwright & Bernd Heinrich, to document what is blooming and when. It is nice to know from year to year how things change.

(I am thinking about purchasing one of the new Polaroid instant cameras compatible with Zink instant peel and stick film so I can put photos directly into the book.)

Of course, as I am preparing to publish this blog, the sun is breaking through the clouds. I might get a little outdoor time today after all.

Blog, gardens, Spring, sunny day

Spring Gardening

Day 182

Today marks the halfway point of my goal to blog every day for a year. I thought there was no better way to celebrate this milestone than to share some photos of my day in and around the garden.

Gardening is hard work — especially after the winter we had. Our trees lost a lot of branches from some very heavy snow. Hubby had already cleared the large branches away. Today I cleared the smaller pieces and we have a 4′ high pile of broken limbs to deal with. I decided not to share photos of the hard part of the gardening so as not to discourage anyone. 😊

After the branches were gathered, I proceeded to scrape moss off our brick walkway. Last year was a very unusually wet year here (90+- inches of rain). The result was water standing for much longer periods of time. The moisture added to the shade from some large trees and overgrown bushes were the perfect environment for moss. We try not to use pesticides and weed killers so we can have a pollinator-friendly environment. I scraped until my arms gave out – more scraping later this week.

There is a lot of clean-up to accomplish after the winter months. Leaves to rake and raised gardens to clear and fortify with new material before planting. We do have one of our gardens planted with lettuce and spinach and broccoli. Soon new herbs and tomatoes will be planted and the growing season will be off to a good start.

I also noticed there were bees making use of our ‘bee house’. I could not see what type of bee but I did snap a picture of the house.

IMG_9250

My morning meditation had me in a funk. A good day outside in the sunshine and the dirt really helped change my outlook. It turned out to be a fantastic day.

Happy 6-month ‘blogiversary’ to me!

Blog, gardens, Plants

Tidbit Tuesday

Day 145

I don’t have a lot of energy tonight, so I thought I’d share some tidbits about my day. It was a great day and now I am ready to bring it to an easy close.

  • I had a relaxed morning reading short stories by a fellow blogger, Pete. Check out his works of fiction here: BeetleyPete.
  • Tomorrow I have a much needed appointment at the salon. A new cut and a new application of my blue and purple streaks in my hair. For those who do not know, blue and purple were my sisters’ favorite colors. When I see the color in my hair, I feel like they are still with me.
  • I have a crazy sinus headache tonight. My whole face hurts. Ugh.
  • Tonight, we went off our low fat diet and had a Thai food — Panang Curry is my favorite dinner-time comfort food.
  • My walk around the yard revealed a few more plants and trees coming alive. We are definitely on the cusp of spring:

That’s it for me.

“Good night, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are.”