Monday, March 30, 2009

Wildlife in the City Revisited

Nancy, at Gardening Gone Wild has done her summary post on wildlife in the garden.  I decided to go ahead and post a review of wildlife we have in our yard, and my thoughts and some questions before reading the posts I haven't read yet.  The pics were taken in March 2009 unless stated otherwise.

When I saw this robin tugging on the worm, I ran in and got my camera, and got out in time to catch it eating.

I am so excited to see the robins back, I included this, too.  I have already posted pics of cardinals.  We also have blue jays and woodpeckers, and an occasional hummingbird.

I was tickled to see the dove pair together on our shed.  They are shy, so I took this out of the window.  I did some adjustments to it to be able to see the doves a little better.

We have seen some grackles, but I can't remember if they are around a lot in the summer.

I have a few books on gardening with butterflies and other wildlife in mind, but rarely get more than a few pages read at a time, especially now that I'm blogging.  I remember reading about having brush piles for shelter.  What I'm not sure about, is how much this pile needs to be left alone.  This pile, near the compost pile, has either been blown by the wind, or moved by some critter or other.  I moved some back, and stepped on it lightly to secure it better, and that made me hope nothing was in it already.

This pile of sticks is in the neighbor's yard where I just started gardening.  I plan on moving these to the back of the yard, close to the compost I've started there.  Is this better than the smaller sized stems in the other pile?  Should I add some smaller stems?

Nancy mentioned that she quit feeding the birds when it got too expensive, but she noticed they were still around eating on the seed heads. In the 10 years we've lived here, we've been inconsistent in putting out bird seeds in the winter.  We never feed them in the summer.  Since I saw all the great bird pics here, I decided to ask Larry to get our feeders out and fill them.  We've had them in different places, trying to discourage the squirrels, or to save the flowers in one of my beds.  We gave up on the squirrel battle, and just have most of them in the carport.  We are inconsistent in keeping them filled. I'm thinking that's good, so they don't come to depend on it. Like Nancy, and others whose blogs I've read, I leave the flower bed clean up to spring.  I grow black eyed Susans, cone flowers, and a large variety of annuals and perennials.

This sparrow was talking to me as I was taking its picture.  I think it was telling me I forgot to put water in the bird bath Larry made with a clay pot and saucer.  The rocks are in it for butterflies to land on.  We try to keep fresh water in it and our two regular sized bird baths once the weather warms up.  

This was taken in January.  We have sparrows all year here.  

I recently bought some safflower seeds because doves are supposed to like them, and the squirrels supposedly don't eat them.  Larry layered them with sunflower seeds.  I didn't know he was going to do that.

We have some bird houses hanging around, but need to learn where to put them in order for the birds to consider using them.  

A sparrow couple has been building their nest and having babies right outside our bedroom window, next to our window air conditioner for several years.  Last year, Larry put some clay pots in the space, thinking he was blocking them from the area, but they made the nest right in there.  They probably are disappointed the pots aren't there this year.  I open the shade, knock on the window, turn a radio on loud, and when it's warm enough, the air conditioner, but they are not dissuaded from nesting there. When the babies are born, they wake us up before we are ready to get up.  :o(

Larry likes to set things around to decorate the yard and beds.  He puts broken pots here and there.  We haven't seen any critters in them, but they would be welcome.  (I will be moving the bench when the black eyed Susan needs the room.)

I noticed this today, and asked Larry if it was for critters, and he said it was if they wanted it. Maybe one of our garter snakes would like to curl up in it.

Last summer, I got interested in taking pictures of butterflies and moths and identifying what kind they were.  I put some of them in my sidebar.  I also learned about the caterpillars on my plants, and asked questions of the people on the butterfly and cottage garden forums on ivillage.  I was assured that the caterpillars were not going to kill the plants, so I left them alone.  I learned which plants I have that are host plants for the "cats" and decided I should add some more this year.  I am planning to plant lots of parsley this year for the swallowtails.  I read that it's good to plant host plants in groups rather than scattering them around.  I already had planted lots of plants that the butterflies like for nectar, such as lantana, verbena, butterfly bush, which some don't like because it's not native, marigolds, goldenrod, and asters. I saw them on most of the flowers, actually, but these, I remember the most being fed from.  

We have lots of bees and wasps, as well.  As I mentioned in my first post, we also had an opossum family living under our deck last year, and have an assortment of spiders and other insects, rabbits, and lots of garter snakes.  We live a block from a cemetery, where there is a flock of geese we see flying overhead sometimes.  They also have swans in their pond.  I bet there are other critters that live there, too.  

I like what I've read about living and letting live, and am rethinking whether I want to feed the birds and squirrels.  I do use Liquid Fence to keep the rabbits at bay.  They still eat plants, but it causes them to stay away awhile.  I'm glad we don't have deer!

Now, I am excited to find the other posts to see how others coexist with, encourage or discourage wildlife.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


I accidentally started writing before posting my pics, and haven't figured out if there is a way to cut and paste while writing a post, so be sure to scroll down to read about my feelings about squirrels, and find the link to Nancy's blog where you'll discover more blogs about wildlife in the garden.  All of the pics on this post were taken today.

The first three photos are of the squirrel that is all one color in the back yard.  They were taken through the window in the back door.

I walked to the front yard in the street, and when I saw the squirrel with the light colored tummy, I went and sat on the neighbor's porch, and used my zoom to get these pics.  The squirrel looked at me, and decided I wasn't getting up to bug her, so she went ahead and ate off the corn in the feeder.  Isn't that quite the look?

Nancy, at Gardening Gone Wild, has been hosting Garden Bloggers' Design Workshops on a variety of topics. Since I have only been blogging since October, and all of my iphotos were lost when switching computers a year or so ago, I haven't joined in on them. The current one is called, "Wildlife in the Garden." She has some great questions for garden bloggers to think about and answer. I have some posts that I've labeled, "Wildlife in the Corner Garden" in my sidebar, where you can click to see what I've already posted. The bottom posts there are more directly about wildlife.  Here is a link to the first one, called, "Wildlife in the City", which you can click on if you don't want to scroll down the others I've put there.  I also have butterflies and such posted in the sidebar.

I am still exploring how to live with the critters, and want to answer some of Nancy's questions and ask some of my own. After exporting a whole bunch of photos this afternoon, I decided to make this a several parter, and as you can see, I focussed on squirrels today. 

When I first posted about squirrels, I was unhappy with a neighbor for feeding corn to them. I considered them enemies, because they dig up flowers in my pots and in the ground.  They eat a few bites out of the tomatoes just as they have ripened, and then toss them around.  When my neighbor friends and I strung popcorn one winter day, to feed the birds, I refused to put mine out, because I figured the squirrels would eat it.

Shortly after I told Larry I wondered if the squirrels would dig less if we fed them, he went ahead and started putting bread crumbs and such out for them.  He also got a corn feeder in hopes they wouldn't eat so much food from the bird feeders.  Time will tell about the digging. They've already dug out some of my onions, unless it was birds or a cat.

I think I asked this before, but if you want to add your experiences with squirrels or strategies for dealing with them, post a comment.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

SkyWatch Friday 3/27/09

One of the perks of gardening at the neighbor's across the street, is that I can go over there and take pictures.  I ended up not choosing the ones I took of the things in the yard, but the first 3 were taken from there.  They were taken today within a couple minutes of each other, so got different perspectives of the sky.

The next pic is a closer view of the area in the right of the first one.  

This is even closer.  The dove was patient with  me taking pics.

I was able to get more details of the eagle wind gauge. 

C lick here to see more skies from all over the world, or find out how to post yours.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Yard Walks from Yesterday and Today

When Heidi hears me tell Larry I'm going for a "yard walk" or ask if he wants to join me, she is always ready, assuming I will take her, too.  Once things start to grow, I go out every day to see what is going on.  When the time comes that there may be some weeding, trimming, or dead heading to do, I have my garden scissors and a bucket with me, so that I can take care of things as I notice them.  If I have just a little time, I do a little.  By being out every day, things don't get out of hand, and I keep it fun,  just doing what I have the time and/0r energy to do.  When it gets hot, and things are at a peak, I do get behind, but I still do the yard walks, and do what I can.  I also focus on certain areas as needed at a different time from the walk.

Here are some of the pics from the last couple day's yard walks.  If you want to see details, they will enlarge when clicked on.

This is the bed we started last June.  The mini blind tags are helping me figure out what is coming up, and where the plants that come up later are.

Here's the new bed from the house.  There is a circle of pink tulips that poked through just when I thought they were not going to.  The bed was supposed to be for large growing annuals, but somehow more and more perennials kept getting planted there.

Dutch Iris about to bloom:

Does anyone know what these are?

This daffodil is in the planter in front of the house.

I think this is a pansy that stowed away in a 6 pack of violas.

The narrow part of the bed was just put in last year.  I had planned on putting more plants in, because the geraniums didn't spread as much as I thought they would, but I need to wait, because we received notice our streets are going to be resurfaced, and the curbs may be replaced.  I need to call the number they gave us to see if they know when, and how far in I need to remove plants.

Bed on the east side of the sidewalk:

 Hyacinths from the previous bed:

West side of sidewalk:

East side of house:

Across driveway, still on east side of yard, in front of veggie garden:

A messy area near the compost pile in the veggie garden, complete with garlic that needs thinning, hollyhock seedlings, leaves, and blooming henbit:

Aerie-el from Gardener's Roost posted a walk around her place, and asked how our gardens grow, which is what inspired me to go ahead and post about my yard walks.  If you click on her blog name, you'll get to it.  It's the one that starts out talking about rain.

Wordless Wednesday 3/25/09

Monday, March 23, 2009

Finally Found Some Hellebores, Had to Pick One Due to Price

I've called a few places looking for hellebores, but haven't found any.  A locally owned garden center opened today.  I called before going to see if they had any, but when I got there, they were not officially put out for sale yet.  The woman I talked to on the phone took me to a greenhouse that is not open to the public- oops, I wasn't supposed to tell anyone.  There were several kinds, and I liked them all.  The lady was so patient with me as I was trying to pick one, after finding out they were $19.50, so couldn't afford more.  First, I was trying to pick my favorite flower, then, since it was going to cost so much, I picked one that had more plants in it, and had great looking foliage as well as flowers.

Isn't it pretty?

Our grandson has access to the area I was originally hoping to plant some hellebores, but after finding out they are poisonous, I found a different place, where there is room for only 2 or 3.  I was a bit concerned about planting this here on the south side of the house, because the tree that shades the area is not leafed out yet.  I found a great site,, where I found that while hellebores can grow in the shade, they also like some sun.  

I will try to get some single flowered ones during a plant sale the end of April, but I imagine they won't bloom any more this season.  I hope this one puts out a few more blooms  this year. 

What a glorious spring this is turning out to be!