A Few Treasures From My Garden

I must confess, my wall gets a little untidy by about mid-June. Between the So. Ohio heat, my new WIP, and my summer job at the bakery, the weeds grow up faster than I have time to pull them.

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Unlike my writing, my approach to gardening is rather haphazard — no rhyme or reason, I just plant what I like. At the top of the list are cone flowers…

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And day lilies!

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These black-eyed Susans seem to have planted themselves!

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Here is a pic of my bottle garden, which I had to move to the middle of the yard, since my chocolate mint took over the corner where they used to live.

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That’s all for today. Hope your day is filled with happy thoughts, sunshine, and lots of flowers!

Empty Nest

A couple of days ago I went out to check on my peony bushes. A friend of mine back in NY let me dig them out of her yard two springs ago and they have come up faithfully every year but never blossomed. I was delighted when I saw one gorgeous white blossom on each of them. I wish this was a happy post celebrating the long awaited peony blossoms. It’s not.

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A little to the right, I noticed a large, brown-black feather lying beneath my new birdhouse. A few inches away, some smaller, blue and white feathers. And next to them, five small, white swallow eggs.

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I have had this happen before, but it never fails to disappoint me. Everything seemed to be going so well. I was looking forward to the peeps of tiny tree swallow chicks in a couple of weeks. Now all that’s left is a pile of broken shells.

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I have had raccoons tear the door off a nest box to get at the eggs. I have known cats to climb up a post and fish inside a box with their paws. I have seen house sparrows literally throw day-old baby blue birds out of a nest box.

But this one, I can’t quite figure out.

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Judging from the two different types of feathers, there was obviously a scuffle. The black feather is probably six inches long. Any bird large enough to have that sized feathers would be much too big to try and claim the birdhouse, or to squeeze inside  and get at the eggs. I suppose it’s possible the mother threw them out for some reason I can’t fathom.

In any case, I’m left with dashed hopes, an empty nest, and a lot of unanswered questions. Fellow birders, I welcome your thoughts…

Update on Mama Swallow

I thought I’d post a little update on the tree swallow I saw hanging around my new birdhouse a few weeks ago. It looks like she has decided to stay. She and her “significant other” spent a few days alternately carrying nesting materials into the house and keeping a sharp eye on it from the electric lines above. For the past couple of days she has been pretty much staying inside, so I am guessing she has laid her eggs now. This makes me so happy!

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I know it’s just a tree swallow, but I’m birdcrazy. Always have been. Gorgeous or plain, big or small, I love them all. And I have always enjoyed these little birds, with their snappy blue tuxedos flashing in the sunshine, their stunning acrobatics. They eat their weight in mosquitos, and that alone makes them welcome in my yard!

One summer I had the joy of watching a clutch of baby wrens leave the nest box. It was incredible! I’m hoping it will happen that way with my swallow babies. I will post pictures if I’m fortunate enough to see it .

Leo’s Garden

I spent four hours working in my yard today. There’s something so soul-satisfying about puttering in my flower beds. I think it’s always been that way with people, ever since the beginning of time, when God entrusted Adam and Eve with the care of the Garden of Eden.

When I moved here, my backyard was a blank canvas and I didn’t even know where to start. I’d put so much time and effort into my gardens back home that I didn’t know if I had the heart to start again in a new, empty yard. So the first summer, I did little more than mow it.

That winter, I lost my toy poodle, Leo. It was a devastating loss. I loved that dog. My sister and brother-in-law came over and helped me bury him in the back yard, bringing along a lovely little grave marker.

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That spring I planted a few daffodils on Leo’s grave.

And that was how I started.

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Later that summer I went home to New York for a visit and brought back Prairie flowers and Heliopsis from friends’ gardens.

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The next summer friends from my church in Ohio gave me lilies and hostas. I noticed a gorgeous plot of butterfly weed in a friend’s garden and we went on a scavenger hunt down country roads until I found a nice batch to dig up and transplant in my own yard. This summer I will be super excited to add these wildflowers my sister brought me from her trip to the Badlands.

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Today as I cleaned out Leo’s flower bed, I was struck by how much the little garden means to me. Not only is it the final resting place of my dear little friend, it is a place where I remember other friends each time I look at the gifts of flowers they have given me.

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Bird Crazy

I love birds, don’t you?

Back in Western New York, I live on five wooded acres, complete with a creek that ran all the way to the Genesee River. It was a gateway for nature, and my world was filled with birds. I liked to sit on my back deck and watch them fishing for their supper in the creek: Blue Herons, Kingfishers, even an occasional owl. I bought a bird book to help me identify some of the gorgeous, colorful birds I was seeing. I put up nest boxes and had the joy of watching dozens of clutches of bluebirds hatch and fledge.

When I moved out of state and bought a little cottage in town, I really missed my birds. I put up feeders and filled them with good quality seed. I soon had cardinals and finches and bluejays, but how I missed the cedar waxwings and the indigo buntings and the bluebirds.

After a couple of years I started to really notice the robins building nests in my apple tree. I noticed the wrens with their delightful, trilling songs. I noticed the graceful flights of tree swallows as they danced through the sky as if with fairy wings. I bought a handmade birdhouse at a flee market and planted a little garden spot.

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To my utter amazement, it attracted a blue bird!

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Unfortunately, she abandoned it after the first hard rain, so I knew my flee market find must have structural issues! Last week I bought a cute bluebird house. I took down the flee market bird house and put up the new one.

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We had an unexpected April snowfall in the night, and this morning I looked out to see that this little tree swallow had staked a claim! Not a bluebird, but still, I hope she’ll stay. I’m learning to appreciate even the common, everyday birds, and I’m looking forward to a good season of birding, no matter what kind of bird babies they are!