Just the back yard!? Nah, I want the front and side yards landscaped in natives too.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Our Four Newest Members

We went to a local community festival today, and were surprised and thrilled to find a booth of native plants. I was happy to run into a woman there that I'd met my first year here. It was so nice to find someone with a similar interest who also ran a native plant sale. I think I've been recruited to help weed and help out at the native garden they have displayed for the public. I've often thought that I should join a local group of native gardeners, this is the first step.

Thanks to the sale, we now have four new foundlings...baby wild ginger (with only one true leaf each), obedient plant, great blue Lobelia (not a favorite, but it is a valuable addition...'though I was hoping it was cardinal flower), and a Monarda didyma--and I'm proud to say they are all in the ground and watered!

While searching for the botanical name of the wild ginger, I found another common name for it that I'd never heard: little brown jugs. Named for the flower, I'm sure.

Monarda didyma
Physostegia virginiana
Lobelia siphilitica
Asarum canadense

Bluebird's Second Brood

The Phoebes are at It Again

The phoebes are raising their second brood this year!

Maybe I have more time to watch lately, because I now see both of them, early spring, I never noticed that the male was helping out.

Snake in the Grass

Snakes and I have an understanding...they go one way and I go the other. I'm fine with that. They are a part of the environment. They were here before I made any changes to the property. The day we had our home inspection before buying the house, the home inspector grabbed a garter snake near the back steps and tossed it into the lawn.

This is the first time in 2 1/2 years that the snake turned to leave, went a short distance, and then froze...maybe that was because I followed it with my camera. This was the best shot I got...then, as per our deal, I went the other way. :)

common garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis)

Friday, June 25, 2010


Butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa):


...It's making me wait...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Yesterday's Walk: Wildlife Encounters

Yesterday, I went for a 2 mile walk that turned into a 3-4 mile walk. I live in a fairly country setting, but the road is a bit too busy for me--and a bit narrow for walking. I was surprised at all the wildlife I encountered that day.

It began when I heard an odd croaking caw, behind me that I assumed was a crow--when I turned to look I spotted, to my surprise, a blue heron flying along the stream which flows below a steep bank on the opposite side of the road. I love blue herons and have spotted several in the past week, but none near here and so close. When I turned he seemed to quickly shut up and just flew silently ahead of me.

That would have been enough to make my day, but there is more. Aside from a songbird or two along the way, in a water filled ditch along the shoulder (of another road) I spotted salamander larvae! At first glance I thought they might be tadpoles, but upon further examination I was thrilled to realize that they were baby salamanders! ~smile~

I took pictures with my cell phone, not the best pictures, but at least you can make them out. I'm estimating there must have been at least 50...about 30 can be seen in the picture (I counted the other day).

On my way back home, back on the somewhat busy road on which I live, the stream was now below me on my left. I can glimpse it through the trees. At one point I heard what sounded like someone wading through the water. I looked back and down, and through the trees I thought at first I saw two people wading through the stream-- until they darted out of the water and up the bank did I see them clearly--two deer!

It was an amazing walk! There is a variety of wildlife within a mile or so of my property, and likely on my property. The more improvements I make to our land the more we will see close up!

And to prove my point, upon returning home, I walked my paths and spotted several birds...but, what caught my attention was what I at first assumed was a monarch butterfly in the grass sunning itself. I was able to get several pictures each one closer than the one before. It seemed to me that it must have been exhausted because it didn't fly off as I approached. After getting some pretty good shots (with my cell phone), the sun started shining more brightly and that was just the boost it needed to take off and get away from this towering being getting ever closer to it.

Thinking of posting here that I spotted my first monarch butterfly gave me a nagging feeling that I may have misidentified it--so I searched the web for "Monarch look alike" and found that I was right--it was the viceroy.

Monarch larvae eat milkweed plants which gives them a bitter taste to any bird that wants to make a meal of it. The unpleasant taste of these orange and black butterflies leaves quite an impression on the bird; it will avoid eating them again in the future. The viceroy does not have that same bitter taste, but benefits from looking like the monarch--it is less likely to become a meal to a bird that has had previously tasted a monarch.

Anyway, it was a good walk and a great day for spotting local wildlife. And it is encouraging to think that the more habitat we provide the more we can view up close in our own yard.

Where I spotted the deer:

Back in my own yard:

New Look

I finally got around to post something, and when signing in Blogger offered new options for my blog. I choose this as my new look--at least until I find something else I like better.

Friday, June 11, 2010

My Progress

I got home from work early today--today is the first day of my summer vacation! ~big smile~ So, I had more energy to get things done. It started, as so many of my projects do, by walking the paths. The bank near the road is overgrown with an invasive perennial. My first year here, I planted a few natives on that hillside. The second year here, is when this invasive took off.

It has rained quite a bit a day or so ago, so the soil was pretty loose. My mother often weeded after a rain. I found that the weeds came out pretty easily. I weeded around my pasture rose and the asters that I put in last year. The few patches of asters seemed to compete pretty well and kept the weeds pretty much at bay. So, I am trying to help the natives outcompete them. Also, I'll add more natives to keep more weeds from germinating.

In the process I uncovered a lot of the rocks I've had my eye on from the first year.

Among the sumac growing there are the asters and a small Viburnum that I put in the first year. While weeding, I decided to use the weeds themselves to shade out and smother anything that comes up from the roots.

...and I hauled out some more rocks for the water feature I want to add.

Making Progress

I checked out the nestbox again today. The bluebird pair is making progress on their second nest. I'm so glad they came back!

I think I've read that sometimes the young birds from the first brood help their parents with feeding the new nestlings. I can't be sure that I didn't just make that up! ~smile~ ...but, I hope I'm right--it would be so cool to see them and know that they survived.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

They're Back

I checked out the nestbox and spotted the beginnings of a nest. The bluebird pair is back (or, perhaps it is another pair, but I'm assuming it is our resident pair). It is a good feeling. It took them a while to come back, but I'm sure they needed a rest!

A little later, I spotted them flying to the power lines. I only got one clear picture of the male.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

More Flowers

After the snails, bugs, and slugs post, I thought I'd post some things that are more traditionally considered beautiful:

Other Visitors to the Yard