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

Sunday, August 15, 2010

More Milkweed

Yesterday, I planted three pots of milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) into the meadow. These plants are the ones I rescued from a friend's vegetable garden. They were destined for the compost heap. (Thanks Beth and Lori.) After digging them up, I cut them back and potted them up keeping them watered. To these pots, I added some of the seedling wildflowers that I planted late last winter.

The milkweeds had long since recovered and were sending up new shoots. After finally getting some rain, I decided I could plant them in the meadow. I watered them in yesterday, and I'm happy to see it rained overnight and is overcast today--great for the newly planted milkweeds.

One of the milkweeds was planted near the old fence with winter in mind; the dried seedpods, especially covered with snow, should make an excellent picture with the lichens-covered fence. The other two are planted at the base of the hillside along the front road. There are power lines above so, I've decided to create more of a meadow there with some shorter shrubs and trees that will grow no higher than 12-15ft. so as not to interfere with the power lines.

Asclepias syriaca

Thursday, August 12, 2010

To be Continued (part two)

I felt pretty sure that the spider would not catch and eat the monarch caterpillar, but thought it was a possibility. I'm trying not to interfere with nature and did nothing to move or protect him.

Later, I went out to take more pictures and to check up on him. For a minute or two I didn't see either of them. Then I spotted one...and a bit later the second one resting comfortably on a leaf.

Here are the latest pictures:

We finally got some rain. This morning I woke up and it was still dark because of the overcast sky. I grabbed the camera and walked out to the butterfly weed. It had rained a little over night. Still groggy and not feeling fully awake, I searched until I finally spotted both larva and took pictures of them as they stayed out of the rain by hanging out upside down on the underside of a leaf.

Later it began to rain again, and we had a slow steady rain most of the day. It was much needed.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

To be Continued

I Swear They Doubled in Size Overnight

I went out to take check on the cats (caterpillars) and take more pictures. I swear they doubled in size. The one has to be at least an inch now.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Monarch Caterpillars!

Apparently today was not the first day that the monarchs had been here. While going back to check out the seedpods, I spotted a little monarch caterpillar on the flower buds! I'm elated! This is a first for me, and I thought I'd have to wait until next year for this to happen.

When I went back to take pictures, I noticed a second one too. The first is a little over half an inch, the second just a little bigger. I'm not sure how long it takes from egg to larva, but they have to have been there for a while now.

No Rain

It has been quite a while since we've had rain. The soil we have tends to be moist and well drained. It has dried out a good bit in the past few weeks.

I came inside because it was beginning to drizzle, but unfortuately that was all we got a few drops. Hopefully more will come later on...if not, looks like we have to wait a day or two more.

Butterfly Weed Seedpods

My butterfly weed is starting to make seedpods. The largest one had lots of flowers but no seedpods for the longest time. The one beside it already has a huge, nearly mature seedpod and lots of others approaching maturity.

Now I'm starting to see some seedpods on the largest one. The picture shows how fuzzy/furry it is. I didn't even realize. I'm gonna have to go back out and touch it.

I'm looking forward to collecting more seed and planting them for next year. So far I only have four mature plants. Only three of the five that I bought the first year survived. They were tiny, single stemmed plants and now are very full. I bought another one this spring in a gallon pot and planted one that I grew from seed. Next year, I'm hoping to have tons more to plant.


Today, after telling everyone on Wildlife Gardeners forum that I hadn't seen any monarch butterflies yet this year, I went outside and what did I see? Two monarchs. Not both at the same time, but definitely two different ones, unless the one I saw somehow flew ahead of me without my noticing.

Here is the first one I saw visiting my butterfly weed--which is still blooming--'though not as fully as before. It seems to be sending up a few more flowerbuds from the stems, so hopefully it will provide nectar (and beauty) for a while longer.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Polytrichum, I Think

Yesterday while visiting with friends, I mentioned that I liked the mat-forming moss by their back steps. My friend told me that he has repeated tried killing it but it kept coming back. He offered it to me to take home, and since he plans to kill it or put a deck over it, I agreed to take it.

Before posting this I had to find out what it was called. I believe it is a haircap moss (Polytrichum sp.). I'd love to see huge mats of it incorporated into the landscape--a natural ground cover and no need to mulch.

I put it in the ground but it will have to fill in and spread out more before it looks as good as it did at their cabin.

Thanks again, Dana.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Too Many Rock Pictures?

I'm actually blogging a lot after a bit of a dry spell. Today I moved those two rocks a bit more into place. I still have to decide exactly where I want them to stay, then dig them into the ground a little.

I'm posting more pictures because they will act as "before" and "during" pictures when I finally have some "after" pics. Things are slowly falling into place. Each step forward allows me to visualize what the final product will be.

Updated 8-7-2010: I guess it would help if I remembered to add the pictures! Here they are:

The flat rock will be dug into the ground laying horizontally (almost as pictured) creating a natural terrace. I think it looks better than just lying on the surface following the slant of the hill as it was before I moved it.


I had another pleasant surprise today. It was a comfortably cool evening and while walking my paths, I stopped at the hazelnut shrub. This is its third summer in the ground here--but was probably a 3 year old seedling when I put it in (if memory serves). As I was checking out the new growth where the deer had trimmed it back a little, I notice what I quickly realized seem to be the nuts starting to form! I knew that it bloomed in the spring, but I only saw the male catkins and no female flowers, so I was shocked to see the nuts! I'm thrilled. I hope I get to taste them before the wildlife gets them, but if they get them first it is okay, that is one big reason why I planted them anyway.

Sorry for the dark pictures, the sun had just about set.

Every Day a New Surprise

I opened the front door, started opening the screen door, and stopped as soon as I saw a very large toad sitting on the edge of the sidewalk. I ran for the camera and she (I'm guessing a female full of eggs) just sat there as I took picture after picture.

Moving Rocks-Boulders?

Hmm...I guess I should pull out Webster's to see what the difference is between a rock, stone, and boulder, but I'm taking this time to make a post instead.

A couple of days ago, I spent two days moving two very large rocks--uphill! I found that by using a lever bar and placing cinder blocks underneath, I was able to move it somewhat "easily" (really rather difficult, slow moving, and requiring a lot of muscle.). After moving the heavier of the two (the large flat one) a few feet, I left it propped on the cinder blocks and decided to tackle it again the next day.

Remembering how much I struggled the day before, the second day I decided I should just hit it with a sledge hammer--something I apparently don't have. I thought breaking it into two or three rocks would allow me to move it more easily and I'd bury the rough edges, but instead, I took two hammers down and got the idea to try to split it along a crack. Using one hammer's claws as a wedge, I hit it at different points until I took off a thin, yet still heavy layer of rock. Because it had a slight depression that will collect water, I carried it up the hill to use in the streambed/glorified birdbath.

Although I did take pictures to document prying the layer off, they were lost due to a problem with my memory card. This is after the layer was removed...unfortunately I was not able to remove a second layer.

The thin layer with the depression now at the top of the hill.

After taking off the maybe 50 lb. layer, the rock seemed to move a little easier. I moved it a bit more, then, deciding I needed to flip it over, I asked Jeff to help me...again. Thanks to my blog, I found out we flipped it over the first time on May 1st: "With the first two rocks, we only got them out of the ground and flipped over. They are ready to be moved into place the next time I get the urge." ...Boy, it took a long time to get the urge again!


I found moving the second rock, labeled B in the photos a lot easier than the large flatter one (A). "C" was moved into place back in May. "B" is barely visible in the before picture.

A view from above shows that the rock (B) is now visible from above--including the living room window. This helps tie in the (planned) upper pool to the (planned) streambed and pond.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Another Encounter in the Yard

I spotted this interesting, colorful bug while trying to take a picture of the early goldenrod. I lucked out to get this shot!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Update on the Bluebirds Second Brood

I am such a procrastinator. I'm guessing it was two weeks ago, I went out walking the paths. Something seemed different, quiet or something. I got the impression that the bluebird babies had fledged. I peeked in and sure enough the nest was empty.

As happened with the first brood, while I was walking the path near the woodland's edge. The parent birds seemed agitated. I believe the babies were hiding and I was getting a bit too close for mom and dad's comfort.

I'm late in relaying the story, and late in providing pics. Some may be repeats, but here are what I came across while searching my pics today:

Rough Ideas for Pond/Streambed

The underside of this rock (shown) has some depressions in it that seem perfect for running water. Originally I liked the weathered look of the top surface, but feel it is best to use this side instead.

I found this rock last year and immediately decided it may be great for the pond. A friend or ours is supposed to cut the bolt for me--I just found out today. Thanks, Justin! ~smile~

I'm hoping to use tubing connected to the hole in the rock and then disguise it with other rocks. I'm hoping it will look like a spring or an underground stream if I can set it up right--as if the water has dried up in the upper part of the stream but still flowing underneath the surface rocks.

Here I decided to try a rough idea of what it may look like. I will definitely be tweaking it. Of course, I have to dig down, put the liner down, then place the rocks appropriately. I'll be adding more rocks including smaller stones and small rounded gravel--all found on our property! ~smile~

I can see by the pictures and by looking out the window, that I need some areas for the eye to rest. I plan to make rock groupings with some spaces between them to make it look more natural and less cluttered. This is not an overnight project.

Here is the rock I dragged across half the yard (well, not quite half). The side shown on the cardboard (in an earlier post) is the flat bottom of the rock. Again the weathered side of this one is not best for the stream, either. I like the rounded look and the depression at the top for water to collect. I think I will spin it around, but I just didn't have the energy once I put if (very) roughly in place.