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

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

First of Many More

With the warm weather, I've not noticed much bird activity where I've been feeding the birds. I did bring in some branches closer to the house for them to perch on (and give me a better chance of a good photo.

The other day, I spotted some a chickadee, nuthatch, titmouse, and junco coming for the black oil sunflower seeds I've been putting out. I took several pictures through the window, but only ended up with one good one of the titmouse (above).

Hopefully this is only the first of many more photos. :)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Second Batch are in Now Too

Look how root-bound they are.

I did get the second batch of first-year seedlings planted on Friday, but I didn't get a chance to post about it until today. Mostly I planted the wildflowers near the boulder again, but I did add a few near the sun porch and some near the front landscaping.

I decided to sprinkle a lot of the seeds from the daisy fleabane (Erigeron sp.) throughout the bare soil between the new plants. Hopefully they will help out compete any weed seeds and bring some additional beauty (and nectar) to the area. I also raked a light layer of mower-mulched leaves and grass clippings on top of them.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

One Down, One to Go

I guess I only needed the right combination of time off, a sunny day, and some motivation to finally get the wildflowers I grew from seed into the ground. Who would've ever guessed it would be on Thanksgiving Day. :)

I found it easier to plant most of them near my pride and joy, the huge boulder. I'd been removing soil on the one side to expose more of the rock face, so digging down a bit more gave me a fairly blank canvas...except for some roots I didn't take the time to remove...and who knows how many weed seeds I probably exposed. At least the wildflowers have a head start and I'll have something to weed around if things do compete with them. Mostly, I planted the Penstemon digitalis near the rock; I tried to pull out the *tiny* meadow rue and planted them in a couple more appropriate places, but some of them were entangled with the Penstemon, so I let them go...along with the New England aster which, I'll try to transplant to a more appropriate spot next spring. Maybe this will teach me to plant each species of seed together instead of throwing them all in together--guess I'll have to wait until *next* year when I collect, as I've already mixed them all again this year.

Luckily it is in the high 50s today and it is supposed to be 60 tomorrow. I'm also lucky we are in the area this year and didn't have to cook either. I only wish I had thought to put on a pair of old jeans before I found myself kneeling in the dirt. I never know when the mood will hit and don't always think about what I'm wearing.

I'm not a good example, and I don't recommend to anyone to put off planting their seedlings like I did this year, but I do think as long as the ground is not frozen, the plants do continue to make roots, so hopefully they'll set even a little bit of roots into their new location. If not, they should still be fine. :)

Oh well, I'm thrilled to have half of them planted with plans to do the other half tomorrow. Dinner is at 3:00 today, so I'm going to have to stop now. We have another dinner with friends tomorrow at 3:00, so I'd better get up early and do some more--gotta remember to put on some work clothes next time.

Happy Thanksgiving. :)

tall meadow rue, Thalictrum dioicum, (I think)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

While Weeding

I finally got around to cutting down the mugwort--well, some of it anyway--today. Almost two months ago, I started the process, but too many other things were going on...and if we weren't gone for the weekend, it would be raining. So, with a beautiful, sunny November day with highs around 60, I finally got motivated, grabbed the sickle, and started attacking the drying stands of mugwort. I can't believe I let it go to seed, but I hope to either burn the seed heads or cover them with a thick layer of wood chips and hope they rot.

(There is not a huge difference, since I left the goldenrod seed heads for the birds, but if you notice the nestbox is exposed in the second picture.)

Anyway, after I wore myself out, I was walking the trails to take more pictures, when I spotted one tiny, green mugwort plant. I reached for it, and in doing so revealed a slow moving, but very much alive praying mantis. Luckily I had the camera in hand to get this shot of him (or her).

Seeds...and Those Seedlings

For the past week or so, I've gone out to walk the yard and have begun to collect seeds. Today, I went out to collect more...but each time I do, I have to remind myself that I've yet to plant those seedlings that I grew from seed this spring. Maybe this post will get me motivated. :)

By letting the natives seed themselves (and helping them along by winter sowing them) I'm bending the competition in their favor. At the same time, I have tried to prevent the invasives from going to seed...and for the most part I keep after them. This year, however, I've let the chicory go to seed among some others. I'm hoping they've yet to disperse their seeds, so that I can prevent an influx of new plants to join the two or three I've spotted so far.

Then there are the goldenrods that don't seem to need any help from me. They are a great late season source of nectar (and beauty), but they are aggressive enough to seed themselves...and they have. By adding New England aster, other asters, native grasses, and other fall-blooming wildflowers among the goldenrod, I should be able to come up with a thing of beauty and substance.

I did, however,, collect seeds of lance leaf goldenrod (Solidago graminifolia) which is not as aggressive as some of the more common goldenrods. Lance leaf goldenrod was never a favorite of mine, but it has really grown on me over the past two years. There are several species of Solidago that have not yet appeared on their own that I'd like to add to the yard...however, I've yet to look for a source. One that I know I'd like to add is the zigzag goldenrod Solidago flexicaulis that seems to do well in the dappled shade of woodlands.

I've begun to get more and more into growing wildflowers from seed. I just have to get back into planting what I've grown! I've been wanting to add a mini-meadow nearer the house so I can see it (and what it attracts) from the window. Deciding on and preparing a site has been the main hold up...and perhaps a bit of laziness on my part.

I was surprised to see that a few of the first year seedlings actually bloomed--I have to wonder if I'd got them planted in the ground if they'd have done even better. Being perennials, I should have a much better show next year.