Thursday, June 30, 2011

Garden Love

A garden is meant to be treasured and enjoyed--meandered and gazed upon. Many gardens are designed for contemplation and diversion. My garden was designed for these purposes as well and as a place to learn, to experiment, and to have sanctuary from the outside world. Each day my quest is to bring more beauty and more elements of harboring the soul into my garden. I often get lost in that quest, thinking and planning what the next step may be and how to achieve it. I become lost in all the tasks that still need to be done. I see what is missing and what needs to be repaired or redone. And I forget to enjoy it..., I want to take a moment to stop and behold my garden, smell the fragrant bouquet of the roses, touch the velvety softness of the lamb's ears, and reflect on the serenity of the wind as it wanders through the trees. I want to visit each nook and corner and savor the beauty, the aroma, the textures, and the views.

First, the cottage garden with endless smiling daisies and a bee favorite, mountain mint, is always a satisfying find.

Each year, I find myself favoring a particular plant. One year it was veronica with its endless and straight spikes reaching up to the trees. Another year it was the willowy gold blooms of coreopsis. For the last two years, it has been hydrangea with its full billowy blooms that exude color in various hues.

There are a few places to contemplate, read, or simply be...

Without the wildlife--the birds singing, the hummingbirds lording over feeders, the bees flying and buzzing, and the dance of the butterflies--, the garden would feel lost and empty like the ocean without the sound of seagulls and boat horns. To me, there is nothing more beautiful than witnessing nature live and breathe.

And nature provides in various unexpected ways. A wild blackberry bush provides us with delicious blackberries, and a volunteer pumpkin or gourd cropped up to offer a surprise.

Having a vegetable garden is one of the greatest joys I can imagine. The aroma, the fruiting, and the biting into flavorful homegrown vegetables is heavenly.

Sometimes the camera catches a view I have not seen. The butterfly bush is a treasure as it attracts many butterflies.

It is so satisfying to see the plants fill in all the gaps.

A new sound that adds so much serenity to the front yard is the fountain.

What areas of your garden deserve some garden love?

©Michelle A. Potter

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Friday, June 24, 2011

Broken Clay Pot Redux

I use clay pots often for my outdoor potted plants because they are attractive and inexpensive. They come in various sizes and shapes. However, sometimes they chip, crack, or break.

For years, I have been using the chips to cover the drainage holes in the bottom of pots. When I run out of chips, I break the broken pots into smaller pieces. At that rate, it will take a long while to use up the chips. So, for a long while the broken pots sit in the clay pot graveyard.

However, I recently toured a garden that used these broken pots in a unique way. The broken pot is placed slightly in the ground or under mulch with the pot opening facing a leafy plant. This gives the impression that a whole pot is part way in the ground and has been there for quite a while. I decided to try the same in my garden.

Sometimes I start with a small leftover piece...

And then place it below the mulch.

This green pot broke in half, and I used one half here...

...and the other half here.

This pot piece had a large chip out of the side...

Sometimes the rim breaks off the top of the pot...

Other pot pieces...

The benefits of using broken pots and pieces in this way are that I have some additional decorative features in my garden, the pots are reused, and the pots add a bit more shade in the garden beds.

I am linking up with Frugal Friday at The Shabby Nest.
©Michelle A. Potter

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Friday, June 17, 2011

Flying Practice with the Wrens

Having lost the opportunity to observe a robin's nest, I was able to closely observe the wren's nest. They built their nest under our deck stairs.

wren's nest under deck stairs

The opening of the nest is on the left.

This is the second year we have observed this nest. Last year, there was only one fledgling.

wren's nest fledgling 2010

From the coloring and size, I don't think that fledgling was a wren. I believe it was a cowbird.

adult wren feeding cowbird fledgling 2010

When I noticed that it had fledged, I tried to find it in the yard. I found it about 40 feet from the nest on a low limb of a small tree.

fledgling not far from nest 2010

The foster parents continued to feed it all day long. It moved very slowly. I caught a glimpse of it the next day about 20 feet from the last perch.

foster wren parent feeding cowbird fledgling

The next day it had left the yard, but I could here the parents off in the woods.

Back to this year...

The wren's nest under the deck stairs is a bit tricky to get to for the wrens. They manage but it seems like they struggle somewhat. So, I set up a thick long branch near the entrance to make it easier. I had placed the short trellis under the stairs temporarily because I had moved a vining plant elsewhere, however the wrens began to use it as they found food on the ground and hopped up the trellis to the makeshift branch.

branch in front of wren's nest

The wrens learn to use the branch almost right away. It seems a lot easier to get to the nest.

wren on twig in front of nest entrance

wren preparing to fly over to nest

Besides trying to be helpful to the wren parents, I also wanted to protect them from my cats who go outside in the yard with me in the early morning. They hear the nestlings when the parents arrive for a feeding. The branch by the wren entrance seemed to help with that as well, making it easier for them to navigate their arrival and departure from the nest. I always kept my eye on the nest to be sure neither of the cats bothered it. Mostly, the cats roam around the yard finding other things of interest. Simba is 16 and is not as interested in the hunt as he used to be. Sasha, six years old, would hover around the nest from time to time. Whichever wren parent happened upon her was very cautious. He or she would loudly let her know she was not welcome.

Sasha and Simba eyeing the wren's nest on the right

It was a bit chilly this particular morning, so they cuddled close.

This year, there were five wren nestlings.

wren nestlings with open mouths for feeding

wren nestlings

I apologize for the blurry photos as it was a bit challenging to take a photo from the side of the nest.

At first, I thought there were only four nestlings from the photo, but I soon learned there were a total of five. Mother and Father wren continued feeding the nestlings every few minutes.

wren entering the nest to feed nestlings

adult wren leaving nest after feeding young

A few days later, one of the nestlings crawled out of the nest. He continued crawling around the area in front of the nest. He would not respond to the parents when they arrived with food. I feared the worst. And then, I came down later to check on them and saw him laying upside down on the outside of the nest. He was still breathing and moving.

sick wren nestling

Although my heart wanted to reach out and help in some way, there was really nothing I could do. I also feel it is not a good idea to interfere. This is nature's way, I suppose. The next day he was gone. Four nestlings left.

nestlings wait to be fed

getting bigger and bigger everyday

They are getting large enough to hop around the outside of the nest.

wren nestlings becoming more active

As they became more active, I knew they were getting ready to fledge. Because there is a concrete patio below the nest, I put towels down to cushion the blow somewhat should a nestling fall out of the nest.

bare concrete beneath the wren's nest

being overprotective...

The day before they fledged, there was an awful smell...that 'something's dead' smell coming from the nest. Flies were also congregating. I called some experts to find out if it would be acceptable to remove the dead bird. After getting the okay, I wondered how I was going to get the dead bird out without disturbing the other three. Luckily, when I went down to the nest, all three nestlings were sitting outside the entrance to the nest. I slowly and gently reached in and found the dead nestling. He was, indeed, dead. Three nestlings left.

three wren nestlings

This year, the nestlings were definitely wrens. I could see the telltale markings on the head and wings.

This is the last photo I have of them. They fledged that afternoon. After I discovered that they had fledged, I looked around the yard to see if I could find them. I found them at the edge of the yard about 50 to 60 feet from the nest. When I look for the fledglings, I look and listen for the parents because they bring food to them. I followed the parents call and two feet from my feet on the leaves in the woods were three very small fledglings sitting about six or seven inches from one another. They were very still and quiet--probably because of me--and were very well camouflaged. I wish I could have captured that photo, but when I returned they had already begun testing their wings in the woods beyond the property. They were mainly on the ground flying from low branch to tree log to low branch to the ground and all around. Sometimes they were slightly awkward in their flying was adorable. I knew this would probably be the last time I would see them as they flew further and further away, although I hoped I would see them stop by the yard from time to time. And so, I wished them well...

From time to time, I hear the parents calling the little ones or singing. They are not far from the yard...somewhere close in the nearby woods beyond our property. After watching them so closely, I feel like a godparent, always hoping they are safe as they learn to live on their own.
©Michelle A. Potter
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
ondragstart="return false" onselectstart="return false"