Monthly Archives: January 2011

Winter Quiet

By | Gardening Downtime | No Comments

There is pretty much nuthin’ goin’ on in my garden at the moment.

Okay, that’s an anthrocentric view. There is undoubtedly a lot going on at levels where I can’t see much of it–the mountain mint, for example, thought our snow and ice was downright cute and has put out an enormous thicket of leaves at ground level, as has the goldenrod. The cup plant did too, but then something ate them.  Come spring, I will plant a couple more cup-plants, but I will plant them INSIDE the fence. (In any well-regulated world, they should be critter resistant. The leaves are like sandpaper.) There are teeny tiny diamond shaped not-quite-buds on a lot of the shrubby things. Probably the fifty-and-sixty degree weather of the last few days means that there are roots rooting around on the down-low. Heck, another week of this and the Salvia greggi will probably decide that it’s time to get to work and start flowering. Salvia greggi is a bit of an overachiever.

It has been warm enough that there are even a few insects out and about. I want to warn them that it’s not spring yet and they would be better off hibernating a little longer, but since I’m throwing open windows and making grandiose plans to finally clean the deck, I don’t really have a leg to stand on.

But in terms of stuff that I, human, can do to the garden–not a lot. We’ll probably get at least a couple more nasty cold snaps, possibly even another honest-to-god snow the way this winter’s going, so the best thing I can do is leave well enough alone, take hot baths with my seed catalogs and a martini, and not start poking around stirring things up just to give myself something to do.

Studio View

By | Birds | One Comment

So after our big household rearrangement, I still miss my garden view, and will probably miss it even more come spring. But I have already begun plotting to lay a small stone retaining wall along the hillside, fill in some of the dirt, and create a decent sized flowerbed with some of my most beloved plants–not to mention finishing the frog pond!

The first thing I did was to move the platform birdfeeder back here and fill it with safflower. I expected to have to wait several days for birds to show up, but they had found it by the next morning (along with the squirrels, although the squirrels are less pleased by the safflower.)

I’m actually rather pleased–the trees nearby offer better nearby cover, apparently, because I’m getting a whole lot of brown-headed nuthatches, which were absent before, in addition to the usual suspects of cardinals, chickadees, juncos and titmice. There was even a pine warbler yesterday! (No mourning doves, though. I can’t say they’re my favorite bird, but I do rather miss their hysterical panic every time a deer farts somewhere in a ten mile radius.)

I went out this morning and broke the ice on the frog pond. It’s not done, it’s not lined, it’s basically a shallow hole covering about a third of the area of the proposed pond, but the water table is so high at the moment that it’s about half-full anyway.  It’s been a VERY wet winter here.  I have a heated rock somewhere for the deck birdbath, but what with one thing and another, I haven’t installed it yet, so the least I can do is break the skin of ice. Birds immediately descended on it, including some non-feeder birds, like our local thrush.  (All those people freaking out over the bird die-offs are, I suspect, unaware of how COMMON that is in cold weather, and how susceptible many birds are to hypothermia–it takes an astonishingly short time for many birds to die of cold if they don’t have access to water and food, and during unexpectedly bad weather, you do hear of people walking under trees and finding piles of dead birds who tried to ride it out and couldn’t. As we are hoping NOT to have that experience, ice must be broken.)

The location of this feeder is definitely an improvement–it’s right under the window, and when I get out the binoculars, I can practically see up their noses.  Probably that’s why I ID’d the pine warbler–would have assumed it was a winter goldfinch if it had been on the much more distant feeder out the old window.

On the downside, since this window is set in a flat wall and not over the top of the porch roof, I probably won’t have the experience of suddenly coming nose-to-beak with a foraging wren, but overall, I think I can make it work.