Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Downy Wooodpecker

I really hate it when a bird flies into a window. Part of it is the sound thwak when they hit, part is the smudge left on the window with the occasional downy feather. The worst part is finding them some feet away from the window they flew into, dead or watching them die with their last few breaths. I have buried many, many birds over the years at this house. I have two ceremonial burial grounds I alternate between. I wrap the poor things in a paper towel and lay them gently in the hole. I think about our brief moments together and then cover them up with soil. I usually am more distraught over the 'pretty' birds like the warblers or gold finches. There seem to be fewer of these kinds around and then, one less. 
Yesterday I managed to save one. Well, probably not save since with enough time he/she would have lived anyway, but I still like to think of it that way. It makes up for the ones I have buried.
Yesterday a Downy Woodpecker flew into a window and I found him on the front porch with the cat. It was not a pretty sight. Poor bird on his back, tongue hanging out of its mouth, and the whole body rising and falling with breath. I thought I was about to watch another one die. I picked him up and put him on the patio table away from the cat. When the wind almost blew him off the table I found a box to hold him while we waited. Downy's are very small birds. Smaller than I thought, since they are usually a good distance away when you see one. About the size of my hand and maybe smaller. This one was beautiful as the pictures show. Waiting can be hard. I watched him breath with his mouth open. From time to time he seemed to spark and have some idea of where he was. Noises and the wind would perk him up too. I tried speaking to him when his eyes had been closed awhile to keep him conscious like you do for people with concussions. ( I know it sounds silly, but that's what you do when it's just you and a bird) It took over an hour for the Downy to really be aware. Once you hit that stage it all happens so quickly, they start moving around and suddenly fly off. And so it was in this case.

A very unhappy camper

Just starting to move about

Almost ready

See you later

Monday, June 21, 2010

June flowers

A few photos from my garden this June.

Geranium Max Frei with Willow Blue star

Climbing Tea rose Mlle. de Sombreuil

She has about 100 petals in each fragrant flower

Royal Bassimo a groundcover rose

Allium caeruleum is a bit washed out for colour. It is actually quite a bit stronger blue.
Have a great day

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sound of Music Festival

I spent part of a lovely day outside rethinking a couple of garden beds. Then I pulled out one clump of sedge (out of 7) that I don't like - they just sprawl open, very unseemly - and replaced it with a different type of sedge that I still like. I can't find my sheet with the names of these sedges to help you avoid them, sorry. I also moved a ginger and that was the end of the gardening for the day.

Hubby and I decided to get away from the house for the evening and went to the Sound of Music Festival to see Ashley MacIsaac play his fiddle. I checked the weather, like always, and was assured of a chance of thunder showers with 1 mm. of rain expected. So off we went with umbrella in hand and walked to downtown Burlington to see the show. Ten minutes in of the walk and it was spitting, and by the time we reached downtown we were looking for cover from the downpour. No 1 mm. crap was this. Huge torrents of water, immense gales of wind from the northwest blowing water everywhere, and while standing under the umbrella trying to keep dry the streets started flooding with water. My running shoes were soaked. Families with children were running to their cars, others took the opportunity to play and jump in the large puddles as they were soaked through anyway. Needless to say we were quite damp. A moment of indecision - do we try a coffee house or go home? Figuring that the coffee houses were full of wet people we walked home. 

Still determined we discarded our wet clothes, dressed again and took the car back to the festival. Ashley and his band were great. We managed to see them on stage by the latter half of the show (on screens prior to that) and had a great time. We stayed for the fireworks which were awesome.

Here's a link to a YouTube video from a few years back.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Native and Nature

I just finished reading a rant by Garden Rant blogger Angela Treadwell-Palmer concerning the advocacy of using native plants as 'easier' by many native plant enthusiasts. She said everything I have come to know over the years in the blog and then some. In a nutshell, the reasons you would be interested in using natives in your garden is a desire to have wildlife of all kinds, to be able to provide better options for that wildlife in terms of food and shelter, and to maintain a diversity of native plant life that can support the variety of wildlife. Diversity is a big word here. 

You have to be willing to have plants in the garden with holes chewed through leaves and fresh plants shoots nibbled or gnawed off to the base. There will be an occasional branch broken off your favorite dogwood because the raccoons tried to get at the topmost branch for the berries. The rewards are worth it. Increased number of birds, bees and butterflies flitting around. Healthier plants because of your increased numbers of beneficial or 'good bugs' and healthier soil too. And, strangely, getting to watch the antics of the wildlife in your garden. Gotta keep it all in perspective. 

A tip I picked up over the years: grow three of everything. One for the animals, one for Mother Nature and one for you.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Momentous Occasion

The Baptisia has bloomed.
Yes, truly this is a momentous occasion. 

Many years ago while perusing through the native plant books, I saw this plant in a photo and thought, I must have this Baptisia. So I bought two plants and put them in the back garden. They tried their best but between the conditions and the rabbits the baptisia succumbed and were no more. They were not to be the last. This baptisia is the fifth or sixth one I planted (forgetting when the 3rd one died - three is a rule you know). How did this one survive? The photo tells all.

After this plant had been chewed down to less of an inch it was obvious something had to be done and quickly. So last spring I put the wire around the plant and waited. It grew to a final height of maybe two feet. Hooray, I thought, and left the wire over the winter. And spring. You know how those rabbits can be! There are a few more stems compared to last year but this year it bloomed. 

Baptisia australis with support

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Had my cake

This is not a gardening post. Be forewarned. This may never happen again but it probably will.

On the weekend hubby and I were at a 50th birthday party for a good friend. His parents came in from Chile which was a delight to all his friends, us included as we had never met them before. His mother made some lovely dishes for the BBQ including a home made salsa which had a white bean base, a potato salad that stood on the plate as half of a round ball decorated with circles of carrot on top, and a lovely antipasto of olives, artichokes, sun dried tomatoes and grilled red peppers. But the piece de resistance was the cake. 

This cake was smuggled in from Chile in a suitcase. 

Unfortunately I do not have a photo of the full cake so I hope my description will be adequate. It was a round cake that stood about 4 inches high, covered in a marzipan icing. It was carved from the center to the edge and down to the plate like the spokes on a wheel. The inside is  finely layered with cake and caramel. It looks like there are 20 alternating layers. I don't know how the birthday boy's mom made it, as it certainly is an amazing bakers feat and feast. Absolutely delicious!

torta De Mil Hojas
(Cake of 1000 layers)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Rained out

I got a call this morning from a fellow master gardener calling from the RBG telling me not to bother coming in for my shift today as there are no visitors there due to the weather. (yikes, what a sentence) Plus more rain is in the forecast. So we are rained out of the RBG Iris and Peony Festival today. I guess I am not too surprised as it poured all night long. Since I have no photos of beautiful irises and peonies from the gardens I will leave you with a couple of peony pics from my garden - I don't grow irises.

This is Falcon. I have tried many times to photograph this peony and the colour never comes true. Falcon is a magnificent deep mahogany red. It blooms mid June and has no scent. Alas.

This is Pink Luau, a single petaled peony. It is white and pink striped with a mild spicy scent.

 Ethel Mars

I also grow Ethel Mars a large white double with a wonderful sweet scent and Miss America another larger white that is presently looking quite battered and bruised from the rain - not a pretty sight.