"December's wintery breath is already clouding the pond, frosting the pane, obscuring summer's memories." -- John GeddesWinter came early this year. I've already changed my morning routine to watching birds instead of looking at flowers. I don't walk around the garden, coffee in hand, planning the day's gardening activities. But take my coffee sitting in my favorite armchair near the French windows in the garden-room, enjoying my feathered friends at feeder and water dish. The catalpa tree has a large branch that frames the French windows. H.H. hangs a bird feeder from this branch and the birds sit in the tree taking turn flying to the feeder and to the heated water dish on the porch below. They are in clear view of me and my camera. So I can thank the catalpa tree for bringing the birds to me ... but for how long?
|Titmouse waiting for his turn at the feeder|
|Bluebird waiting to drink from the water dish.|
|H.H. provides a heated water dish for the critters in winter.|
The northern catalpa, c. speciosa, has large, heart-shaped leaves. Its early summer flowers become broad, dark, pendulous seed pods that persist all winter. It tolerates dry soil and will grow in part or full shade. H.H.'s mother planted the catalpa to give shade. She raised Shetland sheepdogs and planted two more catalpas near the kennel for the same purpose. Those two fast-growing, short-lived trees are gone now, and I feel sad that the remaining tree is declining.
|In summer we drink tea under the catalpa and its neighboring maple tree. When H.H. and his sister were children, they slung a hammock between the two trees -- a fond memory.|
|Early summer catalpa blossoms frame the shade garden.|
|The attractive heart-shaped leaves and white blossoms of the catalpa tree.|
|The catalpa and maple trees are very tall, towering over the house.|
"Of winter's lifeless world each tree
Now seems a perfect part;
Yet each one holds summer's secret
Deep down within its heart."
-- Charles G. Slater
The catalpa tree attracts many critters including woodpeckers and nuthatches. There are lots of squirrels, of course. On one memorable afternoon, a bear spent several hours sitting on that favorite branch.
|Red bellied woodpecker|
I love this tree, but we have to make the hard decision to remove it before it falls on the house. Its branches have little bark remaining and its trunk may be hollow. We should do it soon, but it will be like losing an old friend.
"Friendship is a sheltering tree." -- Coleridge
Enjoy winter, or whatever the season where you live!
|Bluebird in catalpa tree.|
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