Sunday, November 30, 2014

December's Wintery Breath

 "December's wintery breath is already clouding the pond, frosting the pane, obscuring summer's memories." -- John Geddes
 Winter 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.

Downy woodpecker,

Red bellied woodpecker


Black Bear.

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
 In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy the birds the tree brings to me as I mark the seasonal change. I am joining with Donna at Gardens Eye View for her Seasonal Celebrations. Do check out her 'Winter Wonders' posting and join in the celebration.

Enjoy winter, or whatever the season where you live!
Pamela x

Bluebird in catalpa tree.

~~ I love reading your comments. I hope you leave one so I’ll know you visited! 
I look forward to visiting your blog in return.


  1. Beautiful bird pics, Pam. Losing the tree will be traumatic but also an opportunity for some more gardening or landscaping.

  2. Your yard is magic!!! I too have a bird feeder out and we have cute and unusual birds. As well we have blue Stellars jays this year. It is wonderful.

    I am really glad I get your posts in email. I didn't get my usual notification. This has solved that problem. Thank you for suggesting it. :-)

  3. The Poconos are so pretty in winter and you have winter bluebirds too! What gorgeous pictures. I like the bear. I never had one of those in my backyard here in WNY, but did in PA.

  4. We've had to remove a couple of beloved trees from our yard in recent years, so I feel your pain. But I found that removing the trees actually changed the character of my garden for the better. Perhaps you will, too.

    Your winter garden is lovely. Winter hasn't really reached us here in Southeast Texas yet, but it is interesting to see what's happening with our northern cousins.

  5. It will be a wrench to lose such a wonderful tree, one with so many happy memories attached to it and one which brings the wildlife to close quarters.

  6. Oh, no! It is so sad to lose a tree like that. It's such a beautiful tree, too! What memories and history you have with it - and that bear!
    I love watching the birds in winter, they help make it bearable. I should get a heated water dish for up here, I'm sure the birds would appreciate it.

  7. We are going into our first summer back with the Southeaster. We've got out of the 'be aware of the wind' mindset. Today we bought our first plants for the new garden, four trees to enjoy when they've had a couple of years to grow.

  8. Pam-your winter snowy images are beautiful and the captures of the birds are amazing, especially the Titmouse and Red bellied woodpecker. It's hard to part with a tree after so long but look at it as an opportunity to plan for a new addition.

  9. Your much loved tree will be a miss Pam. I cant believe it, we get exited at squirrels in the tree but a BEAR that beats them all.

  10. I am envious of the colourful birds visiting your garden, I am not so sure of the Bear though!

  11. Wow! You've really done a good job on the bird pictures and it must be so nice to have them there close to the house. You're making me rethink my laziness in not hanging a bird feeder this winter.....
    Sorry about the catalpa. It still looks like such a healthy tree, and I'm sure it has several good years left, but the closeness to the house always makes one think twice.

  12. Hi Pam - I wanted to take a peek at your blog after you left such a sweet comment on my own and wow, I'm so glad I did! What a beautiful site you have and I just love the photos of this post. Seeing a bluebird where I live here is a rare occasion - I can't imagine sitting in my own favorite chair and seeing one outside of my window. Your catalpa tree is just lovely, and I'm so sorry that you'll be losing it soon. That is a hard decision indeed.

  13. Enjoying your blog.

    I am heartsick over an old split birch we will have to take down in our front yard soon. I love this tree so much, but knew it's time would come soon - there is rot and we don't want the tree to fall on the house. It really is like loosing an old friend.

  14. Pam thanks for linking in again and supporting the SC meme. I love this tree and was sad to hear it would have to go. I know what it feels like to lose a tree friend....and I adore your morning routine now....I need to add a ground water dish with a heater next year...the critters need more than snow.

  15. Your photos are beautiful! I was amazed that you had a bear in your back yard. Your gardens are so beautiful and so well planned out. We love watching and photographing the birds as well.

  16. I very much enjoyed seeing all these varied birds. I think winter's much more enjoyable if you can look out onto a beautiful garden filled with wildlife (unless it's deer ;) ). Happy christmas!