|Bee on Rhododendron|
Let's take a critter-walk and see what creatures are enjoying my gardens today. The bee on the rhododendron has pollen all over its butt and feet -- a pollen-bum-ble bee perhaps. (So sorry for the bad pun.) I am thrilled with my beautiful rhododendron blooms following the dreadful winter damage the shrub endured. It looked so dead, with brown curling leaves, that I thought I would need to remove it, then it burst into bloom and surprised me. My friend, Karen, lost nine rhododendrons this winter to anthracnose, an airborne fungus, that seems to have affected many rhododendrons in her neighborhood. Karen says the harsh winter only exacerbated the extent of the damage. I checked the underside of the leaves of mine for the tell-tale brown spots and saw none, thank goodness. I probably should devise some sort of winter protection; my rhodie is an only child, so I don't want to lose it.
|Surprising number of blooms on my winter-damaged Rhododendron 'Roseum Elegans'.|
Not only bees, but butterflies also love the rhododendron flowers.
|American Swallowtale Butterfly on Rhododendron.|
Continuing our critter walk, there is a great deal of activity in and around the pond with vocal frogs, millions of tadpoles, and the koi enjoying the warmer water.
|Yellow Iris Iris pseudacorus blooming in the pond.|
|This frog enjoys the waterfall|
|Mr. Bull Frog|
|All koi, except one, survived the harsh winter.|
The May stars of the cottage garden, the beautiful Allium 'Globe Master', are a new addition: I planted the bulbs last fall. I was previously put off by its common name, ornamental onion, but now wish I had grown some sooner. The shape -- tall stems topped by rounded blooms -- is a nice contrast to my other plantings. With contrast in mind, I previously grew foxgloves for their their spiky form, but had little luck with that biannual. A great advantage to allium: the deer don't want onion breath, so avoid eating them!
|Allium 'Globe Master' punctuates the Cottage Garden|
The birds are busy building nests. I love the morning chorus that increases in volume daily. We have been watching the purple martin house with interest, but again no purple martins took up residence.
|The ten-year old purple martin house.|
This year, a tree swallow claimed the attic condominium.
|Tree swallow carries straw to build a nest.|
|Admiring the view from his new front door.|
We are thrilled the phoebe returned to make a nest on one of the ledges H.H. nailed under the eaves of the tractor shed.
New visitors to the back yard feeder, purple finches, stop by frequently. Their musical warble is a welcome addition to the morning chorus. They love sunflower seeds, so I hope they enjoy the sunflowers I planted in the kitchen garden when they bloom.
|Male purple finch.|
A pair of robins nested on the pergola over the main entrance to our house last year. They returned and rebuilt the nest that the winter winds and snow had damaged. The female is sitting on a clutch of eggs. When we go in and out of the house, very close to the nest, she just closes her eyes. Maybe she thinks if she can't see us, we can't see her.
Recently, H.H. took down the suet cage and replaced it with a hummingbird feeder. Before he could remove it, a redbellied woodpecker finished off a remaining scrap of suet.
Of course, the squirrels are interested in the bird feeders. To distract them, H.H. placed a squirrel feeder on a tree some distance away.
Squirrels, for all their faults, are always amusing to watch. It's fun to see them going in and out of the new feeder.
|Peanuts keep the pesky squirrels away from the bird feeders.|
Finally, on our critter walk let's check on my goat and miniature horse.
|Billy Goat found a piece of corn to chew on.|
Isn't the viburnum near the paddock beautiful with its lacy white blooms? And isn't Dude cute? He is waiting patiently to be led to the pasture where he can enjoy the new orchard grass growing there.
|Blooming Vibernum and hungry Dude|
I hope you enjoyed this short critter-walk. Many more creatures enjoy my spring garden including humming birds that returned this week plus several other varieties of birds and butterflies. Hopefully, I can share pictures of them soon. Now I must take care of Dude, and continue planting, composting, and completing the million-and-one tasks necessary at this busiest time of my gardening year.
Happy gardening, my friends!
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