Sunday, May 31, 2015

Birds, Bees, and Beautiful Blooms

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.

Eastern Phoebe

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!

Pamela x

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I look forward to visiting your blog in return.


  1. Wonderful pictures. Your garden really seems to be flourishing this spring.

  2. I enjoyed the critter-walk in your garden. It's interesting to see your butterflies and birds of which many are different from the ones in our country. That American Swallowtail butterfly is a real beauty and what to think of that woodpecker. We have woodpeckers too but with other colours.
    Your garden is doing great and I think the Allium 'Globemaster' is a welcome asset to your garden.

  3. Crittertastic Pam. Especially Dude he's a wee cutie :)

  4. I miss sitting by our pond ...

    1. Hi Diana...I haven't bumped into you since our Blotanical days!!!

    2. Pam...your garden takes my breath away. I have a feeling looking at your garden that you would probably have fun in my store. A lot of lovely English things. Sorry, off track. I LOOOOVE your goat and horse. I am having total animal envy.

    3. You miss your pond, but you have daily beach walks, Diana. I know which I would pick.

    4. I checked out your store, Erin. Beautiful!

  5. Well, you don't just have a garden, you have a farm! Your billy goat and mini horse are real cuties!

  6. Spring looks lovely in your garden. I like all the beautiful flowers. The frog in the waterfall picture is precious!

  7. Everything is so classy - the house, the garden, even mister Frog in his frock! All the creatures are adorable!

  8. I am so glad Dude was in the post. I missed him last pot. Your goat is cute too, although I am a bit suspicious of goats with horns. Our horse ranch had one and every time I was in the field for my horse, the goat would charge me. I love your PA farm house, it makes me wish I still lived there.

  9. Lovely to see Billy Goat and Dude, it's a while since I've seen them in a post. I love your critter posts, the birds you have there are so different from here, I'll never get used to your robins though, not at all like the little fat, round robins we have here. I haven't seen a purple finch before, that's a new one on me, very colourful, and I love the squirrel feeder, as you say, they can be pests but I can't resist watching them.

  10. Pam, your rhododendrons and alliums are beautiful! I've planted Purple Sensation in the past, but I just planted Globemaster for the first time last fall and I'm so I glad I did too -- they're so humongous.Thanks for sharing your lovely blooms and garden inhabitants with us! -Beth

  11. Oh Pam the front of your house with that rhododendron is spectacular....even the butterflies couldn't resist. I love seeing all the critters similar to my garden although the birds are nesting around us but not in the garden as far as we can tell...this year it is the frogs taking center stage here.

  12. Great post, full of surprises Pam. Your Rhododendron has given a real good show, I also, very much like the look of your house.

  13. It must be nice to have so many creatures in and around your garden. I have birds, butterflies and squirrels. I'd love to have a pond that would attract other creatures like frogs. Your goat and pony are adorable! Some people think I am crazy, but I always wanted a goat. I think they are such neat animals.

  14. So glad your rhodie made it through the winter! I just love all the birds that have taken up residence in your yard. I don't think I've ever seen an Easter Phoebe, though now I'll have to keep an eye out for one. Love your adorable goat and pony! So cute!

  15. Simply beautiful. Great bird and bum-blebee shots!~~Dee

  16. Your Rhododendron is beautiful.......mine is still small, and wants be like yours when it grows up ! I'd love to find some Allium to plant......such a wonderful contrasting shape for the garden areas ! And I've read that they reseed themselves........always a bonus !

  17. I love that picture of the bumblebee diving head first into the rhododendron flower! Gorgeous pictures all around. Every year I mean to get some alliums for my spring garden and so far I never have! Yours are stunning :)

  18. Oh, I loved this post! My kids and I get so much delight from watching the little critters in our backyard. We have a family of bunnies living under our shed (so far they have stayed out of the vegetable garden--fingers crossed!), along with several different birds and squirrels. Nothing too unusual, but so fun to watch. Thanks for sharing!