Thursday, February 28, 2019

This Month in the Garden: February 2019

It was a challenge to get outside with my camera this month because I was crazy-busy preparing and presenting garden talks, visiting my grandchildren in Arizona, and meeting my writing deadlines. I overbooked myself; I hope March is a little quieter. On the few occasions that I managed to take a look around my garden, there seemed to be precious little to share with you. It is still very early, but usually there are some sign of spring; this time last year there were hellebore buds and daffodil shoots. If there are some today, they are hidden under snow and ice. The leaves of the brussel sprouts and broccoli in the coldframe are still very green although they aren't 'bearing fruit' -- just staying dormant. I'm anxious to see the final outcome of this experiment in the spring.

The picture I took this morning shows little change from the one I took a month ago, but the brassicas are surviving

After careful scrutiny, I found some brave crocuses pushing through the frozen ground in the pollinator garden.

February is really all about the birds with the Great Backyard Bird Count near the middle of the month.  I didn't seem to count as many birds as previous years, and no unusual ones, but it is always fun.  I saw my first two mockingbirds, but didn't get a good picture.

Clockwise from top left: house sparrow, female American cardinal, tufted titmouse, male cardinal.

My husband put out a new flag to welcome the birds:

With so much damaging weather, I have started making my to-do list for when the thaw finally arrives. In the kitchen garden some of the raised beds need attention. 

The freezing soil caused damage to the raised beds.

 The five miniature gardens look very sad, with dormant moss and sheets of ice. I should take the fairies and furniture indoors during the winter, but never do. I think this spring will be the year to empty them out of their containers and start over. I've made a note to mention it to my grandson helper, Jonathan, who made the sweet gardens originally. I'm acquiring some new accessories.

Another ice-storm battered the biotas. I hope they survive.

Grasses and evergreens provide a little interest in my February gardens -- the biotas not so much, but the yew and the weeping Norway spruce are thriving. Can't wait to start pruning and cutting down the grasses. 

Top left: yew.  Bottom left and right picture: weeping Norway spruce.

Weeping redbud 'Lavender Twist' has something to offer every season. I love the lichen on its branches. 

February 21st brought us another ice storm. So beautiful! The next few days saw strong winds. Many were without electricity, some for days. We were fortunate -- the generator fired up for a short time only.

View from the deck
View from our bedroom window.

My husband bought a cheery sign for the deck, courtesy of the thrift store ...

I am linking with Sarah's 'Through the Garden Gate' posting for February, Down by the Sea. I am so envious of her spring flowers. Something to look forward to here in the next two or three months.

Warm wishes to you my gardening friends -- whatever your season.
Pamela x

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Sunday, February 10, 2019

Don't Forget to Count the Birds

It is nearly time for the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) when birdwatchers worldwide create a real-time snapshot of where birds are. You can take part in this valuable citizen-science project this year by joining 160,000 people counting birds at any time during February 15-18. I've been participating in this simple activity for several years now and find it very satisfying. It's easy to do: just tally the number and kinds of birds you see for 15 minutes or more on all or any of the days. Enter your results on the GBBC website. Click here for more information on how to get started. After the count you may explore the data collected. I watch the birds through the French doors in the garden room. A birdfeeder and heated water dish lure them into my view. We bought a new feeder this year, shaped like a rooster, with compartments for both a suet block and seeds.  The heated water dish is vital during our below-freezing winter temperatures.The pictures in this posting are of a few of the birds I've seen in the last few weeks. The first one at the top of the page is the tufted titmouse, a big favorite of mine. Some other favorites follow:

Red-bellied Woodpecker

American Goldfinch
Carolina Wren
Female Downy Woodpecker

Male Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Cardinal

The bird I like least is the European starling. I admire its glossy black feathers that have white spots in the winter and later take on a metalic sheen. I don't like its cruel looking yellow beak and it's bullying nature. The female starling may try to lay an egg in another bird's nest. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, all the starlings in North America descend from 100 set loose in New York's Central Park in the early 1890's.

European Starling

Your help is needed to make the GBBC successful. I hope you participate.

Pamela x

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