and laying low today. I'm battle weary with the scars to prove it. All because I decided to tackle my three "ginormous" lilac bushes and give them a much needed buzz cut. Okay, no, I didn't completely buzz them to the scalp but they certainly received a very severe trim. My "harbingers of spring" haven't been blooming much the past few years and have gotten really "leggy" (sparse foliage around the bases). While that's all good in the super model world, it's not the look I'm shooting for in my garden (nor is it the best shape for a floriferous lilac). Like everything, they need "maintenance" and it's my fault for being negligent about providing it. I doubt they've ever been pruned (either before I bought my house and I know not since). After a little research, I found the stems should never get more than 2" around for maximum blooms ~ ha ~ mine look more like small tree trunks! egads. What was I thinking? or should I say I wasn't thinking? However, now that I am cognizant of the problem, I'm wondering if I should have started this project much earlier, like the end of May?? (since they set next years buds almost immediately after blooming) Most likely I've sacrificed most of those. Now that I'm bruised, scraped, and scabbed, I still don't know if I pruned correctly or not? Let's hope they're very forgiving and just happy to get some attention??
This is the story of a powerful hunter. Patient, vigilant and indomitable. Perched on a prominent, elevated ledge, the best vantage point in the garden, he sits, surveying the landscape 180 degrees around him. Shhhh. What's that?? Nobody move! In one giant leap, SCORE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Another brilliant strategy executed ~ landing on the outside edge of a teaming anthill, catching them completely off guard, then conquering them one by one with a sure, swift and unerring weapon ~ his tongue!! He leaves the vanquished, with a full belly, to digest in the pool, secure for the moment in his supreme reign over this little kingdom.
Epilogue: I promise we'll be back to flowers tomorrow, for those of you not as fond of toads as I am. This little scenario was too good to not pass along. It's why I don't use pesticides in my garden. Look what we'd miss!!!
This morning, as I was enjoying my first cup of coffee on my front step (a summer ritual), I spotted a toad on the patio (he was probably there when I came out, I just didn't notice 'til the caffeine kicked in). He sat perfectly still while I sipped, savored and polished off that cup then, as I was getting up to pour a refill, he nonchalantly hopped into the pool. Surprised me. I've had this mini birdbath for at least 10 years but this is the first time it's been ground level (normally I elevate it). I guess my thinking was wrong as I (and the toads) were missing out on a whole 'nuther purpose all these years.
Looks like I need to clean it out and keep it filled for my four legged visitors instead of the two legged kind!
When it comes to gardening, don't you ever wonder if it's worth all the fuss of planning, grouping, arranging, etc., when Mother Nature does it so effortlessly?? I'm beginning to think I should just plant things in the ground randomly, let the spent blooms seed themselves then pull out whatever doesn't work!! It seems like it might be just as successful? Walking around the garden this morning, I snapped this picture of two such unplanned companions that are perfect matches ~ a purple penstemon (I don't recall the name at the moment) and campanula portenschlagiana. Too bad I didn't think of pairing them up but thank goodness they found each other as look how great they go together!
Today seems like a good solid day for updates. At least that's what I woke up thinking for some crazy reason. Remember these chairs from an earlier post?? Well, I am happy (and relieved) to report that I will be painting said chairs today. Whew. After what seems like countless miserable hours spent scraping, sanding, scraping, sanding, scraping, sanding, (you get the picture) I have gotten *most* of the key lime color removed and am ready to prime and repaint. I discovered the reason they peeled in the first place was because I used a water based primer instead of an oil based primer. Learn from my mistakes friends! You definitely don't want to spend your precious summer hours doing what I've been doing. BUT, now the fun begins. I am thinking *watermelon* is the new color. Although looking at this picture, the key lime was very pretty. ugh. to stay with key lime?? or switch to watermelon?? or use the four cans of *marigold* I already purchased before changing my mind the thousandth time? Whatever the color it has to coordinate with the pillows pictured because I refuse to buy new ones again. Those are the perimeters. Limiting my options is a good thing else the decision would be even harder and likely drag on forever! Primer is definitely going on today tho, paint color will most likely be determined at the home improvement store.....
A second exciting update ~ the bloom spikes on the foxtail lilies are finally big enough to reveal a hint at their color. It's either white or yellow. I'm thinking yellow...
The final update of the day, my baby robins have all left the nest. They left in stages. I think just to add additional stress to their already exhausted parents (adolescents are like that, aren't they?). Two wobbled out on Sunday, the third on Tuesday and the final baby took a deep breath and teetered off the ledge this morning. I hope I see at least one of them back in my yard soon.
If you ask me to say the first thing that comes to mind upon seeing this baby bunny picture, I'd say "cute but voracious." He (or she) and siblings are going 'round and 'round with me at the moment because every time I add new plants to my front flower bed, they mow the new, tender vegetation to the ground. They seem especially fond of hollyhocks & cosmos both of which I've tried twice to plant! If only they saw bindweed as delectable, we could form a happy alliance. I have had baby bunnies several years in a row but none have been as destructive as this bunch. I'm finally seeing the "Peter Cottontail" story from the other angle. Never did before. I always felt sorry for the bunnies. I guess I still do since I'm planning to work around them instead of against them. The sad fact of life is, its probably only a matter of time anyway until the owls or neighbors cats put an end to it all. In the meantime, I'm off to research what rabbits won't eat because I'm getting a pretty good idea of what they do like.
Add 24 hours of rain and overcast skies, with 1.1" of much needed moisture and you come up with a sea of green. I think I can see every existing shade of that section of the color wheel looking across my yard today. It looks so lush and fresh in the cool morning air. Needing to inspect everything firsthand, I ventured outside, coffee mug in hand, to make "the rounds" and examine my beds. Isn't it amazing how plants change and grow with just a days absence? The oriental poppies are almost ready to burst open, the pink delphinium I bought (to replace one that didn't survive the winter), has started to bloom and the thalictrum is gigantic! By pure chance (since he's camouflaged so well), I spotted this interesting little guy on one of my annuals. At first I thought it was a baby praying mantis but upon closer examination, I don't think so. Whatever he is, he's managed to blend perfectly with his envirionment. Moving on and back indoors, since everything appears to have survived just fine without me, I'm hoping to grab a few more minutes with my book (that I posted about yesterday, then alas, did not get back to) Grrrrr. Time to read should be mandatory not a luxury, don't you agree?!!! Happy Friday everyone.
Babies, babies, babies. Everywhere you look there's a new baby. Isn't Spring delightful that way? Around my yard, the house finches are introducing their newly fledged little ones to the feeder and the birdbath. It's so interesting to watch. They are such quick learners but I guess they have to be. A robin is sitting on eggs right outside my kitchen window. Yesterday was exactly two weeks since she began sitting so I'm thinking they have hatched or very close to it. Can you believe I write things down like that? I don't know why I like to keep tabs on them? I know in another two weeks tho, the babies will be gone and it will seem empty & quiet standing at my sink without the constant comings and goings. I've learned to take my binoculars on my evening walk as a pair of great horned owls are feeding three young in a cottonwood tree along the lake in our neighborhood. That is really a sight to watch. Yesterday I also happened to be at one of my old stomping grounds for a photo shoot and there were tons of baby Canadian geese parading around with proud but extremely protective parents. All this new life made me think of a spring card I had published quite a few years back. I used one of my photos inside the Anna Griffin bird frame. The eggs (although they look blue like Robin eggs in the scan) were actually finch eggs from a nest built in a basket right outside my front door. I'm happy to say all four eggs hatched and all four babies left the nest. It makes me sad when anything other than that happens.
On a random side note, I've always wondered why mother's sing the lullaby to their babies that I referenced in my post title? It could be quite tragic with the cradle falling down and all. Traumatic & scary at the very least?? I remember thinking about the words when singing it to my own spring baby and I promptly quit. Interesting, huh?
One energizing morning (spent amidst a horiculture wonderland known as a Botanic Garden) = new passions spawned. For me, it's all about the Alliums. I have decided I *need* more of these luscious bulbs in my spring landscape. They seem so versatile, tucked into a variety of nooks and crannies (as well as beautiful groupings), amidst a multitude of different backdrops, carrying each off with aplomb. I will have to become more knowledgeable about the varieties as I had no idea what some of them were and the one frustrating aspect of our visit was not everything was marked. Also, take a little notebook for jotting down names, etc., as it's all too much to remember, no matter how great you "think" your memory is.... I believe the first photo is of an Allium Christophii??? The second photo, an Allium I am much more familiar with seeing but still don't know the name.
And finally this intriguing little beauty which I *must* have dangling around my garden. I simply must!
A fabulous day altogether as after the Botanic Gardens, we popped over for a quick peek around the Smith and Hawken store (always fun) then ended up at a greenhouse in hopes of finding some of the plants on our newly formed wish list. No luck there but a trip to the greenhouse is never wasted!