Saturday, February 26, 2022


Despite the hawthorn tree being loaded with haws, the robins have yet to strip it bare. Instead, one lonely robin stands guard, chasing away any sparrows who dare to venture too close. This morning I saw several robins pecking at the droppings under the mealworm feeder. I guess they are more interested in protein than fruit right now.

Then there is this pair of mourning doves, keeping their feet warm on the heated bird bath. Some house finches have shown up as well and are working on the safflower seeds.

After the garden center picked up my mower for servicing, my SO and I rearranged the garage a bit, building shelves from cinder blocks and scrap lumber. Once the pots that are wintering over can go outside, there will be LOTS of room in there.

Back to the landscaping: In the backyard, there will be a couple of new trees, a white oak (Quercus alba) and a shagbark hickory (Carya ovata). The oak tree will obviously produce acorns someday; it may also host the larva of the Edward's hairstreak (Satyrium edwardsii). The hickory will also produce nuts. The squirrels and birds will have a heyday.

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Broken record

Sometimes, just for fun, I take a gander at old blog posts, to see what's changed over the years. One thing that has not changed is my complaining about the weather in February. So let's skip that part this time and look forward to spring.

Another newcomer to the front yard will be prairie alumroot (Heuchera richardsonii). I've grown a few heuchera plants with spotty success. This plant should act as a ground cover while flowering in spring on stalks that are 1-2' tall. It is beneficial to both butteflies and hummingbirds.

Wild geranium (Geranium maculatum) likes shade and that is what it will get, tucked behind the Japanese maple and in a corner near the front porch. It spreads by rhizomes but is not aggressive. If I take the trouble to deadhead the flowers, the plants should bloom from spring into early summer. Mourning doves like them, as do deer, but if I see a deer that up close and personal, I will be surprised.

Winter is a good time to repot houseplants, but the bag of potting soil is in the garden shed, frozen solid. The backyard has been too treacherous to try lugging it anywhere warmer, so the houseplants will have to wait. Well, all but the xmas cactus. I have a small bag of cactus and citrus potting soil inside, only because it never made it back to the shed. So one houseplant down, at least five or six to go.

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Tired of winter

After that lovely snow, this week rain fell on top of the snow, then everything iced up with a little snow on top of that. Today the sun is trying to shine while the clouds try to snow. It's not totally ugly out, but cold, cold, cold. February may be the shortest month of the year, but it feels like the longest.

Since not much is happening out in the yard, I thought I would spend some blog posts on new plants for the yard that I am not familiar with. First up is roundleaf ragwort, Packera obovata. It will be planted in the area between the castleblock and the front sidewalk, where its yellow flowers will bloom early on 1.5' stalks while spreading to its heart's content, thereby smothering weed growth. It tolerates dry soil but it also thrives in rain gardens, which is good because that bed is a bit sandy but also sometimes holds standing water. All I have to do is cut the spent flowers before they go to seed, when they may spread like dandelions.

Photo courtesy of Missouri Botanical Garden

Another newcomer is hairy beardtongue, Penstemon hirsutus. This plant tolerates sun and shade, which is what it will get on the east side of the house. It serves as the larval host to checkerspot butterflies; the Baltimore checkerspot is found locally. It also attracts hummingbirds. I have grown penstemon before, the latest attempt a container experiment (Penstemon barbatus 'Coccineus'). Those will be transplanted into an area in the backyard, so we should have hummingbirds coming and going.

Photo courtesy of Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

So those are two newcomers. Seed catalogs keep arriving, but I think I will have plenty of new plants to deal with without adding more... at least, this year!

Saturday, February 05, 2022

Snow joke

I hope you are not tired of snowy photos from the Midwest, as I have a few to share. It wasn't the same as the blizzard of '78, but we received a significant amount of snowfall, about a foot in my backyard. And we don't have to worry about a repeat of the flood of '82 because the city has since done a LOT to mitigate contributing factors to that flood. The kids don't even miss school now; my granddaughter spent a day here with me, diligently tackling her e-learning assignments. The assignments are available at 10:00 AM, so she could still sleep in, and she spent her "recess" outside, building a snowperson, so don't bemoan the lack of snow days.

Sean from Sanctuary Native Landscapes and I met via Zoom, to discuss final plans for the installation. My attitude now is, This is costing me so much, this is *exactly* what I want. While most of the yard will be stripped clean, a few things will remain, at least for now. I'm carving out a few areas for my own uses because I do like puttering around out in the yard. But for the most part, it will be a complete redo.

I haven't seen anything exotic in my backyard birdwise, but there are some surprises: a nuthatch at the mealworm feeder, a junco under the mealworm feeder, a lone male cardinal, a robin at the bird bath. This morning I saw quite a few robins feeding on the fruit on the trees by the library branch near me, so they are starting to come out of the woods for their winter feast; I expect my hawthorn to be stripped bare soon.