Sunday, October 30, 2022

Mow the leaves, rake the deck

I spent half the day outside, doing fall-like things like mowing the leaves (and using my zero-turn mower to direct them around the trees) and raking the deck (decomposing leaves not only stain the deck but make it slick). Not all the leaves have fallen yet, so I expect a repeat performance in a week or so.

The two showiest plants right now are the blooming witch-hazel and the berry-ful winterberry holly.

I am looking forward to a snowy winter to provide even more contrast to the red fruit.

Occasionally, I think about replacing one or more of my aging area rugs, but then a cat pukes on one. Ditto this dog damage. I could have that corner piece of siding replaced, but Clio might just claw it apart again. I have a list of things to do when I am petfree (if that ever happens).

I've been seeing quite a few robins lately, which makes me realize I have *not* seen many lately. They scrounge around in the mulch, presumably finding worms? They must not be a caching species, along with the starlings.

We have had a couple of frosty mornings, but the weeds are still green, so I sprayed them today. That will be the last weed-killing spree of the season, me thinks.

Have a spooky Halloween.

Sunday, October 23, 2022

Wish fulfilled

My SO wants to buy me stuff, a habit I try to snuff since I already have everything I need or want. BUT I did mention in my last post that I needed an insect identification book. Voila!

I've already used it to identify two bugs: a yellow garden spider (Argiope aurantia) a friend posted on IG and the dingy cutworm caterpillar moth (Felita jaculifera) from my last post. Too bad the season for creepy crawlies is about over.

One of my witch-hazels is starting to bloom, the oldest one, while the four newbies, which are nearly as big, have not joined the party. If I hadn't been puttering in the yard, I might not have noticed.

Otherwise, not much going on in the yard plantwise. The hickory tree has lost all its leaves, so it looks rather bare, but the rest of the trees are still clinging to theirs despite windy day after windy day.

Birdwise, there is a LOT of activity, as they are in caching mode, gathering and hiding nuts and seeds for the winter. I bet there are at least 100 sparrows frequenting the feeders, plus a few other winter hardy species. I've seen flocks of starlings around town, but they must be grasshoppers, not ants, and hope to find their winter food catch as catch can. No wonder they are such gluttons come January.

Saturday, October 15, 2022

It's alive!

I have this theory. Most houseplants are tropical in nature. They may like it warm and humid, but they don't necessarily like strong sunlight. My theory is based on the behavior of my dracaena plants. One grew so tall that it pushed against my 8-foot ceilings. I eventually just whacked off the entire top and rooted it. It's in the livingroom where it gets mostly indirect light. And, surprise, surprise, it did not grow big and tall, but just sits there like a nicely behaving houseplant should.

Meanwhile, the naked stalk just sat there, too. I began to think that since it had no greenery, it had died. I moved it next to the fireplace where it appears to keep Beau the Feline Destroyer of All Things Nice from climbing onto the mantel. Today, I noticed a leaf bud! So it is not dead. Hopefully, it won't shoot up to the ceiling again.

Recently, the NYTimes published an article by Margaret Roach about Charley Eiseman and leaf miners. Of course, I had to go out and check my plants for leaf miners. I didn't find any, but I found a few other bugs.

I should get a book on insect identification. I don't know exactly what these bugs are, but I did determine that the wasp on the oak gall is not the oak gall wasp. What this one is doing is a mystery. And he wasn't alone. I'll have to pay more attention to the littlest creatures in my backyard.

While watering (hopefully for the last time) the new plants out front, I noticed this monarch crawling along the ground. It acted as though it had newly emerged from a cocoon (which I was unable to locate). I helped it over to one of the aromatic asters, but it wasn't interested. Instead, it took shelter under a wild geranium. The next day it was gone. I wondered if it was from one of the caterpillars I spotted a few weeks ago. Could be. That would be a native gardener's success story.

I have a date for my next shoulder replacement surgery: November 30. Like an ant, I am preparing for the ordeal: cooking batches of soup for the freezer, deep housecleaning, accumulating some new jigsaw puzzles, etc. The yard will basically be done for the season then, so no worries there. And I'll have an excuse to not do anything or go anywhere for a while.

Saturday, October 08, 2022

They're ba-a-ack

I saw the first starling of the season yesterday. They depart for parts unknown during the summer - they may be nearby but not interested in the birdfeeders - but during the winter, they are insatiable. Such gluttons! The bluebirds perform a similar disappearing act, but a few have shown up at the birdbath recently. And a flicker stopped by this week.

The landscaper is going to replace the dead Canadian hemlocks later this fall, so I asked him for an estimate to remove the arborvitae on the north side of the backyard that were damaged during a storm last July. Quite frankly, his estimate was WAY out of line. So I asked a neighbor for his help. Jack has a new "toy" - a battery-powered chainsaw on a pole - so he was happy for the opportunity to use it. We just left the mess where it fell. Once the needles fall off and the wood dries out a bit, I plan to use those long straight branches for craft projects.

The other day I found the head of an oppossum in the side yard. No other body parts, just the head. The dogs can't access that area, so I am left to wonder if it was the work of a large owl, maybe a great horned or barn owl. I'm *this close* to investing in a trail cam, to see what I can see at night. I let the dogs out after dark for a quick pee, and sometimes they get quite cranked up about something. Finn, the indoor/outdoor cat, is staying in at night, per my official decree.

Leaves are starting to turn and drop, the grass has slowed down, we may have had a light frost last night. Very little rain, though, so I am still periodically watering the new plants.