Saturday, February 28, 2009

Color during the cold months

Even though the trees and flowers are sleeping in my Georgia garden, I still have plenty of color during the cold months of winter. Click the video to see the activity we have at the backyard bird feeders.

The Cardinal are popular birds at backyard feeders of North America. Here you see both male and female Cardinals eating the black oil sunflower seed. The male is the bright red guy to the left. Ah, if only in the human world the man had to be the pretty one. Then getting ready each day would not be such a task for me. Giggle...

The female Cardinal is also pretty, just look how her crown stands up when defending her eating spot.Here you see the Cardinal with male Purple Finches.

Female Purple Finches are near by the males.

The Wren prefers to eat the peanut butter nuggets in the butterfly bush island rather then the backyard feeder. The next few pictures were snapped back when we had a yard full of blooms and I was patiently sitting on the swing nearby. I don't have such luck with capturing the wren at the big feeder in the backyard during the winter. They along with the...Chickadee... Titmouse... and brown-headed Nuthatch, are so quick with taking a seed or mouth full of suet that I cannot catch them. They remind me of the fluttering butterflies when trying to snap a picture of them. Darn near impossible!

The Finches dominate the feeders during the winter. Here you see the Gold Finch wearing their winter coats.

Here is a Gold Finch starting to put on his spring feathers.

A Pine Siskin eats with the Purple Finches.

Mr. Blue Jay is a bit of a bully at the feeders. He or she (they both look the same) like to scatter the seed below while eating.

But none of the seed on the ground goes to waste as this furry critter is always nearby waiting for the opportunity to indulge in some treats! We have the feeders blocked from the Squirrels and Raccoons with baffles.

The Hawk's are also an opportunist and they take advantage of our bird feeders even though they do not eat seed. A lot of people don't like the hawks in their gardens and yard but I am okay with them thus far.

The Hawks favorite meal is the dove as they eat from the ground. If only the hawk would eat more squirrels and voles instead of my beloved birds. Sigh...

Here is a bird that people don't care to see in their gardens. Some even put out deterrents in the form of Scarecrows to run off the big black crows. I don't mind them in our yard as they have never bothered anything other then maybe steal a bird egg from a nest. I do try to live in harmony with all the wildlife around us.

This little Pine Warbler is our guest only during the winter months. He shows up and loves to nibble on the suet cakes. This one flew into a sun-room window and was getting his thoughts together before he took off again.

Another of our guest that mainly show up during the winter months is the ground feeding Flicker. A woodpecker that loves to eat grubs from the soil. He is my friend as he can have all the grubs he would like from my garden!

Grubs mean Japanese Beetles and I don't like them in the garden at all.

Soon the red Breasted Grosbeak and Cedar Waxwings will be Coming Through then I will know Spring is officially here!

Even though winter can be a dreary time for us, we can look out our window and still see COLOR DURING THE COLD MONTHS, In the Garden...

Friday, February 27, 2009

From Then to Now (Back Yard)

Here is second part of my Blogiversary posts called "From Then to Now: Frontyard", this part is of course, "From Then to Now: Backyard". Most all of my gardening and the changes in the yard have been done on a shoestring budget and physical labor-mine! Every single garden you see was hand dug by me, every single rock and concrete chunk was hauled in by me (every single one free!), all plants were planted and nurtured by me, all hardscape was designed and built by me (with the occasional manpower from Mr. Fix-it and the two sons). What is my point? Just letting you know that gardening takes a lot of labor (as if you didn't already know it). but not so much money, just dedication and some free time; which I finally got after I retired from the Army, but for some reason the labor part seems to leave me before jobs get completed these days, however, that is a story for another day. Let's look at some backyard pictures of a garden in a constant state of change (aren't they all?).

Before: Northeast corner of Backyard (September 2001)

After: Northeast corner of the Backyard. (September 2008)
Before: Back Foundation Garden along the non-existent sidewalk looking south. (September 2002)

After: Back Foundation Garden looking south. (September 2008) My two sons and I built the sidewalk while Mr. Fix-it was deployed to Iraq. This sidewalk was the most expensive project in the garden. Since I built it I have sought alternatives to pavers; which are so much more cheaper.
Before: Backyard Northwest Corner (Summer 2001)
After: Backyard Northwest Corner (September 2008) Yup, those are my free bricks I received back in September from Adam, a fellow Freecycler. They are working their way into a new patio in this general vicinity. Actually-I am working them into a new patio, a post to come at a later date. I sure wish they could do it themselves!
Before: Backyard Looking from Deck Toward Pond to the West (Summer 2001)
After: Backyard Looking From Deck to Pond to the West (September 2008)

Before: Looking southwest from the deck (September 2001) Mr. Fix-it and a very young Jimmy are playing on a swing here.
Before: Looking Southwest from the Deck (Summer 2004)
After: Looking Southwest from the Deck (September 2008) Before: Looking east from the Southwest corner of the yard (Summer 2003)
After: Looking East from the Southwest corner of the yard (September 2008) The veggie garden is to the left, you can see the gourds growing all over the place. The grassy area is Mr. Fix-it's 'driveway' to his garage-a non-gardening area.
These two posts have been fun for me. I got to pull out old photos and really assess the garden and its changes in the past seven plus years. It has been a lot! But like all gardens, it is still continually evolving and changing. Just like life and us gardeners.

I also have to add a caveat to this post, when looking at all the photos one thing you can really notice is how many trees have been cut down. I must give total credit to Mr. Fix-it and his invaluable labor in cutting these trees down. He gets a bit offended if I don't include him and his labor, so I will make sure not to make that mistake again. He does help out quite a bit, but since he works SO much, the main part of the labor falls to me.

in the garden....

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The 'Follower' Widget and a Decision

From In the Garden

Hi all! This was not the original post I was going to publish today, but after the problems with the following widget on Blogger, I decided the time was right for a post on the "follower" widget.

I understand the widget is an additional avenue for others to subscribe to ones' blog. I appreciate it very much, but have always felt a tiny bit uncomfortable with the term 'follower' or 'followers' and I have felt a bit of pressure about the widget too. Let me explain.

Followers-who came up with that term anyway? The word follower is defined in my Webster's New Thesaurus as "one who attaches himself to another". Okay, fair enough, the widget kind of allows this to happen when one follows a blog, but is it really the best term for the widget? Why not 'Fans' or 'Subscribers' or 'Readers' or anything but FOLLOWERS! All I can think when I hear the term 'followers' is Jim Jones and his 'followers' who ended their lives in a very bad way. Okay, so right off we are not off to a good start last summer when the widget appeared and I had my first 'fan'. Yes, I'm changing the term follower to fan right here and now for this post.

That first fan was Linda of Remote Tree Changer in Australia. I was SO flattered and honored she and all the other fans chose to subscribe to this blog. The widget slowly grew after she started subscribing to this blog and I was amazed. Several more fans added their name in and I was in shock-still am! This all happened last summer while I was on vacation in Maine. I had no idea what was happening but let it happen. Then one day I realized I might want to post this widget on my blog so that the fans of In the Garden blog could be seen by other fans of In the Garden. I think this consequence of the 'fan' widget is supposed to be an offshoot of the 'follower' widget. To let others see and connect with one another. And that is a GOOD thing. No question about it that blogging is a social network system we all use, so the widget was an extra outlet if you will. More avenues to find other folks with like interests. Super! So I posted the widget.

More and more fans subscribed until some of the fans began dropping off from the widget as displayed on the blog. It seems that once you reach a certain number of fans then only the last 18 fans are displayed on your blog. Oh dear says I in a panic! I am writing to my good blogging friend in Virginia for help. Cosmo, "How do I fix the following widget so all the 'fans' can be seen??!!" She tried hard to help but neither one of us could figure it out, so I sighed and left it as is. I was sorry that the earliest fans were no longer visible. Yes, you can still click on the 'Show all' button and see everyone, but how often will you do that?

After a while I began noticing most all bloggers had posted their 'fan' widget on their blog. I thought it a good thing. Then I began counting the numbers we all had and comparing my widget with others, I did not think that was a good thing:( I felt like the follower widget had become a popularity contest and a status symbol, and I thought this was not what I wanted. I mentioned it to Skeeter. I was in awe that folks wanted to subscribe to this blog and that there were several and was amazed, and truly felt honored by all the fans, but I also felt a bit of pressure to keep up the pace and maintain a status so that fans would continue to like and subscribe to this blog.

So then I ranted to Skeeter a bit more about how I owed all the fans good stuff and what if they were not happy with the stuff we posted and oh my, I wrung my hands in fear they would drop me or not read as much. I tried very hard to either blogroll, or fave or at least visit all the fans of the blog-daily. The pressure was building. And still fans came and I was still awed and in shock!

Skeeter, in her own unique way, put it all in perspective for me. I will not steal her thunder because on a special day for her, she will post her own views on blogging. We know all bloggers are individuals and we all have our own ways of doing things, but friends keep us grounded and this is what Skeeter has done for me and my dealings with the blog. However, I make all the decisions and try to do what is best for all concerned, including me. So what to do with the 'fan' widget and the pressure to please all and showcase this status symbol? A double whammy not in the favor of displaying the widget in my book. Add in the fact that not ALL fans are displayed, the widget slows loading of the blog (my belief), and it is not looking good for our 'fan' widget to find a prime spot on the blog.

Okay, now throw in the situation that Blogger is working some issues with the 'fan' widget and comment verification and all the other techy stuff they do, and there are major issues with the fan widget. All of sudden many 'fans' drop off the widget and it is obviously noticeable, not only to me but also to the ones who lost their following widget and had to resubmit. More wringing of my hands on my part-hey, I'm only human.

So finally, I have fixed the situation for me and all fans of this blog and any ordinary readers who just happen by for a quick sec; I have decided not to display the widget. I want to tell all the 'fans' I am sorry if this disappoints you, but you can still subscribe no problem, you just won't be seen on the following widget on the front of this blog.
Anyone who wishes to stop subscribing, I totally understand. This takes pressure off from me and I hope off from others for any reason whatsoever-hey we're all human and I do think the widget can cause pressures for everyone. This decision works best for me and I already feel less pressure! Did you even notice the widget was gone?

I have to thank the Blogger issues for giving me the impetus to remove the widget-finally. I do hope you all understand and I appreciate all the support from readers of this blog, whether you subscribe or not, whether you comment or not, it doesn't matter, you read!

in the garden....

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Timing is Everything When Moving or Dividing Perennials-or is it?

Remember those huge mums? Well they didn't last long enough to bloom out. I cut them down in their prime. It really hurt to do it but hey, timing is everything right? And I needed to move them. Now the question begging to be asked is, "Could I have waited until the mums bloomed out?"

Yes, I certainly could have waited a bit to cut the mums. I could have waited a whole season, but since winter was coming and I wanted to get these mums established in other spots, I could not have waited any longer, therefore the blooms had to go.

What do you think? When is the best time to move perennials? And then, when do you really move your perennials (be honest)? Have you cut down lovely flowers in their prime just because you wanted to move the plant on your schedule?

Which reminds me, almost time to divide and move the daffodils, I'll try my HARDEST to wait until they bloom out:)

in the garden....

Note: I have been trying to comment on blogs that have the new style pop up comment box with a pop up letter verification pop up box. This box will NOT load letters for me. Therefore I cannot comment on your blog. I have left email messages at Blotanical but am also posting the reason here. So sorry for not commenting on your blog, but this is why.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

More Little People

Time for another installment on the Little People community, click here to see the first post.

As you can tell from the landscape, in one month time, it hasn't changed fact it's worse. New England was slammed with a Nor'easter storm today (Monday) and it dumped more than 24 inches in my area. A Nor'easter is a storm with a wide track heading Northeast to Canada and when it clashes with Artic air all the moisture turns to heavy snow with large amounts falling. This one was true to it's name and real sticky! This guy makes me smile, his is the counterpart to Papa, my very first Little People which happens to be a gardener. Let's call him Phibbie the Frog, he found he way home!

We call this guy "FOUR" for Golf's Golden Glow Guy, check out his hair!

His friend Arnie Palmer pal.

Debbie, I keep her so she will be competition for Darcy, the other brunette cheerleader.


Nurse Nancy, standing by with her thermometer and notepad to make us feel better.

This pair is slightly different, but I couldn't resist. They are a cute Halloween couple, Casper and the friendly ghost.

Penny Pic Casio.

Finally, Barbie bride, who needs some plastic surgery, and Todd the best man. Ken the groom seems to have gotten cold feet, pun intended.

In The Garden, holding out for spring.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Violets in Home Gardening from Years Past

Several years ago I had several plants in my home that I really enjoyed. Sadly, with my schedule I couldn't take care of them. Over a period of time they died or I gave them away. Since I began reading Tina's blog "In the Garden" over a year ago, my interest in these lovely flowers has been renewed. Now I once again have several violets in my home. I have all the colors but white.

Here are some of them:

Also the cutting that Cindee from "Cindees Garden" was so gracious to send me has started to put on new leaves. Thank you so much Cindee.

I really like the unusual so I have the one that has the different coloration. I'm anxiously waiting for a bloom so I can see what color it is.
As you can see one is in bloom. One of the lovely flowers is artificial. Can you tell which one?

So I have these lovely ladies to enjoy when I can't get out........

In The Garden

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Day Dreaming of Markets

I am going to do a bit of Day Dreaming of Markets today while sitting in my Georgia home. Ah, look at those big fat juicy blackberry's! I don't grow such beauties in my garden. I don't like the idea of the birds eating berry's then depositing the aftermath on my boat or cars. I am not crazy about stains from the birds if you know what I mean... So where do I find such beautiful berry's?
At the local Saturday morning Market in Old Downtown during the growing season. Strolling through a fresh market with basket in hand is such a treat. You never know what a grower may have from weekend to weekend.
Even plants can be picked up at a town market. You can find fresh fruits, veggies, cheese, bread, soaps, candles, crafts and many other fun things at a local market. We miss the markets in Germany as they have some wonderful markets each Friday and Saturday morning in their Zentrum (town center). We try to get to the old downtown market several times a year if possible. Other times when we are ready for fresh produce and don't have the time to go all the way into Old Towne, we stop by our favorite roadside market. This market is a barn like structure with a wonderful bounty of fresh goodies locally grown as well as brought in from bordering states.
The main thing we go here for are the juicy peaches! You cannot live in Georgia and not like peaches. I think that is a state requirement. Just joking of course but how could one not indulge in such sweetness when it is all around us!
During this visit they had the most beautiful large ferns. I wanted one but already had two and did not need any more. So the Saint grabbed my arm and pulled me away from the beauties.
Look at that counter full of Red Ripe Tomatoes! We were lucky enough to grow our own last year so we did not bring home any tomatoes.
Potatoes, onion, lemon, lime, bags of peanuts and I even see pineapple!

Squash, beans, red and green sweet peppers, cabbage, okra, new potato and egg plant amongst some canned items.
We usually come home with a cantaloupe or melon as they have the sweetest in town!
Our bounty this day consisted of Peaches, Silver Queen corn, Potatoes, Blue Berry's, Green Bean and a small seedless Watermelon! Yum it was all delicious...
I think they called this a Sugar melon but not for sure. It was sweet as can be and we choose this melon over a cantaloupe as they were a bit small this trip.
A few weeks later we stopped by again for more peaches. They were so sweet last year. Probably due to lack of rain. They claim if a fruit gets less rainfall that it may be smaller but sweeter. I know these were sweet treats to our taste buds!
They must have had plenty of rain where this peach was grown. Look at the size of that one after another market visit!

Ah, there is nothing like looking back and doing a bit of DAY DREAMING OF MARKETS while looking out my window, In the Garden...