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Gardening for Birds – Expect to Be Dazzled By Who Comes to Visit

Finch in the Sunflowers

Our garden and our bird list is very interconnected. The birds are coming and enjoying a variety of things in our garden habitat. I learned from Angie at Petra School that it takes about twenty minutes before the birds forget that you are watching. I have tried to find a spot to sit or stand in the garden and just wait to see who will come back during that twenty minute’s time.

The results?

I can confirm that she is right on! Usually after a few minutes the jays come back and the nuthatch and the grosbeaks come fairly quickly too. But some of the birds take a good long time before they reveal their hiding places in the trees and in the shelter of the bushes we have at the edges of our yard.

It is worth the wait. I decided that this week’s garden/bird entry would be a photo essay with lots of colorful images and very few words. Enjoy!

July 12 Garden and birdbath
Day lilies and our back birdbath

The birdbaths are a frequent stopover for the neighborhood birds.

July 12 Garden and birds (3)
Our little wild patch of blackberries just behind the birdfeeding station.

The blackberry bushes are a perfect shelter for birds to rest and to wait their turn at the feeder.

July 12 Garden and birds (9)
The leaves on our sunflowers are being eating by nibbling finches.

The sunflowers and birch trees are attracting the Lesser Goldfinches…who are eating the leaves and seeds.

The Black-headed Grosbeaks and the Western Scrub Jays are in and out of the feeders all day long.This is the best image I could get this week…they are fast in and out of the feeder. They have a sweet little song as well.The Mourning Doves and California Towhees are pecking around under the feeders.The White-breasted Nuthatches, House Finches, Titmouses, and House Sparrows are always found in the seed feeders.The European Starlings and Robins are busy eating the fruits from the neighbor’s tree that hangs over the fence into our yard.The birds are making a huge mess by taking the fruits all over the yard and eating them. They leave the pits behind and they are covering our driveway. This starling will leave the pit in our neighbor’s grass and next year it may start to grow into a tree. I know this from experience.

Hummingbird in the Butterfly gardenThe Anna’s Hummingbirds are everywhere. They still come to the feeders but they also are in the trumpet vine, the roses, the bee balm, the butterfly bushes, and several of my potted plants.The neighborhood Great Horned Owl is heard once it is dark and still outside. I envision him hunting the rodents that get into my birdfeeders.The mockingbird sings all the time…almost round the clock.

Additional bird notes:
We have heard the Steller’s Jay and their “shook-shook-shook” several times in our neighborhood but we have yet to see one. This would be a new to our neighborhood bird.
We have heard the Nuttall’s Woodpecker lots of time but only once in our back tree. I need to remember to fill the suet feeder.
The Starlings come everyday now which is new for this year as well. Their buzzing sound is now a familiar backyard bird sound.
The Black-headed Grosbeaks are also a new every day bird. Their flash of color at the feeders is beautiful.

Jami’s Tuesday Garden Party meme is open from Tuesday to Thursday so there is still time for you to jump in and participate!You may be interested in reading my entry, If You Build It, They Will Come, entry that shows the butterflies that are frequently found in our yard.What are you doing to make your yard attractive to birds and butterflies?

Sage Lavender Butterfly Bush
Sage, Lavender, and Butterfly Bushes
Fruits for the Birds
Not sure what kind of tree this is but it sure is messy…the birds love it though.
Starling Eating Fruits
Starling in our neighbor’s yard with a fruit from the tree.

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Day Lilies – Abundance of Beauty

7 6 11 Day Lily Deep Red with yellow and pollen

We have collected quite a few different varieties of day lilies over the year and right now they are blooming like crazy. Thanks to a day lily farm not too far from our house we have access to so many different colors, shapes, and sizes of lilies to choose from. We try to add one new variety each year and keeping track of the names has been a big job.

I thought perhaps taking a photo and keeping a record of the names would be a better way than relying on my memory. I have lost my paper with my whole list so I have only given the names for the flowers I am sure of in this post.

7 4 and 5 11 Day lily Pink and Orange

Dark Pink and Orange

7 4 and 5 11 Day Lily Light pink

Light Pink and slightly fragrant = American Original

7 4 and 5 11 Day Lily Yellow

Yellow and shaped like a spider = Shenandoah

7 4 and 5 11 Day Lily Red and Yellow

Maroon and yellow = Rain Dance

7 4 and 5 11 Day Lily Peach and Purple

Yellow and Purple

7 4 and 5 11 Day Lily Red and Yellow almost green

Red and yellow shaped like a spider = Stoplight

I guess I have become sort of a “collector” of flowers. I love walking around my garden each week and seeing which flowers are blooming. Some of the day lilies will bloom later in the summer, some even into autumn. We tried to pick particular varieties so we would continually have blooms to enjoy.

I love this plant and it is super easy to grow. They multiple fairly fast and you can divide the plants and fill in spaces as you like. My dad and I have started sharing day lilies and that is a great way to build up your beds.

This is also a perfect flower to learn your plant parts. Check out Garden Flowers-Flower Parts: Challenge #13  and Garden Flowers-Pollen: Challenge #18.

“All the names should be taught gradually by constant unemphasized use on the part of the teacher; and if the child does not learn the names naturally then do not make him do it unnaturally.”Handbook of Nature Study, page 456

Enjoy your garden this week!
Barb-Harmony Art Mom

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Garden Update: Just Not a Great Year So Far

I wouldn’t quite say the garden is disappointing but it is far less productive than in recent years. Could it be the weather? Too cold and wet early on? Too hot now? I know I was committed to having a smaller garden this year so it may just be that I have become accustomed to having more of everything and this scaled back garden is what it is.

Bee in pollen 2
The zucchini is blossoming but nothing to eat so far. This bee was so heavy with pollen he could hardly move. I have never seen so much pollen.

Lemon sunflower (2)
Our sunflowers for the Great Sunflower Project are just now blooming so we will have the opportunity to count bees and participate in that activity this week. The bees are far more busy in other parts of the garden.

Butterfly bush (2)
Our butterfly and hummingbird garden is a hub of activity. Swooping hummingbirds, buzzing bees, and perching finches grab your attention whenever you are outside in the backyard.

Rainbows of colors fill the flower beds now that the day lilies, coneflowers, bee balm, and roses are blooming all at the same time.

day lilies (1)
Some crazy pretty day lilies in the butterfly garden.

Bee balm 5
Most likely my new favorite flower in the garden this year is this bee balm.

Bee in the butterfly bush
Sometimes you just capture the best moments purely by chance. I was taking a photo of this butterfly bush and the bee came along and entered the shot. Pretty cool huh?

Crepe Myrtle
The crepe myrtles are starting to burst out in color this week. We love this bush so much that we planted three more in our front yard last fall…so easy to grow, brilliantly colored when they bloom.

Dusty Miller
Another new to us plant in our garden is this Dusty Miller. Here are the colorful buds.

Dusty Miller 3
This is the shape of the leaf…amazing and beautiful.

So as you can see, the veggie garden is not all that exciting but the flowers are making up for it. Hopefully my next update will be filled with yummy delicious things to eat.

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Our Early Spring Flowers: Winter Series #10

spring flowers march 10

Today is the warmest day we have had so far this year. It is the kind of day that calls you outside to sit and observe the growing things around you.

I answered the call and sat in the backyard in the sun and soaked in the warmth from the sun, the sounds of birds from every direction, the smells of the garden which were mostly alyssum and lavender, and the colors of the plants, trees, and sky. A hummingbird even buzzed very close to my head just because I imagine he was curious to get a closer look at me.

I have been trying to notice the early spring flowers in our yard and I made note of how others in my life have been noting the blossoms as well. We completed this tour of the garden as part of our Winter Series Challenge #10.

Two blooming tulips
Mr. A came inside yesterday to get me because he noticed that my tulips are blooming on the sunny side of the house. He didn’t know there were tulips planted there so he was surprised. My husband had picked up a inexpensive bag of bulbs from Home Depot and planted them here where we have some daffodils and jonquils already. What a burst of color!

Jonquils in the strawberry bed
Amanda commented on how sweet the jonquils smelled in the vase on the back of the kitchen sink. I love the way I forget where all my bulbs are hiding and it surprises me when they pop up and bloom in unexpected places. These are in the middle of Mr. A’s strawberry bed.

Sideview of Daffodils
Many people I talked to this weekend were talking about the show of daffodils everywhere this week. If you haven’t done a study of the daffodil using the Handbook of Nature Study, I highly recommend it. We completed our study in 2008 and you can read about it HERE.

Grape Hyacinths and dandelions
Mr. A was worried he would cut the grape hyacinths down when he mowed the lawn. Someone planted these bulbs a very long time ago and every year I enjoy them popping up in the front lawn. The purple of the hyacinths and the yellow of the dandelion makes a beautiful picture.

Bulbs in pots
These bulbs are living in containers on my back deck. Every year I enjoy their blooms and then plant annuals over the top once they die back. I think these are daffodils and tulips.

Day lily and the Rabbit
The bulbs here that have sprouted up are not spring blooming but they are day lilies that will bloom later in the summer. I love the way the green leaves are curling around the rabbit and you can see my primroses in the background.

Daylily and the roadrunner
This day lily has a wonderful shape as it grows and I love the way the light was illuminating the edges. You can see my road runner yard art that my husband made me a few years ago in the background. He was inspired by a road runner we saw on a trip.

Tulips still in the bud
One last spot with bulbs to share this time. This bed of tulips I planted two falls ago and it is a complete bed of shades of purple. I am anxiously awaiting its blooms. There is a petunia blooming in the foreground.

Planting spring bulbs is something that comes with a promise. You make the effort to plant and you receive a gift back in the spring with blooming flowers with colors to refresh you after a long winter’s nap. Our think our Creator knew we would need something to look forward to during those cold winter days.

I have to note that I saw California poppies and lupine blooming alongside the freeway today. it is my absolute favorite color combination at this time of year…orange, purple, and green. It is a feast for the eyes.

I look forward to reading everyone else’s entries with their early spring flowers.


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Day Lily Farm-Color!

We had a chance to take a drive to one of our favorite local spots….a flower farm that specializes in growing and cultivating day lilies.

This is the perfect time of year to visit because so many of the early varieties are blooming.

This is one that I love and we have several in our home garden.

Wow! Look at the bright orange color! Stunning.

We wandered up and down the rows and rows of flowers and decided on one called, “Sachet of Lemon.” I forgot to actually take a photo of this one, but when it blooms in our garden I will share a photo of it with you.

Gardens ebook Outdoor Hour challenge

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Grasshopper on the Daylily (Katydid)

As I was watering the garden this afternoon I noticed this big guy on the daylily. He was rubbing himself in the pollen and thoroughly enjoying himself. He didn’t seem to mind that I was watching him and taking a few photos. Amazing….simply amazing.

Look at those really long antennae.

What a great discovery this hot summer afternoon. The flower is just gorgeous too…..if you didn’t notice. 🙂

“When any creature has unusually strong hind legs, we many be sure it is a jumper, and the grasshopper shows this peculiarity at first glance.”
Handbook of Nature Study, page 339

There is a section on grasshoppers starting on page 338 of the Handbook of Nature Study.

Edit to Note: Makita helped me realize that this particular insect is actually a Chaparral katydid. So now here is my question: Is a katydid a kind of grasshopper? In my field guide it says, Chaparral Katydid, Platylyra californica, grasshopper order. Are grasshoppers, katydids, and crickets all related or am I reading my field guide and misunderstanding? Insect identification is my least favorite thing to do in nature study.