Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Summer Sights

Summer goes on. The days are long, hot, and sticky. Garden weeds run rampant in this weather. My main chore this time of year is trying to keep up with those crazy weeds. By the time I circle around all my garden beds, new weeds have already popped up in the first bed. Sometimes I finish one bed, turn my back on it, and when I turn back around, there will suddenly be one large weed sticking its tongue out at me. Okay, that part may be a slight exaggeration. But not much!

My hydrangeas are starting to bloom, as is the hardy hibiscus. These two particular plants please me immensely. Maybe it's the extra large size of their blossoms.

Container gardens often need a refresh by this time of year. I've had to switch out a few plants here and there. But that may be because I was out traveling, and they didn't get the water that they needed. My window boxes start off the year with pansies, but when the pansies start to fade, they are switched out for simple begonias. I have a new appreciation for this common flower. They seem to like this particular spot to grow, and reward me by filling in generously. Or maybe they're getting a boost from the organic fertilizer that I often sprinkle in them. The similar window box style planter, seen here at sunset on the side of the garage gets a little different treatment. It's sunnier and larger, so I do more varied plantings there. I'm pleased with this combination of plants, but did have to fill in a bare spot with petunias recently. I'm not happy at how quickly this planter wilts in the heat, so changes will be made next year. I'm not a fan of doing the garden hose rodeo every day, as you may know.

I also made an adjustment to my wine bottle art, which is a fancy name for my version of a bottle tree. When I installed it two summers ago, I used multi-color bottles. Since then I decided to transition over to the traditional blue bottles, forcing me to change the kind of wine that I usually drink in order to acquire the needed supplies. If you look closely, you'll see that I still need to drink one more blue bottle wine. It's a tough project, but I think I can muddle through...

My favorite annual is the zinnia, because it grows easily from seed and comes in so many varieties. Most people who follow my blog or on Facebook know that my absolute favorite is the Queen Red Lime zinnia. They're a little harder to come by than the others, but worth the trouble to me. I love their muted, antique coloring. They're just starting to bloom here and there. Soon I'll have many, many blooms to share! You see, I've had my best year ever for germination, and I have lots more plants than usual. Can't wait! Along with the Queen, I do like Tequila Lime zinnias a lot too. I also planted some of these two varieties in a pots this year, something I've never done before. I was worried they wouldn't bloom in such a small space, but they sure did.

I also planted a patch of Cut and Come Again zinnias in the vegetable garden, to serve as a cutting garden. Hubby built these wonderful raised beds for the veggies, and we now have additional space out there. That's why I claimed a little real estate for these. I actually did pick a bouquet, but as usual, I like them so much as is that it's hard for me to cut them. As you can see, I squeezed a ton of seeds into a tiny little spot. It looks fabulous, I say!

This time of year is when I see an uptick in the butterflies that visit Robin's Nest. Coincidentally, many of the favorite butterfly flowers come into bloom right about now. Butterflies and hummingbirds are two of my main priorities when gardening. So this is my favorite time of year in the garden!

The baby birds we found in the birdhouse have fledged by now, but I do believe there is another brood in the making. Many bird lovers don't appreciate house sparrows, but I'll leave them alone for now. I think in the winter I'll clean out the box and hope that they don't return next year. I read that they chase away the more desirable birds like bluebirds. The bluebird seen in my May post hasn't been spotted since then, even though I often put out mealworms for him. Needless to say, I'd love to see him again. Goldfinches are another story. I see them often here, and try to keep my finch sock filled with nyjer seeds. But it's hard to keep up with those hungry little guys! The mourning doves have learned to hang out beneath the finch sock in order to pick up any loose seed. Did you know that mourning doves have pink feet? Well, now you do!

And so summer goes in Robin's Nest. Most evenings you'll find me out on the patio with my camera around my neck, hoping to see more summer sights to share with you here.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

June Feels Summery

Summer sunshine means butterflies are starting to show up here in Robin's Nest. I haven't seen too many yet, but imagine my excitement when I spotted my first monarch of the season recently. Not only that, but she posed so sweetly for me on this orange butterfly weed right next to the lavender. I'll have to check to see if she left me any eggs.

The calendar says it isn't summer yet, but we all know that June is when summer starts. All the cool weather is gone, and every day is hot and muggy. We are already begging for rain! That doesn't normally start in June, so it looks like it's going to a hot and dry summer. Our summers usually are very dry, but every year, I wish we'd have a rainy season instead.

I've already started the daily garden hose rodeo, which I really dislike. I always swear that I garden with drought tolerant plants, and I really do have many. But in May and June there are still seedlings to baby, and containers getting started. These are the things that keep me wrangling that darned hose.

Despite the hot and dry weather, the garden glows on. By the end of May and the beginning of June, it seems to be a time when something new blooms every day.

Roses usually peak here in late May and early June. I do have problems with what I believe are sawfly larvae eating holes in the leaves every year. I'm all about organic, so mostly I just tolerate the holes. But I wish there was a solution. I'm sure I'm the only one who notices though, because the holes are small and the flowers are pretty enough to overshadow it.

One of the best parts of summer here are my patio evenings. I spend many nights out around town with all of my musical activities, but when I'm not singing, I'm thrilled to stay home and enjoy the "veranda" after dinner. My tools are my phone, my iPad, my glass of iced tea, and my camera. Some nights I swap the iced tea out for a glass of wine. My companions are usually the birds who call my yard their home.

This is the first year I've had any birds in my mostly decorative birdhouse. The babies are large enough to come out and fly a bit, but I'm not sure how many there are. They are a noisy bunch! Mom and Dad bird are constantly flying back and forth with tidbits for them. These are house sparrows, and not generally known to be desirable. But I don't mind having them around.

It's all about the flowers here though. You know I just can't resist filling my garden with as many flowers as I can fit. The goal is to attract butterflies and hummingbirds with most of these blooms. But if the flowers don't attract them, that's okay. They can still stay here.

Thanks for coming back to see me here in Robin's Nest. I haven't done very well at keeping up with posts, but then again, it's that time of year when all my spare time is spend outside working on the yard. Housework can wait, but garden season is just too short to waste. And on that note, I'm heading back outside!