Trash to treasure

This week I spent a few minutes at the Salvation Army thrift store and found a couple of those three tier baskets that originally are for (I think) keeping vegetables in.   As I looked at them, I thought how nice they would be filled with plants and hung from various places in the garden.  I bought them ($1.49 each) and then went to the Dollar Store and bought some coconut liners for them.

This weekend I set about constructing them.  The full size coconut liners were fine for the large basket on the bottom.  In order to line the medium and small baskets I had to cut and jigsaw puzzle the pieces in there but eventually I got it.   I had taken a trip to the Lowes “dead plant section” earlier in the week so I had lots of plants (generally $1.00 or less) to stuff in there.

I tend to have a purple and gold theme going in my containers, in homage to my husbands Alma Mata East Carolina University.  Keeping up with that theme the large basket in the bottom was planted with a purple verbena, surrounded by French marigolds in yellow.  The next tier was purple Petunias, again surrounded with French marigolds.  The last tier was a couple of impatiens, divided from a four inch pot.

I planted them, stuffed them full of potting soil to fill in the gaps and then watered them in thoroughly.  I hung one from a tree limb.

The other one I hung from the center of the Rose Arbor.

I think they look pretty now, and I am hoping that they will thrive and fill in as the season goes on (providing I remember to water them that is).  It is a cheap and easy way to brighten up the landscape if you, like me, are running out of places to put plants in the ground.

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A house is not a home…

I went out into the front garden early this morning and began work on a new idea for planters that I came up with.  As I worked by the patio table I noticed a flash of bright yellow out of the corner of my eye.  I turned and saw it was a small but beautiful yellow bird that I have to admit I have never seen before in my 20 years of living here.  I noticed that the bird had a beakful of nesting material and was obviously busy with construction.  I followed it for a little while but could not figure out where the nest was being built.

I continued with my planter work and then noticed that the bird was hovering around the same place and then disappearing.   It was then I realized why.  They were moving into one of my nesting boxes.  I was so excited I could barely contain myself.  I finished up with my chores and went into the house for the camera and tripod.  I grabbed the zoom lens, set up the camera and tripod next to a chair a respectful distance away and sat and waited.  I just hoped that my activity around the nesting box had not spooked them.  After about ten minutes of me sitting quietly I was rewarded.

After consulting my bird identification book I guessed that they are a pair of Prothonotary Warblers (although to be certain I have sent an e-mail to Cornell for confirmation).  The female was very busy bringing the nesting material and obviously doing most of the construction work.

The male was busy checking out the other nesting boxes and I watched him as he checked out the other hanging one by this one and the one on the front porch post.  Eventually he came back to the Red Barn and stood guard.

I cannot tell you how excited I am.  I read more on the birds and they are a familiar resident of swampy forests in the south east so I am surprised that I have never seen them before as my house backs on to such a place.  They often use nesting boxes, but I have only had mine for a couple of years so perhaps they have just discovered it.  Also they are insect eaters, so it would be no surprise that I have not seen them at the feeders.

I shall be watching carefully from a distance to see if the nesting material is replaced by insects being taken into the box as Spring progresses, a sure sign that they have young in there.   I just love it when a plan comes together!

20 years and counting

This weekend I spent Saturday weeding my flower beds and waging the never ending war against the tree seedlings coming up in them, from gum ball tree seedlings, oak tree seedlings (thanks to the Squirrels), Sweet Bay seedlings and the Japanese Privet seedlings it is something that I must keep on top of lest they take over my beds and threaten to turn my front yard into some bizarre version of Sleeping Beauty’s castle.

Wearing my nasty old gardening jeans and a sparkly “Britain” tank top I was leaning over into the bed under the front window to take out a particularly obstinant Japanese Privet sprout when I heard a voice behind me.  “You know you have a really, really, gorgeous butt considering that you are 50 years old”.  I think his meds got the better of him.

As if you need more evidence of Climate Change

My Gazania burst into bloom this week, which is strange in and of itself, what is really fascinating is that they overwintered in containers in the driveway.  They weren’t even in the ground where their roots would be more protected, no they were in flimsy plastic pots on the edge of the driveway.

As I have mentioned previously I also have verbena blooming right now having overwintered in the containers on the driveway.

As well as in the pathway bed.

I also have African Daisies that are about to bloom, yet another so called annual that is not supposed to survive the winter.   Look I am no climate scientist,  sure I watch the news, I follow the weather and I read the blogs.  All I am saying is I know what is going on around me, I see it on a daily basis.  All you climate change skeptics can stick your fingers in your ears and yell “la la la I can’t hear you” all you want, but I know what I see, I know what I feel, and I know what I experience.   I am not trying to claim that the planet is getting warmer, I am just offering you irrefutable proof that my little corner of it is.  Do with it what you will.

I never promised you a rose garden

The roses are blooming right now, earlier than normal of course, just like everything.  The red “rugosa” root stock rose that sprung from my white tree rose on the patio has burst into bloom and in short order is going to be covered in flowers.

One of my Hybrid T’s in the front bed put out a bloom today with another on the way.

And the carpet roses are about to burst into bloom, with this little one showing the way.

It would appear to be red all around right now but Ms. Lady Banks is also in bloom, albeit fading a little now,

She is going to be in for a severe haircut once the blooms have faded as she appears to have completely overwhelmed my famous 25cent Lantana with her canes, which of course I cannot allow to happen.   I am wondering if I can stick the cuttings in the ground and see if they root?  I suppose I have absolutely nothing to lose with that experiment.  I might just go for it.

Pegged It

This afternoon when I was hanging out my laundry I noticed a bee of some description on one of my pegs.  It looked like she was resting, but on further inspection she was very studiously laying eggs on the flat part of the peg.  My knowledge of bees is limited to the honey kind, which of course live in hives.  Was she a newly minted Queen, laying the eggs that will become her workers, who will go on to build her hive?  I have no clue.

The fascinating part however, was that she (or perhaps another bee) had visited that peg before.

Eggs

The yellow eggs you see here are the ones she was laying today.   I am assuming (because I do not know any better) that the green ones had been laid a little earlier, and the brown ones (hard to see but below the yellow) had been laid earlier still.

I will of course leave the peg alone and no longer use it for hanging out laundry.  I am hoping that at some point I can figure out what these things are and perhaps even see them hatch.

Spoiled Rotten

As you all know I am a canny shopper, and I use coupons and store specials to get things for free, and in some cases the store pays me to take stuff off their shelves.  In many of these cases it is dog and cat food because they are a large part of my grocery budget.  In recent months I acquired large amounts of Rachael Ray “Just 6” dog treats, which Food Lion paid me to take out of the store.  In addition I acquired large amounts of “Beggin Strips” fake bacon treats, again because they were on special and I had coupons.

Cueball will not eat either of them.  He completely turns his nose up at the Just 6 treats, and might, at a push eat the begging strips.  I tell him, in my best chiding voice “there are dogs in (insert third world country name here) that would love to eat these things and you are turning your nose up at them” It does no good.

By the same token I have a ton of Wiskers Lickens cat treats that for some reason my cats turn their noses up at.  I also tell my cats “you get the best food, you get the best treats, why are you turning your nose up at these?” They look at me as if to say “you have just placed a pile of vomit in front of me, why do you expect me to eat it”.

I give up.