Tuesday, November 25, 2008

You've lost that lovin' feeling...

I'll get into the title of my posting in a second after I talk about this week's Project feeder watch results. Things were a little quieter at the feeders the days I counted, I'm not sure if it was the sudden drop in temperature or if I just wasn't catching the right day. I also switched out the crap bird seed with some black sunflower seed in the hopper feeder...it's slowly catching on. But, not as fast as I had expected. I moved the office to the kitchen table so I could really watch the activity both Thursday and Friday. I did see a species of bird I had never noticed before, so that was kind of cool. I snapped this photo this morning of the Feline Unit of Squirrel Patrol with Merlin. He's not as affective as the Canine Unit I have to report. I think he's just doing surveillance for the tactical team of Sam and Lars.

Here's the count -
  • Song Sparrows - 3
  • Carolina Wren - 2
  • Chickadee - 4
  • Mourning Dove - 1
  • Junco - 4
  • White Throated Sparrow - 1 (He's the newbie)
  • House Sparrow - 1
  • Titmouse - 2
  • Goldfinch - 1
  • Cardinal - 2

I attempted to take a photo of the Cardinal with my cell phone. He is very skittish and if I get any closer to that door, he's gone. I was surprised at the lack of Blue Jays which I did see this weekend. I continued to watch this Saturday while working at the kitchen table. Of course, the bird feeders were jammed with visitors. I should have kept counting and threw away Thursday's count. I wonder if there are people who do that.

Anyway...on to my enigmatic title. I have to say this year was the year of apathy for me...not just gardening but everything - work, dogs, life. I had a year that had me back in the role of care taker for Eric and then Sam. I had a new puppy which I had no idea would be like raising a baby. Then Sam became deathly ill and almost left us this early summer, right in the middle of my busiest time of year. Right there I can see why I'm tired. Then pile on top of that $4.00/gallon gas, rising food & utilities costs, and then let's finish that all up with the world's economy imploding on itself.

I couldn't bring myself to get into the yard this year. I didn't get any new plants other than the ones I bought with my brother's birthday gift card. I couldn't get myself to feel the lust and the love for getting my hands dirty. I couldn't justify spending money on plants where it needed to go to the vet bills, groceries, and gas. I know a lot of people felt the same way. I started to wonder if I had finally gone and done it with burning myself out. It's possible and I look much forward to the quiet and tranquility that winter brings. This fall, I confessed to a couple of my closest clients what I had been feeling and they echoed my sentiments. Joanie who was crazed about plants to the point I had to chide her when she came home with something new which we had no place for, wasn't into her gardens this year. Another client who normally is gung ho about what is going to take place in their garden was more like ho hum. I didn't feel that badly then after knowing there are more gardeners out there who's love for horticulture is waning under the pressures of life. I wonder if we (collectively) are all tired of everything...the wars, the failing economy, the mortgage crunch, the constant barrage of bad news we hear every day.

The other day I was on Garden Web's New England Forum and saw this thread - Lost the Lust .
Talk about validating feelings. Like I mentioned, it's comforting to know I'm now alone in this feeling of apathy. I hope the winter brings us the rest we all need and spring can truly be a season of renewal for us all.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

It's that time of year...gardening gets traded in for birding

Things have really quieted down in the garden since the frosts we've had these past several weeks. My glorious annuals I posted a couple of weeks ago are now residents of the compost bin. The only things left in the veggie garden are the peas, lettuces, and the herbs. All of the house plants are in and I noticed my orchids are getting ready to throw up their flower stalks for this year. Hooray! We did get the pond netted this fall and the water lettuce has done a good job of acting as a net too...as soon as the neighbor's oak finishes dropping it's leaves, we'll clean out the pond for the season. I was lucky enough to find some pansies on mega sale at Lowes and they are now in the front window box and a small pot on Deckzilla. So, as many gardeners do, my attention turns to winged garden inhabitants.

I attempted to really get into Project Feeder Watch last winter...but Eric's back surgery and then the recovery really cramped my bird watching style. I don't know how that happened but it did. So, this year, I'm making a real effort to do this. Project Feeder Watch is hosted by my alma mater, Cornell and their Department of Ornithology. They do use the counts people give them for research which is pretty cool. Here's the link for the program - Project Feeder Watch. I think it's too late to sign up for this year, but you can check it out and consider it for next year.

I moved "Bird Central" to Deckzilla this year and right off of the slider. I can really see who's out there and Sam can be much more effective at Squirrel Patrol when it is much closer. Lars who is obsessed with birds feels like he has a big flat screen TV set on what could be his favorite channel. I was wondering if the birds would be freaked out being so close to the house. They proved me wrong and I have plenty of visitors. I do have to get some black s
unflower seeds for the hopper feeder since I have some cheapo seed in there and it's been in there for a while. The tube feeder has safflower seed in it and I have some nyger socks for the finches. I do have to fill the suet cages and get them set up with a baffle because my squirrels like suet. There's not much they don't like...nyger seed and that's about it. They even like safflower seed which is supposed to be squirrel proof....whatever.

Sam is in his glory with the squirrels (his arch enemies) are so close to the door because he has a new job...chasing them away. He can take care of them mostly by just barking at them and banging on the door with his paws. Sometimes we'll open up the slider and he trots off after them hightailing it off the deck. Lars won't bark at them or the birds...he just watches. But here are the counts for these two count days this week. You're supposed to log the highest number of a species of bird seen at the feeders at one time.
  • Chickadees - 4
  • Titmouse - 4
  • House Sparrow - 2
  • Juncos - 2
  • Cardinals - 2
  • Blue Jays - 2
  • Downy Woodpecker - 1
  • Goldfinches - 4
  • Carolina Wren - 2
  • House Finch - 1
  • Mourning Dove - 1
  • Nuthatch - 1
I don't think that's too shabby for so early in the season...I'll be interested to see if they increase or decrease as the winter settles in or when I change out the seed.

Monday, November 10, 2008

RIP Boston Flower Show...


After 137 years, the New England Flower Show is no longer.

Boston Globe Article

I never had an opportunity to visit the show myself but thought this year may be the one I finally got a chance to. Guess not! I will be very interested to see if the traffic at the Rhode Island Flower Show increases from the displaced Boston Show visitors. That very well could be the lemonade made from the bowl full of lemons the Boston Show just got served.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Autumnal Zing!

Here's a little known plant that has some wonderful impact in the fall - Beautyberry (Callicarpa dichotoma ). It's kind of non-descript throughtout the season with it's little pink flowers in early summer. It's green foliage blends into the landscape during the summer. But in the fall, these wonderful purple berries emerge from the sea of green leaves. I took this photo with my phone when at a client's house (hence why it's a tad blurry) to show you how neat it is. It is hardy to Zone 5 and isn't really bothered by pests and diseases. This is not a native species but there is a native beautyberry for those of you who are die hard natural plant purists. It's great for
grouping or mass plantings, borders, and bird gardens. They can also be utilitized for underplanting for open woodland or other part shade areas. I think I will get this plant for my shrub borders I have planned for the perimeters of my property. I have really gotten into bird gardening since we had built Lake Larson and think this is a must have.