February Flowers

 I waited patiently for a sign that the long winter nights were losing time

I closed my eyes hoping that when they opened, umber, caramel, and wheat would be  replaced by the color spectrum – I was not disappointed

 

 

Both inside and out Gaia’s internal clock recorded the seconds until a flower burst from its slumber

 

 

 

Phalaenopsis orchid
Phalaenopsis orchid

Even a coating of white could not diminish my joy

 

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Why do we garden?

I started the gardens at Valley View in 2005. Each year I add and I subtract. I visit other gardens and watch gardening shows. During quiet moments one question persists – Why do I garden? Why do I spend countless hours creating a vista that may disappear tomorrow?

Ajuga and ragwort garden
Ajuga and ragwort garden 2017
Fallen trees
The garden is on the right under the fallen log

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I really don’t have an answer but I have looked backward to see where I’ve been. 

 

 

When I was 14 part of my parent’s property was taken by local government for a flood control project.  Bulldozers came in widened the creek and left behind a mud pit.  My mother and father were devastated. Their garden was gone.  The following year willow trees fell and more damage was done to their space.  I spent countless hours cutting tree branches and raking ground to bring life back because I wanted them to be happy.  Fast forward to age 49.  My husband and I bought that house and created gardens that made me smile.  Then one morning it all disappeared in a flash flood. Oh the irony!

September 18, 2004 flood

September 18, 2004 flood

Photos from the post

Gardens Do Not Happen in Isolation

 

 

 

Now I garden at Valley View. First it was to take control of overgrown areas and create spaces where I could sit and enjoy what surrounded me.

Everything was done on the cheap. There was very little money for plants, let alone hardscaping. The bricks and patio block below are what you see in the above photos.

North garden from upstairs window 2007

The next step in the evolution of the gardens was to make them wildlife friendly.  I added plants specifically for native creatures. 

female scarlet tanager on sumac September 2018

I then began to remove invasive plants, which I continue to do to this day.  After my desire to invite native wildlife, I wanted to create sacred spaces.  A labyrinth and bowling ball pyramid were added. 

Maddie viewing the labyrinth

Bowling Ball pyramid with hostas

I then learned about pollinators and wanted to add plantings to encourage their health. So back to natives.

Native bee on white cone flower
Native bee on our native Echinacea

I found myself ping ponging between trying to recreate what I saw or learned at that time. It has taken me awhile to understand that my garden should be for me and should reflect my inner being. 

Now, I’m still not sure what that is.  But I should not be ashamed of liking non-native hostas and wild unkempt pollinator gardens.   I am fortunate to have the space for both.

 

Pollinator garden July, 2018
Pollinator garden July, 2018
hostas by rain barrel
Hostas August Moon and Gold Standard by rain barrel

Reflecting on my past involvements with gardens,  I venture to say I have always been trying to recreate something I’ve seen rather than create something of my own. It’s time for me to take pleasure in my own creative endeavors.  For once again, I’ve learned it might not be there tomorrow.

The meditative garden
The meditative garden June, 2018

Hoar Frost or Touched by a Sprite

I knew by the meteorological events of the night that along the stream bed the Sprites had come out to dance and fly and leave behind a glimpse of their magic. What they left behind grew exponentially as Mother Gaia’s warm breath met the cold night air. 

Hoar frost along a spring fed stream February 1, 2019
Hoar frost along a spring fed stream February 1, 2019

I couldn’t contain myself, at every step a new and wonderous creation appeared. 

Hoar frost along a spring fed stream February 1, 2019
Hoar frost along a spring fed stream February 1, 2019

One photograph than two, each bringing clarity to the formations of ice. 

Hoar frost along a spring fed stream February 1, 2019
Hoar frost along a spring fed stream February 1, 2019

I hope you take a moment to look through that which we have shared. You will make the Sprites smile tonight!

hoar frost along a spring fed stream February 1, 2019
Hoar frost along a spring fed stream February 1, 2019
Hoar frost along a spring fed stream February 1, 2019
Hoar frost along a spring fed stream February 1, 2019

 

Hoar frost along a spring fed stream February 1, 2019
Hoar frost along a spring fed stream February 1, 2019
Hoar frost along a spring fed stream February 1, 2019
Hoar frost along a spring fed stream February 1, 2019
Hoar frost along a spring fed stream February 1, 2019
Hoar frost along a spring fed stream February 1, 2019
Hoar frost along a spring fed stream February 1, 2019
Hoar frost along a spring fed stream February 1, 2019
Hoar frost along a spring fed stream February 1, 2019
Hoar frost along a spring fed stream February 1, 2019

 

If you are interested   What is hore frost?   and  why is it called that?

There are several different kinds of frost. One of them is hoar-frost, also known as radiation frost, hoarfrost, or pruina. This refers to interlocking arrangement of white ice crystals that are deposited loosely on the ground or any exposed object forming on very cold nights whenever heat is lost into the sky causing objects to become colder than the air that surrounds it.

Visitors to the Gardens

As much as I love the flora of a garden, the fauna is why I plant. The creatures of Gaia’s world are welcomed, no, encouraged to jump the garden-gate and enjoy the fruits of labor. Some I have planted, some they have shared.  If I find there is something they like that I also cherish, I have learned to give it up and plant something we can both enjoy. 

Each month someone new emerges or enters. The diversity of color, shape and  purpose is mesmerizing.

JANUARY 2018 Mourning doves on Staghorn sumac
JANUARY 2018 doves on Staghorn sumac
FEBRUARY 21, 2018 Entwined garter snakes
FEBRUARY 21, 2018 Entwined garter snakes
MARCH 22, 2018 Male cardinal on Norway pine
MARCH 22, 2018 Male cardinal on Norway pine
APRIL 12, 2018 female bullfrog
APRIL 12, 2018 female bullfrog
MAY 21, 2018 Female Baltimore Oriole in Honeysuckle bush
MAY 21, 2018 Female Baltimore Oriole in Honeysuckle bush
Male Baltimore Oriole on sumac June 4, 2018

Male Baltimore Oriole on sumac June 4, 2018

 

JULY 12, 2018 Redtail hawk
JULY 12, 2018 Redtail hawk
AUGUST 26, 2018 Saddleback caterpillar
AUGUST 26, 2018 Saddleback caterpillar
AUGUST 7, 2018 Black swallowtail butterfly
AUGUST 7, 2018 Black swallowtail butterfly

 

SEPTEMBER 3, 2018 Blinded Sphinx moth caterpillar
SEPTEMBER 3, 2018 Blinded Sphinx moth caterpillar
SEPTEMBER 2018 Red-bellied woodpecker on sumac

SEPTEMBER 2018 Red-bellied woodpecker on sumac
OCTOBER 23, 2018 Garter snake in lower gardens
OCTOBER 23, 2018 Garter snake in lower gardens
OCTOBER 23, 2018 Wolf spider on fallen tree

OCTOBER 23, 2018 Wolf spider on fallen tree
NOVEMBER 1, 2018 Wild turkey
NOVEMBER 1, 2018 Wild turkey in oak tree
DECEMBER 19, 2018 Bluebird and Downy woodpecker on sumac

DECEMBER 19, 2018 Bluebird and Downy woodpecker on sumac

 

 

Updated Yard Bird List 8 new sightings

During the year of 2018 and first month of 2019 I have had 8 new sightings all of which I have been able to photograph. In addition  I have updated 3 bird sightings with better quality photos.  Below are my new additions.  If you’d like to see all 49 birds photographed at Valley View check out the portfolio!  

Wild Turkey in lower gardens April 2018
Wild Turkey in lower gardens April 2018

Male and female Baltimore Oriole May 2018

Scarlet Tanager in sumac September 2018
Scarlet Tanager in sumac September 2018
JULY 12, 2018 Redtail hawk
JULY 12, 2018 Redtail hawk on sumac

 

Blackburnian Warbler and Chestnut-sided Warbler September 2018

brown thasher on sumac September 2018
Brown Thrasher on sumac September 2018

 

Female and male American Red-start September 2018

Blue-grey Gnatcatcher in sumac September 2018
Blue-grey Gnatcatcher in sumac September 2018
SEPTEMBER 14, 2018 Female Ruby throated hummingbird
SEPTEMBER 14, 2018 Female Ruby throated hummingbird in pear tree
Red-breasted nuthatch on suet feeder January 2019
Red-breasted Nuthatch on suet feeder January 2019

A Year in the Life of the Garden

The garden has matured as I have grown older. 

Old gardens have evolved as new ones emerge.

Plantings encourage new visitors while old friends come and go.

Yet I struggle with new-found freedoms.

Like the gardens I can jump boundaries and begin again. The garden embraces all that is new and all that is unplanned. 

Can I do the same? 

THE GARDENS IN 12 PHOTOGRAPHS

JANUARY 2018 the labyrinth in snow
JANUARY 2018 the labyrinth in snow

 

FEBRUARY 2018 Lyman Whitaker wind sculpture in snow
FEBRUARY 2018 Lyman Whitaker wind sculpture in snow
MARCH 2018 Winter aconite at the standing stone
MARCH 2018 Winter aconite at the standing stone
APRIL 2018 bowling ball garden
APRIL 2018 bowling ball garden
MAY 2018 daffodils near the road brought from the old house
MAY 2018 daffodils near the road brought from the old house
JUNE 2018 labyrinth and lower gardens
JUNE 2018 labyrinth and lower gardens
JULY 2018 summer rock garden
JULY 2018 summer rock garden
AUGUST 2018 new bowling ball sculpture
AUGUST 2018 new bowling ball sculpture
SEPTEMBER 2018 Cut and stacked fallen trees
SEPTEMBER 2018 Cut and stacked fallen trees
OCTOBER 2018 bowling ball garden in autumn
OCTOBER 2018 bowling ball garden in autumn
NOVEMBER 2018 the barn and berries
NOVEMBER 2018 the barn and berries
DECEMBER 2018 looking down at the labyrinth
DECEMBER 2018 looking down at the labyrinth

An Unusual Year

By the end of July my photographic library usually has a myriad of colorful photos of the butterflies that grace the gardens.  This year they are few and far between. Perhaps it was the many March snowstorms or the early heat followed by a cold snap.  Maybe it is the lack of some larval foods as seven oaks fell during a wind storm. 

Felled oak trees

But last week a few began to appeared.  It led me on a quest to locate their caterpillars.  A of today I am raising six monarch and six black swallowtail caterpillars.  I hope to help increase the population!

Cabbage white on white cone flower 2
Cabbage white on white cone flower
Red admiral on pink cone flower
Red admiral on pink cone flower

 

Monarch on pink cone flower
Monarch on pink cone flower
Silver-spotted skipper on white cone flower
Silver-spotted skipper on white cone flower
Black swallowtail caterpillar on dill
Black swallowtail caterpillar on dill
Black swallowtail caterpillars on dill
Mature Black swallowtail caterpillars on dill