Splashes of Color in an Otherwise Neutral Landscape

Winter –

img_1679If there is snow we see a season of white

Otherwise we see shades of brown and gray

But walk slowly and look closely

and you will see colors of spring and summer





The Case for Sumac – Rhus typhina

I recently had a conversation with a coworker about the stand of staghorn sumac behind my home.  She asked if I used it in cooking.  I said no but  was aware that a cultivar of  sumac  was used generously in  Middle Eastern cooking. 

My primary reason for its continued cultivation was as a food source for those who share the gardens

Bluebird on sumac

Downy Woodpecker on sumac

American robin

and the visual appeal they provide for the human creatures who wander through.

Sumac Reflrctions

Sumac on the back slope

But if you’re wondering about sumac as a spice…

Sumac is a shrub which grows wild in the Mediterranean region, and this sumac is not toxic or poisonous. This non-poisonous variety also grows in other areas around the world and can be a colorful addition to home landscaping.Ground sumac is a dark red-burgundy color. As a dried berry, ground sumac has a nutty texture when used dry. It has a tart, sour lemon taste.

Using Sumac:

The use of sumac came to Greece from the Middle East where it is more widely used. In Greek cooking, sumac is used as a rub for grilled meats, and as a flavoring most notably on meats, in stews, and in pita wraps. It is also used in rice and vegetable dishes. Try adding a dash to the top of humus for a new taste treat.  from: greekfood.about.com
Oak leaf and Sumac berry
Sumac berry on pin oak leaf

Winter Birds of Pennsylvania

Since I am no longer able to walk the gardens, and the only paths take me to the potting shed or barn, I need to find a short-term hobby.  Having many “snow days” I’ve decided to try to photograph as many species of birds as possible that frequent the feeders. I believe  I’ve made a valiant start.

In the post dated February 3, Tired of Neutral Colors, I posted a photo of A male House Finch and female Cardinal.

Female Cardinal and Male House Finch
Female Cardinal and Male House

In the post dated February 4, Yet Another, I added another two to the list, Mourning Dove and the Red Bellied Woodpecker.

Red-Bellied Woodpecker
Red-Bellied Woodpecker
Mourning Dove bird
Mourning Dove


And in the post dated February 7, Red White and Blue, I shared photos of the Eastern bluebird and male House Finch.  Granted they were technically not at the feeders but in a rain gutter at the back of the house, I will include them anyway!

Birds Bluebird and House Finch
Eastern Bluebird and male House Finch


So today I will add another three species, the Northern Mockingbird, White-throated Sparrow and the Carolina Wren.

Northern Mockingbird
Northern Mockingbird
White-throated Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Carolina Wren
Carolina Wren

Stop back to see what others I’ve “captured”.

The Sumac Stand

Upon moving into the homestead we discovered a stand of sumac growing behind the house. 

Sumac Reflrctions

It was located on the steep slope between the middle and lower levels of what was to become the garden. Hoping to one day have the property registered as a wildlife habitat we allowed the sumac to grow carefully weeding out any competition. It proved to be an auspicious decision.  Not only does it add  seasonal color,

Sumac on the back slope

it provides food throughout the summer, autumn and winter months.

American robin

Downy Woodpecker

Bluebird of Happiness!