Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Garden Planter Boxes

What we have been after is some large-scale garden planter boxes.  Ever since I found and admired the raised planters at Parkwood Hospital last summer, I've thought of surrounding our deck with wheelchair-height planters that I could use for tiny gardens at a height I could reach.

We went around behind the office and there they were!  Nice-looking planters almost the right size for us.  We discussed it with the two young men on duty, and arranged to get 4 boxes like this one built to slightly different dimensions (bigger).  They won't get done until next fall or winter now, after the busy nursery season, but we're fully occupied with the gardening we're already doing, so that's fine.

Farm fields are looking well-prepared now, either planted already, or ready for planting.

The cattle have been out of the barn for some time now, and I'm sure they're enjoying it.

There is a steadily increasing Mennonite population around here now, taking over many farms when they come up for sale.

We headed back through our beloved Beaver Valley which I don't see nearly as often now.

Down in the bottom of the valley is a large swamp, with plentiful Marsh Marigolds in bloom these days.

The willows are an increasingly bright shade of green.  Note the sign: "Road Closed …. by Police Order Due to Winter Road Conditions".  Did you know that if you disobey one of these signs and you have an accident, your insurance may not apply, and tow trucks won't come to rescue you?  There are a couple of stretches of road that have permanent signs like this.

Most of the landscape still looked pretty bare, but every now and then there was a sugar Maple or two coming into flower.

And after that we were down the big hill and home into Meaford.



Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Maxwell Nursery

Last week we headed out hunting for some more trees and shrubs we want.  Driving south for half an hour we headed for the Maxwell Nursery, a Mennonite nursery we've visited in the past.  It was a nice drive, if with a touch of rain, and we were successful in finding some of what we wanted.

It's a beautiful time of year for a drive in the countryside …………….. [at this point the power went off, and stayed off, so I got interrupted.] …………… This is, believe it or not, a winery and vineyard, even here in the highlands where winter is winter!  Georgian Bay has more moderating influence than you think.

The rolling open lower slopes of the escarpment, marked by farm fields, fencerows and woodlots makes for nice scenery.

One of the big rocky headlands of the escarpment is on the right, cliffs hidden behind the trees.


At Maxwell Nursery the flowers in one of the greenhouses were looking great!

We were surprised by the expansion of the operation, a small family-run business that started on the farm.  A big new shelter for some of the trees and shrubs.

We always look around at everything, and we found the tree we wanted outside, a nice clump of small White Birch at a very reasonable price.  We snapped it up on the spot.

This nursery had some more interesting woodworking than any other we've been to.  Someone here is obviously a good carpenter!  And we were delighted to find just what we've been looking for.  I'll tell you tomorrow.

In the meantime the weather this weekend was crazy, thunderstorms, torrential rain, and then a cold front bringing freezing temperatures (well, it wasn't freezing, but it felt that way).  At one point I headed out for some fresh air, got to the farthest end of the street, and it started to rain.  I got just a little wet racing home, and then it rained the rest of the afternoon and evening.  I expect many traditional May24th camping trips got cut short as people headed home to warmer, drier surroundings!


Sunday, May 19, 2019

Trees are 'Greening Up'

The valley is rapidly 'greening up' as we say, the forest slopes washed in yellow-green colours as the trees, especially the Sugar Maples first, start to wake up and unfurl their leaves.  But actually, much of that yellow-green colour is not the leaves, but the flowers.  Yes, trees have flowers (how else would they get seeds), and in most cases the flowers precede the leaves, if only briefly.


This is that magical timme in the woods (if I could get there), when the spring ephemerals bloom, all those spring wildflowers that we love.  The sun still shines through the largely leafless canopy, but the forest floor turns green.

Here's a single Sugar Maple out on the golf course, beautiful-green.






 
We're having an invasion of Blue Jays these days, presumably two families from two small patches of woodland nearby.  It's made for endless amusement watching out the windows.

Sorry about the format; blogger is misbehaving for me tonight.




Saturday, May 18, 2019

Animals in the Yard

Yes, even though we live in town we have a few animals in the yard in addition to all our birds.  The squirrels must feel that this is the local squirrel restaurant, though our bird feeders remain successfully squirrel-proof.  We have both grey and Red Squirrels.  Then this spring the rabbits, eastern Cottontails, move in, carving out a home for themselves under the shed.  There's also a chipmunk around, though I haven't successfully caught a photo yet.

There are surprisingly fewer Grey Squirrels than last year, and we only saw one occasionally over the winter.  Never-the-less, you can count on one or two being around every day.

The little Red Squirrel seems to be here almost all the time.  Only half the size of the Greyn Squirrels. it can easily match them in scampering up a tree.

We saw the adult rabbit last year, but it was only about two weeks ago that we saw the family.

Here are two of them creeping out from under the shed.  We've seen as many as four.  Needless to say, the Head Gardener is not pleased!

Linking to:
https://viewingnaturewitheileen.blogspot.com/

Friday, May 17, 2019

Hummingbirds and Orioles

With the addition of a hummingbird feeder and some orange slices to our backyard menu. we now have both some Ruby-throated Hummingbirds and some Baltimore Orioles visiting.

We've seen as many as three Hummingbirds in the yard at once, though not all at the feeder.  We're almost more likely to see them perched in a tree, though we've rarely seen them perched anywhere previously.  They certainly perch on the feeder for a bit with every visit.

The male Orioles have got to be one of the most stunning birds we ever see.  And never before have we seen them up close as we are now. Usually they've been a distant bird in a tree.

We've seen two males and at least one female.  The female here has gentler colours, more yellow than orange, somewhat parallel to the difference in colours for the male and female Goldfinch.

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Thanks for all your suggestions yesterday.  I'm working on it!

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Backyard Birds

Our backyard is just buzzing with birds, many of them in pairs, suggesting they may be nesting nearby.  Some of them you'd expect; others are unusual here.  It all makes the view out our back windows constantly fascinating, and early in the morning, quite noisy!

The Goldfinch are the most consistent visitors, sitting on the feeder all day and stuffing themselves with sunflower seed.

Up until a few weeks ago the Juncos were steady visitors, but they have now left for the boreal forest further north to nest.  The Mourning dove is still around, but is very secretive now.

We have a pair of Song Sparrows nesting nearby.  They are heavily striped with a dark chest spot where stripes coalesce, and two dark cheek patches.

There's a Cipping sparrow someplace nearby; its call a steady trill.


We have a pair of Blue Jays that visit regularly, hunting for sunflower seeds under the feeders.  It's always nice to see their bright colours.

And every now and then a Downy Woodpecker will fly in for a snack - one of the few birds that likes the niger seed.

The most unusual birds (to me) is a pair of Purple Finch, the male washed with bright pink colour, and the female heavily striped dull brown.

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You can see the limitations of an iPhone camera here very easily, especially in the badly blurred 2nd and 3rd photos above.  If you zoom fully to get the photo, you can't crop the photo further without blurring it.  At the moment I'm very disappointed in my photography.  I need to seriously reconsider my whole approach to photography including my cameras.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

It's Gardening Season!

I'm struggling to find enough time to blog these days, partly because it's gardening season!  I know it's a good two weeks too early for frost sensitive plants here, but there's lots we need to do with the landscaping - planting a tree or three as well as some shrubs.  And it's time to plan for planters to go on the deck or by the front door (keeping in mind the bright red flowers that Hummingbirds like).

We were lucky to have the help of a crew of friends to do all the heavy digging, whilr I sat on the deck and supervised.  The result was a very nice start on our plan for this tiny property.  After ten years on 3 acres, this urban lot is pretty tiny.

For this property we're choosing exactly what plants we want to try, including some beautiful Rhododendrons.  At the northern edge of their range certainly, but we're going to give them a chance and see if they survive. 

A flowering shrub that we know will thrive and brighten up every spring is the Forsythia, two of them to create a nice large patch.  A Magnolia, a Redbud and some ferns completed the mornings work.

There is of course the added pleasure of sourcing these plants out in local nurseries, so we drive around and see what's available.  Today we came home with more plants - we'll be busy for several weeks!