Saturday, April 26, 2014

Some Signs of Spring Slowly Surfacing


Well, if you don't live in the Northeast United States you are probably already experiencing a glorious Spring. But here, in our area of the Country, we're just taking our time watching the grass grow. And anxiously (???) waiting for the first time we can cut our grass. Maybe some people aren't too anxious to have to get out there and mow, but who doesn't love the smell of fresh cut grass in the Spring. Still too wet here to mow, but the grass is greening up so get ready to start those mowers-

This would be a good time to go over your lawnmower: sharpen blades, adjust belts, check oil level, put in fresh gas, spark plugs, and make sure the battery is charged if it has one. And start them up to make sure everything is working. Here is a link for five tips for mowing your lawn: Spring-Green Proper Mowing Tips. See Tip Number 3 Mowing your Grass High- very important.

We do have some signs of spring that we waited for all winter- the red-winged blackbirds and robins are back, and some of the early spring bulbs and perennials are blooming, and the "peepers" are peeping.

Hostas peeking up
This is a good time here in the northeast to split-up some of your perennials that need dividing. If your perennial clumps are getting too large, or are not blooming as well as they used to, now would be the time to split them up: daylilies, hostas, phlox, bee balm, astilbes, ornamental grasses, and Siberian Irises. Wait until August to divide your bearded irises.

Foxglove rejuvenating. Be careful when weeding your gardens in early spring
because you could end up pulling up some perennials that look like weeds.

Here is a link with more information on dividing perennials that also includes lists of what and when to divide it: BHG Dividing Perennials

English Primroses that need dividing.
I will probably split up this clump when it is finished flowering.

Buds on climbing hydrangea
Ten Free Trees With a $10 Membership: With Earth Day this past week, one of my friends posted a link on Facebook to her blog post on Bubblews which featured a link to the Arbor Day Foundation. On the  Arbor Day webpage you enter your zip code and that will bring you to a page offering various selections of ten free trees for your Hardiness Zone with a six month membership. Thanks Ann Hilts Bailey for sharing this information. Here is a link to Ann's blog Bubblews Arbor Day Foundation
And here is the link to the Arbor Day Foundation Ten Free Tree Give Away: Arbor Day Foundation Free Tree Giveaway with Membership
There is a good selection of trees to choose from, too.

Migrating Birds on the Move: A few months ago I shared with you some information on our Derby Hill Migrating Bird Observatory in Mexico, New York. If you missed that post here is a link to it: Derby Hill Bird Observatory. The birds are now on the move. Here is a chart that is updated daily and posted on the Derby Hill Facebook page with statistics of the migrating raptors/hawks that fly through our area of Mexico, NY, off the eastern end of Lake Ontario. Note: this chart only includes the hawks and does not include other species of migrating birds passing through. While several of these raptors are the turkey vultures, look at the total numbers for the season, over 35,000,  and still several weeks left of the spring migration.

Here is Steve Kolbe's written report that was posted on Derby Hill Bird Observatory Facebook Page (if you are not on Facebook you probably can not open this link) for Friday, April 25, 2014:

Friday, April 25 Weather:
Fairly strong ESE for most of the day with eventual warming. Clear skies for a bit in the middle of the day with overcast early and late.

Raptor Observations:
A slow starter this morning that eventually turned into a very enjoyable flight. Birds got up and out over the Lake during the blue sky period, but were nice and low when the clouds returned.

Non-raptor Observations:
Five Sandhill Cranes (1,1,3), one Great Egret. A large swallow movement dominated by Tree and Barn but with all expected species involved occurred in the last few hours of the day.

Westerly winds, cool temperatures, clouds. Should be birds wanting to move after today's flight. Let's hope the precipitation holds off.

This report was very interesting to me because we've seen Sandhill Cranes in Florida, but have never seen them in New York. After researching the Sandhill Cranes on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology there are regional differences in Sandhill Cranes. I didn't realize it, but there are three various sizes of the Sandhill Cranes. "Lesser" Sandhill Cranes are the smallest and breed in the Arctic; the largest "Greater" Sandhill Crane breeds in the northern US; and the nonmigratory "Florida" Sandhill Cranes and a form of Sandhill Cranes that breed in central Canada are intermediate in size.

My husband, Ted, took the following two photos while we were in Florida earlier this season. These "Florida" Sandhill Cranes are somewhat used to being around people and live in the wet areas. They frequent the golf courses (as do the alligators and my husband). I'm just surprised to hear that there are larger Sandhill Cranes than these.

"Florida" Sandhill Cranes

"If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we sometimes did not taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome."
-Anne Bradstreet

Columbine sprouts. I never noticed the little leaf buds until I cropped this photo to enlarge it.

#Gardening  #Blogger  #MigratingBirds  #Nature  #SandhillCranes  #DerbyHill  #LawnmowerTips

Thanks for stopping by. 
Hope you enjoyed our spring photos!
Feel free to leave a comment~

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Easter ! ! !

The Twenty-Third Psalm

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures;

He leads me beside still waters; He restores my soul.

He leads me in right paths For His Name's sake.

Even though I walk in the darkest valley,

I fear no evil; for You are with me;

Your rod and your staff - they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies,

You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me 
All the days of my life.

And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord My whole life long.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

"but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life." 
John 4:14
-New American Standard Bible

May Spring bring you many 
wonderful, sunny days!

Hope you all have a 
beautiful and blessed Easter! 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Tulips,Daffodils and Sunshine!

Friends of ours, Mark and Linda Adams, have a beautiful place on the eastern end of Lake Ontario. Their place was heavily wooded and they decided to start creating some beautiful gardens in their woods. All photos in this issue of my blog are from their gardens.

For several years they have grown tulips, daffodils, and several other varieties of spring  flowers and bulbs.

They have designed several other garden spaces as well.

Here are some of their spring flowers in bloom from a few years ago.

It might be awhile before our tulips are blooming, but here are some to get you through til yours are ready.

Spring is nature's way of saying, 'Let's Party!'
Robin Williams

In the photo below, you will see a beautiful rock wall that they had installed. This rock wall will attract garter snakes and snakes eat rodents. Rodents such as voles, moles and chipmunks love all kinds of bulbs and can easily demolish a large bed of bulbs in one season. If you don't have the resources to construct a rock wall, you can even just pile up some rocks and you might be able to attract some that way.

Many people believe that tulips, being perennials, should last forever. At least that's what I thought when I first started planting them. I found them to be very short-lived unless grown in the right conditions. And even then they didn't last too many years for me. There are certain hybrids of tulips that are more likely to be around longer than others, but eventually they will diminish in size and numbers, too. But don't be discouraged from planting them in the fall, they certainly make a glorious display in the Spring! For more information on tulips and trying to extend their life there are two links at the bottom of this post.

When planting tulips and daffodils and other bulbs, do not plant them in a straight line. They will look like soldiers when they come up and bloom. Bulbs look better when they are planted in groups of five or larger. This is more pleasing to the eye. Linda and Mark do a beautiful job of demonstrating this as you can see in the photos. All the tulips are planted in groupings.

In this photo you will see netting over the flowers. This is to protect the deer and rabbits from eating the flower buds.

Daffodils are more long-lived, and will multiply greatly for you. When you end up with too large a clump, they will have to be dug up. Dig up the clump after they are done flowering and the foliage has turned brown. You can either replant them in the spring after you dig them up or store them and plant them in the fall. If you store them, keep the bulbs dry, and in a dark place like a shed or garage. Daffodils are also deer resistant.

More links on tulip information:
Tulips: How to Plant, Grow...
How to Care for Tulips After They Bloom

Hope you enjoyed your walk 
among the tulips! 

Thanks Mark & Linda for 
sharing your gardens with us!

Feel free to comment in the space below.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Container Gardening: Pots, Boxes and Other Vessels

Not my door, but I wish it was (hahaha).
Here are some containers and pots that my husband and I have photographed over the last year that I thought you might get some ideas from for this year's gardening season.

You don't have to be elaborate, and it doesn't have to be something newly purchased. You can use existing materials you have on hand, or shop the thrift stores or craft shops for some ideas for decorative containers. Containers can be made from clay, plastic, ceramic, tin, fiberglass, stone, cement, compressed fibers, and peat moss. One nursery owner that I talked with last year uses coconut fiber called Coir for hanging baskets. Coir is the natural fiber found in the coconut between the outer and inner shell of the coconut. This material actually holds more water than the sphagnum moss hanging pots. It is also longer lasting. This is the same fiber that you will find used in doormats. I haven't used it before myself, but I'm going to look for it in the nursery or online.
Link to: Coconut Coir bricks

Recycled watering can that leaked used for planter.
I usually don't fuss too much with my containers. I pot up some window boxes, and some pots to fill in around the house along with some hanging planters. Sometimes I get discouraged with them half-way through the season because they start getting 'leggy' and need some work (or the trash).

The picture at left is from a recycled watering can that one of my neighbors gave me (it leaked). And another neighbor shared some of her 'Golden Creeping Jenny' that I filled the container with. Because the watering can leaked I didn't have to add any additional drainage to it.

When you want to have some containers around your house or yard you should first determine where you want to place them. Depending on whether or not they will get sun or shade will determine which plants will grow best in the amount of light they are exposed to.

Another important factor to consider for your container is drainage. If there is not sufficient drainage in your pot, water can sit in the bottom of the pot which could result in your plants rotting. Sometimes you can add additional holes to the base of your pot by drilling or punching holes in it.

I use a mixture of potting soil with moisture pellets and composted manure for my planting mixture. You don't want to use just soil from the ground because it will end up being compacted in your container and probably doesn't contain enough nutrients for your flowers to last the season. And most potting soil in itself does not have any nutrients. If you use an organic mixture as above for planting your flowers, and if you find you need to add additional fertilizer throughout the season then use a liquid organic fertilizer. If you were to use a chemical fertilizer it would kill off all the beneficial organisms in your composted mixture.

If you decide to use a coconut coir block and add them to your potting mixture, break or cut into pieces and add water to it, then mix it in with your potting mixture. If you add coir to your mixture you should add perlite because the coir will have a tendency to pack down.

Lewiston, NY
Another important factor when choosing plants to combine for a pot is to consider the needs of the plant as far as the light and watering requirements. Make sure that the flower/plant combinations you are choosing have the same light and water requirements. You would not want to plant flowers that require full shade with plants that require full sun. And the same with the water requirements. Some plants require less water than others. Also some plants can be severely damaged in a area that's exposed to strong winds.

When you are shopping in the nursery or store for your plants remember to check the plant tags for their requirements or ask an employee. Plant tags usually give you a lot of information on that specific plant. This tag will tell you what the light and water requirements are, the height and width of the plant, and how often you need to fertilize it. And if it's a perennial plant it should give you the hardiness zone that's recommended for your plant. Be careful when shopping for perennials in your hardiness zone. I have found several instances where nurseries and big box stores (like Lowes and Home Depot) sell perennial plants that are not suited for that particular hardiness zone in which they are selling them. I've seen them sell tropical plants in stores up north and customers see the word 'perennial' on them and purchase them thinking they will survive our winters outdoors. If you are shopping and have a smart phone you might want to look up a plant if you are unsure of the hardiness zone of  a specific plant that you want to plant outdoors for your hardiness zone.

USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map

Sometimes the plant labels will give you additional information too, such as the habit of the plant meaning if it will form a mound, if it is a 'filler' which means it will fill out in the pot, or if it is upright like a spike, or if it is a trailing plant like ivy which would hang over the pot.

When filling out a pot try to incorporate these three things: 'Fillers, Thrillers, & Spillers'. Example: a filler could be petunias, a spiller could be ivy, and a thriller could be spike like a snapdragon. Here is a link to a previous post with more links that I wrote on Window Boxes and Container Tips.

Youngstown, NY
Kingston, Ontario Canada

Lewiston, NY

Sackets Harbor, NY

Ontario, Canada

Feel free to mix up your pots with perennials, too. At the end of the season you can plant them right in the ground and either pot them up the following year or leave them to come up in the ground.

"You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream."
C. S. Lewis

This window box that my husband and I put
together a few years ago was one of my all-time favorites!

Here are some links from previous posts on the Villages photographed in this issue of my blog:
Lewiston and Youngstown, NY 
Sackets Harbor
Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ontario, Canada
Niagara-On-The-Lake Part II, Niagara Parks Botanical Garden, Ont. Canada

Hope you find some ideas you are able to use for your upcoming gardening season! 
Leave a note if you'd like. . .