Monday, April 28, 2008

A Rare Day: Friday off from work with Sunshine!

As you can see from this picture, Friday morning was bright and sunny, if a little cool. I snapped these photos looking out the livingroom window. Here a little finch was feasting on a dandelion gone to seed.

I was really disappointed when I called Pacific Growers Friday morning to find out what time they opened and if were they selling their hanging baskets yet, only to find out that they now only sell to the general public on Saturday mornings from 8am to 12noon. Oh, and did I mention we were on our way out of town for the weekend?

Mother Nature can be really cruel!
It has not escaped my notice that the only 2 weekends in spring that the weather has been above freezing, not snowing, nor raining has been the same weekends I've had long standing plans to be out of town! Doesn't seem fair! Yes, I'll admit it, I'm guilty of pouting.

The bright side is it's a good thing I wasn't able to get my baskets Friday before we left town as we had a hard frost Friday night. So I guess it all worked out for the best in the end!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Hummingbird Heaven!

What a difference a day makes, as they say. Two days ago we had snow, the night before last a light frost but today was warmer and rainy. But as everyone was saying, at least it was a WARM rain. The rain let up for the afternoon and the wind was slight. It was pleasant, even had the backdoor open for awhile.

Tonight at dusk found us enjoying our first backyard campfire, laughing at the antics of the male hummingbirds as they charged after each other, three of them in the backyard trying to keep each other from the two feeding stations. So many clicks and honks it sounded like dueling gigercounters! They are so entertaining, I get so much joy from having them so close!

This is a picture of one of the males at the kitchen window station this evening.

The one quart hummingbird feeding station on the front porch (that was filled Saturday) had to be refilled today, only 4 days later. I've counted as many as seven birds perched similtaneously sipping. Right before dusk they will stop chasing each other away and everyone settles down to one last long top-off-the-tank sipping session.

This has been a great evening. At full dark it was too cold to stay outside, as we let the fire burn down to embers, our backs were getting pretty chilly, even tho' are faces were toasty as we huddled the small fireplace. Now as I sit on the couch, blogging and listening to Linda Rondstadt's "What's New" cd, DaughterA sits on the other end of the sectional taking on online test for her accounting class. DearHusband and SonMySon are on the floor trying to out-strategize each other playing Pente. A very relaxing way to wind down a busy day.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Spring Snow Storm

Well, so much for an early spring, and so much for a normal spring, looks like it's going to be a very late spring. Yesterday, half way through April in the gentle Pacific Northwest, we had a snow storm! Now granted, I haven't had to scrape ice from my windshield for 2 weeks now, but just when it barely made it to 50 degrees out, we are slammed back into the thirties. We had enough huge fluffy snowflakes to whiten the roofs and lawns here at home Friday morning. It was a gray, dismal day which alternated between snow, rain, hail and sleet. It felt like January, not April. Thankfully the snow didn't stick for long. Saturday dawned clear and cold. The sun is out between the clouds now and then and the sunshine is warm, but the gusty breeze is quite cold. Glad I brought in the few annuals I couldn't resist and bought even though I haven't prepared my pots and window boxes. The sunflowers and squash seeds I started indoors last week are 6" high with roots stickout out of the little peat pots I started them in. I also had 99% germination rate on the 3 colors of giant Zinnias I started, too. Guess I'll be transplanting seedlings in the kitchen today, as it is way too cold to take them outside!

Cold or not, Saturday jobs must still be undertaken for I have wee birdies to feed! I braved the cold to refill the finch thistle seed feeders, wash and refill my three hummingbird stations and was thoroughly scolded for invading their airspace. I figured it they were that brazen while I was moving about then maybe if I held still, I might snap a few pictures.
Here is a male that frequents the front porch feeder that will be replaced (soon, I hope) with a large beautiful hanging basket.
I had plans to be at the the wholesale nursery called Pacific Growers bright and early this morning, but knew by Wednesday, (when they started predicting snow) that my annual trek to the
nursery was going to have to be postponed for a week, maybe even two. Last year I didn't get there till the weekend before Mother's Day and they had already packed up the majority of their hanging baskets for delivery to the stores througout the area. I really felt that my selection was much more limited than the years that I showed up early, promising to cover them up at night to protect them from late frosts and chilly winds. I am hoping it will warm up considerably this coming week and I can get them soon!

Monday, April 14, 2008

How To Dress For Spring Gardening

Start first with 55 SPF suncreen for face and ears, neck and hands (actually, that ‘s my year-round routine), then a lightweight cotton turtleneck, top with dual layer wool long-johns, both top AND bottoms, sweatpants and top it all off with a thermal weave sweatshirt on top. Head out to garden after donning thick sox and waterproof gardening clogs, lightweight gloves for hand protection and good grip. Now, your are all set for spring gardening in the Pacific Northwet--I mean Northwest. Don’t forget wide brimmed gardening hat--works for rain or sunshine!

Last week Bellingham was all excited…woo-hoo! It got all the way up to 50 on the thermometer! And the forecast for Saturday was projected to get into the 60’s!! Everyone was making plans for being outside. I was kinda bummed as I already had plans to be gone this weekend and wouldn’t be spending it gardening. I went from 50 to 85 degree weather after only a 5 ½ hour drive south! Saturday afternoon, I sat in Sister M’s garden and enjoyed the very warm sun on my back for an hour while we caught up with each other’s news.

Sunday afternoon, Sister A introduced me to a wonderful nursery called Al’s Garden Center in Sherwood, Oregon. Gardening Heaven! What a glorious place! I think I could move right in and be at home! Had to cut my time in paradise short--2 hours, as I was looking at another long drive home. But we did pick up some wonderfully healthy annual starts for our fragrant window boxes. Didn’t get everything for planting yet, but got a good start at it.

Saw actual sunshine between showers today, maybe we've turned a corner on the weather. Could we have seen our last frost this year?

"Are you a Good Witch or a Bad Witch?" Glinda the Good Fairy of North asked Dorothy

Are you a good grub or a bad grub?

Can anyone out there identify this? It's kinda greenish with brown markings. The 2nd photo shows the grub upside down, you can see it's little feet.

I find them occasionally within about an inch or so below the surface of the soil and don’t know whether to leave them alone or not. Just to be on the safe side, I huck them into the field behind our back yard.
That way if they are good, them I have only relocated them. If they are good, I’d like to know so I'll be comfortable about leaving them be.
And if they are a bad grub….maybe a fast flying trip over the back fence isn’t harsh enough!
Please, someone, let me know!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Bright Spots of Sunshine On A Cold Spring Morning

The Goldfinches are wearing their summer plumage and they have found the thistle seed feeders I hung out Wednesday evening. The one next to the flowering cherry tree in the far corner of the front yard gets the most traffic. This picture was snapped from the cozy comfort of my couch, looking out the picture window to the feeder hanging in front of the weeping pussy willow tree behind the small pond. I managed to catch three of the four brightly feathered males along with one little girl.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Calendar says it's Spring...

Someone forgot to tell Mother Nature that the calendar is showing Spring. What's with all the snow?

Last Saturday was supposed to be Opening Day for Gardening! It was the day for different local garden clubs' plant sales and the annual fushia planting event at our local Fred Meyer. Peeking out the window early that morning showed snow coming down heavily. Even tho' it wasn't sticking, the wind was blowing and I thought, "Nope, not gonna do it!" And went back to bed! All afternoon it was snowing, raining, sleeting and the sky was the color of a December late-afternoon. Sunday it was mostly sunny but COLD! Our poor hummingbirds, they been back for almost a month now and it isn't getting much warmer out! Is this global warming!?!

Having a couple of hours of daylight after work is really nice! I am itching to get my window boxes planted with showy annuals and to get my hand in the dirt! Unfortunately, we've had a hard frost every night this week! I'm still scraping the car windows every morning! Hopefully, winter will loosen her grip soon--it actually hit 50 degrees out this afternoon!

A quick tour of the yard shows tiny little buds on my pink dogwood tree and lilac bushes; new growth and buds on the clematis vines; the butterfly bush is greening up and my peonies are a couple of inches tall! Yesterday, I spotted a DANDELION IN BLOOM! Never thought I'd get excited about that! lol!

It is now dusk and I am enjoying peeking at the hummingbirds tanking up for the night. I have a feeder on the front porch until I get my hanging baskets. On the backyard side of the house, I have one at the kitchen window and one at my bedroom window. As soon as it warms up a little I'll be able to leave the window open a crack and awaken every morning to their buzzing and honking squeeks! I tried to snap a photo to post but they are very quick and adept at landing on the opposite side of the feeder.