Friday, June 29, 2012

My new birdbaths...

...aren't really birdbaths at all. They're actually plastic chip bowls I just purchased from The Christmas Tree Shop.

I've had these hydrangea patterned ones for a few years now, and although they're somewhat faded from the New England summer sun, they're still going strong.  
(I store them inside our shed over the winter months.)

Some are placed on the ground where, in addition to the birds, they get lots of action from our squirrels and chipmunks. I've also seen some of our nocturnal visitors drinking from them (skunks, possum, and raccoons).

Some are placed in old birdbath basins that have cracked and no longer hold water.

 Some sit on tree stumps...

And some sit on metal garden tables/plant stands.

The birds love the large size. There's lots of room to splash around. This is one of the new bowls. I filled it with water and placed it in an old wicker planter I have on the deck.

 They didn't have any hydrangea patterns this year, which I'd been hoping for, but they did have a great selection of designs. I got some that were very bright and cheerful (top row) and some that were more subdued garden and bird designs (bottom row).

I think the birds will really enjoy these for years to come.

I got twelve. That's "12."  A full dozen. Yup. Call me crazy, but when I find something good, I sometimes buy backups. If I take good care of the hydrangea ones I have now, I might not even need to use these for a couple of years yet, but I like having these as backups in case the hydrangea bowls crack or develop leaks.

 At $1.29 each, I couldn't pass these up! I'm not sure if this is a special sale price or the everyday price, but if you have a Christmas Tree Shop nearby and are in the market for an inexpensive birdbath (or twelve), run and pick some up!

The birds will thank you!

 (2010 photo of blue jay at one of the birdbaths on a small metal plant stand/garden table.)

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!
We're in for about 4 days of humid, over 90 degree weather.
I'm sure I'll be spending much of that time making sure my birdbaths stay full!


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Our Pet Chipmunk

Sometimes I feel as though we really do have an enchanted garden, and the other afternoon was a perfect example. While it's not very big or fancy, our little backyard is filled with a variety of birds and little critters scampering about. And we've made some "enchanting" friends back there.

One day last week hubby and I sat back there and spent quite a bit of time with one of our "Chips," seen here taking peanuts from me.

Not wanting to play favorites, Chip divided his time equally between hubby and me.

We all hung out, just chit-chatting, admiring the garden, and enjoying a glorious summer day.

After a while, Chip decided he'd like to choose his own peanuts.

He may be small, but he's got a mighty big appetite!

A bit later, while tossing peanuts on the patio for Chip and some of his friends, one peanut ended up in the waterfall fountain.

Our little Chip wasn't about to let a bit of water stop him from retrieving that tasty tidbit, as evidenced by this short video:

I've made a set of "steps" by placing rocks, from small to large, along the inside edge of the lower level as it's a bit deep for small animals and birds and I want to make sure they're able to get out if they ever fall in. Chip was smart enough to climb down those rocks in order to reach his peanut. That's my boy!

Wishing you all enchanted gardens filled with magical little creatures!

I'm linking to Tracie's Cottage Garden Party at the lovely Fishtail Cottage
and Cindy's Show & Tell Friday at the lovely My Romantic Home this week.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

DIY Rustic Garden Obelisk

It's hard to believe that just 3 years ago, the honeysuckle vine growing up our 9' homemade obelisk was only about a foot high.

This photo was taken during the very early stages of our backyard makeover. I had serious doubts that the honeysuckle would ever climb to the top.

 But the first summer after planting it, it had already reached the top of the obelisk. As you can see, the structure was still visible back then. Over the past three years, the vine has grown so thick that you can no longer see the obelisk, and it has grown so tall that the top vines cascade down after they've reached the top of the obelisk.

Now Mr. Blue Jay can easily admire it from the top of the swing set.

This year we gathered up some smaller branches to make a shorter obelisk for Cardinal Climber, an annual vine. (Due to the freak October snowstorm last year, we have an abundance of branches!) We wired the branches together toward the top and spread the bottoms to form a free standing teepee-style structure.

We then staked every other 'leg' by driving small wood spikes into the ground and then using wire to attach the legs to the stakes. Unlike the perennial honeysuckle vine, I started this annual cardinal climber vine from seed. This photo was taken back about 5 weeks ago, on May 19th.
Note: For the larger 9' obelisk that supports the perennial honeysuckle vine, we staked every leg with long metal spikes that hubby purchased from a hardware store, and then attached each leg to the spike with heavy duty wire.

I think I should have started them inside, much earlier in the season, because they're growing very slowly.

The plant inside the center pot kind of fizzled out, so today I put Mr Rabbit inside the obelisk.

While waiting for the vines to grow, we can at least enjoy the backyard critters who have begun to hang out there.  Here's Sammy enjoying a peanut... (please ignore the fact that our ongoing garden project desperately needs more bark mulch to hide the landscape fabric. Hopefully next year we'll have some extra funds for bark mulch!)

...while Mr. Blue Jay is waiting for one to be tossed his way.

*** Just as a watched pot never boils, a watched vine never grows. ***

Since the honeysuckle's bloom time will soon be coming to an end, the hummers and I will have to practice some patience while waiting for this new vine to bloom.

 And when (if) it does bloom, I'll be sitting right in that blue chair watching my little hummers flitting from blossom to blossom!

COMMENT UPDATE: I was asked what variety honeysuckle vine we planted.

I wish I kept a gardening log, but the best I do is try to stick the original labels into the ground by the base of whatever I plant. Sometimes they stay, sometimes, they blow away. I just ran outside and thankfully the original tag was right where it should be so I snapped this photo of it next to one of the blooms on my vine. I can't say enough about the Major Wheeler honeysuckle vine. I do not have a green thumb. Despite that, this vine blooms profusely and for a very long period, even for me! From personal experience I can assure you that it does indeed attract hummingbirds, however I can honestly say I have never seen a single butterfly on the vine, even though the tag says it attracts them as well.

Happy Tuesday, everyone!


Monday, June 25, 2012

Rainy days and Mondays...

I love that song, but I must say that rainy days and Mondays don't get me down.
I couldn't resist doing a second post today in order to share our wet weather
(which the robins will LOVE!).

I woke to the rumble of thunder this morning so I quickly jumped out of bed, not wanting to miss a minute of the approaching storm. I get that from my mom, who loved rain and thunder.

I rolled in the patio cover over the deck (in case of high winds), threw some peanuts out to the few Sammy's, Chip's, and Blue Jays who hadn't sought shelter yet, and then waited.

Within minutes the skies opened and the rain came down in turrents, accompanied by winds so strong that the rain blew horizontally...

... which, in turn, made for some beautiful patterns on the screens, completely obstructing the view outside.

And almost as quickly as it started, it stopped, bringing the outside back into focus.

My poor sun catcher. Several years ago I dropped it and it shattered. I repaired it with clear packing tape because I couldn't bear to part with it.

I hope you all enjoy a wonderful week, whether rainy or sunny!

Comment Update: Hi Sharon! The thunder started sometime after 9 a.m. this morning with the rain following shortly thereafter!


He'll learn in time...


 I see you!

This young robin couldn't resist the sound of the running water, so he paid our deck fountain a visit...

 ...and spent quite a bit of time drinking and bathing!

I think he'll learn, in time, that while the top section may be fine for drinking, the bottom section is the place to "splish splash and take a bath!" Robins are very animated when bathing, and this little guy was running out of room on the top section as evidenced by the short video below:

I hope you all have a wonderful week! 


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Picket Fence Love...

I just love the look of picket fences, any design or color. They're so quaint. With dad being sick last year, I never did get around to sharing a couple of very small fence projects we completed in the yard last summer.

#1 - The Ivy Project
I absolutely LOVE the ivy that climbs the chimney and covers the ground leading into our backyard. But as anyone who has ivy knows, it is very aggressive. Last summer we decided to rip out the ivy that was growing up and around this window before it started growing through the window! (That's Baby just after we adopted her at 6 months old in August of 2010)

And here we are a year later, Summer 2011. We ripped out the ivy, put down some gravel in front of the window and put a small white picket fence between the ivy and the gravel to define it.

 (Summer 2011)
It's definitely an improvement.

Clearly we need to keep up with the ivy every year at this window. It's not like this little picket fence is going to keep it from growing through to the window (wouldn't that be nice if it did!!)

And most important, the little picket fence doesn't obstruct Baby's view of the garden Sammy Squirrels, Chip(munk)s and birds who come to visit her!

#2 - The Dog Pen Project

After creating our new swingset deck / garden sitting area in Summer 2010, we realized we needed to do more work to this immediate area. In this case, the small dog pen off the deck, overgrown with weeds and fenced in with wire fencing and metal posts.

No matter which way you looked at it, it was not a pretty sight (and let's not even discuss the lack of grass in the yard. That's a future project). We decided the dog pen definitely needed a makeover.

 Any project in our yard that requires digging always results in a variety of rocks. These were unearthed where the new posts went in.

Looking at the bright side, however, we now have a lovely, meandering stone wall separating the trees from the yard due to our many projects over the years!

 First the weeds were pulled and then the entire area was covered with landscape fabric so drainage wouldn't be an issue (after all, it is a doggy bathroom). That was then topped with gravel which can be easily hosed down without resulting in a muddy mess.

Cement blocks were lined on the inside to keep the gravel inside the pen area.

Now that's MUCH better!

(This photo is out of sequence, taken before the fabric & gravel were put down)

Hopefully the next step will be some landscaping; maybe grass seed in the yard this fall and perhaps some hostas or day lilies along the side of the fence. The small back section of the pen is actually a removable gate to get into the pen for ease of cleaning. Mr. J much prefers to do his business on a walk, and other than that he's totally an indoor dog. But it's really nice to be able to let him out onto the deck in inclement weather and have him trot down the steps to his pen (and by inclement weather I mean rainy days and almost the entire winter!).

Here's Mr. J, telling us how much he LOVES his new 'bathroom.'

Quite a difference when you look at side-by-sides...

 ...especially from the same angles.

I think picket fences were the perfect finishing touch for our backyard projects!

P.S. When I talk about "our" backyard projects, it should be noted that my part of "our projects" is coming up with all the ideas whereas hubby's part of "our projects" is doing the bulk of the work  
(for which I am eternally grateful even though I don't say it often enough :)

I hope you all have a lovely weekend!