An Anna’s, a Ruby-throated, and an Allen’s Hummingbird walk into a bar. The Anna asks, “Who’s that strange fella?” The Ruby-throated said, “I donno, but lemme at him! Imma gonna buzz him in pieces!” The Allen’s said, “Whatevs.”
Spring is the best time in our mountain garden. The cruel hot summers can be a challenge to gardening so we generally choose heat-tolerant plants that will bloom in heat. Catmint is generally a hardy plant for heat but when it comes to gardening and me, Murphy’s Law always applies. If it’s hardy, it’s going to give me a hard time. And boy has Catmint given us a doozy of a time. Everyone else with Catmint? No problem. Their shrubs look fantastic. Ours always struggle. Continue reading “Scenes Around the Garden”
In the wee hours of a summer morning (9 a.m. for a Lymie), I scour the flowerbeds for the impostors, unwelcome beetles who enjoy destroying the bounty intended for bees, butterflies and birds. A common checkered skipper flew up for breakfast on a neighboring salvia. Continue reading “Lucky In Love”
An older lady rests on a zinnia as the sun rises. Her grayish fur and tattered wings are a clue to her longevity and provoke the imagination of her many adventures. Bees don’t fear death because the story is not about them. Continue reading “When Dying is an Art”
If you plant it, they will come. Finally! I’ve been waiting to see a damselfly or dragonfly in my garden. This is a dameselfly. With all the walking I do with the dogs, I get to see them often throughout the mountains but never carry my big lens with me on a dog walk. Plus, one needs a ton of patience to get the shot. I’ve been watching them hunt in my garden for a few weeks now, flying over my head in repeating patterns, sometimes even buzzing my head to check me out. I’d wait 30 minutes and still no touchdown. This one happened to land just above where hundreds of newly hatched mantids were released. Sigh. I’ll just pretend that this guy or gal just eats aphids, leaf hoppers, and destructive beetles. It all balances out. Continue reading “Damsels and Dragons in the Garden, Oh My!”
In our fountain-pond, we used to have floating flowers so bees and birds could enjoy the water without drowning. Unfortunately, they didn’t hold up to the harshness of the winter or changing temperatures. So now I’m a lifeguard. Every night, I fish out one or two bees who’ve accidentally found themselves in the pond with no way out. Sometimes I feed them sugar water in case they need some extra juice to fly away, but most of the time, they just want to dry off and leave, with the exception of bumble bees. These guys hang out and stay all night long. I often find them staying the night on one of my zinnias, unmoved, until the morning sun reaches them and then they fly off. It’s such a strange behavior because bumbles are harder to shoot than other bees because they are fast movers. I often think they are dead when I find them on top of a flower in the evening but they aren’t and will give me the claw to tell me to back off. “Giving the claw” is a bumblebee’s way of saying “back off.” She’ll raise one of her front limbs as if to say “stop” and of course we respect that! After all, I didn’t save her to annoy her! Yes, Mr. Wild Dingo and I are those wacky people who rescue bees. Continue reading “Lifeguard on Duty”
I was getting a bit worried because last April, we had crickets singing love songs every evening. This year, it’s been ominously quiet. But now they are turning up in the Osteospermums by the dozens and they are growing and getting greener every day. Welcome baby katydid! Looking forward to the music of your kind!
“What the heck is your problem,” asks Wile E. in response to the cracker yelling HBO words at him. “Alls I’m doin is standing here, minding my own business, looking for that rascally Road Runner. Why all the noise?”
One day last week, after our walkies, the cracker refused to come inside. It’s not like him to do that, unless there’s a fly in the house. This time though, apparently he had work to do. When I sat down to lunch, he raised the alert from orange to red, going full-on cracker-insane alert mode at the dog fence, about 50 feet from the dog gate. I guess this is what happens when you don’t use the trails in a while, interlopers move in. Everyone has their opinions on coyotes, but I happen to think they are beautiful, albeit very dangerous to domestic dogs. Continue reading “Wile E. Coyote in the Fur”
I’ve been a bit bee-hind in posting photos and stories. What can I say? It’s hard to stay vertical when you are constantly about to toss your cookies. I took this week off Lyme meds just to catch up all the things happening in the garden’s macro world and the cracker and criminal’s world. I don’t want to leave anyone bee-hind so I’m letting you know, that this is where I’ll post most of my nature and dog photography with stories going forward rather than on social media. Of course this blog has an FB page you can use to follow along there if you’d like.
Here’s a bumblebee nomming on the newly planted Alstromeria (Peruvian Lily) we planted in the garden. I hadn’t been a fan of this plant because the colors that I’ve seen in person seemed drab, but when I saw the varieties available online, I just had to have them. This variety is called Rock-N-Roll and we planted six, three in two different locations. It’s a little taller and floppier than the other varieties which are compact and leafier. We had to stake them at first because they were so floppy. I’m not sure they’ll do well in one of the locations (steep hillside) and having them has been a bit of challenge in terms of keeping them looking good. You pretty much have to pull the spent blooms from the bottom of the stem, so the entire stem comes out of the ground, not just dead head it. This really makes the plant go crazy and start shooting up new stems with bushier leaves. So now we’re pulling out the stakes one by one hoping we don’t need them much longer. But honestly, I’ve never seen bees and other pollinators so happy. Next year I may try a more compact version if these don’t do well and stay looking good.
Gardening is sure keeping me in a busy learning-mode which continues to be a nice distraction while I’m still unable to be useful in a work setting. How weird is that by the way? On one hand I seem perfectly fine, because here I am, writing stories and learning about what’s in my garden. But on the other, I have no idea when my body will bonkers and out of commission. Frankly, I’m still being held together by a lot of meds, herbs, supplements and sleeping remedies. I can’t be accountable to a full time job just yet until I have some sort of management handle on this. I do miss work and my own income.
Every morning, the ceononthus plants are covered in a variety of pollinating insects from honey bees, to bumble bees (pictured here), to hoverflies and butterflies. For the most part, they all peacefully work together, collecting pollen and ignoring me as I watch and photograph them. The bumble bee, however, can get mighty annoyed with me and it’s common for a bumble to buzz around my head, telling me off. They even do this as I’m pruning, dead-heading, feeding or watering. I love them to pieces but damn, they can be such a pain. It just so happens that one of the 250 species of bumble bees, the rusty patched bumble bee, one of the many native pollinating bees was added to the endangered species list this year. So I don’t mind a few of them telling me off now and then. “Buzz off photographer! I got work to do,” says this bee! Continue reading “The Buzz Around the Garden”
Poor Javier. He found himself on top of the backside of the outdoor love seat. He scrambled back and forth looking for a way down for better hunting grounds. Jumping spiders are active hunters and don’t weave webs. Instead, they use a silk tether to leap to their destination or prey. If that leap doesn’t work out, they climb back up. I saw poor Javier jump 3 times off the back of the chair exactly 6″ each time and each time he chickened out going any farther and climbed back up. An impatient subject, he merely tolerated my big lens. For the imposition of capturing his portrait during his distress, I helped him find a better hunting spot in one of my potted plants. I hope he repays me by eating a mosquito or yellow jacket. Bon Appetite Javier!
As I was leaving for an appointment today, I found this adorable banana slug dining on a mushroom. I didn’t have my camera so I shot it with my cell phone. This little guy was really into tonight’s meal: they simply adore decaying mushrooms. Continue reading “Mesmerized”