MLK Quote

MLK Quote

Nature's Inspiration Movie -- Nature's Inspiration Movie: The photographs in this short video are from award-winning photographer, Ken Jenkins, and they are breathtaking. However, this video is much more than beautiful photographs! Peggy Anderson has compiled beautiful quotations from the likes of Emerson, Thoreau, and many others that truly capture the beauty of nature and solitude. Absolute must watch for nature lovers.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Critters and Creatures Everywhere...

I'm joining in the memes hosted by Nature Notes hosted by Rambling Woods, St Germain's and Today's Flowers meme.

The Dogwood and Azaleas were in full bloom. This is in our front-yard; I know our house looks like it's in the middle of a jungle :-P. It's because I like doing wild gardening. I don't like the landscape-type gardening.

Bees and winged creatures love azaleas and dogwood flowers. So many bumble and other native bees buzzing around them. It's a bumblebee moth in the 2nd picture

This is one of the most favorite plants of permaculturalists -- Russian Compfrey. The root of this plant can go down as deep as ten or fifteen feet or more. So, it brings up all the rich minerals, from such depth to the surface of the soil. As the surface roots of this plant decompose, all those minerals become available to the soil. The minerals are also available in the leaves of this plant. The leaves are quite huge as you can see in the picture. You chop of the leaves and spread around the base of other plants as fertilizer. You can also make liquid fertilizer by soaking the leaves in water for about three weeks. And, you can take as much leaves from the plant as you want because the plant is a vigorous grower. Bees love the flowers of the plant. Compfrey leaves are also good for muscles/bones/tendons. Herbalists use all parts of this plant for all sorts of ailments. Apparently the leaves are edible though I never tried. But be careful while buying comfrey. There are two types -- Russian and non-Russian. The Russian ones will never become weed. It's just a large plant of size two by two feet. However, the non-Russians comfrey can become weed as they will occupy your garden by sending suckers and underground rhizomes through everywhere.
The Rhododendron is coming into bloom. When it's in full-bloom, the whole plant gets covered with flowers without any green or branches in sight. It's a really a sight to behold. Bees, butterflies, mockingbird moth flock on it in droves.
I saw this red-squirrel in our garden. It's the usual gray-squirrel of America but instead of having grayish fur, it has reddish fur (much like the British Red Squirrels). Not only the squirrels but the chipmunks also raid the bird-feeders. These are the permanent residents in our garden -- squirrels, chipmunks, rats, mice, birds and with summer comes few snakes (not any poisonous ones but gutter snake type). The visitors list includes deer, raccoon, groundhogs, opossum and stray cats. The bears come in our neighborhood but they have never come into our garden. Alas!!

Update on the Bluejay -- they now have babies. I don't know how many but seems like four or five. One of the jays always sits in the nest and cover the babies up with its body. But in the afternoon it flies away, not for long though, to look for food and water, I guess. I saw both the parents feeding the babies but more food is always brought by the jay that does not live in the nest. They now know me as I have tamed them by giving peanuts. Do you know Bluejays hide most of their food (much like what squirrels do) in various locations? So, they always have a supply of cache of food!! Whenever I provide them with food (various types of nuts), they take those and fly away to the very tops of nearby trees. They also feed on insects. They perch on top of electric cables and then swoop down on ground to catch insects and flies. It's very interesting to observe all their antics. I am also finding that Bluejays are ferocious protectors of their nests. They attack all the big creatures that come anywhere within 30 feet of their nests. I have seen them attacking squirrels and American Robins. And they attack quite viciously -- sweeping down and pecking with their strong beaks. Note the garden tie that's part of their nest. I use these in our garden, and scatter around the unusable ones in the garden. I have noticed that all sorts of birds use all sorts of materials -- sticks, hay, dried and fresh leaves, small plastic wrappers, garden-ties, strings, pet-furs, etc, etc -- to make their nests. So, by scattering some of these around your garden, you will be helping these birds make nests.

Now some random blooms from around the garden -- Star of Bethlehem, Columbine and Flowering-Fern

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Two More Native Plants (Ground-Covers)

I'm joining in the memes hosted by Nature Notes hosted by Rambling Woods, St Germain's and Today's Flowers meme. Suddenly a thought has occurred to me. Now it's spring with summer coming soon. Everything is blooming. But, what will happen when winter comes? How will I participate in all these memes? So, I'm going to cheat. I will not submit all the flowers and wild-life stories, every-week, for the memes. I will put up everything staggeringly so that I can continue participation throughout the year.

So, this week I present to you two more native plants. The first one is Foam-flower (Tiarella cordifolia), also known as False-Miterwort. On a glance, the flowers of Miterwort and Foam-flowers do look similar but they are not. This is also a plant of the shady area. It will grow in the most dark area (under a pine-tree), and forms colonies through underground rhizomes. In spring the flowers come up in tall spikes. Rest of the year, it's a neat ground-cover. It's part of the saxifrage family. It's deer and other critter resistant.

The second one is that of native wild geranium or Cranesbill or Spotted Geranium (Geranium Maculatum). It's a plant loved by deers. So, if you plant this, you have to make sure to take some steps to keep deers out. It also spreads by underground rhizomes. It's a very low growing (pretty much ground-cover) plant with small, dainty flowers. It needs full-sun. It will grow in shade but will not flower (that's my experience). Being a native plant, it does not have the big-show-off glamorous flowers of cultivated Geranium. But I love it. To compare their beauties, I have to tell that commercial Geraniums are like celebrities who put on lots of make-up and fancy clothes to portray their beauties; whereas this native Geranium is that of the beauty of the moon -- calm and serene whose beauty radiates out everywhere and does not need any special touch. And, when it blooms the whole mound of plant is covered with these dainty elegant flowers.

In my previous post I mentioned that a Blue-Jay has made nest in front of our front-door. Hats off to it's dedication. It does not move, rain or shine, from that place. How can it have so much patience and dedication and perhaps go without much food. Couple of times I saw another Blue-Jay coming and feeding it. I don't know their genders. Is it the mother Blue-Jay who is sitting in the nest? Or the father Blue-Jay. Online search told me that both parents feed the chicks; but I don't know who initially take care of the nest. At the beginning, it was scared of me. But I have tamed it by offering sunflower-seeds and peanuts. So, every morning and afternoon, I go out and offer it some food. It does not bulge from the next but another Blue-Jay (who is always nearby and so my guess is this Blue-Jay is the partner) comes and gets all the food. So, here are some snap-shots of it coming, taking the peanuts and flying away with me standing about 5-6 feet away. Sorry the pictures are not very clear as I have to zoom to take them; also the place has lots of shade. Please click on to see the bigger version.