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Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Birds and the Bees

 What a fun morning in the garden today!  As I was sitting on the patio enjoying my morning coffee I had a chance to get some photos of the young birds who have been visiting the feeders this week.

This young mockingbird was hopping around in the grape vine, cheeping plaintively.

He was quite insistent, and wasn't shy about letting his wants known.

And finally his patience was rewarded when mom (or is it dad?) arrives with something tasty.  I was lucky to snap these photos.  About five seconds after the last one was taken, both birds disappeared into the hedgerow opposite, and I haven't seen them since!

Once the mockingbirds had moved on, I was happy to see the Cardinal Kids show up. They both look a little moth-eaten at the moment, the male below especially, as they get their adult plumage.

Their beaks are starting to turn color as well - they were much darker a few days ago.

And finally, the Profusion zinnia is proving irresistible to several bumble bees (as well as butterflies, but I will keep that for another post).

I'm not positive which species of bumble bee these are, as there are 46 species.  It may be Bombus auricomus, but I'm really not sure.  If anyone knows, please let me know!

I'm going to add today's post to Camera Critters.  You can visit by clicking on my link, or on the Camera Critters button in the right hand bar of my blog to see critter photos posted by other bloggers around the world.

Words and photographs by Jayne Wilson, Green and Serene, Jayne's Country Garden.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

In Search of a Solution for Bird Window Collisions

One of the many things I love about my native England is the house names.  Proud owners of anything from the most humble cottage to the grandest estate give their homes a name. The name may be the family name, as in "Hartford Manor", or it may be inspired by the environs of the house, as in "Meadow View Lodge" or "Lakeside Cottage."

A while back, Eric and I, just for fun, were trying to come up with a name of our house.  We thought of "Pine Villa" and "Squirrel's Rest", but eventually, we lost the pine tree, and the wooded lots either side of our house were built on, so those names no longer fit.

One recurring name that kept coming up was "Dove's Demise".  Not exactly something one would want on a slate by the front door, but in our case over the years it would be considered an appropriate name.

As much as I like to garden for wildlife, and keep the feeders and birdbaths filled, an alarming number of birds, mostly Mourning or White Winged doves, have crashed into the windows across the back of our house and died.

This photo gives you  gives you a good idea why.  I was standing by the bird bath and bird feeder when I took it, and you can see that the blue sky is reflected in the windows.

What often happens is that a truck or something noisy will come along the road behind our wall and startle the birds, who will take flight and scatter en masse. They don't perceive the glass, but just see the sky reflected and think they can fly through.  Inside the house we hear a loud *thunk* and look out to see a bird lying dead on the patio with a broken neck.

We're running out of places to bury them. :-(

We have tried various stickers on the windows with not much success, so I started searching for a better solution.

That's when I found The Bird Screen Company

The screens aren't expensive and they are easy to install - I was able to install them myself last weekend using the suction cup mount option that was included. 

 As you can see, they are made of black vinyl screen and hang several inches from the window and are secured top and bottom to give tension.  From inside the house, they do not block the view and should a bird happen to hit the screen, it softens the impact, allowing the bird to fly away unharmed.

You can read the history of how they were developed here.

So far, I have installed them on the three living room windows, and the patio door, which were the windows that have been involved in the most bird collisions. (Haven't done the dining room yet - the windows on the right)

I'm hopeful that the birds in our garden will be safer and we no longer have to call our house "Dove's Demise".

If you've ever thought about giving your house a name, or even if you haven't, you might enjoy this House Naming Guide.

Words and photographs by Jayne Wilson, Green and Serene, Jayne's Country Garden.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day - July 2015

I'm notorious for forgetting to participate in Garden Blogger's Bloom Day, hosted on the 15th of each month by Carol at May Dreams Gardens.

Here we are in July and I have participated a total of ZERO times this year!  Until today, that is.

I was reminded of GBBD, as it is affectionately know, when another Houston area garden blogger, Dorothy of The Nature of Things, posted a link to her GBBD post on Facebook this morning.

So, before I forget again, here are some blooms from our garden.

The Profusion zinnia threatened to take over the entire garden this year.  I had to do some major thinning and there are still more of them than anything else in the garden.  I'm not complaining though, they shrug off the heat and humidity and the butterflies and bees love them.

To offset all the orange, I interspersed some Angelonia.  I should have added some salvia as well, for the bees and hummingbirds, but I've not had much success with it in the past and just didn't get around to planting any this year.

I like this white Angelonia too.

In the back border, this Gomphrena adds another splash of purple amid all the orange.

This Philippine lily caught me by surprise.  It was a passalong from a gardening friend a few years ago and it's tucked in behind the shrubs in the front border.  I had forgotten about it until the beautiful blooms caught my eye as I was heading out the front door yesterday.  I took this photo today, so I didn't cheat! LOL.

Some of the daylilies are still hanging on, such as this little gold one -- Stella D'Oro, perhaps?

And finally, more zinnias, as well as a very exuberant Turk's Cap.  I even saw a hummingbird on this just the other day.

That's it from me today.  Once again, thank you Carol for hosting Garden Blogger's Bloom Day.


Words and photographs by Jayne Wilson, Green and Serene, Jayne's Country Garden.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Garden at Night

One evening in the week, I decided to turn the ceilings fans on out on the patio and go sit outside for a while. It was actually quite pleasant and not muggy like it usually is.

I've always been fascinated by the night sky, although I'm by no means an expert.  This particular night the sky was clear and I could see some stars in spite of the chronic light pollution that pervades this whole area.

I quickly realized that these must be planets, rather than stars and after taking some (mostly fuzzy) photos, I used the GoSkyWatch app on my iPad to identify them as Jupiter and Venus.  I love that app - it helps you identify stars, constellations, even things you can't really see with the naked eye, such as star clusters and nebulae.

Since I had my camera out, I decided to try some photos of the garden.  The only light was that from the light by the back door.  I like the way they came out, although there's a huge shadow from one of the pillars across the back of the house.

Of course, this garden isn't really a night time garden.  For one thing, I have few white blooms that would stand out at night.  And for another, I don't have any scented blooms.  I will need to keep this in mind when planning my planting for next year!  Suggestions will be appreciated!

And finally, as I was sitting there listening to the waterfall and the crescendo of serenading frogs, I became aware of movement on the wall, over by the bird feeder.

I realized there was a possum on the wall, cleaning up the seeds that had been left over by the birds.  I tried some non-flash photos with no success, so I flipped up the flash and was able to capture him on film.

He looks rather demonic with those eyes reflecting the flash, doesn't he?  I wonder now if he stops by every night to clean up leftover bird seed.  Actually I'm surprised that the birds ever leave any!

What night time critters you do you get in your garden?

I"m not really sure whether this is acceptable for Camera Critters, hosted by Misty Dawn, since the critter is tucked in at the end of the post, but I'm going to try anyway.  

You can visit Camera Critters with this link, or by using the button in the side bar of my blog. 

Words and photographs by Jayne Wilson, Green and Serene, Jayne's Country Garden.