Entries in hawk (4)


Cat Walk

Our cat Autumn loves the garden as much as we do, though maybe for different reasons. She dreams she is a tiger, slinking through the jungle and stalking her prey. While she stays inside most of the time, we do let her out a few hours each day so she can be a cat.Being a cat.

We no longer put up bird feeders, not wanting to give her or our resident hawks easy targets, nor wanting to encourage our pesky chipmunks to hang around. (We have an over-abundant chipmunk population. In the past they built a condominium underneath one of our bird feeders and then sent out fliers advertising its amenities, including free meals. Now a vast underground chipmunk city stretches beneath our garden.) Both the hawks and Autumn hunt chipmunks, but since she has a home and doesn't depend on her prowess for food, Autumn is likely to catch chipmunks simply for play. I watched her do this one day. She repeatedly captured and released a chipmunk just so she could chase after him. I began to feel sorry for him; but apparently she wasn't actually biting him, and in the end he got away. 

Autumn often accompanies me on my garden strolls. I call these our cat walks. We make frequent stops to gaze into space for prolonged periods. I am mentally assessing the garden, while she has her eyes on some imperceptible movement amidst the plants.Clockwise from upper left:African daisy; An old Easter lily that blooms faithfully every year; Hydrangea 'Lady in Red', named for its red stems, not its blooms; Gardenia, whose wonderful fragrance fills the woodland garden each June.I can see the tension building in Autumn's body as she stares. Then she pounces, hoping to catch a chipmunk; but not all movement is made by chipmunks. The other day a snake did not appreciate her aggression and decided to fight back. Autumn made a hasty retreat and stuck close to me for the rest of our walk. I like snakes and leave them alone, because they like to dine on chipmunks, too. I hope that with all these predators, the chipmunks will abandon the area.

The cat and I pause at the top of the steps leading down into the woodland garden.Pink gumbo azaleas are blooming across from Autumn fern. (I named Autumn after the season, not the plant, because she came to us at that time of year and also because of the autumn colors in her fur.)

Down the steps is Carex 'Everillo'.I adore this plant! It keeps getting better and better and doesn't mind Autumn's occasional nibbles.

Next is Pilea glauca, or Red Stemmed Pilea.I love how the steel blue foliage contrasts with its red stems. This is a tropical plant that will come inside for the winter.

Now we come to the weirdest plant in my garden, Amorphophallus konjac, also called Voodoo plant, Devil's Tongue, and Corpse plant. All of these names are appropriate.The spotted stems feel like human skin. The great leaf opens up like an umbrella and looks a lot like a tomato plant. I have two of these growing in pots in different parts of my garden. They are four years old. It takes about five years till they bloom, so I am looking forward to that experience next year. The blooms are giant maroon things that smell like rotting flesh.

Well! Just below the Voodoo plant is much nicer Eucomis, or Pineapple lily.I recently discovered this plant and was thrilled to learn it is hardy in my area (zone 7b/8a). It is my favorite plant of the month. It is just beginning to open its blooms.

We continue our cat walk into the woodland garden, where dark shadows and light beams play across moss covered paths.This woodland side path leads around the main planting area in the woodland garden.

Bicycle shadow in the woodland gardenThe woodland garden is a quiet place, except for the shrieking hawks who built their nest in a pine tree earlier this year. The hawk babies are out of the nest now, but the fledglings are still hanging around, while their parents teach them how to catch chipmunks. All these hawks are talking to each other. It is a hard language to listen to. I tell Autumn they are fussing at her and she had better stay close. She does.

After we leave the woodland garden, Autumn and I make our way back toward the patio. I pause to examine the Confederate Jasmine growing on the new arch.Look on the left side of the arch, and you can see the recovering jasmine vine.The jasmine was severely damaged by winter freezes this year, and we cut it back nearly to the ground and took the opportunity to replace the old dilapidated arch. I miss the mass of jasmine that covered the old arch, but the vine is putting out lots of new growth. A new jasmine vine on the other side of the arch is also growing quickly, so I think by next year they will meet in the middle atop the arch.  

The cat walk is over, and Autumn and I head into the house. Autumn curls up for a nap. In her dreams she is a mighty tiger on the prowl, and the chipmunks don't stand a chance.

You may also enjoy these previous posts:

Under the Spell of the Voodoo Plant 

A Cat Tale

The Cat is Back

Confederate Jasmine For a Fragrant Layer in the Garden


Passing in a Flash

I thought I was being attacked the other day. I heard shrieking, and I looked up to see three hawks zooming down toward me. They were about ten feet above my head when I realized two of them were chasing after the third. They swooped low over me, then soared in a huge arc back into the sky. With their wings spread wide, the sight reminded me of a dogfight between fighter planes! I am sure I witnessed my resident hawks, whose nest is nearby, chasing off an intruder. Of course I did not have my camera! I will remember it as the picture that flew away.

I had better luck with this more sedate bluebird:

April has passed in a flash, just like those hawks. Spring was so late in coming, I wish it would stay a while! But already we are having temperatures well into the 80's. The garden is transitioning to deep green. The pastel blooms of redbud and dogwood trees are gone. Most azaleas are spent. Soon the brilliant spring foliage of Japanese maples will assume more sedate tones. Meanwhile, there is plenty yet to enjoy as April comes to a close.

Philadelphus coronarius, or mock orange, is blooming. My friend Nancy dug up an off-shoot from her own mock orange and gave it to me in 1990, after a tornado took out almost everything in the center of our property. Her gift has grown and prospered, and I think of her kindness every spring when it blooms. Japanese maples glow in the background in the first image. On the lower left, the shrub to the right of the mock orange is Chinese snowball viburnum, still blooming and looking great after several weeks:

Rose buds are beginning to open:Clockwise from top: Bee is enjoying the last of a rugosa 'Alba'; Rosa mutabilis, also called Butterfly Rose; Rosa mutabilis; Penelope rose; Penelope rose buds; Knockout rose; Rugosa 'Alba'.

Here are more flowers. Notice the poinsettia at the top. It is not left over from this past Christmas. That is a 2012 poinsettia! It spent 2013 outside, and its foliage was so beautiful I brought it back inside for the winter. I did not expect Christmas blooms, and I did not get them. Imagine my surprise when it began to bloom in April! So it's back outside for 2014. Clockwise from top left: Poinsettia; Poinsettia to right of a potted arrangement; Clematis 'H.F.Young'; Calycanthus floridus 'Athens', a type of Carolina sweet shrub with creamy flowers that smell like bananas; Lonicera sempervirens, a native also called trumpet honeysuckle; Variegated weigela.Above left: Bordeaux Rose Salvia. Above right: Variegated hosta, coleus and coral impatiens in a crusty old urn.

Native woodland phlox (Phlox divaricata), hybrid columbine and Dianthus 'Bath's Pink' grow around the blue bench in the front garden. In this scene one gets an idea how the front garden wraps around the front lawn. The house is beyond the camera on the upper right:

Some more scenes from around the garden:

Fatshedera 'Angyo star' is a new viny shrub with large, ivy-like leaves. It grows to about 6 feet:

Clockwise from top left: Sambucus 'Lemon Lace'; Variegated Winter daphne is putting out new growth; Cornus florida 'Cherokee Sunset'; Heuchera 'Green Spice'; Autumn fern; Hosta 'Empress Wu'; Heuchera 'Citronelle'; Pieris japonica.

Finally, with warmer weather, I planted most of my summer veggies, and look what I already have:

And most exciting, one of those tomato blossoms has turned to this!

Grow, tomato, grow!

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