Entries in robin (2)


The Best of the Rest: 2017

Happy New Year, everyone! I can't believe it is already 2018. I remember so well when we reached the year 2000, and everyone thought the world was going to end!

I am partied out; no wild shenanigans for me tonight. Instead, I end the year working on a blog post, as it is time for my annual "Best of the Rest" feature. These are photos taken from my garden through the year that, for various reasons, did not make it onto the blog. At last, I present these never-before-seen images! (They may or may not knock your socks off.) 


February:Bright yellow Forsythia promises the end of winter and the arrival of spring.

March:Above top:Red trumpet honeysuckle grows on a fence that divides my vegetable garden/work space from the patio. Small photos above left to right: Japanese maple blooms; Alabama Croton bloom; Summer snowflakes (Despite the name, they bloom in the spring.)

April:Robin Redbreast

May:This Eastern Phoebe has nested at the top of a downspout outside my bedroom window for the past two years. I enjoy listening to the birdsong!

These succulents grow in a hypertufa pot on the patio. I bring them inside for the winter.


July:This variegated hot pepper is called a Fish Pepper.

August:An annual begonia that bloomed constantly in the woodland garden until frost.

September:Burford holly: The green holly berries promise bright color to come.

October:Bench in the fern glade

Dappled sunlight covers one of the woodland garden paths.

November:Spiders are good guys in my garden.

Look at the top of the pine tree to see a hawk nest. Hawks have been nesting there for several years now.

This is a young red-shouldered hawk who hatched in that nest; he is getting big!

December:The holly berries are red now!

One of our birdhouses during our December snow.

Night view of the arch by the patio, decorated for Christmas and covered in snow.

The year comes to a close. Winter sunsets are dramatic.

Did you have a favorite photo or month? 

Wishing you all the best in 2018, and if you encounter thorns, may you also find blooms and berries!  Deb



Planting a Wildlife Habitat

After wandering around my garden, a visitor once turned to me and exclaimed, "The birds are so happy!"

That made me very happy, too. I get great joy watching the many birds, squirrels, rabbits, and even occasional foxes who visit my garden. I love lizards, butterflies, dragonflies, ladybugs, and bees. I feel good that so many creatures choose to live in my garden. A healthy garden is one that is full of life.A few of the creatures that call my garden home, clockwise from top left: A green Anole lizard; Bumblebee, Chipmunk (Ground squirrel); Barred owl.

If we create an environment that is good for wildlife, often that garden will be a place that is pleasing to us as well. There are a number of things a gardener can do to make a habitat that is friendly to wildlife. 

If you are serious about attracting wildlife to your garden, be sure to use only organic products, rather than artificial fertilizers, pesticides, and insecticides that can harm wildlife. I cringe at those products that have a nuke-em approach, promising to get rid of every bug. Many insects are good guys who eat other bugs that damage our gardens, and insects are an important food source for many birds and other forms of wildlife.This Eastern Bluebird is enjoying a tasty meal.

Also, plant a variety of both evergreen and deciduous plants in your garden. This is the best way to insure that your garden will become a wildlife habitat.A diversity of plantings will provide shelter throughout the year, as well as places for birds to nest and raise their young. Cardinals have nested in this forsythia bush every year since we moved here in 1985.Trees and shrubs that produce berries - for example: hollies, dogwood, viburnum, hawthorn, and serviceberries - as well as flowering plants that are allowed to go to seed, will provide sustenance.A robin eats dogwood berries in winter.Clockwise from top left are some of the berry-producing plants in my own garden: Burford holly; Mapleleaf viburnum; Weeping yaupon holly; Serviceberry treeRose hips and Coneflower seeds are only a couple of the many types of seed heads that birds and other wildlife consume through the winter.

Many of us enjoy watching the aerial acrobatics of hummingbirds. Yes, hummingbirds do perch!If you want to attract these amazing creatures, plant brightly colored, nectar-rich flowers that have funnel-shaped blooms as well as those that have distinct “landing zones”. Trumpet creeper, Campsis radicans; Trumpet honeysuckle, Lonicera sempervirens; Bee Balm, Monarda didyma; Indian Pink, Spigelia marilandica; and Red buckeye, Aesculus pavia, are some of our native plants that attract hummingbirds. Rose of Sharon, Hibiscus syriacus; Pineapple sage, Salvia elegans; Shrub verbena, Lantana camera; Giant blue sage, Salvia guaranitca; and Butterfly bush, Buddleja davidii are a few of the non-natives that attract hummingbirds. Spearleaf swampmallow, Pavonia hastata, which is in the hibiscus family, is a favorite in my own garden. Often hummingbirds will ignore the nearby hummingbird feeder and fight over this!In my own garden, hummingbirds prefer Trumpet honeysuckle and Pavonia hastata.

Butterflies are also welcome inhabitants of our gardens. They are attracted to colorful perennials and annuals such as Zinnia: Pentas:Cosmos:Below, clockwise from top left, are more butterfly magnets: Coneflower, Echinacea; Blue mist shrub, Caryopteris; Butterfly weed, Asclepsias; and of course, Butterfly bush, Buddleja.

Butterflies are also drawn to asters, salvia, and to many flowering shrubs, such as azaleas.

Remember that a water source is important to wildlife, even through the winter. I dream of a pond or a stream, but for now I maintain a couple of birdbaths.I managed to get a rear view of this mockingbird enjoying a birdbath.Many natural wildlife habitats are perishing as modern society expands. We gardeners should do more than just make our yards pretty for ourselves. We can help preserve the local ecology by providing safe and healthy environments for garden creatures. Ultimately, we are benefitting our own lives, as well.

"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father's care." Matthew 10:29