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Archive for the ‘birds’ Category

Yes!  They do  join us at our meal-times!

Here at Horizon House our Garden Committee was granted money to purchase Hummingbird Feeders to place outside the Main Dining Room windows for our enjoyment all winter long.  Anna’s Hummingbirds stay with us all winter…the annual flowers in our planters do not.  So, instead of the flowers, during the winter, we now can  enjoy the Hummers!!!

We have two feeders hanging.  One on the west side of the dining room (mine), and one on the north side (Carol O.’s).  They were placed carefully.  We thought of placing them where most diners could actually SEE the feeders.  The other reason was that the feeders are out of sight of each other.  As many of us know, hummers are very territorial, as well as aggressive!  So, it’s kind of an “out of sight, out of mind” approach.  If you sit close enough to watch them, you will occasionally see them chasing each other around.  Then one of them will calmly sit on a close branch to begin his “watch” again.  They do NOT share at all well!!!

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Annemarie’s photo

 

This little guy is calmly waiting for the next “invader” to approach “HIS” feeder!  I took this picture when the snow was barreling down.

This same day, the staff saw the feeders all frozen over from the night before, and (bless them) they went out and removed the feeders and “unfroze them.  Unfortunately, they were not aware that the feeders are filled with a solution of 1 part sugar to 4 parts water, and instead filled them with plain water.  (A good technique is to remove the feeders in the evening, take them inside, and then re-hang them in the morning.)

The reason that it is not a good idea to use plain water, is that these are very tiny, little birds, only weighing a little more than a penny. Their tummies are pretty small, so when they don’t get any sustenance, it is hard for them to satisfy their caloric needs…which are ample.  When you watch them fly, you can just imagine how much energy they expend.

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One of Joel’s photos

Remember, ANY time you see a problem with these two feeders, you can give me, (or Carol O.) a call and one of us will be happy to deal with the issue.  The staff at the dining room also have my number.

Let’s talk a little about these fascinating birds who share our space.

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From the internet

First, know that the hummers who stay all winter long, here in Seattle are “Anna’s Hummingbirds“.  (It’s nice that they named them after my grand-daughter! Just kidding!) Do visit the link to hear them and see those grand colors in motion.

You CAN tell the difference between males and females if you are VERY observant.   Check the link to a site that gives you lots more information.

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Joel’s photo-outside our window

If you have your own little “balcony” and are curious about how to feed them properly, here’s a link that will tell you everything you need to know!

I don’t have a lot of photos, since they move a bit too fast for my little camera.  My husband is giving me a few as well, and there’s also the internet!

 

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A dream???  I think I fell asleep sometime in the beginning of November, and just woke up!  Sorry I’ve been gone so long.  It isn’t for lack of wanting to, I just didn’t make the time.  Now that my birthday is done and Christmas looms, it’s time to get my act together and see if there’s something I should be doing about the garden.

Perhaps I could talk about stepping away from being the Chair of the Garden Committee after 6 years.  It’s time for an injection of new ideas and energy.  What are some of the things I accomplished, and am proud of…and perhaps a few I’d just as soon forget?

  • I brought the gardens through the major rebuilding of the West Wing.  It impacted all of our gardens in one way or another.
    • The Secret Garden was relatively unscathed…lucky them!
    • Level C & D however, were closed down for a year and a half, with construction materials stacked or built on them.IMG_3637
    • We were not allowed to go out there…so the gardens languished, and the gardeners wept!
  • I applied for, and won, a GEM Grant for the gardeners after the construction was over, so they each were given a comfortable sum of money to purchase new plant material, and also provided the transportation to get to and from the plant nursery. We went in the spring and again in the fall.  IMG_3890It produced many smiles…and beautiful gardens!
  • Following that, we needed to get people back into the gardens to show them off, and remind Horizon House, that we did indeed, have beautiful gardens.  To accomplish this, I began “June In Our Gardens”.  Every day of June had some garden related activity.  It worked! IMG_6659 Residents came to lectures, parties, walks, tours and even cooking (with our herbs-available for all residents) and lessons on how to use our new grills!
  • We continued the “June In Our Gardens”, and it is becoming an annual affair. IMG_7687 I will continue to chair that sub-committee, until either I tire of it, or they have had enough of me!!!
  • Another GEM grant was generated to get a Birdbath for each level garden, and Hummingbird Feeders to hang outside the Dining Room windows for our residents to enjoy in the winter, when the “blooming planters” have been removed.Screen Shot 2018-10-10 at 7.06.53 AM
  • We did a little “re-naming”!  The Level E Garden is now “The Secret Garden”.  That name is much more appropriate, as no one can ever find it!  Also, the garden storage area is now called “The Garden Shed”, and the new sub-committee has done a great job of cleaning it up, and keeping it that way!

I’m sure there are more…but we’ll stop here.  It’s been a great bunch of years.  I’ve loved chairing this committee.  Gardeners are fun and understanding, to say nothing of hardworking.  Thank you all for letting me stand at your helm.  It has been an honor.

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Yesterday the Garden Committee sponsored a trip to Swanson’s, a local Plant Nursery.  My garden is full and my window sills are groaning with indoor plants, however, I was not lost for what to do as I prowled the aisles at Swanson’s.

I was looking for some Hummingbird Feeders to put outside the Dining Room windows here at Horizon House.

We have just removed the flowering planters that were such a colorful delight all summer long.  We needed something that might provide some enjoyment for our diners.  Why not a Hummingbird Feeder or two?Screen Shot 2018-10-10 at 7.06.53 AM

We decided on two.  One on each side of the dining room.  Hummers are pretty territorial, so we wanted to be sure they could all eat in peace…so one per side!

I am sure the Garden Committee will get some comments soon!  I don’t think the feeders have been “discovered” yet.  I noticed when we went for dinner last evening, that I should readjust the placement of one of them, so it’s a bit more visible to all the diners.

The Garden Committee decided rather than have gardeners “take turns” tending the feeders, that perhaps having them be “adopted” might work better.  Already one of them has been adopted by Carol O.  I think I will adopt the other one, since I’m about to give up my chairmanship of the Garden Committee.  I’ll be looking for some “fun” endeavor to accomplish instead!  The feeders will hang until it’s time for the flowering baskets to re-appear in the spring. IMG_8277 At that point they will be removed allowing the flowering planters to provide nectar for our hummers.  We’ll hold off on the feeding until the planters come down again!

Here in the Pacific Northwest, Anna’s Hummingbirds remain all winter.  There are few blossoms for them as the weather cools down, so feeding them should encourage them to stick around OUR dining room!  Wish us luck!

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There are many reasons to either feed or not feed our birds.  One of the things I miss MOST about having moved here from New Hampshire, is that I don’t have my string of feeders right outside the dining room window.  It provided hours of enjoyment!  Not only did we have birds there, we also had frequent squirrels and occasional black bears come for a handout. They could be annoying and sometimes a bit frightening.

In New Hampshire I didn’t worry so much about the lawn, as our kids made us promise not to grow grass in our yard (they wanted to enjoy their hours there, rather than be cutting the grass!).  Where we lived in Connecticut was a totally different story.  We had a beautifully manicured lawn.  When Spring came, the grass below the feeders was dead, covered with seed debris, and just an awful mess in general.  It took a lot of elbow grease to get it back to where it should be.

All that debris however, brings us to where this particular blog entry picks up.

We now live in the midst of Seattle, Washington.  We now are definitely to be considered residents of an URBAN landscape.  So, if we have feeders, what happens to all of that debris????  It falls to whatever is below.  That might be someone else’s balcony, a green roof, the sidewalk, a terrace…on and on.  I’m sure you get the picture.

But, then what?  If it’s someone’s balcony, they are pretty miffed as they end up having to do the cleaning.  If they sweep it off the balcony…whoops…down below again!  Or else they have to deal with your mess.  That’s not really fair!

Not only is it not fair, the debris AND the seed are a free handout to our local scavengers.  Those might be squirrels, RATS, pigeons, gulls, etc.  It also invites raptors (hawks, etc.) who prey on the visiting birds.  And then there are the cats, who are the biggest enemy of birds at feeders, as I understand it.

Here at Horizon House we are asked NOT to have bird feeders for just those reasons.  I know we all miss seeing the birds, but we now live in the city, and we need to be kind to our human neighbors.  We should also refrain from being “pigeon people”.  One of those who save bread and feed it to the pigeons.  It’s unhealthy for a whole lot of reasons.  It is NOT nutritious for the birds, and again it attracts the wrong creatures to our midst.

I would like to suggest that if you want to see some birds you might find a hummingbird feeder.  There is no debris.  You will get to enjoy the hummers. They are pretty speedy, discouraging those that might want to eat them!k6000674

Should you decide on the hummingbird feeder, mounted with a suction cup to your window…be sure to remove the feeder when the window cleaner guy comes.  It’s a sure-fire way to lose feeders, and make the window cleaners job a whole lot more difficult.

 

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One of our activities this past “June In Our Gardens”, was to go into Freeway Park and identify some birds that would certainly fly into our gardens as well.  Penny Bolton, from Audubon, came to lead our group.

IMG_7799We began at our E-Level entrance/exit that goes right into Freeway Park.  It was a great place to begin our adventure.  About 20-25 people showed up with binoculars and smiles, and we were OFF!

We didn’t see a ton of birds, but we did see enough to keep us interested, and they WOULD fly right into our gardens. IMG_7803 We now knew what to look for when we got back to our terraces.

I have added links which you can click, to find the Audubon description, with pictures of each bird we saw.

There were the usual cast of avian characters beginning with our Harbingers of Spring:  The ROBIN.

Next up came the CROW.  These guys seem to be everywhere.  They are loud, curious, and fun.

Another common bird here, is of course, the ROCK PIGEON.

IMG_7810The little DARK-EYED JUNCO.  These active little guys are frequently seen hopping amidst the flowers around the dining room.  We all watch them there.

An of course, the BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEE.  They are everywhere!

HOUSE FINCHES were also seen.  We once had a pair of them build a nest in our window enclosure.  THAT was fun!

GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULLS are our constant companions.  They can usually be found sitting on building roofs, or cruising the skies over Seattle.

For those of us that were QUICK…there were some VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOWS.

The last and most stunning of all were the ANNA’S HUMMINGBIRDS, busying themselves in many of the blossoms found in profusion around the park.

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Know your Horticultural Zone.  Find it here!

I have loaded this post with links you should find helpful.  Be sure to click on them for all kinds of extra information.  I have used Extension, or Horticultural sites, so you shouldn’t be troubled with any advertising when you go there.

  • This is a good time to get that soil tested. Then there will be time to amend it before the season gets into full swing!
  • Edge your flower beds to rid yourself of invading lawn rhizomes. Toss the edgings from this into the compost.
  • Rebar, the steel bars used to reinforce concrete and masonry, make great garden stakes. They’re inexpensive, strong and durable and they come in a variety of sizes. You can find them in any building supply store.
  • Start up your lawn mower so you know it doesn’t need a trip to the repair shop before grass cutting time. Also be sure the blades are SHARP.
  • Sharpen your other tools while you are at it!
  • The lawn would appreciate a good fertilizing at this time.
  • Avoid working in the garden unless the soil breaks up in your hand if you squeeze a lump of it.
  • Turn your compost 
  • Hummingbirds Be sure the feeders are cleaned every time you refill them.  The food should be 1 part sugar to 4 parts water.  Bring to a boil and cool before putting into the feeder.
  • Sow peas in the ground as soon as the frost is gone
  • Continue with the tree pruning. Get rid of dead and diseased limbs
  • As soon as your shrubs are done blooming, prune them as well.
  • You can prune your berry bushes-check a reference.
  • Rhubarb can be divided.  They are almost impossible to kill, so don’t worry about hurting them.
  • This is a good time to pull out weed trees and old bramble branches. They tend to yank out easily because the soil is still soft and moist.
  • Remove mulch from strawberries
  • Put your trellis systems and peony supports into place.
  • Pansies and other cold weather annuals can now be planted outside.
  • It is the time to divide and plant perennials as well as cutting any of last years remaining growth away. It’s known as good housekeeping in the garden!
  • If you have any bare root plants going into the garden, soak them overnight before planting. Also be sure to trim off any super long or broken roots.
  • If you winter mulch your garden beds, begin to remove mulch when forsythia and daffodils bloom.
  • Try planting scented flowers near walks!

I hope you’ll check out my book A Year In My New England Garden, which has a similar calendar along with vignettes of my gardening experiences in New England.  Your purchase of this book will help me cover my blogging costs.  It is inexpensive, and should be fun, helpful and make a great gift for gardening friends.

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As many of you, my faithful readers, know-I wrote a book, entitled “A Year in My New England Garden”, a few years ago.  This is the story of how that came to happen.

Gardening has been an important part of my life since I was a kid living on Staten Island, one of the 5 boroughs of NYC.  It began when my mother decided she was going to become a “gardener”!

Her first venture was to plant some daffodils.  daffodils-1399483She knew they should be planted pretty deep in the ground, but she overextended that a bit, and when the flowers came up, the blooms were resting with their “chins” on the ground!  They had stretched about as far as they could and it didn’t allow them to get their blossoms farther than the soil surface.  It was pretty funny.  My mother NEVER made that mistake again (and neither did I!).

Her zeal to learn about how to do it right, brought her to membership into three different garden clubs.  She loved them…and boy!  Did she learn about gardening!

We had a very small plot of land around our house on Staten Island, but she filled it with beautiful, aromatic, and even tasty plants, although her passion was really for flowers.  There were climbing June roses, whose odor still bring me right back to my youth when I smell them today.  There were prize winning chrysanthemums, as well as proper daffodils, and other blooming bulbs, and perennials, etc.

She had my Dad build a pergola for her, that was a groaning board for honey-suckle vines.  We ate out there all summer long, right by the birdbath, surrounded by lovely plants of all sorts (and a TON of bees, I might add!).

Her garden clubs titilated her artistic bent and she soon began to make floral arrangements.  Those arrangements were so good that they were not only entered into the NY Flower Show, but she actually won prizes there for her endeavors.  We were very proud, but didn’t fully recognize the awesomeness of her talent until we were much older and realized just what she had accomplished!

She generated in me a life-long romance with flowering plants and anything having to do with them.  I, however, was never a “garden clubber”.  I have always found them to be more social than practical.  Perhaps that was just because where I lived tended to attract gardeners who cared more for the condition of their fingernails, than the soil those nails encountered!-7

At any rate, when I learned about the Master Gardener Programs available all over this country, I felt I  had found my calling!  I became a Master Gardener in Connecticut, where we lived at this point, and found my niche in helping new, or struggling gardeners be able to plant their daffodils right, the first time!

When my husband and I  retired to New Hampshire, I looked for a gardening “hot line” in vain.  At the time I arrived, they didn’t have one of those in my area (the boonies!)  So, I began a BLOG!

I worked on that blog for years, until we made the move to the Pacific Northwest, where we are closer to our daughter and her family, after years of living close to our sons.  (Don’t even ask why our kids all live a continent apart!)  I enjoyed the blog, and started a new one more appropriate for our new area.  I struggled with how I should approach it’s direction.

While struggling with that, I thought perhaps I should put some of my accumulated knowledge into a book, which is what I did.-1

It is essentially a collection of gardening vignettes followed by a gardening calendar.  It does tell about my New England garden, but a daffodil has the same needs in Seattle as it does in North Haverhill, NH and Wethersfield, CT.  Pruning is the same and the birds select their seed and backyards the same way.  Judging when to water depends on the plant, not the location in which you live!  So, although the book talks about a New England Garden…(I wish I had given it a different name.)  It really applies to ANY garden, and the stories are there for your enjoyment.  I’m hoping perhaps you give it a “look see”.  Perhaps you, or a gardener you know, might enjoy an inexpensive, yet information packed, gardening tome.

“A YEAR IN MY NEW ENGLAND GARDEN”

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