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On days like this, it’s lovely to have bulbs blooming all over my house–in fact, that’s why I do it!

Remember back in November when I started all the bulbs in vases of water? It was the weekend before Thanksgiving for those who missed that post or who are new to following me (so that would have been November 17/18, 2018–you need to plan ahead for these moments!)

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At that point, I said that it would take 6-8 weeks for the smaller bulbs to bloom and perhaps a bit longer for the larger bulbs to bloom.

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I was right on target for the smaller bulbs. The larger bulbs are faster than I expected-hooray!

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Here are the paperwhite ‘Ziva’ It’s lovely to have their fragrance in the house too. Tying them up with the ribbon seems to concentrate the fragrance (if you’re better with ribbon than I am, you can make a nice bow).

I’ve recently started the last of my amaryllis. Let’s hope they surprise me with their speed too!

Patience Rewarded

Back when I worked in retail gardening, my #1 question was about hydrangeas and how to get them to reliably rebloom.

Now that I speak about a lot of different topics, my #1 question is about clivias and how to get them to rebloom. And while I can tell you, even I haven’t always had success following my own instructions.

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I am not sure what I did differently this year but I am going to finally get a bloom. Here’s what worked.

Ideally this how you get a clivia to bloom. It has to do with cooler temperatures and dryness in the fall and early winter. Each year, I stop watering the clivia around Labor Day. It seems crazy but don’t water at all from early September until January 22. You would think that the plant would die but no.

It also needs very cool temperature–just above freezing really, about 40 degrees. That’s hard for most folks to achieve. I have a glassed in sun porch with a thermometer. I left it out there and watched it very carefully.

Once temperatures dropped near 40 degrees Fahrenheit on the porch, I brought it inside,but to a very cool room. It got very little light. Apparently it didn’t care. I was so surprised to se the flower stalk forming even before I started watering.

Once I saw the flower stalk, I brought it into the light and began watering. Now it’s just patience.

Now That You’re Feeding Birds, Think About Counting Them

This will give you 4 days to think about whether you might want to be involved in the Great Backyard Bird Count–and no, you don’t technically need a “backyard” to participate. You can count birds anyplace you can watch–or even hear birds! People start their counts just after midnight on the first day (this year the first day of the count is February 15). I am presuming they are hearing owls. I am sleeping.

What’s the Great Backyard Bird Count (or GBBC, for short)? It’s a 4 day count, held every year over the Presidents’ Day weekend. You can find out more than I could ever tell you here, at the web site.

And it’s pretty much as easy as it sounds. You “count” birds (instructions for counting are at the web site, along with optional counting sheets) over the 4 day “count period (again, this year February 15-18) and submit those counts to the web site. Last year close to 3 million birds were counted.

Why do you want to do this? For one thing, it’s fun. You’d be surprised at the number of different birds you’ll see if you just sit still and look.

For a second, it’s remarkably low tech (despite the fact that you have to submit your results online). You have to sit still and look at nature for at least 15 minutes. When was the last time you did that? It’s almost like forest bathing through a window. It can be remarkably relaxing.

So get to the web site, read the instructions, and even if you don’t participate, at some point over the long weekend, get your favorite hot beverage, park yourself in front of a window (or better yet, outdoors if it’s nice enough to do so where you are!) and just watch nature for 15 minutes. You’ll be surprised how refreshed you are at the end of it.

Nesting Places for Birds

I’ve lived in my house 25 years. By now, I know where I am likely to find birds nests. Every so often one will surprise me–but for the most part, there are several trees–small trees–and shrubs where I know that I am likely to find birds needs if I just pay attention.

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I will always find at least one, if not two, American robin’s nest in my American dogwood (cornus florida). Interestingly enough, they also like the Japanese maple and the japanese holly–so it’s not an “american” thing.

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I will also find various other birds nesting in these topiary blue spruce we have. We have several (don’t blame me–I inherited them). They stay because they birds like them.

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The japanese holly is another inherited shrub that I tolerate because it’s good for the birds. As I mentioned in the last post, it’s wonderful shelter for them (it doesn’t berry–I don’t think we have enough sun) and they do nest in it so I am not likely to remove it even though it is a bit of an overgrown monstrosity.

As for other nesting places, I was foolish enough to think that you needed nest boxes. Silly me. We must have at least 10 pair of nesting birds on the property at any one time all summer long. I attribute that to providing habitat (and of course, no pesticides).

You saw 2 nest boxes in the dogwood. One is pretty much decorative. The other is a working wren house and it’s used every year. I fledge ( actually the wren parents fledge) at least 2 broods of baby wrens each year. And they get mighty irate if I try to garden underneath.

But the trees and shrubs are the true nesting stars. My bird population relies heavily upon them to perpetuate their future.