A female monarch on our blue foamflower. I wonder if we will finally see a monarch chrysalis this year. In the past, I’ve only seen males. Males have a black spot on their hindwings.
It’s been a beautiful, long, cool spring. While so many others have been bored during this stay at home spring due to COVID-19, I found myself busier than ever. It’s been nice being outside tending my garden with temperature mostly in the 50’s and 60’s during the day. I have a lot of photos to share.
Here is a photo of my perpetual nature journal. The apple is there to hold the page down while I photographed it. In the journal, each double page spread covers a week of the year. You can make one entry a week a more or even skip a week. The idea is to record nature in a specific area and notice how things change from year to year. It’s also a way to learn about nature and to improve your drawing skills.
Found a land snail on my pot of marjoram yesterday.
We thought the pinxter azalea we planted last year was dead. It’s not!
This is green and gold – a native spring ephemeral. I probably incorrectly identified lesser celandine as green and gold in years past. What a mistake! The lesser celandine is an aggressive non native that we actually planted back into our native garden not realizing our incorrect id. I’ve been weeding it out all spring and I’m sure I’ll have to do the same for years to come. The photo above is the real thing. I planted two last year and only one survived. It is doing well and spreading so I’m happy about that.
A close up of the bullfrog entry in my nature journal.
Our first aromatic aster bloom of the year. It will bloom from now until the first frost. A real winner for us and the butterflies. Late last winter/early spring we saw dark-eyed junco birds eating the seed and taking the stems off with them presumably for nesting material. A good excuse not to tidy up the garden.
A couple of weeks ago we took a morning walk just a 20 minute drive from us in the George Washington National Forest. It was early enough on a hot day that we were comfortable even in the sun.
We started to go up this path which led into the woods. It soon got muddy so we turned back. We’ll do that loop another day.
Those are two red winged black birds on the cattails in the middle of the photo above.
Iris blooming in front of the Soft Rush.
We’ve been harvesting strawberries for about 2 weeks now. They are big and beautiful and lacking in flavor. I’m guessing that is because we had so much rain while they were ripening. Our weather is perfect this week and the berries taste a little better.
Some of the rain came in the form of fierce storms. After once such storm we noticed that one of our big elms in the front yard is splitting in two! One estimate is $3400 to take it down. Ouch! We are now looking into the possibility of cabling it.
An opossum inside the tree crack.
Peony leaves on the left foreground. Sweeping diagonally through the center of the photo are blooming wild hydrangea. Behind those are the leaves of bells of Ireland. And in the top right background are the purple berries of the spiky leaved Oregon grape.
A clematis we transplanted from almost full shade where it hadn’t bloomed the three years we’ve been here to a spot in the kitchen garden with full morning sun. We shaded it’s feet, which we read they like, with wild geraniums.
Two baby assassin bugs in the bloom. We have a lot of these bugs around the garden. In general, they are considered a gardener’s friend in that they pierce and suck dry a lot of pests. I’ve been cautioned that they can give said gardener a nasty bite. And my neighbor said they were over abundant in Texas when she lived there – even getting in the house. Well, I’ll not hope for that even if they are capable of killing stink bugs!
A Super Moon (whatever that is!) in November. Too bad the street light is there.
Can you see the icicle on the elm tree? It is the sap from the tree. We had a quick and steep drop in temperature the night before.
Dave was bothered by the absence of globes on the dining room chandelier. Me, not so much. The weekend after Thanksgiving he said let’s go to The Antique Factory and see if we can find some. I was very doubtful we’d find what we needed. Couldn’t believe he found some right away and they were 50% off! It does look much better with the globes.
Many photos of our Christmas Day hike in nearby Montgomery Hall Park.
The dogs had a great time being off leash. Not many people about.
We had a new visitor over Christmas weekend. A black and white kitten. I’m surprised our 3 cats didn’t chase it away. Hope we can find a new home for it. We certainly don’t need another cat.
More Christmas cheer.
More time for quilting in the winter. I’m basting my ocean waves quilt.
A couple days ago it was near 60 so Dave got out the chain saw and shredder and Damian and I helped him take down and shred some of the trees growing into the meadow…
and around the spring house. It seems to be some sort of invasive that keeps spreading into our native meadow.
Our daughters’ friend, Soupy, built these stairs for our tool shed. We are doing an hour exchange for her. Dave is doing computer work for her and I’m doing some mending.
Another photo of kitty. Uh, oh! We are all getting too comfortable!
We opened up the barn garden to the chickens and ducks.
We had a couple of people here from The Natural Garden in Harrisonburg. They were very impressed with our meadow.
Marigolds next to the compost.
The garden spider greeted us for several weeks as we opened and closed the gate to the barn garden.
Dave walks by our volunteer cherry tomato plant growing on the compost fence.
Freda inspects the boneset. I harvested it for my herbalist. She said it is good for fevers.
It was great to have some young people here helping us through the alternative economy – hOUR Economy. They worked and we fed them and they camped out on our property. We really enjoyed their company and I think they had a good time, too.
Two of the guys helped Dave install gutters on the back of the barn for a water catchment system.
Dan, Kurt, Meghan, Tim and Savhannah.
They helped out others over a four day period and biked form place to place. We’re talking 15-25 miles between work sites. To have that energy!
Our bushel basket gourds didn’t get bushel size – more like quart size.
As I was walking to the barn one afternoon about a half dozen bluebirds flew off the pasture fence into our big, old oak tree.
I can see two bluebirds in each of the above photos.
Just some of the butternut we harvested.
11-11 update – finally estimated how much butternut we harvested this year. I counted 85 at approximately 2 lbs. each. So that’s about 170 lbs.! I think butternut is about $2 a lb. in the store so about $340 worth!
Just after we opened the kitchen garden to the ducks.
And finally, here is the water catchment.
We got a lot of rain late September to early October. We were amazed at how the water accumulated so quickly. Dave has already used it to water our brussel sprouts and an artimesia (wormwood) we transplanted to the barnyard. It helps prevent worms in chickens.