The Clueless Gardener

"fanaticus sine potestas"

Monday, April 30, 2007

Who Are The Hut Builders?

Clearing the bluestone patio of the magnolia petals, I noticed something intriguing...the spaces between the pavers, filled with gritty soil-like dirt, had many tiny structures "built" over what I found beneath--a worm hole? a termite hole? a beetle hole? Some creature, maybe to keep out the flood of last week's heavy rain, built itself a roof of crusted magnolia petals...and there are dozens of these little "huts" in all the paver spaces! I'm amazed, and have no idea who would do this. I don't even know who to ask! So, I am going to try simple observation for a while, and see what happens to these little rooftops. There's always something going on in the garden that I can't explain...that's one of the things that make it all worthwhile!

Friday, April 20, 2007

It's a beautiful, beautiful day, and the magnolia out back is absolutely peaking--flowers open, no petals fallen yet. I spent part of today in the Brooklyn back yard, and planted two clematis "Bonanza" [take that, Little Joe] that with any luck will grow and hide the neighbors' bench. The bench sits just behind my back fence, right where--they tore out a magnificent, full-grown mock orange when they moved in five years ago. They are very nice people, if misguided, but that doesn't mean I want to feel like they are sitting in my back yard every time they use their bench! I might throw in some morning glories for a quick screen. The real whining for today isn't about those neighbors, or the lost, wonderful mock orange that hung over the fence, giving off its fragrance every May. No, it's the massive house sparrow convention, held all day every day, at the bird feeder of my other abutting neighbor. Why can't these birdies have a decent song? Why is it the only kind of bird hanging around? Why do they peck off my rosebuds? Why do they leave seed husks all over my flowerbed? And how is it possible that this bird, that I am afraid I consider almost a pest, is actually declining in its home country, Britain?! It's such a paradox. If only the birds ate the aphids that will also be visiting my rosebuds! Then I'd change my tune. I will get my "hit" of wonderful bird species next week, when I go on a birdwalk in Central Park...the pine and palm warblers are reportedly back in the park, with only more and more fabulous birds to come over this spring migration season...the walk leader, Starr Saphhir, who is affiliated with the NYC Audobon folks, can identify a bird flying high overhead, behind her--her skills are that awesome! And she makes sure that even the dunderhead in the group, meaning moi, gets to see every bird by giving amazingly specific, careful descriptions of the spot in a given tree, or which rock fifty feet ahead on the ground, that harbors the bird. Can't wait to get a case of "warbler neck," which is the crick you get after looking straight up into a tall tree to see the littlest beautiful thing hopping from branch to branch. Well worth the aches--a morning of birding the Park brings such a rush of happiness, I'm nearly addicted in springtime. Gotta go find my bird guides and start brushing up on my identifying skills!

magnificent magnolia

Today is the day...the tree's at its peak.
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Monday, April 16, 2007

enchanting april hellebores

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Leaves are poppin' out all over!

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Monday, April 09, 2007

Sweet Spring!

This is the garden shed of my dear sister in law. It sits in her garden, surrounded by tall trees, perennials and birdhouses. A little Eden!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Poor Sparrow

I am feeling very guilty, and I have the wonderful Sara Stein to thank. Let me explain. I've just finished reading Stein's book, "Noah's Garden," which is a plea for suburbanites to plant naturally to foster wildlife on their properties. It's a very complex and convincing argument, and after reading this book, you never will look at a manicured lawn the same way. [It's basically a lifeless desert.] But it's too bad that I read this after doing my "spring clean up" in my tiny Booklyn backyard. Now there is a manured flower bed with little emerging plants out back, instead of the leaf litter that was there all winter. So, this poor little white-throated sparrow with the sweetest song of early spring has nothing to root around in for his breakfast. I'm going out directly and put back as much of the litter as I can! I know I'm only the tiniest microcosm of any kind of an "ecosystem" since I'm working with about 30 square feet, but hey, if I can help one white-throated sparrow, I'll do it.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Every one came up...

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