The garden is coming along and I’ve made a bunch of changes this year. I added a lot of perennials to the area around the pond. I’ve also set it up for optimal viewing from the house. This is the first year I think I will have flowers all summer long. I usually have a couple of months where there’s very little color. Maybe the 15 year garden plan account for the gardeners learning curve, too.
There’s a tube feeder that attracts mostly goldfinches. I set up an older chicken waterer on a stand that I use for regular bird feed. The cardinals seem to really like this. I added a hummingbird feeder this year because I saw a hummingbird drinking from the waterfall in the pond the other day. So far I think it’s only attracted bees.
I changed the waterfall to have small rocky areas for butterflies to drink out of. They like wet rocks rather that pools of water. I also added some pond plants. I’m still waiting for the waterlilies to do anything, but this papyrus is thriving in the water. The goldfish have been schooling so I know we will have babies soon. Probably just about the time all 1000 tadpoles are leaving.
Between the bunnies and the squirrels, they dig up or eat nearly everything new in the flower garden. I’ve lost all 24 of my petunias. Eaten by bunnies, they seem to enjoy the cayenne pepper I’ve been putting on the plants. I have to admit that I don’t really like the look of flowers covered with cayenne pepper but if it means I’ll get to see a flower or two, I’m game. It’s starting to feel like I’m losing because they’ve started on the new perennials.
We only have two squirrels but they are the size of raccoons, probably from feeding on all of my flowers and bulbs. I’m amazed at the amount of damage just two can do. They dig up the tender roots and bulbs and favor the area around the pond. It’s hard to catch them in action so they must be early risers. This is when I wish we had an outdoor cat.
I now buy the cayenne containers from the farm store in bulk. They are inexpensive so I pick up six or more at a clip. I’ve started buying the large containers of dill seed there, too after discovering that the seed will actually grow. It’s a lot easier than buying little packets of seed. I seed every open area to encourage swallowtail butterflies. I don’t mind the extra dill for refrigerator pickles and I make a lemon dill potato salad that’s like summer on a fork.
The flower garden is nearly mature now. This is the 14th summer that we’ve been here. The front yard consisted of a purple martin house and a rose bush. I’ve accomplished quite a lot but can’t help wondering what it would have been like without the garden pests to deal with. I’ve lost far more than I’ve saved. But I’ve learned a lot in the process and need to focus on that.
I’ve managed to create peaceful space that works with the light. There are areas that are nearly all shade and others that get so much sun it’s hard to grow anything. I have an herb area with flat leaf parsley, chives, cilantro, sage, oregano, thyme, rosemary, basil, dill, lavender, lemon mint, peppermint, and Thai basil. I’m sure I’m forgetting something there. Oh, and fennel, which is a new addition from my Aunt Cindy’s garden. Yesterday for dinner I made a Mediterranean pasta salad with fresh herbs from the garden. Love that I can run out there and snip to my hearts content.
I plant a lot to encourage the butterflies. I mentioned dill but they also like the parsley and fennel, all of which are part of the same plant family. I added two more butterfly bushes and another color of monarda to drawn in the crowds. I also encourage milkweed to grow in spots. It’s crazy thick out on the meadow but I have a spot up near the house that I call the nursery. We can keep track of the caterpillars and watch their progress throughout the life cycle. Plus I have the added bonus of being able to snap pics along the way.
The veggie garden is coming along. It’s been on the dry side this spring and I’ve had to replant cukes and corn. I still don’t know if I’ll get much sweet corn. I haven’t planted it since our first year here. We have the space now, but I made the mistake of putting down straw in the garden three years ago. I remember opening up a bale and discovering a ton of seeds. Oy. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get rid of the stuff. I weeded by hand FIVE TIMES last summer and it just came back. I’ve resigned to just keeping it clear around the plants and not worrying about it. It dies on it’s own once the weather is too hot.
Cindy gave me some tomato plants including this one, Bloody Butcher. I’m looking forward to the first taste which doesn’t seem like it’s too far away. Alexander and I will eat a tomato sandwich just about every day for lunch during the summer.
We let a couple of the girls hatch babies recently. Pip makes a great mom, though she’s just about as mean as a hen can be. She’s still sitting on three Araucana eggs but they don’t seem to be doing anything. Chickens know better than I do. I tried to candle them to see if there was any development, but it’s hard to see through a colored shell. They usually kick out the bad ones so I have to trust her.
The last blue silkie is co-moming with Pip. She takes the babies around and teaches them to peck and stuff. We had to start keeping the chickens in the coop and run, which is really heart breaking. We lost two chickens in as many days. It’s fox training season and it’s just not safe to have them free range right now. As much as I love all that nature has to offer, sometimes it’s a struggle to get along with it. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Not even petunias.