Blue

The garden colors I planned for my garden were purple, yellow and orange.  Over time I have come to have many more colors all over the garden, but I still have a lot of blue/purple flows blooming this time of year.

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Baptisia australis – blue false indigo

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Close up of Baptisia australis – false blue indigo

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blue iris

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Clematis ‘Jackmanii’

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Blue columbine

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Blue hill salvia

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May night salvia

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Ajuga ground cover

The yellow and orange follows are getting ready to bloom soon!

Viburnum Leaf Beetles and Catbirds

I have a Blue Muffin Viburnum just outside my office window and noticed that it was being defoliated and the leaves were almost bare, so I did a little research.

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Larva of viburnum leaf beetle.  Once I learned about this I went out and found many larvae on the underside of the leaves of the viburnum.  Apparently these beetles have moved into the Chicago area and viburnum dentatum cultivars, of which I have four bushes, are highly susceptible.  One can prune the bushes in the winter when you can see where the beetles have laid eggs on the twigs.  Otherwise, what I did was to brush the larvae into a bucket of soapy water.  There were maybe 30 that I brushed in the bucket, but I am sure I missed many.  Currently this bush is in bloom and was only defoliated on the back branches.

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Another Arrowwood viburnum dentatum I have is a cultivar ‘raspberry tart.’  This one was almost completely defoliated before I noticed it.  I hope it survives until next year, but it may have the same problem again….  One result of all these larvae is that I think they attracted additional birds this year.

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This year is the first year I have seen catbirds in our yard and they seem to be hanging around.  This catbird was finding larvae in the viburnum leaves.

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This catbird spent some time poking around the strawberries, too.

So I am not sure of the future solution for the viburnum.  I will see if we can get ahead of these beetles, but if not we may need to plant other cultivars of viburnum that are not as susceptible to them.

Spring Variety and the Great NW

The bio-diversity in our yard and the beauty of spring make us happy!

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Chestnut-sided Warbler.  I looked out the window and saw a different looking bird and I could hear a bird call that was new to me.  The little warbler was flitting around the Chinquapin oak tree.

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I zoomed in, but had trouble getting a clear picture of the warbler.

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This shot is a little blurry, but shows the clear markings on the bird so I could identify it.

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While I was scanning the trees for better shots of the warbler I spotted the chipmunk in the crabapple tree.  Cute!

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Here is the drain pipe where the chipmunk runs to hide when I come out into the yard.

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Next to the drain is a little garden where I have planted some romaine lettuce and parsley.  I just love the blue fescue grass that is like a crazy hairdo.  The pink prairie phlox – phlox pilosa – is pretty now.  Other plants are butterfly weed, dragon’s blood sedum, and lady’s mantle.

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I think I got most of the vegetables planted.  Thank you Dan for digging the grass out of the beds!  The seeds have been watered.  Now we just need sun and rain to get things going.

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If you zoom in from the last picture you can see our little meadow, where we let the grass grow and have a few native flowers and a tiny hickory tree.  We keep expanding it or shrinking it each year.

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Looking across the garden another way you can see the giant rhubarb patch.  It looks like it is time to make some rhubarb sauce!

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Sage is blooming.  It might be ‘May Night’ or some other cultivar.

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Plum pudding huechera and Korean feather reed grass Calamagrostis brachytricha.

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Lupine in Spokane, WA.  We took a trip to the state of Washington last week for a wedding and enjoyed all the lupine in Beth and Todd’s garden.

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The wedding was outside and the marmots kept us entertained while waiting for the main event.

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We drove from Spokane to Seattle and stopped at a rest area for this gorgeous view.

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In Seattle this pink climbing rose was blooming outside Tim and Andrea’s place.  I don’t have roses in my yard, so maybe I have forgotten how nice they are, but this was one of the most beautiful roses I have seen.

Slugs:  I was asked about slugs in the garden.  This used to be a big issue for us and I tried various solutions.  I just realized that I no longer really have this problem.  I think the reason is that the little brown snake lives in our yard, probably attracted by our open compost pile full of insects and worms.  The snake probably roams at night and takes care of the slugs!

Mid-May Meandering

When I get outside I never know what I will catch my attention.

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This week I saw several white crowned sparrows.  This one was at Lake Katherine.

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This white crowned sparrow was hopping around our backyard.

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I always visit the ephemeral pond near Lake Katherine to see what’s happening.  This mallard duck was having a quiet evening moment on the bridge there.

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Mallard posing at ephemeral pond.  When the weather heats up the pond dries up, but meanwhile it is great for dragonflies, tadpoles, and water skimmer bugs.

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Posing mallard

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Other ducks were enjoying the evening around the lake.  I was enjoying a nice stroll myself.

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What kind of duck is this with fancy head feathers?  Or is there some molting going on?

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Song sparrow

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I took the kitchen scraps to the compost pile and came upon this brown snake.  What a wonderful place to get a meal of bugs and then rest in the sun.

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I disturbed the snake enough that it slid out of the compost and into the chives.  I think it was maybe 14 to 16 inches long and one of the bigger ones I have seen in the yard.  Look at the strawberries and oregano go to town!

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Snake resting in the chives.

Well, these are a few things I saw this week!

Red-headed Woodpecker at Indiana Dunes State Park

The weather was gorgeous and Dan and I had the day off so we headed to the Indiana Dunes State Park, which is about an hour away.  It turns out that there is a birding festival going on there this weekend, though we did not know that before we got there.  We climbed the bird observation tower where we ate our lunches and looked at the scenery.

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We saw this red-headed woodpecker gradually coming closer to us.  This was the first time I have seen one of these birds, but I understand that this is a common location for them and a breeding ground this time of year.

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We headed off on the trails through the dunes and into a wooded area.  We climbed Mt. Tom, a sand dune that is 192 feet high.  This is just a shot at the beginning of the trail as we left the beach at Lake Michigan.

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I believe these are large white trillium, which were blooming throughout the woodland above the lake.

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And now for a few shots from our yard – While in my office this week I saw this indigo bunting outside the window, though I did not get a great shot.  This is the first one I have seen in my yard.  They are passing through in spring migration.

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Also visible in our yard this week are palm warblers.

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I also captured this shot of a palm warbler at Lake Katherine this week, as they pass through in spring migration.

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Song sparrow at Lake Katherine.  It was nesting in the same place this year as last year.  My pictures are not all great, but I have a lot of fun taking them.

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Back in our yard again – the goldfinches are back and making a lot of cute noises these days.

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I was not sure what this bird was, but I wonder if it is not a female red-winged blackbird.  I hear and see male red-winged blackbirds in the neighborhood everyday, so maybe this is the female.  If anyone knows better please let me know.

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Male northern cardinal in the ‘Profusion’ crabapple tree.

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Our two fothergilla bushes have been blooming the past few weeks.  I did not get any pictures, but the lilacs are blooming now, too!

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Occasionally we see rabbits, but not yet in our garden this year!  Which is great because I just planed out a lot of vegetables and herbs recently.  I have gotten in the tomatoes, peppers, parsley, dill, basil, peas, and today I planted some pole bean seeds in a warm spot.