June Garden and Illinois Waterways

June Garden and Illinois Waterways

Everything is growing and green now!  The trees have leafed out, the flowers are taking their turns blooming, the vegetables are getting going and the weeds are doing what weeds do…  The birds and the bees are active!

IMG_8324

The chinquapin oak tree is on the left and the crabapple tree on the right.  The crabapple is having another bad year, with the leaves turning brown and falling.  Last year we did not have any crabapples and that might happen again this year.  But we are enjoying the irises blooming this week.

IMG_8333

Red iris

IMG_8330

The male northern flicker was hanging out looking for an ant meal.

IMG_8345

The yarrow flowers have finally turned yellow.  In the back you can see the first pink foxglove flower.

IMG_8346.JPG

Foxglove in foreground, on the left the lady’s mantle is blooming, and in the back penstemon – beardtongue – is getting ready to bloom.

IMG_8350

The grasses in the unmowed “meadow” catch the morning sunlight.  The grasshoppers and damselflies love this area.  The robins are starting to visit the serviceberry bush for a berry snack.  The raspberries on the fence are forming and will ripen in a few weeks.

Road Trip

10 days ago we headed out for a four-day vacation in central Illinois.  The day we took off was rainy, so we spent time driving down to Alton, IL.

IMG_7850

The fields were just getting started.  We enjoyed being out in the country.

IMG_7871

Thursday morning we visited the Audubon Center at Riverlands in Alton, where we spotted this Eastern Kingbird.

IMG_7914

The male indigo bunting kept its distance, but the color is wonderful!

IMG_8018

Many areas along the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers were flooded.  We went hiking at Pere Marquette State Park.  Climbing the hills got us away from the flooding and provided wonderful views of the Illinois River.  Can you see the little brown ribbon of a trail we took to get us up to this hilltop where a few benches provided a rest area?

IMG_8021

Dan on the Pere Marquette State Park trail.

IMG_8089

The next morning we visited the Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish and Wildlife Area and enjoyed a walk around this little pond.

We did not stay long as our goal was to visit Emiquon, run by the Nature Conservancy.

IMG_8134

Emiquon is a Nature Conservancy project in a flood plain along the Illinois River, and a lot of migrating birds stop over here.  However, migration season is mostly over and this time of year is when the flooding is the highest.

IMG_8156

We tried, without much luck, to zoom in on birds across the water that looked like pelicans.

IMG_8133

We drove by a snapping turtle, but did not get too close.

Then we crossed the Illinois River and went over to take a look at Chautauqua National Wildlife Refuge, where the flood waters were high as well.

IMG_8177

A lot of drift wood came to rest on the shore at Chautauqua Lake.

IMG_8194

Red-headed woodpecker at Chautauqua National Wildlife Refuge.

 IMG_8277

On Saturday we visited Matthiessen State Park on the Vermillion River.  Since it was Memorial Day weekend the crowds were large and the trails had turned into muddy pits, that took a lot of skill to navigate!

IMG_8269

Cedar waxwings were in the tree above the river.  I have seen them in our yard this week, too, looking for serviceberries or other ripe berries.

IMG_8288

Sunrise view from the hotel in Yorkville, where we stayed Saturday night.

IMG_8299

We visited Silver Springs State Fish and Wildlife Area on Sunday morning.  There were several lakes as well as a trail along the Fox River.

We enjoyed all the places we saw and now will get back to hiking in our wonderful neck of the woods.

June Blooms

June Blooms

There is a lot of color in the garden now.

IMG_4159

Achillea (Yarrow)

IMG_4122

Pulling back you can see the yarrow under the oak tree along with other blooms.  I forgot to stake up the yarrow and it can get kind of messy later on, but it is beautiful this time of year.  I just cut it way back when the blooms die.

IMG_4133

Heliopsis helianthoides false sunflower ‘summer sun’

IMG_4135

False sunflowers keep blooming for months as long as I cut back the dead flowers.

IMG_4156.JPG

The gaillardia blanket flowers started blooming this past week.

IMG_4158

Zooming in for a close up, it looks like a very little spider has been busy and caught a tasty meal.

IMG_4181

Dark red iris

IMG_4172

Cranesbill geranium ‘Rozanne’

IMG_4129

Digitalis purpurea foxgloves.  The foxgloves cheer us up and are favorites for bumblebees and hummingbirds.

IMG_4167

I went to check on the raspberries, which are just behind the foxgloves and came across this insect.  It looked a bit like a dragonfly, but close up it also looks like a mosquito.  It might be a crane fly.

IMG_4143

Our America plum trees are sticky this year with some kind of aphid or something.  Anyway a large number of ladybugs have arrived and are scouring the leaves.

IMG_4146

Although we had a lot of plums last year, unfortunately that is not the case this year.  The plums seem to be gradually being destroyed by something.

IMG_4115

We have been picking many romaine lettuce leaves.  In the back left is a large wild kale plant that I planted from seed last fall, so that it would be ready this spring to eat.  The potatoes on the left came up unplanned.  I guess I missed harvesting a few last year.  You might be able to see the large mint plant behind the lettuce.  I pulled a lot of mint up out of the garden this spring and am always whacking it back.

IMG_4177

My Arab garden friends were not impressed with my mint.  Apparently it is the wrong type for mint tea.  So they brought me the correct type of mint, which I put it in a pot in the ground for now.  I might pull up my old mint and get this new variety in the garden….when I get time.

IMG_4123

I have a lot of tomato cages up getting ready for the coming vegetable action.  We put the pole bean structure up and the beans are growing.  The clematis is blooming on the back wall.  June is here.

IMG_3806

See the bunny?  It is watching us.  Dan and I are trying various things to get rid of this little guy, but have not been successful yet.  I am hoping we get it outside the fence before it eats too many new plants….

Blue

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.

IMG_3886

Baptisia australis – blue false indigo

IMG_3897

Close up of Baptisia australis – false blue indigo

IMG_3845

blue iris

IMG_3849

Clematis ‘Jackmanii’

IMG_3855

Blue columbine

IMG_3875

Blue hill salvia

IMG_3877

May night salvia

IMG_3878

Ajuga ground cover

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

Memorial Day Garden Snapshot

With plenty of rain and heat the garden is growing quickly and a lot is in bloom.

Garden 05 25 15 001

Baptisia australis – blue false indigo.

Garden 05 25 15 011

The blue irises that started to bloom today are close in color to the blue indigo.  These fell down due to the heavy rains today.

Garden 05 24 15 172

This dark red iris looks nice under our red/bronze crabapple tree.

Garden 05 24 15 122

One of the ground covers by the patio is blooming and attracting pollinators.  It is probably some sort of sedum.

Garden 05 24 15 008

In this mostly shady spot on the north side of the house the ajuga and hostas have been at their peak this week.

Garden 05 24 15 109

Here is another shot from farther back of the ajuga, hostas, and the aruncus dioicus goat’s beard, which is getting ready for its white blooms soon.  Just beyond the goat’s beard and only slightly in the picture is the blue muffin viburnum.  The window is my office window, where I can look out and get a little distracted….

Garden 05 24 15 032

The other day at least two baby robins fledged and one of them ended up outside my office window, making hungry noises.

Garden 05 24 15 067

Over the next few days I watched the babies quietly “hiding” in various places around the yard.  This baby is in the blue muffin viburnum outside my office window.  A moment later the dad arrived to deliver a grub.  I believe father robins stick with the young robins for a few weeks feeding them and teaching them to hunt, while mother robins go off to incubate some more eggs.

Garden 05 24 15 203

Also in the blue muffin viburnum dentatum was a ladybug, a beneficial insect.

Garden 05 24 15 017

Lily of the valley.  I picked one to enjoy the fragrance.

Garden 05 24 15 180

Geranium ‘Max Frei’ opening up to the morning sun.

Garden 05 24 15 187

We noticed a lot of little plums getting started on the American plum trees for the first time!

Garden 05 24 15 140

Chive flower.  I threw some chives in an edamame and avocado salad this week.

Garden 05 24 15 139

Romaine lettuce.  The rabbit ate the spinach and swiss chard, but has not touched the lettuce yet….

Garden 05 24 15 083

I think this is a chipping sparrow…

Garden 05 24 15 091

Not sure what kind of birds these are, but they looked cute sitting on their oak branch as evening approached.

Beautiful Leaves and Healthy Vegetables

My husband told me this week that maybe I should prioritize what I do in the garden, if it gets to be too much work….  We agreed that growing food it our priority!  Still, we have planted a lot of trees, shrubs and perennials over the years and once planted they continue to faithfully bring forth beauty year after year.  So hopefully we can enjoy both beauty and health!

Garden 05 09 15 and Anna's graduation 022

Alchemilla mollis lady’s mantle

Garden 05 09 15 and Anna's graduation 010

Tender new shoots on hicksii yew shrub capture a raindrop

Garden 05 09 15 and Anna's graduation 040

Spider webs made visible by the morning dew on the hicksii yew shrubs.  When the hummingbirds are making their nests I think they like to collect spider webs for their nest linings.  I have seen hummingbirds in these bushes in past years.

Garden 05 09 15 and Anna's graduation 073

Unfolding leaves of our new bitternut hickory, one month after it was planted.  On the right we managed to get a little grass seed going in the hole from our old silver maple tree.

Garden 05 09 15 and Anna's graduation 005

Here is what the bitternut hickory looked like earlier in the week as the yellow buds were starting to break open.

Garden 05 09 15 and Anna's graduation 079

A few flowers, like this salvia, are starting to bloom.

Garden 05 09 15 and Anna's graduation 104

This is where we planted our drought garden a few years ago.  It still gets a lot of sun, but the shade from the crabapple is growing.  The ground covers and blue fescue grass fill out in the front and the daffodils bloom in the back first.  That is followed by the iris show in the back, which will be starting soon.  After that the middle plants start blooming, including the gaillardias, butterfly weed, coneflowers, Russian sage, zebra grass, agastache, etc.  I might add a plant or two as needed.  I try to mix in some herbs and vegetables where there are open spaces.

Garden 05 09 15 and Anna's graduation 088

Duke blueberry blossoms

Garden 05 09 15 and Anna's graduation 107

I have been planting vegetable and herb transplants as well as planting seeds this week.  In the front here I planted sweet basil, curly kale, and collards.  I looked at the trusty plan I made in January and then made modifications as needed.  When we moved into this house we had the fenced in vegetable garden in the back, but as the years have gone by we have kept taking more lawn space to add vegetables plots.

Garden 05 09 15 and Anna's graduation 095

Tokyo cross hybrid turnips always seem to germinate well and are ready to be thinned out.

Garden 05 09 15 and Anna's graduation 094

I planted red cabbage for the first time.  I am not sure if we will like eating it, but it looks like it will be pretty!  My motto is to keep experimenting…

Garden 05 09 15 and Anna's graduation 034

A week ago we saw a bunny in the yard and chased it out.  A day or two later it was back through our “rabbit proof” fence.  I have a theory that there might be tunnels under the fences, starting in our tall meadow where we don’t mow the grass.  Here it is enjoying a clover breakfast, with crabapple petals adding pink color.  So far it has eaten the swiss chard I planted, but nothing else is damaged…yet…..

Garden 05 09 15 and Anna's graduation 002

I noticed the cowbird couple hopping around exploring the yard this week.  He seemed to be chasing after her…

Graduation: My niece Anna graduated from college today, so a good break from gardening!

Damselfly, Birds, and Irises

Bees, birds, and various bugs are more active and fun to take pictures of this time of year.

Garden 06 01 14 137

I saw a lot of damselflies in the grass meadow.

Garden 06 01 14 014

The dove couple love to hang out at the birdbath and socialize.  They don’t really jump in much, but they take their time preening and pretending this is their territory.

Garden 06 01 14 015

Dan also got a shot of the goldfinch couple at the birdbath.

Garden 06 01 14 101

We were so excited to have a robin build her nest in our crabapple tree.  Yesterday morning we had the ladder out and did not see any eggs in the nest, but maybe there are some today.

Garden 06 01 14 045

The irises are the big show this week!  The robin is near the top of this crabapple tree.

Garden 06 01 14 050

Blue iris

Garden 06 01 14 009

Ant on chive flower.

Garden 06 01 14 092

Dan turned the compost on Saturday.  It is not quite ready yet, but moving along.

Garden 06 01 14 100

Dan was my big helper this weekend.  Here he stood to stretch his back!  In front is baptisia australis – false blue indigo, and the leaves of the chinquapin oak and the hydrangea.