Blueberries, Birds, and Wildflowers

Spring just keeps progressing day after day.  Plants are blooming and birds are migrating in.

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Duke Blueberry.  Just when I had sort of given up on getting many blueberries in the garden we had a lot of blossoms this year.

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The little Top Hat Blueberry was full of blossoms, too.  We will see if the blueberries turn out well.  These blueberry pictures are from about two weeks ago.

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Today all the strawberries are blooming.  I went around to try to put some straw under each plant to keep the berries out of the dirt.  I can also see that we are going to have a bumper crop of serviceberries before long, so I am looking forward to berry season.

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Common Lilac.  This photo was taken about two weeks ago, but the lilacs have been pretty for a long time, since it has been cool the past two weeks.

IMG_7605.JPGI never got good pictures of the crabapple blossoms this year.  It seemed to rain right after they opened, or I must have been busy….

Last weekend I took a few bird shots when we walked around Lake Katherine.

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Female mallard on log in pond

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Great blue heron

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The end of April seemed pretty early to see goslings, but we had some warm weather early in the spring.

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Fluffy gosling

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Back in our yard the Chinquapin oak tree is full of catkins.  Can you see the palm warbler in the tree?

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I tried to zoom in a little on the palm warbler.

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Here the palm warbler is looking for a bug snack among the strawberry and anemone plants.

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The dwarf fothergilla bush is in bloom now.

IMG_7616And there is the palm warbler again next to the fothergilla bush.

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There are a lot of little brown birds like this in the yard.  It could be just a house sparrow or it could be some wonderful migrating bird.  I have not had much time to get out and observe, but even going outside for 5 or 10 minutes can be rewarding.  I had heard the goldfinch song in the yard and today I saw the yellow bird for the first time this year.

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I was sitting listening to an unfamiliar bird song this morning way up in a tall tree and then I saw the orange color.  A Baltimore Oriole was busy singing and getting some kind of food from the top of this tree.

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It was so much fun to watch this Baltimore Oriole from my patio.

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The kale and romaine lettuce have been in the ground for 2 weeks.  There is a frost warming for tonight, but it looks like 37 degrees, which I think is fine in my yard.  I put up the bean pole structure and am waiting for the soil to warm up to plant pole beans.  You can see the mound of rhubarb in the back.  I made rhubarb sauce for the first time this season today.  I think my tomato and pepper plants should be coming from Seed Savers in the mail some time this week….

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Huechera ‘plum pudding’

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I threw some dwarf sunflower seeds in the meadow a week or two ago and was very excited to see they sprouted.  Can’t wait for these small sunflowers.

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Dark blue salvia is blooming next to the yarrow that will start up soon.

Yesterday our family went for a walk in the forest preserves.  I was looking forward to seeing spring wildflowers.  I did, but they were different from the ones I saw a few weeks ago.

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Dodecatheon meadia Shooting Star wildflower in the Cap Sauers Holdings of the Palos Forest Preserve.

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I am not sure what this is, but it was pretty.  No need to know the name, really.  We can just enjoy the beauty!

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.

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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!

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!

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Alchemilla mollis lady’s mantle

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Tender new shoots on hicksii yew shrub capture a raindrop

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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Duke blueberry blossoms

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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.

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

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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…

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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…..

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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!

June Blooms, Bees, and a Hummingbird

Every year I try to capture a picture of the blues of several cultivars of salvia and catmint and the yellow of the lady’s mantle, but I haven’t done it justice yet.  Here are a few favorites that I captured this week.

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Bee on blue hill salvia in the morning light.

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Catmint nepeta x faassenii ‘walker’s low’ and lady’s mantle alchemilla mollis.  The bees have been very busy on the catmint this week.

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Bee visits foxglove digitalis. This is a biennial that drops seeds and blooms in the second year.

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The cream colored foxgloves are blooming now, too.  You can see the joe pye weed starting to stretch up against the fence in the background.

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This is another kind of foxglove – the native penstemon digitalis beardtongue.  The color is muted, but it is a favorite.

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Geranium ‘rozanne’ opens to the morning sun.

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The first gaillardia – blanket flower.

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Every kind of insect is busy now.  This blue wasp on the coneflower leaves might be a blue mud dauber that hunts spiders, stings them, and carries them to its nest.  I see another tiny flying creature also on the bottom of this picture.  That was just luck that I caught both.

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Dan shot this hummingbird picture from the kitchen window.  I think there have been spider mites on the yew bushes.  I am not sure what the hummingbird was after.

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Crazy cornflower container.  I did not want to leave this cornflower, centaurea cyanus, in the garden bed so I stuck it in this container with petunias and marigolds.  It is crazy, but kind of cheery.