Saturday, December 23, 2017

Christmas Wishes

Here near Boston, freezing rain is turning roads and runways into sheets of ice, a problem for travelers.  We are eagerly waiting for family that is flying in from another part of the country, now unfortunately delayed.  The weather looks hopeful, though, with sleet giving way to rain later today, and rising temperatures anticipated to thaw out the ice.  Speaking of weather and hope, our forecast is calling for Christmas morning snow.  How lovely would that be?

I wish you and your loved ones safe travels this holiday season, a very merry Christmas, and a New Year full of hope and peace!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Easiest Winter Containers

Does it seem like this time of year gets busier and busier every year?  Maybe it's the age my kids are now, but life keeps getting busier and free time is getting harder to find.  We haven't decorated as much for the holidays this year, but I did make time to hang a wreath on the door and decorate my two whiskey barrel containers for winter.

easy winter container
The last couple of years I've streamlined the process, and it takes me less than an hour to get my two winter containers all done (minus acquiring any store-bought material).  First I gather my materials.  A local nursery sells a big bunch of mixed greens for a good price, so I get one of those to combine with white pine that I clip from our yard.

I used to spray paint branches to put in my winter containers.  Then I found out about curly ting.  This stuff can be found in any arts and crafts store, it's cheap, it comes in all sorts of colors, and it adds SPARKLE! This year I used red ting and gold curly ting.

curly ting
Last but not least, I threw a few ornaments on some wire floral picks for some more added SPARKLE - though thankfully I could reuse most of them from the previous year, making things that much easier.  I attach the ornaments onto the wire, and then push the green pick part into the dirt in my container to secure the ornaments.  (You could just as easily use something else to attach ornaments in a container, but I happen to already have floral picks.)

floral picks
Assembly was quick and easy!  I pulled out the dead or dying summer/fall stuff that I had in the containers and loosened the soil.  I stuck the branches of greens in the dirt, working from large branches to the smaller stuff.  Then I added the curly ting and ornaments.

Viola!  If I had had more time, I might have added some ribbon or something else, but I was pretty happy with this.  Some people will then water their arrangements, but I was lazy fortunate and could wait for the next day's rain.  Then when temperatures dropped, everything froze in place for the winter.

Now my yard looks ready for Christmas, and I'll have pretty containers that will last throughout the winter.  As we know, the winter season up here in the North is quite long, thus it's very, very important to put together pretty winter containers that one can enjoy for the next several months.  

Or... maybe I should start on my indoor decorations...

Happy decorating!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

New Garden Visitors

It's always exciting to see new birds at the feeder.  This year I was lucky enough to have three varieties that I had rarely even seen before here in the garden!

male Rose-breasted Grosbeak
I had only seen a Rose-breasted Grosbeak once before this year, stopping by the bird feeder one autumn on its way down to Central or South America for the winter.  This beautiful fellow, however, spent all summer here this year.

A female Rose-breasted Grosbeak also frequented my bird-feeder this summer, so I assume they were nesting nearby.

female Rose-breasted Grosbeak
I didn't spot any babies, but young Grosbeaks look so much like their mother that it is often hard to tell the difference.

In September, I had another new visitor to my bird-feeder: a Baltimore Oriole.  I believe this was a female, though immature males oftentimes look similar.  Isn't she gorgeous?

Baltimore Oriole
Orioles have always lived and nested nearby, but I rarely see them down from the tree tops.  My previous attempts to tempt them with jelly and fruit all failed, and this is the first time one has ever checked out my bird-feeder... 

...though since I never saw her there again, it might also have been the last.  I might try the jelly feeder again sometime, as they are such stunning birds.

The last new visitor to the garden stopped by my porch one rainy October day.

Eastern Phoebe
Probably sheltering from the rain, this Eastern Phoebe hung out here for a bit.  Even though I knew they were in the area, I had never seen one in my garden before.  It didn't go for the bird-feeder, but it did find something it liked!

Eastern Phoebes aren't known for visiting feeders, but they often nest near humans, building their nests under eaves or porches.  Maybe I'll spot more next summer?

It was so great to see some new feathered friends in the garden this year.  Here's hoping that some of them come back!

As always, happy gardening.
And for those of you in the States,
may you and your families have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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