Monday, April 27, 2015

"The sun was warm but the wind was chill. You know how it is with an April day. When the sun is out and the wind is still, You're one month on in the middle of May. But if you so much as dare to speak, a cloud come over the sunlit arch, And wind comes off a frozen peak, And you're two months back in the middle of March." - Robert Frost

A couple weeks ago we had some lovely spring weather but like the poem says, a cold wind blew in chilly days and freezing nights. Visiting the garden centers, I found lots of frost kill to the  annuals and even perennials and shrubs have freeze damage.

Now Staring

False Rue Anemone brightens up shady places.

Goldfinch colors get brighter and brighter.

Pretty species tulips with lily shaped blooms.  

Lovely shade of pink.

 Very double yellow tulip almost like a yellow peony.

Coming Soon

Blue Bells

Lots of furry Allegro poppies self seeded where they will.

Brand New

Over the years I've bought dozens of bleeding hearts only to loose them to extremely dry summers or maybe they didn't like the location I chose.  This year one plant emerged so I added two more.  I love the graceful arching stems and the pretty pink hearts.

Woodland phlox keeping the bleeding hearts company.  These were my Dad's favorite flowers so I always want to keep them in the garden.

Monday, April 20, 2015

April is a rainbow month, Of sudden springtime showers. Bright with golden daffodils and lots of pretty flowers.

The goldfinches are changing from olive drab to sun kissed gold.  Another welcome sign of spring

I was sure I'd lost my tiny bloodroot, it usually blooms much earlier.  I was so glad to see the pretty leaves and pristine flowers suddenly appear in mid-April.  

The greigii tulips usually bloom much earlier too.  So much to love about these little tulips.  Pretty blooms, bold, striped leaves, dependable rebloom with some increase.  

The first soaking rain of the season followed by the first daffodils of 2015. What a welcome site after a long, long winter.  

Warming in the morning sunshine of the black barn roof.  

Friday, April 10, 2015

"It takes a real storm in the average person's life to make him realize how much worrying he has done over the squalls.” ― Bruce Barton

My sister and her family watched this F-4, 200 mph tornado cross the field directly behind their home. Thankfully her home was not damaged.

Northern Illinois tornado

Fairdale, Illinois, the entire town leveled.  Two women killed.

Aerial views of the tornado damage in Fairdale. Photo taken Friday morning from the Thursday night tornado.

I give credit to the weather forecasters in my area.  At times they were almost frantic following the paths of the tornadoes.  The obvious distress could be heard in their voices and no doubt inspired the residents to pay heed and  seek shelter.

Trees are stripped clean along Route 64 in Rochelle.

The new radar equipment pinpoints rotation which allows minute by minute warnings.  Thank you weather forecasters and thank you first responders.

After her close brush with the tornado, my sister wasn't able to sleep so she collected anything she thought victims and first responders might need and drove to Rochelle were the tornado touched down first.  

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

There 's no song where others sing, More glorious than the rest. ~ Dora Shorter

     Friends keeping me company while I do some spring garden cleanup.  
Gold finches are year round residents but migrating red polls are seen very briefly in my area.

Most of you gardeners and wildlife lovers know all this but I always get excited and want to write about it each spring.

The season is changing and migration  has begun.  We all love nature and want to be closer to it and a part of it.  This is an exciting time for bird lovers and bird watchers but a stressful time for the birds. Birds have a long journey of sometimes  more than a thousand miles to make  through parts of the country they are unfamiliar with.  They face severe hardships including lack of food, physical exhaustion, and extremes in weather,  They must navigate man made obstructions like communication towers and windmills which kill millions of birds.  And they do all this using methods that we don't completely understand.  Scientists think birds navigate using the same routes every year by means of the stars and the earth's magnetic fields.  (A lot of research shows that animals can feel the earth's magnetic pulls and understand the relationship of stars to their location.  To me this is nothing short of a miracle which nature has in abundance and people will probably never feel but we keep desperately trying to understand.)

If you are a bird lover, a bird watcher, or a bird feeder like me, you have your feeders filled to the brim and maybe some thistle socks added to your usual millet and sunflower feeders. Every year birds on their way to Canada stop at my feeders to get their fill of food and renew their energy resources.  This is an opportunity for me to see birds I only see briefly once a year.  Indigo buntings, red polls, grosbeaks, pine siskins, sap suckers and others don't spend the summer here but they pass through my area.

I hang at least one thistle sock on branches near my windows hoping to get some great bird views and great photos through the glass.  Don't worry about the thistle seed sprouting in your flower gardens.  Nijer seed is sterilized to prevent sprouting and maintain the high prices charged by growers.  Keep your eyes peeled and your camera ready.  Migrating birds usually hang out at feeders for several days regaining their strength before continuing their journey.

Above is the most recent 'migrater' to arrive back in my area.  For the last several years vultures have nested in the loft of a ramshackle old barn on a corner of my property.  I'm happy to see them back this year.    It's exciting to see them hovering overhead, never moving a wing, just hanging motionless in the air.  The first year they lived here it was a little disconcerting to see them sitting on the barn roof watching me work in the garden.  Since, I've gotten used to having them around.  I especially enjoy watching them teaching their young to swoop and soar around the barns.  

For those who love poems as much as I do:

Under the Vulture-Tree

We have all seen them circling pastures,
have looked up from the mouth of a barn, a pine clearing,   
the fences of our own backyards, and have stood   
amazed by the one slow wing beat, the endless dihedral drift.
But I had never seen so many so close, hundreds,   
every limb of the dead oak feathered black,

and I cut the engine, let the river grab the jon boat   
and pull it toward the tree.
The black leaves shined, the pink fruit blossomed   
red, ugly as a human heart.
Then, as I passed under their dream, I saw for the first time   
its soft countenance, the raw fleshy jowls
wrinkled and generous, like the faces of the very old   
who have grown to empathize with everything.

And I drifted away from them, slow, on the pull of the river,   
reluctant, looking back at their roost,   
calling them what I'd never called them, what they are,
those dwarfed transfiguring angels,
who flock to the side of the poisoned fox, the mud turtle
crushed on the shoulder of the road,
who pray over the leaf-graves of the anonymous lost,
with mercy enough to consume us all and give us wings.