Tag Archives: garden in winter

A Brutally Cold Winter II

Other Hungry Visitors

Looking at who visits our garden in winter can tell us how bad the weather is.  The Pine siskin came down from the boreal area in a flock this winter.  The birds alternately tucked their feet up or just puffed up to a ball of feathers and down without legs when it’s so cold out.  But it’s not just the birds that brave the cold looking for food; squirrels, deer and rabbits are the critters I see during the day.  The possum, skunk and raccoon just leave their paw prints on the snow to let us know that they are around nocturnally as well.  They look for anything they can eat above snow, even things that they don’t usually eat.

White-tailed deer are evening and late night visitors
White-tailed deer are evening and late night visitors

White-tailed deer are common in our area.  Five or six of them at a time frequent the garden at dusk and late night.  At this point they eat anything they can get their teeth on: Hydrangea branches, Yew hedge and Rhododendron.  Last year they chewed our Blueberry bushes down to the stumps so we netted them this year.  They also learned to shake the green bird feeder to knock the seeds out.

Chewing on wild roses
Chewing on wild roses
Rabbit at bird feeder tray
Rabbit at bird feeder tray

We have plenty of wild rabbits as well and we let them be when they behave.  That means when they eat only weeds on the lawn.  This rabbit came to eat dry mint on the patio.  Yes, mint…one of a few plants that neither deer nor rabbit eat in general.  Then he moved to the bird feeder.  After munching for a few minutes, he relaxed to soak up some sun near by for a couple of hours and then returned to munching seeds.  He had no fear of me even when I was a couple of feet away.  We wondered if he’s the same young rabbit I rescued from the swimming pool last summer.

Fished this one out of the pool
Fished this one out of the pool

I rescued this young rabbit (always has white mark on the forehead) from our swimming pool.  I found him swimming laps one morning.  Fished him out, washed chlorine off, pat dry and held him in a towel until he stop shivering then let him go back to his mother.  After this episode, we found a rabbit that acts like he owns our garden.  He would just step out of my way but never run and hide.  So we wonder if he’s the same one who came to eat on the patio.

Hungry squirrel looking for food
Hungry squirrel looking for food

Our yard may be the last resource for grey squirrels in the area.  They know they cannot get to the feeders in the yard because we put them far beyond their reach and with squirrel guards on each.  They are at the mercy of the birds that rake seeds out looking for their favorites.  But they also take a chance in coming to the patio when we have feeders out.  We only allow feeders on the patio when we’re home so we can chase the squirrels out.  I chased the one above as he flopped into deep snow after leaping off the fence.  He stayed by the feeder in the yard but kept his eyes on me in the hope that I would go back in the house.  We have a love-hate relationship.  I admire their intelligence but don’t like their destructiveness.

These are just the daytime visitors this winter.  The nighttime visitors like possum, raccoon, skunk and foxes I just identify by their paw prints or what they left behind to let us know that they came by.

A couple more weeks before spring comes, I hope the weather acts accordingly.

 

First Day Of Winter

And Snow, Right On Schedule

Today is the official first day of winter and it has been snowing lightly on and off all day.  It’s very peaceful and quiet outside, the only sound the birds singing.  The birds are the only bright colors in the garden at this time and without them it’s a plain brown and gray everywhere we look.  We couldn’t fill the feeders fast enough but we’re not complaining.  Here’s my first day of winter outside:

Light snow on and off all day
Light snow on and off all day
Milkweed seeds still hanging on to the seedpod, topped with light snow
Milkweed seeds still hanging on to the seedpod, topped with light snow
Spent Goldenrod flowers
Spent Goldenrod flowers

There’s nothing to do in the garden at this time aside from filling the feeders, cleaning and filling birdbaths, and stalking birds with the camera.  So, I spend time in the house trimming tropical plants, reading and listening to the music.  This time of year the radio stations seem to put Beethoven’s Symphony #9 and Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker on almost everyday, so far, twice today on our local station.  I don’t mind at all especially the Symphony#9 which I always turn up really loud.  For some reason this symphony always sounds so much better loud.  A friend once told me that Beethoven composed this piece when he was nearly deaf so he needed to feel the music.  I don’t know if that’s really true but when I listened to it at Carnegie Hall I could feel the vibration.  The same goes for Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana. When not listening to the radio, our outside chorale is equally good to me.  Herewith some of the Avian Chorus’s members:

Male Northern Cardinal in the rose bush
Male Northern Cardinal in the rose bush
Chickadee enjoying a heated birdbath
Chickadee enjoying a heated birdbath
American Goldfinch in show
American Goldfinch in show
House Finch waiting his turn at the feeder
House Finch waiting his turn at the feeder
Nuthatch shares a feeder with an American Goldfinch
Nuthatch shares a feeder with an American Goldfinch

Though nothing is flowering in the garden, flowering continues in the basement and on the windowsill.  Nothing soothes my mood like the scent of jasmine and they are still blooming.

Almond verbena will continue flowering, even under artificial light, if I keep cutting and feeding them
Almond verbena will continue flowering, even under artificial light, if I keep cutting and feeding them
Azores jasmine (Jasminum azoricum) has very subtle scent
Azores jasmine (Jasminum azoricum) has very subtle scent
Winter jasmine (Jasminum polyanthum) with delicate vine and flowers but very strong scent
Winter jasmine (Jasminum polyanthum) with delicate vine and flowers but very strong scent
Winter jasmine close up
Winter jasmine close up
Moth orchid at the bay window
Moth orchid at the bay window

Garden in Snow

Quiet Morning

Snow fell again last night, not as much as when blizzard ‘Nemo’ blew over a few days ago.  That night I came home to see a foot of snow on the ground as well as the patio (under the roof).  Last night was peaceful and quite a beautiful night, beautiful enough to make me anxious to get up early in the morning to take photographs of the beauty before the sun melted it all away.

As much as I look forward to spring’s arrival, these are the moments that make me wish winter would last a little longer.

A different look to the garden in the morning
A different look to the garden in the morning
Himalayan musk rose in January, covered with snow
Himalayan musk rose in January, covered with snow
Himalayan musk in June, with a lot of honey scented flowers
Himalayan musk in June, with a lot of honey scented flowers