Flora, fauna and future of the garden.

“From December to March,
there are for many of us three gardens –
the garden outdoors,
the garden of pots and bowls in the house,
and the garden of the mind’s eye.”

-Katherine S. White

I received a Christmas gift of flower seeds, which made me realize that I really do need to get busy and finish the upgrading of my greenhouse that was begun by my neighbor Bob in October. He supplied it with electricity and installed grow lights, but it remains for me to set up the heater, thermostat, fan and timer.

Then I can get seeds started a little earlier than would be otherwise possible during this season when the greenhouse sits in the shade of my two-story house. In the meantime, neighbor Terri and I can talk about our gardens past and future. Yesterday she gave me this heavy Pink Banana squash she grew last summer, evidently a good keeper!

I can eat one thing from the garden currently: collards — and I found a wonderful, vegan recipe for collards in coconut milk that I will try to post here. Fruit from the arbutus or Strawberry Tree got spoiled by the rain this year, but before that, at least it didn’t have anything like the mysterious pests or diseases of last year, which was a big relief.

Not my photo!

I received New Year’s gifts in my garden, not plants flowering or fruiting but birds visiting. Their energy and personality are even more welcome when the landscape is dark. On New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day a pair of Northern Flickers came by; they got my attention fast, such big birds acting like woodpeckers on the pine tree, but nothing like any woodpecker I’d ever encountered before. They hopped around the garden for hours, pecking in the bark mulch, so I had plenty of time to leaf through all the pages of Peterson’s guide until I found them. This was the most exciting Bird Event (repeated this morning!) since my first sighting of Hooded Orioles at the hummingbird feeder some years ago.

A different sort of event was when a bird flew into my slider and sat stunned on the mat for such a long time that I was able to take its picture. I had been thinking that these were some kind of sparrow, but once I got such a clear image, it was hard to fit the little creature into that family.

Attached to a suggested blog post in my WordPress feed that very evening, I glimpsed a photo that looked very much like mine. It was a blog post about Pine Siskins — what do you know! It’s Pine Siskins that I have been enjoying here for a couple of years at least.

They feed alongside sparrows, finches, and warblers, while chickadees and bushtits enjoy the suet feeder nearby. Juncos and titmice, jays and doves fly in and away. Occasionally a towhee visits… then the Cooper’s Hawk swoops down for the kill and adds drama, only three feet away from me across the glass. If I don’t take a break from watching these busy birds, I won’t get any seeds planted. Yes, that could happen….

…because the world is full of delights.

17 thoughts on “Flora, fauna and future of the garden.

  1. What a joy! Christ is Baptized! (new calendar) Christ is Born! (old calendar) Lots to celebrate, Glory be to God!!! I forwarded your blog post to Mara in Alaska. Love, your godmother


  2. Hello Gretchen,

    You have a lovely garden and soon a greenhouse-wonderful! A dear friend of mine of many years (we met thru blogging) suggested that I take a look at your blog. I live in rural Japan and I am studying Orthodoxy. I read several of your posts and I enjoyed them. Thank you so much for writing!


  3. It is good to read about a well-loved garden, about dreams of doing more in it, and of the welcome birds get in your garden. Whatever direction this year takes us all, I hope you will continue to find solace and enjoyment in your garden.


      1. When I read this poem in my blog post from years ago, its mention of heat reminded me of your recent post.

        On the Grasshopper and the Cricket

        The poetry of earth is never dead:
        When all the birds are faint with the hot sun,
        And hide in cooling trees, a voice will run
        From hedge to hedge about the new-mown mead;
        That is the Grasshopper’s—he takes the lead
        In summer luxury,—he has never done
        With his delights; for when tired out with fun
        He rests at ease beneath some pleasant weed.
        The poetry of earth is ceasing never:
        On a lone winter evening, when the frost
        Has wrought a silence, from the stove there shrills
        The Cricket’s song, in warmth increasing ever,
        And seems to one in drowsiness half lost,
        The Grasshopper’s among some grassy hills.

        -John Keats

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Really? Squirrel’s Choice seeds? That made me smile.

    Isn’t it amazing when just the right resource pops up at the right time — and you were able to identify your bird visitor. Such nice companions.

    Grasshoppers here are voracious eater that will just about mow down all the new rosy growth. If they would only stay in poetry and out of my garden…


  5. “Full of delights” to be sure, but too often I don’t pay attention. You do, Gretchen, and I am grateful that you are so faithful in pointing that out, even showing us, regularly.


  6. Flickers are quite common in this area. Earlier this week we had four taking turns at the suet feeder for maybe 5 minutes then off they flew. I wonder how much I miss while I’m busy doing necessary things and they come to the back yard.

    We haven’t seen a Pine Siskin for a long time.. They have years when they get Salmonella and it decimates the population.


  7. I love this beautiful slice of life in your world — and that whole sense of amazement that someone can have a garden in January! (Our country has so many climates!) I’ll look forward to hearing more about your greenhouse, Gretchen!


  8. Your garden is just stunning, Gretchen. I’m afraid that the garden of the mind’s eye is as far as I get in most seasons of the year! We have a Monty Don gardening book that suggests how to garden in two weekends a month. We got through Lockdown #1 with Saturday Gardening Clubs, which mostly involved giving boys clippers and saws! But now that we have Big Lockdown #3. we may need Monty’s advice on what to do in the slippery wet back wilderness! I am wholeheartedly certain that we won’t be as productive as you, but there will be our two friendly robins.


  9. Your yard is beautiful, and do I see a lemon tree in one of your photos?

    My winter garden is the last of some turnip greens and the main herbs to snip for soups and breads. I recently noticed a few bulbs appearing…


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