Friday, May 21, 2010

May's Featured Bee

The month of May in my North American Native Bee Calendar purchased from the Great Sunflower Project, features the Green Bee - Ultra Green Sweat Bee to be exact, genus Agapostemon. They emerge in early spring through summer and nest in the ground.

Green bees are small and slender. Females are entirely bright green. The males have a bright green thorax and yellow and black striped abdomen. They mate in late summer, early fall and the pregnant females hibernate over the winter. They then begin a new nest in spring for their young.

You might spot a green bee in your garden if you grow the following: grindelia (gumweed), erigeron (fleabane), coreopsis (tickseed), and cosmos.

I spotted this green bee in my Maine garden where I did have many cosmos and coreopsis, although he is perched on a cone flower. I did spy one last summer in my garden here but of course, did not have my camera. They are so striking and hard to miss. I hope to see more this year.

 An update on my mason bee house. You can see the holes are filling up and plugged with mud.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Robin Update

Some of you may or may not have read my "Late Easter Basket" post. In short, a Robin built her nest on my front porch in a rustic basket I have by the front door for decoration. Over two days, May 11-12, all four eggs hatched. Following are pictures of their progress. Some pictures are taken through the window, others by cracking open the front door. Some days the light (sun) cooperated, some it did not. Some pictures are taken at dusk so are a little dark and "speckled."

First born.

A bit bald. I think the one on the left might actually be a rooster.

Those eyes are just waiting to pop open.

Getting very hungry.

Getting BIG bird feathers - already!

Worm dinner!

Dad is always close by in the grape vines keeping watch. 
I've noticed he has a darker head or hood.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Bloom Day, May 2010

Here is what is blooming in my Northern NY garden this 15th of May.

Bleeding Heart

Geranium bud

Muscari Grape Hyacinth
(a little trampled from when we took down the tree)

Muscari - this is a mixed variety I ordered from Bluestone Perennials. 
I just love these little "puffs."

Daffodil variety also from Bluestone. 
These have bloomed later than the traditional yellow.

This one is surrounded by a sea of forget-me-nots.

Wild strawberry?

Foam Flower

 Iris - these are a small/short variety from my mother.


An earlier blooming lily. 
This bud will be a deep, dark red when it opens.

Mt. Bluet - I love the buds almost as much as the blooms.

Mt. Bluet full bloom

Species tulip among creeping phlox.

These tulips are waving good bye.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Some of  you may recall that I had a BIG clean up to do after we lopped off a boxelder leaning precariously over our house. WELL, I am still cleaning that mess up but I have made progress. I had quite a few stumps and I never let a good stump go to waste! The misshapen, gnarly stumps were donated to a friend who owns a wood burning kiln (and wood splitter). The nice looking stumps I saved for my garden. They make great accents for bird baths, tables, pedestals for containers, or even a nice seat!

I love just topping off a stump with a terra cotta plant tray. The tray develops a nice patina over time.

This tray has a bit of a rough texture making it perfect for not only birds, but bees and other pollinators as well. I have often seen a bee edging its way in for a drink.

This one is topped off with a dish of my grandmother's that is shaped like a flower. I have added a few decorative pebbles for those creatures who don't like to dive right in.

This one is low to the ground and topped with a beautiful, red, ceramic tray that really stands out in the garden. I don't have the fortune of a pond or water feature (which is a great way to attract wildlife) in my garden, so I place many bird baths of different types and levels all around. I offer a heated bird bath in the winter as well.

I have had these tin containers for many years and will eventually add some spanish moss and feature plants to top off these "pedestals."

This is not really a stump but a large branch that didn't go through the chipper. It is now a favorite perch for the birds, chipmunks, and squirrels.

This is not really a stump either, but a piece of driftwood (not from that boxelder) that reminded me of the blue herons that grace the river here. I sealed the bottom edge that is buried under the ground and it is now a garden "sculpture."

I love adding natural elements to my garden as art or accents. It seems to add some "age" to my very new garden. And I like that the boxelder tree, now a large shrub, has not gone to waste but still lives in my garden and is still visited by the birds and bees.

Monday, May 10, 2010

How I Celebrated Arbor Day

Originally I planned to post this on Arbor Day which is celebrated the last Friday in April. I celebrated Arbor Day by, appropriately, planting trees! Little did I know then that the "cold" I was suffering on Arbor Day was actually bronchitis and is the reason why this post is a little later than planned.

The first tree I planted came in a box - yes, a box!

And the label said ...

Immediately! (Which is why I was not going to let that "cold" get in my way.) The tree arrived Thursday afternoon so I unwrapped and soaked my new tree overnight in a bucket in my shed.

Nice buds!

I prepared the site with some compost and peat moss. Eventually this will be part of a new, large bed.

Say hello to my new Serviceberry tree, Amelanchier Laevis. I cannot wait to see her leaves open and hopefully, flowers next spring. I chose this tree because it is native and provides a natural food source in the form of berries for a variety of birds in this area. I am watering it with a 5 gallon bucket with holes punched in the bottom. I read somewhere that new trees and shrubs should receive 5 gallons of water every few days to establish. This way, I know I am watering sufficiently.

I also planted another Arborvitae along the drive. You can see last year's growth on the one to the right which I planted last spring. I plan to extend this bed further down the drive and plant a third Arborvitae. I think of the Arborvitaes as "posts" on my living fence and in between them, I will have some substantial perennials. They are strategically placed in front of my neighbor's windows. I chose these trees because they are a classic in this area, hardy, evergreen, provide good cover for birds, and will not outgrow this narrow space.

Along the potager (kitchen garden) I am incorporating the same concept only with Alberta Spruce - also extremely hardy. It will be nice to have some winter interest and structure. These grow very slowly. The tree circled was my Christmas tree and I tried to overwinter it. Don't do that. I now know that it is true you should not try to overwinter a tree (even though the label offered instructions). If I get another this year, the hole will be dug out and the tree planted right after Christmas. You can see how it suffered compared to the one on the right. I hope it recovers. I hope I recover ... there is so much to do in the garden and it's very difficult to "rest," but I think I am going to make it!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Late Easter Basket

A couple of years ago my contractor of choice built me two of these beautiful nesting shelves. Supposedly robins prefer this type of nest box as well as phoebes and barn swallows.

Last year Mrs. Robin attempted to nest in the eaves of the shed instead, but this year she chose our front porch! (The nest boxes are still empty but I hope one day someone will move in.) Here she is through the window screen sitting in my rustic basket at our entry way. (She is on the left side of the basket and difficult to make out but I did not want to disturb her too much.)

Here is the basket she decided to redecorate. I had some pine cones in there that she tossed out. She seems to like the driftwood and the grapevine balls, however. I must admit, she has a decorator's touch.

Here are her eggs - true to the description "robin blue." There were at first only two eggs, then three when I took this sneak shot, and now there are four.

Once the grape vines leaf out on the trellis work, she'll be well hidden. There is a little bird bath just off the side for convenience. She doesn't seem to mind the morning paper delivery. I think of it as my late Easter basket.


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