Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Some might think the Stellar Blue Jays are a royal pain, but we get so much enjoyment out of watching them. You can tell the ranks of some of them. The Baby Blue Jays arrived a few weeks ago, the little fluff balls. They look like we do on a bad hair day with their down poking here and there. By the time they're pushed out of the nest, they've already learned where to go for the good food. And they know how to push my buttons to get more. And I have to admit, I'm an easy target and an easy student.... It's like they're at a movie theater, watching a movie on the big screen, as they peer inside our sliding glass door, watching us. They just stand there, on the stoop, watching.... and watching.... Waiting for their peanuts.

This spring we noticed that one of our squirrels had made a nest in the stairwell on the back deck. Of course we weren't happy about that, but what were we to do at this point? We couldn't evict her! We've just kept our fingers crossed that she didn't do any damage to the house. Now we have babies. Two of them! They started venturing out last week, trying to be brave soldiers. Yesterday the two of them were fighting. Mike said he saw one fall out of the tree and the other one came flying down the trunk after him, chasing him. I could just hear their momma: "You boys go outside and play. We don't rough house in the nest!"

Now the Blue Jays know the sound of the perklunk of the peanuts as they land on the deck. And they come flying. The adult squirrels learned that when they heard the Blue Jays squawk, that food was on the table, and they would come running for their share of peanuts. I've noticed this weekend that the baby squirrels have also learned that when the Blue Jays are around, it usually means food, and, now, they come looking for their meal. But they're still very timid around the aggressive Blue Jays and aren't quite sure what to do. Poor little brave soldiers. But they stick with it long enough to grab a peanut and head back to the nest. "Look, mom, Breakfast!"

We live such a simple life and these are our simple joys.

Have a good day. Nancy

Monday, June 29, 2009

my name is nancy, and I'm an addict....

"I love to garden" would be an understatement.... "I'm addicted to buying plants" would be an accurate statement.... But I do love gardening and I do love buying plants and I do love falling in love with different foliage, different colors, different plant combinations. It's my passion and my hobby. Sadly, it's also an addiction.... I can't stop buying plants. No matter how hard I try, no matter how much I tell myself I'm not buying any more plants.... I still load the car up after every work day. You see, I work for a plant nursery in the summer. It's like giving candy to a child who doesn't have the good sense to say, no thank you, it'll rot my teeth....

But it's a lovely yard! With lots of different gardens, pathways, places to sit and rest. Every summer I have a new project or two (or three) that I've taken on for building more gardens or adding more features. Or maybe there's a new shrub I want and need a place to put it. See, it doesn't take much for me to bring a plant home. Some times it's because it's the last one at the nursery (and who will want to buy one single plant...?) or no one is buying a certain plant so I'll bring many home and give them life. There's never one good, single reason why I'm tempted by a certain plant. It's just because I'm addicted to plants....

Last year I decided to (1) have our back yard leveled out and a dry creek bed installed to hopefully solve our problem of standing water and (2) be finished with my landscaping projects once and for all. In that order..... Here's where you can hear my husband laughing! My original plan was to keep it simple enough that I could do it.... How hard could it be after all??? But summer came and went and I became 56 years old and my body 112. The 45 year old inside of me moved aside to let the reality sink in..... I was no longer 55 years old and simply could not do such labor intensive work any longer. So I hired the owners of the nursery where I work to come in and create this "dry" creek bed.

So one thing led to another, and, well..... I don't want to spoil the surprise, but do want to share the development of this creek bed with you. Take you on the journey with me!

Here's what's happened so far. The big rigs came in--the dump truck, the excavator, the crew:

In no time at all, our lawn was dug up and a trench 3 feet deep and 40 feet long was dug. This will become a french drain and hopefully our standing water will drain here and not somewhere else:

The first load of rocks was delivered and carefully added to the trench:

With the french drain finished, we started on the creek bed. Did you notice in my entry paragraph I talked about putting in a "dry" creek bed to collect the water runoff? Well, it's now become a real creek, with real water, AND a pond! Woo hoo! Here the crew is laying more fabric over the rocks/french drain, which is now becoming the creek bed. More rocks were laid in and around the bed to make it look like a river's edge:

A dump truck delivered a load of boulders and the excavator operator gracefully flopped each one in its designated spot:

At the same time, a load of D1 gravel arrived. This would help level out one of our problem areas and tie the creek bed in with the other gardens:
The excavator has strategically placed boulders around my garden edges to tie the entire back yard together. Here the crew is smoothing out the rough edges, adding river rock around the boulders to make it look like a river's bank. I'm loving it!

More strategically placed rocks.

Our dog, Sadie, is trying out the new pathway. Before, the trails that weaved in and around my gardens, all came to an end at the edge of the lawn. I wasn't certain how this would all transition together:

We're almost done with day one--placement of the pieces. Several more dump trucks later and the soil was placed for new gardens. Music to my ears! Originally I was going to develop this garden next year.... But if it's in place now, I'm bound by the Gardener's Creed to plant.... This starts at the creek edge (where the pond will go) and goes along the fence line for 70 feet.

Lastly, another dump truck arrived with a load of sand. This will become the base of our lawn AND also provide a little sandy beach at the creek side for the grandbabies to play in.

So there you have it. This year's project. Phase One: Placement. I'm hoping to see the crew this week to finish the creek bed. All the rocks have to be individually laid. Glad I'm not working on this project! After the creek is finished, then I can start planting around the creek edges, around the boulders. So, stay tuned for Phase Two! Nancy