Image    No matter what size your area, it is possible to enjoy wildlife and attract different species by what is planted. You may only have space for a small feeder and water, but that is enough to draw the attention of a bird needing a home.

I have friends which live in the city, in an apartment, in the middle of a concrete jungle, with a small patio, a few potted plants, and a couple of chairs. This attracted a pair of Doves to their home and added many hours of enjoyment for them and their young children. The Doves nested in one of the pots and laid their eggs and raised their young….all on that small patio. It was a blessing and a learning experience for the children and something to look forward to when arriving home.

A nearby water source is a necessity  during the long hot days of summer  and a simple large plant saucer will work if that is all you have to start with. Just be sure to fill it on a daily basis to encourage the birds to continue to return. During the winter make sure that fresh water is available if it doesn’t rain for a long period. A handy tip is to place a tennis ball in the water bowl to help break any frozen water.

I recently moved into an older home and my Birdbath was only there for a few days when I noticed a party of birds playing and splashing in the newly placed bath! It was so much fun to watch the different species enjoying such a simple pleasure.

Plant native plants in your area to provide shelter and food for visiting birds. Natives easily establish and require minimum care and water. Many birds in this area, such as the House Sparrow, overwinter here and a nice evergreen bush provides safety from predators and habitat for the long cold season. If you are thinking that the sparrows are a nuisance and would rather have more flamboyant birds, just remember that it is the Sparrow that eats the Japanese beetle that loves your rosebushes in the summer!

Familiar species common to this area in the winter months are Cardinals, Finches, Blue Jays, Robins, Doves, Chirping Sparrow, Mockingbird, Woodpecker, and about 50 other species. What you supply in the feeders in your area determine which birds will be visitors.

Try a mix of sunflower, thistle, and millets to attract a variety of birds or buy the premixed varieties in stores to make it simple and attract the types you prefer. Making your own mixture is fun and easy and a great project for the kids!

Begin with a few household staples ….¼ cup lard, ¼ cup peanut butter, 1 ½ cup oatmeal or cornmeal, mix until well blended.

Spread mixture on an open pinecone which has been threaded with fishing line or twine for hanging and  roll in sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, squash seeds and any type of dried fruit such as raisins. Chill in fridge until firm then hang outside in trees.

Your birds will thank you by providing a beautiful song and activity outside your windows when it is too cold or hot to venture outside. 

    I enjoyed the past few warm days planting bulbs and pansies around the yard. I saw several white butterflies as I was working and this really excited me ….  The end of February and Butterflies don’t normally go together,that is unless the butterflies hatch in a hothouse or conservatory. The Tulips are beginning to barely break the earth so I hope to have them make it to full bloom and be gorgeous! I need to move my daylillies,they love the sun and are currently in shade so I am hoping to have lots of blooms after moving them into the sun. Fall is the perfect time to dig and move these plants so I may have to wait a while longer before tackling that task. The old bulbs, which are comming up are doing well and have healthy green sprouts. Most bulbs return year after year and multiply easily, so expect to have an abundance in only a few years. The green leaves of the bulbs contrast well with the yellow pansies and make for a nice display.The bright color and sweet smell of the pansies will attract and feed the few butterflies that travel through my part of the world during this time of year!Image

BUtterfly Ball

It is recommended when trimming vines after the first cold spell to let them stay loose so the butterflies which are still hatching will not be damaged. I decided to make a vine ball with mine. I use it as a feature in the yard through winter! This has worked wonderfully and guest love that I have the ball…..it travels around the yard as the wind blows, so you never know where it will land. The kids like to hunt for it if they don’t spot the ball when they go outside.Kinda my version of a tumbleweed!
The best part is that I do have butterflies on warm days and I have had more since I made the ball! It was a fun afternoon project and didn’t cost anything but my time.
This is a Passion Vine and is a host plant for the Fritillary Butterfly. The vine stays covered during the summer months and is almost nothing but vine by the end of summer from all the new babies.

Art is What You Make It!

With so many different people and so many, many forms of art…..anyone can be creative….just begin!

Old Wheelbarrow

While visiting the western slope of Colorado before the first blizzard I spotted this great old wheelbarrow leaning up against a cedar tree and would have really enjoyed taking it home with me! I realized that it wasn’t possible,and that it has lived on this property for a very long time,so I settled for a picture! I had fun with the arrangement and really checked out the workmanship of the piece and all the old welds which held it together. I returned the wheelbarrow to its spot, leaning against the tree, and traveled on to my next adventure.
I enjoy being outdoors and when the butterflies aren’t present I entertain myself with whatever creative idea pops up!
The Monarch butterflies from the Western slope of the Rocky mountains and anywhere west of the continental divide in the U.S.A. migrate to southern California. Congregations of overwintering Monarchs are found at more than 200 sites along the California coast, from Mendocino County in the north to San Diego in the south. The Monarchs are present in these areas during the months of October thru February.

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I trimmed the Rosemary back very hard at the end of the summer…a lot of it had died and turned brown . This revived it enough to bloom again before the first freeze and butterflies of all kinds were swarming all around! It was a great source of entertainment for a few days and then the weather turned cold and scared all of the butterflies into hibernation.

I took a journey into my yard last week to count the butterflies before the first cold spell of the season blows in and was very surprised to find so many! I counted around fifteen Monarch’s still hanging out around the blue mist  flowers, which still had blooms and a couple of  the Frittillarias  dancing with each other among the passion-vine. Not so many of the Cabbage White Butterfly, but these are winter hardy and the population may grow as the days become colder!This is a great time to harvest seeds and distribute to areas for next spring and summer. I also planted new Tulip bulbs and Violas to overwinter and have had a lot of butterflies attracted to the blooms! Nothing like wandering and checking the garden for new surprises and old blooms to begin being creative and dreaming of the new season ahead!

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For many years I was afraid to plant roses and felt that only experienced gardeners could grow the show stopping beauties,but I took the plunge and bought roses anyway ! I now have many different roses and realize that they all have thorns and do not like to be babied! When it comes trimming time I go after it with gusto and a good thick pair of gloves and am rewarded with beautiful healthy roses the next season! One of my first plants was a miniature Rose…I planted it by the back door …thinking it would be a small bush! Surprise! It grew huge and flowered abundantly, miniature flowers does not always mean miniature bush! So check the tag it may be small when you bring it home but given a year or two it will grow! I have since moved my Miniature to a larger spot where it receives more sun and is really happy and much larger!

The next rose I bought was named Don Juan,much more reserved than the name implies! It is a beautiful climbing rose with a bit of orange and I may get 10 blooms off of it in a season.I have buried banana peels,fish scraps and given liquid fertilizer around the base but nothing seems to help. I have had this rose for five or six years and it is getting better every year…for the first two I thought it would die but it is a fighter i also planted some Blue Mist in front of it and it seems to enjoy the extra butterfly activity!

Roses are a great spot to catch a light spray of water for the Butterflies to have a drink in the heat of the afternoon.

The Monarchs are still attracted to the Blue Mist flowers and filling up on what nectar is left to endure the flight on the northern breezes,heading south to Mexico. The first Cold spell of Fall 2012 and the weather is becoming colder and wetter. I spent the day trimming and moving my plants to safety and hoping they survive the winter months in the house! I keep them in the sunniest south window with diffused sunshine since most live in the shade to protect them from the hot Texas sun. All plants prefer to be outside in the fresh air and sunshine but keep the inside air filtered while overwintering in the house. I move them back out as soon as possible, usually Easter holiday is perfect timing!

I love to take early morning walks in the garden and observe the butterflies beginning to dry the dew on their wings and lazily fluttering before the full sun dries them completely and encourages them to make a quick getaway as I approach. By mid morning they enjoy flying through the sprinklers to cool off and soaring on the breezes to dry.

Sweet arrangement with Nanny’s chocolate cups

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