Category Archives: Flowers

Flowers, Pollinators, Fungus and Breakfast With the Chickens

Flowers and Pollinators

The hibiscus bushes are blossoming.

There are three bushes in a row. The two on the ends have the deep red blossoms. The one is the middle has light pink/white blossoms.

This year we have an interesting phenomenon. One of the end bushes has both the red blossoms and the pink blossoms. This has never happened before.

The only explanation I can come up with is that these bushes drop seeds every year and small plants sprout each summer. I end up pulling them so I don’t know how long it would take for one to mature. Perhaps a seed from the pink bush grew up amongst the red bush and has become mature enough to produce flowers. So this is actually two bushes that have commingled.

Many of the plants are suffering from too much rain. The oregano leaves are turning yellow and orange. I have been tempted to cut them way down.

But the bees are enjoying the flowers

as are the butterflies, so I will leave them until they are done blossoming.

Dragonflies are not really pollinators but I do love having them around, especially since they eat things like gnats and MOSQUITOS. (Bring on the dragonflies!!!) This one was resting on an Agastache Kudos Mandarin plant, AKA Hummingbird Mint, that we planted this year.

The honey bees were foraging in the anise hyssop.

This patch of wild flowers attracts a lot of pollinators.

Look closely – how many bees do you see on the Mountain Mint in this photo? I see at least 3.

How about this one? (two?)

Honey bees aren’t the only pollinators enjoying these plants. The blue mud dauber wasps like them as well. This is the first year I have seen this type of wasp.

Honey bees like the cone flowers,

and I even spotted some foraging the purple loosestrife. That is something that we haven’t seen in the past.

It took a while but this beauty finally posed for a picture on a marshmallow plant.

Telling it to “hold still” did absolutely no good so I just had to be patient. I think this butterfly is called a Red Spotted Purple.

Fungus

When I did my mushroom post I had forgot about these puff ball mushrooms that grow every year on the hill where we someday hope to build a root cellar. They are well hidden beneath other weeds that grow up around them so we usually don’t even know they are there until late fall or winter when all the foliage dies. By that time they are just large dust balls.

When I first noticed these, a week or so ago, they were bright white. I didn’t have my camera with me at that time and as you can see they have since turned various shades of brown.

Each of these fungi is between 12 and 20 inches across.

Breakfast With the Chickens

Sunday morning I went to open up the chicken coop. When I do this my routine is to first fill their water dish. I then spread some chicken scratch on the ground in piles around the chicken yard, then I fill their feed dish before I open the coop to let them out. I do this because I know that the first thing they want to do when they come out is eat (except the rooster but we won’t talk about what he wants). If I were to let them out first I would likely have the whole flock following me to the feed can, then I would be tripping over them as I tried to the scatter scratch.

As I was filling their feed dish I noticed a deer approaching the chicken yard. She noticed me as well and we stopped for a minute and stared at each other. I then finished what I was doing while she moseyed over to the pile of chicken scratch that was about twenty feet from the coop and began eating. I opened up the coop and the chickens scattered around the area some of them joining her.

I decided to get my camera to see if I could get a picture of this breakfast club. It was still pretty dark in the chicken yard as it is in a grove of large hickory trees so i wasn’t sure how the picture would turn out.

It wasn’t until I got home and viewed the photo on my computer that I realized

that I had experienced an alien encounter. (Where’s Will Smith when you need him???)

Even when she got out in the light her eyes glowed.

Meanwhile the chickens went on their way,

cluelessly searching for worms or grasshoppers and enjoying their worry-free life.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you have a great week!

It’s Time to Stop and Smell the Roses

If there is any time of year to literally stop and smell the roses it’s now while the wild roses are blossoming.

Wild roses, unlike their domestic counterparts, give off a lovely fragrance that will even at times drift in he breeze.

Technology, at least to my knowledge, does not allow me to share the that fragrance with you through my blog.

So the best I can do is share some photos.

Our domestic roses, which really don’t have a fragrance, are doing well this year also. This small bush (above) is one of 4 bushes my husband rescued from the nursery/landscape company he worked for two years ago. Had he not brought them home they would have faced certain death.

This larger rose bush (above) has struggled over the years. It was a Mother’s Day gift from my daughters several years ago. It first produced yellow blossoms. After being severely damaged by weather and critters I pruned it way down. It then began producing red flowers. Apparently the yellow rose had been grafted on a red rose bush and it was only the original red rose that survived. This year it is producing more flowers than ever before.

Next to that is a low growing rose bush that I have had to keep pruned because it wants to spread everywhere. I don’t know the name of this type of rose but it is very hardy. It too is loaded with red buds and blossoms.

Low growing mini rose bush (above).

My peony began to blossom last week. I think it was the most beautiful peony I have ever seen.

It may have been the stark contrast of the bold pink flowers set against all of the purples and greens that made it look so beautiful, or it may have been that I planted this peony in 2019 in memory of my Aunt Shirley who passed away that year and this was the first time it has blossomed since it was planted.

It has brought back many fond memories of her.

I had read that deer normally won’t eat peonies so I felt that it was safe to leave it uncaged. I guess the deer in our neighborhood are not normal.

Those bright pink globe-like flowers were apparently irresistible to them. There are still two small buds that have yet to open so the peony will remain caged until it is done blossoming.

While the irises are finished blossoming the thyme and salvia are both in full bloom and attracting the bees and other pollinators. The lavender is getting ready to open. I expect by this time next week it will be in full bloom.

We added some creeping phlox along the new rock boarder. We chose three different shades of pink . They have already begun to spread so hopefully by next spring they will have filled in much of that area.

Not everything gets planted in the prayer garden though. I planted four chamomile plants amongst some wild flowers and they seem quite happy.

While their flowers look similar to chamomile these are wild daisies that have made their home amongst my marshmallow plants this year.

Last but least I’d like to introduce you to Mari the pig. I’m not exactly sure how Mari came to live on our farm. My husband picked her up somewhere in his travels and she fits in quite well at the farm.

I can, however, tell you how Mari got her name. Several weeks ago when I went to plant our porch pots I discovered a plant had started growing in one of the pots. It looked like a petunia so I figured a petunia from last year had dropped a seed there and it sprouted. Since I needed to work that soil in order to put in the plants that I had bought I decided to plant the petunia in the pig planter. I then named the pig Petunia.

Over the weeks we have been watering the petunia and watching it grow while waiting for it to begin to blossom. Last week while looking at it I told my husband that it was looking more like calendula, also know as pot marigold, than a petunia. A few days ago when I took the above photo I noticed that a calendula bud was beginning to form on the plant. I told my husband that I was renaming the pig Mari(gold).

Thanks for visiting and remember to make it a great day! 🙂

Asparagus, Daffodils and More

It’s an early spring here in Michigan. This week my husband noticed asparagus shoots popping up. I didn’t get any photos of it but I wanted to give a heads up to anyone living in our area who grows asparagus or hunts wild asparagus to watch for it. As I looked back over previous posts I noticed that in the past few years our asparagus has started coming around the last week of April or the first week in May so it’s two to three weeks early this year. I didn’t want anyone to miss out.

I did, however, get lots of photos of daffodils and some others things that are blossoming.

There is so much to love about daffodils.

They are a reliable, low maintenance, perennial.

They will grow in full sun

or wooded, wet, shady areas.

An early bloomer, they come in a variety of shades that say “Welcome to Spring”.

They also vary in size.

They continue to multiply each year so eventually they may need to be thinned by digging some up. The best time to dig the bulbs is in the fall. They can then be transplanted or given to friends.

They grow in harmony with other plants so keeping the area weed free is not really necessary.

We didn’t wait until fall to transplant these. Instead we dug them with a good size root ball (keeping the soil surrounding the roots/bulbs intact). We then dug a hole large enough for the entire root ball, placed the plant in the soil and filled in around it. You can see they brought some of their companions (mayapples) along with them.

Last but not least they top the list of being deer and rabbit resistant.

It’s kind of hidden amongst other plants but my primrose has more blossoms this year than it has since I first planted it. I am so happy with it that yesterday I picked up two more of these plants (one with purple blossoms and one with yellow) to keep this one company. (I should not be trusted in a store that sells garden plants. LOL!)

The forsythia have been in full boom for over a week now. It seems they are much earlier than last year because when I looked back through my photos my album from April 20, 2020 has photos of them beginning to blossom.

They create an impressive array as the backdrop for the pond. From a distance neighbors and passers-by enjoy the blast of color amidst the greens and browns that monopolize the landscape this time of year.

But walking along the berm surrounded by these brilliant yellow blossoms is an experience to behold. It felt like a natural high with my husband using the term uplifting to describe it while I found it breathtaking.

The cherry tree next to our deck began blossoming the week and while it’s delightful to see it is way too early. With snow and freezing temperatures in the forecast for next week we can expect a less than optimal cherry crop this year. I’m not ready to write it off completely though. I will hold out hope for a least one homemade cherry pie or crisp. 🙂

Thanks for visiting. What’s blooming in your area?

Our Little Piece Of Earth

Several blogs that I have seen this morning have reminded me that it is Earth Day. In fact it is the 50th year that this day has been celebrated. It is really just a coincidence that I have prepared a post with lots of pictures of our little piece of this earth but I invite you to have a look around.

IMG_6405 (2)

Even though we lost all of our bees over the winter we still have two hives that have some honey in them. On the days that are warm and sunny they are being visited by what we assume are wild honey bees. Since there is little available for them to forage this early in the year these bees are eating the honey that remains in the hives. It is good to know there are still honey bees in the area.

IMG_6407 (2)

Daffodils are blossoming and the bushes in the background are forsythia just beginning to bud out. We have never had the forsythia blossom so fully. Last year we decided not to prune them but to wait until after they are done blossoming this spring. It seems to have worked.

Yellow is a happy color. 🙂

IMG_6410 (2)

It shouldn’t be long before the forsythia is fully blossomed. I think it will be a stunning backdrop for the pond.

IMG_6408 (2)

These small daffodils and white hyacinths were planted 5 years ago in memory of my husband’s mother. My husband had bought them for her to brighten up her room when she was in the hospital. After she passed away we brought them home and planted them in the prayer garden. They are the first daffodils to blossom every year.

IMG_6430

The garlic is doing well. I love seeing them come up in neat, orderly rows.

IMG_6409 - Copy

These small red shoots are a peony bush the I planted last year in memory of my Aunt Shirley. I am so happy to see it coming up.

IMG_6423 (2)

I spotted the first dandelions to open. They were growing in the middle of my oregano patch so I will likely dig them out. Personally I love to see dandelions in bloom they just don’t belong in my oregano patch.

IMG_6422

Above are cosmos and below are primrose. Both were added to the prayer garden last year. They were given to my husband by a lady whose home he was working at while he was working the landscaping job.

IMG_6418 (2)

The cosmos continued to flower all last summer and were not touched by the deer, but the top growth on the primrose died off after being transplanted. They then formed new leaves but did not flower. I guess I will find out this year if they are deer candy or not.

 

IMG_6432

A cardinal was visiting the chicken yard. This is not unusual. Many birds (and rabbits, and squirrels and even deer) visit that area since there is always food available.

 

IMG_6441

Blue berry bushes are beginning to bud out as are apple trees (below).

IMG_6435We witnessed something we have never seen before on Sunday. Honey bees were foraging in the daffodils.

IMG_6452

We have had daffodils growing since before we began keeping bees and if you have been following my blog for very long you know that I always watch to see where the bees are and what plants they are foraging.

 

IMG_6447

This is the first time in eight years that we have seen the honey bees collecting daffodil pollen. Since I am not skilled enough as a photographer to get a picture of the pollen attached to their bodies you will just have to take my word that they were collecting pollen to take back to their hive.

As I was working at the farm on Monday I noticed this egret land near the pond. He or she quickly swooped up a tasty treat. I’m not sure if it was a frog or a fish.

IMG_6458

It then continued to make it’s way around the edge of the pond.

IMG_6461

 

IMG_6466

 

 

IMG_6467

It was about 45 minutes later that I saw it fly away so I can only assume it left with a full belly.

Not everything that is happing at the farm is as passive as this appears.

On Sunday I decided it was time to start preparing the ground around the apple trees for the companion plants I am going to put in.

IMG_6456

Since my husband was working in a different area, we put Ranger on a tie near where I was working. When he saw me digging in the dirt he decided to come and help. I have to admit that he was much more efficient digging with his paws than I was with a trowel. Unfortunately after digging for a short bit he sniffed the area and realized there were no mice hiding in that ground, so he was done.

I finished removing the grass and top layer of soil around the base of the tree – only six more to go. I will then be planting chives which are said to ward off insects and prevent apple scab and nasturtiums which are also reported to repel insects. We won’t know until summer if these methods are working but lets all hope that I’ll be posting pictures of beautiful apples later this year.

Now this post is getting long and we’re heading out to work in the asparagus patch (it should be coming up soon) so I’ll save the information about the work we are doing there for another post.

Thanks for visiting and until next time be well.

How are you celebrating earth day?

 

Blessings At The Farm

In spite of the state of the world right now we continue to count our blessings each day.

Inside The Hoop House

Saturday April 4, 2020 – around 2:00 P.M.

IMG_6381

The outside temperature was about 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15 C) while the temperature inside rose to 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 C). The sun had been  shining earlier but the clouds had covered the sky. Rain showers were on their way.

IMG_6378

The seed trays on the left are cabbage seeds that my husband planted this past week and the boxes on the right are lettuce, spinach, beets and swiss chard. I expect to see all of them sprouting soon.

IMG_6379

My husband bought me two flats of pansies from his former employer and I happily potted them. He knows how to make me happy. 🙂

IMG_6380

I find pansies to be such a cheery flowers.

Sunday Afternoon 

Snapshots of the farm.

IMG_6389 (2)

We discovered another crocus

IMG_6390 (2)

and another. 🙂

IMG_6383

Lilac buds

IMG_6382

and Forsythia wanting to flower.

IMG_6388 (2)

A lovely spring day.

IMG_6384 (2)

Just a bit too soon for swimming.  LOL!

How have you been blessed today?

What are you grateful for?