Saturday, March 31, 2018

Late winter/early spring

We lost Prissy on the 13th. She had just turned 20 years old and she went as peacefully as possible. It's very painful anyway. We still have her brother Tommy and he looks bright and purrs all the time, but he has cardiovascular problems and arthritis.

I don't feel up to looking through her pictures, but I wanted to mention her because she was such a big part of my life and often kept me company while I worked in the garden and always cuddled with me on the couch. I love her and miss her so much.


For a brief moment I thought I had a name for Eva's daffodils when a commenter posted that they look like 'Sir Watkin' (which they do), and then I looked at the height listed for SW. It's over 2 feet tall. Not surprisingly it is also known as the giant daffodil. I'm having trouble even imagining a daffodil that tall. lol It would be nice to have a name, but so many daffodils have been introduced over the years that I don't even know where to start.


Eva herself may not have known the name of these daffodils because most of her plants were passalongs.

Spring looked as though it was going to arrive really early this year after some really warm weather in February, then temperatures cooled off again and the rate of spring moderated to something more reasonable. Still, I doubt I will get the garden cleaned up in time and that's OK. The garden will have shortcomings that I touched on in the last two posts and I have work to do to get the garden where I want it.

I may replace the Japanese beautyberries in these pictures. They look nice in the fall, but they don't fit in with the rest of the bed. They're still leafless while everyone else is going full whack. One winter the bluebirds went crazy over the fruit but that was 9 years ago. I think because there are so many fruiting shrubs in my garden they just don't seem to be interested in them anymore.

Eva's daffodils finished up about three weeks ago after blooming a month early but the other daffodils - 'Quail', 'Trevithivan', 'Sweet Love' and 'Thalia' started at the usual time and are in full bloom now.

I always wanted blue violets in my garden. I had to introduce them as they do not grow wild here.

Three other species of violets grow wild on the farm: marsh violets, early blue violets (which are not at all early), and a tiny white violet that's either white bog violet or primrose leaves violet. I've tried the first two in the garden and I couldn't make them happy. Marsh violets demand constant moisture. Early blue violets, like their cousins birdsfoot violets, need open space. I transplanted a single bunch of the white violets into the front garden so I'll see this year how they do. Blue violets, on the other hand, can form a carpet when they're happy, although the numbers I get can vary a lot from year to year. They've been blooming for over a month now.

It seems that this redbud and red maple have been blooming forever too, and the orchid purple and soft orange make a striking combination. In fact the red maple is blooming it's heart out so much that I'm wondering if this is its last hurrah. As you can see it's splitting down the middle. Funny enough there is one redbud up top that's blooming at the same time as this one, while two others on either side are just starting to open now.

The American holly by one of the horse pastures had a lot of fruit this year.
It grows by a big ditch that originates south of the big bed, runs by the old house site, then turns and runs parallel to the horse pasture before continuing on to the neighbor's farm. There's a whole maze of these mini waterways going to the creek that borders our property. The holly's roots were undermined by all of the rain we got with Hurricane Floyd in 1999 and it fell over. But it survived, and several leaders have grown up. It was much more beautiful as a conical tree with a single leader but in a year with decent rainfall it fruits as heavily as ever. Most years in late winter flocks of robins and cedar waxwings descend upon it and strip its fruit. I happened to be down there cleaning up the bed by the gate when a flock of cedar waxwings were feeding. They were being a bit skittish but I got a few pictures.
I see and hear cedar waxwings often, well into the month of May. I usually see them as silhouettes though, flying from the tops of trees that are over 60' high. Ironically until last week the closest looks I'd gotten of cedar waxwings the past couple of years was at the grocery store when a bunch were feeding on the pear trees in the parking lot. No, Bradford pears are in fact not sterile. Bradford pears cannot breed with each other, but they can breed with other pear trees. I can attest to this as seedlings are now popping up all over my farm.

I think these birds are so gorgeous, with their black masks and ultra sleek feathers.

Showing the red wingtips for which they are named.

Of course, mockingbirds love the fruit too, and one of the resident mockingbirds spends most of the winter lording over it.

I finally got a couple of pictures of a pileated woodpecker! I see them often, as they like to feed in the tulip poplar stand above the house (where these pictures were taken), and in summer I frequently see them flying back and forth across their large territories.

You can just barely make out the red "moustache", indicating this is a male.

He felt comfortable enough to do a bit of preening. The horses were probably still in the paddock behind the house. Wildlife isn't nearly as alarmed if I am near the horses.

I know a lot of birds will be happy if I am slow to get the garden cleared up. There are throngs of song sparrows and white-throated sparrows here each winter and they love the cover.

Song sparrow. He or she looks adorable.

The red-shouldered hawks are nesting near the house again. This past week one of them surprised me the other day by landing on something (cotton rat?) about 15 feet away from me while I was working in the garden. The hawk looked a little surprised too. I think he or she was so focused on the prey that they didn't notice me.


  1. I'm sorry for your loss of Prissy! Our furbabies worm their way into our hearts.

    As always, I love seeing your wonderful, wild and beautiful gardens. They speak to me.

    Have a love Easter ~ FlowerLady

  2. Oh dear, I'm so sorry about Prissy. I have two senior cats (17 and 15), and it's hard to think about them leaving soon. They become such a dear part of our lives. You got some excellent photos of the birds! I know how hard it is to capture waxwings on camera. They're so beautiful! Happy Easter!

  3. So sorry about Prissy. But she lived to be very old for a kitty. I've never had one live beyond about 16 years. Great shots of the birds. I'm working on cleaning up and redoing some of the beds in my garden, a never-ending cycle of adding new plants and dividing old ones.

  4. I'm sorry about the loss of your Prissy. No matter how long we have with our furry companions, it's never long enough. I expect the garden's beauty offers solace. Your bird photos are great. If there are woodpeckers in coastal Southern California, I've never seen one. Cedar waxwings usually come through here during the winter months but I never saw a single one this year. Maybe they don't like drought either!

  5. So sorry to hear about Prissy. It's a real loss, our animals are part of our family. I love the photos of the various birds. We have native violets here, but somehow the English ones are very common, and they are quite thuggish in the garden. Pretty though, so I guess it's a love-hate relationship.

  6. Dear Sweetbay,
    I am sorry to hear that your cat Prissy has passed away.
    Your daffodils look very lovely. It is nice that you got different varieties. This way you can enjoy the blooms for a long time. I too grow daffodil thalia, but mine don´t bloom yet. I think it will still take about two weeks for them to open their buds.
    Best wishes,

  7. Very sorry to hear about Prissy. I know that is a painful thing to go through. I love the Cedar waxwings and would get them usually for one day in our former garden. They loved the Green Ash tree. I am hoping they will make an appearance here in Washington but I don't know. We do have a lot of bird activity though. That is a magnificent red maple!

  8. I'm so sorry for the loss of your Prissy, Sweetbay. We lost our Sasha late last year, and though she wasn't as much a cuddler as Toby is, she loved following me around the garden. I know you must be thinking of Prissy, too, as you work in the garden. Your daffodils are all so beautiful! I'm still waiting for the first ones to open up here. Spring also teased us in February and now it seems to be waiting for awhile to really show up--we had 4 1/2 inches of snow on Easter Sunday! Lovely to see all the birds in your garden.

  9. Great pictures. So sorry you lost your sweet Prissy.

  10. So sorry to hear you lost your sweet cat Prissy. Your Cedar Waxwings are so pretty. When I see them they are usually so far away it's mostly the sounds I hear. I enjoyed seeing all the wonderful birds you have in your woods.

  11. I am so sorry to hear that you lost Prissy. It is always hard to lose a beloved member of the family. The bird our gardens have in common is the pileated woodpecker. I rarely see this type of bird, but every once in a while I am lucky to see one stealing a little suet from our feeder.

  12. Condolences on the loss of your cat; two decades of snuggling and garden accompaniment makes her absence keenly felt, I'm sure. So sorry.

    There's a very good chance your daffs are 'Carlton', which are strong perennializers and two-tone yellow. My father planted some here. They've stayed popular for many years because they are high-quality and vigorous, which is a great combination.

  13. Sweetbay, would love to know if you are on Instagram and/or Twitter. Would love to follow you there if so.


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