Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Robins are Back

The robins are back! They are the traditional announcement of spring. A few of them have found my backyard where they gather to munch earthworms underneath the bird feeders. They scratch the ground and pluck the worms up with their beaks, a food they seem to relish though they get most of their diet from bugs and berries. I’m lucky there are only a few: robins because they often roost in great numbers. I remember seeing a stand of trees leading to my father’s apartment complex completely covered with robins.

This robin flew into my peach tree after a hearty lunch and seems to be scoping out the surroundings. I think it’s a male because of its darker red coloring. There is probably a female somewhere nearby; this is breeding season. I will carefully look for a nest, no doubt hidden in the branches of my overgrown forsythia bush. Robins can have two or three successful broods. Their blue eggs are vibrant and beautiful. But I say carefully because robins are known to dive-bomb a snooper to protect the nest.

I like the idea of nature’s yearly repetition - April showers, May flowers, and robins in the spring. There is something comforting in anticipating the cycle, in remembering that even as things change, they are also somewhat predictable. I know that not everyone has the same seasonal signals but they may have robins. These birds are prevalent all over America. Maybe that’s why the bird is called the American Robin.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Daffy for Daffodils

I’m daffy for daffodils. When their leaves peek through the crusty winter soil I am reminded that warmer weather is approaching, that spring is about to kiss the waiting bulbs and early blooming flowers into life, and the earth is renewing itself once more. The tall, spiky deep green leaves that defied snowflakes and sudden cold snaps are fuller and robust now. The buds, elongated hints of anticipated blossoms, tempt me to get out my gardening tools and play in the dirt. And now…voila! The daffodils are open. The corona reaches out like a trumpet to herald spring. There is nothing quite like that golden yellow to perk up the spirit.

Of course, there are other colors to delight us as well. There are even miniature daffys, if you prefer. According to the American Daffodil Society there are between 40 and 200 daffodil species and over 25,000 hybrids! The ADS puts out a lot of information about daffodils on their website http://www.daffodilusa.org/daffodils/faq.html and they also have a journal. I learned that narcissus is the Latin or biological name for daffodils but there is no difference.

But there are many things that excite me about daffodils. The color, yes. The early blooming, certainly. Then there is their persistence. I thought I had raised all the bulbs in my side yard to replant in another location but they are back through bulb division that I didn’t catch and I’m glad; they are so cheerful. And even better, the squirrels (I apologize for talking about them yet again) don’t seem to eat them! We don’t have tulips but we always have daffodils. How great is that?

Here is a picture of my daffodils. Feel free to post photos of your own.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Pick a Pack of Pansies

I’m getting ready. I bought a pack of pansies. It was an impulse purchase at my local supermarket. How could I resist those smiling flowers? They made me forget that I had to run from my car through a chilling rain. They flaunted their colors: pink and purple, a dusky maroon and shy, dawning yellow. I chose purple, a regal color.

Pansies are interesting flowers that come full of meaning. The word pansy is from the French pensee, which means thoughts and remembrance. It is most often associated with loved ones, those currently in your heart and those who have passed away.

They are practical, too. They bloom prolifically from spring until fall, adding vibrant color and fun to a garden. Although they look delicate they are rather hardy and make great borders. Pansies, particularly the yellow and blue variety, have a pleasing perfume-y aroma and both the flowers and petals are edible.

For me they, like the crocuses that just came up in my front yard and the robins who made a brief appearance in my back yard, are harbingers of spring. I am looking forward to the rebirth of my perennials and to planting some new annual guests. They all remind me of the cycle of seasons, the renewal of life. Yes, I’m getting ready. For planting. For spring.

Monday, March 7, 2011

You Lookin’ at Me?

I haven’t written about squirrels in about, oh, four minutes. But they keep coming up with stuff I can’t ignore. This little guy was running up and down the pole beneath the baffle. Sometimes all we could see was his tail hanging out of the tube, sometimes his head would be poking down. He stopped midway with a “You lookin’ at me?” expression that made my husband run for his camera. This wasn’t the fearful “hide from the hawk” kind of action. Nor was it the “how can I get the seed?” dilemma. He was hanging on with attitude. Expressing entitlement. This baffle was his and we had better not challenge that!

Okay, then. We have lived with this kind of furry brazenness for quite a while now and it doesn’t intimidate us. (Hear that Squirrel?) Only it is coming up to spring and I start to browse the garden catalogs with, if not trepidation, a tad bit of nervousness. Squirrels have challenged everything I have planted. As I mentioned before, we have yet to enjoy one single peach from our lovely little tree. Once a squirrel sat munching on a beautifully formed green pepper while he stared me down. These guys don’t seem to like my basil plants but they dig them up anyway. I could almost imagine them snickering (“Heh, heh, this’ll get her!”) before I bolted out the back door yelling at them to leave those pots alone!

This year I am thinking of trying some patio gardening – blueberries, dwarf cherries, tomatoes. Maybe if I see the critters eyeing the goodies I can move the pots to another location to confuse them. (“As if!”) Did someone say something? Anyway, at the risk of my best laid plans going awry, I will be out there with springtime expectations and squirrel awareness. Those cherries look so darn delicious. This year, squirrels, I will have a harvest! (I hope.)

Any thoughts about squirrel-proofing a garden?