My Favorite Things

“Now, when I feel bad about how many unchecked items there are on my gardening to-do list, I remember my lack of tidying is really for the benefit of wintering wildlife and the nourishment of my garden.”

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

As I sit in my comfy chair today, there’s a favorite thing going on just outside my window. Big, fat snowflakes are falling. ‘The Sound of Music’ kind of favorite snowflake that stays on your nose and eyelashes. It’ll probably vanish by tomorrow, but there it is, making the world outside my window look like a giant snow globe.

Otherwise, there’s not a lot going on in my garden. But what is there reminds me of a few of my favorite things. While I’m sitting here, I thought I’d join in with my gardening friends for a Six on Saturday post where gardeners around the world take time to post about six garden related things. A hearty thanks to Jim Stephens of Garden Ruminations for hosting.


One and Two : Birds and New Feeders

Robins are one of my favorite birds, but they’ve been noticeably absent lately. Although robins sometimes stick around in the winter, my guess is that they’ve quietly moved on to a warmer place. I’ve noticed, too, that the geese are noisily practicing their V-formations as they make ready for their winter migration journey. My hubby and I sometimes think about joining them in their quest for warmer temps, but we choose to stay near family for now. Thankfully, some birds choose to stay for the winter in Wisconsin too. Since they have kindly decided to keep us company and amused during the long, cold months, we decided to return the favor and add some new bird feeders–feeders that the thieving squirrels couldn’t empty in a few hours. We bought three new feeders, all of which have some “squirrel resistance” mentioned on the label. Two of the feeder designs involve surrounding a tube feeder with a cage that only song birds can fit through. The third is a long red tube with slider perches. If a squirrel tries to climb aboard for a snack, its weight will trigger a sliding mechanism that closes off the seed access hole. It took our frequent diners a few hours to decide they liked the new feeders, but they seem to have adjusted well. We haven’t noticed the resident squirrels having success with snitching from the feeders…of course, we also greased the feeder poles to make their initial approach a bit slippery.

Two of the new feeders shown here (caged in background, and red in foreground). The older feeder on the right is a favorite of our resident bird-life, but the squirrels consider it a favorite too and quickly empty it.
One of the new caged tube feeders is a favorite of some of our resident birds. It’s my favorite too because it is right next to our dining area in the kitchen, allowing for a closeup view of our feathered friends.

Three: Unfinished Fall Garden Tidying + A Favorite Article

My Siberian irises are one of those plants which won’t be harmed by letting its fallen leaves stay put, but I’ll want to take care of that in early spring before new growth gets too high.

There are still quite a few garden cleanup tasks left to be accomplished. I’m thankful there is no harm in letting any of it wait until spring; in fact, there is some value in leaving it all behind. I love this article by Houzz, 7 Reasons Not to Clean Up Your Fall Garden, which explains some of those benefits, so thought I’d share it with my readers. Now, when I feel bad about how many unchecked items there are on my fall gardening to-do list, I remember my lack of tidying is really for the benefit of wintering wildlife and the nourishment of my garden.

Four & Five-ish: A Favorite Porch Plant

For several seasons now, I have been growing this ‘Livingstone Daisy’ in the pots on my south-facing front porch. There’s so much to love about this nearly care-free plant. It is an over-achiever in the foliage department, putting out beautifully lush, succulent-like foliage. The nicely variegated green and white leaves make this a very desirable plant and teeny-weeny, hot pinky-red blossoms (summer to fall) further embellish this lovely plant. I first acquired this plant when doing some volunteer deadheading of flowers at the assisted living memory care place where I work as a part-time baker. They had several of these vigorous plants which needed a haircut. I composted most of the cuttings, but took a few home to attempt water-rooting. I’m so glad I did.

Now that winter temps have decided to stick around, a few of my porch pots have unsightly frostbitten growth dangling from them, including my Livingstone Daisy. I plan to tidy those up with a haircut next time the sun pays us a visit on one of my days off.

Six: A Favorite Bush in Winter Garb

I’ve taken a real shine to hydrangea bushes the past few years. As in life, their beauty is in a constant state of change. Some color changes are soft and easy, others are dramatic and bold. All of them beautiful…even the last stage where life seems to ebb and the beauty fades.

Looking at the browned out petals, one thinks that the beauty has faded. True, but this stage has its quiet beauty too. Help me to remember that, Lord, in my later season of life.

“The grass withers, the flower fades,
    but the word of our God will stand forever.”

Isaiah 40:8

Playing in the Dirt Again

It feels good to be outdoors playing in the dirt again. In a day when COVID-19 has us squirreled away indefinitely in the relative safety of our own homes, spending time in my garden this week has been a welcome repose and heartsome encouragement.

Crocus are already showing off their comely petals in shades of purple, and a few white ones too. Blue muscari brings teeny-tiny punches of the deepest, bluest blue in patches scattered here and there. Brilliant, sunshine yellow clusters of daffodils dot my Schumann Drive landscape, with tulips promising to take their turn in the next few weeks.

As I pull back the winter blanket of leaves and mulch in one bed, then another, I’m seeing hints of more beauty yet to come. Peonies have poked their little red tips about an inch above the ground and I’m already dreaming of their beautiful petals in reds, pinks, white and a very special yellow one too. The foliage of my beautiful daylilies is already several inches high and seem to whisper their promise, “Summer is coming.”

Some flowers are spilling out of the bounds I had imposed on them, so I begin digging up a few of the plants nearest the garden’s edge. Some go in my compost bin, a few are transplanted elsewhere, but most are placed in a big plastic tub marked ‘Free Perennials’ and placed at the curb end of my driveway where they are offered to those passing by in the neighborhood. Each offering of future beauty is placed in its own plastic or paper bag, with any information I can offer about the plant scribbled on the bag. The bin is usually emptied in a day or two. I find it a lovely thought knowing that little bits of my garden’s loveliness will soon be springing up in other neighborhood gardens.

Today, as I plunged my garden trowel into the spring-softened dirt to scoop up one of the plants for my driveway offerings, I was delighted to find a sleepy toad still nestled in the dirt on my trowel. I breathed a sigh of relief that I didn’t injure him; it’s an honor to find toads, as I know they will do me countless favors in the months to come as they feast on slugs and snails and other garden pests. I pried my little plant offering from the dirt, then tucked the toad back in under a blanket of dirt where he could continue his slumber before awakening as my garden helper.

Today’s discoveries included unearthing a bunny nest and getting to see the cute little bunny butts within (I know I will regret thinking they are cute when I start seeing tops of my plants nibbled off as bunny fodder). Unlike toads, bunnies are not known for their propensity for helping in the garden.

While I will not refuse offers of human help in my garden, I rather like the solitude it offers. It’s a time to pray and to reflect on life’s blessings. Any frustrations I might be feeling seem to disappear into the soft earth as I work it. This solitary time in the garden is also a great time to sing (or hum) in praise to God. With the discovery of my little garden friends, it seemed fitting that my mind went to a song I learned when I was 11 or 12 years old, very early in my Christian walk. We don’t sing this hymn much anymore, but I recall learning the song in a club for kids called Awana. Not very long ago, I taught the song to the kids in our Sunday School so they would have it in their hearts too. It would be my pleasure to share the lyrics in the hopes that you would be blessed by them, and that your soul would find rest in the thought of all the wonders He has wrought.

This Is My Father’s World | Maltbie D. Babcock

This is my Father’s world,
And to my list’ning ears
All nature sings, and round me rings
The music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world:
I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas—
His hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father’s world:
The birds their carols raise,
The morning light, the lily white,
Declare their Maker’s praise.
This is my Father’s world:
He shines in all that’s fair;
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass,
He speaks to me everywhere.

This is my Father’s world:
Oh, let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world,
The battle is not done:
Jesus who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and Heav’n be one.

Six on Saturday: Fall’s White Blanket

We awoke to a light blanket of snow yesterday morning – our first (just barely) measurable snow of the season. The powdery dusting left my garden bench in the shade garden looking pretty, but not quite so inviting.

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Likewise, the arch to the backyard looks cold and forlorn as it awaits the return of Clematis ‘Princess Diana’ and her lovely deep pink flowers. The locust tree stands tall as a backdrop and you can see the seed pods I mentioned last week waiting for the next windy day to knock them out of the tree. Though said seed pods are a messy harbinger of fall, the dappled shade the tree provides in summer makes it worth the extra effort. The tree’s canopy allows just enough sunlight to filter through so that grass can grow and part-sun perennials can thrive.

Momma’s blue pot precariously perched atop a few stacked bricks still needs to be emptied and readied for next spring’s new floral pretties. Marigolds or zinnias? Moss roses perhaps? Wait! Maybe I should plant it up with some of those bulbs I haven’t planted yet!

I never quite get around to trimming off the spent hydrangea blossoms. The pretty snowy caps have me convinced that’s not such a bad thing.

Our bird feeders each received cute little snowy rooftops. It may be gloomy and overcast today, but the feeders have been very busy with diners – especially blue jays, a wood pecker and cardinals – and the pesky squirrels.

I was happy to discover a flowerpot within the shelter of the front porch still shows off a bit of fall’s snapdragon magic.

There are still a few must-do items on my fall cleanup list, but most of what’s left will probably have to wait until spring. Although, our local weather lady tells me I might have a very small window of good weather toward the end of the week. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll get those last few tulip and daffodil bulbs in the ground. Meanwhile, I think I’ll make myself a cup of tea and poke around on our ‘Six on Saturday’ host’s site. It’s always such fun virtually touring a few gardens. Won’t you join me?

https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/

 

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