While deadheading my daylilies during the summer I come across a variety of insects that are an integral part of my garden. I thought I would share a few of them.
My friend Mary was watching TV in her living room one evening. After a long day of gardening work she fell asleep in her recliner. She woke up suddenly, hearing a "PLOP… PLOP… PLOP… PLOP" on her laminate floor. She jumped out of her chair wondering what the heck that noise was. Oddly enough, a toad was sitting by her front door as if it was asking to go outside--certainly not your usual house guest! Mary quickly opened her front door and the toad jumped outside into the bushes.
About 48 hours prior, Mary brought in a couple of beautiful annual pots from outside to overwinter in her sun room. Earlier, she noticed that a toad had been sitting in her pot outside. It appeared to be gone on the day she brought her annual plant pots inside. Next year, Mary plans to bring her plant pots into the garage for a day or so before they come into the house, just to make sure there are no toads residing in the dirt!
Look what we discovered...a turkey family taking a dust bath in our dirt pile. Turkeys dust their feathers every day if possible. This helps to remove mites and lice. Birds also dust bathe to prevent their feathers from being saturated with excess preening oil, and to remove dry flakes of skin. This was a rare sight we had never witnessed before.
Here are the frogs for the class of 2022.
Daylilies pictured include Pretty in Pink, Heavenly Starbrite, Hey Sue's Crispey, Panic in Detroit, Only Just Begun, Pigment of Imagination, and Boundless Beauty.
Pictures taken by Ange, Mary and Tara
Gardening has taken on an entirely new dimension for my friend Mary. A large black bear was seen by her next door neighbor's house at dusk one evening. He was strolling around the neighborhood like he owned it. And Mary lives in town, not in the country. Talk about scary… she now gardens with a bear bell attached, so it jingles while she works.
Mary took this photo from her backyard deck.
This summer my grandson Blake deadheads my daylilies a few times each week with his Mom and sister. He is so energetic! Secretly I am hoping to instill a of love of flowers in his life. I have to be honest though, he's really much more interested in the John Deere lawn tractor. Nonetheless, I'll keep trying…
When Blake comes over he likes to visit our next-door neighbor's goose named Donald. Donald rides herd over a flock of chickens, keeping them in line. Donald honks and makes a big racket to protect his chickens. Blake first met Donald when he was tiny and has enjoyed visiting him as he's grown up.
Since we no longer have a cat at home, I enjoy the ones that live in the barn across the road from us. Every year there’s a new litter of kitties to meet and greet. Pictured is my most recent favorite, a cute little calico girl who often comes over to visit.
Dani (L) and Middie (R) were two unlucky cats that ultimately lived very lucky lives. Both cats were rescues from two different shelters in Illinois. They shared a similar history being female, three-legged, special needs kitties. From what their respective shelters knew, Dani lost her hind leg after being hit by a car, and Middie lost her hind leg after being attacked by a coyote. Upon adoption, the two of them lived 'the princess life,' spending their days on soft pillows and warm blankets. They got lots of good food and love from Jade and Blake, our grands, along with their Mom and Dad. Dani lived 12 years, and Middie lived 17 years.
After Middie's passing earlier this year, Jade and Blake were finally ready to bury both cats' ashes so they could be together. They decided our house would be a perfect place, so we had a kitty burial for them. We put them in a safe, protected place so the urns with their ashes would never be disturbed. The kiddos painted a special memorial rock and placed it on top of the dirt as a remembrance of their two pets. Now when they come to visit they can always take a moment to remember Dani and Middie.
As much as I love gardening, there are just a few things I wish didn't happen when I'm outside:
We have always seen Sandhill Cranes in our area marshlands as we live close to the Mississippi and Black Rivers. However, 2021 marks the first year that we have experienced a pair of cranes up close and personal all summer long. The cranes have been parading up and down our road and doing flybys just about every day. They have an impressive wingspan of over five feet. Soon they will be migrating south for the winter and I will miss hearing their daily calls. Sandhill Crane calls are seriously LOUD, in fact they woke me on up on more than one occasion as they flew past my bedroom window at daybreak.
Sandhill Cranes nest in small, isolated wetlands -- marshes, bogs, or swales, though occasionally on dry land—within about 300 yards of the edges of larger ones. They prefer areas with vegetation growing in standing water, but some nest on dry ground. Their food includes berries, small mammals, insects, snails, reptiles, and amphibians. Sandhill Cranes mate for life, choosing their partners based on dancing displays. Displaying birds stretch their wings, pump their heads, bow, and leap into the air. Predators include foxes, raccoons, coyotes, wolves, bobcats, crows, ravens, eagles, and owls.
Listen to this YouTube clip to hear what they sound like:
Crane information from Cornell University:
Before photo with a calico kitty balancing on the rotted stump edges
After photo with a black kitty happily sitting on the new seat
The barn across the road from our home currently houses about five or six cats. The cats routinely patrol our property for field mice, which we really appreciate and encourage. We noticed that they liked to sit in the sun and/or sleep on an old tree stump across the road. When Ange saw that the stump was rotting, he decided to build a new, sturdy seat for the cats. It only took about ten minutes of his time and the cats started using the new perch immediately!
A few days ago, Ange and I spotted a large animal in a VERY tall walnut tree across the road. Imagine our surprise as we got closer and realized it was a chubby groundhog! I always thought woodchucks (aka groundhogs) were ground-dwellers, but it turns out I was wrong. They are adept tree climbers when escaping predators or when they want to scope out their surroundings.
This sighting prompted me to find out more about woodchucks. Here's what I learned:
Information from: https://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/blog/groundhogs-facts/
With spring right around the corner, an important topic of interest for gardeners is the Jumping Worm. Jumping Worms are extremely invasive earthworms. Already well-established in the United States, they were first identified in Wisconsin in 2013. Vigilant prevention is crucial to keep these nasties out of your garden.
The links below have great information to help you prevent the spread. Purchase your annuals, perennials and mulch from a reputable source; these nurseries should be fully aware of Jumping Worms. Be careful when sharing plants between gardens. I would also like to add that I have made it a routine practice to treat any new bare root daylilies that come into my garden with a 10% bleach solution (1 cup bleach to 10 cups water). I soak my daylilies for an hour or so and hose them off with water and let them soak in the water to rehydrate before planting.
Be observant -- and good luck!
Jumping Worm Information and Resources:
Video Shown is from Expedition Homestead
One evening I noticed a faintly unpleasant odor in our living room. I ignored it and went on about my business. By the next day, however, the odor had grown from faintly unpleasant to funky-yuck-horrible. And now the odor had an unmistakable identity...SKUNK!
Problem #1: Where was this skunk? After investigating, Ange and I deduced that the smell was coming from underneath the concrete steps outside of our front door. It seemed that a wayward skunk must have squeezed through the small crevice between the house and the hollow concrete steps and taken up residence.
Problem #2: What should we do? Knowing that skunks are primarily nocturnal, Ange and I had time to Google a solution before the skunk emerged. We learned that skunks hate water and don't like nesting anywhere around water. Ange cleverly rigged up a hose with a sprinkler-type nozzle on it. He positioned it on the top of the stairs so that it pointed away from the house and sprayed inside the steps. He turned the water on just enough to have a fine spray coming out.
Ange watched from the outside, while I watched from the inside window closest to the front steps. The important part was that we needed to actually see a skunk come out. Finally, about ten minutes later, out came a wet, dazed, big, fat skunk. It waddled away and disappeared into the woods. To make sure there were no other skunks under the steps, we kept the water spray going for five more minutes. Ange then turned the water off and immediately blocked the crevice by the steps with a big iron pipe so the skunk (or any other varmint) couldn't get back in.
It took a day or two, along with some Febreze, but the smell finally vanished. I'm happy to say that our front steps have been skunk-free ever since. When you live in the country, you always have to expect the unexpected!
Photo courtesy of NDomer73 from www.flickr.com
(There's no way I'd get anywhere near a skunk to take a photo!)
I couldn't resist posting these adorable photos. Like clockwork, at the end of July and throughout August, these tiny American Green Tree Frogs appear in and on my daylilies. It's fun searching for them and finding their hiding places while (carefully) dead-heading the old blooms each day. Ange took these photos; the tiny frogs are one of his favorite subjects. To read more about American Green Tree Frogs visit my September 7, 2014 blog.
Daylily pictured: Border Blessed
I noticed a beautiful pair of Cardinals frequenting our clematis trellis, perching on top and going inside the clematis foliage. The female always had twigs or leaves in her beak. Sure enough, there's a nest! It's a great location choice. The nest so protected, you'd never realize it is hidden inside the abundant clematis foliage. The photos were taken every few days until one day, the nest was empty!
Cardinals mate with the same partner each breeding season. They will breed two or three times during the summer. The female builds a nest in dense shrubs or thick bushes. She will lay three to four eggs and incubate them; remaining in the nest for 11 to 13 days. During this period the male cardinal will feed the female. Both male and female cardinals care for and feed their young. In the first few weeks the chicks are fed only insects. Young cardinals begin learning to fly around ten days after hatching. The parents continue to help feed their chicks for several weeks after they have left the nest. The chicks will usually flock with other juveniles until they are mature enough to establish their own territory. Cardinals have a lifespan of 15 years in the wild.
Info from Northern Cardinal Facts: https://forum.americanexpedition.us/northern-cardinal-facts
Usually I whine about the herds of deer that roam around our home, but for some odd reason this year the rabbits have been the problem--digging holes, destroying our lawn and just about every petunia in sight, like they're on steroids! They don't eat the flowers, but they rip the plants out of the ground and tear apart the root balls. So much for the two batches of Wave Petunias we bought.
We have been regularly spraying all of our plants with Liquid Fence. Any other year, the Liquid Fence always did the trick--the rabbits never even looked twice at my petunias. But not this year... so we doubled down and came up with a solution. Here's the recipe Ange experimented with, and so far it seems to be working. The rabbits have not bothered our latest batch of Waves, the new patches of seeded dirt are coming up, plus there are fewer rabbits lurking in our yard.
1/8 cup Crystal Hot Sauce
1 Tablespoon Cayenne Pepper
1 Tablespoon Powered Onion
Enough hot water to fill up a 1 quart sprayer
Boil the above mixture on the stove until the cayenne pepper dissolves, but make sure you strain it with a cotton cloth to remove the remaining cayenne pepper particles, otherwise it will clog up the sprayer. And remember, be especially vigilant with your applications.
I'm gifting myself with a couple of weeks away from technology. My blog will be on hiatus until August 18th. We'll catch up then!
Pictured: Twin fawns that visit my yard daily - Mom is hidden in the thicket, watching.
While weeding I discovered four bunnies in a nest next to one of my daylilies. (In the second photo the fourth bunny is hard to see. His head is sticking out on the left, underneath his siblings.) These babies have been growing faster than weeds! I have checked on them every day for a little over a week and each day they grow remarkably larger. At first I could barely see them nestled inside their nest covered up with their mom's fur and some old grass, but now they are so big and wiggling all over that they no longer have cover. We have had some heavy rain and I worried that their nest would get soggy and they would get wet and cold. Ange came to the rescue; he put a little table above their nest so the rain wouldn't beat on them. We made sure there was ample room under the table so their mom could get to them easily in the morning and evening. And honestly, I'm not even sure why I'm so worried about these tiny stinkers -- in no time they will be roaming around my yard devouring all my flowers.
After reading the April 19 CNN article about the Connecticut golfer that was attacked by a bobcat on a golf course, you can well imagine how shocked I was to see this bobcat only a few feet from our back door just three days later! In all the years we have lived here I had never seen a bobcat. This one looked like it weighed about 25 pounds. The photos aren't the best, but honestly I'm surprised I was able to get any photos at all. As I watched the bobcat saunter through our yard towards the woods, I noticed a small cat cowering alongside of our house, trying not to be seen. The moment the bobcat disappeared into the woods, the cat high-tailed it back home on turbo boost.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has noted an increased presence of bobcats in western and southwestern Wisconsin. Bobcats eat a diversity of prey including rabbits, squirrels, opossums, and birds. An adult bobcat usually weighs between 20-25 pounds, with some large males weighing up to 40 pounds. Bobcats have pointed ears with ear tufts, short tails about 6-inches long, cheek whiskers and orange/tan to brown fur with irregular black spots or blotches. They are usually most active at twilight around sunset or sunrise.
This bobcat looked very healthy, so clearly it's living the good life in our area. And as much as I enjoyed seeing this wild bobcat up close and personal, I sincerely hope I never see it again.
Bobcat info is from the Wisconsin DNR
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my backyard and garden, I LOVE to talk about it!