Friday, May 30, 2014

All is well...

I know I shouldn't say this but things are going really well.  No messes for a long time and Sassy seems to have forgotten about pooping in my chair.  It's been uncovered for several months now.  We have a covered and an open box in the living room.  An uncovered box in the basement, an uncovered box in the spare bedroom, an uncovered box in the laundry room and a covered box in my craft room.  All are being used.  I  prefer the covered ones because Sadie likes to back up to the edge of the box and pee.  Sometimes it's in the box and sometimes outside.  I would love to find some boxes that are really tall, perhaps a tub we can cut the front out of.  I'll think on that a while.

Sassy continues to want to play with Sadie but Sadie isn't having any of it.  Once in a while they play chase, but that's rare.  Other than the occasional growl, things are calm and clean.  Carl walks around every few nights with the UV light but hasn't found anything but the dribbles over the edge of the boxes.  Sadie continues to live under our bed but comes out every day to interact.  She no longer lays on our bed, she uses the spare bed which I've covered with an old sheet (it's very expensive and looks nasty covered with black cat hair).  She's not sharpening her claws on furniture.  She gets up on the bed once in a while to bathe Carl, she likes grooming him best but she's not friendly during the day.  I think it disappoints him she's not sweeter.  She seems to like being with us, just not touching us.  If there is an open window, she's in it.  When we have the air on, not so much.

Sassy, on the other hand, is a mama's girl.  She follows me when she's awake.  She sleeps by me when I'm in the family room, she loves to play with the string, torments me by laying on my desk when I'm working or getting up in my chair when I get up to get something or go to the bathroom.  You can actually see the delight in her eyes when I play-scold her.  She's a love.

From this gazebo - 5/30/14...

Work is finally finished on the pond.  The brick edging has been cleaned up, new brick installed where it was taken out, the cedar box that contains the plugs, cords and sensors for the pond is functional and, I might add, is a work of art.

 The light comes on after dark.
 All the plugs are inside, the block box on the outside is the sensor that turns on the pond lights.
 The door to get into the box.
 One of our newly fledged robins.
 Siberian Iris
 Floribunda rose - Sunsprite - smells amazing - notice the caterpillar?
 Variegated Wiegela
 Standard Wiegela
Monsieur Jules Elie peony

 Back in Black iris
 Meadow Sage

I still have not seen a bee anywhere in the garden.  Tomato blossoms are falling off with no fruit left behind.  The catmint and meadow sage are totally without bees (unheard of in my garden).  We've only seen two butterflies, both swallowtails.  No monarchs.  No eggs on the milkweed.  Very few flies.

On the other hand, tree seeds have been in the millions.  We've had two kinds of maple seeds, the tiny flat seeds of the river birch, and now the cottonwoods are seeding.  Our deck, garden beds and flower pots are filled to the brim with these seeds.  We Preen but still get thousands of seedlings every year.  Short of taking down the trees, there isn't a lot we can do but curse.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

From this gazebo - 5/27/14...

Sharing a little of the garden with you today.
This lovely yellow iris started blooming yesterday.  It was transplanted from the sidewalk garden to the pond.
Carl built this lovely cedar box with a light to hold all the wires and sensors to the pond.  We watched the light come on last night, it adds a subtle glow of light by the side of the pond and attracts insects for the frog.
The day after this picture was taken, the chickadee box was torn off of the pole by the raccoons, all the stuffing was pulled out and the babies were gone.  We won't install any more bird boxes without baffles in the future.
One of the hanging baskets I purchased at the local IGA.  Their baskets are exceptional, this one is the size of a bushel basket now, covered in blooms and I paid $17.99 for it.
Our resident bullfrog.  He just showed up after the pond was finished.
The view of the pond from the landing going into the gazebo from the courtyard.  The courtyard is where I grow my veggies.  More pics tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

From this gazebo - 5/21/14...

So, it's only 9:25 and I've been in the pond already planting bog lilies, water canna and water pickerel.  We had purchased the canna and pickerel on our last visit to Hornbaker Gardens and just set their pots in the pond.  The only plants in our pond that are planted in dirt are the water lilies and lotus.  The builders created pockets, added dirt, lilies, sand, and river rock.  All the rest of the plants have had their roots cleaned of dirt and just planted in the river rock.  When I lifted the pickerel out to hose off the roots, I touched a gelatinous mess which turned out to be eggs.  Not toad eggs, we are familiar with those, these were little tiny white eggs which I tried to wash off of the pot back into the pond.  Not sure how successful I was.  The water forget-me-nots are blooming and the underwater plants are very close to the surface now.

Blooming in the garden:  wiegela, tulips, wild phlox, creeping phlox, meadow sage, iris, and columbine.

Fish:  there are now 6 comets, 3 fantail, 3 shibunkin, (all about 2.5") and 3 large comets about 4".  We have a resident leopard frog, two toads, and a variety of tree frogs hidden in the pond rocks.   The toad eggs have hatched and we are blessed with a gazillion toad tadpoles. 

We saw our first dragonfly two days ago and we're hoping that we'll have dragonfly larvae soon.  There is nothing quite so spectacular as watching a nymph climb from the pond to turn into a dragonfly, dry his wings and fly away.  We also get damsel flies on occasion but I haven't seen one yet.

Birds:  nesting in the spruce trees: cardinal, dove, robin, chipping sparrow and grackle.  In the houses: 3 wrens (one box has four eggs), bluebirds (no eggs yet) and chickadees in a box I cannot get into.  Their eggs have hatched because there is plenty of coming and going from that box.  It's unusual to have more than one wren in our yard but love to hear the songs.  Last night I saw the first bird use the bathing area that was created in the stream.  A robin came down to bathe and brought two chipping sparrows with him, all were splashing and having a great time.  This morning two warblers came to drink but were scared off by the chipmunk before getting into the water.  A robin perched on one of the garden statues with two huge green caterpillars in his mouth, so his babies have hatched in the spruce tree.  It's easy to tell a male from a female robin during nesting time, the male is the one with the clean breast.  The female gets hers dirty building the nest, she sits in it and turns in a circle, pressing the sides with her breast which gets all muddy.

The water lilies both have leaves on the surface, but the lotus has not made an appearance.  The lotus is planted in a huge tub filled with dirt, covered with sand and gravel.  It's on the second shelf down in the pond, propped up by rocks.  Lotus like to be near the surface and it has been fertilized, the root looked really healthy so I'm hopeful it will send up leaves soon. 

I told my husband that this is just the best place on earth to be right now.  There is always something to see. it's quiet so I can hear the birds sing and the water splash, and the weather has been perfect even if it has been hot.  We have a large ceiling fan in the gazebo which does a great job of creating a breeze when there isn't one outside.  Life is good.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

An exciting visitor...

A beautiful bird has been hanging around our crabapple tree the last week or so. It's a gorgeous Towhee. I know, funny name for such a pretty bird. The first time I saw a Towhee I was at Giant City State Park in 1995 with the man I later married.

Friday, May 16, 2014

We keep plugging along...

Sadie is back on the pill.  Two weeks after we stopped giving it to her, she started marking in the house.  Laundry room, hallway, my craft room, no rhyme or reason to where.  So, unhappily, we had to return her to the pills and the marking has stopped.  But her disposition is back to crappy.  She growls and hisses, spits at Sassy, doesn't want to interact with us again.  So, either put up with the pee (not even considering this) or put up with her aggression.

Sassy is down to an accident every other week or so.  And she's trying so hard to interact with Sadie.  She follows her around like a puppy, chases her when Sadie runs, and manages to be in every room Sadie goes to.

Taking Sadie outside was a bust.  We cleaned the gazebo, moved in food and water and a litter box and then grabbed Sadie (who isn't good with being picked up anyway), hustled her to the gazebo and she literally freaked out.  She tried to climb the screen on the house side, fell off and started growling, she wouldn't come to me or let me touch her.  Her claws and teeth are terrifying so I went in the house and got a blanket which I threw over her which allowed me to grab her and take her in the house.  No more gazebo for Sadie this year, perhaps next year.  Sassy, on the other hand, is nervous outside, knows where the door is and when we're ready to go into the house, she comes when called.  She prowls all around the edges of the gazebo and is actually content sometimes to sit on my shoulder to watch the pond.

From this window - 5/16/14...

OK, not the best picture but the best I could get through the screen of our bedroom window.  The stream has three waterfalls that gurgle and bubble their way into the pond.  The pond itself is 11x16 and is 24" deep at the center.  It was three shelves inside for marginal plants.  There are marginals in the stream and water hyacinth in the bio filter.  We have pickerel, parrot feather, blue iris and yellow iris, cannas and water forget-me-nots.  American toads have already laid eggs in it, and we have a dozen small fish.  The pond is surrounded by black-eyed Susans, three different types of cone flowers, Red Hot Pokers, ornamental grasses, dianthus, candytuft, hydrangeas, miniature butterfly bushes, creeping phlox, creeping thyme, peonies, lavender, siberian iris and sedum.  If this blasted rain would ever quit, perhaps we could enjoy it.  It's supposed to clear up today and be warm and sunny the next two days.  We're eager to watch it grow from new to settled in.

Happy Bird Day

Make It Crafty Flamingo Digital Image
Colored Pencils: Med. Flesh, Rose Carmine, Burnt Carmine, Warm Grey IV, Warm Grey V
Lindy's Stamp Gang:  Greeting

Happy birdday...

Make It Crafty Flamingo Digital Image
Colored Pencils: Med. Flesh, Rose Carmine, Burnt Carmine, Warm Grey IV, Warm Grey V
Lindy's Stamp Gang:  Greeting

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Dancing butterflies...

PTI Meadow Greens
Memory Box Kaleidoscope Butterfly, Moonlight Butterfly
PTI Simply Chartreuse, Melon Berry
Paper Prima Tag

From this window - 5/10/14...

This was the end of the second day.  Three guys worked on Thursday, they tore apart the old pond and moved all the rock to our driveway.  They shaped a round ten foot into an eleven by 16 foot hole with shelves for plants, installed the bio-falls, and the skimmer.   Saturday, two of them installed the liner, started shaping the waterfall, added the rock in the pond and the large boulders.  Lots more to do.  Today (Saturday), they will finish shaping the waterfall, add boulders and rocks, attach the bio-filter and skimmer to the liner, add water, adjust the flow, and then we start the landscaping.  They will bring mulch, river rock, boulders, and a selection of plants for both inside and outside the pond.  My water lilies will be replanted, my Mrs. Perry D. Slocum lotus will be repotted and added to the pond.  Chemicals will be added to reduce the impact of the chlorine and to add the good bacteria ponds need to thrive.  The hatched toad eggs we rescued will go back in the pond and the mess in the grass will be raked and restored to its green glory.  More pictures tomorrow.

The young men building this pond are from Hornbaker Gardens in Princeton, IL.  They have numerous ponds on their property as well as extensive plantings, it's more a destination than a nursery.  I highly recommend a visit, you will be awed.  They don't advertise they build ponds because they have all the work they can handle, if you are in the Peoria area and looking for a new pond, they not only do superb work but they are charming young men who really know how to make the perfect pond.

PTI Meadow Greens
Memory Box Kaleidoscope Butterfly, Moonlight Butterfly
PTI Simply Chartreuse, Melon Berry
Paper Prima Tag