Tuesday, June 30, 2015

robin's nest

This robin built a nest on our bonfire wood pile rack this spring. It was low enough that I could see right into it, so I thought it might be cool to take a picture of it every day to track the progress of the babies....

two have hatched!

three have hatched!

all four have hatched! They are pretty ugly.

the fuzz is starting to become feathers

eyes are almost open

it's getting crowded in here!

'are you lookin' at me?'

     I love the little tufts on their heads! They look like old wizards!

after I took this picture, I realized that there were only 3 in the nest! Oh, no, I hope something didn't happen to one of them!

Nope! There it is! Out in the open!

It hopped it's way to the grapevines to take cover. You can see the little feet all the way off the ground.

I went away for about an hour after I took this, and when I came back they were all gone!!

Empty Nest

It took about 17 days from the time they hatched till they all left the nest. It was fun seeing the progress from day to day, it is just amazing how fast they grow! Now they are all flying around the yard catching their own worms!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

the peony tree

My sister-in-law bought a peony tree for my mother-in-law many years ago. When my in-laws moved, they did not have a suitable area to put it at their new place, so my sister-in-law transplanted it to her house. When she moved, she did not have a spot for it at that time and said I could have it if I wanted it. She also had some black eyed susans I wanted, so Vince and I headed to her house to dig up some stuff, and also to pick up some furniture and other things she didn't want or have room for. Well, there was more stuff than I thought and it filled the back of the pickup pretty fast!

The last thing we did was to dig up the plants. When I went to check out the peony tree, it was in bloom and there tons of bees flying all around it. Vince is allergic to bees, so I had to get those blossoms off of there so the bees would skedaddle. (we have not seen any bees on it this year, or on any of our flowering trees, etc. for that matter, the only honey bee we've seen this year was the one in the pussy willow early in the spring). I didn't bring any clippers or pruning tools, so I just hacked at it with the shovel until the flowers were all off of it. I dug it up and covered the roots with a plastic bag and we tossed in the back of the truck on top of the piles of stuff. By the time we got home, that poor thing was just about bald, the wind had ripped most of the leaves off of it.

I don't remember what was going on that year, but I know I did not have a lot of time to be putzing around in the yard, so I looked around for a place to plant it, and the easiest spot was in the top part of my rock garden near the flagpole. I dug a quick hole, set the 'tree' in it and tossed some bagged garden soil from the hardware store over the roots (the dirt is not the best quality in my rock garden). I watered it and hoped for the best. I felt bad because my sister-in-law and mother-in-law loved this tree and I hated to  think I may have killed it!

 After it had been in for a few months, I did some research on peony trees to see where they should be planted. It said they should be planted in a partly shady, sheltered area. Mine was in full sun, and was in a spot that was exposed to the wind a lot! But since it had already been in the ground for a while I didn't really want to uproot it and try to move it again. It did not do much that summer, but the following spring it started to get some new growth, and that made me really happy! Well, after 3 years it got one blossom, and last year it got nine or ten, and this year it was loaded.

I think I took about 100 pictures of it this year, it was hard to choose which ones to put here, it is a magnificent plant! I wish you could smell it, it is just yummy!!

I think the buds are almost as beautiful as the full blossom!

This is the view of the rock garden from the top. The peony tree was almost in full bloom at this point in time. After I took this picture, I cut 6 flowers off of it to give away, 3 for my mom and 3 for the health care workers at the Cortland hospital where mom is going for cardiac rehab ( she had a valve replaced and a bypass in March). The girls there love flowers and these are too nice not to share them!!

I thought I was done with this post, but Vince said there should be some sort of size reference, so I took this ruler out and put it across the flower. They were on their out by this time, so this is a little smaller than what most of them were. Since this was the last blossom, I decided to take pictures of the rest of the stages of the plant.

The petals are starting to fall...

They are like tissue paper.

This is what is left in the center after the petals are gone.

Then these really cool pods start to form...

And when they dry, they look like this! I cut these off early in the spring of this year when I was cleaning up the garden beds. I thought they would be cool in a Halloween arrangement.

Each pod holds several of these seeds. I did some research to see if these can be planted to grow more trees. It said you can, but they may not look like the parent plant because they are a hybrid. I think I might try one anyway, but it will be 3-5 years before it will get a flower!