4/10/12

First Walk in the Woods

We're having our fourth dry day in a row.  I can hardly believe it.  We're expecting rain, however.  Here's the forecast for the next several days:


It was lovely this morning, and George and I got out to enjoy it.  It's been pretty difficult to blast George off the couch potato list this winter, but he was as bright eyed as I've seen him in a long time this morning.


We were greeted by a squirrel first thing, although George doesn't pay much attention to them.


Look at this guy.  Bold as you please.  The squirrels live in a planting area that has a large rock retaining wall.  They come up out of the evergreen shrubs planted there.  You can see their little hidey hole near the center of this image.


Last year, we bought the wrong bird seed.  We thought we were buying a mix to use in the fly-through feeder for the larger birds.  What we ended up with was pumpkin seeds.  The birds don't care for them.  They have very discriminating palates.  I've been putting it out for the squirrels, and they are not picky at all.  They've made quite a mess on our step.  That's what squirrels do:  make a mess of things.


I still like the squirrels though.  We get a family of them each year.  We try as much as possible to live in harmony with the animals that frequent our place.  If they eat our plantings, we plant different things . . . or we plant them elsewhere.  Nevertheless, the squirrels are pretty bad diggers, and sometimes they get a little too ambitious with their excavating of the landscape.  When that happens, we have to, um, trim their numbers.  We didn't have to do that last year.  I'm hopeful that they will continue to mind their manners.

My friend Sue hates squirrels.  She says they are members of the "rodent" family; i.e., rats.  I don't hold that against them.  After all, humans are members of the primate family.  I don't know about you, but so far, I've managed to restrain myself from throwing my feces in spite of being a primate.  So, with that in mind, I don't hold it against the squirrels that they are rodents any more than I hold it against my primate friends for being primates.  I'm glad we've settled that, aren't you?

So today George and I were going to clean out the greenhouse, but it was such a pretty day, we couldn't resist walking around the yard to see what's going on there.  I've already showed you these tulips.  What I forgot to tell you is that the squirrels like them.  A few are decidedly munched-on.


The yellow daffodils have opened now.


I forget what these are.  Someone told me last year--a type of magnolia, I think.  They are in full bloom in the valley.  At our elevation, we are always about a month behind things in the valley.  In any case, these are so beautiful when they bloom.  This is what they look like now.


When they open in a few days, they will look like this one, from last year.


The cherry trees and the plum tree are pregnant with blossoms.  Every year, we wish for them to hold off flowering until it's a dry day.  Sometimes they bloom in the rain and there are no pollinators out to pollinate them.  Then there is no fruit.  We planted these trees some five or six years ago.  Last year, we got a fairly respectable cherry crop.  (Mike nearly killed himself picking them when he fell off the ladder.)  I'm hoping for a repeat this year (of the fruit, not of Mike falling off the ladder).


Over the weekend, I cleaned all the winter kill and weeds out of my culinary herb bed.  It's still looking pretty bedraggled.  I need to replace the tarragon and the rosemary, as I do every year.  So far, nothing much is happening there except for the chives, which are growing like gangbusters.  I let them grow wherever they want to.  Eventually, I'll probably have to thin them out, but for now, they sprout up and are allowed to grow wherever they will.


The raspberries are growing too.  We get a sizable crop of raspberries each year.  This was a gift from Erik and Mae.


This poor tree lost a lot of branches this year from our wet and heavy snow falls.  These are the two lowest branches that were lost, but looking up the tree, it lost a lot of branches.  It's going to be fine.  I'm not sure this isn't a natural process.  It doesn't look noticeably thinner despite all the branches it lost.


We planted this heather because it blooms in winter.  It's still looking very pretty.


This is one of my favorite things in the garden.  I don't know what it's called.  It has some sort of Japanese name that I can never remember.  It will be covered with cascades of these little white flowers.  


Just when you think it can't get any prettier, it will put out new growth in the form of these red leaves.


My shadow self and I decided to visit the vegetable garden to see how it's doing.  Oy.  The vegetable garden always looks so sad this time of year.  We are still at least a month away from planting.  I'm thinking of having a much smaller garden this year.  I've already decided not to bother planting tomatoes in the garden.  Instead, they will live in the greenhouse for the entire season.  Hopefully, I'll have better luck getting them to ripen.  


These are the most annoying little weeds.  I don't really care that they grow in profusion in the vegetable garden.  The rototiller takes care of them.  But we also get them up in the landscaped areas.  They aren't hard to pull up, but if they are allowed to go to seed, they will broadcast their seeds everywhere!  I've been on a mission to pull them up before they have a chance to go to seed.  We have a lot fewer this year than last, but there is still a formidable army of them to deal with.  I still have some areas I need to get busy on.


There is this one bright shining star in the vegetable garden that came through the winter snow with flying colors.  This is the artichoke plant that Erik and Mae gave me for Mother's Day last year.  Pretty amazing, huh?  I'm very surprised it tolerated the cold so well.


In addition to getting the herb garden into shape this past weekend, I set out the sun dial.  I have always loved sun dials.  My dad used to read a book about telling time to me when I was a little girl.  It had all kinds of time pieces from ancient times, and one of the time pieces included in the book was a sun dial.  For whatever reason the sun dial really caught my eye way back then, and I've always wanted one.  (Who knows why something captures the imagination of a three-year-old?)  When I saw this one in the Backyard Bird Shop several years ago, I had to have it.  Two winters ago, during a big snow, the wand (called a "gnomon") got broken off and we had to replace it.  Now I bring it in for the winter and put it out when the danger of snow has passed.


Also, I cleaned out the bird bath and got it up and running again.  The birds are thrilled.


So, have you noticed?  We still haven't cleaned the greenhouse.  We decided it was time to walk down in the woods to see if the trilliums are blooming yet.  But the first thing we saw is this Oregon native shrub.  They are for sale in the nurseries now, as we are being encouraged to plant native species.  Lucky for us, they grow wild in our woods.  Usually, I have a hard time photographing them because the wind is always blowing.  Today, I got lucky because there wasn't a breath of wind.  This is a red flowering currant.


And the very next thing I saw was a trillium.  If you've been reading my blog for a while, then you know that I love the trilliums.  I blogged about why they are special to me last year.


George couldn't believe his good fortune at getting a walk in the woods after months and months of rain.



The trilliums were blooming everywhere we looked.  They never cease to leave me completely enchanted.



It was good to be among the tall trees again.  As a military kid, I practically grew up in the national parks.  My dad was good about taking us to lots of parks as we traversed the country during our many moves.  To this day, I feel most at home among the tall trees.


George was in full hunt mode as he searched for crocodiles, pythons, wildebeests, and other unsavory characters.  George always keeps his saber handy in his zipper pocket.  (Yes, George has a very active imagination.)


After slaying a few dragons, we finally did come up and clean out the greenhouse.  Then we were both pretty hungry after our adventure outside, and so we came inside and had some lunch.  George had his crunchies, and I had my latest food addiction:  a breakfast sandwich I found on the Weight Watchers website.  I've been eating it every day for weeks.  If I don't have it for breakfast, I have it for lunch.


It's a toasted English muffin, two slices of Canadian bacon, one quarter cup of Eggbeaters (fried up with no-stick spray), three slices of Roma tomato, and one quarter of an avocado, sliced thin.  No mayo or butter.  Just yummy high-protein goodness.  Yum.  And speaking of Weight Watchers, I've lost five pounds.

How's your Tuesday going?


8 comments from clever and witty friends:

WoolenSails said...

What wonderful photos of your walk. I am loving the weather, but we are getting clouds and wind, but still love the fresh air.

Debbie

otterdaughter said...

I think your mystery plant with the little white bells is Pieris Japonica.

Oh! That awful shotweed! It's real name is Little Bittercress (supposedly the leaves are edible) and it's the bane of my existence along with the Scotch Broom. Pernicious weeds! Almost nothing else is blooming and the shotweed is already going to seed in my driveway. Would you believe that it didn't exist here ten years ago? It came in with some potted plants and took off, invading the whole region in no time.

I too took my feline companion outside today. Too bad he was more interested in grazing like a goat than walking! :)

Diane Wild said...

It froze here last night. We lost the asparagas but I'm sure it'll come back, I hope. Some flowering shrubs and trees got nipped. And the wind blows and blows. Yuk! What happened to our beautiful spring?

Kathy Felsted Usher said...

Signs of spring are sure pretty but we're hoping to avoid the frost/freeze the next two nights. That'll get the peaches and grapes!

Good luck with the weeds. I think we have these too, super easy to pull but they spread everywhere.

Dana Gaffney said...

Thanks so much, I really enjoy your walks, so much beauty. The terrible twins and I spent most of the day potting up flowers for the back deck, lots of color and it feels so good to play in the dirt.

Andrea said...

Thanks so much for sharing your early spring time with us! (I have enjoyed your late winter photos too) Spring has gotten off to an early start here in Texas, so it is nice to see it finally unfolding in your neck of the woods...like one last chance to enjoy those beautiful daffodils! Thanks for taking your camera with you, and being willing to upload and share with us! George does look ready for Spring time too! Enjoy your beauty!
Aloha,
Andrea

Andrea said...

And thanks for sharing the photo of that delicious looking breakfast sandwich! It looks great, and congratulations on your success with Weight Watchers!
Aloha,
Andrea

KatieQ said...

I believe your mystery plant is Pieris japonica, also know as Japanese andromeda. We have a few at our house. For some reason they didn't get as many flowers as usual this year. It might be because of our unusual winter.
Thanks for sharing the photos of your walk. Thank goodness you have George along to act as your bodyguard.