Here we go again!

You might remember that the hanging planter on our front porch was host to a family of mourning doves early last spring. It was a delightful experience watching that devoted pair tend the nest, and finally to discover two little hatchlings survived the May 19 storm that did major damage to our house.

The plant they nested in didn't fare so well from lack of watering for two months, and we decided once was enough for that kind of experience.

We hung the planter up later in the spring this year and it looked like we'd managed to discourage the pair from nesting there this year. Until July 12 when I caught a dove flitting to and from the planter and discovered this inside:
I quickly cleaned out the "mess" that was the beginning of a nest, and shooed the dove away. But only an hour or two later, I came out to see this:


And when the dove flew away, I peeked inside to discover this:

And a few days later, this:

So I guess we're going to be privileged to watch the miracle all over again. And like I told my husband, it would really be cutting off my nose to spite my own face to evict the bird whose song is one of my favorite sounds in the whole wide world!

Mulch magic

We found a source for FREE mulch...a place that shreds Christmas trees for mulch, so spent this morning, July 8, spreading mulch. We're always amazed at the difference mulch makes in the way the flowerbeds look. We call it mulch magic! And it's good for the plants and trees too, conserving water, helping the roots to develop, and keeping the weeds at bay.
It feels like there's a carpet under our feet now that we've mulched this sitting area under the deck.
We still have many more places that need mulching, so we will be going back for several more loads of this wonderful stuff. But for now, it's a huge improvement and nicely within our meager gardening budget.

Trees

Early July and I'm really noticing our trees. We have such big, old trees in this neighborhood and it means wonderful shade and color. I feel like I'm in a treehouse when I sit on the deck early in the morning and later in the evening.

But our trees provide much more. A home for the birds and squirrels. And now, fruit for our enjoyment...soon. The apple tree looks nice and straight from this angle, but if you walk around it . . .

. . . you'll see it's growing at a sharp angle, almost brushing the ground, especially as it gets heavy with apples. But it looks like a nice harvest ahead for us in a few weeks!
We have a pear tree too (besides the ornamental Bradford Pear in the photo above) in the front yard. Unfortunately, though the tree is loaded with pears, we've been battling some sort of fungus and have had to cut away many branches. We hope there will be at least a few good pears before harvest time—or before the tree dies, whichever comes first.

That's just a few of the trees in our yard. The others will get their day in the sun soon.

The flower cart

 One of my favorite possessions is the beautiful rustic garden cart my dad built for us as a housewarming gift when we moved into our last house almost nine years ago. I've had fun filling it with different combinations over the years (see just a few of them below) and it makes a good landmark when people are looking for our house.
 The coleus and begonias I have planted there this year are really enjoying these cool days of July (yes, you read that right! We've had a wonderful cool spell this first week in July.) The cart makes a nice view from my office.

Japanese Magnolia in bloom again

We don't remember the Japanese Magnolia (aka tulip tree) doing this last year, but of course, it got hammered by last spring's storm, and that affected a lot of our plants. At any rate, we're delighted that it's having a second bloom these first days of July. The first bloom was rather unimpressive this year, unlike last year (see below) when it was covered with "tulips" and really brightened up the landscape. Our next big project is cleaning up the front entry garden and getting it mulched. It got pretty torn up when they put the new siding on so we transplanted most of the plants out of there to other places in the yard. So far, we've been pretty successful at moving things here. 

Transplanted roses and other things . . .

Last summer we moved two of the many rosebushes at this house to new locations. They looked pretty peaked the rest of the summer and we weren't sure they were going to make it. But this spring they really started to take off and now they've provided many cut roses for the table and nightstand. (We're delighted that the hostas we transplanted are in full, beautiful bloom now, too!) Here's a cut rose from each of last summer's transplants:
This summer, we transplanted six more roses, gathering them from all around the house to group into this corner for a rose cutting garden. Based on how long it took the transplants to come around last year, we really didn't expect any roses from these transplants this year. But we have a few! And it's looking like all but maybe one of the bushes transplanted successfully.

I really look forward to future summers when I can walk barefoot across the checkerboard and cut a lovely bouquet of roses of all colors and varieties to bring inside—not to mention how pretty they'll look from my perch on the deck. Or underneath. The comfy wicker chairs are my favorite garage sale score this year! (They also ate up our garden budget, so new mulch will have to wait a while.)

Another thing we've transplanted—this time from our old house—is sedum. We had a whole hillside rock garden covered in several varieties of sedum at our small-town home, and we just loved how easy it is to care for. So we brought several pots of sedum with us and we've slowly been filling in the checkerboard squares closest to the house with little bits of sedum. The recent rains and gorgeous weather have really helped it take off. I predict by next summer it will have filled in all the bare spaces.
Here's a bird's eye view from the top of the deck:

The blooming game

Our clematis burst into beautiful bloom at the very tail end of May but a hard rain washed all the blossoms away and it hasn't done anything since. Does anyone know if this is normal? Will we get another batch of blooms before the summer is over? (I hope!) Is there anything we can do to coax it into blooming again?

Check mate

The checkerboard patio loves all the rain we've gotten recently! This is my new favorite view of the yard.
We've planted sedum in every other checker square in the row next to the house for ease of mowing. It's taking off quite well, and will be a great solution, we hope.

June showers are what bring flowers!

First week of June and things are really starting to bloom. The lilies are gorgeous right now!
And the pots on the deck seem to be happy campers too. We're happy when we're camping on the deck in the cool of morning, too.


May is almost over...

. . . and the honeysuckle is in full bloom.
The clematis has one bloom, but dozens of others are just about to burst open.
The grass is filling in beautifully in the checkerboard patio, and the patches of the yard that were reseeded and sodded are filling in very nicely. We've moved all but one or two plants that needed transplanting. Now we just need to get some mulch and fill it all in.

Flowers...inside and out

Our oldest daughter planted this old Coca-Cola crate with a beautiful arrangement for my Mother's Day gift (along with a surprise visit from both our daughters!) and then her husband and kids bought her a gorgeous bouquet while they were visiting us, but they decided not to travel with it when they left for home this morning, so I'm enjoying her flowers inside and out! Thank you, Tobi!

April showers

 So nice to have a nice, gentle rain April 24. We'll take all the moisture we can get at this point.
 The flower pots are already filling in nicely. I'm especially loving the colorful, cheery zinnias this year.

Planting a Japanese Maple

While the redbud we planted last year bloomed beautifully April 21, we planted a Japanese maple behind the Japanese magnolia in the front entry garden. We had thought to move the magnolia to a spot where it wouldn't hide the rest of the entry garden, but decided to wait one more year and see where we are at that time.
  
We are hoping the Japanese maple will be well enough protected from wind and heat and freezing weather in this little alcove to thrive.