Saturday, 29 October 2016

First Snow

Yesterday we received our first snow fall of the season. I enjoyed the novelty but am still hoping for warmer weather that is also dry enough to finish an eaves trough project. I need a dry plus 10 degrees C for the caulking to stick. That rules out the next few days.

A few robins have not flown south, but are chatting to each other as they glean fruit from vines and shrubs. So nice to hear them as winter approaches. But my current favourite backyard bird is a red-breasted nuthatch. I suspect it spent the summer further north or at least in an area with denser stands of cone producing trees. With a distinctive eye stripe, it is smaller and stubbier than it's white-breasted cousin and is very, very cute!

Despite all odds, my three-legged red squirrel has survived and is gathering wild foods with determination. It only occasionally visits my feeders. I suspect it is nervous of the bluejays. 

An icing sugar-like coating decorates my kitchen window view.

Fresh snow brightens our fields on an otherwise dark October morning.

Evidence that a cat has been on patrol. Likely feral guy, Ginger Tom.

A lonesome birdhouse awaits next year's occupants.

Before nabbing a peanut, this red-breasted nuthatch scans for trouble.

Ellie Mae has decided that indoors offers the most comfort today.

Friday, 7 October 2016

Nanny Who?

There is a native shrub hereabouts that my father used to call a 'Nannytaw'. Checking horticulture websites, it is only referred to as a 'Nannyberry' (Viburnum Lentago). It is presently sporting ripe, blue-black, sweet fruit. Each autumn since childhood I've been nibbling this tasty berry and a row of this dense bush provided me with a secret fort when I was about twelve. Back in the day when smoking was cool and I was much too young to buy a pack or even smoke cigarettes, (and not allowed to by my parents, anyway) I would covertly smoke dried nannytaw leaves. No nicotine and a very, very mild smoke.

Anyway, I was wondering why Dad's family called this shrub a Nannytaw. I get the 'Nanny' bit because goats like to eat this plant and the bark, when pealed, smells somewhat like a goat. But the 'taw' bit? Webster's dictionary describes taw as a fancy marble. I'm guessing somewhere in Dad's ancestry, taws must have been a sort of slang for berries.

Nannyberry (our family called it nannytaw) fruit is currently at it's snacking best.

Some berries are missing from this bunch. Robins love them.

Today was gloriously sunny and warm. I spent most of the day outside and felt sorry for those folk at deskbound employment. Here are more pics from my morning's walk.

Virginia creeper vines are now at their festive best.

The tree-lined laneway in the middle of our farm is perfect for relaxing walks.

October's sun climbs less high now and throws longer shadows.

The plastic net allows smaller birds to feed without the competition of bluejays.

Monday, 3 October 2016

And The Oscar Goes To ...

Each autumn, I like to mentally award an Oscar to the plant in my collection with the best overall blooming performance. And this year I'm giving my imaginary Best-In-Show Oscar to (envelope please) -- Bacopa.

On impulse, I bought a small pot of this plant in May. The little tag said 'Bacopa' and nothing else. I had not heard the name before but I was seduced by the pretty blue blossoms. Replanted in an outdoor container, it bloomed for the entire season and is currently the 'show stopper' on my grounds. Bonus -- it requires little care except for watering twice a day. It's not frost tolerant so I'll take some cuttings and try to overwinter it. Hummingbirds and bees like it and they are important members of my judging panel.  Next year it will star in more of my containers.

From June through October, this trailing Bacopa plant was in continuous bloom.

Bacopa's cascading beauty welcomes all who pass by.

I'd also give an Oscar award to my cosmos plants, this time for 'best supporting' roll. I originally started growing cosmos for long lasting and colourful table bouquets. Then I realized how popular the seeds are with gold finches. In fact, each Fall I have to scramble to save some seeds for planting next year before the birds beat me to them. And when I started beekeeping I truly came to appreciate what a good source of pollen the cosmos flowers provide. Yes, they quite deserve an Oscar as well.

Soon cosmos seed heads will ripen and gold finches will heartily feast.

I think 'raspberry truffle' could describe this bloom.

A teddy bear-like bumble bee snacking on cosmos pollen.

Golden pollen glitters up this dark pink cosmos bloom.

Oh Marilyn, who are you wearing? A honey girl accessory!