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Sparky, Marietta, Petite and Crackerjack

It’s marigold time in my garden.

I usually buy six-packs of marigold plants around Memorial Day. But last winter, dreaming of spring, I bought a set of four different types of marigold seeds. It turns out that four packages contain thousands of seeds. Now I have an explosion of color and texture weaving through the yard. And what a bargain! I have seeds left over to plant next year.
Sparky Mix Marigolds have wavy petals of orange, yellow, crimson, gold and bicolor. They are mid-sized, at around fourteen inches tall. These popular companion plants attract pollinators; they are “on duty” as a border around the squash garden.
As their name suggests, Dainty Marietta Marigolds are quite small, and known for the bright yellow petals with maroon centers. They have been the most difficult marigolds for me to nurture, but their delicate flowers are delightful.
Petite Mix Marigolds are only 8 to 10 inches in height, but they bloom in all colors. They are in containers around the yard, and used as annual borders. They are so abundant, that even if the rabbits find them, there is enough to share.
At three to four feet tall, the Crackerjack Marigolds are eye-catching, with large ruffles of yellow and orange blooms. They lend a festive feeling to the yard.

Hide and Seek

An Eastern Cottontail rabbit has arrived in my garden.

Knowing rabbits appear each summer, I protect my garden plants as much as possible. Still, many plants are within reach of curious furry friends.
Little feet and ears are hiding just behind the cucumber and basil plants. Tomatoes, lettuce, herbs, eggplants, beans, peppers, marigolds, calendulas and more are nearby–a veritable feast for a half-grown bunny.
It ventures out from its undercover safety, and surveys one side of the garden….
And then the other.
What will it choose?
Sweet, green clover left in the lawn just for rabbits.
Good choice, little bunny!

Stopover

Summer friends.

Whether these birds perched on bird feeders, fence posts, tree branches, or telephone wires, I’m glad they paused long enough for me to snap a photo during the past two weeks.

Baltimore Oriole
Eastern Bluebird
Eastern Phoebe
European Starling
Gray Catbird
American Goldfinch
Cedar Waxwing
House Sparrow
American Robin
Off to the open skies once more.

Orange You Glad…

An extravaganza of orange.

…that there are easy to grow flowers?
I planted Pacific Beauty Calendula seeds in early April, and they survived a Spring snowstorm.
Orange Ton Asiatic Lily
The Asiatic Lilies started as one plant a few years back, and expand every year without my help.
Common or Orange Daylily
Just to to stop those orange daylilies!

Peony Present

My neighbor, a fellow plant enthusiast, appeared in my garden yesterday with this gorgeous peony bouquet. What an exquisite gift for me and my garden!

During the pandemic, neighbors have been walking by my yard more frequently than in years past. This has offered us all opportunities for friendly chats and shared interests, making the year much more pleasurable.

A Yard For People and Rabbits

Rabbits visit my gardens each Summer. This is how we co-exist.

I expect the rabbits to appear in my yard for “Summer Vacation” any day now.
High raised beds keep the bunnies out of the Spring greens. However, they are welcome to all the lawn clover they desire.
New fencing around the pole beans and squash means the beans are off-limits to rabbits this year, as well. Sometimes they pick at the hostas nearby, and that is acceptable to me.
Tall pots encase my favorite red-blossomed Scarlet Emperor beans. The wild bleeding hearts next to the pots are plentiful, though.
Removable fencing keeps the largest vegetable bed protected, but with easy access for me.
Grow bags keep the Yukon Gold and Early Red potatoes safe. However, the clover and wild daisies left in between the bags are available for munching.
Wild strawberries are everywhere in the yard. The rabbits can eat their fill!
The cold frame provides great protection from both weather and critters in three seasons.
Kale is safe in a small enclosed garden on the edge of the woods.
Time to get some fencing around this cucumber and nasturtium tripod. If you have heard that rabbits don’t like nasturtium, don’t believe it!
The rabbits have ignored the tomatoes in previous years. Plenty of Solomon’s Seal nearby to eat instead.
Garlic has not caught the rabbit’s fancy, either. But will they go for the lettuce purposely planted among it? Stay tuned…
Hopefully, this blue bucket will protect the eggplant. Wild Strawberry is nearby as an alternate selection.
Thank goodness the blueberry bush is out of reach! Alas, the birds are drawn to it like magnets.
A restful area for both people and critters.
One final touch added after the garden is planted.
Wishing you wonderful times outdoors this season!

Ancient Irises

Iris means “rainbow” in Greek.

In Greek mythology, the goddess Iris carried messages from heaven to earth on the arc of the rainbow. Beautiful flowers appeared wherever she set foot on the ground.

Irises in a rainbow of colors are blooming in my garden this week!

The Queen of Shrubs

The easy-to-grow and fragrant lilac was brought from Europe to New England by the early colonists. Today this “Queen of Shrubs” is ubiquitous in Massachusetts.

Better Homes and Gardens notes that:

“Lilacs are known for their hardy nature and long lives—many lilac shrubs live to be more than 100 years old. Because of their life span, they often survive longer than the home of the gardener that planted them. So, if you’re on a country road and see a few seemingly-random lilac bushes, there was most likely a house or farm there in the last century.”

Beautiful Blossoms

Apple blossoms abound in Central Massachusetts this week!

Meadowbrook Orchards, Sterling, MA
Brookfield Orchards, North Brookfield, MA

It is a banner blossom year for the Baldwin apple tree in my backyard.

Another “Bluebird”

Tree Swallows, with their deep-blue iridescent backs, are the first swallows to return to Massachusetts in the Spring. They compete with Eastern Bluebirds for nest boxes. These swallows were perched on the bluebird boxes at Wachusett Meadow Audubon Sanctuary.

An Uncommon Visitor

Pine Grosbeaks usually inhabit Canada or the far West of the United States. However, this was an “irruption year”, when large numbers of the birds flew south in search of more available food. This bird took no notice of me as I walked up close to her to take pictures. Instead, she focused on an easy meal of crabapples ripe for the taking.

All-Weather Rabbits

Eastern Cottontail Rabbits do not hibernate in the Winter; they are active all year. These rabbits were seen daily near the bird feeders, in all types of weather, often sharing fallen seeds with the sparrows.

Eastern Cottontail Rabbit, Wachusett Meadow Audubon Sanctuary, Princeton, MA

Icy Experience

Ice fisherman armed with sleds, pails, augers, fishing gear, tents and chairs don’t seem to notice the low temperature and bitter winds.

Rutland State Park Boat Ramp, Rutland, MA

Through the Seasons

This beloved Northern Red Oak at the Wachusett Meadow Audubon in Princeton, MA delights all year round.

Spring
Summer
Fall
Winter

Meadow Lands

The juvenile eastern bluebird keeps watch over the Wachusett Meadow Audubon in Princeton, MA.

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