Saturday, March 23, 2013

Let the Spring Season Begin


This past Wednesday, March 20th 2013), was the day of the Vernal Equinox and the first day of spring. A music loving visitor (who came to my indoor succulent garden) helped ring in the season by repurposing a leaf and turning it into an instrument! This can be seen in the image posted above today's blog entry (variations of this image were featured in postings on TLLG's Facebook Page and tumblr blog).

Anyone who follows TLLG knows that throughout the year, an array of eclectic visitors frequent my indoor succulent garden, providing some entertainment and ambience which helps my succulents thrive. "Stories" about this can be found in a number of posts here on Blogger as well as on tumblr. Moreover, I have guest blogged about this topic in the past. Additionally, there are images of most of the "folks" and "creatures" who visit my indoor garden on one of my Pinterest Boards.

In terms of Wednesday's arrival of spring in my urban (NYC) terrace (roof extension) garden, Juan V and I "celebrated" the onset of the season by working in my garden. You may recall from a number of posts here on Blogger that he comes to work in my garden approximately every ten days during "open season." 

And even though last Wednesday was only the first day of spring, my garden was already coming back from a dreary winter, as yesterday was also the second "round" of my working with Juan V for the 2013 "gardening season." Our first day of working together after "the winter break" had been on Saturday March 9th 2013. Every year when we "re-open" my garden, the first task is to de-winterize, which involves quite a few hours of work as my winterizing methods are quite extensive.

The garden winterizing for the 2012-2013 winter season had been done much sooner (early December of 2012than we had done it in bygone years, as Old Man Winter had arrived ahead of "schedule." However, with the March 9th 2013 "task" of garden de-winterizing, our schedule was only two days later than the date we had done it in 2012, which was March 7th of 2012. In fact, our "task" would only have been one day later, as we had initially scheduled it for March 8th of 2013, but we were snowed out by a sudden snowfall that buried almost all of the 80++ "things" which I grow in my garden (as evidenced by the image of one of my tulip families posted below).


Snowfall on the date of March 8th may have been new to the "things" which I grow in my garden, but it was certainly not new to me, for when I was a child I recall a huge snow storm occurring on March 8th — which happens to be my sister's birthday — and on the day of that particular March 8th snowstorm which occured a number of years ago, my sister posed a question: Doesn't God know it's my birthday?

However, during the March 8th 2013 snowstorm, no such questions were posed, and the "things" that I grow took the snowfall in stride as did a few of my visiting birds, which is evidenced by the following photo-ops.


In the image posted directly above, a group of mourning doves huddled together under the roof of a feeder that normally hangs from a bracket on my garden's wall. I'd moved the feeder so that the strong winds would not blow it away and (as you can see) the mourning doves enjoyed the result. However, they also enjoyed walking in the snow, as seen by this "character" below who doesn't seem to mind getting his/her pink feet cold! 


Also the dark-eyed junco didn't let the snowfall ruin his/her day as evident by the photo-op below where he/she can be seen jumping for joy — unless 


he/she leaped from the snow because it was too cold for his/her tootsies!

I, myself often insert toe warmers into my winter boots, but so far I've yet to see any of my birds bundle up; in fact, the junco does a lot of "walking through the winter wonderland,"


sans snow boots, as is the case with the male cardinal, although as of the time the March 8th snowstorm occurred, he not been around for a number of days. In fact the white breasted sparrows, tufted titmouses, chickadees, and male as well as female house finches, had also "disappeared" from their routine visits to my garden, resulting in my facing my abandonment issues! But as the old song says, "if you can't be with the one you love, love the one you are with!" 

Therefore, while I truly missed Cam (my lone female cardinal) and her entourage (the white breasted sparrows, tufted titmouses, chickadees, and male as well as female house finches), I did try and focus on who was visiting me (instead of who wasn't), and I "loved" observing my visiting dark-eyed juncoes whilst they (in spite of the "surprise" snow) took in an early sign of spring: budding (as seen in the photo-op below)!


Soon this sweet bird would have more buds to look at, for most of the snowfall in my garden from March 8th 2013's "surprise" was melted by late morning the following day (Saturday, March 9th 2013), and Juan V was able to come over and help me unwrap the "things" I grow, as most of them were poking their heads out of their winter gear.

Normally when Juan V comes to help me de-winterize, we begin our work by having him take a "before" aerial photograph (as described in a previous post), but this year we did not want to chance Juan V falling when trying to get a "before" photo-op as we felt snow might still be on the rooftop of my building! However the following image is representative of what "things" that I grow looked like at the beginning of our de-winterizing work on March 9th 2013.


As you can see in this instance, the Curly Sue Tulips were ready to get out of their winter gear; and this was the case will all the "things" which I grow: "everyone" was popping his/her head out from his/her covering of mulch, and "everyone" seemed eager to "lose" their "blankets" (layers of bubble wrap and burlap) that had been surrounding his/her container.

By the end of Juan V's and my work day, each "thing" that I grow was free of its winter gear and had been placed in his/her own "prominent" spot in my garden. Moreover, the sun had melted the snow that had remained, and Juan V was able to get an "after" aerial photo-op, which would be the first aerial photo-op for the 2013 gardening season. One of his images can be seen below.


And you can see it is certainly true that the "things" which I grow were ready to have their winter wear removed! A few close-ups of them can be seen in the phonographs posted below.


The image posted directly above is of my Tulip Cardinal Couleur Cordial, this variety is a "newcomer" to my garden as Juan V planted their bulbs this past October as described in a "segment" of my year-end review series here on Blogger.

The photograph below shows how the foliage of my Kauffmnnia variety of tulips appeared the day Juan V and I "freed" them from their winter gear,


and while the date of March 9th might seem a bit early for the occurrence of the onset of such foliage, last year at this time, this tulip variety was in full swing as evidenced by its March 2012 "story" here on Blogger.

The Curly Sue tulip variety (seen in its winter gear in the eighth image included with this posting), looked this way (pictured directly below) upon being "disrobed."


As for my variety of crocuses (I have the "regular" as well as the saffron varieties), after a winter's nap, they sported their respective foliage quite proudly — even though Juan V said that they "should've flowered by now" — as seen in the images below.



The saffron variety of crocuses (pictured directly above) are newcomers to my garden as their bulbs were planted the same day as the bulbs for the Tulip Cardinal Couleur Cordial family.

Additionally, my hearty "old-timer," a Paeonia suffruiticosa (AKA Tree Peony), was not to be undone by the "new kids on the block" (The Tulip Cardinal Couleur Cordial Family and the saffron crocuses) who had a number of buds to show off during Juan V's and my March 9th de-winterizing! This is evident in the image posted below.


To me, the bud pictured here looks as if she's either gasping in amazement over some gossip, or as if she's suppressing a laugh, and, if she were human (especially living in NYC), she might be high tailing herself to an esthetician, but just as the birds don't let snowfall ruin their day, the buds of my Tree Peony doesn't let whiskers keep her from enjoying life! I just hope her stay in my garden is for a longer period of time than last year when heavy rainfall shortened her 2012 stay!

In addition to the tulips, crocuses and my tree peony awakening from slumber to face spring; all the other "things" growing here had foliage and buds to be "sport," and I will be featuring them in subsequent posts here on Blogger as well as tumblr once the spring season moves forward.

Meanwhile, the only addition/change that Juan V and I made to the garden on March 9th was to put up a composter (which I'd received soon after the Christmas holidays). The composter is indicated by a white arrow that I've added on to Juan's image (the ninth image in this posting).

As ones who do what we can to protect our environment, Juan V and I had both been truly excited to take on the mission of composting, and we had even discovered a number of earth worms in the "things" we de-winterized to help jump-start our endeavor! Moreover, a "representative" for worms, who is currently visiting my studio apartment, and is pictured below,


was thrilled to be a "spokes-worm" in delineating details of the role of worms in composting! The image of the "spokes-worm" is one you may recognize from TLLG's FB Page when it was featured with the following text: 

"The message is not so much that the worms will inherit the Earth, but that all things play a role in nature, even the lowly worm," says the cartoonist Gary Larsen (Farside). 

BUT, my new visitors (a number of earth worms) to my roof-extension (terrace) garden, whom I discovered with Juan V this past Saturday (when we were de-winterizing), aren't laughing at Larsen's "message;" for they know that they are not "lowly!"

Instead, they are tooting their horns much in the way their representative, a newbie to my indoor succulent garden (pictured here), is doing!

The cause for my worms' celebration? They know their value to the "things" I fertilize (organically) in my garden as stated on Organic Gardening's web page: "The pale red garden earthworm is often called 'nature's plow.' That's because an earthworm pushes through soft earth with the point of its head. If the soil is hard, the worm eats its way through, forming interconnected burrows, some several feet deep."

This will be the first time I've composted in my garden, so Juan V and I were delighted to see SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO many earth worms as we de-winterized my garden; after all, "in cold weather, a soil search will turn up mature and young earthworm," and indeed we had a cold winter in NYC, but if such a winter brought forth the little plowers, everything I grow will be happy, providing I get the knack of composting, which hopefully I will do to the accompaniment of one worm that toots his horn!

Please stay tuned for my adventures in composting and feel free to share yours!"


Unfortunately, soon after the aforementioned posting that I had on TLLG's Facebook Page, I learned that I had been given the wrong type of composter for my garden! The style/model which I had was for indoors! Since I have no room for a composter anywhere in my apartment, I am in the process of researching methods to weather proof the one Juan V helped me assemble on March 9th 2013, if, dear reader, you are familiar with methods on how I might do this, please leave them in the comments field below this posting. (A screen shot of the model I've procured is posted below):


And even though a mourning dove has targeted my composter as a landing spot, as seen below,



my composter has yet to work out! Be that as it may, a different style (orange niger) of bird feeder that I added to my garden (before Juan V's arrival) has been successful!

The feeder has diagonal openings so the food inside does not get wet during rain or snow and the birds can easily perch on its "screen!" It also has a small "landing spot," where birds can hang out more easily in my garden as evident by a dark-eyed junco taking advantage of my new "restaurant" in the image below.



Another image of a dark-eyed junco "partaking" in this feeder was featured on TLLG's FB Page on March 8th 2013. In both the FB image and the one here, the feeder is shown where I had initially placed it — in the "arms" of my Continus Coggygria (AKA Smokey Bush, Royal Purple, or 'Grace'), and if you'd like to see this placement in relation to the composter, please refer to the image posted below.



It is the same aerial image featured earlier in this post, but on this one I've added an aqua arrow to indicate the placement of the orange niger feeder. The yellow arrow is pointing off-camera to the area where the house-style hopper feeder (seen in the third image of this posting) hangs when it is not snowing, and a close-up of this is posted below.




However, snow and style of specific "openings" in feeders does not  deter certain birds from eating as evident from the image posted below.



The image above was also featured here on Blogger on March 2nd of 2013, which was my last posting prior to today's entry. Since that time, I've given the red-topped feeder seen here to a woman who works in my hood as she and her boyfriend have promised to feed birds that visit them.

But, as usual, I have digressed, and getting back to the orange niger feeder, one of my house finches (who had not visited my garden since the beginning of March) seemed to enjoy it, as evidenced by the photo-op posted below, where he seems to be posing alongside the orange niger feeder!



This image was first seen on TLLG's FB Page on March 12, 2013, three days after Juan V and I had "re-opened" my garden with our de-winterizing.

A couple more images of the house finches "interaction" with the orange niger feeder are posted below.




The positive response to the orange niger feeder prompted me to try the orange peanut-feeder variety. 

I had been using a hunter green colored peanut feeder, and an array of visiting birds had enjoyed noshing from it. This is clearly indicated in a number of images on TLLG's Pinterest Boards and in pictures accompanying "stories" posted on TLLG's tumblr pages as well as here on Blogger including a post on bird feeding.

Moreover, a few photographs of some of my visiting birds noshing from the aforementioned hunter green feeder can be seen below.







Nonetheless, I opted to give this feeder to a woman who works at my parish as she has a garden and has never fed birds which visit it and I replaced my hunter green peanut feeder with the orange peanut feeder, a feeder designed by the same folks who produced my orange niger feeder. The orange peanut feeder can be seen in the images posted below where a lone tufted titmouse is checking it out!




And so as you can see, dear reader, the birds which visit my garden, and the things that grow in it were truly enjoying the days before the spring!

However on March 18th 2013, eleven days after Juan V and I had our extensive de-winterizing "task", snow fell again, "re-baptizing" everything that grows in my gardens including the "things" I featured in this post as seen in the images posted below.


TULIP COULEUR CARDINAL'S FOLIAGE
KAUFFMANNIANA'S FOLIAGE
CURLY SUE'S' FOLIAGE (INDICATED WITH ORANGE CIRCLE)
"REGULAR" CROCUSES' FOLIAGE
SAFFRON CROCUSES' FOLIAGE
A PAEONIA SUFFRUITICOSA BUD
As for my "newly installed" orange feeders they were covered in snow (as you probably surmised) as seen in the images  below.

ORANGE NIGER FEEDER
ORANGE PEANUT FEEEDER
And even though all of my visiting birds are quite adaptive, they did seem perplexed by the March 18th snowfall as you might surmise from the image posted below.



However, like the March 8th's snowfall, the aftermath was quick, with snow melting almost as quickly as it came and therefore Juan V and I were able to ring in  spring on March 20th with our second day of work for the 2013 gardening season!

It was a fairly light working day and our "highlights" were placing my new feeders more strategically and re-stringing some lights which had been broken during Nemo, the February nor'easter which slammed parts of NYC and destroyed some "things" in my garden!

The fruits of Juan V's and my first-day-of-spring labor may be seen in the following aerial photo-op taken by Juan V.


As you can see (in the lefthand side of this image), the orange feeders have been secured to my "urban hedge;" this feeder "placement/installation" was done by Juan V, and he also helped me replace the broken lights (indicated by a white arrow) which "drape" the rim of a stand that supports the container housing my Avellana corylus (AKA Contorted Hazel Nut).

And the image posted below, 



which is another aerial view Juan V took on the first day of spring, depicts the resiliency of a number of "things" which I grow here! "ONE" is referencing my Rubus calycinoides (AKA Creeping Raspberry), "TWO" is referencing my Paeonia suffruiticosa (AKA Tree Peony), "THREE" is referencing my "normal crocuses," and "FOUR" is referencing the "home" of my Creeping Jenny, Muscari and also my Autumn Clematis.

The double sided arrow is indicating how the various tulip families seem to be bouncing back from all the unexpected March snow, while the single sided arrow is indicating a feeder which I hope hummingbirds will visit; for, as you may recall, dear reader, I made a serious attempt to "accommodate" the hummingbirds in 2012!

And as for the musician (pictured at the top of today's blog entry), he is still playing tunes in my succulent garden to welcome in spring, and the "folks" and "creatures" who visit it, and who can be seen in photo-ops below,











photo-ops that have been featured in a "story" on tumblr, are all in agreement re spring as they are chanting, "Spring! Bring it On! Let the Spring Season Begin!"

A few others, seen in the images posted below,






have joined in the chorus of these feisty folks and creatures have been reiterating their message: "Spring! Bring it On! Let the Spring Season Begin!"

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