Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Copyright © 2007-2009. Suburban Wildlife Garden. All Rights Reserved.

I hope everyone is having a very enjoyable holiday. My son's grandfather & his wife came to visit us which made our Christmas a lot happier indeed. We decorated the house much as we did last year, but I'll share some photos here again anyway...

I also took a stroll in my garden on Christmas Day.

It was nice to see some flowers are still blooming despite the temperature extremes so far this year in the Hill Country. My lipstick salvia doesn't seem to know it is Christmas...

Though the milkweed plant at least has some appropriate seed pods in preparation for the colder weather...

My favorite garden surprise of the day was this rose from my neighbor's yard that is peeking through our fence to say "Merry Christmas".

The rose brought to mind a Christmas song called "There is a Flower"... Enjoy this version sung by The King Singers...

I wish all of you a much Happier and Healthier New Year in 2009. May your gardens' blooms be their loveliest ever.

Lo, how a rose e'er blooming,
From tender stem hath sprung.

Of Jesse's lineage coming,
As men of old have sung;
It came, a flow'ret bright,
Amid the cold of winter,
When halfspent was the night. ~
late-16th century German Carol

Copyright © 2007-2009. Suburban Wildlife Garden. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

With a Thankful Heart

Copyright © 2007-2008. Suburban Wildlife Garden. All Rights Reserved.

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am continuing my record as an official Blog Slacker this year by only posting an entry one time per month. My excuses? Well, recently I've started selling books online again, which is fun, but rather time-consuming. Also, this has been a difficult year for my family. Though, I must say I have a lot to be thankful for: mainly my son's successful recovery from his spinal surgery. Here he is watching a 3-D movie at a friend's house...

He has gained all his weight back and is enjoying his new straight spine. Other than avoiding sudden impacts or heavy lifting, he can do most anything within reason. He has been doing well in school too. Below is one of his recent English class projects. It's a product he made up called Hippy Cat: Organic Catnip-Flavored Cat Food©. Since there were flowers on the bottom of the poster I thought I wouldn't be cheating too badly if I shared it here. It's groovy baby! ;-)

My garden has been fairly active with wildlife since the weather has cooled off. The birds and squirrels are especially fond of the water & food that I supply. Below you can see a small bird drinking from the water garden. At first I thought it was a finch but, according to Mikael Behrens from Birding on Broadmeade it is actually a Yellow-rumped Warbler. Thanks Mikael!

And nearby a squirrel was busy getting her own drink from a small bird bath...

She didn't really trust me, but decided she was thirstier than scared...

I hope all of you have a most enjoyable and delicious Thanksgiving Day. And don't forget to eat some pie!

Animated Thanksgiving eCards.

"Seeds of discouragement will not grow in the thankful heart." ~Anonymous

Copyright © 2007-2008. Suburban Wildlife Garden. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

October Surprise

Copyright © 2007-2008. Suburban Wildlife Garden. All Rights Reserved.

My Shubunkin goldfish had two babies! I couldn't believe it when I saw them swimming in my water garden last week. At first I thought they were just some of the guppies I've added to the water garden to control the mosquito population. Then I noticed they have spots and realized they are in fact baby Shubunkins. I could only get a photo of one at a time, unfortunately (each baby is less than an inch long).

To further illustrate that my fish don't pose, see the photo below. That is a male guppy on the left, a Comet goldfish on the right and an adult Shubunkin hiding in the center.

And it's all happening in this relatively small world...

The squirrel wonders what on earth I'm doing hanging over his water-source...and why I'm not either filling his feeder or tossing some bread or fruit to him. Humans!

Meanwhile the flowers against my back fence are blooming a bit. Here is some milkweed...

...and a firecracker plant...

The butterflies like this red penta...

The lavender is doing well.

...and of course the hummingbirds' favorite remains the salvia...

I love my little succulent container garden.

So does this Texas Spiny Lizard.

I recently took another trip to The Natural Gardener. Here is what I bought...

The Natural Gardener is one of my favorite Nurseries. I hadn't been there in a long time so was surprised to see so much had changed. They have created a beautiful water garden.

There were so many plants blooming the day I visited. I'm not sure what this tall yellow daisy-like flower is, (some kind of sunflower?), but I like it.

I was also pleasantly surprised to find that they've added goats next door to the chickens at the nursery. These two seemed quite content -- and at least one seemed pregnant.

All in all it was an enjoyable day. It's nice to think about pleasant things like gardening and other happy thoughts again. Speaking of which, I hope you all have a fun-filled Halloween...

"Beauty of whatever kind, in its supreme development, invariably excites the sensitive soul to tears." - Edgar Allen Poe

Copyright © 2007-2008. Suburban Wildlife Garden. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Butterflies are Free

Copyright © 2007-2008. Suburban Wildlife Garden. All Rights Reserved.

My brother and his wife gave my son a wonderful butterfly kit to keep him occupied during his surgical recovery. It was fun for him to watch the stages of the American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis) type butterflies. They arrived in the mail as caterpillars that mostly ate, then they finally changed into an inactive pupal stage...

...that we moved into the larger 'Insect Pavilion'.

Finally the creatures metamorphosed into little butterflies.

My son fed them sugar water on cottonballs, flowers and fruit while he observed them.

He released two per day until they were all free.

It really was a lot of fun.

And I must say the parallels between the butterfly's metamorphosis and my son’s spinal healing was not lost on any of us; even my son.

Yesterday was his first day back to school. I am still on my guard, of course, but also very grateful and relieved. Thanks again to all of you for your kind words and good wishes.

“Once Chuang Chou dreamt he was a butterfly, a butterfly flitting and fluttering around, happy with himself and doing as he pleased. He didn't know he was Chuang Chou. Suddenly he woke up and there he was, solid and unmistakable Chuang Chou. But he didn't know if he was Chuang Chou who had dreamt he was a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming he was Chuang Chou.” Chang Tao-ling

Copyright © 2007-2008. Suburban Wildlife Garden. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

There and Back Again

Copyright © 2007-2008. Suburban Wildlife Garden. All Rights Reserved.

Sorry for the delay in announcement, but things have been extremely busy here. I'm happy to say that my son's surgery was a success. We're back home from the hospital and he's recovering well. His curvature was corrected from 69 degrees to 15 degrees, which is excellent. He had some rough times at the hospital, but he was very brave.

I was amazed at what he endured really. Now we're very glad he's home and mending well. I'm still watching over him most nights until he can be more independent, but he's getting stronger each day.

Thanks to all of you for your kind words and good wishes. It's meant a great deal to me. Here you can see some photos of the gardens at Dell Children's Medical Center of Central Texas.

Below are two photos of a chef picking herbs in the kitchen garden at Dell.

They really take the time to pick the herbs each day. It's amazing what work and detail they put into each task.

Now if only the nurses had ever changed the sheets on my son's bed....but that's another story. Thank goodness we had a fantastic surgeon at least. Hurrah for Dr. Jay Shapiro. He is our hero!
"In nothing do men more nearly approach the gods than in giving health to men." ~Cicero
Copyright © 2007-2008. Suburban Wildlife Garden. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Galveston Island Beach Bunnies

Copyright © 2007-2009. Suburban Wildlife Garden. All Rights Reserved.

We had a rejuvenating time on Galveston Island. The water was warm and the weather was almost perfect. One of our biggest surprises was seeing rabbits in front of our beach house each morning.They would eat the grass, run and play. Then they'd hide among the vegetation of the dunes in the heat of midday. The first time I saw them I said "Rabbits? On the beach? Then they must be 'beach bunnies'." To which everyone replied, "Ugh!" Heh.

You can see the fence below that separates the beach from the dune in front of the house we were renting. According to the park rangers at Galveston Island State Park, the dunes are one of the most important environments on the island. The plants there help control erosion, provide food and shelter for birds and other wildlife and even offer protection during storm surges.

We were told that this is a sort of beach morning glory that grows in the Galveston Island dunes. It is very salt tolerate and its roots hold the sand together very well.

We saw several kinds of plants on the dunes including sea purslane which is the small-leafed plant on the far right of this photo.

All of these plants could be found just outside the little bridge that crossed the dune from our house to the beach.

Here is a view from the beach. You can see the rental houses, including ours, lots of pelicans and two of my step-father's kites...

He really liked flying these kites. The one in the photo below is my personal favorite since it would hang in the air for hours without any fuss once it was airborne. You should have seen the birds rubber-necking as they flew by this thing when it was first put up. I can't blame them. It's huge and looks like a giant eye!

My son had a great time body-boarding and building castles in the sand.

The birds to the south loved to gather near the fishermen for any bait they might discard.

The evenings were my favorite time for a stroll on the beach...

When we weren't at the house we also took some time to shop on The Strand. One of the most colorful places we discovered was Nautical Antiques & Decor.

It's a store you have to see to really understand. They have everything you could possibly want if you're into ships. But even though I'm best with my feet firmly on dry land, I found the place fascinating and bought a couple items.

The figureheads were very cool, but I couldn't think of a place to put one in my own house, so I passed on an actual purchase.

And I must admit I was not tempted to buy a genuine toad coin-purse, either. Yikes!

This year we enjoyed seeing the Bishops Palace (c 1886) on Broadway. It was absolutely magnificent inside and out. The house survived The Great Storm of 1900; a devastating hurricane that killed 6000 to 8000 people. Many people were saved by finding shelter in the house during the infamous storm.

I loved the garden conservatory at the side of the palace.

I was sad to hear that someone recently stole one of their griffins that flank the front of the entrance. It's identical to the one shown below. They are offering a reward to whoever can locate the statue. You can read about the theft here.

We had lunch next door to the tall ship Elissa. She's a real beauty; originally launched in 1877.

It was fun to eat where we could watch The Port of Galveston in action. This ship was impressive...and much more enormous than it seems in my puny photo.

Back at the beach house we watched people parasail with gas-packs at their backs up and down the beach. One man (not the pilot in the photo) came within a dozen feet of hitting our house!

We saw a harmless green snake on the board walk below our house. On a walk the same day we were told by a man that his dog was killed by a rattle snake in the dunes the previous night. We had not even realized there were rattle snakes in the dunes. We were much more mindful of the dunes after that.

My step-father wanted to fly the flag his parents had flown at their lake house. It lasted on our deck until a storm blew in and snapped the pole. Luckily we saved the flag.

My son made great friends with the gulls.

With all my son is about to face I often find certain songs entering my mind. I'm especially fond of the music of Libera lately. Here is an outstanding video they have created that you might enjoy as well. The words are looping in my head a lot today...

All in all it was a good holiday from reality. Though I'm now dealing with doctors, stubborn hospital admins and presurgery red-tape almost daily, (my son's spinal surgery is August 4th), I do believe part of me is still on that beach.

"You know that place between sleep and awake, the place where you can still remember dreaming? That's where I'll always love you, Peter Pan. That's where I'll be waiting" Tinkerbell from Peter Pan

Copyright © 2007-2009. Suburban Wildlife Garden. All Rights Reserved.