Saturday, January 30, 2010

Winter Color

January has been a bleak month, and I can't say I'm sorry to see it come to a close. Thankfully there are a few (seriously, few) spots of color and life in the yard to help assuage the seasonal doldrums.

The first crocuses are blooming. I planted these two years ago:

Pansies do well for us in the winter. In fact, pansies and ornamental cabbages are about all you can find at garden centers now.

Holly berries are starting to fade:

This camellia, while admittedly on its last leg, has been quite impressive, blooming since October!

I enjoy watching birds through the window on quiet weekend mornings, in PJs still with a warm cup of coffee. This cardinal in a ginkgo was taken through the window at full zoom.

Her mate is always hogging the feeder. Can't you tell by his heft?

Daffodils are continuing to rise and I noticed the tiniest buds on the pink dogwood. It's hard to remember the warmth of spring during this cold winter, but it's coming soon. Thankfully!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Mississippi Museum of Natural Science

We visited the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science today, which is only a couple of miles from our house. It's a nice museum inside a park, and includes a large aquarium exhibit and nature trails. They have a contest ending 2/1 for photos taken at the Museum. Here are some of the pictures I'm considering entering (amateur division, obviously!). I appreciate your input:

"Say cheese" - wildlife division (taken inside)

Cypress swamp (landscape division) - this was taken in color but we thought it was more striking in "filtered b&w" (via Picasa).

"Nature's pancakes" (plant division)

"Woodpecker home improvement" (landscape division I guess - doesn't really fit in any other category) - Does anyone else find this picture as funny/neat as I do?

No name for this one yet, but it's Scott's favorite so we'll definitely be entering it (taken inside).

Hope you're all having a great weekend!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Survivors of the Arctic Blast

A few of my veggies survived, including these shallots:

Interestingly, the taller sugar snap pea vines (right) died, but the babies are fine:

A few (pitiful looking) romaine lettuce starts remain:

Daffodils, of course, weren't fazed at all:

Crocosmia imitated the peas - older foliage died (see bottom right), but the little ones stalwartly carried on:

I was thrilled to find these tiny signs of life on a clematis planted last year:

While cataloguing the survivors, I also did a little cleanup of the not-so-lucky. I cut down the black-eyed susans and harvested some seeds:

When I uploaded this picture, I was surprised to see a couple of white cat hairs in with the seeds. I guess a good camera reveals more than the naked eye!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Winter Birds & Contest Winners

Thank you all very much for entering the blogaversary giveaway! The winners are:
Grand Prize (Gloves and Garden Knife) - Randy
Runners-Up (Gloves) - Meredith and Becca
I'll be in touch with y'all very soon for mailing information.

I still haven't had much time to play around with the new camera, but I got these shots of birds (through the dirty window) earlier this week. This is an awful picture with that bubbly interference, but I love how you can see the Tufted Titmouse's fuzzy underside!

An action shot of another Tufted Titmouse cracking open a seed:
We have lots of Mourning Doves. (On a side note, it's hard to believe that grass is coming back!)

This is the first year I've seen House Finches here. They are much more social than most of the birds that
visit our feeder.

One last thing: Thanks to Catherine @ A Gardener in Progress for assistance with and inspiration for
changing up my blog layout!

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Gloves and Garden Knife Giveaway!

It's my 1st Blogoversary and 100th Post (or close enough)! Thank you all VERY MUCH for reading, following, and commenting on the blog this past year! To thank you, I am holding a giveaway for a pair of Atlas gloves (your choice of size) and a multi-purpose garden knife (I got this one for Christmas and love it). Two "runners-up" will each receive a pair of Atlas gloves. Please leave a comment (with your glove size, XS-XL) by Friday, the 15th, if you would like a chance to win. International readers are welcome to enter. I'll draw names on Saturday and update this post to let you all know the winners.
It's been a fun (and dirty) year! Thanks again for reading!

BRRR!!! And, goodbye, old camera.

It has been so cold here. The most conservative estimate I've heard is that it hasn't been this cold in 15 years. Others say since 1989. Many things that never have a problem surviving winter here, such as pansies, lettuce, and parsley, are on the brink of death. Many marginally hardy perennials appear to be gone for good. Everything in the garden looks so sad and pitiful that I haven't wanted to take any photos. Turns out I couldn't have anyway, because we dropped and broke our camera! Thankfully it was a fairly inexpensive, simple point-and-shoot digital, and we got three good years of use from it. But of course, it wouldn't be replaced with the same! I don't know enough about cameras to buy a DSLR, so I bought a "bridge" camera today - a Canon Powershot SX20 IS. Here are some of my favorite pictures taken with the old camera. R.I.P., Casio Exilim! Above: This Kwanso daylily got lots of comments on the blog, even though these grow wild on the roadside in Mississippi.

Below: I love this photo of a black-eyed susan (grown from seed) preparing to open up. It looks almost alien or something!
I also love this photo of the same flower in bloom. The thing about the Exilim was that sometimes I would get amazing pictures, but it was almost impossible to do so on purpose, or to replicate them.
Is it hard for anyone else to photograph tomato plants with an auto-focus? I must've taken 15 shots to get this picture of a sucker for a post on the blog!
My mom gave us the old camera for a (awesome) wedding present, and we took this picture on our honeymoon in the Virgin Islands. I love the colors, and how the creepy iguana blends in with the foliage!

It was way too cold to play around much with the new camera this afternoon, but I got three quick shots. Keep in mind I haven't read the manual yet!
Above: black-eyed susan seedhead. Below: holly berries (looks better blown up, so click on it!).

Gingko tree taken through the window at full zoom:
It has potential, I think, if the operator reads the instructions!
Stay warm, and stay tuned for a giveaway later this week!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

It's Easy Being Green: What to do with my old compost pail?

I got a new compost pail for Christmas, which was great because the old one's finish was wearing off and it was just generally nasty. I keep the pail on the kitchen counter, so I like for it to look nice. Anyway, I wasn't going to just throw the old one away, so I decided to turn it into a hanging planter.

First, Scott poked holes in the bottom for drainage:
Then, I filled it about 1/4 - 1/3 of the way with wine corks to fill up space (without a lot of weight) and help with drainage:
Last, I filled it with dirt and flowers. What do you think?

For another (not gardening-related) way to reuse wine corks, see this old Easy Being Green post.

Happy New Year!!!