Greenwalks

Gardening where the sidewalk ends

They’re Baaaaaaack July 29, 2010

Filed under: fauna — greenwalks @ 9:09 pm
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Nope, not the squirrels. I haven’t seen them in a while, although I’m sure they’ll be around once the sunflower seeds are almost-mature.

They walk by night… no, not zombies!

Last guess. Here, I’ll give you a clue:

Beheaded birdbath

Yes, my back is killing me from hefting that stupid concrete birdbath top back onto the base from its flipped position on the ground. Same thing happened last summer around the time the neighbors’ plums started ripening. Hm… any guesses?

 

You Know You Haven’t Gardened in a While… September 13, 2009

Filed under: bugs,flora — greenwalks @ 7:22 pm
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… when you put on your gloves for the first time in ages, feel little tickling on the back of your hand, ignore it for a bit, feel it again, peel off your glove and…

A LIVE, WRIGGLING EARWIG FALLS OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Then you attempt to contain your instinctive shrieks and curse words since you know the neighbors are out on their patio, and instead you do the most insanely uncontrollable flapping, hopping full-body shudder dance you have ever done in your life. The favorite gloves will now be consigned to occasional use, as they are now suspect and will always be The Earwig Gloves.

No, I did not take a picture, but I did find another earwig while cleaning off the porch today so I can continue my long and tedious deck-painting project. I would much rather be gardening than painting or all of the other long put-off things on the house to-do list. But first, I will need new gloves. Ew, is there anything more skin-crawling than an earwig? Wait, maybe don’t answer that, I’m sure there is. At least it didn’t pinch me!

I hope to be back to slightly more regular blogging now that summer is over and I’m no longer on all-day mom duty. We had a lot of fun and even saw a few nifty gardens during the school vacation, but the time for gardening, blogging and blog-reading (and commenting) was pretty much nil. I look forward to catching up on what you’all have been up to and seeing how your gardens grew during the season.

Much nicer than a bug photo, I hope – some cute stripy small Dahlias my mom grew this summer.

Stripy dahlia

 

Evidence of Things Unseen June 17, 2009

Filed under: fauna,my garden — greenwalks @ 10:54 am
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I will probably look back fondly on the days that the squirrels were my most formidable garden adversary. It seems the raccoon population of Seattle has rebounded from what may have been a temporary period of virus-related low population numbers (unverified rumor, so don’t quote me) and it seems that some of them have been up to a few tricks lately around my garden. Nothing too devastating yet, but they’re putting me on notice for when the raspberries and blueberries get closer to ripening.

First, I noticed a large piece of tree bark abandoned in a shady spot, on a clump of poppies. No trees with this kind of bark in my garden or even nearby that I can see. Where did it come from? Who left it there? What are they up to??

Strange bark piece left in garden

Just a few feet down the path, my potted ‘Heritage’ rose, the only rose I have ever seen, smelled, tracked down and bought on my own, had its single currently blooming stem broken off almost all the way, it was dangling by a thread but still flowering. Hm.

Heritage rose broken stem

Other people could suspect their dogs, or maybe their kids, but we don’t have any pets and my daughter is actually pretty careful in the garden, at least in this part of it.

The next clue that the masked bandits may have been responsible was the stones that had obviously been rearranged in our rockery. It’s a mess at the moment, I’m ripping out weeds and plants and haven’t got around to fixing up the defunct mini-pond yet, but they obviously needed to have a look-see for potential fishy snacks (sorry, guys, no help there) or maybe wanted to dip in some tasty morsel from our city food scrap/yard waste bin on trash night.

Rockery rearranged by raccoons?

Last clue – my faux Craftsman plastic solar light by the rockery was temporarily decapitated. Huh? When I mentioned my puzzlement to my mom, she said “Well, they like to be busy.” I guess I can admire their curiosity, as long as it doesn’t turn too destructive.

DSCF6895

My parents had to give up on their Italian plum tree, it was just stripped every year by the raccoons before my folks could get even a single ripe plum. They also got most of my parents’ corn last year, and I do think I need to study up on possible (benign) berry-defense methods.

Some people think these critters are too cute for words; others consider them a menace and a nuisance. Really, they’re just part of the natural world and, like crows, rats and a few other species, have proven remarkably adaptable to urban environments (possible viruses notwithstanding). I think that if they are here, I will just have to learn to deal with them. Their ancestors were certainly here before mine were, so they kind of have dibs on the land if they want it. I might not be so sanguine, however, if they take every last one of my berries this year! Do you have any raccoon stories to share?

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Raccoon image by Liza31337, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons. To see more images by this photographer, please click here.

Just as I was about to publish this post, I read a sort of frightening article by garden writer Ann Lovejoy about potential health hazards from raccoon droppings. Eek. I guess I need to keep my gloves on when I’m working in the yard, and make sure my kid doesn’t come into contact with any critter poop!

(I stole the title of this post from a record I used to listen to a lot, by avant-jazz pianist Don Pullen – brilliant genius, spiky music, died too young, common sad story in the music world). It’s also the name of a Marianne Wiggins novel – does anyone read her anymore, or was she an 80s phenom and more famous for being Salman Rushdie’s wife? That sounds really sexist, I don’t mean it that way. If you’re a fan, speak forth!)

 

Urban Fauna April 29, 2009

Filed under: fauna — greenwalks @ 9:15 am
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In the city of Seattle, we are pretty much accustomed to co-existing with creatures great and small, wild and tame. In the course of a single day, it’s unremarkable to see a wide variety of birds, insects, marsupials and rodents, as well as the usual variety of domestic pets.

It’s easy to get a bit jaded when there are eagles and herons close by and hummingbirds buzzing around the backyard on a daily basis. So you walk around and see these

Squirrel looking for acorns in spring

and some of these

City chickens free-ranging

evidence of moles unseen

Molehills

hilariously wide cat posing in front of restored door

Big kitty and beautiful door

Nothing too out of the ordinary. But then, on a drive to see friends in the southern part of town but still within city limits, something a little different:

Cow in the city?!

Huh?! I know that Seattle just made it legal to own pygmy goats, but I hadn’t heard about cows! Turns out this is a family farm that has been passed down through generations and is one of two remaining designated farm plots in the city. I guess that’s one way to rid your grass of dandelions! Wonder if it makes the milk taste funky?

What’s the most unusual creature you ever saw in a city?

 

Seed Snarfer August 31, 2008

My family looked out the window this morning and saw something pretty funny. A big, fat squirrel, perched precariously on top of one of my parking strip sunflowers, was scarfing down all the seeds s/he could reach. I had noticed yesterday that some of the flowers were leaning over and thought it was due to a windy day we had earlier in the week. Guess it was the squirrel’s climbing expeditions instead.

Sunflower Squirrel

One of the stems had snapped off halfway down, so I hacked it off and brought it up to our house level so that we could watch the fun from a closer vantage point. The squirrel soon reappeared and ate the entire huge head of seeds. “It’s like it’s a big feast!” was my daughter’s comment. Guess fall must really be here.

Squirrel Things Sunflower Seeds Are Yummy