Creating a wildlife haven one plant at a time

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thanksgiving 30 Day Challenge: Day 29

As November is the month for giving thanks  this year at our house we created a Thankful Tree. The idea is to write notes of thankfulness and hang them as reminders of our grateful hearts.

Since I have been posting daily this month of things that I am thankful for I thought I would share some of the notes my children added to our tree:

Family, Friends, Home, Our Garden, Nature, Books, Camera, Health, Clemson, Dallas Cowboys, Atlanta Falcons, Holidays, Frogs, Snakes, Our Dogs, Prehistoric Animals, Walking in the Woods, Maps, Drawing, Architecture, Movies, Legos, Arts & Crafts Wednesdays, Founding Fathers, Junior Master Gardeners, Board Games, K'nex, Birds, Climbing Trees, Soccer, Challenge Class, Armed Forces, Our teachers, Family time, Swimming, Traveling, and Game Night.

This activity was a great way for my children to think about all the special people and things in their lives and appreciate all they have. Since they enjoyed this so much, for the month of December we will be creating a Christmas chain. Each time a member of the family completes a good deed, such as sharing a toy or helping bring in the groceries, he/she writes it down on a red or green strip of paper and adds it to the chain around the tree. As Christmas nears the chain will get longer and longer and they can see how their kind contributions have made the chain grow longer.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thanksgiving 30 Day Challenge: Day 28

all this time
The sun never says
To the Earth
"You owe me"
What happens
with a love like that
It lights

Thankful for glorious sunrises. Such a great way to start the day.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving 30 Day Challenge: Day 27

There is no season such delight can bring,
As summer, autumn, winter and the spring
~ William Browne

The weather as been all over the place recently from 80 degree sunshine to hard freezes at night. But I am thankful for the changes. Since I have lived in places where spring or summer lasts one or two weeks or summer is endless I am always grateful to enjoy four full seasons of Mother Nature's glory.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving 30 Day Challenge: Day 26

The Indian Hawthorne shrubs around our home are full of pomes (fruit). They are a good source of food for birds, especially during the winter months. 

We have five shrubs so it looks as if there will be plenty to go around.
I am grateful that they produced an abundance of tasty blue pomes (note: should not be consumed by humans) since most birds only eat about 25% of their daily food from feeders during the winter .

*  *  *  T I P * * *
I don't normally shop at big box stores but yesterday I was at Lowe's and discovered that they have rolled out a nationwide recycling program  (read more here) for plastic pots, trays, tags and hanging baskets regardless of condition or place of purchase. This is a great initiative  especially since many curbside recycling programs don't accept these items. Please help spread the word so that we can keep these out of our landfills. 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgiving 30 Day Challenge: Day 25

A hard frost late last week put an end to all the beautiful fall foliage. So yesterday my husband and I spent a good 6 hours gathering leaves (yes, we have that many) for the compost. I caught a glimpse of this Japanese Maple leaf as the morning light shone through it. It was a stunning glow and was extra special as it was the last one hanging on.

Today I am thankful for the little joys found in my day.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving 30 Day Challenge: Day 24

The leaves in autumn do not change color from the blighting touch of frost, but from the process of natural decay.-They fall when the fruit is ripened, and their work is done.-And their splendid coloring is but their graceful and beautiful surrender to life when they have finished their summer offering of service to God and man.
~ Tryon Edwards

I am thankful for all the leaves that lay on the ground that will become leaf compost and make my garden grow better next year. In nature everything has its purpose.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving 30 Day Challenge: Day 23

Thanks giving
1. a. An  act of giving thanks b. an expression of this; esp., a formal, often public expression  of thanks to God in the form of a prayer, etc. 2. an annual U.S. holiday observed on the fourth Thursday of November as a day of giving thanks and feasting; it commemorates the Pilgrims' celebration of the good harvest of 1621

Today I give thanks for the food before us
The family and friends beside us
And the love between us

To all my American friends, I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving 30 Day Challenge: Day 22

A hard freeze late last week put an end to most of my fall blooming plants. So my thoughts turned to planning for next year's garden. A source that was recommended by Organic Gardening was the Seed Savers Exchange. They specialize in heirloom seeds and happen to have a 50% off sale on their 2011 seeds. Before ordering from them I checked out their review at The Garden Watchdog, a directory of garden mail order companies where gardeners can review their purchases and experiences with these companies. (This is a great resource if you haven't used it before.)

Here are my purchases~

Star of the Veld (Ursinia anethoides): this is an annual with long lasting golden flowers with silvery foliage. Drought tolerant. Prefers poor soil.

Evening Sun Sunflower (Helianthus annuus): Flowers in shades of orange red and burgundy. Very dark center and multiple heads and extended bloom time. 6-8' tall.

Orange Sun (Helianthus annuus): Bright orange double flowers with 6" heads, reminiscent of large chrysanthemums. 6-8' tall.

Diablo Cosmos (Cosmos sulphureus): Meaning devil in Spanish. Beautiful when planted in random pattern. 2-3' tall.

Red Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata): Bright pink and red vanilla scented flowers in June and July. Grows 5' tall in moist soil with good drainage. Perennial (hardy to zone 4).

German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita): pleasant fragrance. Graceful plant are 12-20" tall with endless masses of 1" daisy-like flowers that can be used to make tea. Annual

These were my kids' picks:

Moon & Stars (Citrullus lanatus): known as sun, moon & stars because the fruit is covered with pea-sized bright yellow "stars" and usually one larger "moon". Foliage is also spotted. Fruit have sweet pink flesh and brown seeds.

Dinosaur (Lagenaria siceraria): (aka swan gourd) perfect for gourd craft swans. Total length 18-24" with a 8" bowl. Best when grown on a trellis.

I am looking forward to germinating these seeds in late winter. I will certainly post about them next year.

 *  *  *

I am thankful for having such a great selection of seeds available at my finger tips. I few clicks and the shopping is done. I am also thankful for resources like the Garden Watchdog that make it easier to find reputable places of business on-line.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving 30 Day Challenge: Day 21

Our Aloe Vera  plant, aka the healing plant, has been  the go to first aid kit in our house for many years. It has been a life saver for minor cuts, burns, scrapes and skin irritations.

I am thankful for all the wonderful medicinal qualities of this plant. It is a welcome succulent in our home.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving 30 Day Challenge: Day 20

I am thankful to start the Thanksgiving week with a quiet Monday morning. Kids are sleeping in and we don't have to rush around getting ready for school. 


Looking forward to a week spent with family and friends.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thanksgiving 30 Day Challenge: Day 19

 My children: Danielle, James & Sean

While we try to teach our children all about life,
Our children teach us what life is all about.
~Angela Schwindt

Today and everyday I am thankful for my wonderful children . 
I am blessed with such precious gifts!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Thanksgiving 30 Day Challenge: Day 18

Enjoy the little things in life...
for one day you'll look
back and realize
they were the big things

Peanut Butter Cup Brownies

Spent the day baking with my daughter.
Thankful for time spent together with her.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thanksgiving 30 Day Challenge: Day 17

Today I am thankful for the rainbow of colors the crepe myrtle is displaying. Magnificent to see so many colors on one tree.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thanksgiving 30 Day Challenge: Day 16

As a Master Gardener I have the distinct privilege of teaching children about gardening through the Junior Master Gardener program. I have two groups of 3rd graders (at a Title I school) that I teach (in a volunteer capacity...I am not a teacher by profession) every week as part of their curriculum. I weave in science, math, art, nutrition and life skills into the gardening lessons. Periodically, I also teach groups of children about 'gardening for pollinators' at a local educational garden supported by my Master Gardener group and I go into other area schools to speak about gardening.

This week I spoke to a group of 2nd graders about gardening with a focus on color and texture in the landscape. It was tied to a book they just finished reading called The Chalk Box Kid where the main character of the story creates an imaginary garden.

To complete the gardening lesson and tie it in with art and creative thinking I planned a hands on project using color. They used Q-tips with paint to create a colorful tree and other plants and insects they may find in nature.

I am so thankful to have the opportunity to pass along my passion for gardening and the environment through my volunteer work. My hope is to create an interest in gardening, appreciation and respect for the environment with these children. If one child grows up to be a gardener I have accomplished my goal.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thanksgiving 30 Day Challenge: Day 15 & W4W

This is the time of year when blooms begin to fade and the leaves are falling from the trees revealing the structural elements in my garden. My eyes are now drawn to some of the underlying features that are often overlooked at other times of year when our eyes are more drawn to the showy flowers or fascinating foliage. Today I am joining Garden Walk Garden Talk for Word for Wednesday. Today's words are Texture and Pattern.

As I look to nature I find interesting textures and patterns in the fungi growing on the decaying stumps

Grasses also provide interesting structure and texture

Another element that provides interest in the landscape
is the bark like this dogwood

or this river birch

Looking even further to the ground the vast variety of ground covers  such as mulch, pine straw, gravel, pebbles, rocks or soils provide another form of contrast

The foliage of the lamb's ear has great texture, especially for kids, 
who like the softness of the leaves.

The variety of ferns provide texture and patterns throughout the woodland garden

Succulents give great texture particularly those that change color during the winter months like this Dragon's Blood Sedum

or Angelina Sedum

Sedum and cacti also provide great texture
with their structure 

as well as interesting patterns.

The wildlife  in my garden also presents itself with some interesting patterns and textures such as the bumpy skin of this toad, 

The scales on this anole,

the skin from a rat snake,

the wings of a dragonfly,

and the soft tail of the squirrel

What type of texture and patterns do you find in your garden? Link over to Garden Walk Garden Talk to take a look at other interpretations.
~ Thankfulness Thought of the Day ~ 

I am thankful for all the diversity Nature has to offer. The textures, patterns, structure and contrast provide elements of surprise, interest to our eyes, range in the landscape and most importantly diversity.
After all variety is the spice of life.