Creating a wildlife haven one plant at a time

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Seasonal Celebrations & Lessons Learned

Where has this year gone? These past months have just flown by. It is especially hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that we are into December already. With temperatures in the 70's, a few butterflies fluttering around the garden it is easy to think that it could be spring; however, the leaves that blanket the ground and those that are raining down from the trees are a real reminder that it is indeed the end of the year.

The strawberries in the kitchen garden are looking seasonally festive! Today I am joining Gardens Eye View to look at this upcoming season.


Seasonal Celebrations: Winter 2012

We hung our Christmas lights outdoors just after Thanksgiving with anticipation of cold weather. I really dislike hanging lights in the cold when my fingers get numb (I completely wimp out in cold temperatures). This green anole was inspecting the new addition to the shrubs. He was certainly letting us know that this was still his territory.


One of my favorite things to do during the Christmas season is to look at lights be it driving around at night or visiting one of the many gardens that decorate for the season. While we had family in town for the Thanksgiving holiday we visited The Garden Lights, Holiday Nights at the Atlanta Botanical Garden going on now through January 5th. You can wander the garden's 30 acres filled with more than 1 million lights.

The orbs on the great lawn change color and are choreographed to holiday music.

photo credit: my sister, Kirsten
The model train is a thrill for children. My 1 year old niece loved to watch it go round and round the track pointing each time it came around the corner.


The edible garden has lots of whimsical lights celebrating the pollinators and blooms.





A walk through the woodland garden is a treat with many traditional lights combined with the fun.You may even find Lumina, a live fairy character, hiding behind a tree.



The Atlanta Botanical Gardens site says they have gone green using "more than 1 million energy-efficient LED lights, or light-emitting diodes, which are illuminated solely by the movement of electrons in a semiconductor material rather than a traditional filament. They not only consume up to 80 percent less electricity than traditional incandescent lights but also have a life span of five years or more, more than doubling the traditional light lifespan."

Come January when the garden is quiet and the holiday festivities have past, it will be time to organize! I love organizing and am looking forward getting the garden plan down on paper. I will be ordering seeds and working on a planting schedule for the raised beds. I will be making a list of native plants to add to the garden. And, with my daughter (who is graduating from Clemson with a Horticulture degree in a few weeks) we will be growing seedlings from the seeds I gathered this autumn so we have plants for the pollinators come Spring. It will also be time to prune the roses and some trees. There is just no rest for the weary!

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Plant Postings compliments the Seasonal Celebrations meme with a look back at the Lessons Learned from the previous season.

Lessons Learned: A look back at Autumn

Keep your hummingbird feeder up! You never know if one of those hummers that winter in Georgia will find your garden. We have one in our garden that has been feeding on the black and blue salvia, pineapple sage and searching the roses that are still blooming. Thank goodness the frost we had two weeks ago didn't get all the blooms. But our feeders are staying up and being refreshed. We are so excited since this is our first winter hummingbird!

According to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources there are 11 hummingbird species that have been reported in Georgia during late fall and winter including Rufous, Allen’s, Anna’s, black-chinned, broad-billed, broad-tailed, buff-bellied, and calliope hummingbirds. Most of these hummingbirds are natives of Western states and probably migrating through Georgia. The most common wintertime hummingbird is the rufous. In fact according to the DNR website so many of them have shown up each winter in Georgia that ornithologists have considered including Georgia as part of their natural range. If you live in Georgia and host a hummingbird you are encouraged to report it at 478-994-1438.


I have also contacted the Georgia Hummer group who will be coming to our home to band and collect data on this hummingbird. You can report a sighting here. It is difficult to accurately identify which type of hummingbird this is until you get a good spread tail shot or band measurements but it looks like this one is a female Rufous.

I wonder how these tiny birds will survive our winter, especially if we get consecutive days of freezing temperatures. According to the Georgia DNR you can keep hummingbrid feeders from freezing by (1) taking the feeder inside at night when temperatures fall below 26 degrees (the 1 part sugar to 4 parts water mix won’t freeze until then); (2) focus a 150-watt outside flood lamp with an “alligator” clip on the feeder during sub-26-degree weather; or, (3) wrap the feeder with a 3-foot-long electric heat tape. These hummers will need our help to survive!


Autumn was a very busy time for me  and I didn't get to spend as much time as I needed in the garden. Note that I only posted twice in November! The watermelon that we picked late in the season was left on the back deck since our refrigerator was full. Well, this didn't turn out to be such a good idea. I should know they don't last forever....eventually they will rot especially since we had a lot of warm days.


But look who found the decomposing watermelon...yes the bees. This is just a small sampling of the number that came. We removed the watermelon from the back deck to the compost where the insects could continue to enjoy them without the risk of them coming in the house.

We got two lemons this year. I am not an expert at citrus but, I learned from a fellow Master Gardener who lived in Florida for many years that they need to be fertilized heavily, especially when they are in pots. Maybe with a little more TLC we will have a more bountiful harvest next year.


This lemon was used on our Thanksgiving Turkey and the other for drinks. Having grown it ourselves made the meal twice as good.

Did your garden teach you some valuable lessons this Autumn? What are you looking forward to this Winter? Gardens Eye View "Seasonal Celebrations" and Plant Postings "Lessons Learned" will be posting a meme wrap-up after the solstice so join in the fun by linking up!

22 comments:

  1. Beautiful light display and worthy of a visit. Now I have to say that is an awful lot of bees. Wouldn't want it close to my door either.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

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    1. We did get a few inside. See CV's comment below...I think they were German yellowjackets and not bees!

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  2. I love Xmas lights! i love Xmas as I find it a time for reflecting and we really need some time to learn good lessons.

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  3. I confess I'm not really in the Christmas spirit yet. It's a bit difficult when the temperatures are around 80 every day. Your pictures begin to make me at least want to think about decorating!

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    1. Isn't it...I remember going to pick out a tree in shorts and t-shirt when we lived in Austin. It was hard to get in the spirit of the season.

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  4. Very exciting about the hummingbirds. And your lemon is beautiful. Maybe you should just say that your aiming for quality over quantity!

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  5. I would be thrilled to get two lemons! How fun! And those lights are spectacular! It must seem like a true wonderland walking through it!

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  6. Love the photos of the holiday lights, and that Anole lizard looks very festive in his green and (almost) red. How fun that you'll have new Horticulturist in the family! I had to cringe at your watermelon photo though. Those look like German Yellowjackets...not bees. We were overrun with them this fall. They were so bad that they were stinging us without provocation. Thankfully some of our large spiders here don't seem to mind snacking on them ;)

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    1. Claire, I am not good at identifying bees/wasp so thank you for pointing that out. I have a book about bees on my Christmas wish list. Because of your comment I did some research and think they do in fact look like German Yellowjackets which look similar to honey bees but miss the fuzzy hairs and don't carry pollen. Fortunately, they were never aggressive even when I was getting close to photograph them (probably another reason I thought they were bees). Gosh when, I look at the photos now I can't believe I was so close to so many yellow jackets!!

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  7. I wish I could grow lemons. I think I have to move. I just watched a class by a famous nature photographer and he said the only native hummingbird east of the Mississippi was the Ruby Throated. I suspected he was wrong, but we only get that variety that I know of. I will be interested to see what is in your area and if they designate the rufous native.

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    1. Donna, officially the ruby-throated is the only native in our area. It is interesting that so many Rufous are staying in our area over the winter though. I am looking forward to speaking with an expert when they come out to collect data. If it is successful I will be sure to do a post on it.

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  8. How fortunate that you have hummers in late fall and winter! That light show is pretty nifty--we have something like that here, too. It's kind of a family tradition. Thanks so much for joining in the memes, Karin!

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  9. Hello, my first visit to your lovely blog, I just signed up as your member number 101. Loved the light display, but loved even more your red strawberry leaves! What sort of strawberries produce red leaves in the autumn? Mine just go yellow and dies...I have also started planning for next spring already, with a new seating area, new plants and oh...so many plans :-)

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  10. Karin I adore the lights in the garden...these are amazing...and to have a hummer who decided to stay and then have it banded is like a dream to observe and study...I look forward to hearing more..thx so much for joining in the meme again and promoting it so enthusiastically!

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  11. Great posting Karin. Sure love your little hummer. Mr. Anole sure was puffing out his throat...they are funny little critters.
    I love the fragrance of the lemon blossoms, so sweet.

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  12. I just love christmas lights and putting them in a garden is about as good as it gets for me. Thanks for the lovely photos sharing the tour. I'm wondering too though - how did it get to be December already!

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  13. First - love that header - what a gorgeous cardinal !

    I realized too that another year has almost sneaked right by us. In a few days we'll be heading back up north to celebrate Christmas with family.

    Wonderful photos of the Atlanta Botanical Gardens and those lights. Pretty scary wasps (yellow jackets ?) around that watermelon - I have a severe allergy to them and they can be aggressive.

    Enjoyed this post, Karin.

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  14. So pretty, love the lights and your first photo is my favorite. Found you on Donna's link :)

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    1. I am so happy you popped over! Glad you enjoyed the visit & photos.

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    2. Thank you for your lovely comment on my blog. Glad you enjoyed it. Beautiful photos on your blog. I'm following you back. Happy New Year :)

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  15. Your garden looks great and will look even better in a few months, I bet!



    Garden Lights Tuinverlichting & Tuinverlichting In-lite

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"Don't wait for someone to bring you flowers. Plant your own garden and decorate your soul"

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