Creating a wildlife haven one plant at a time

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Miracles of 2012

It is hard to believe this year is coming to a close already! It has been a productive year at Southern Meadows. Several major projects were completed including constructing 5 raised beds in the kitchen garden, building a fire pit, installing a small in ground pond and planting numerous understory trees. We began work on a native garden to support wildlife on the side hill garden and expanded our acreage by purchasing the adjacent 2 acre lot giving us a total of 4 1/2 acres.

new raised beds in kitchen garden
Here is a look back at some of nature's small miracles that we were blessed to witness in our garden.

January~was sunny and mild. Lots of winter blooms and early daffodils sprinkled the garden. The USDA released their new plant hardiness zone and Southern Meadows moved from zone 7b to 8a. I enrolled in the Native Plant Certificate program at Georgia State Botanical Gardens and hopefully a year from now I will have completed all the requirements.

Edgeworthia chrysantha 'winter gold'

Bee diving in Camellia bloom

February~brought springlike weather and signs that winter was winding down. Buds burst into bloom and  the bees were buzzing. The cherry trees put on their usual glorious show.

Birds nest in cherry trees

Daffodil in the morning

March~was full on bloom time for all the fruit trees. The first zebra swallowtail butterfly was spotted and the chipmunks were as industrious as ever (do they ever get tired?). The sweetshrub's blooms filled the entire garden with their sweet, fruity aroma and the dogwood trees graced us with their stunning white bracts.

lady beetle on plum trees
Zebra swallowtail butterfly on Heuchera
chipmunk in its favorite feeder
Sweet shrub
April~was baby time at Southern Meadows. We had bluebirds, chickadees and mocking birds nesting in the garden.

Male bluebird building the nest

bluebirds nest

Carolina chickadees almost ready to fledge

May~brought a record number of caterpillars. We had 20 black swallowtail caterpillars hatch on one fennel plant! We saw many caterpillars hatch and butterflies fluttering around the garden.

Black Swallowtail caterpillars on Bronze fennel

Buckeye caterpillar

Variegated Fritillary

Banded Hairstreak, Satyrium calanus and White M Hairstreak, Parrhasius m-album

June~was berry time...raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and blackberries. Lots of baby anoles scurried about the garden and the dinner plate hibiscus began to bloom.

fresh berries from kitchen garden

Blue River Hibiscus
immature anole hiding in blueberry shrub

July~We were gone much of July on vacation but life continued  in the garden. Tomato horn worms ate away at the tomatoes but the parasitic wasp quickly found them; letting nature do its own pest control. We witnessed a Green Lynx spider capture a butterfly which was heart breaking but everyone has to eat.

Tomato Horn Worm on Tomato Plant
Green Lynx Spider captured a skipper
August~was one of the busiest months in the garden. The first Monarch butterfly arrived and we had our first sighting of a Giant Swallowtail ever in the garden. The baby toads that only a few months ago were tadpoles in the pond took refuge in the weeds until they grew big enough to venture off into the garden. While several juvenile ruby-throated hummingbirds zooming around.

First Monarch during their southern migration

Giant Swallowtail
baby toad venturing out in the garden
Ruby throated hummingbird (juvenile)
 September~was a busy harvest time in the kitchen garden with peppers, watermelon, dinosaur gourds. The eggplant finally pollinated and started producing. We were excited to discover a volunteer partridge pea growing in our garden; a host plant for 4 species of butterflies and the cloudless sulphur hatched on ours. The passion vine finally bloomed and it was pollinated so we were able to collect the seeds later in the fall.

Moon & Stars watermelon

habanero peppers
dinosaur gourds
Cloudless Sulphur caterpillar on Partridge Pea
Passion vine bloom
October~We witnessed the amazing transformation of a black swallowtail caterpillar into a chrysalis. A storm blew in 7 Monarch butterflies; a record number to visit our garden at one time. The sumac were one of the first leaves to adorn their fall colors and the downy aster (another native) was in full bloom this month.

Black Swallowtail caterpillar revealing its chrysalis
Two Monarch butterflies sharing a meal on a zinnia bloom
Sumac in fall colors
Skippers on downy aster blooms
November~fall colors dotted the woodland garden. In the kitchen garden the lemons and calamondin were ripe for picking. Seeds were ready for collecting and even expired blooms look pretty in the garden.

view of woodland garden with fall color

Meyer lemon

Expired zinnia blooms

December~We had the two Rufous hummingbirds banded that are overwintering in our garden. Winter always seems to produce the most gorgeous sunrises in our area and we enjoyed numerous mornings with coffee in hand and stunning skies. The birds were much more active at the feeders this month due to colder temperatures.

Rufous hummingbird resting in rose shrubbery

sunrise view at front door

Nuthatch snacking at peanut feeder
Thank you for sharing this year with me in our garden as we continually learn and grow. I look forward to seeing y'all in the New Year to share more adventures and witness nature's miracles. Happy 2013!

51 comments:

  1. What a lovely cavalcade of photos from 2012! I have so enjoyed following your blog this year, even if I haven’t left a message every time. Looking forward to all to come next year, all the best for 2013! Take care, Helene.

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    1. Thank you Helene! I always enjoy hearing from readers and thrilled that you have appreciated my experiences. All the best for 2013!

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  2. Such inspiration! Thank you so much for sharing:)

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    1. Thank you! Glad you enjoyed the year in review.

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    1. Thank you Dorothy! Best wishes to you for the New Year!

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  4. What a great post Karin, so much has happened for you this year and you've taken some amazing photographs to show it. Love that shot of all the swallowtail caterpillars, they decimated that fennel! and you grew a ton of watermelons - good for you. They must have been so tasty. Best wishes in the new year and many more amazing things to come.

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    1. When I saw how many caterpillars there were I ran out and bought several more fennel & parsley plants. I was afraid they would run out of food! We had swallowtail caterpillars from spring to late fall this year. It really is amazing to witness the complete metamorphosis! We learned our lesson with the watermelon...plant fewer seeds a few weeks apart to have a harvest over consecutive weeks and not all at once! Best wishes to you Marguerite for 2013!

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  5. Karin: This post illustrates the continuous high quality of your blog. I've always enjoyed my visits here, and look forward to comparing notes in 2013. Happy New Year!

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    1. Beth, thank you for such high praise. I always appreciate your comments and feedback. I think this new year will be very exciting in the gardening world and I look forward to sharing our experiences and continued friendship.

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  6. I really enjoyed your look back. You have so many beautiful images, it must have been hard to narrow down the choices. You have some interesting critters like the anole. I always wished we had them here. Your hummingbird with spayed wings is a gorgeous shot.

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    1. I tried to post photos that were different than those that appeared in my posts throughout the year and yet were the highlights of that month. Donna, I have enjoyed all your comments and insight this past year. I appreciate your friendship and hope that we will have the opportunity to meet one of these days (maybe at one of the blogger flings). Best wishes to you for the new year.

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  7. I loved reading/viewing your year in review. You've captured so many great moments here but I think my favorite is the carolina chickadees ... maybe because it's a view so seldom seen? No matter, as always it's a pleasure to visit here. Wishing you a joyous New Year from Austin :)

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    1. It was such a thrill to watch those chickadees grow. The box has a flip top making it easy to peak in and steal a photograph or two. Thanks Cat for your many visits and comments throughout the year. May you experience many charming moments in your garden in 2013!

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  9. Happy New Year Miss Karin to you and the family.
    You know I love all of your post and pictures but I don't recall seeing the nest in the Cherry tree... Love it!
    I'm Looking forward to seeing what you share with us in 2013
    hugs, Cherry

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    1. Happy New Year Cherry! I love the cherry trees. They are always early bloomers in February and always a sign that winter is coming to an end. Best wishes to you my friend!

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  10. A wonderful synopsis of your 2012 gardening year. If only I was so organized. I loved who you captured 2012 and I'm looking forward to sharing 2013 with you.

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    1. Thank you Mary! I am going to keep my eyes wide open in 2013. I want to take in all I can. I look forward to seeing all you have to share.

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  11. You must feel very proud of having accomplished so many things this ending year. This post is great account of your life as a gardener in 2012. Have a vey happy new year 2013!!!

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    1. Lula, it wasn't until I took a month by month view of the garden did I realize how much happened in our garden this past year. I can't wait to see what 2013 has to offer up.

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  12. Beautiful and inspiring Karin. Have a happy, healthy and productive new year!

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    1. Thank you Diane! All the best wishes to you too!

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  13. You really caught some fantastic photos this year. Great review to go back through.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

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    1. Thanks Cher! I appreciate all you visits and comments over the year. I look forward to sharing our gardens in the new year.

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  14. I loved hearing about (and seeing in your photos) all the miracles in your garden. And I'm impressed with all that you accomplished! Happy New Year!

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    1. Best wishes to you too! I hope your garden brings much inspiration in 2013!

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  15. Karin I enjoyed the look back through these amazing images....you are such an inspiration and I look forward to seeing what is growing and who is visiting in your garden!!

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    1. Donna, you are so kind! Your support this year has been really appreciated. Your poetry is amazing and I find so much creativity and resourcefulness in your work. I look forward to growing and expanding my mind with your inspiration!

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  16. Great post. Happy New Year from Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

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    1. Happy New Year to both of you! I look forward to more of your fabulous photography work!

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  17. Beautiful recap! (You put me to shame on my weak blog performance this year :) Happy 2013 fun sharing friend.

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    1. Oh Joey, I love reading your blog and your fabulous recipes and photo collages! Sometimes life gets really busy and our energies are divided in too many directions. I hope the new year brings many good things to you!

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  18. So many wonderful, breathtaking photos, Karin. I hope you have a wonderful new year.

    -Karen

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    1. Thanks Karen! I hope 2013 brings you much joy and fulfilling experiences!

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  19. Gorgeous! Your pictures are stunning! What a treat. Thanks for sharing!

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  20. What a wonderful collection of photos. And.. reinforces the fact that photos are such a great way of journaling the year and saving our memories!

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    1. Thanks Rebecca! I agree! If it weren't for the photos I would forget half of what happened! Happy New Year to you and your feathery friends!

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  21. Karin - I really enjoyed reading this review and looking at the beautiful photos. Your approach to encouraging wildlife into your garden is inspirational. Happy New Year!

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    1. Thanks b-a-g! The wildlife really is thrilling to watch and photograph. I think an insect or spider crawling on a bloom makes for a much more interesting shot. I wish you all the best for the new year and hope that it brings you many rewarding experiences!

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  22. Karin, these are really outstanding phtoographs and an enjoyable look back at your gardening year. You got a lot done! The photos of the swallowtails, the bluebirds, and the hummingbird, among others, are just fantastic.

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    1. Thanks Jason. This was a good exercise for me because I often feel like we don't get that much accomplished since our project list is so long when in fact a lot happened in the garden this past year. I am looking forward to attracting more wildlife to the garden in 2013.

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  23. Your photography is amazing! I really love all the wildlife shots. I'm going to look into partridge pea to see if one will grow here! What are your plans for the gourds? Hope 2013 is fabulous!

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    1. Let me know if it grows in your area and I can send you some seeds that I harvested from this plant. We are drying the gourds but haven't decided what we will do with them all...crafts, bird houses???

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  24. Wow, what a beautiful post and amazing photos. Love the shot of all of the swallowtail caterpillars on the fennel! Looks like your veggie garden was very productive this year. And oh, to have fresh berries from the garden!! I thoroughly enjoy reading your blog and look forward to your sharing your garden adventures in the new year. Happy New Year, Karin!

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    1. Thank you so much Toni! I am still in a learning curve when it comes to vegetable gardening but it is very rewarding. It is great to have so much space and the fact that some of the beds are pretty high (due to the terrain) it makes it difficult for the bunnies to access "our food". I think 2013 is going to be a fabulous year. I wish you all the best and look forward to sharing gardening adventures.

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  25. I really enjoyed your review! Your gorgeous photos are a testament that wildlife inhabit and flourish in your garden. I love your new raised beds! I think your garden will be fabulous this year!

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    1. Thanks Deb! I hope even more wildlife will find our garden and choose to call it home. Now that we have expanded our acreage I am hoping to make much of the new space a sanctuary for birds and native plants.

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  26. Yes - iy was an awesome year - beautifully illustrated ! (and love your header !).

    All the best for a prosperous New Year Karin.

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  27. Wonderful year in review. I like that you have done the Native Plant certification, very nice!! Four and a half acres is a lot, good for you. Hope we can get together soon. :-) Happy New Year.

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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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