Scenes of summer

Morning swim lesson at the VOA – June 2013

I’ve been snapping photos here and there the last few weeks. I’m taking this opportunity to share them with you now.

Hummingbird – June 04, 2013

This little hummer was making daily visits for a while. I haven’t seen him lately. He liked some of the potted plants on our deck.

House wren – June 04, 2013

I call this one  “House wren in bird house.”

Fawn – July 18, 2013

This hillside across the drive from our house used to be thick with honeysuckle. Mark has cleared a large section of it out. The little fawn decided to take a bit of a rest here.

Fawn – July 18, 2013

I didn’t see the mother nearby. Perhaps she told this little guy to wait for her here.

Sunflowers – July 19, 2013

Not bad for a few volunteers. I’m enjoying the height and color they’ve added to my garden.

Male American Goldfinch on sunflowers – July 19, 2013

I call this one “Elevensies” after a tradition brought to me by a good friend and once-coworker, Cathy, who needed that morning snack to get through to lunch.

Young buck – July 18, 2013

I’m not sure why this buck only has one antler. I googled it and nosed around a bit, but there was too much reading involved for the amount of time I wanted to spend. Perhaps you know and can tell me.

Male American Goldfinch on sunflower – July 19, 2013

I call this one “Yellow.”

Female American Goldfinch on sunflower – July 19, 2013

Let’s not forget the female. She clearly wanted her portrait taken as well.

House wren – July 20, 2013

I was sitting at my computer desk, minding my own business, when this little guy started hopping back and forth on the two porch rockers sitting outside our large study window. He was there for quite a while before he flew up into the tree. And he was giving me the what-for. I’m not sure what he was carrying on about.

I suppose that’s just one more thing I’ll never know.

Here’s the thing about deer

If you’ve kept up with my blog at all over the couple of years I’ve been cluttering up the internet with minutia, you already know that I love deer. I have a whole page devoted to my deer posts, I spend a lot of time running for my camera and trying to capture the image of these beautiful creatures in a digital file.

However, if you’ve been keeping up, you also know I love my gardens, and rejoice in the surprises they offer me, like the recent volunteer sunflowers, for example.

June 22 – volunteer sunflowers in my garden

We’ve never been able to grow sunflowers here before because of the critters. I’ve been running outside with my camera and shooting the progress of the sole sunflower bloom so far.

Can you guess where this post is headed?

June 25 - morning
June 25 – morning

This morning I was greeted by sunflower stalks with leafless stems poking out.

June 25 - morning
June 25 – morning – deer track in garden

And it didn’t take a lot of detective work to figure out who did it.

June 25 – afternoon

I think I should just make this point perfectly clear to the four-legged creatures dining in our garden — you’re not the only ones who like the sunflowers. Leave something for the rest of us.

So far so good. The buds and blooms are still intact.

However, I am not going to be a happy camper if I wake up one morning to find them missing.

A deer in the woodland garden


While sitting at my kitchen table eating dinner yesterday, I thought I saw something moving in my woodland garden.

Even though we cleared a lot of the dense overgrown honeysuckles from the woodland garden since we’ve been here, the deer wears its camoflage well and is not readily visible.


It’s rare for us to see only one deer. The deer that frequent our yard are typically a mother with two fawn, now yearlings.


I spot what I think is a deer lying down through the fence of our neighbor’s yard. I’m not sure, but there may be two deer over there.


You can make at least one out a little bit better in this cropped version of the previous photo, in the upper left corner. The second may be between the visual “v” created by the evergreen tree.


The deer in our garden is nosing around in the clearing we created at the top of the small hill.


Oh. She’s dropping to her knees.


Well, look at that. She’s lying down for a bit of a rest.


She looks quite comfy and content, doesn’t she? Although she’s keeping an eye out for me and the little light that flashes when I shoot a photo from inside the kitchen door.


Aww. She’s sleepy.


Whoops. Something spooked her. See how her ears are perked up?


Never mind. She needs a nap, and this is a good place to take one.


I don’t know how long she slept. When next I checked she was busy pruning my stella doras.


You probably think she’s a nuisance and is in it only for herself. But not me.


I can tell she’s trying to be helpful by the way she systematically nips off the tops of each and every stella dora plant, working her way down the garden.

Who can complain? She’s a sweet little darling.

I’m happy to have her around.

See more deer posts with photos here.

Bring on the Annuals — a garden update

I love my perennials, but this time of year, I’m grateful for the color a few well-placed annuals provide in my largely dried and burned-out gardens.

Pink Moonbeam Coreopsis

Of course I still have a few perennials blooming. These little moonbeam coreopsis make a splash of color in my St. Francis Garden. And the knockout roses are doing okay, although I pruned a lot of spent blooms off yesterday.


The sedum is starting to pink-up, but I feel like it is a bit early for that. It seems like the perennials are all trying to rush through the summer.

I like to put a few annuals here and there in my gardens, like these white and vanilla petunias, although truthfully, they’re not doing all that well this year with the drought.

And I put this Mandevilla in the Angel Garden. I want to believe that the heart-shaped leaves climbing alongside are from the Moon Flower seeds I planted earlier this summer. Mark thinks they’re a weed. I guess we’ll see.

And rather than invest in perennials this year, we decided to plant a few vanilla marigolds in the now-ivy-free far side of the garden. The last few daisies are still blooming. I’ll probably cut most of them off to bring them inside for weekend guests. Check out the new grass in front of that section. If you forgot how it looked before, you can see it here. Mark did a terrific job,

even with deer tromping through the newly planted grass in soft soil.

This year our container plants are doing well, probably because we’re Mark’s making an extra effort to keep them watered. Usually I’m not that good with containers. These impatiens hang just above the wooded area in the bottom section of our St. Francis Garden.

This cheerful verbena container greets people near the side door.

We have six deck boxes. This year we tried out sweet potato vine for the first time. It is a vigorous and beautiful plant. It’s doing better than the geraniums we put in the middle. I don’t recall the name of the vine on the right, but I just loved it when I saw it in the garden store. It has a little wild look to it with small white flowers.

We added a few more pots to our deck this year to create more of a garden-feel. The two plants on the far end are Luna Hibiscus. They have a huge pink blossom, but aren’t blooming at the moment.

They do have quite a few buds, though, if you look closely. I’ll try to remember to get a photo when they bloom again.

The Mandevilla, like the one in the Angel Garden, likes it’s container, trellis, and location on our sunny deck.

The sweet potato vine is taking over this container, and crowding out the geranium and verbena. I don’t mind too much. I like the how lush it looks.

A spider has created a work of art here between the box and the Mandevilla. I’m making a conscious effort to get over my spider phobia. Not sure how successful I’ll be.

What outdoor container garden would be complete without a few herbs like rosemary, thyme, oregano, chives, parsley and basil? I think these are looking a little anemic myself. Everything probably needs a dose of Miracle-Gro.

I like the color of the annuals, and appreciate the way they do the bulk of the work in late summer. But I also love the wildflowers that pop up willy-nilly in the wooded sections of our gardens. They don’t care if I water them or not.

This little chipmunk seems to admire my wildflowers too. He’s got a front-row seat.

And look who I caught snacking on the wildflowers. Can’t say as I blame her. They look tender and sweet. I read that deer don’t have the ability to chew tough foods, so they will eat the new, tender shoots of almost any plant.

Do you have any luck with container gardens? Any tips or secrets you’d like to share?

Ornament, gardener, or nuisance?

As I was standing in front of the dryer folding clothes Wednesday just before dusk, I looked outside and saw this new garden ornament in our woodland garden.

Then she started to move and I realized she wasn’t an ornament at all, but a gardener. She was pruning the flower buds right off of our Oakleaf Hydrangea.

When she moved over to our new little flowering crabapple tree, that failed to bloom this year because someone had eaten off the branches at the bottom, I started wondering if she is after all, what my husband might call her — a nuisance.

I just wish I could train her to nibble on those dead, brown hydrangea blossoms from an early spring freeze.

I let Arthur out to chase her off, but she’s wised up to him. He doesn’t scare her anymore. I stepped out on the deck to call Arthur back, but she’s also wised up to me.

So I abandoned my woodland garden to the woodland creature and returned to my laundry.

Three deer and an apple — a drama

The other morning I witnessed three deer munching on our front landscaping. Over the two years we’ve lived here we’ve seen this same doe come through our yard with her fawns—each year, a new set of two fawns. We’ve seen infant fawns, child fawns, and full-grown fawns or deer. Once, much to our dismay and outright terror actually, the two fawns lured Arthur out of his electric fence and into the woods to play. Of course, they had long since ditched him as they ran away, leaving him befuddled, scared, and frozen in place within sight in the woods.

I forgave the fawns. They almost seem like pets. I’ve been wanting to leave some apples out for these deer as a special treat. So after seeing them eating our bushes, I bought some apples and put three in the bushes. This is what I saw later in that afternoon. (As you know, the deer vocabulary is quite limited, but you’ll get the idea.)

The first deer (one of the fawns) finds the apple.

Jackpot! she thinks to herself.

The doe sees her.

Hummm, what has she found now?

But movement is detected in the house, or perhaps a little flash goes off.  All three deer look up and freeze.

What is going on in there?

I’m not worried about it, the fawn thinks. This is good.

That apple’s looking pretty good, the doe thinks.

I’m going to get a taste of that.

Move over.


Hey, I found that apple, the fawn says.

What is going on over there? the doe wonders.

The second fawn gets curious and comes over to see what is so interesting.

Hey guys, the second fawn says. Wazzup?

I get some too, he says.

You’re hogging it, the doe says.

Hey, it’s my turn he says.

I really wish I knew what was going on over there, the doe thinks.

Back off, the fawn says. You’ve had your share.

Ummm. That’s tasty, the doe says.

The fawn sees his chance, snags the apple and backs away with it. He finishes it off.

That’s really starting to get annoying, the doe thinks.

Now that the apple is gone. The deer go back to the bushes. They don’t find the other two apples I left closer to the house.

Why do you keep doing that to us? the doe wonders.

Or maybe she’s thinking, was it you that gave us the apple?

The three deer leave by the side yard. I don’t know what they said after that. I couldn’t hear them anymore.