One gardener's observations, discoveries and random thoughts whilst simultaneously worshipping and dallying in a Cape Cod garden. "A garden," said Ralph Waldo Emerson, "is like those pernicious machineries which catch a man's coatskirt or his hand, and draw in his arm, his leg and his whole body to irresistable destruction."


It’s kind of amusing how this blogging business is really a different sort of journalism, with that possibility of changing at the last minute always there.  I sat down this morning, prepared to put together the latest post and I was going to lead with a great sparrow shot I got yesterday down by the harbor.   But as I was about to upload that pic, I heard a noise outside the window by the computer and there I discovered a pair of bluebirds(!!!)  resting on the deck.  


Zippity-doo dah and stop the presses – we just got a new lead photograph!!

 I’ve never seen bluebirds before, though I’ve been hearing they were all over the Cape this winter…Lenny had even mentioned having seen them in the feeders downstairs.  This, though, was the first time for me and I’m kind of excited about it.  

The poor things; it’s 24 degrees out there today, which is cold, even if its warmer than the 18 degrees (or colder) we had here overnight.   I wonder where it is they are going to keep warm when they aren’t visiting local feeders.

Yes, winter just goes on and on here this year.   Like many parts of the world, our temps seem just a little colder this year.  There’s another round of snow coming this way tomorrow…and much of the state is expecting 6 – 12 inches of snow.   Here we are supposed to see snow at the start, changing to sleet and rain and other things which are less pleasant than snow, but indicate rising temperatures, so I’ll wait and see what happens before deciding to complain.   And seriously, how does one complain when a pair of happy little bluebirds are just outside the window, offering to make one’s kitty a new frock?

And anyway, there’s plenty indoors to help me create the illusion that spring’s already here.    The amaryllis is sporting a fourth flower now, it’s towering stalk beginning to list from the weight of all that beauty.  In fact, it shows signs of another flower stalk beginning to rise on the far side of the bulb.



Down at the feet of the towering amaryllis stalk in an adjacent pot you’ll find some of those primroses which I brought home a week or so ago, continuing to bloom merrily, since I’ve been remembering to water them every other day (they are in tiny pots and experience tells me they dry out pretty quickly…so water and some regular deadheading will keep them blooming a while longer, anyway). 

It’s a good time of year for snuggling in with some gardening catalogs and spending a little time daydreaming and wishing.   Here’s a few pictures from the Park Seed catalog which has recently captured my attention.   It’s a good thing I know I traditionally buy flowers in so many other colors, since so many of the purple things are drawing my attention here.  I’d love to try some of this Angelonia…what a great look potted up like that.


corkscrew-and-monarda-catalI’ve always been a fan of beebalm, aka, monarda, so it’s no surprise I’m drawn to that version which blooms purple so far down (or up) the stalks.   And the Corkscrew vine has always intrigued me, though I’ve never tried to grow it before.   Maybe this will be the year for that.

amaranthus-catalogAmaranthus always fascinates me, too, the way they, like the poinsettias of Christmas, are known for flowers that are actually bracts of leaves which change color…and boy, do the leaves of these amaranthus change color, eh?  

Right now, I’m simply daydreaming with the catalogs, since I’m still getting my sealegs about just what form my garden may take in this new year.   But someday, I’ll get around to playing with some of this amaranthus stuff.  It looks spectacular.

Meanwhile, this variety of amaranthus (below) seems like a good one to plant if you are trying to get a particular message across to your neighbors, eh?



This past Sunday was actually not such a cold day, although it becomes such a relative business after so much cold.   It might only have been in the high thirties, but it seemed warm to me.   Not enough to draw me outside, though – there was much I hoped to accomplish indoors – but it felt warm enough to turn the heat down a bit and crack a few windows to get some welcome fresh air blowing through the Nest, while I tended to some housekeeping stuff.

Of course, I also continued the recent campaign of pampering some of the houseplants…and the large pothos above was featured that day.   It was long-stemmed and many leaved when I brought it inside from outdoors in the fall…but I’d watched over the course of teh autumn as almost all the leaves feel off and I knew there was some issue I’d need to address.   

I discovered that the soil in this gifted pot was  quite depleted and the pothos had few roots remaining, so I ended up discarding some of it, and repotting the rest (knotting the base of the stems to help them create some fresh roots down there in the dirt) in a pot full of fresh soil, before pruning and giving it a good soak.   It’s back in the living room and we are hoping it will rally.


Meanwhile, here’s another look at the canna, which you can see is thriving, but only in one corner of a very large pot.   You might recall I’m a fan of the over-planted garden and so I added a bit of topsoil to the pot and have planted some cosmos seeds here.   You might also recall the cosmos were very slow growing for me last summer when I direct-seeded them, so we’ll see if this early seeding date helps them to bloom any sooner.   Fingers crossed.

There was also a marine heliotrope plant I’d rescued during my hasty departure in September, which was potted up in a pot not quite bit enough for it and sitting in a southern window.   It’s survived the winter nicely and had a nice tall stem with lots of foliage on the top of it.   

However, the stem itself was long and bare and down at the base was some fresh foliage, so I replanted in a larger pot and pruned down to those fresh leaves and I’ll see about encouraging it into a nice bushy shape for the summer.   They are annuals, but not inexpensive ones, so the extra effort seems justified.


speedwellYou regular readers, at least the one with fine memories, might recall the on-going discussion I was hosting here last summer, about what’s a weed and what’s simply a valuable plant in the wrong place, or perhaps a little  too eager for a particular place.

It all started because I’d preserved some of a particular plant in building the Harwich garden.   The plant – speedwell – sported tiny blue flowers in spring and spread like crazy, including up the side of the split-rail fence.    Remember

While re-potting the heliotrope, I discovered that a small slip of that eager little beauty had stowed away on the move to the Nest and so I was able to hold it aside and give it a tiny pot of its own.   We’ll see what it does there.

Sunday was also a great day for getting a few more of the many things I moved into the Nest last fall, to fall into the right places where they are supposed to live, as I continue the business of getting the place (and in the process, my own brain) into some better and healthier sense of organization.   Not too much, people, but some.  ; )

Anyway, I was able to create some more shelving opportunites to raise some of my bigger plants up into the great sunlight the front bedroom enjoys each day.   Here’s another look at one of those magnificent canna leaves, with the fuschia plant hanging in the background.


bird-watcherAnd what, you ask, does my roommate do during these activity-filled afternoons?  Well, often he uses the opportunity to express his opinion about new ways and places where the small rugs might be displayed/arranged, sometimes tripping me up in the process. 

But I’d taken the opportunity to hang the carpets over the railings of the deck outside to give them a bit of airing out and wash the floors, too, so he contented himself with some bird and squirrel watching in one of those warm southern windows not crammed with plants (I keep this one free especially for his use, actually), or finding open patches of floor to lay around on his back.

Of course, he also tears about the place according to his will and is a very chatty cat, instigating conversation as often as he is simply responding to whatever it is I’m saying and on those rare occasions when I sit down to check email, or lounge on the couch to watch a bit of television, he is right there on top of me.   Heh…It’s nice to have a roommate who’s so (mostly) thoughtful and cuddly, to boot.   Especially on these cold January days.  


Some of you may have already seen word of, or downloaded this program, from the link at Sticky Crows.   To others, this may be a new discovery.   But here I am, adding my endorsement to Torn’s.  The download is a program which may be set up to sift through all (okay, most…) of your photo files and create some interesting displays on your computer desktop, changing the background at regular intervals which you determine.   

It’s a fun way to look through your old photos to remember just what is there.   For my part, it’s been an interesting way to look back at the last year and see just what all it’s entailed…and yes, ahhh, how many flowers there were!  

If you’re looking to transform your desktop into a digital photo frame without the expense, you should download your own copy here.


And in the category of Just Because I Think Everyone Should Know of Brilliant New Talent, I must share with you this new video by Matt Alber, which you might’ve seen elsewhere (Joe.My.God, or perhaps LOGO…)…but even if you have, you should watch it again.   It’s sad and beautiful and lovely and wonderful and sweet and hopeful…and that kiss at the end, oh, my…we just don’t get to see that sort of thing often enough.  “End of the World”, folks.  Check it out here.

There’s that poor sparrow who got bumped from the lead of this post.  He was soaking up some sunshine on one of those cold and windy days recently, as nearby a fishing boat tried to break its way through the ice of high tide.  

I hope you’re finding your own patch of sun in which to lounge about.   : )



Comments on: "Bluebirds and Wishes For Spring" (13)

  1. Speaking of bluebirds, I think it is disappointing that you can no longer get Disney’s “Song of the South” anymore…

    I know; it’s a bit disappointing not to be able to see that Disney classic anymore, but I can understand why it’s not available anymore, really. [BTW, Tigeryogiji, way to turn a bright shiny bluebird moment into a cranky discussion about racism. ; ) ]

  2. In all my years, I’ve never seen a bluebird, only the animated one in the movie. Wow! How cool.

    Love the amaryllis and the primrose.

    Tiger – I think they would have to re-write too much of it…maybe the whole thing. Not a racially sensitive film in retrospect, even if the songs were catchy!

    Hey Bokey! How exciting to see those little bluebirds outside the window today!

    Sadly, since Song of the South is based so heavily on the folk stories of B’rer Rabbit and all, and especially that story of the tarbaby, we aren’t likely to see it anywhere except maybe Ebay. Great songs, though (well, actually, I can only think of “Zippedee Doo Dah”, now…).

  3. Yes, that’s about all we can do right now–us folks in the northern regions: dream of spring and look at seed catalogs.

    Do love indoor gardening though. My tulip bulbs are sprouting already even in a cold room covered in black plastic. Have some indoor growing tips you may like. Hope you’ll drop by.

    Hey Plant Buddy. I will be sure to surf on by and check out your tips. I put all my tulips in the cold ground this fall, saving none for indoor forcing…but my winter garden’s going nicely without them, as you can see!

  4. One of my fav little birds! I put up houses for them at my parents in the country. They are good little bug killers. Of course we will not see any until the end of April. Great timing Greg.

    It was so nice to meet these guys, Steven. I can see why they are your favorites…so cute and pretty…and well, if they’re bug eaters, they are okay in MY book! I wonder why the silly things are *this* far north so early…

  5. The Bluebirds are beautiful! Someone is getting ready for Spring . . . ;-)

    We all should be, my friend. In fact, I’ll be potting up some columbine seeds soon. ; )

  6. What a great omen those bluebirds must be! I’ve never seen them live. That first shot is especially lovely, so close, and so much detail. I’m with you, if they’re good bug eaters, then that’s gravy. I would have been tempted to caution you on pining for Spring when we’re not even out of January yet, but those birds would now just make me look cranky.

    Keeping thinking those warm thoughts, pal, and Believe. Spring is right around the corner!

  7. What a lovely surprise to see the bluebirds! That’s just nifty.

    The corkscrew vine has intrigued me also. I’ve considered planting some of that in years past, though never followed through.

    This post has more plant pictures than most of the ones you’ve posted recently. It almost makes me think it’s spring! You sound like you’re getting a bit impatient to get outside and do some hot and dirty gardening.

    The amaryllis looks wonderful! What a cheery winter companion.

    And speaking of companion, I’m glad you give your fuzzy gray roommate a sunny window of his own. So very considerate you are.

    Well, most certainly I am eager to get out and do some gardening! Silly Java. Hot and dirty just sweetens the deal. A year ago I had only to wait for the garden to awaken. This year (rubbing hands together, grinning wickedly) I must create anew. You know, I think I am just about ready to order some of that corkscrew vine seed. I’m suddenly having visions of it weaving in amongst some of the purple morning glories I’ll have going. Hmmm, I’ll need to build some kind of trellace thing for them, too.

    Perhaps the best antidote to winter storm warnings is the ability to loose one’s self in a humid fantasy of what the garden might look like three or four months hence.

  8. Your indoor garden is a much-needed respite for me today. We’ve got that snow that’s heading your way. Ten inches so far, and it won’t stop for another six hours. The cry of the weathermen is “24 hours of snow so far!” They love it even more than “storm team.” Everything’s closed, but it wouldn’t matter: our neighborhood isn’t plowed. Thank heaven for the interwebs!

    Glad to give you a little on-screen spring as a tonic against your being snowbound. Stay warm and snuggly and be patient. You wouldn’t want to be out on those roads, anyway. It’s snowy here this morning, but coming down hard and already looks a little more like rain, though we remain just under the freezing mark just now. :)~

  9. I’m amazed at your bluebird photos. They have been on the increase in the last few years here in the Midwest, but I’d never expect them in January. I also wouldn’t expect to be able to get such a fantastic picture of them.

    My expectations were similarly low, Doug, despite having heard there were bluebirds in the area.

    That I was shooting through a dirty storm window and screen makes my having gotten a couple of decent photos of them nothing shy of miraculous!

  10. Sparrows are about the only birds you find in northern Chicagoland. No pretty bluebirds or cardinals to be found. That photo of the Amaranthus “finger” is hilarious. It’s nice to see so much life in your nest. I need to bring color indoors. :-)

    Shame about your shortage of colorful birds! They do brighten up the winter landscape. You’re always welcome to enjoy mine!

    You *should* bring some color inside; it’s especially nice this time of year!

  11. rainforestrobin said:

    Hi my friend! Just stopped by to see what you are up to. the blue birds too my breath away. I too had not seen them till I moved to New Mexico and I have seen WHOLE trees covered with them in the early fall as they head south. The trees look blue they are so filled with them. I also see them a lot a dusk when I hike into the juniper hills in the desert here. Only ours are REALLY blue, almost fluorescent blue, especially at dusk: just like the one at the top of my website — on the banner. I’ve not seen them THAT blue anywhere. But several people have said they are like that out here.

    I enjoyed you writing and enthusiasm for your plants. They are stunning and make your life so much richer. And you there’s. :)

    Hugs to you,

    Hi Robin! So glad you could stop in…I’m afraid I haven’t surfed over to see you recently…but I’m there shortly – I want to compare bluebirds now!!

    It is a nice give-and-take the plants and I enjoy. ; )

  12. […] if you’re hoping for a glimpse of spring, check out the Midnight Garden which has pictures of a bluebird (and discussions of garden […]

  13. francislewis said:

    Yeah, you are so right, Matt Alber is simply amazing!!! He’s a great talented and the nicest guy too!!! Interviewed him not too long ago for my blog. Check it out and let me know what you think!!!

    Thanks for the link, Francis! I’m jealous that you got to meet Mr. Alber, but not at all surprised to hear he’s a good guy, as well as talented! Can’t wait to get my hands on the whole “Hide Nothing” CD!

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