Tuesday, May 3, 2011

natives in the garden

mourning dove and visiting king bird waiting for a drink 

"eastern king bird" high in our choke cherry tree

red columbine Aquilegia candadensis 

wide shot of the columbines

native Sedum ternatum white flowers 

white beard tongue, penstemon 

buttercups in the lawn

silhouette of song sparrow singing 
This week I have been enjoying the garden. The cold is gone and the warmer days are making some mornings perfect for sitting in the garden with coffee and paper. I noticed a song sparrow, new to our garden but known in the neighborhood, and I took the chance to record it's wonderful song in a short video and tried to capture his portrait but he was shy and kept it's distance. Then today I was watching out the back porch window and saw another new bird in our garden trying to get to the bird bath for a drink. Later I confirmed my suspicion that it was a Eastern king bird who has a strange song like electric fence  but very distinct markings and a black crest. The king bird didn't stick around very long but I was glad my picture captured it's visit here to share.
We went to two plant sales this past weekend and collected lots of new native flowering plants. Most are not in flower right now but a couple were so I have posted their photos.
We learned that beard tongue also called penstemon is a native that was cultivated more extensively in European gardens. On Wiki I read that in some of the 19th century seed catalogs as many as 500 varieties were available! Ours is a simple white flower with a reddish green leaf and stem.
One of our favorite woodland columbines came back this year. I collected seeds from a large plant in a sidewalk tree box near Douglas Kingsbury's house when I was visiting for my portrait sittings. I deposited them in our shady herb bed and was delighted when they sprouted new plants that summer that bloomed the following spring. Looking closely at plants pays off with free flowers if you arrive at the right time.
Finally I wanted to show the local buttercups that grow in our neighborhood. Some of the yards are full of them before the mowers come along and decapitate them. It takes me back to my childhood to see them remembering them in Springfield Va. yards of the 1960's There was a game we played that if you picked a buttercup and held it under a chin if their chin shined yellow they are in love. Sunny days worked best to reflect that bright yellow cup on the chin.
Wikipedia and USDA information Links:
Eastern King Bird 
Song Sparrow
Beard Tongue or Penstemon 
Sedum Ternatum
Red columbine

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