Thursday, April 29, 2010

Nesting and bloom update

Wow. Things have changed in the garden. I was out of town for week and when I got back I was amazed how quickly things change this time of the year. Suddenly I feel like there is so much to do in the garden, and suddenly I am so far behind. Here is a brief update of the goings on...

It appears that everything has leaves, buds or flowers on it now; below I list what is in bloom.
Nesting Update
  • the chickadees are bringing nesting material into their box (click here for my favorite nesting material combo- squirrel and moss).
  • The flickers evidently completed the excavation of their box all while we were gone.
  • The mystery this year was what was happening in the nuthatch box? The nuthatches "claimed" this box early on, but then some chickadees began excavating it, and pretty regularly. And there was no sign of the pair of nuthatches. Were these the same chickadees that were also going to nest in the normal chickadee box? And who's ever heard of 2 pairs of chickadees nesting the same yard? Craziness- they need a couple of acres because of competition for food. But now, all has been revealed- the nuthatches have returned and they are now nearly completely done excavating their box.

Once they finish excavating they will probably continue their tiny onslaught of my bent willow furniture- shredding off the bark into fine nesting material for their little, freshly excavated cavity. Then they will carefully line to opening of the box with sap- lest I try to get back said components of my bent willow furniture. Order has been restored.
Bloom Update:

Flowering now- arrowleaf balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata ), golden current (Ribes aureum), blue bells (Mertensia oblongifolia ), larkspur (Delphinium bicolor ), Jacobs ladder (Polemonium pulcherrimum), biscuitroot (Lomatium triternatum and L. dissectum), violets (Viola canadensis ) pasque flower (Pulsatilla patens), cutleaf daisy (Erigeron compositus, pictured above), blue virginsbower (Clematis occidentalis, see photo at beginning of the post of the virginsbower on my clothesline), prairie smoke (Geum triflorum), blue eyed mary (Collinsia parviflora, see below- this is one of my favorites, and it makes a nice groundcover), sivery lupine (Lupinus argenteus ), kittentails (Synthyris missurica ), Oregon grape (Mahonia repens ), and many more species flowering every day that it is hard to keep up.

So much to do. Last weekend I removed a little remnant lawn patch that I have had my eye on to turn from lawn to what I call a mowable prairie. In the lawn's place I planted natives that can be mown and maintained- like a lawn was originally intended- a meadow that could be mown to a height that would allow for paths and play areas. Instead of a lawn or a water hungry meadow, I planted this with drought tolerant, trample resistant natives like yarrow (Achillea millefolium ), hairy golden aster (Heterotheca villosa), mixed aster and erigeron species. After planting starts and transplants in the mowable prairie area, I covered the whole thing with mulch, but not just any mulch, gentle reader, a special mulch... this mulch is made from seed heads and flower parts I cut off last fall and kept in a bag out side all winter (cold stratification). Then I carefully (read: not at all) applied it to the surface of the fresh bed. I've found that with hairy golden aster, and my bag of assorted asters (by assorted I mean I can't really tell the difference between most asters and erigerons in my garden), they do great germinating when laid down in a mulch. I have been waiting for rain to do this, and by golly the rain has finally come (hopefully it will continue for a little while).

I did have a chance to also plant my potatoes, beets, peas, and other things I am probably forgetting and I finally built a new raised bed- for onions (see below, with cat guard installed), I moved the hill that was in its place and potted up all the asters and such that were on the hill. Maybe this weekend, I'll plant those potted up plants into the front yard or fill in other places in the yard.
Now I am well on my way to completing my 2010 garden project list (click here for this list). According to the list, the only thing left is making a new composter, but in reality, the list has really grown...

Lots going on suddenly, more updates with pictures to follow, oh and, a new arrival to the garden yesterday, a golden crowned kinglet.


  1. I'm so impressed by that photo! We have chickadees nesting, and it's impossible to even get a shot as they fly into the box.

  2. Found your blog when I googled "Montana gardens" -- I'm hoping to reduce my lawn area over time...and, right now, most of my plants are in my side and back yard, so this spring will be adding a friend's iris and transplanting several spring and summer perennials.

    I'm still container gardening for my veggies and herbs, as I have no developed/raised garden spaces. These allow me to enjoy the bounty without getting worn out from the work, and keep growing to my small scale needs.