caro thinks

Outdoor Details, 2008/06/05:12:34

caro's home ~*~ caro's index
now in bloom on my patio
Any casual passerby would naturally assume that my favorite colors are bubblegum pink and construction-worker orange. There is a sea of Oenothera speciosa (Mexican Primroses) and rivers of Nasturtiums, and a tall background of Bougainvillea "Rosenka" which hasn't turned from orange to rose yet. But the careful observer would note that all the blue Agapanthus are blooming. The Martha Washington Geraniums are beginning their next bloom season in deep purple with white picotee. A single Euryops pectinata treelette with shockingly bright yellow daisiy flowers brightens one corner. Several Fuchsias in hanging baskets are working hard in shades of deep purple, lavender, and cherry. White Alyssum is spotted around everywhere. I've been busy perfecting my outdoor office space, leveling the ground for my desk and planting it with Impatiens in deep red, purple, white, and magenta.

I seeded all the edges of the garden last week. The Cosmos are up with their seed leaves already; Larkspur is still thinking about whether it is time yet.

The water shortage will not affect my garden much. My water bill is about $10-$20 per month, including the garden and all indoor use. The more delicate plants are in pots; it's easy to keep those moist. The rest of my collection are satisfied with little water. Cosmos, especially, give much more than they take. One of the primary advantages that I have over many other people is that I don't have "help" in the garden. I throw almost nothing away. With the exception of thorny things or really obnoxious weeds like Burmuda Grass and Wild Barley, anything that I trim off or weed out gets left on the ground to retain moisture and shield the soild from the harsh sun. The Mow-And-Blow guys are a terrible waste. Consider for a moment, a hairdryer. How does it work? It blows a tremendous amount of air at your hair, causing the water to go away, whether it is set on hot or cold. That is exactly how a leafblower works. Only the leafblower is worse, because it doesn't just blow away moisture: it blows away all the protection provided by fallen leaves. You simply can't achieve a good, moist growing environment with that kind of weekly assault going on, no matter how much you turn up the water. And now they are asking you to turn it down. You think about that.
Many encounters with wildlife over the last few days. Last Saturday, before leaving for frisbee, I went out to discover the source of destructive chainsaw sounds, and instead found an orange Hooded Oriole in my neighbor's palm tree. I was jealous; the reason I planted the Strawberry Guava was for the express reason of attracting Orioles to my garden. Eat at Carolyn's!

Walking back to the front of the house, I heard rowdy calling and paused to look up. Just then, a flock of 10 or 12 wild parrots flew directly over the house. They've never come so close before this. Usually I see them in the distance. How can I get them to stop here? What could I provide to tempt them to nest?

As long as I was out there, I stopped to water the garden, hose attachment set to "gentle shower". A female hummingbird zoomed down to within 3 feet of me, to take a drink as they often do--but no, she didn't drink. Instead, she hovered above the spray, then slowly lowered her feet, then the lower half of her body, into the spray. I held the hose as steady as I could, with my mouth hanging open in surprise. She finished her bath after about 30 seconds, slowly rose back out of the spray, and cruised away.

The hose engaged another creature, to its irritation: I had never seen a roach in the garden--any garden--before. They seem to prefer sidewalks and walls and the insides of people's houses. This one was strolling amongst the primroses. I can't say that I found it much more appealing in this setting, though I did feel slightly less, um, cornered by it than when I see them in a room, which hasn't happened for maybe 8 months now. Combat is a wonderful thing.

I made spaghetti and meatballs a couple of nights ago. I left some sauce to cool on the stove before putting it away, then wandered off to do my evening activities. When I returned to the kitchen, I was sleepy and not really paying attention; I turned on a dim light, to prevent myself from waking up too much before getting into bed. I gave the sauce a stir, because I knew that there was still some glazing on the bottom of the pan from having fried the meat in there. In hindsight, I guess the sauce looked a tiny bit strange, perhaps a bit lumpier. I tilted the pan over the storage container, and to my surprise, part of the sauce began to take flight. I dropped the spoon just as a rather largish roach dropped into the container. I quickly covered the container, dumped the sauce down the drain (roaches are not one of my recommended sauce ingredients), and when my heart stopped pounding, I threw the container out the door and the grateful roach scurried away to walk among the primroses where he doesn't belong.

This week, every time I go into the bathroom for a moment, I hear the excited peeping of baby birds. The window looks out on the carport, where I have seen Red Finches flitting around. Sometimes, they see me looking out there. I back away from the window when I catch sight of them. When I peak my head around the corner, I see them craning their necks around the same corner, trying to get a look at me. I have walked around the carport looking for any sign of a nest, but I see nothing, not even droppings or empty eggshells. Yet there must be tons of places to nest, because I sometimes see as many as 3 or 4 finches methodically checking out every crevice. Hopefully will see the babies learning to fly.

Right now, there is a mourning dove sitting in the awning above my front door, the door I most use. Doves have built nests there several times, only to abandon them when they realize that I will be coming and going all the time. A couple of times, they have gotten as far as laying an egg or two. I feel bad about this. So whenever I see them bringing in straw, I explain to them that they really don't want to nest there. Usually they believe me and leave straight away. Today, I didn't see the dove until I had already opened the door and had been sitting in front of the door sharing my breakfast with the rats. It was definitely watching me, and when I spoke to it it clearly heard me. I wonder if it is a baby waiting to be rescued by its mother, or whether it is an adult trying to decide if that narrow ledge would be a good spot to build a nest. Don't do it, bird!
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