Friday, November 23, 2012

Let the Holidays Begin!

Common Redpoll Ornament -2012 Winter Bird Collection
This year's Winter Bird Collection is ready to be purchased at my
 Etsy Shop or Artfire Studio.
The Common Redpoll, Tufted Titmouse, and Young Emporer Penquin are the 3 winter birds that have been selected to be featured on my one of a kind hand painted ornaments this year.

Thanksgiving is over and the Holiday season is upon us. 
Black Friday is here and the craziness has just begun! Everyone is gearing up to hit the stores with their gift lists in hand and hoping to find those great deals before they're gone.  For some people, its a day to begin putting up Christmas decorations, planning holiday parties, relaxing, or hitting the gym to take off those extra pounds you put on yesterday!

For me, Black Friday is a busy time for listing items onto my two online shops, rewriting my store introductions to alert people that I also am offering a 10% discount using the coupon code SHOP4DAYS and getting my mailing supplies in order.

Tufted Titmouse Hand Painted Glass Ornament - 2012 Winter Bird Collection
All my hand painted ornaments are signed and dated by me and can be personalized on the back with a name, date, or short sentiment for free.
Each year, for some reason, the holidays always seem to creep up on me --as if I didn't know they were coming! Then I find myself scrambling to get all the pieces together to have a successful holiday for both my family and business. Why is that, when I consider myself an organized person? 
Maybe there will be a time when I actually follow my list of "To Dos" and start painting my ornaments in the summer, or updating my family's personalized Christmas Tree Skirt before Thanksgiving! But why change things now? Things always seem to work out? Remarkably, I always manage to get the tree up and have Hanukkah & Christmas presents ready when I need them! Then like clockwork, every New Years Eve I promise myself that next year I will make things easier on myself, so I can really enjoy the season without all the stress! Ha!

Playful Young Emporer Penguin Hand Painted Glass Ornament - 2012 Winter Bird Collection
Each ornament includes a lovely handmade tag with a short description of each bird that is purchased. It comes in a box, wrapped in decorative tissue paper and a raffia bow - perfect for gift giving!
So here I go....ready or not, I'm about to jump into the whirlwind of activity, emotions, and expectations that come with this amazing holiday season! But this year, I don't want to forget to take a minute along the way to slow down and enjoy all that I have, the people I love, and the true meaning of the holidays!

  Have a great weekend of shopping!!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Great Blue Heron Came for Breakfast!

Great Blue Heron visits my yard!

Looking out my window on Monday morning I just happened spot a large blue/gray bird walking along my upper backyard. I had to look twice because his head was almost as high as my bird feeder that was set in the ground at approximately 3' high!  I've seen this Great Blue Heron once before during one of his visits, but I didn't happen to have my camera nearby. If you were wondering what this amazing bird was doing in my yard? You guessed it - He was looking to eat my pond fish for breakfast!!

Luckily, the first time I saw him in my yard last year doing exactly the same thing, I put a black netting over the pond to protect my poor unsuspecting fish! I solved the one problem of keeping the herons out, but created another one by keeping the frogs in or out depending upon where they were when I put the netting up! So a few adjustments had to be made after several frogs needed rescuing from the net! It took a little time, but we've all become used to it.

Great Blue Heron keeping an eye on our fish pond!

            This big guy is just amazing to see in a backyard setting - with a height of 39"-52" and a wingspan of 5', he looked so large and out of place!  When he noticed that I had spotted him, he flew up to a branch at the edge of the lawn and patiently watched as I took pictures of him.

  Notice his lower chest feathers which look a bit shaggy - I believe he is an adult since the juveniles are not supposed to have this yet.  His long neck has a pinkish hue to it with a black and white streak down the center of it. His face is mostly white with a black cap on his head. His long thin legs and dagger-like beak are very long and yellowish in color - perfect for fishing!

Although his diet is mainly of fish, they also eat amphibians, and occasionally small mammals and birds. Crustaceans are also on his menu!

Common Yellowthroat-Geothlypis trichas
(Picture from wikipedia)

On the same day I saw the Great Blue Heron, I also had this cute little guy show up at my pond! I have never seen a Conmmon Yellowthroat in my yard before, so I was very excited to have both birds show up on the same day!! Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera this time to take a picture so this picture is from wikipedia. They are so beautiful I just had to show a picture! The female doesn't have the black mask, but the males look lide little bandits!

They are much smaller in size than the Great Blue Heron, measuring in at 4 1/2" - 6" ht.
They are in the wood warbler family and have a charming song.
They love to eat insects, which I could definitely use in my garden!

Blooming along my woodland path this week are my beautiful purple native woodland phlox. I also have a pale pink variety. They are wonderful creeping plants that bloom with their flowers raised above their leaves!

Bishop's Cap - Mitella diphylla
Saxifrage family (Saxifragaceae)

This small unassuming plant can easily be overlooked, even when it  flowers, However, if you take
 a moment to look closer, you will be delighted with the
 magical little white flowers with fringed edges!

Variegated Solomon's Seal

Gorgeous graceful plants that have beautiful emerald
 green leaves with white edged variegation. The waxy white bells dangle in pairs off of red petioles. I started with one plant I purchased from a local nursery at least 24 years ago. I now have quite a few plants that have colonized in several different areas along my path. They are always a delight to see! 

We have used large logs for seating along our woodland path.

Another huge branch from an oak tree fell onto our stonewall and damaged several
 of our smaller trees. It was so large we decided to leave this large section to use as a bench
 along our woodland path.

Remember to take a break during your day
and enjoy the nature that surrounds you!!

 See You Next Week!!
Tracey :-)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A Wednesday Woodland Walk!

Badly needed rain quenched my woodland plants today.  I didn't think I would get out for this weeks walk, but later in the afternoon the rain tapered off to a light drizzle before the sun briefly came out!

I love the woods after it rains, everything looks so luscious, the colors are vibrant, and the leaves glisten as the sun hits the tiny droplets of rain on the foliage!

Rain Droplets on Maidenhair Fern  Fronds.

Native Barberry After the Rain.
Native Barberry shrubs provide  protection for wildlife
and little red berries for birds in the fall and winter.
Several new plants are beginning to flower along my woodland path this week. One of them is a beautiful native wildflower called Goldenstar or Green and Gold, Many years ago, I fell in love with its cheerful little daisey-like golden flowers, and was lucky enough to be able to purchase several plants at a native wildflower sale!.Today, those few little plants have grown into a beautiful patch of golden yellow flowers that hug the side of the path. They definitely brighten any partially shaded spot with blooms from spring to summer.
Goldenstar, (Chrysogonum virginianum )
Grows up to 4" - 6" ht.

Yellow Trilliums

"Freckles" Violets
One of my favorite violets.

I think this is a Broad Shouldered Hawk .

For the past three years, this amazing  Broad Shouldered Hawk has been nesting nearby our property.  Last year he nested in a tree in our front yard and this year he's back nesting in my neighbor's tree across the street!

Through much of the spring and summer months, our little section of suburbia is terrorized by these two birds, especially as they watch protectively over their fledglings.

 How do two birds make adults run for cover? ..... By using the element of surprise! As you happily garden, mow the lawn, or any other outdoor activity you happen to be doing, they will unexpectedly swoop down just inches from your head, land on a nearby branch, and scold you. When you think they have given up, they swoop down again and again, until you finally get the message and leave!  Their scare tactic is very effective for most people!  But one of my pets growing up was a pigeon, so birds don't scare me, and I think it frustrates him that I don't turn and run like he expects me to!  Infact, I enjoy the interaction with these amazing birds and will always be happy to see them return. 

The late afternoon sun highlights the Christmas Ferns
 along the path, creating a beartiful glow!

Thanks for joining my walk today!

 Enjoy the moments you get to spend outside, appreciate the nature that surrounds you, and have a great week!
Tracey :-)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wednesday's Woodland Walk - Join Me!

Shooting Star - Dodecatheon meadia

Welcome to my wednesday woodland walk!
This week the weather
couldn't seem to make up its mind! One day it felt like summer, 
 the next day, I was trying to find my favorite warm sweater to put on! After a bit of a dry spell for the past several months, we had rain all weekend. We really needed rain and I'm very thankful for it - - - - -but do we really need that cold raw weather with it?

 Today, its still cold and a bit gloomy. The sun has been playing peek-a-boo with me all morning. On the bright side, the rain and cool temperatures will prolong my beautiful spring flowers much longer than if it stayed hot and dry!

White Shooting Stars and Pink Bleeding Hearts

My white Shooting Stars are blooming right now. They have beautiful spring green colored leaves that just seem to pop against the darker foliage around them.  Their amazing white flowers bloom above the leaves on tall stems allowing the flowers to hang down in white clusters, their petals grow upwards and pushed back, making them look like little shooting stars. A definite favorite of mine!

There is also a pink shooting star which is gorgeous.  I actually have one, but something seems to always happen to the flower stalk before it blooms. Last year I sadly watched my dog step on it before I could shoo her away! I guess I need to protect it somehow! 

White Bleeding Hearts

White Bleeding Hearts are just as pretty as my pink ones, they aren't as striking a color as the beautiful pink bleeding hearts but they will brighten up any shady spot in your garden. Like many of the other spring empherals, they will eventually finish blooming and their foliage will quietly die back leaving no trace of it ever being there until next year.


  White Trilliums, Yellow Celandine Poppies, Red Trillium,
 and Pink Bleeding Hearts snuggle around a rock
 in my sitting area along my woodland path.

My Sitting Area is one of my favorite places along my woodland path. It was inspired by two towering black walnut trees standing side by side, calling out for a bench! Across from them, sat the rock in the picture above. It was covered in virginia creeper, and other plants when I discovered it. I also created a very rustic little stone patio with the rocks I uncovered around our property while digging  other gardens, linking the bench between the black walnut trees and the large rock.  For years its been evolving as I add or change plants when necessary.


Oakleaf Foamflower - 
Tirella cordifolia var. collina 'Oakleaf'

I have two types of foamflower growing along my path.
 Last week the Allegany Foamflower (Tirella cordifolia) began blooming and this week the Oakleaf Foamflower has begun flowering. Don't tell them - but this one is my favorite. Their leaves are oakleaf shaped with a tinge of red and their flower buds are a deep pink opening into a pale white/pink flower, giving it that two-toned effect. They are so pretty!

Red Trilliums and violets happily growing near this protective
 rock along the path.
This is a closeup of a Red Trillium-Trillium erectum

I adore Trilliums!
 One of my goals was to establish them along 
my woodland path. I've since been successful and have white, red, and yellow trilliums. Starting with one or two plants they have finally established themselves and are multiplying very slowly, but surely. Ants are one of the chief ways seeds are dispersed. Trilliums generally take 5 years to flower from seed, which is one reason mine are multiplying so slow!

My Woodland path is so gorgeous, new wildflowers are blooming every day.
I hope you join me next week!

Tracey :-)

I would love to hear from you, please leave a comment, or share the type of wildflowers that are blooming in your part of the world!!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Yellow Sea of Poppies! -Woodland Walk Wednesday

Yellow Celandine Poppies & Virginia Blues have filled
 my little patch of Heaven with a golden yellow glow!

It's hard to capture how magical
my woodland garden path looks at this moment!  
During this time of year, in my little patch of Heaven,
 the woods are aglow with hundreds of Celandine Poppies!
These beautiful yellow wildflowers are in full bloom!

While the poppies are dominating the woods
right now, there are many other native wildflowers mixed in and gorgeous in their own right. 

 Bleeding Hearts, White Foamflowers, and Blue Violets

Pink Bleeding Hearts

 Allegany Foamflower

Some of the flowers along the path aren't so obvious!
They make you search to find their flowers!  Right now, its the Wild Ginger plants, and soon it will be the Mayapples!

Wild Ginger patch along the path.
Their heart shaped leaves hide little maroon flowers. 

This is the maroon flower of the wild ginger plant.
 There is only one flower per plant, 
it is small and close to the ground.....
 very hard to find unless you know where to look for it!

Although I like to plant new wildflowers where I think they will thrive and be happy, I often find they will eventually move
 where they want through seeds or roots!! 

Mayapples pushing up through the mulch along the woodland path.
Notorious for spreading aggressively by roots, these will have to be moved
 or they will be trampled.

The beauty of the natural garden
 is finding a balance between keeping some structure, but also allowing the plants to find new places to settle -
like nature itself. 

Surprised by a yellow violet nestled in between the rocks
 at the top of a wall. Violets are the free spirits of the native garden!
They can pop up anywhere- but I love them and happy
 to see them most anywhere. They are a host plant and source
 of food to many butterflies and insects. There are
 certain varieties that are much less invasive
 than the common purple and white varieties.

White Trillium- It's taken me years to finally have a variety of Trilliums
growing through out my woodland garden.
The deer love to eat these!

Jacob's Ladder 

I'll end this walk with a picture of the Red-Bellied
 Woodpecker. He was busy hammering away on the tree limb above me while I was busy taking pictures for this weeks walk.  I'm so fortunate to have many different woodpeckers take up residence in our woods! I've learned through the years how to tell them apart by their call. The Red-Bellied Woodpecker has a loud chu-urr, chu-urr, chu-urro. You can find out more about this bird by clicking on  the link Red-Bellied Woodpecker below.

Red-Bellied Woodpecker - He's about 10", has a barred
 black and white back and upper wings, with a striking red crown,
 nape and lores. This little drummer is a male.
  If you look closely, they have pale red-bellies!
Until next week!!
Tracey :-)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Recycled to Sit & Relax!

Finding a place to sit in your garden
can be just as important as creating your garden!  It's so rewarding to be able to finally sit back and enjoy all the outdoor work you've done.

   In my garden. I have numerous places to sit and enjoy watching or listening to the nature around me. I just love grabbing a cup of coffee or tea and taking a breather from the kids or just life in general.

Finding that perfect seat for relaxing outdoors can sometimes be a challenge. In search for my own comfortable outdoor chair, I thought I would share a few that caught my eye!

These beautiful, colorful, and very practical folding chairs
come in a variety of beautiful colors to choose from.
This gorgeous color, is Paradise Paprika Orange, and the chair above is Blue Fish! Be creative and purchase several chairs in a rainbow of colors, such as Asparagus Green, Tuscan Yellow, Paradise Paprika Orange, or Cranberry, just to name a few colors available.

I love the idea that they can be closed up and easily stored away for the winter months or put in your car to bring with you anywhere. They seem to have a lot of versatility which I like in a piece of outdoor furniture.  All the wood used to create these clever handcrafted chairs is made with strong recycled cedar decking lumber. They also offer a nice assortment of garden furniture and art.
 Great for the environment!

If you would like to visit any of these shops on Etsy,
 just click on the link below each picture.

Barn Wood Adirondack Chairs created by newberry on Etsy

These beautiful Adirondack Chairs
 would be relaxing in any yard! They have been created from old growth cypress and recycled barn wood.  Their contoured backs, and curved fronts, add comfort for your back and behind your knees!
  I think I hear them calling my name!!

Their shop also handcrafts other pieces of outdoor furniture and
beautiful kitchen accessories that would complement any outdoor gathering.

Adirondack Chair created by maineskichairs on Etsy

  I know a lot of skiers that would just love to bring their favorite winter sport, right on to their summer lawns or porches with these creative chairs! 

 Old skis from the 1970's to current, are recycled into these fun outdoor chairs. Their frames are made from red cedar with a protective finish - perfect for years of enjoyment! They also create these adorable ski chairs for children (I think they would be great even to put in their rooms!) - what an awesome gift!

I hope you enjoyed this weeks selection of garden items!
Have a great weekend!
Tracey :-)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Wednesday Woodland Path Walk!

Mertensia virginica - Virginia Bluebells.
Virginia Bluebell is a showy, early spring
wildflower found through most of the
 eastern United States. They have dense
 clusters of pink flower buds that open
up to blue flowers!

Virginia Bluebells are so pretty!
 Like many of the woodland plants I am sharing with you today, they remind me of my spring hikes through the woods of New England where I grew up. When I started my path, my goal was to create an experience similiar to the hikes I would take. Since I tended to spend most of the time with my head looking down so I wouldn't trip, I discovered many of my favorite wildflowers! I loved nothing more than to turn a corner and be greeted with a tiny wildflower next to a rock or at the base of a tree!
That's how I tried to plant along my path, planting a little pocket of plants here and there next to rocks, trees and other little natural features I found in my little patch of woods!

 Uvularia sessilifolia - Sessileleaf Bellwort,
 Wild Oats
.Blooms Early- to mid-spring

I like to call these little plants Wild Oats, the color of their hanging bells are a light yellow reminding of the color of oats. I believe these were native to my woods and I just transplanted them around different areas.
Now they have grown into large patches, showing off their delicate little bells. One might miss them since they are so slender and their bells hang below their leaf, but as a patch of them they are very charming!

Wild Cherry Blossoms
My Husband and I buy native seedlings
every year from our County Agricultural Extension Agency.
They offer a variety of native flowering trees and evergreens to choose from each year. I believe this is one of the wild cherry seedlings that is now 8' tall! They are pretty and provide fruit for the birds later in the season.

Erythronium americanum - Trout Lily; Dogtooth Violet.
Trout lily is one of the early spring wildflowers.

Dog Tooth Violet or Trout Lily

Yellow Dog Tooth Violets bring me back to my childhood backyard where they grew in abundance along a stream we had flowing through our woods. I would sit along the stream in my teenage years and watch their beautiful flowers blow in the breeze. Their spotted green and brown leaves tightly covered this little mound along the bank and engulfed a large boulder that I would sit on and think about life. It was a nice place to escape the crazy life of a teen!!

 So I had to have them along my path too! However, after 26 years they are only now beginning to bloom! For several years I was surprised by one single flower amongst a sea of leaves! This year I was surprised to actually have four beautiful yellow flowers blooming! Woodland gardening takes a lot of patience - but like I have said before, it is so worth the wait!

Stylophorum diphyllum - Wood Poppy, Celandine Poppy.
A beautiful, yellow, early spring wildflower.

This gorgeous Celandine Poppy is only one of hundreds
 that bloom along my path.
I had purchased one little plant from Bowman Gardens
in PA, and thought it had died.
A year or two later, the foliage emerged, but no flower.
 However, once it began flowering in the coming years, it has spread to the point that I am passing plants along to neighbors or to who ever would like one!!
They do create beautiful drifts of yellow flowers, are native, and bloom for along time!  So, I think I'll let them stay!:-)

  Claytonia virginica - Virginia Spring Beau nty,
 Narrow-leaved Spring Beauty.
 Early spring wildflower that can be 4 to 12 inches tall. Very similar to
 Carolina Spring Beauty - C. caroliniana - with the primary differentiator
being the leaf shape. It is protected in Massachusetts, New Jersey,
and Rhode Island as an endangered or historical species,
according to the USDA Plants Database.

While writing this, I actually learned something
 I didn't know about Spring Beauties. I have to make a correction on last weeks walk when I showed a picture of Spring Beauties. I knew that the two patches of spring beauties I had along my path had the same flower but different leaves, however, I never took the time to look into why! Now I know that the picture above is the true Virginia Spring Beauties and the picture last week is actually the Carolina Spring Beauties! They are both beautiful, very delicate, very similar flower, but the difference in leaves was the give away!! I also didn't know that it is an endangered species. I am thrilled my little plants are happily spreading along my path! I don't know if they were endangered years ago when I first planted them but I always stress to everyone how important it is to buy wildflowers from a reputable source that grows them and doesn't take them from the wild! 

This is a picture of the Carolina Spring Beauties and White Common
Violets that happily grow this large rock.

Mourning Doves

As I was strolling along taking pictures I had two mourning doves keeping an eye on me. I love hearing their owl type sounds that they make, in fact when we first moved into this house I thought I was hearing an owl!! The joke was on me, when I put up my bird feeders and realized that the sound was coming from them!  I couldn't believe I was fooled!! I still love them anyway and enjoy having them around to keep me company!

There was also a lot of commotion going on briefly in my neighbors tree that is close to our property. I think some mating was going on!!  It was hard for me to identify what type of hawks they were but my guess was either cooper hawks or possibly the broad shouldered hawks that have recently nested nearby for the last two years! So, I will probably be seeing a few more of them later in the spring!

A section of my woodland path filling in with spring plants. 

The squirrels have been chasing each other around the trees and the male cardinals have been sweetly feeding their female sweethearts from the bird feeders. It's spring!
Love is in the air!!!

See you next week!
Tracey :-)