Live Orioles, Dead Dogwoods, Black Tomatoes, and Other Weekend Notes

  • The Baltimore orioles – one of my favorite birds – have arrived! Also, for the first time, we have attracted indigo buntings to our yard. To entice them, I’ve been spreading millet on the ground for about two weeks. The buntings look like someone took a goldfinch and painted it an intense, electric blue. Unfortunately, Judy couldn’t get a good picture of one.  Her good camera is still in the shop being fixed.
Baltimore orioles love grape jelly. Also oranges.
  • I got to Anton’s and Gethsemane to buy some plants Friday, then got them in the ground today. For my front yard island bed, a moist and sunny spot, I got three monarda “bluestockings,” two phlox “David,” and one obedient plant.
  • It’s too early for cleome, I know, but I couldn’t stop myself from buying a couple. I intend to fill in all the empty spots in the front yard flower beds with cleome and cosmos this year. No bare ground!
  • I also got my little front yard vegetable garden started. I installed the wooden tomato trellises I started using last year, then planted four tomato plants: Black Krim, Black Cherry, Black Prince, and Green Zebra. This will be the Year of the Black Tomato! I know it’s a little early for tomatoes, but what the hey.  Also planted bush pickle cukes, dill, and parsley. Oregano and thyme lived through the winter.
My small vegetable and herb garden is in the front yard, hidden from the street by a flower bed and a crabapple tree. I grow tomatoes (on the wooden trellises), cucumbers, thyme, dill, mint (in a pot), parsley, and oregano. The backyard is too shady for vegetables.
  • The amsonia, the columbine, the starry solomon seal, and the cranberry bush viburnum have just started blooming. Plus, I have to say this has been a banner year for trumpet honeysuckle and Nepeta “kitkat” – in terms of both very early and profuse blooming.
Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) is really big and bushy this spring. They always disappear where I plant them and pop up in various other locations. My policy is to let them grow wherever they like it.
Starry solomon seal (Smilacina stellata). White spring flowers and striped berries in summer. A tough plant that takes some shade and difficult conditions.
  • AAARRRGH. That is my mature and thoughtful response to the fact that my new  “Appalachian Blush” flowering dogwood, which I planted with such high hopes on April 1, appears to be dead. The stems are green, but all the leaf buds are clearly kaput. The April cold must have done it in. I have to decide whether I want a replacement from Forest Farm, or just buy something locally. But I REALLY wanted a flowering dogwood, and you can’t find one in garden centers around here.

8 Comments on “Live Orioles, Dead Dogwoods, Black Tomatoes, and Other Weekend Notes

  1. As I mentioned in response to your comment on Planting Oak Trees, please wait six weeks or so, before giving in to despair of losing your dogwood! Hope is eternal in the heart of the gardener!

  2. Hi! I like your tomato trellises. Do you just tie the tomato to them as they grow? Nancy at Cozy Thyme Cottage

  3. Your photos from Monet’s garden are gorgeous! // Do the orioles let you get close to them? The ones at my garden fly away if I even blink from a distance.

  4. I left a comment but I’m not sure if it vanished..I shall repeat it. Your photos from Monet’s garden are goregous! I would love to go there. // Do the orioles let you get close to them? I find if I even blink they seem to fly away. I got some grape jelly today to further entice them to linger longer.

  5. Yes, it was just beautiful. My spouse, who is the family photographer, took over 400 pictures at Giverney.

    I don’t think the orioles are more skittish than the other song birds. Best thing to do is sit quietly near the bird feeder and watch them come to the jelly. It’s funny how they seem to smack their lips/beaks, then wipe their beaks against something hard to scrape the jelly off.

  6. I think your first comment seemed to vanish because it’s held until approved. Not sure how you can exempt known commenters from this.

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