Weekend Notes: Goldfinches, Heavy Artillery, Right Plant Wrong Place

Seed Buffet for Goldfinches. As summer lingers on and seeds ripen, our yard is providing an all-you-can-eat buffet for goldfinches. Funny thing, earlier this year goldfinches were very scarce at my birdfeeders. Purple finches and house finches in abundance, but no goldfinches. Was there an alarming regional decline in the goldfinch population? (I always suspect …

Weekend Notes: Disappearing Berries, We’re Jammin’, and Flop Goes the Perennial

Disappearing Berries. As they are ripening very early, the birds are consuming the berries of fall and late summer much earlier than normal. The black currants continue to ripen, as they do throughout the summer. In addition, grey dogwood (Cornus racemosa) berries are eaten as soon as they turn greenish white, so you almost never see the …

Weekend Notes: Floral Fireworks, Lean on Me, and Gardener in the Rye

A Glorious Weekend. After whacking us around for the last couple months, Mother Nature decided to take it easy on us poor mortals for a few days. First we got some serious rain (finally) on Wednesday and Thursday. Then Friday was the kind of day summers should be made of: sunny, dry, warm but not hot. As luck …

Currant Events: Berries for the Birds

This time of year you can see the cardinals and robins hopping around my wild black currant (Ribes americanum), helping themselves to the black fruit. I have a corner of my backyard devoted to wild black currant, which is one of my favorite native shrubs. It grows about 3-4′ and is about as carefree as …

Question of the Week: Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad Wasp?

I’ve always felt a true gardener should be comfortable with insects, and mostly I walk the walk on that point. In my view, bumblebees are cute and I’m happy when I find spiders on my plants. The bad guys like hornworms and Japanese beetles engender irritation, not disgust, and I have no problem dispatching them with various old-fashioned …

Baltimore Oriole Parenting: Pass the Jelly

A male Baltimore Oriole feeds a juvenile at our feeder this afternoon.

Weekend Notes: Who Was that Masked Bird?

Another Avian First for Gardeninacity: Yesterday a Cedar Waxwing came to visit a couple of times. Here’s hoping he soon returns with a flock of friends. This is the first sighting of this species in our yard. I’m guessing the red elderberries made the difference, since this bird is a big fruit eater and has …

Weekend Notes: Soaker Hoses, Gluttonous Grackels, Spring Berries

Break Out the Hoses. It’s definitely turned into a dry Spring. Hot, sunny weather, and just a little over an inch of rain for the past thirty days. It’s a point of pride with me that except for the vegetable gardens, I almost never water. I do hand water my containers and new shrubs and perennials. …

Wild Parrots of Chicago

Yes, there are parrots living wild in Chicago. See below for proof. These parrots were eating at our peanut feeder this morning, then flew up to the telephone wire when Judy went to get her camera. I’m guessing they have down coats to make it through the winter.

Spring Stirrings

The snowdrops are blooming. Hooray! This is something of a relief. Many of them emerged from the ground during those mild January days we had, and I was afraid they’d get blasted by a hard freeze. But it appears that snowdrops, as the name implies, are hardy beasts. The crocuses (croci?) are always up. In …