Welcome to my zone 9 garden. My roots are deeply planted in the sandy soil of sub-tropical central Florida, where the summers are long and hot, but the rest of the year is paradise!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Chirp

Four weeks ago our neighbor’s dog found a baby Blue Jay, who apparently had fallen out of the nest, sitting in the middle of our backyard. I quickly grabbed an old cat carrier, and placed her inside. She did not look injured and fortunately had not been discovered by a cat, snake or hawk. I made a quick telephone call to my sister (who works for a vet) to find out what to feed her, and the next thing we knew we were off on a 4-week bird-rearing adventure.


And, what a wonderful adventure it has been. We got the same reaction every time we approached her cage. She would stand on her toes, wings outstretched, beak wide open and squawk a continuous command to feed her. So down the hatch we placed dry cat food soaked in water. Next came some droplets of water. We repeated these feedings every couple of hours (except at night -I figured her mother doesn't go out for food after dark!) because she's always hungry.


Five days later she was flourishing and had changed dramatically in size. Her blue feathers had come in around her rump and the fuzzy feathers around her neck were replaced by flat gray and blue feathers. We expanded her diet to include mealworms and pieces of crickets -canned of course! I bet you didn't know you can purchase a Can-O-Crickets at the pet store. I know I didn't but I'm sure glad it's possible, since I did not want to go digging for worms in the yard.

She grew steadily, and each evening we would place her cage on the coffee table while we watched television. My husband would take her out, hold her in his hand and stroke the back of her head. She sat perfectly still, making soft churping sounds and eventually would tuck her head beneath her wing. It was so adorable. When he would try to place her back in the cage she would start squawking quite loudly.


It was a true delight to be this close to a wild bird, and to see her grow and flourish. She became a beloved member of our family. My daughter named her "Chirp" and we all fell in love with her. We dreaded the day we would have to set her free. But we hoped and prayed that this beautiful creature could somehow survive despite having had "weird parents" and no official outdoor training.


Our two indoor cats would sit by her cage for hours watching every move she made. They were thoroughly entranced by this little bit of the wild that somehow found its way into their home. When they got too close, Chirp would squawk a warning sign and they would back off.

Friends were amazed at the news that we were able to keep the bird alive. She took weekend trips with us to our other house, attended our Mother's Day celebration and even visited with the children in my daughter's class at school. They were smitten with her and asked 101 questions about her.

On Memorial Day at noon we set her free with our best advice and well wishes. She fluttered around the tree tops and seemed extremely happy and at home in her new environment. Everytime we called her name she chirped back in response.
Around 5 that evening she flew down to the deck and ate Cheez-its with my husband. Later at 7 she flew down and sat on the balcony railing and chatted with my daughter and me. The next morning we couldn't see her and she didn't answer when we called her name. But at noontime when I walked out on to the balcony she squawked at me, flew to the railing, spread her wings, opened her mouth and squawked for food. I told her that it wasn't my job anymore to stuff goodies down her throat. I laid a piece of bread on the railing, she grabbed it and flew to a branch to eat it. That was the last time I saw her.

I find myself worring constantly about her, especially when the rain showers roll in. I step outside often and call her name hoping that she'll fly in and squawk at me one more time. There was another Blue Jay fluttering around her, so perhaps she has gone with him - at least, that will be the ending that I choose for this adventure. I hope so, but I also hope that I see her one more time so that I know she has made it in the wild.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Anyone have an Ark?

If the rain keeps up we're going to need an ark to get around. The last 5 days have been one rainshower after another. We've received about 7 inches, while other areas in Florida have received much more.

Our neighbor called yesterday evening to tell us that one of the trees in our backyard just tumbled into the lake.

Sure enough, the roots of one of the oaks on the hillside snapped right off. We need the rain, just wish we could have spread it out over a period of weeks. Oh well, my yard and I are both extremely grateful for this timely deluge!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Hip, Hip, Hooray!

It finally happened! Following our unusually cold and dry winter we finally got our first thunderstorm of the summer season, and not any too soon. You could just hear the shriveled up dry grass and plants sighing with relief as their thirst was quenched. As the rain ended a beautiful double rainbow could be seen sprawled across the evening sky. The perfect ending to the day! In this photo you can just barely see the second rainbow perched atop the brighter bottom one.

Hopefully, the rains will continue to come and our dried up grass will repair itself.



Monday, May 11, 2009

My Favorite Color Combination

I love soft muted pinks and whites in the garden but I have to say that my very favorite color combination is cherry red, purple and yellow. They're a bold combination of colors that grab your attention, and it works well in our large front yard.


The cooler color (bluish purple) is up front while the vibrant red Knock-out roses and yellow daylilies command you to look deeper into the garden. Orange is also a great color with yellow and purple. I discovered that once when a Mexican petunia came up next to an orange lantana. That was a very eye-pleasing combination.
Even from a distance the roses and daylilies refuse to go unnoticed. For summer purple color I'm going to add some pentas and maybe some lantana.

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