Chickadee collecting cat fur

Chickadee gathering cat fur for its nest and a gnome party

The forecast is for snow tomorrow so I hope it doesn’t make too much of a mess of the garden.

The cat sat on the mat and left lots of cat hair.  But the chickadee is into recycling, so it is collecting the fur to line its nest. The cat died; it would not be safe for a chickadee otherwise.

Chickadee with cat fur
Chickadee with cat fur

So no, not a moustache.

The trilliums just came out – red ones first – so if the snow is wet and heavy they will suffer:

Red Trilliums
Red Trilliums

There was a big gnome party in the garden, and I was invited.  Here are a couple of shots from before the dancing started.

Seated Gnome
Seated Gnome
Fence Post Gnome
Fence Post Gnome

Blue Spotted Salamander in my pond

An elusive blue-spotted salamander in my garden pond

According to the field guide, it is lost – supposed to live by Thunder Bay and down the west side of Lake Superior into Minnesota.  But it is welcome.  In a shady pond under the thorn bush.

Blue Spotted Salamander
Blue Spotted Salamander

I was lucky to spot it.  They are quite elusive and well camouflaged.  Here is the dorsal view:

Blue Spotted Salamander from above
Blue Spotted Salamander from above

The millipede on its back is likely to be dinner by now.

Skunks are not good gardeners

This is their idea of a lawn-care service.  I’ve been trying to get rid of all the grass that grows in the flower beds, so perhaps they didn’t understand that I wanted the grass in the lawn.

The lawn, after skunks
The lawn, after skunks

As gardeners, these guys stink!  Actually, they’re after the white grubs, which are just under the surface. I don’t mind the grubs; although they eat the grass roots, I haven’t noticed much damage as our lawn isn’t all that manicured so the damage isn’t all that apparent and they bring lots of robins to feed on them.

On a prettier note, the Hepatica are out.  For latin scholars, the name is from the latin for liver on the rather dubious grounds that the leaves have three lobes like a human liver.  I remember the word from a piece of anatomical trivia which I have remembered for years for no apparent reason: the hepatic portal vein is the only one in our bodies which does not flow into the heart.  It flows into (you guessed it) the liver, carrying nutrients from the gut to our chemical processing factory.

Hepatica
Hepatica

It lives in woodland and that’s where you will find it here, in our hardwood copse between the house and the driveway.  That’s where all our trilliums will be in a couple of weeks.  They are peeking out already.

Trillium bud
Trillium bud

We have deep red ones, and white ones.  This must be a red because they come out first and you can see the flower bud already in the picture.

 

Half-folded like an April bud, On winter-haunted trees

The title is from Walter De La Mare’s poem “Sleeping Beauty”.  Somehow a bud shows more promise than a seed because you can see so much more.  Here are some April buds from my garden.

First is on a hazel and shows, at the very tip, the rather inconspicuous male flower.  The pollen is wind-blown as the flowers are out before there are enough insects to pollinate.

Male Hazel Flower
Male Hazel Flower

The female flower has to be bigger, to have a chance of capturing the pollen.  It is the familiar catkin:

Hazel Catkin
Hazel Catkin

This hazel is one of the twisted witch hazels.  I’ve never had nuts on it.  I learned about the male flowers from Mrs. E. “Ma” Hazelwood, my biology teacher at Canon Slade school.  This is appropriate because of her name and I’d just like to mention what a great teacher she was with a love of nature which infected all her pupils.  I would not have spotted them myself because they are so small, although they are brighter red when first out but are just these few threads.  Now I am passing it on to you.

Next is a wild plum.  You can see the tiny flower buds.  These will be the first trees in flower in this neighbourhood.

Wild Plum Bud
Wild Plum Bud

You can also see the flowers on the crab apples, but these will be a little longer to open:

Crab Apple Bud
Crab Apple Bud

The hyacinths are coming too.  I have some beautiful red ones.  Unfortunately, it looks like the frost got the one in the back; the top set of florets are bad.

Hyacinth bud
Hyacinth bud

One of the brighter signs of spring is the marsh marigold.  We have a lot on the river banks so I borrowed one for the pond; the size of the buds says we have only about a week to wait:

Marsh Marigolds
Marsh Marigolds

All this promise of spring to come is all very well but we need a few actual flowers.  All my early daffodils are face-down in the dirt because we had a hard frost which made the stems stiff and a strong wind which snapped them.  At least we have the Chionodoxa, or “Glory of the Snow”, as the crocuses are over with except for a few stragglers.  Lots more daffodils about to open, though.

Chionodoxa
Chionodoxa