Wildflowers and the orchard

Pictures of the garden and forest over the last week – fruit trees, orchids and other wildflowers.

We had a spectacular display this year from our apples, cherry and crab apples.

Crab apple
Crab apple

From further back

Crab apple and cherry
Crab apple and cherry – apples in the background

These were taken last weekend.  We had a huge thunderstorm on Tuesday so all the flowers are gone now, though the thorn tree and the mountain ash have taken over.  There was a tornado touched down about 50 miles north so you can imagine it was very windy even here.  And from hot tornado weather we had a sudden drop to near frost two days later and the cold is still with us.

We have pussy toes in our lawn.  They’re not much to look at:

Pussy toes
Pussy toes

But if you look closely, the individual flowers are quite intricate:

Pussy toes
Pussy toes close up

The hellebores are blooming in the garden:

Hellebore
Hellebore

and the wild ladyslippers are just on the verge of opening:

 

 

Ladyslippers
Ladyslippers

We usually have lots of columbines, but I could only find one today – perhaps this was an early one.

Wild columbine
Wild columbine

In the high-resolution original, the fine hairs that you can just make out in this are showing a nice rainbow effect.

The baneberries also came out this week:

Baneberry

Slightly off the wildflower topic, this downy woodpecker is turning orange:

Woodpecker-2 Woodpecker-1

The hummingbirds are back

OK, they were back last weekend but I’m a bit behind writing because of overwork.

When the first one arrived, it went straight to the spot where we had the feeder last year and was a bit miffed when it saw no feeder.  But we had some food left over so I put it out right away so it stopped attacking the window. I am always impressed that creatures with such a tiny brain can remember exactly where to find a feeder after flying a few thousand miles.

Here are a couple of pictures.  I almost had some good pictures of an aerial battle, those little guys are not very tolerant of other hummers trying to share “their” feeder but it is getting a little too dark for a very fast shutter so they came out blurred.  I’ll try to get some later but meanwhile, two not-too-bad pictures considering the light.

Hummingbird approaching feeder
Hummingbird approaching feeder
Hummingbird climbing
Hummingbird climbing

Cardinal love birds and other garden scenes

Squirrel nest and dining room, cardinal mating rituals and bluebird guarding its nest.

The pair of cardinals that live in our garden have their bonding rituals.  Each time they come to the feeder, the male offers the female the first seed.  After that, she’s on her own.

Cardinal kissing 1
Cardinal kissing 1
Cardinals kissing 2
Cardinals kissing 2

The bluebirds are nesting again.  The male stands guard on top of the pole to which the nesting box is attached.

Bluebird
Bluebird

Now for small mammals.  In our back field there are some stone piles from when the field was cleared.  Now it is growing over again and there is a clump of pines around one of the piles.

A red squirrel has made its home there.  Here is the nest:

Squirrel nest
Squirrel nest

And the stone pile provides an excellent dining room, complete with table:

Squirrel table
Squirrel table

The table is the larger rock in the middle towards the back. The brown stuff on the top that looks like leaves is actually the remnants of all the pine cones that the squirrel has been eating. Here it is closer up.

Squirrel table 2
Squirrel table 2

The cones are shredded to get at the seeds; you can see an almost intact one centre-left.

Small mammals seem to like rocks.  We keep a “small mammal sitting-rock” on our deck because they seem to like the view and perhaps some heat from the rock.  Today it was the chipmunk’s turn:

Chipmunk on sitting-rock
Chipmunk on sitting-rock