First Thoughts of Spring: The Sweetest Window-Mount Bird House!

March 10th, 2015 Posted in Home & Garden | No Comments »

A few months ago I purchased Kettle Moraine’s window-mount style bird house and can’t wait until Spring arrives, fairly soon too, to get a first glimpse of a feathered friend’s growing brood!  I have to admit that the initial placement wasn’t the best… huhhh lesson learned… and I must move it soon, that is, after the ice around it melts :(.  Before placing it outdoors and tethered on metal wiring (because I don’t exactly trust the grip of any little suction cups; even though there are three), I stained the cute wooden house a very light brown in hopes to extend its outdoor longevity.  Though I must scoot the house over to the other side, the spot seems otherwise perfect because I have a casual dining set up which will allow me to watch how the birds are doing while providing them enough shade and privacy (I have a vintage valance with small cut-out designs).   Fingers crossed, I hope my Carolina wren or chickadee mom will eventually take residence :)!  Should this fortunate happenstance occur, I will be sure to update all of you bird-lovers with photos…

*Photocredit: Kettle Moraine

My Favorite Nursery Mail-Order Companies

November 6th, 2014 Posted in Home & Garden, Special Projects | No Comments »

While I’m a big supporter of local nurseries/small businesses, sometimes I’m seeking particular plants that my nursery doesn’t normally stock or sold out of which forces me to seek out mail order companies.  Late into the growing season, I was inspired to build up my largely ignored shade garden.  For years I believed that only full or partial sun plants were worth my while, that only they were beautiful.  I overlooked the astilbes, hellebores, dicentras, ferns, lily of the valleys, hostas, etc.  All are lovely and well worth a second glance…

Jackson & Perkins

Nature Hills Nursery

White Flower Farm

Burpee Seeds & Plants

Home Depot Garden Center

Hirt’s Gardens

H. Potter

Renee’s Garden Seeds

Gurneys Seed & Nursery

Terrain

Spring Hill Nursery

Gardener’s Supply Company

Planet Natural

Natural Gardening

 

*Photocredits: No Dig Gardener UK, Living Fashion New Zealand, & Thompson Morgan

 

 

Hummingbird Garden with Perennials & Annuals

August 1st, 2014 Posted in Home & Garden, HummMomma's Journal | No Comments »

I started gardening in 2004, creating a perennial raised-bed garden (always remember that raised beds need extra watering!).  When my husband and I returned from our Cape May trip early June, after discovering the presence of hummingbirds, I decided to read more on the topic (a resource post will follow this one).  Transforming my old perennial garden into a hummingbird garden has been a great source of joy for me!  Through this process, I’ve rediscovered my passion for gardening; sadly I had abandoned my perennial garden for a few years minus some basic pruning, post Fall & winter cleanup, and fertilizing (meaning there were no new plant installations/landscaping for a while).  Even with the recent new plant additions, I have kept a few of my previous perennials, namely Dragon’s Blood, daylily, bleeding hearts, and miniature roses.  The others since have been transferred to a neighboring garden patch which we usually refer to as “The Bowling Pin” because of its shape.  I saw a question posted to The Hummingbird Society Facebook site (hope you will decide to join!) regarding the perfect zone-specific plants and flowers to establish in one’s garden to successfully attract these birds.  My best advice is to consult with your local nursery; they can be a wealth of information and you will have the confidence in knowing your purchase will have a higher potential to thrive in your garden.  I know, shameless plug here to support your local small business, but you know how much I love small businesses ;)!  My local nursery even had a printout highlighting perennials versus annuals (was very thankful for this list)!

The following are for Zone 6 (keep in mind these are dependent on sunlight and water conditions in your garden):

Astilbe
Beard’s Tongue
Bee Balm
Begonia
Blue Indigo
Bugleweed
Butterfly Weed
Canna
Cleome
Columbine
Coral Bells
Dahlia
Delphinium
Foxglove
Fuchsia
Garden Phlox
Gayfeather
Geranium
Gladiola
Hollyhock
Honeysuckle
Hosta
Impatiens
Joe-Pye-Weed
Lantana
Lily
Lupine
Morning Glory
Monkshood
Montbrieta
Nasturtium
Pentas
Petunia
Pincushion
Red-Hot Poker
Red Valerian
Rose Mallow
Sage
Snapdragon
Sweet William
Turtlehead
Verbena
Veronica
Zinnia

There may be more hummingbird-attractive plants I have not included on my list; I don’t consider it comprehensive since I’m still learning like you.  I will try to update as I encounter them in the future.  I hope this list will be helpful to all of you in Zone 6!  Seems like nectar-producing species, red (hummers can see color), and/or tubular-shaped flowers (in which they typically find their bugs of choice here) are the way to go ;).  Remember to set out your nectar feeder(s) and keep them very clean and full.  The hummingbirds will become more and more reliant as nectar-producing flowers diminsh with the progression through summer into autumn.   Also, place your feeders near these hummer-friendly plants.  Hummingbirds love a place in which they can enjoy opportunities for shade, part sun, full sun, and cover (mature trees & shrubs) as a protection against potential danger.  I suspect this is why they’ve chosen to remain in our garden for this reason.

Below, is a picture of my hummingbird garden in the middle of its transformation, enjoy =)…

As always, happy gardening!

*Photocredit: NYCupcake

 

nycupcake hummingbird garden

 

Hummingbird Care

July 30th, 2014 Posted in Cool Gadgets, Home & Garden, HummMomma's Journal | No Comments »

It’s been my pleasure to be our hummingbirds’ (Scout, Honey, Tibolt, Lili, +?) temporary guardian until their return to the South.  I like to believe that Westchester NY is home and the Carolinas, Florida, or Mexico are their version of a holiday ;)  This year I began putting out feeders in the beginning of June but I plan to hang feeders perhaps the last week of April 2015 to welcome them back home =).  As I have promised… hummingbird care…

Nectar Feeder & Nectar Guard Tips/Feeding Port Guards: Aspect’s HummBlossom 4oz. red/rose & purple/plum.  I have two extra HummBlossoms to maintain a constant rotation… for them, no waiting ;).  BTW, if you were wondering whether red or purple makes a difference, know that they will gladly accept nectar in either colored feeder.

 

 

Shelter from the Elements: A Humbrella provides the following… “protects hanging hummingbird feeders from the elements and crawling insects.  Solar grey color slows evaporation,” as per Amazon.  I’d like to add a shady place to take a short rest and a way to still be able to watch the environment around them while they are feeding.  I have been very pleased with all my purchases.

I’m reserving the red hummer-friendly dome especially for end of the season when there might be a few hummingbird stragglers desperately searching for food.  Since this is my first year caring for hummers I’m not sure what to expect; I may need to keep my feeders out until October/possibly November?  A friend who also lives in Westchester NY has told me that she and her husband have seen more hummers and other hummingbird species aside from the ruby-throats beginning late summer.  Something to look forward to =)!

 

 

Recently we’ve endured some heavy rainstorms so unfortunately one of my nectar feeders came flying off the Humbrella hook, but fortunately the feeder was found intact (was afraid that it would break against the stone path which cuts through my garden or that it couldn’t be easily located after the jostling from heavy winds).  I had thought long and hard to consider the best way to secure the feeder to the hook and remembered that I had successfully used twisty ties to prevent our squirrels from stealing an entire cake out of our suet feeder.  If you are not a fan of the twisties, you may also use a medium-sized gear tube tie/rubber tie (can be purchased from Home Depot or any local hardware store)… I find that it has done the trick perfectly…

 

gear tie tube assortment

 

Nesting Supplies: Female hummingbirds use spider webs (to help hold nesting materials together), lichen, parts of flowers e.g. dandelions, and bits of cotton or thick threads for nest-building… and this is where you come in ;) (see below).  Male hummingbirds do not play a role in creating the nest or rearing young or even feeding the mother of their offspring like in other bird species so let us do our part to help the females; I’m sure they would appreciate it…  Also, while male hummers have ample opportunity to bulk up before flying south, the new mothers may unfortunately lose a lot of their weight in caring for their young.  Please take into account their arduous flight south during the Fall, leaving very little time for the females to rebuild their nutrition and regain some weight :(.  I believe this makes them even more deserving of some extra help.  I keep these nesting materials either under a weather dome or tied to a tree branch below thick foliage; they dry amazingly quickly after storms so not to worry!

 

 

Nectar: 1/4 Domino pure cane granulated sugar + 1/2 cups hot water (to melt sugar) + 1/2 cups cold water (please remember to cool the solution before offering to them!)= will fill 2 HummBlossoms perfectly with no leftovers.  I have refrigerated the homemade nectar solution for a day or two if I made early preparations then re-heated (again, only offer nectar after cooling!)  My personal preference is to not use commercial or red-dyed nectar because using granulated pure cane sugar is affordable, healthier, and meets their nutritional needs (comes closest to the nectar of flowers).  Please don’t use honey, syrup, or any artificial sweeteners since these have been known to be harmful!

 

 

Cleaning: Dishwashing liquid, warm to hot water, dedicated sponge, bottle brush, mini brushes, plus very thorough scrubbing and rinsing!  Remember to carefully clean and rotate usage of nectar guard tips as well!

 

Nectar Change: Every 2.5 days (though it has been listed on various websites that 3-4 days as still okay; remember to keep in mind the weather conditions & temperatures), I do spoil them a little but honestly I wouldn’t want to drink from the same dirty glass for 2 days, would you?  The development of black mold in nectar can make your little feathered friends very ill and has been known to cause death.

Jeweled Hummingbird Swing: This isn’t a must but it’s a cute idea…  a hummingbird swing, which provides a place to rest as they are keeping vigil near their food source.  I’ve seen small birds perching on the one my husband had set up but in the following You Tube videos, you will see that hummers are indeed also drawn to it given the right spot…

Video 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4HywkHUXNy8

Video 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MIyG7yR79ns

 

Songbird Essentials Copper Hummingbird Swing

 

*Photocredits: Amazon.com

I purchased most of my supplies through Amazon or my local markets.  Click on the pictures for product brand names and descriptions.  Please view my previous post regarding ant guards.  Feel free to contact me using the webform below if you have further questions.  I will cover the topic of Zone 6 plants and flowers to attract hummingbirds in an upcoming post.

Hummingbirds play a very important role in pollination (especially consider the grave decrease in the honeybee population).  Hummers also eat undesirable soft-bodied insects like ants, mosquitos, aphids, gnats, among others…  so in caring for them, you are also contributing to the balance and well-being of nature.

‘Til next time, XOXO…

 

Potpourri & Diffusers

July 9th, 2014 Posted in Home & Garden | No Comments »

I’m starting to get back into using potpourri and diffusers around my house.  It’s a very simple way to dress up parts of your home, create themes/a desired ambiance, and freshen up stale air.  Below are some of my favorites; what are some of yours?…

Hillhouse Naturals

Altru Gamillah

Voluspa

D.L. & Co.

Bath & Body Works

Pier 1

Etsy

Lafco

Historic tour & botanical garden gift shops sometimes sell these products too!

…or better yet, make a diffuser simply by purchasing a pretty container (you may already have something perfect), reed sticks, and a lovely medley of essential oils!  Now this sounds like fun :)!

*Photocredit: Lafco

lafco duchess peony diffuser

A Place on Earth’s Delicious Scented Wax Melts

November 1st, 2013 Posted in candles, Home & Garden | No Comments »

A Place on Earth in Cape May, New Jersey can easily be considered heaven on Earth.  Nestled in the basement of what used to be the old Ocean Street bank is this wonderful little south Jersey secret.  I had way too many soaps to justify more bath purchases but my Scentsy burner certainly needed a scented wax melt replenish.  These are the drizzle and herbal bars by Swan Creek Candle Company I came away with that day… Snickerdoodle, Roasted Espresso, Crisp Cotton, and Walk in the Woods.  I also loved the glittery appeal of Birthday Cake but had to draw the line somewhere ;); maybe after I use these up eh?  Ohhh, there were so many good scents to choose from!  Where do I begin, I thought?  They also stock other popular brands like Pacifica, Tokyo Milk, etc.  Plus they had a large buffet bar against the back wall with a colorful array of freshly-made sugar scrubs mmmmm!  You don’t have to necessarily visit Cape May either to experience A Place on Earth (just click on the top link or to the left; each will take you to a different site)…  love online shopping! =)

*Photocredit: A Place on Earth @ CapeMay.com

 

Target & Bed Bath & Beyond Bedroom

October 4th, 2013 Posted in accessories, Decor, Home & Garden | No Comments »

Over the years I’ve learned that merely a change of curtains or an update to bedding (linens, comforter, duvet) can bring bigger welcome changes to one’s room than one would imagine.  If you are on a tight budget or find it inconvenient to have your bedroom painted, give these two simple things a try first.  My favorite sateen or Egyptian cotton bedding is from Bed Bath & Beyond.  Even my husband recognizes the importance of investing in good, comfortable sheets ;) ; afterall, a big chunk of one’s life is spent sleeping so might-as-well happily hunker down.  I’m also quite smitten with Target’s Simply Shabby Chic Cozy Blanket, Threshold Medallion Reversible Quilt (love those reversible quilts!), Simply Shabby Chic Bramble Duvet Set or the like, Xhilaration Comforter Sets, to name a few.  I recently purchased the SS Candy Floral linen set and can’t wait to dress the bed with it!

*Photocredit: Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Other

 

 

 

 

 

Faery Fanaticism

August 14th, 2013 Posted in Books, curiosities, Decor, Home & Garden | No Comments »

My faery fanaticism began with a book recommendation from my friend, Sylvia.  She suggested none-other-than Signe Pike’s amazing book, Faery Tale.  Following this was Grasslands Road’s fairy homes set, fairy-themed garden decorations, and other great books by Brian Froud.  I will admit several years ago I fell in love with Cicely Mary Barker’s Fairyopolis and How to Find Flower Fairies, which I discovered accidentally during a search on an unrelated topic.  Even as an adult I love pop-up books!  This year I received a beautiful fairy & flower bird feeder/bath for my birthday from my mother-in-law.  I unwrapped it immediately upon its arrival on my doorstep, quickly assembled it,  and placed it straightaway in my perennial garden.  Every morning I see it from my bedroom window and I imagine my garden faeries are pleased with it too.

*Photocredit: Amazon & Grassland Roads

 

Planning for Spring…

February 1st, 2013 Posted in Home & Garden, Organization, Special Projects | No Comments »

My Success Choice Planner has inspired me to make earlier plans for my Spring garden (perennial and planter).  It’s the perfect activity to enliven the typical idyllness of midwinter and to look forward to yet another exciting growing season!  My favorites are wildflower seed packets, but unfortunately, I have not had much luck with them.  This will not stop me from trying again.  Below are my top picks for gardening needs.  I hope I haven’t inadvertently left someone off my list…

Local nurseries:  Please support small business!

Jackson & Perkins

Terrain

Burpee

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

Charleston Gardens

Renee’s Garden Seeds

The Cottage Gardener

Easy To Grow Bulbs

White Flower Farm

*Photocredit: Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, Renee’s Garden Seeds, Jackson & Perkins

 

 

Cotswold Dream Cottage

January 25th, 2013 Posted in curiosities, Decor, Home & Garden | No Comments »

What a sweet little cottage decoration to add a touch of the English countryside to your garden!  It’s crafted by American artisans and hand-cast using a fiber reinforced concrete which is expected to be able to endure virtually any climate.  It even has a removable roof; just darling =).  One word of warning, it’s a hefty $305.00 =(.  I hope there’s a sale soon.  Charleston Gardens also has many other versions of this charming cottage…

*Photocredit: Charleston Gardens