Late December Odds and Ends

Photo of yellow and blue birdhouses

 

As we come into the new year, it’s the right time to put out birdhouses. You can buy unfinished ones and paint them as you like, a fun project for the nongardening season. Birds are more likely to nest if they get accustomed to seeing them well in advance of spring. I noticed woodpeckers always make holes on the west-facing side of my front yard maple. I assume that’s because afternoon sun warms the nest for nighttime, while the morning sun’s warmth would dissipate long before it was really needed. My garage wall faces the same way, so with luck my houses are in just the right place

 

 

Photo of pretty hen and chick plant

 

I didn’t know I had a “hen” as pretty as the red and gold one, and also a little cobweb style. They were part of a variety pack I bought last summer. In early winter, despite bomb cyclones, we should rake off our bearded iris, our peonies, and our hardy succulents, like hens and chicks, also groundcovers. A light topping of dry leaves is good, but a heavy weight of soggy leaves will harm them, especially the iris.

 

 

Photo of aloe flower

 

My aloe decided to bloom once it came indoors for the winter. No hummingbirds to pollinate it available! My Strobilanthes are blooming, too, with their pretty, penstemon-like lavender flowers. I recommend bringing them in, because they have a better chance of wintering over than you may think, and the indoor temps seem to trigger a bloom that’s definitely worth seeing. I’m trying to carry my rex begonias through winter, by keeping them in the garage, where it doesn’t get too dry. I think they die indoors because central heat doesn’t suit them.

 

 

Photo of limb from tree stuck in ground

 

I took my cat Ed out for his walk, and something odd caught the corner of my eye. This “fencepost” fell from one of the oaks, and planted itself perfectly upright.

 

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