Author Archives: Mary

Winter Ugh.

So over winter at this point!   Less than 10 days until spring?!   Not here.   Cold and windy today.   25 degrees with a ‘feels like’ of 10.    And there’s this strange little pellet snow.


On a positive note, had a great visit to the new Hobby Lobby in Duluth, MN recently.   It’s probably a good thing it’s an hour and a half away!    I could’ve spent all day there.  In addition to all the great crafty things, found some great things for the garden too.   Can’t wait to go back!  In the meantime, thinking of things to plant in these.   Any ideas?

Hobby Lobby Finds

Hobby Lobby Finds

Hobby Lobby Finds

Hobby Lobby Finds

Hobby Lobby Finds

Hobby Lobby Finds

Hobby Lobby Finds

Hobby Lobby Finds

Downy Woodpecker: A Reliable Deck Feeder Visitor

Still winter… so the birds are my only garden entertainment.  

Downy Woodpecker 2/23/13

Downy Woodpecker 2/23/13

On February 23rd, this pretty Downy Woodpecker girl came to visit.   Thankfully all birds don’t fly south for the winter.   These woodpeckers are year-round visitors to our feeders.

According to my daughter’s bird book, “The Downy Woodpecker is the smallest woodpecker in Wisconsin and the most common.  It is built to survive and can balance on weed stems and small branches, unlike larger members of the woodpecker family.”
Wild About Wisconsin Birds: A Youth’s Guide to the Birds of Wisconsin (Adventure Publications)



Downy Woodpecker 2/23/13

Downy Woodpecker 2/23/13


No surprise she loved the “Woodpecker” suet block.  Its ingredients are:  Black Oil Sunflower Seeds, Mixed Tree Nuts, White Proso Millet Seeds, Cracked Corn, Peanuts, Gelatin.

Birdola 54328 2-Pound Woodpecker Seed Cake


Has anyone tried making their own suet for the birds?   I might have to look into that!

More pictures of the Downy Woodpecker:

White-Breasted Nuthatch

Check out the White-Breasted Nuthatch!  

White-Breasted Nuthatch

White-Breasted Nuthatch

Not many visitors to my bird feeders the last few days.   Thought with the warmer temperatures (high of 41 yesterday!) and the snow melting off the feeders, there would be more yesterday.   Only noticed this guy – a male White-Breasted Nuthatch.  I love to watch how they feed upside down! 



Checked out my Birds of Wisconsin Field Guide and it says the males have black caps and the females are similar looking but with a gray cap and nape.    I’ll have to keep a closer eye out to see if males or females are visiting.  Without knowing that detail, they all looked the same to me.

White-Breasted Nuthatch

White-Breasted Nuthatch


The book also says “the nuthatch’s habit of hopping headfirst down tree trunks helps it see insects and insect eggs that birds climbing up the trunk might miss.”  Pretty darn smart!

Birds of Wisconsin Field Guide, Second Edition


More Pictures of the White-Breasted Nuthatch:


And it begins…

So excited to be kicking off spring a little early by starting some seedlings.   And they may be tiny but seeing my little seedlings growing is just awesome.


A few of the collected seeds


I collected a LOT of seeds from my garden last fall.   Excited to see what I’ll learn from those.   Will they even germinate, will they grow big enough to be planted back in the garden, will they grow true to the original plant, will they be some wonderful surprise?!   And if they don’t, I’ll learn from that too!


The year before last, the only seeds I collected were from a Mystic Merlin Mallow.  Although I didn’t collect those until spring.  They germinated easily and I was able to grow many healthy plants.   They did come true to the parent plant and were beautiful additions to the garden wherever I could squeeze them in. Shared some with my mom and a couple friends too.  So I guess that was the bug that got me collecting all the seeds I could find!


Frozen Dirt!

Had a little set-back to start off!  The dirt was frozen solid.  My mom gave me a bale of seed starting dirt for Christmas and we moved it (more like slid it down the stairs and across the yard – it was HEAVY) to the garden shed.  Well it’s a little cold out there so ended up with frozen dirt.  Thankfully was able to chisel off some after placing a warming mat on it for a few hours.    Already learning lessons for next year!
So this year, I planted my first trays on Sunday, February 3rd.   I started with two big trays of Petunias.    Two were a mix of pink and blue wave petunias.  The other was white petunias.   I over-seeded because I wasn’t sure how they would do.  Well they germinated easily and within a few days, I had plenty of itty-bitty seedlings.   Going to be so hard to thin those out.   The only problem I’m having is that I used inserts in my trays with long rows and as I found out last year, those are hard to keep from drying out.  Especially in the middle of the tray.  So watching those closely.

First Trays - Petunias       Petunias - Day 5

Trays Ready To Go!

Trays Ready To Go!

A couple days later (2/5), I planted more trays with some random seeds I collected.  Liatris, Black-eyed Susan Vine, Potentilla,  Rudbeckia, False Indigo, Verbena, Purple Petunias, and Party Girl Mallow.   So far, all of those have germinated and are growing well except the mallow and the verbena (well actually there is one little seeding).

More Snow!

More Snow! 🙁



Like I’ve said before, this is just an experiment and looking to see what I learn from all of this.  And it sure helps when I look out and see the new half of foot of snow we got this week!







Last Day of January!

Winter WonderlandThe end of another winter month means we are one month closer to spring!    Goodbye January!! I’m so excited to get outside and ‘play in the dirt’ but that will probably have to wait until April.   Thankfully, with the arrival of February, there’s a lot of other garden related things to do!  Planting seeds indoors, studying magazines and garden books, exploring seed and flower catalogs, and most importantly lots of dreaming and planning!


Up here in Northern Wisconsin, there’s still a lot of time left for winter but some days when the sun is shining and the birds are chirping, it’s not too bad…

Winter Birds    Winter Birds

Dreaming of Spring!


-18, Feels Like -38 at 7:30 am 1/22/2013

It’s so cold out today that it’s important to remind myself that spring is just around the corner!   -18 this morning.   The girls were happy to have a day off of school though!

Already making plans for planting seeds soon.   Plan is to start on Saturday, February 2nd.  Last year started on the 9th so think I’ll move it up a week this year.   Going to start with petunias and some perennials.    Collected a LOT of seeds from my garden last fall so looking forward to growing some of my favorites and I’m sure lots of surprises. I learned a lot already from collecting the seeds but know seeing what grows (and what doesn’t!) and grows true (and what doesn’t!) will be an even bigger education about how my garden grows!



This is a sign of my mom’s from her friend Sue.

Dreams are watered in the Gardener’s heart…even in the Cold of Winter.

Keep dreaming!



Welcome to my garden journal!   Just getting started but hopefully we will all find things to enjoy here along the way.   Looking to learn and grow!