What an amazing way to start the day; such nourishment for the soul!! This morning I was sitting in my lanai by 6.45am. It was going to be another day full of brilliant sunshine and very low humidity and I was ready for it. I love the subtle yet clear light and the silence of the early morning.
Within moments of being there it was as though someone had pushed a button. For the next 30 minutes I was treated to my own High-Def, surround sound, 3-D, wide screen live show. And through it all the sun rose higher and the light got rosier.
The Hummingbirds came out in full force. Within minutes there were at least four couples buzzing in and out and over the yard. I know they were couples because each set of two sported one ruby-throated male. It seemed as though there were bright red diamonds flashing about the garden.
The couples dived and rose together in perfect unison, twisting this way and that. Suddenly, they would come to an abrupt hovering halt, facing each other. For a few moments they hung quivering in space about six inches apart and then it seemed as though they leaned in to each other in two or three darting movements, as if exchanging quick kisses. Then off they zoomed for some more madly ecstatic flight.
Meanwhile, in the background, at the birdfeeder on the back fence, Mamma and Papa Cardinal were taking turns at having breakfast. The male, in all his glorious scarlet beauty, would eat then hop up onto the fence and stand guard while his mate had her fill. When she flew back into the tree behind the fence, he would go again to the feeder and eat some more. As she flew down again, he resumed his spot on the fence and gallantly awaited until she finished.
While all this was going on, several Titmice were playing at catch-me-if-you-can in and out of the wrought iron work of the old gazebo. I was sure they were just marking time and waiting for the Cardinals to finish feeding. And in fact, as soon as they flew off, the Titmice descended on the feeder and took their turn.
I had one more unexpected treat in store. After the Titmice had finished at the feeder and the Hummingbirds were taking a well-earned rest from their tactical maneuvers, I went inside to make some tea. As I stepped back out into the lanai I noticed a large black bird on the feeder. It was a very “glistening” black, almost like a raven. Its beak was also black.
He was about the size of a Cardinal, but sleeker, slimmer. It was definitely not as large as a crow. I began ruffling the pages of my “Birds Of North America” by Kenn Kaufman but could not find a match. Then suddenly the bird moved around on the feeder and I was looking at his profile. There on the side of his breast where the wing met his body, was a flash of vivid red underscored by a slash of white.
Once again I checked my book and I believe I found my answer. There amongst the Blackbirds was a species called the Red-winged Blackbird. It was obviously a male which still had not completely acquired his full summer plumage, hence the slash of white. Although the book indicated that these are “abundant and familiar” birds throughout Northern America, this was the first time I had seen one.
By the time my new visitor had left the feeder, everyone else had retired to the trees or moved on to greener pastures. With the exception of a couple of butterflies who went their merry way, dancing from bloom to bloom. What a wonderful gift God has given us with His creation and what a blessing to have so much of it in my small patch of the world.
Finally the sun has deigned to grace us with his presence, his light, and his warmth down here in (normally!) sunny Florida. The biting cold, the frosts, and miserable grey are hopefully a thing of the past. And not a day too late; my garden Muse was absolutely itching to get to work because I had major projects to accomplish!
This year I decided to shake things up a little in my garden. The St. Francis flower bed, so named because his statue oversees this part of the garden, had developed a deep-rooted weed system which was hard to control. So I decided to dig deep, dig out as much as possible of the offending growth, and put in a fairly large (10’ x 6’) paved patio center-front of the bed to eliminate some of the back-breaking work of weeding. I have dressed up the patio with pots and urns of various sizes and colours which are planted up with bulbs, seeds and some partially developed plants.
The Quan Yin flower bed, obviously named because her statue reigns supreme here, is much the same as before. However I have decided to fill it with even more flowers this year. There are also hundreds of seeds lying just below the surface of the soil which hopefully will germinate and bloom as the year goes by. I also plan to add to the collection of brightly coloured chimes and wind twisters that hang from the wrought iron framework of the old gazebo that I moved to this bed when the lanai was built last year.
The front yard has undergone the biggest transformation: the side two of the three small flowerbeds have been eliminated and returned to sod, while the central flowerbed has been enlarged to four times its original size. I have walled it in with rustic stonework, elevating the back part to a higher terraced level. The front area has been filled to overflowing with brightly coloured spring flowers and hundreds of seeds are also germinating here for later in the season.
However, the central attraction of this new terraced bed is the weather-worn, trellis arch that originally sat just outside the screened-in back porch room. This arch, which was deeply rooted into the ground on each side with six years of steadily growing orange trumpet vine, was dug up and relocated to the center of the raised terrace part of the new bed out front. A couple of extra trellis panels have been added on each side of the arch to accommodate the copious trailing branches that grow from the vines, and I have planted several rose bushes in this elevated section too.
All of this was done with much help from my assistant gardener, Linda – a very dear friend without whose help I could not have achieved this major overhaul!! This morning, after many anxious days of waiting and watching, new green growth showed on the winter-hibernating vine that wraps itself intricately around the arch:-).
As I sit in the lanai writing, my heart is full of joy and my soul sings in gratitude as I survey the end result of much hard work. It continues to be a work in progress and God’s creation will become even more beautiful as seeds develop into plants and then bloom out in a riot of colour. And this joy and gratitude are magnified because I know that passers-by can feast their eyes and experience their own heart joy.
My happiness is complete as I watch the birds swarming at the feeders. Squirrels are scurrying in the grass and chasing each other up and over the back fence. Lizards and frogs are awakening from their winter lethargy and today I have seen at least a dozen butterflies.
Richard has taken some lovely photos of the garden today, some of them early this morning in the subdued sunrise light, and some of them around lunch time. Enjoy!!
You can see all 45 photos at the Spring Garden Update Photo Album.