Sunday, July 26, 2009

Our roses during the month of May

During the month of May, our roses put on a beautiful show. And I thought it was about time I shared some of my best photos of them. We have quite a variety, yet most of their proper names are a mystery to me. The majority of our roses are in our front yard which has a southern exposure. We have four others on the east side of our house, and only a couple of them are located between our workshop/shed and the back of our house. These roses that are between the two buildings get early morning sun and late afternoon sun. They are also "protected" by a bunch of my cannas. And the mixture of colors is kind of funny. Our house and shed have a New Mexico adobe type of color, our cannas are the bright neon orange, and the roses are a vivid pink, as you can see in this photo below. The cannas are missing from this photo, but you'll have to use your imagination for that color.
This miniature rose is located by our front pathway. It's a bright salmony color, and is quite prolific when it's in bloom.
This one is called Golden Showers. It is supposed to be a climber, but it does better as a "bush." We used to have it in a pot near our front patio, but it never did very well once it was pot-bound. So, my husband planted it in the ground between our front pathway and our crape myrtle tree, and it is flourishing.
This beautiful rose is a floribunda named Princess of Wales. I got it "free" as a gift for purchasing other plants through This was also in a pot for quite a few years, and is now in the ground in our front yard and seems to be a bit happier. I really like its white blossoms with dots of pink on the undersides of its petals.
This is one of our three hybrid teas that are grouped together just outside our large kitchen window. In the front yard it's located between our driveway and our crape myrtle tree. This is a perfect location for them, a southerly exposure and a great place to see these beauties first thing in the morning when I go out to the kitchen to feed our kitties.
This is another miniature rose, I think it's called Candy Stripe. I've had this one for many years, and again, one that was in a pot for years until we were able to landscape our front yard about 6-7 years ago. Gosh, I can't believe it's been that long ago we put in the pavers and landscaped with a drip irrigation system.
And back to our trio of hybrid teas outside the big kitchen window. This one is called Mojave. Its color looks so much like a Mojave or southwestern sunset.
This pink rose was here when we bought the house, and it looked like it had been there for quite a few years. I love how this rose first opens up with the dark petals on the outer edges and the inner section a lighter shade of pink. This rose has a very nice fragrance. The bush itself (the main trunk) looks terrible. It looks like somebody had taken a hatchet to it. But, it was most likely damaged in a storm and/or a tree branch may have fallen on it when it was much younger. Anyway, this rose is located on the east side of our yard, and we've been fixing up the side yard, which means we are thinking of disposing of it. But first I want to try to get some cuttings and see if I can root them. I'd love to have another one of these roses, and I have no idea what its name would be.
This is the third rose of our trio of hybrid teas (front yard). This one is called Desert Peace. I love its multi-colored petals. It seems to be appropriately named since the colors could possibly make one think of the beautiful southwest desert (especially in the spring when the desert is in full bloom).
This is what the month of May brought us in the form of roses. I hope you liked seeing the beautiful colors we enjoyed.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Terns and swallows at Shoreline

Heidi and I re-visited Shoreline, Mountain View on the first of June. We had not been there since last fall. We had no idea of what birds we would see this time of year. So we were pleasantly surprised by what we ended up seeing. One of the birds we had fun watching as well as being challenged to photograph them in flight were the Forster's terns. They are loud and gregarious birds, and certainly a challenge to photograph. Below is probably my best shot of a tern in flight, flying over a flock of gulls. We think the gulls were California gulls. In the distance you can see what looks like a couple of white circus tents. That is the amphitheater where quite a few musical artists perform every summer.
Here's a second shot of a tern in flight.
While watching the terns we also saw a pair of gadwall swimming in the channel. From what I can tell, it looks like a pair of females. I think the males would be more "flashy" than this, and both of these ducks had orange and black bills, which is prevalent on the females, and not necessarily on the males. Besides, I would think that the males should have been in breeding plumage by the first of June. Anyone care to affirm this or correct me on this?
When the gulls got tired of the terns flying over them, they decided to "take off." Here's my shot of several of them in flight.
Shortly afterwards, Heidi and I decided to walk a little farther. And in another location that, at first, looked like there wasn't anything to see, she spotted in the distance a small "flock" of white pelicans. How cool! If you click on the photos you can probably get a larger image.
Shortly after the pelican experience, we thought we would head out. At first I was telling Heidi about barn swallows that have nested around a building there at Shoreline, and I was disappointed that I didn't see any flying around. Last year, my husband and I visited around this time of year and saw many barn swallows, all in flight. And I was never able to get a picture of them. No sooner I had mentioned this to Heidi, then we saw a few swallows flying over to a concrete wall, more like a culvert. The area had a large chainlink fence around it, to keep people out of it for safety reasons. Here are a few shots I took; you can see part of the chainlink fence in these two photos.
Ooohh! Love those wings!
There was a wooden stairway and railing nearby where more of the barn swallows were perched. I find these birds almost as beautiful as bluebirds. And I was certainly surprised that this many birds sat still long enough for me to get a photo of them.
On our way back to the car, we could hear a few song sparrows. It sure wasn't easy to locate them until Heidi pulled out her "trusty iPhone" (which has the iBird app on it) and called a song sparrow close enough that we could get a shot. How cool is that? Just an FYI: we don't do that very often. I'd rather try pishing before using the iBird to call the bird(s).
Needless to say, it was a good day for different species I hadn't seen in a while.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Lilies in May

The month of May we experienced a multitude of color from most of our plants. Here are some of my daylilies I was quite pleased with. For years I had all of my lilies in pots, but finally, last year we put them in the ground. We planted all the daylilies around our crepe myrtle tree, and they apparently love their location. Here are a few photos I took during the last half of May.

If you look closely you will see a spider inside the calla lily blossom.
And here is a big bee getting into one of the Stella d'oro daylilies. These daylilies are planted in the parking strip. The purple blossoms in the background is the wooly thyme at the peak of its blossoms.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

More May flowers from our yard

I posted this photo (here) on a previous post. This was our side yard earlier in the spring, mostly in May. During the last week of June my son and husband started revamping that part of our yard. So the yellow flowers are now all gone. I don't remember the name of these flowers, but I've always called them (and that's what they look like to me) marguerite daisies. At the moment, the rose bushes are still all intact, but we have been discussing about where to replant them. There is one bush that will not be moved, and that is the deep red colored rose. That plant has probably been there for at least 15-20 years and we really don't want to lose that one. It's a prolific bloomer.
This is what the side yard looks like today with only the rose bushes (on the left). Between the rose bushes and the house is a gravel pathway. The rocks are what was removed from the front yard. My son and husband have also installed new water pipes from the front yard where the dark green plants are showing on the right, all the way back to the end of the back yard. We now have a faucet at the end of the back yard so we can more efficiently water our orange tree and future veggie gardens.
And now on to some of our May blooming plants. This photo (below) is a flowering pomegranate. This little tree is actually our neighbors', but it stands between our two side yards near the front. This particular tree always seems to "hide" several of our yard birds, mostly house finches and lesser goldfinches. I do think there are several house sparrows in this tree, too, but most of them are usually living and perching in our neighbors' palm tree that sits out in the front yard.
Our honeysuckle plant is on the west side of the house, not far from the flowering pomegranate. It seems to like this location; we've only had it for about a year now. We planted it where we once had a passion flower vine growing. I miss that plant, but this one is nice, too. It certainly does a good job attracting bees.

This is my autumn sage. It used to be a potted plant, but last summer we put it in the ground and it is doing so much better. It has room to spread its roots. It seems to always have flowers on it.
And here is one final shot of our marguerite daisies we had growing in the side yard. May was the best "show time" for these flowers. Once June came along, the flowers seem to be finished blooming.
These pink flowers are called sea pinks. We have several of them planted in the front yard closest to the sidewalk. They bloom in May and then look like tufts of grass the remainder of the year, including the winter months (provided we don't get a bad freeze).
This is part of what we call our parking strip - the strip of land between the street and the sidewalk. Besides the big old elm tree, we have planted and now enjoy wooly thyme and Stella d'oro daylilies. There is also a small amount of some type of sedum ground cover I planted there about the same year I had planted the wooly thyme. The sedum usually blooms in June, after the wooly thyme is done blooming.

I hope to post more yard flora featuring our roses. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

MIA - again!

Well, I've been missing in action again! Another whole month has gone by; I can't believe I didn't post anything during the month of June. Granted, we've been busy, but it seemed like the desire wasn't there as well. At least I've been trying to keep up with everyone else's blogs, and commenting now and then. I spent a few minutes going over my photos trying to find the last ones I posted. And now I realize I've got quite a few photos to share and posts to blog about.

The last post I mentioned going to our local county park where there was a "population explosion" regarding all the Canada geese we saw around the lake and picnic area. I mentioned in the first few sentences that Heidi and I went to look for nesting birds, namely snowy egrets and possibly great blue herons. We wanted to walk over to an area we had not checked out before. On our way we crossed over the creek by way of a pedestrian bridge. This area is known to have cliff swallows nesting all around the undersides of the bridge. And we enjoyed all the activity by the cliff swallows. They seemed to be quite busy, but we couldn't see them very well once they went under the bridge. As we continued to the other side of the bridge we could see quite a bit of activity on the ground. Swallows were flitting and fluttering all over the muddy ground. I saw one lone killdeer nearby; I wonder if this bird was preparing to build a nest, too.

If you click on the photos you can probably see a larger image. This photo, below, shows some of the flitting and fluttering activity, but I mainly focused in on the swallow in the lower right corner. This one was gathering little bits of grass.
Apparently, we were being entertained while these swallows were hard at work. They were busy making mud balls to take back to their nests they were building under the bridge.
Here is a closer view of these fascinating birds.
We finally made our way over to the eucalyptus grove. And, lo and behold! We actually saw great blue herons nesting! Can you imagine seeing these large birds way up high in the tops of the trees. They sure did look "out of place." There wasn't much activity other than seeing a heron here and there craning their beautiful long necks.
These birds were not necessarily easy to see in our binoculars, and it was even more difficult to get half-way decent photos. They definitely blend into the trees.
This one made me think of a sentry guard, keeping a lookout to make sure no predators invaded his territory. I do believe the females were probably incubating their eggs. I don't think there were any hatchlings yet. (This was back in early-mid May).
And if you can look closely, you will see this bird stretching his wings while his beak is barely visible behind the branch.
On our way back from the eucalyptus grove to the bridge Heidi and I saw this beautiful western bluebird. This is the very first time I have seen a bluebird in this valley. But then I don't have the "right stuff" in my yard to attract bluebirds. Maybe some day I will.
I love how this bird fanned his tail for us. He even let us get a good look at him from all sides.
As we were returning to our car by way of the trail we kept hearing this beautiful song bird, and then finally it made an appearance. I love hearing song sparrows. Getting a decent shot of this bird was a challenge, too. But here are a few shots I thought were decent enough to post.

I caught him in action here while he was singing.
As for nesting snowy egrets, we could only get a distant glimpse of white now and then (with our binoculars) on an island out in the middle of the lake. A nice well protected location for some snowies.


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