This Northern Black Phoebe seems to be very comfortable in our garden. It visits throughout the day, chirping, and always on the watch for insects. Apparently it finds a lot of food here. It is perched here on a dried Delta Sunflower plant that I left in the ground, for three years now, because the branches provide good vantage points for visiting birds. Perched on a bamboo pole, the black phoebe is vigilant. These birds are usually associated closely with water sources such
A White Throated Sparrow has been visiting our garden for the past few days. I thought at first that it was a white crowned sparrow with unusual markings - the white throat and yellow markings near the eyes. But it turns out to be a white throated sparrow, which is very exciting because I've never seen one before, let alone have the honor of one visiting the patio and backyard. This larger, full-bodied sparrow is usually found in the summer in forests throughout Canada the no
Ooh, the Verbena De La Mina is starting to produce its first blossoms of the year. It's so wonderful to see because last year the voracious slugs devoured the entire plant down to the nubs. It's possible that the plant was spared this year because I didn't plant Platystemon californicus “Cream Cups” nearby in the walled plant bed. The slugs loved to eat the cream cup leaves, and the plant also provided a good hiding area for the critters. This winter the De La Mina is so lush
The brown-eyed bushtits visit the garden several times a day, in a flock of at least a dozen. They seem to find a lot of insects to eat, flying from shrub to shrub, tree to tree. From a distance they look like cute little balls of fluff, but they actual have very intense expressions. This one is checking a salvia shrub for insects.
Our first sunny day in a week, and look what I'm seeing in almost every empty area of the front yard, California poppies sprouting everywhere! They're even sprouting through the wood chip path, but I guess I'll leave them alone. I used to think poppies bloomed once, and that was it. Oh no, it's not the case. For example, I deadheaded this plant twice during the blooming season last summer and fall. Now it's lush, with foliage about 12 inches high. And here are more sprouting.
After several cool, gray days and a gully-washer of a rainstorm yesterday, the sunshine was sheer delight today. While checking out the backyard and patio, I heard the distinctive humming of a bumble bee. I looked up toward the neighbor's ivy vines, and sure enough, there was a large yellow-faced bumble bee resting on a leaf. It was the first I've seen in several months. Of course, I wanted to take a photo of the bumble bee, and ran indoors to get my camera. Alas, the great b
While moving some pots around on the patio, I was pleasantly surprised to see the freesias pushing up their foliage in a pot that I had under the lemon tree. The pot has now been moved, along with a second freesia pot, to a more prominent place on the patio, their usual winter/spring spot.
The Northern Mockingbirds seem to be very comfortable around the garden, all year round. A couple of them checked out the garden beds for insects and berries. And they scored with the asparagus fern. Unbeknownst to me, there were some ripe red berries somewhere in the plant. Looking for asparagus fern berries...with Minnie Mouse Cuphea in bloom in the background. Meanwhile this mockingbird decided to check out the Chiapas salvia. Look at that expression!
After heavy rains, the California hummingbird sage Salvia spathacea is producing its first blooms of the year. This plant is native to southern and central California. It spreads by rhizomes, but since our plant is growing in a large pot, it is contained, not sprawling. We have had it for at least a decade, and since we are renters, re-potted it a couple of years ago into a larger container, after we moved to our current location. So far the plant seems happy, and produces lo