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Showing posts from August, 2009

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

Our property has been given a Backyard Habitat certification by the Canadian and National Wildlife Federation. That means that we provide food, water, shelter, nesting sites, host plants for insect larvae and keep our property pesticide free for welcoming nature.
One of our annual visitors to the backyard is the Ruby-throated Hummingbird. This tiny male with the red bow tie arrives in May to visit the feeder. The female will arrive later. We put the feeder out the first week of May as we never know the exact date they will arrive. If we are late they appear at the kitchen window announcing their arrival. We know that spring and summer are finally here. Throughout the warm season we see them darting in and out of the various flowers. Red is supposed to be the colour that they are most attracted to but I can't see that they are more attracted to one colour over another in the garden. The hummingbird will even come down to investigate a colourful shirt I may be wearing.
At this time o…

Creating a Pond

My husband and I discussed building a pond in our yard. We have a half-barrel that is a habitat for gold fish in summer. For many years that was our water feature. On old water pump attached to a submersible pump gave a steady stream and sound of running water. This year when my husband started holidays we decided that this was the time to develop the pond. We had looked at ponds belonging to others and scoured the how-to books about the subject. Some were helpful and some confusing. When shopping for the liner and other supplies we discovered a good source of information in Bradford at a pond supplier called "Hydrosphere" owned by Chris Dahl, B. Sc. . He had all the answers.
Our vacation became a "staycation" into the second week as we soldiered on each day. By the end of week two we have a very nice pond and a new home for the fish. Next will be the finishing touches with water plants including a water lily and some plantings to make the site visually attractive. …

Hollyhocks: An Old Fashioned Favourite

Remembering back to when I was a child I would go around to the side of my Grandmother's house in Peterborough, Ontario where she grew hollyhocks. I would make dolls out of the blooms. The bloom itself would be the skirt and the bud of another the head of the doll. I purposefully grow them in our garden as a rememberance to her.



Hollyhocks or Alcea rosea have their origins in Asia and belong to the Malvacea family. They are grown easily from seed. They are a biennial so form a clump the first year and the second set bloom and seed. Plant in the back of the border as they grow to heights of 5 and 6 ft tall (1.5 to 1.8 metres) and have unsightly stems. Bloom time is July through September. Flowers can be single, semi-double and double and in a wide variety of colours. I have one blooming now on the north side of the house that is a beautiful pale yellow. Let some of the blooms go to seed for the next year. Hollyhocks are cross-pollinated by insects so you can never be sure that you …