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Home is where the water is.
Posted: 02 Dec 2010

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Jerry Sullivan's Blog




Home is where the water is.

Category: The back yard | Posted: Thu Dec 02, 2010 3:37 pm

When I first constructed a concrete "pond" I thought it would take a long time for the wildlife to find it. Two days after I filled it with water and naturalized it with a variety of plants, a frog moved in and sat on the margin to enjoy the new water view. My wife and I tried to reason out the methodology of its arrival. Perhaps a crow or an animal had dropped it. A few days later several frogs dotted the rim of the pond. I then realized they arrived there on their own. New meaning to saying "Build it and they will come." As time progressed the pond attracted many new and interesting creatures but no tadpoles. Tadpoles became a goal. If a frog laid eggs in the pond the pond would be their permanent home. Slowly the environment changed. Still no frog eggs. At a seminar on vernal pools I learned that 10% of the population of a vernal pool migrates to other areas. This is good! The nearest qualifying body of water was a quarter mile (400 meters) away. This is bad! A lot of hops for a little frog. The years dragged on and still no tadpoles. I even consulted a world renowned expert on amphibians during a bird club talk on the subject. More years. No eggs, no tadpoles.:-( This year there were seven female bullfrogs and one male, lucky frog:-) Still no evidence of eggs. During fall while preparing the pond for winter I saw a very small bullfrog. This is good! It was about 3/4 in (2cm) long. Then another, and another. Seven all together that I could see. Much better! I thought the eggs would be laid in the large pool, they did not. They used the small waterfall pool. Next spring I will look for the small bullfrogs and watch as they grow to maturity. On a peaceful summer evening I will be able to listen with a different ear to the croaking of the frogs, the ones that now call my pond their home.

Last edited: Fri Oct 26, 2018 12:52 am

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Excavation Ed and his High-Tech Tunnel

Category: The back yard | Posted: Mon Nov 29, 2010 3:33 pm


For most homeowners the second thing a person sees as they near your home is the lawn. Even living in the same place many years is no guarantee that the green patch in front of your house has the desired look. The fact that the lawn fertilizer people have not gone out of business may be some indication that a lot of us are still trying. The spring of last year was no exception. Armed with a pile of quality soil from the local nursery, lots of grass seed and a springtime "go get em" attitude, we tackled the bare spots in the backyard. Soon the spots were covered with soil and seed. Water was liberally applied. And we waited with anticipation. Well not quite, as watching grass grow has its drawbacks. Nothing else gets done. Time passed and the seeds sprouted. Green "fuzz " had appeared. Closer inspection of the newly greening lawn also revealed a hole. Nothing in the design of the lawn indicated that there was suppose to be a hole. The hole was filled in and seeded. The next day the hole was back. Chipmunk holes have an interesting quality about them, they are neat. From 20 feet away they are hard to spot on a lawn. O.K. Mr. chipmunk, I'll fix you! Out came the garden hose with an appropriate measure of dirt and water the hole was again filled in. Next day, Mr Chipmunk had re- excavated the hole with unerring precision. This time rocks were added to the slurry of mud. Next day? Yep, a new hole next to the rocks occupying the old hole. New strategy, give excavation Ed what he wants....a new hole. Just one that is unseen.
From an old plumbing project I had a few pieces of PVC pipe about 3 feet long and just the right diameter for the furry excavator. I made a trench from the new hole to a flower bed and buried the pipe with a 90 degree fitting aimed down into the newest hole. The pipe was covered with dirt and seeded with new grass seed. The entrance was hidden with a garden accent rock. A feature we would both like. Next day:) No new hole. Excavation Ed had the chipmunk equivalent of a High-Tech tunnel much to the envy of his neighbors. The setting sun brought the quiet shadows of evening and we were serenaded with the "chit chit chit" of Excavation Ed sitting next to his new hole.

Now were did I put those other pieces of pipe? I don't see them anywhere.

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The Summer of Tamias Striatus

Category: The back yard | Posted: Sun Nov 28, 2010 5:15 pm

Now nestled in its underground burrow the designer of our backyard golf course is sheltered from the perils of surface life. Throughout the summer chipmunks scampered around gathering food, chased each other and enjoyed the warmth of the afternoon sun. This past year the area experienced an explosion of new striped rodents each bent on making its own borrow complete with an adjoining burrow for guests. The result was an endless array of holes for the backyard putting green. The little creatures are neat. As architects of the hidden hole, quite often their new residence is only discovered after mowing the lawn. By then they have stuffed the shelves and cupboards with the sunflower seeds and last years acorns. Actually they pack chambers with nuts, berries and seeds in quart quantities topped with a nest for winter. When their winter slumber is interrupted they have easy access to snacks.
What they do with the excavated dirt is a mystery because they leave no traces at the entrance. I half expect someday to find a dump truck sized pile of dirt in the middle of the woods far from any road.
To some degree they regulate their population density by guarding their territory and chasing intruders away in a seemingly endless marathon. This year I counted eight separate "territories" in our back yard fringed with many more in the neighboring woods and yards. As the fall gives way to the cold of winter the activities of these non-hibernating sciurids diminishes until next spring, when there may be a small knock at the door. :-)

Stop by again soon and read about exploits of Excavation Ed and his High-Tech tunnel.

Last edited: Mon Nov 29, 2010 11:56 pm

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Orphans of the Corporate World Part 5, The Break Room Gang

Category: The back yard | Posted: Fri Nov 26, 2010 4:56 pm

For years the plants lived in the long planting box in the small break area. They thrived with the regular attention . But as time passed there were fewer people to tend the plants. Eventually there was no one and the plants withered . Before the eventual demise of the building, I passed by the plant box. Soon the remaining plants were in their own intensive care unit, plastic bags have other uses besides keeping sandwiches.:-) Several weeks passed before they showed signs of recovery. During the last months before I retired the plants sat in new potting soil and munched on fertilizer. Now the rescued orphans are thriving in their new location. Along with the other plants they always brighten up the room. As winter approaches with the howling wind and the drifting snow the plants dream of exotic vacation places (a spot on the back deck or yard), cool spring showers and summer breezes. And I dream right along with them. Seven more months and counting. :-)

P.S. Tall Plant wanted into the picture...No one argues with Tall Plant:-)


The Break Room Gang with Tall Plant ( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )






Break Room Gang Look for a vacation spot, Tall Plant Helps ( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )





Last edited: Thu Nov 13, 2014 1:32 pm

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Orphans of the Corporate World:Part 4 Plant With an Attitude

Category: The back yard | Posted: Thu Nov 25, 2010 4:43 am

The occupants of the building had cleaned out their offices. Carts of boxes with books, papers and years of mementos made their way down the hallway. Riding on some of the carts assorted plants were going to their new homes. Soon the building was silent. But in the corner of one office, on a windowsill, sat a tall plant unwanted by its previous owner. The plant enjoyed the sunny window even if no one was watering it. The plant could go without water for long periods of time. No problem! The days turned into weeks. No Problem! The weeks dragged on, the sound of buildings coming apart could be heard in the distance. No Problem! Somewhere the building was opened to the winter elements. The cold chased the warmth from the deserted building. No Problem! Walking through the hallways for the last time I spotted the plant on the windowsill. Standing there defiantly, with hundreds of sharp thorns, waiting for someone to touch it much less move it. No wonder its previous owner left it there. But this would not be the first tall pincushion of a plant I owned. I took the plant with me, stopping by a conference room to collect another plant. The tall plant would ultimately go with me when I retired.

The plant now has a sunny warm corner. Everyone leaves it alone, it likes it that way. See picture




Plant with an attitude ( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )





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Orphans of the Corporate World part 3 of 5

Category: The back yard | Posted: Wed Nov 24, 2010 4:18 am

People entered the room in the middle of the hallway with laptops, notebooks and a variety of snacks. The scheduled 10:00 morning meeting was about to begin. The opening page of the presentation on the large screen greeted the participants as they sat down. Several foliage plants around the room did their best to make the atmosphere cheerful. When the people finished they usually left the door open, something the large floor plant in the corner appreciated since it received more light from the well-lit hallway. For years the plants attended many the meetings, until one day, one meeting had a lot of concerned people. The next meeting was no different. Then increased activity in the hallway gradually gave way to long days of silence. Occasionally someone stopped by to remove one of the plants until only one remained. The silent days dragged on and the remaining plant grew weaker, its leaves wilted and started to turn brown. Then someone carrying a tall plant entered the room looked at the drying plant and took it back to his office. Months later the plant had recovered. When the person retired he took the conference room plant with him. It now resides on a window with other prospering plants. See picture.


Conference Room Survivor ( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )





Last edited: Wed Nov 24, 2010 4:25 am

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Orphans of the Corporate World, Part 2

Category: The back yard | Posted: Mon Nov 22, 2010 12:47 pm

Smothered by Kindness

The long well lit hallway had many offices, lots of people and lots of plants. The office at the end of the hall was occupied by the executive assistant, her boss and several happy plants. As the plants grew so too the need for more office equipment. One day a large green plant found itself on a window sill outside the assistant's office. This was O.K. since the regular watering and feeding schedule was not interrupted and it sat next to a nice large window. Many people walked by and enjoyed the green plant and life was great. Until, one day the assistant walked out of her office with a plant, a bag and a box. The next day was a repeat of the first, a plant and two boxes. Soon there were no plants in the office. The assistant did not return and the plant did not receive its usual watering. The lights in the office remained off but someone did water the plant. The next day someone else watered the plant...glug. Now the abandoned plant was being watered several times a week. And the plant started to loose its color, too much water by too many kind people. A sign was put on the plant and the watering slowed down, the sign said "Water me only on Wednesdays" The pale green plant never returned to its former self. Maybe, someday, if people remember only Wednesdays. As someone was leaving on his last day with the company he took a cutting of the pale green plant.

Now the color has returned to the new leaves of the plant rooted from the cutting . It sits in a new pot, in a new window, in a new happy home. See picture



A new beginning ( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )





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Orphans of the corporate world, Part 1

Category: The back yard | Posted: Sun Nov 21, 2010 4:37 pm

They each sat on opposite sides of the lobby entrance next to the large windows. The large majestic plants greeted visitors as they entered the lobby. They along with the other smaller plants around the room made for a pleasant area to meet and discuss business. People routinely came by watered and fed the plants and the plants flourished. For many years the plants grew taller and more majestic.
The change was small at first, something most would not notice but things did change. The number of people coming through the lobby diminished and the watering schedule was erratic. The large plants began to sag and the bottom leaves turned brown. One cold day people opened the doors to the outside and began to move desks, chairs and boxes into waiting trucks. Other people took some of the plants away but the large tall plants remained in the cold. Later the lights in the lobby were not turned on, only the windows supplied light for the rapidly dying brown leafed plants. One day someone came by and watered the plants but it was too late for one plant....it was dead. The other plant in desperation sent up two new shoots from its remaining roots. The lobby was dark and cold when someone saw the two shoots of green next to the dead plant. The person cut the shoots free of the plant and went away with the two small shoots. A few days later the ceiling of the lobby collapsed as the wrecking crane tore a hole into the side of the building. Dust covered the once proud and majestic plants.

In a warm well lit room two shoots looked at their new surroundings. There were many other plants but none like their parents. The shoots settled into their new pot and started to grow. For a year they grew, now they each need a new pot. Which the orphan shoots of this true story will get in the spring. :-) See Picture. :-)

Come back soon for part 2 of Corporate orphans "smothered by kindness"



Majestic lobby kids:-) ( photo / image / picture from Jerry Sullivan's Garden )






Last edited: Sun Nov 21, 2010 4:46 pm

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Huff and puff and I'll blow your yard clean. Previews:-)

Category: The back yard | Posted: Sat Nov 20, 2010 10:04 pm

Well the weather people did it again. I guess it's the bane of the profession. The expected gale force winds of 30-40 mph roared in at 5 to 15 mph(8-24 km/h). The leaves tripped over themselves not really knowing which way to go. In the end the leaves are sitting where they were before the party started. Tomorrow will be raking day.

I have to take pictures for the next blog entry.

Previews of a coming blog: Abandoned and alone these parents hope for a better life for their offspring. But will they be found in time? Will they adjust to a new home? Next on this blog......come back soon.....for the results of this gripping saga :-)

This blog entry has been viewed 345 times


Planting the seeds of curiosity

Category: The back yard | Posted: Wed Nov 17, 2010 11:40 pm

I am forever putting seeds into a pot or the ground in hopes I might grow something interesting. Often I put the seed(s) in the nearest pot. The kitchen window plants are the usual benefactors of my curiosity. The seeds are promptly forgotten about until they emerge. This may take weeks to months. Sometimes when I am repotting plants I come across a failed attempt. Occasionally there is success! Which usually prompts the question, what is it? I once grew a "forest" of orange trees. Instead of throwing out the seeds, I put them in a pot. Now I know citrus trees have thorns. Living in Zone 6a the orange trees did not go outside.

Decisions, decisions decisions, do I put the next product of my curiosity under the tree forum or the seed forum? Logic says tree forum since more people seem to go there than the seed forum. Soooo we will call this a tree seedling question but you have to go to the trees, shrubs and roses forum to find out what the question is.:-) Hint: look for a Date Palm.

Edit: Link here http://www.gardenstew.com/about20652.html

P.S. it even has pictures.



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