Tag Archives: wildlife

Japanese Andromeda (Pieris japonica)

Evergreen shrubs are often considered the backbone of a garden.  I have a decided preference for evergreens that also offer seasonal interest and I love fragrant plants.  Japanese Andromeda (Pieris japonica) offers all three, with fragrant spring flowers, a solid evergreen presence and, on some varieties, colorful new growth.

There are three varieties growing at the Garden in the Woods.  When we moved in, there were two large mature shrubs in the front yard.  One of them is at the end of its life, but I’m hoping to take cuttings.  The other graces the front door, and blooms in mid-Spring,

Pieris japonica, 22 March 2012

covering itself with long chains of delicate bell shaped flowers

Pieris japonica, 15 April 2011

which are much loved by bees.

Pieris japonica, 14 April 2011

This is probably a 25 or 30 year old shrub and most likely the plain species Pieris japonica.  There’s been some breeding and selection focused on pink flowers and colorful new growth.  P. j. ‘Valley Valentine’ is widely available with pink flowers and red new growth.  The pink variety in the Garden in the Woods is P. j. ‘Dorothy Wyckoff’.  It’s a lovely shrub, in full bloom just a few months after fall planting in this picture.

Pieris japonica 'Dorothy Wyckoff', 27 March 2010

The flowers fade from pale pink to white, but the stems and calyces remain red.

Pieris japonica 'Dorothy Wyckoff', 27 March 2010

This variety blooms a little earlier than the plain species, but that may be due to a warmer spot.  About half of the shrub has died back which seems to be a problem with Pieris if they’re not perfectly sited.  I’ll give it another year or so to recover before either moving it or dispatching it to that great garden in the sky.

The third variety in the Garden in the Woods is Pieris japonica ‘Prelude’ a dwarf shrub that blooms later in spring.  This year that translates to just starting now, although in previous years, it’s been in bloom during April and early May.

Pieris japonica 'Prelude', 10 April 2010

I’m particularly fond of the combination of P. j. ‘Prelude’ and Blue Eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium ‘Lucerne’) shown here.  Blue Eyed Grass seems to be a short lived perennial for me, perhaps because even with amendment, the soil is still clay.

Pieris japonica 'Prelude' & Sisyrinchium angustifolium 'Lucerne', 1 May 2010

Pieris japonica is a hardy shrub, preferring well drained moist soil and partial shade.


  • West Front, Sidewalk to House
  • Southwest Front Corner
  • West End of House


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Battling the Ninja Squirrels

In the beginning, there was a thistle sock for the finches,

Thistle Sock Feeder, 17 March 2010

Goldfinch on Thistle Sock, 17 April 2010

and sunflower seed for the cardinals and chickadees and nuthatches and their friends,

Cardinal, 18 March 2010

and suet for the woodpeckers, all hung on a double hook on the deck.

Woodpecker, 14 February 2011

Shepherd's Crook with Bird Feeders, 10 April 2010

View of Deck, 6 May 2010

And the hungry birds came and ate, through bright spring and summer and damp and dreary winter and autumn.  The birds were happy and well fed and grateful,

Goldfinch waiting for a turn, 16 March 2010

Titmouse waiting for a turn, 19 May 2011

Finch, 6 August 2010

especially when it snowed.

Dark Eyed Junco, 28 January 2011

Dark Eyed Junco, 28 January 2011

Carolina Wren, 28 January 2011

The Gardener, her Chief of Implementation and their offspring admired the birds and filled the feeders and took many pictures.  But the suet disappeared faster than it could be replaced and so did the sunflower seeds, for there was a snake in the garden.

Snake, 5 June 2011

The snake wasn’t any problem, at all, but it’s a great picture.  There was a figurative snake — SOMEONE who gobbled up sunflower seeds and suet, someone with fur and not feathers or scales.

Thieving Squirrel, 4 April 2010

Thieving Squirrel, 4 April 2010

Exhausted Squirrel, 6 August 2010

(I think that squirrel is exhausted from stealing seeds all summer long.)  So the Gardener in the Woods plotted to foil the thieves.  She added hot pepper flakes to the sunflower seeds, but the thieves were undeterred.

She bought hot pepper suet, and won her first battle.

She bought a squirrel proof feeder and the thieves tore at until the seed flowed out like water.

She bought a squirrel baffle, but the squirrels weren’t.

She bought a squirrel feeder, and the squirrels ate that along with the sunflowers and suet.

While the squirrels were on the deck during the second year of battle, they discovered the tomato plants in window boxes on the deck and ate all the tomatoes too, so the Gardener in the Woods had no fresh, home grown tomatoes in 2011.

This wasn’t all the trouble in the paradise that is the Garden in the Woods.  There was someone else, someone who thought birds were delicious.

Semper, Helping the Pansies Grow, 18 April 2011

So the Gardener in the Woods conceived a grand device after consulting her wizard, who is called Internet Research.


For those of you who are laughing, this is a MUCH BETTER picture than the original sketch.  The original sketch and explanation were, fortunately, understandable to the Chief of Implementation.  His comment was, “I think you’ll see Ninja Squirrels executing bird seed missions.”

So the Gardener in the Woods batted her eyelashes, and the Chief of Implementation climbed ladders and drilled holes and screwed in hooks and bought confusing hardware, and looked strong and muscular and handsome doing it all.  There were several revisions to the design of the grand marvelous device.  First the Gardener realized the number of bottles between feeders needed to be two for esthetic reasons.  Then the Gardener realized the plan did not take into consideration the logistics of refilling feeders 20 or 30 feet above the ground.  After extensive revision, the final device was thus:


And the Gardener rested from her labors.

Photo credits for all wildlife pictures go to my daughter who posts at http://cricketwerks.tumblr.com/


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Whose woods these are…

This weekend’s weather wasn’t quite this snowy.  But you get the idea, and I stayed inside the warm house instead of venturing out into the cold with a camera.

Back (North) Edge of the Driveway, 5 Dec 2009

The Garden in the Woods isn’t just mine.  I share it with an entire menagerie.  Many of them are asking when I’m going to restock on sunflower seeds and fill the feeders.  The furry, tame ones are mostly staying inside the house.

Dahlia looking out the window onto the Deck, 5 Dec 2009

I hope everyone is warm and dry tonight!

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Ribbit! Splash!

One of the very first gardens I planted after moving into the Garden in the Woods was a small water garden consisting of two whiskey barrel liners sunk in the ground surrounded by a variety of miniature plants.  I’ve been steadily filling in around this miniature water garden with miniature treasures.  Yesterday, Rose captured some amazing photographs of one of the visitors to this little pond.  Here’s the best shot:

“Hoppy” summer to you!

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