It has been a long winter indoors and I have enjoyed doing handcrafts at the kitchen table, but I am so eager to spend time outside! Spring has come at last & life is bursting forth everywhere! I live high in a mountain climate near Mt . Shasta, CA. Spring and Summer come later than in the low lands. Together we will look around the yard that is my home. In my yard there are fruit trees, flower beds, Toad ponds, vegetables, herbs and lots of bird houses! Beyond the yard there are woods, fields and ponds, but they are very wet and we will visit those another time!
My summer house is in a little pear tree in the yard. I like it there because it is shady in the hot summer sun and honey bees visit me in the Spring while looking for pollen in the flowers. Many birds stop by looking for insects on their way to the bird bath or home. So we will start our adventure here in the Pear tree!
The pear blossoms are lovely white and there are so many bees collecting pollen in the tree that you can hear the hum of their busy wings clear across the yard! Bees are our garden friends who pollinate the trees to make help lots of fruit. Honey bees are very busy about their work in the Spring and Summer when it is warm. They need the flowers to collect their pollen from. In the colder seasons, they hibernate. Honey Bees and Bumble Bees are quite friendly and like them all!
Next I am going to hop to the ground and look for Jedediah, one of the garden toads. Jed always suns himself in the same place on the edge of the Toad Pond. He is one of my best pals, always friendly and so helpful in the yard. He eats all the bugs that eat the plants! He also eats mosquitos and flies. During the winter Jed digs a hole in the ground and hibernates, which is like a deep sleep, until the sun warms up the Earth and he can come out again. I will also drop by his house so you can see where he lives! Toads like houses to have a shady place when it gets hot and to rest in when they are not eating bugs or spending time in their pond.
It is such a nice day, it just makes me want to run and jump and skip! I am passing by the lovely little blue veronica speedwell, a helpful plant named after a Saint! We use this little blue ground cover to fill in all the empty places and let it cascade about the rocks and stones. It is the first plant to flower in the Spring after the daffodils, it is very hardy and comes back every year!
Now I have reached the vegatable patch and have found strawberries in bloom! This is always exciting because the beautiful white blossoms will turn into sweet red strawberries, such a wonderful treat to eat! The strawberry patch always smells so good! We also grow squash, lettuce and green beans in the garden. We have a short growing season where we live because of the high mountain climate. Spinach, broccoli and lettuce can grow even if it get’s cold at night.
Next to the strawberries I also found some Lemon Balm, a lovely herb that smells just like lemons. In the summer we put crinkled leaves into a pitcher of ice water or make tea, both refreshing and relaxing. So nice to have all these useful plants around & the toads to watch over them! They also get to watch over the calendula flowers in the herb garden. The calendula flowers, sometimes called “winter marigolds” are very important to us.
- Calendula flowers in the herb garden
Calendulas are very useful and healing to the skin. We make soap using both the flowers and the leaves infused in a vegetable glycerin base. Over the summer we make enough soap to last all winter and use for Christmas gifts for family and friends. We put lemon grass, sage and ylang ylang oil in the soap too to make it smell good. The lovely green color is the natural color made by using the calendula plants.
Now I am going to the near by fence to climb up the post to vist one of the bird houses. The songbirds work with the toads to eat pesty bugs and take care of the garden and yard. They also fill the air with their lovely songs and help wake us up with their music at dawn. The house I have reached is being used this year by Mr. & Mrs. Tree Swallow. Such a beautiful blue color and bright white chest they have. Did you ever notice that some bird pairs look different, the male bird being brighter than the female bird? And other kinds of birds, they look both the same? Well, the pairs that look just the same are birds that stay together their entire life and the different looking ones find a new partner each Spring. So let me introduce you to Mr. & Mrs. Tree Swallow! They have raised a family of 4 in this house! After the baby birds come out of the house and fly for the first time, they stay in the area feeding and making their wings strong for their flight south in when Winter comes. They will return again in the early Spring of the following year. It is very good for us all to help the birds by putting out houses for them as often it is difficult for them to find places to make their nests.
Across the yard from the Tree Swallow house is our Summer work table. This is a big table we made from old lumber that we use to work on as well as eat outside, sometimes for breakfast and for summer evenings. It has a shade structure over it and is next to the toad ponds. This is a peaceful and inspiring place to work, next the gardens, herbs and toad ponds.
A lot of the work we do is hand work, making things out of wool and felt , putting oil and beeswax on the wooden houses, drawing and painting pictures and sorting seed pods and pine cones. All this work is pleasant to do where we can hear the birds singing, the wind blowing in the tall pine trees and the toad plopping into the water of their pond.
The last place we will visit today is one of my favorite places! The bird bath! This is a place birds come to get a drink and also take a bath! Birds need to take baths too! They also need a place to drink all year. In the winter we try to keep water that is not frozen available for them in the winter. Every day about 4:30 the yellow warblers stop by to twitter and hop about in the bird bath! I like to sit on the edge & watch them!
Thank you everyone! Thank you for going with me ! It is going to be a busy season with lots of time out of doors and longer days. We will be gathering sticks and wood from forest and then collecting acorns and other seed pods when they fall from the trees in late summer. We also collect plants for summer tea and and dried grasses for fairy house roofs. Maybe we can meet again in the Autumn and see what we have made! Bye~~~!