Julie’s Backyard Wildlife and Gardening Blogging

Julie’s Backyard Wildlife and Gardening Blogging

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to our Home

Isn’t that what Door Wreaths are for?

Well, tell that to the mother bird that built her nest into it.

Look at Her Beautiful Eggs

And, There is the Sweet Little Mother Bird, Isn’t she Pretty?

So, Come On In!

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Oh, look!  Another Bird’s Nest in the Wall Planter!

Directly above the Pitcher Plant

Right Next to the Front Door

The Walkway to our Front Door

White Rocks and Topiaries

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Welcome to our Home

We are more than happy to share it with our animal neighbor’s that either crawl, slither, fly, or just wander in.  It always makes for excitement to see our animal’s each and every day drop by for a visit.

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This is my second garden blogging website post.  If you would like to take a look at my first one…….

Click Here For:  Julie Garden Blogging

My Glorioso Vine

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The vegetables that we grow in our garden is only to supplement our diet.  There is no way that we can grow as many tomatoes, bell peppers, etc. that we eat on a regular basis.  But, it does help.  It is also very rewarding spiritually to us to be outside in nature, planting, growing….  There is nothing like it.  We highly recommend it.  🙂

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New Blog Entries Start Here

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July 29, 2020

Poor Little Skink Lost His Tail

I love the skink’s in our backyard.

  Their skin is so shiny and black that it sometimes looks blue. 

It was a few weeks ago and Gordon and I were out on our lanai with our dogs when I saw this beautiful skink near me where I was sitting.  I shooed him away because I knew our dogs might get him and I didn’t want that to happen.  Well, he came back to me and that is when Spooky, our killer Chihuahua/Rat Terrier mix went after him! 

Spooky grabbed his tail, he shed it, and then got away while the tail is still flopping around to distract the predator.  When we yelled, NO, to Spooky, she stopped but it is in her nature to be a serial killer.  She has so far killed a squirrel.  It has upset us as we like to view our property as a sanctuary for all animals yet we have a serial killer among us.

All we can do is to watch her closely when we are outside to hopefully prevent any more killings.

p.s.  The skink survived and it will grow another tail.  But, I had developed a nice peaceful relationship with our backyard lizards that are not afraid to approach me, and now I’m afraid they will be.

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June 25, 2020

Hanging Baskets

Green String of Pearls

Gordon and I have been meaning to hang some baskets on our lanai now for a year years.  Well, we finally got around to doing it.  We have a few more that we want to hang as well.  But, here is the start.

(Write Up By Gordon)

When I first screwed in the wrought iron hook, the screws pulled out from the weight of the hanging plant.  After some thought, I saw that the beams to our Lanai were connected together using this U-shaped metal section.  You can see a section of it held on with the five screws to the right of the hook.

I wrapped a three inch section of the beam connector around the wrought iron hook then screwed the connector to the beam securing the hook.  The strength of the side screws would allow for more weight to be applied to the hook and wouldn’t pull out so easily if at all.  I was able to obtain the U-shaped metal from my contractor who built our Lanai as well as the screws.

I think it looks great and was a simple fix that goes very well with the rest of our Lanai.

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Just Checking on my Garden

My Succulents are always great. 

So happy the Curcuma’s are coming in.

Checking on my Side Project

We’ve got Eggplant and Tomatoes Growing Here

We have to keep them covered underneath this tent otherwise the birds and squirrels would eat our tomatoes.

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June 10, 2020

Growing Asparagus

As much Asparagus that we eat, we actually contemplated growing some ourselves.  I have no idea whether or not this will be lucrative, but we wanted to try.  So, we ordered some to plant and here is where our project starts.

I purchased this planter a few years ago.  It’s been sitting in the garage all this time.  It has been during our Coronavirus lockdown that we have been utilizing what we had on hand and not to go out shopping.  We’ve been plowing through our garage and backyard construction area for pots and soil, and vegetable cages.

Here Gordon is using tacks to secure this black screen all around the wooden planter.

The screen will line the planter and help to prevent the soil from falling through, and allowing the water to flow through for good drainage.  I told Gordon to place it onto blocks because this side of our yard floods and I didn’t want it to sit in water when it rains.

Here Gordon is using thumb tacks all around the insides of the planter as he secures the lining.

Like so…….

Time to Add the Potting Soil

(Remember potting soil for pots.)

Adding the Potting Soil in the Planter

The Asparagus Crowns

It is recommended to position the soil into a pyramid and then drape the Asparagus Crowns over top.

Looks Beautiful!  Now it’s time to cover with potting mix.

I like the fact that we utilized some of our old landscaping border blocks for this project.

We most likely won’t see anything for a year. 

But it will be a year to look forward to.

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Although at this writing we have entered June, 2020, we are a bit behind on our usual seasonal gardening.  We usually start full force in March but because of the Coronavirus I wanted us to take things a bit slow in order to see where things were going for us as a nation and therefore that would tell me where things were going for us as a family. 

For a few months I just wanted us to focus on what we had going on in our backyard and property and not focus too much on new buying.  I was just afraid to spend the money at first.  I wanted us to just clean up and culture what we already had going on.  Then it was baby steps after that.  Buying a few new herbs here and there.  And as time went on I felt more comfortable in us buying larger pots and even some fruit trees, vegetable plants, more herbs…..

Audrey Hepburn once said, ” To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”

So, whether or not I personally believe in tomorrow, I believe that I still need to plant a garden.  First of all, it is very therapeutic.  It is helping us to cope with the trials and challenges of the political climate we live in right now whether or not our country’s problems are solved or not.

And second, we have some nice herbs, vegetables, and hopefully some fruit from our trees to enjoy.  After all, life is temporary.  We never know when our time is up but we can enjoy what time we have here until that time is over.

So, on that positive note…..  🙂  Here is what we have been up to.

We have been ordering plants from the internet to be delivered to our house.  One particular herb that we were interested in was this Longevity Herb.  It is supposed to grow quite a bit and we needed a trellis.  So, Gordon made one.  We have bamboo growing in our backyard so he just cut down a few chutes and created this great trellis.

TRELLIS HOW-TO

I, Gorodn, started by cutting some large bamboo chutes from the many we have growing in our backyard.  I wanted two with a curve or bend in them so they would overlap each other and still be straight.  I then cut a long bamboo chute which was about the same thickness, but was very straight.  I laid the two bent chutes on the concrete floor and found they crossed each other very well.  Then, I cut some cross bars for the trellis in lengths that would hang over the edge of the vertical bamboo chutes.   I found some thick bamboo skewers in our kitchen, a drill bit the same size, and some white craft glue to adhere all the pieces together.  Lay out your vertical chutes and find a good overlapping point which makes an “X”.  Use your drill bit to drill a hole at the center of the intersection of both chutes.  Place some glue on the end of the skewer and thread it through the first bamboo chute’s holes.  When you get to the point of going through the next bamboo chute, place some more glue on the skewer to hold the two pieces of bamboo together.  Push the skewer through the other bamboo chute, allowing it to extend out about 1/8 of an inch.  Using a pair of needle nose pliers, twist the end of the skewer to break it off leaving about 1/8 of an inch.  Looking at your “X” sort out what will be the top and bottom of your trellis.  Now, place your horizontal pieces on the “X” making sure you leave enough space at the bottom of the trellis to be placed into the dirt (See above picture).  Space out your other chutes on the trellis to a distance of your liking.  Using your drill, make more holes centered through both bamboo chutes and place a piece of unglued skewer through both bamboo chutes.  Doing this after each hole is made will keep the individual chutes in place as you drill new holes.  Once you have completed, start gluing the bamboo skewers the same way you did the first one.  Let the glue cure overnight then you are ready to use it.

Planted in our Herb Garden, our Longevity Herb and Gordon’s Trellis

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The Arrival of our Pomegranate Trees and our String of Pearl Plants

This was such an exciting delivery!

We decided that we wanted to really go ahead and fix up our backyard lanai.

In order to plant the Pomegranate Trees we ordered two large pots and lots of bags of potting mix. 

Remember, potting mix goes into pots. 

Because there needs to be good drainage in the pots, and we didn’t want all that soil leaking out of the bottom of the pots onto our lanai, Gordon had the idea to place towels in the bottom to catch that soil.  Fingers crossed that it will work.  🙂

Gordon placing plenty of soil into each pot.

Now he’s planting each tree.  This is very exciting!

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How I Love Plants In Trees

We had these series of air plants in our backyard that I wanted Gordon to make good use of.  So, I told him I wanted them in our big oak tree right outside our backdoor.  That way we can see them as we walk outside.  I just wanted something charming.

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Our Backyard Bells

Growing Spring Onions

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Black Widows in our Backyard

We have several of these, unfortunately.  Although we have never been bitten.

We found 3 in one day!

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Our one and only Gerber Daisy left.  And our Garlic Growing, right.

We’ve actually got a few experiments going on here.

Gloves, Seeds, Garden Tools

When you order herbs or plants online you really are at their mercy to send you something nice. 

Some were nice, other’s were not.

Here I am doing some plantings.  We may be in a pandemic but we can also eat healthy herbs in the meantime.

Photo right:  We have a backyard Armadillo that works his way underneath our fence creating holes that our dogs can then squeeze through.  Therefore, I always try and block them.

I told Gordon not to take my photo and just take my herb garden in back of me.

  He never listens!

Here I am planting tomatoes in with our eggplant. 

This year we feel that we want to designate this area for tomatoes and eggplant only.  We just need to order a few more for this project to be complete.

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The sun was doing down and it shown this spotlight on my Honeysuckle Vine. 

I loved it and photographed it.  🙂

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It’s just not spring without seeing all the lizards and their mating rituals.

  A beautiful courtship.  🙂

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Old Photos of our Backyard

I came across these photos that I took of our backyard when we moved into our house in 2006.  See the beautiful White Bird-of-Paradise tree?  It truly was magnificent.  We had two of them side by side.  You can even see a wooden fence in one of the shots.  It belongs to our neighbor in back of us.  We then installed our white vinyl fence several years ago.  I do miss the White Bird-of-Paradise trees but sadly they eventually tend to grow into something monstrous that then needs to be dealt with, as in removed.  Still, they were a part of our backyard history that I miss.

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We are very busy ordering plants and herbs for our backyard garden.

Veronica and Brian gave us this beautiful mini Plumeria Tree.

We replanted some of our Stick Cactus in various pots. 

It had become so enormous.

Every beautiful lanai needs a rustic tacky area.  This is ours!  Just as every kitchen needs a junk drawer.

Tacky, yet beautiful and functional.

YELLOW  🙂

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 Welcome to our Backyard

This is an Osprey

a.k.a. Fish Hawk

Although this guy is in our front yard, we get so many on our property throughout the years.  They are predatory birds.  We have seen them eat snakes, squirrels, rats, mice, lizards…..

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This particular guy landed in our backyard on one of our trees.

I was so pleased that he let me get within 5 feet of him to takes these photos before he flew away.

What a beautiful profile!

This is actually a funny story.

The black water hose that we have here in our backyard apparently looked like a snake to an Osprey so he pecked at it.  Causing our hose to leak badly and we had to buy another one.  Bad luck in owning black hoses here in Florida.

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Succulent’s and Parslane, an Edible Flowering Weed

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Lemon Grass

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Our Herb Garden Exiting into our Front Yard

From our Backyard

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Herbs are pretty easy to grow which is why we always have an Herb Garden.  You just need a sunny area on your property or even a windowsill.  They are healthy and delicious.  They are also cancer killers so try and incorporate as many as you can in your daily meals.  Sometimes I just pick a Basil Leaf or two just to snack on when I’m outside.  If you would like to take a closer look at our Herb Garden…….

Click Here For:  Julie’s New Herb Garden

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WASPS

One danger that we do have all around our property are WASPS!

You really must make sure that you have a wasp spray on hand at the ready for when you see a nest.  They are dangerous and can hurt you, your children, and your pets.  Also one nest can yield dozens of them!

Here are just a few I came across in our backyard that I had to get rid of.  I was trimming some of the other plants that I have growing in my herb garden when I disturbed a nest and they all flew out, 2 of them hitting me on my forehead but not stinging me.  I quickly got away while a few dozen were flying around me.  I learned that now I really should do a good inspection of anything that I am about to cut or trim so this same thing doesn’t happen again.

Can you See the Nest There?  Look Closely.  🙂

Look at How Many Have Yet to be Hatched!

I doused them really good with a Wasp Spray so that they cannot hatch.

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My Backyard Skink

I am very sad to say that this little special guy has died.  He lived in this post happily for months.  He was so cute in how he would greet me when I would go outside onto our lanai to water some plants.  He would look up at me, not afraid at all.  He loved this pot.  It was his home and I was o.k. with that.  I would say hello, and usually touch him and stroke him from his neck down to his back.  He didn’t seem to mind.  I miss his sweet face looking up at me.

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Bulbs I Had Forgotten About

(Always a nice surprise to come across some mystery bulb that I will then plant and see something beautiful come up in the spring and summer.)

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My Tacky Little Gardening Corner of our Lanai

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Our First Crop of Peaches From our Peach Tree

Wherever you see a blossom, you will see a peach.

The Blossoms are Beautiful

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Monk and Myself, when we first bought our new Peach Tree

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Goldilocks Ground Cover

Remember the story of Goldilocks and the 3 Bears?

This is Goldilocks.  It’s beautiful and it spreads out nicely in your garden, beautiful ground cover.

Our Alice in Wonderland Section of our Backyard

This is also our Pet Cemetery

Can You Spot the Ibis?

One of the many birds that come for a visit to our backyard.

I hope Monk and Sugar are Happy Here in Wonderland

Our Precious Pugs that have Passed On

To the left you see Garlic Growing in the Pot

Our Garden does attract plenty of Butterflies, though not that fake one on the right.

I always love the new growth on our Sago Palm every spring when it comes in.

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Snakes

(Florida Ring Neck)

In Florida we have several varieties of snakes.  50, actually.  But only 6 are considered venomous.  This is the most common that we see in our backyard.  It is a black snake with an orange ring around it’s neck.  It is not dangerous, but slightly venomous.  Although they aren’t aggressive, it is never a good idea to provoke any animal.  They do keep the bug and lizard population down.  Respect them, and they will respect you.

A good thing about snakes is that they aren’t territorial and do travel frequently.

Out on our Lanai

A tip on snake spotting for your own protection:  Snakes tend to align and elongate themselves beside a flat surface.  It makes them harder to see.  So be aware of your surroundings.  Also, when stepping out your door to the outside just take a peek at what may or may not be elongated along the step where you are about to place your foot.  🙂

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Tree Trimming

An Extremely Humid Day

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Trimming your trees are very important to getting rid of dead branches that could fall onto your house, or even you.  Especially here in Florida as we have lots of storms.  I hired an Arborist, a tree professional, that does what is best for the tree. 

I knew that I needed our trees trimmed but I didn’t want to just hire anyone.  Gordon was working overseas at the time and he helped me to do some research online in hiring a professional that would do what was best for our trees, and therefore us.

I have seen so many tree trimming services in our neighborhood that tend to trim a tree so far back as to please the HOA, Home Owner’s Association, and not necessarily do what is best for the tree, or the home owner.  That is not what I wanted here.  I wanted what was best for our trees.

This is our backyard.   The Arborist and his employee’s thoughtfully cut back all of our trees on our property and did what was best for the trees.  He also opened up our backyard to a bit more sunlight.  And even trimmed the skyline of our backyard tree’s from our rooftop.  It was as if he designed it to look like open umbrella’s when you look upward.  Especially the trees we have in our front yard.

They Did a Great Job!

It Was a Very Hot and Humid Day!

Sparky and Spooky Exploring

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An Arborist’s Equipment

We have hired lots of tree trimmer’s in our time of home ownership here.  This was our first in hiring an Arborist.  I have never seen such care going into tree trimming before.  That is what I wanted when I hired them.  Someone to actually care about our tree’s.

They did such a great job and really opened up our backyard to more sunlight.

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Independent Tree Service, INC.

(Next time we need our tree’s trimmed we will call them again.)

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Rocky

One thing that I told our Arborist who cut and trimmed our trees was that I didn’t want any branches cut off that had Squirrel Nest’s, or bird’s nest’s in them.  Granted, the squirrel’s are so annoying.  However, I recognize their right to exist and even thrive.

It was weeks later but this sweet little squirrel’s nest fell out of our tree one late afternoon.

The nest had apparently fell out of the tree and landed on our son, Brodie’s car.  Then bounced off of it and landed on the lawn.

Brodie got a box and put the baby squirrel and the nest inside of it and placed it on the ground hoping the mother would come for her baby.

She never did.  So, as it was getting dark we brought the baby squirrel inside our house.

Look at that Sweet Little Boy

I loved how Rocky would wrap his tail around my hand when I would hold him.

Brodie ran to the store and bought some Pedialite and I fed our little sweet Rocky through a syringe his dinner.  I had looked online about how to help a baby squirrel in need.  The article also advised that in order for the baby squirrel to urinate, that I had to massage his penis.  WHAT???

So, I did.  We will not speak of this ever again.

I decided that I didn’t want the squirrel nest in the house so we kept it out in the garage and I placed little rocky in some comfy wash clothes and soft towels and put him underneath my lamp light on my computer desk to keep him warm. 

I slept in the Lazy Boy Chair that night with Rocky on my lap in that bowl.  I also kept my hand inside the bowl with him in my palm so that he could feel my warm hand and hopefully be comforted.

The following morning I put Rocky back in his nest and placed him in the crook of my tree.  The tree that the nest had fallen out of.  I covered him up inside the nest and went inside.

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After about an hour I went back outside and peeked into the nest.  Rocky was gone.  I hoped that his mother had come for him.  I don’t think a predator got him because the nest would have been disturbed and torn to bits.  But the nest was left totally untouched.  I was pleased that he was gone.  But as I was walking away to go back inside this squirrel was on my roof yelling and screaming at me in squirrel.  🙁

Your Welcome!

Now, every time I see squirrel’s running around our backyard I always wonder if one of them isn’t Rocky.  🙂

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Hiring Landscapers

We had been looking at this overgrown mess for a few years.  We love the bamboo but the white bird of paradise tree had just become so much of an overgrown mess.  I decided I wanted it removed so I hired a landscaping business to come out and remove it.  It is a very bulbous plant with a huge ball underground.  It takes quite a bit of digging to remove it all.

Of course the Bamboo Needed Trimming

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Look at the Giant Bulbous

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My Swiss Cheese Vine

I did want to save this and not have it torn up and discarded.

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Bamboo and Magnolia Tree

I had this Magnolia Tree placed where the White Bird of Paradise was.

Now all Gordon has to do is to extend the retaining wall in front of the Magnolia Tree. 

He will.  In time.

Love the Lizard on the Sprinkler

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Now It’s Time for a New Front Yard

You can see what bad shape it’s in.

I couldn’t get a new front yard until I had all the trees trimmed on the property.  And then I had to do all the landscaping, bleaching, pressure washing, and now it’s time for the new front yard.

Sod-X came out and ripped up the front yard.

As you can see in the photo above.

They then came back the following afternoon and placed all new sod down.  I am trying to find a photo of our finished yard and when I do I will post it here.  🙂

Home ownership is a lot of work especially when you live in these HOA neighborhoods that have an association.

But in the photo above you can see how beautiful the Arborist did our trees.  It’s as if I just opened up an umbrella.

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Lettuce to Feed our Tadpoles,

in our many fountains,

and our birdbaths,

in our backyard.

Sometimes it is more important to bring these frogs into the world than for us to have lovely fountain’s.

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I love our Sticky Frogs!

Giant Toads

We do have a few of these guys in our backyard.  Their skin is poisonous.  If your dog were to lick the back of a toad like this they will die.  Which is why we watch our dogs very closely when we are outside.

As always, yard work is dirty work and I do tend to get quite dirty.  But, I wouldn’t pass it up for the world.  There is nothing more rewarding than cultivating the soil, growing your own herbs and even some vegetables, and planting lovely flowering plants in your yard for you to enjoy.  Create your own sanctuary where plants, flowers, and backyard animals are safe.  We all make up this eco-system that I want to help keep all of us healthy and living in unison with one another.

Julie Barefoot