Garden notes

So I woke up this morning to discover I had new tenants…
Walter and Eleanor McCoo

Consequently I’ve been reading up about mourning dove habits and apart from the fact that they mate for life, provoking me to name them Walter and Eleanor, after my parents, it appears that they’ll be with us for about a month.  I don’t mind that they’re nesting on my porch.  They’re delightful birds and not pests at all.  They frequently get pushed out of feeders, etc, by other birds like pigeons, and I’m glad to be able to give them a (relatively) safe place to build their nest.  Yes it’s going to mean some extra clean-up, but I’m not too sad about that.  I’ll just hose down the porch when I water the flowers in front.  Now I need to find a little bit of food that they’ll like, that I can put out in small enough amounts that it won’t attract anyone else.  Apparently squirrels are common predators and our squirrels are pretty bold.

So yesterday we went down to Indiana with Meester Jim.  We stopped at a Mexican place in Hammond for breakfast, and it was excellent.  They had the Nigeria/Argentina World Cup game on and we got to see the winning goal being scored.  They had this wonderful sun face on their wall, and I so wanted to steal it.

Then we headed over to Merrilville to the Old Tyme Pottery where we got all those wonderful (and cheap) Christmas decorations last autumn.  This time we were shopping for the garden, and there was a whole lot to choose from, though not always what we had thought to get.

We found a lot of pots at really good prices, which I hadn’t expected to find (I ended up putting three back, which made me sad.)  The pot above (sans flowers of course) cost me something like $17!  And yes, it’s substantial and heavy with walls at least half an inch thick.  It’s actually greener than the photo shows.

I’d originally wanted to get some metalwork to put  on the garage walls, but we have so much other stuff planned that the only thing I bought was a trellis for the rescued rose.  Looks nice, but I think I’m going to get Abe to mount it on the garage wall.

We also bought some “art” prints which look pretty weatherproof to me.  We’re going to put them under the candle sconces in a fairly protected area and hope for the best.  It’ll be kind of cafe-like in that corner which will be fun.

… Since I began this entry, I’ve spent the last five or so hours in the garden and have come back to find that the McCoos have left the building.  What I read about them suggested that they’re skittish and abandon nests if they don’t feel secure.  I think that’s what’s happened here.  I did sort of wonder if it wouldn’t happen earlier when Dawn came home and one of the neighbor dogs followed her right up the stairs and into the hallway.   Bernie is a funny, barky old dog and made enough of a fuss that the McCoos probably decided they could find a better nesting area.

I don’t know that there have been any eggs laid because at various times today they were both off the nest, so I’m going to go up on a ladder later and check (assuming they don’t come back later in the day) and if there’s nothing, I’ll just clean it all up and put something up there to discourage nesting in the future.  We’ve been planning to get a bat house for the building, and I thought perhaps a few nesting boxes along the side where there’s virtually no activity at all might be a good idea.    Frankly I’m just as happy not to have to clean up a lot of dove poo, but at the same time I feel sorry that we couldn’t give them a place they liked enough to stay and raise babies.

Rather than do housework, Dawn and I find excuses to stay outside.  “Gee, we should paint those chairs!” or “The peonies need to be dead-headed.”  We managed to postpone the inevitable for more than five hours today, beginning with coffee and biscuits, segueing through painting the cheap, white plastic lawn chairs that I inherited when I bought this place, another nice lunch of salami, olives, cheese and tomatoes and ending with painting the old bench that Charles got for me when I was at my old place.

Then Carlos Rain-Bringer came out and the sky opened up.

We did get all three chairs painted, though we ran out of paint before we’d managed to give them a good solid second coat.  Not that it matters; I like the slightly imperfect look, and anyway, we went over the paint job with a copper leafing pen and added all sorts of designs.  Each chair has a suggestion.  The purple one says: “Relax” the blue one says “Repose” and the Red one says “Rest!”

And the bench is just blue.  I mean, BLUE!!!

John, our neighbor to the west, gave us some cuttings of a plant he’s had terrific luck with.  He said just to tuck them into moist soil and they should root easily.  I hope he’s right; this is just a gorgeous plant, and I’d love to have one in the garden.

Our neighbors from two doors to the west also stopped by to say hello and see the garden.  Old John is in his mid-90s and is still reasonably active.  He was thrilled to see all the herbs and the nectarine, but what really made him happy was the grapevine.  He asked his daughter if they could plant one, too.  She said they have a perfect space for it, so that’s great.  He loves his garden so much.  We told them they were always welcome to stop by.

Now I’m blue-handed and itchy, and I found a bug on me which I ushered out.  While I was outside I checked the nest and it was pretty much in shambles, with no sign of eggs.  If they’ve abandoned the nest it’s best they’ve done it before the eggs came, though even a few days along wouldn’t have made me feel too badly.  I swept up the twigs, but I still need to put something up there to prevent more nesting.


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