When Ferns Sneeze

Petunia the Momma Bunny

Ferns aren’t supposed to sneeze. Given that little fact of nature, I was rather startled when I went past the bank of ferns that are behind our house this afternoon and heard a very distinct sneeze.

Then… I started to laugh.

*Judy stands with her hands behind her back and says in a very sing-song voice, “I know that you’re in there! That’s you, Missus Bunny! You’ve got baby bunnies!”*

To confirm my suspicions, I carefully studied the ferns from a prudent non-bunny-disturbing distance, and finally pinpointed a spot where I could see a set of bunny whiskers amidst the plants. Yep. Missus Bunny was hiding in the ferns. Michael and I have named her Petunia, by the way. We’re calling her Pet for short…

When I had the audacity to reach over and pluck a fern frond that was growing into the pathway several feet from her hiding spot, Petunia indignantly hopped out. She then skittered across the yard, radiating “I’m just a lone bunny, all by myself, you can just pay attention to me hopping over here. Nope, nothing under the ferns you need to bother looking at. Really. Move along.”

I wasn’t snookered.

She’s about half the size she was two weeks ago. Also, I’ve found tufts of bunny fur here and there buried in little rabbit scratches. Momma bunnies dig scratches like that and line them with tufts of their own fur when they’re testing out potential nursery sites.

I can’t wait to see this year’s little dandelion chompers!

Spring Garden Walk Day 3

Candy Cane striped tulip with lots of white and red edging on petals

Because of all the bunnies that frequent our yard, I grow very few tulips. Those that I do have are surrounded by rabbit wire fencing so that I can enjoy them instead of the bunnies enjoying them…

For some reason known only to the bunnies, these red and white tulips apparently aren’t tasty. If I knew which variety they were, I’d grow them en masse, as their blooms last for weeks and the white and red combination reminds me of peppermint candies.

Candy Cane striped tulip that has shaded to mostly red with white undertones

As these tulips age, the red from the edges and the stripes gradually broadens into the petal until the petals become more red than white. I’d love to know how the color gene that produces this effect works!

Clumps of giant alliums

This clump of alliums is a new addition to our gardens. I’ve eyed them in garden catalogs, but only last fall was I able, for the first time, to find organic allium bulbs.

Allium bud

I’m fascinated by how the buds develop, slowly emerging on top of a 3-foot tall stalk.

Fully opened allium bloom

The fully opened blooms are spectacular, each the size of a baseball and a deep rich purple – I can understand why this variety is named “Purple Sensation!” The foliage is already dying back, so these are similar to daffies and tulips, in that they need to be planted in a place where something else takes over. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a big bare spot in your gardens when spring has passed.

Purple Bearded Iris Buds

Next to bloom — probably over the coming weekend — will be our Irises and the early blooming daylilies. I’m also keeping my eye out for little future hoppers – I haven’t seen the Missus about in the yard, so I suspect she had her baby bunnies earlier this week!

Spring Garden Walk Day 2

White daffodil with huge sulphur colored trumpet

When I was a child, we lived near an old estate that had been abandoned decades earlier. The grounds had reverted to woodland and meadows, and in the spring daffodils sprung up everywhere, signaling the start of spring.

I’ve kept since then my love of daffodils, with all their subtle variations. This beauty has a deep yellow trumpet that is flatter than most – and the bumblebees love it.

White daffodil with golden trumpet

The contrast on this variety of daffodil between the white petals and its golden-orange edged yellow trumpet is one of my favorite daffodil color combinations. These daffies are a tad smaller than their cousins above, but very long lasting.

Pale yellow and white daffodils

This clump of daffodils has a pale yellow and white mottling that I’ve never seen on any other daffodil. They also have a sweet fragrance that is wonderful.

White daffodils

I enjoy these white daffodils long after the other daffies have faded and gone. They bloom later than most, and have a strong but sweet fragrance that carries across the yard.

Stumpty the chipmunk eying me as he harvests seeds

I know that spring has firmly established a hold when the chipmunks surface from their hibernation. I’ve been watching especially for this particular chipmunk to appear, as she’s a scrappy little fighter with a cheeky attitude. “Stumpy” lost half of her tail two years ago, while escaping from a predator.

Rear view of that v-shaped tail on Stumpy the Chippie

The missing tail hasn’t slowed Stumpy down a bit – or toned down her ‘tude one iota. I laugh every time she charges into the mourning doves (that are twice her size) that gather under the feeders and bowls them over to keep them from eating ‘her’ seeds!

More to come…

Spring Garden Walk – Day 1

Grape hyacinths

It’s time to take you on a garden walk and share what’s blooming, chirping, squeaking and squawking.

I’d love to claim the grape hyacinths in this first photo as my own, but they really belong to our neighbors, Dan and Diana. I’d never seen this plant before Dan put a patch in two years ago. They’re gorgeous, carefree, and apparently the bunnies don’t think they taste good. How can you not love a flower with those qualities?

Opinionated Robin Singing Its Territorial Song

This robin has been singing daily from a perch in our birch tree. I haven’t found the nest yet, but I’ve found the remains of several robins’ eggshells, so somewhere, in one of the trees, there is a nest.

Fern unfolding or should I say unrolling?

We have a huge bank of ferns, all originating from a single clump Michael’s grandmother gave us when we moved to Wisconsin. I am always intrigued by the way ferns ‘unroll’ in the spring before slowly turning into their familiar frond shape.

Bluejay watching me watch him!

I am delighted to have this Blue Jay dive-bombing the feeders at regular intervals. West Nile virus decimated the jays, and they went from being common in our yard to completely absent for several years. Last summer was the first time I started to see and hear jays again. This one arrived about ten days ago. I hope it stays, as Blue Jays love snacking on nests of yellow jackets — and we’ve had an overabundance of those irritable little critters since the onset of West Nile caused the jay population to plummet.

Bergenia bloom

I have several Bergenia plants, and they are among the first plants to bloom in the spring. The large flat leaves of this plant turn reddish-brown during the winter, and then turn quite green again in the spring, surviving even our -20F temperatures.

Momma bunny sizing up the green grocery

And of course I see Missus Bunny almost daily. Here she is sizing up the green grocery while waiting for the baby bunnies to arrive!

More to come…

Meet the Missus!

One very pregnant wild bunny rabbit

Stewart is gonna be a daddy!

Meet Mrs. Stewart, who is very much “in the family way,” so to speak.

She’s as unafraid of me as Stewart is, although she is quite wary of other people, with the exception of Michael.

When she sees Michael about in the yard, she makes several fast token hops away from him to make sure that he knows she’s got her eye on him.

Me? I was able to snap this photo of her from less than eight feet away.

And then I went and checked to make sure that the fencing around any irresistibly yummy plants was firmly in place!