Phyllis S. Donovan column: June brings new birds and blooms

By the time June rolls around, summer is not just a distant promise. Things in my yard are definitely looking like the warmer weather of the season will soon be here to stay.

With my binoculars at hand, I have seen the changing of the guard among the feathered guests at my feeders. Usually by now we would have taken in the bird feeders until fall because we had used up our supply of sunflower seeds. But this year we misjudged and still have some seeds left. Not wanting to set them aside for months until they are full of small moths, we are doling them out as long as they last.

But the clientele has changed. The chickadees, tufted titmice and woodpeckers have stopped coming for the summer. I still have the frowsy flock of house finches but now they must compete with their sleek cousins, the yellow and black goldfinches which brighten up my days. Last week a flock of iridescent black grackles stopped by and emptied out my feeders before moving on.

The stodgy grey mourning doves, saucy bluejays, and still timid scarlet male cardinal and his dowdy mate still come occasionally and, surprisingly, a sturdy fat robin has been hopping around on my deck.

None of the many robins who have visited my yard over the years has actually flown up to eat seeds on the deck. I always thought robins were carnivores dining on worms and bugs, but this one has decided to add sunflower seeds to his diet.

As for what is growing in my now neglected yard since I am unable to get out there and tend to it, the perennials never fail me. The daffodils my daughter Peg and I planted years ago blossomed in force during April on my back hillside but now they are long gone.

Instead, the pair of deep pink rhododendrons in my once well-tended side garden are in full bloom right now along with the delicate orchid and white wild phlox and bright blue spiderwort that seed themselves to fill that garden every year. After the phlox and spiderwort go by, I will have Wayne Daly who takes care of my lawn just mow down that whole weedy space.

Once that garden was beautiful, filled with perennials which I added to every year. I had lilies of a variety of colors which perfumed the air in early summer. But small orange worms moved in and killed them all.

I grew bee balm, cone flowers, butterfly bushes, peonies, iris and roses there but now weeds have choked out most of them. Some, like my knockout rose bushes that bloom all summer, my daughter Peg rescued and moved out of there.

Last week I looked out at my front flowerbed which she tends all summer and saw a plant with large pink blossoms blooming there. It looked like a peony I had dug up from my parents’ home in Massachusetts before we sold it. And it was! She had transplanted it a year ago from my weedy side garden and now in its second year out front it is once more blossoming. What a pleasure to see it continues to survive after so many years.

Between the perennials she has moved and the annuals she brings here to plant every year, Peg continues to brighten up my grounds and make my property look inviting.

My mother, a flower gardener all her life, would be so proud that her love of flowers has been passed down to yet another generation. And so am I!


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