Thursday, March 27, 2008


The calendar says spring, but the weather says winter.

It was a beautiful transition to see this transformation occur overnight. It began in the late afternoon when huge puffy snowflakes fell, interspersed with the rain. In a matter of minutes, only snowflakes rained down, and began the makeover of spring to winter.

Upon waking, the landscape had the appearance of a black and white photo, with various shades of gray. But soon after, the clouds began to part and the deep blue sky brightened the view, seeming to waken the colors much akin to Dorothy’s experience in the Wizard of Oz.

In the midst of all the snow, one of the eagle pair devotedly remains in the nest. Can you see the head peeking out?

Let's see what season tomorrow will bring...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Moonset over Anchorage

Please pardon my departure from my typical Gardener’s Roost topics of gardening and birding. Instead, I’d like to share the highlights of my recent trip to Alaska to visit relatives and attend events surrounding the ‘Fur Rendezvous’, a.k.a. ‘Fur Rondy’. Let me tell you this, folks in Alaska really know how to throw a party, I mean, Rondy…

We arrived Friday night and rendezvoused with relatives, ate at the Moose Tooth, a local favorite pizza joint. Yum, excellent pie (as in pizza) and locally brewed beer.
After that, Fur Rondy Fiddling at the Moose Lodge.

Saturday, we saw teams play snowshoe softball,

attended the Fur Rondy Parade,

viewed the ice sculptures,

went to the start of the sled dog races.

Paused for lunch.

Went to the Outhouse Races (what a moving experience)

After-dinner entertainment included getting pelted with popcorn while participating in the interactive “Melodrama” at the Snow Goose.

Sunday, we viewed the ‘can-struction’ exhibit… various canned foods carefully stacked and placed to depict scenes/scenery.

Viewed sled dog races at mid-course. Mush.

Stopped at another mall to view the photography exhibit.
Watched ‘Ice bowling’.
Paused for lunch—fine dining at a chrome counter.

The BIG EVENT everyone was waiting for the first-time ever, ‘Running with the Reindeer’ races!

Rainier Beer racers on far left and right in picture>

Monday, we said good-bye to relatives, Rondy, snow, and sled dogs.

Saturday, March 22, 2008


The time has come. There is an eagle on the aerie twenty-four hours a day, every day. There is no break for weekends, holidays, or holy days. I caught this photo (from 1/2 mile away) of what you can see of the eagle in the nest and couldn’t help but sing, to the tune of Patti Page’s version of “How Much is that Doggie in the Window,” sing it with me…how cute is that eagle on the ne-est? How cute can that e-eagle be? How cute is that eagle on the ne-est? As cu-ute, as cu-ute can be!

Now keep in mind that this eagle’s body length is between 28 and 38 inches, with a wingspan of between 66 and 90 inches, weighing about 12-14 pounds. With eagles (and hawks), the female is larger than the male, so figure this little lassie is close to the higher number of these estimates. Now compare her size with the nest in which she is sitting, and how she looks so petite in there. You can imagine the scale of the nest.

So, we’ve got a bird on a roost, and we’ll have some chicks in the basket in 30-something days. After a few weeks of their hatching, we may see eaglets popping about near the top of the nest. Until then, we have to be satisfied with seeing the top of an adult eagle’s head and singing a song.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Spring has arrived! Guess what else has? Yup, it’s that time of year allergy sufferers dread. When the weather report confirms what you already know—‘pollen counts are very high today due to trees and grasses’. And that, my friends, is when you pray for rain - cleansing, soaking rain.

Along with the rain and pollen has come the reward of having planted those beautiful bulbs. The crocuses are up and fading fast, the daffodils have sprouted and are issuing forth their happy blooms, and now the hyacinths are poking their heads thru the ground and almost ready to bloom. Their heady aroma will soon replace the waning Sarcococca’s sweet fragrance (often called ‘fragrant sweet box’).

"To be overcome by the fragrance of flowers is a delectable form of defeat.”
-Beverley Nichols(1898-1983)

Fragrances…it reminds me of ‘the Seattle Lighthouse for the Blind’. It is a non-profit company, and the largest employer of people who are blind, deaf-blind, and blind with other disabilities in the region. A special bonus on site for the employees, and anyone who would like to visit, is the Ethel Dupar Fragrance Garden. The King County Master Gardeners are a key part in the rehabilitation and upkeep of the gardens, which are rich in plants that engage the senses of smell, touch, and hearing. This is one garden where you are encouraged to touch the plants to enhance the garden experience! To learn more, click on: From the home page, you can then click on ‘fragrant gardens’ to learn more about visiting the garden and the plants used there.

So from this Gardener’s Roost, everything’s indicating spring is sprung, from the daffodils to the eagle that is now patiently sitting on the nest awaiting the arrival of her chicks. News on that soon!

Sunday, March 16, 2008


Oh, the activity of late has been phenomenal. The eagle pair has been on the roost in the morning and again enjoying an evening meal as the sun sets.

Then, the other day we captured, on camera, 4 red-tailed hawks flying in the sky above us. The hawks were soaring overhead in a mating ritual, or perhaps a ‘sorting’ ritual. Will they pair up, and if so, which two?

It must have been decided in short order as a few days later I spotted a male and a female on a deciduous tree together. One of them was breaking off branches and flying away while the other sat on a branch, stoic, beautiful, and all puffy.

Interestingly enough, the female of this species can be 25% larger than the male. After reading up on these birds of prey, it is likely we witnessed the mating ritual, which could have been followed by mating. The female will lay a clutch of 1-5 eggs beginning in April, followed by an incubation period of 28-35 days, and a fledgling period of about 10 weeks.

What a spring we will have if we are able to view offspring from both the eagles and the hawks!

Read more about red-tailed hawks here:

Thursday, March 13, 2008


Every morning is a gift, waking to the day’s offerings. Is there an indication of how the day will unfold at sunrise? As the dawn breaks, some mornings are gray, some rainy or foggy, but then there are those mornings when our senses are bombarded by incredible displays. What will unfold on this day…

Although pictures don’t always do justice to the real event, this one reminds me of cotton candy, the kind that was made right in front of you at the ‘three-county fair’. Not the stuff you find at supermarkets and events now, all tied up and restricted in a tight sack of plastic. No, instead it was like watching art created. It began when you saw the tapered white paper cone inserted into a big vat of swirling clouds of sugary sweetness. The vendor’s hand would twirl and twist the cone while the clouds seemed to roll onto themselves like a jellyroll, growing right before your eyes.

And that first taste, warm and crunchy, was the best. I liked to peel off the layers, in reverse order of how they were added, unrolling the random pattern of chaos. Sometimes I would take a bit of it in my hand, squeeze it into a tight little ball, and then pop it into my mouth to get a burst of flavor.

The whole process, from ordering and dropping your hard-earned coins into a hand glistening with sugar, to peeling back the layers and savoring each bite, was almost a religious experience. It was magic of a bygone era.

So what will unfold on this day is something different than there has ever been, or ever will be again. With the sunrise, every day there unfolds some magic we can savor.

Cotton candy anyone?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


It’s that time of year to sow seeds indoors in anticipation of planting them as the soil warms in late spring. It is so exciting to think about expanding my tiny garden plot this year. Last year was my first venture into gardening in the Pacific Northwest region of the country. I have found it to be quite different from gardening in say…the Mojave Desert, where I used to live and garden.

Living there was a challenge because, quite frankly, everything was trying to kill you. Think about it…black widow spiders, scorpions, Mojave Green rattlesnakes, regular diamondback rattlers, coyotes…they could be anywhere, and they were. Of particular concern were the ‘Mojave green’ rattlesnakes (yes they had a green hue) because they have both neuro- and hemo- toxins. The babies are most dangerous because they have no control of the venom they dispense—it is all expelled in one shot, er, bite. A favorite spot for snakes to overnight is near the house—say a front door where a little heat escapes to warm the snake. But more often, we found the snakes slithering thru the cool, damp lawn during the daytime summer heat of 110 degrees. Coming upon them in the lawn gave new meaning to finding a ‘snake in the grass’!

One day we were out in the desert doing a little four-wheel driving (yes, unlike most people in LA, our 4WD actually saw 4WD action) and saw a snake lying in the road in our path. It was almost a lime green color and it didn’t move. We thought we’d check it out and stepped out of the Jeep. As we did, the snake came to life and began moving toward us. That was all the incentive we needed to get back into the vehicle. We drove away as the snake crawled under the Jeep. We looked back. There was no snake visible. We envisioned ourselves trapped in the movie ‘Snakes on a Jeep’. Thankfully, when we stopped a while later, our passenger released himself and slithered away.

But that was a lifetime ago in a place far, far away from our current idyllic setting. And now I guess I'd better get back to sowing those seeds at the Gardener's Roost...

Sunday, March 9, 2008


Hellebores are winter’s and spring’s gift to the garden. Their rebirth begins even before the snow melts, and the beautiful flowers burst forth to brighten our gardens and help nourish our earliest native pollinators, the mason bees.

Homemade Mason Bee Nesting Box--do not use treated wood!

Have you heard about mason bees? They are bees native to America and are great little pollinators, who don’t sting unless they’re squeezed or stepped on. They look like a fly, so you have probably seen them, but didn’t identify them as the wonderful workers they are. Among other things, they are probably the best pollinators for apple trees, so having mason bees nearby are highly valued. Although they are able to find places to nest without causing damage, you can easily provide them with a suitable spot by either purchasing a mason bee nesting block, or making one. It’s so easy even a caveman could do it…oops, sorry cavemen.

Directions to make one is in the link below. Be sure to follow all the instructions.

Thursday, March 6, 2008


Why did the eagle roost on the tree limb alone?
Because the other eagle was bringing home ‘take-out’ (dinner).

One eagle (on the left) looks on as the other feeds (visible just to the right on the nest)

It was about an hour before sunset and I looked outside to see one of the bald eagles flying fairly low over the lake and then land on the limb of a tree a not too far from me. I was going to get the camera with the scope to see if I might get some really good close-ups, but there was a tree branch in front of the eagle so I knew I wouldn’t get a clear shot. I also decided I’d wait a little bit to see what the eagle did. Not more than a couple minutes later I saw the other eagle flying straight, steady, and with a purpose, towards the nest. I grabbed the binoculars and saw why. In the talons was dinner…what looked to be a ‘super-sized’ portion. As the eagle landed on the nest, you could almost hear it call out, ‘honey, I’m home, and I’ve got take-out!’ Just about that time, the other eagle swooped up into the nest, eager to feed. What a sight it was to see them scooching side to side in the confined space of the nest, as they had a lovely dinner for two.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

SHOT WEED, the Bane of My Gardens and Me...

The temperatures here are back to normal for this time of year. We’re regularly cracking the 50-degree mark on the thermometer, the rains are slowing, and the winter weeds are flourishing.

Speaking of winter weeds, how about that ‘shot weed’? It has taken over the landscape in the photo above!

(For some great info on shot weed, also known as 'hairy bittercress', see:

When we first moved here, I had some fun with that plant. A mere brush from anything causes the seed pods to explode their contents forth, and I definitely caused the release of thousands, nay millions of these seeds. Now I am paying for it with a landscape full of them.

What do I do to get rid of them? Repeat this mantra…get ‘em when they’re small! Be brutal, pull 'em right out of the ground, ‘feet’ and all. Now I try to get them before they send up the flowers, which seem to turn into seed heads in minutes. So it’s likely that I’ll be pulling these pests when they’ve already gone to seed. If that is the case, I act as ‘Gigantress’ and engulf the head with my hand in order to catch the seeds and keep them somewhat confined.

So with the weather so lovely, I’m headed out to the garden to git me some shot weed…