Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Feathered Friends and Rainy Days

"Watching birds has become part of my daily meditation, affirming my connection to the earth body."  ~ Carol P. Christ ~
We have always fed the birds that come to our garden, but for the last two years, we have dedicated one section of the garden solely to providing a safe and well-stocked larder for their exclusive use.

As it has been a while since I last escorted you around the garden, I thought we could pull on our gumboots (wellies, galoshes), wrap up in a waterproof jacket and enjoy today's rainy, if somewhat chilly, weather. It's a perfect opportunity to do this, as the birds have been exceedingly active.

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We can start by strolling along the top path in the front garden and work our way around to the wetland area, where our feathered guests reign free...as you can see, our mountain is completely enveloped in cloud, today!

Mayflower, azaleas and lavender are adding some colour to this area of the top terrace.

Unfortunately, it's too cold and wet to sit here and have tea today. This is one of my favourite places during the summer months, as it affords a pleasantly elevated view across the garden. Normally, we see the mountain clearly beyond the garden wall, but today it's completely hidden by cloud.

I have several groupings of clivias growing in the garden. Those growing in this little island bed in the pathway are beginning to flower.

The May bushes (we have several around the garden) are all bursting into blossom now. In a few days' time, there should be many more flowers than greenery on this bush.

Looking back towards the way from where we've just come.

I love the way the smooth bark on this tree turns ebony and glistens when it rains.

The camelias have largely finished flowering in this part of the garden.

These clivias are lagging a bit behind those elsewhere, as they grow in deep shade all through the summer months.

I also wanted to show you the actual plant of the unusual bromeliad flower featured in an earlier post  http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-l4_fI0cCMMM/TklECdxKBFI/AAAAAAAADe8/ftjrrQiuIQ0/s1600/DSC_3866.jpg, since it raised a fair amount of interest.

As you can see, the flowers hang downwards. That's why Coco's eyeview was so perfect!

And, here we are, in the wetland garden. My husband recently bought a Trailcam (outdoor field camera). He set it up to record activity in this section, but the plan is to move it to different locations. From these trials, he has decided the camera position needs to be lowered slightly where it is here. Two guinea fowl were feeding on the table in this capture, but I have seen several on the table together at any one time.

I could turn this into a "Spot the birdlife" exercise :)  In addition to the large feeding table, our feathered friends also have an assortment of hanging feeders from which to select seeds, suet, fresh fruit (apples, oranges, naartjies and paw paws are currently on their daily menu) and nectar. We also supplement their regular diet with steamed rice, cooked oats, bread soaked in dripping (fat) and they get to finish off any leftover dog food, to which they seem particularly partial.

Do you see the squirrel hastily leaving after it had just about finished off the contents of the nectar feeder? I sterilise and refill the nectar feeders every couple of days, but this one goes down the quickest every time!

We have feeders hanging in several places in this part of the garden. Our bathroom windows overlook this garden and I love gazing out at the birds whenever I am in the bathroom. Brushing my teeth in the mornings is one of my most pleasurable activities! 

The White Stinkwood tree is coming into leaf. It's a perfect perch for the many birds that flit backwards and forwards between the various feeders strategically positioned in this area.

The tree growing in this pot is a Milkwood, which my husband grew from seed. We keep it severely trimmed as we rather like the faux Bonsai effect it has, although it is naturally far larger than a Bonsai would be! We scattered seed in the pot on Sunday while photographing our visitors. Here, a pair of Swee waxbills are tucking in! I have an Ivy Pelargonium (Geranium) growing around the base of the tree. It provides so much colour in summer. I cut it back ruthlessly at the end of each flowering season, as it spills over the sides and hangs down low on to the paving beneath and begins to look scruffy by the end of the season.

We also like to ensure that some seeds are scattered on the brickpaving for those birds that like to peck and forage.

Many doves and pigeons visit. This is a Red-eye Pigeon (taken with a macro lens by my husband)

I have a large pot beside the Milkwood tree, into which we recently planted three assorted aloes. Their lovely bright, nectar rich flowers attract the Sunbirds and Cape White-eyes and the thorny crown of succulent leaves is ideal for wedging in halved papinos, which the birds love!

We'd hung both a seed and nectarine feeder in the Milkwood tree this past week and, on Sunday, my husband was delighted to discover the birds comfortably accept his presence. He found he could stand right up close to where they were actively feeding. Instead of having to remain content with sitting at some distance to photograph them, he was even able to stand close enough to be able to use his macro lens...the following random selection of images (he took over 60!) were all taken within arms' reach of the birds.

"Birds are a miracle, because they prove to us there is a finer, simpler state of being which we may strive to attain."  ~ Doug Coupland ~

By ensuring that our bird table and feeders are regularly replenished, we are gifted with a constant stream of visitors throughout the day. Hearing their ever present twittering and singing and watching them flit, hither and thither without a care, makes any financial outlay and extra effort involved in keeping this area well-stocked and clean, well worthwhile! The pleasure and joy they bring us is immeasurable and their presence adds a valuable dimension to the overall functioning of our garden.


  1. I enjoy you post...this is all so beautiful in your garden......love from me....xxx...xxx...xxx..

  2. Oh the stroll in your garden how delightful. I could do this year round no matter the weather condition. Lovely!
    The rich colours of the birds and the life that lives in your garden is so rich and beautiful! I just love it. The photos you take are excellent! How do you get so close to those fine feathered friends of yours?
    Thank you for the stroll looking forward to a cup of tea next time.

  3. What a beautiful garden! And lovely birds! You are lucky to be able to feed the birds. In the Shushwap one attracts bears by such activity!!

  4. Desiree, Once again, I am amazed at how lush and unique your garden is. Your plants are so beautiful. I love seeing the many birds, some very different from where I live, and some very similar. Thanks for sharing your lovely garden and feathered friends!

  5. What a lovely garden you have - do you keep the dogs out of this area so they don't frighten the birds away? Oh I would love to get some clivia for my garden, and that bromeliad is stunning....I have seen it on a couple of bogs recently. Guinea fowl in the garden too :) - oh I could spend all day there enjoying the birds. thank you so much - I needed that today.

  6. such incredibly beautiful birds in your lush and well-tended garden! thoroughly enjoyed this post! :)

  7. Hello Desiree, I read with delight that you are taking us for another walk through your garden... "oh yes, count me in".
    The mist over the mountains just sets the scene doesn't it. We have the same weather as you, so I don't have to imagine the briskness of the air as we meander through the beautiful spaces you've created.
    Dedicating that particular feeding area makes such sense, and can be seen by the trust the birds have in you and your husband. The variety of birds is breathtaking... the lovely long tail of the bird on the white stinkwood tree is so elegant.
    A lovely roam today - thank you again :D)

  8. Your garden is so special, Desiree...it must be wonderful to have camelias scenting the air and beautiful mountains to view. Everything is so lush and healthy looking, plus all the birds, I especially love the photo of the doves in the birdbath. It's as if you have your own Botanical Garden to visit whenever you like.

  9. Oh Desiree...how lovely your garden is. What sweet little treats are around every bend. Search high and low and you have something marvelous to behold! Your husband must have been ecstatic when the birds allowed him to be so close! I'm going to try that soon with my lens and see where I can go...

    Thanks again for the invite...I welcome the opportunity again!


  10. What a lovely stroll around your garden, you have so many birds to enjoy. I did feel a little hot and bothered in my waterproof and wellies though as it is nearly thirty degrees warmer here!

  11. I love this post! It was so much fun to see all your amazing birds - the photos are breathtaking. We feed birds here, but don't have nearly the variety you do. It always feels like a bit of a vacation coming to your blog.

  12. Desiree, the glorious photographs you feature in your blog have inspired me--finally--to try and post pictures on my blog.

    I've learned to use a scanner for the ancient photographs I have of my life, but I'm still learning how to use a digital camera. Also, trying to get those pictures onto the computer is challenging me. I hope to teach myself this coming weekend. Wish me luck.

    I am probably the most technologically challenged person in the Universe! Gold medal standard.

    Your husband's photographs take my breath away. Thank him for me please.

  13. Have you ever read the book the Secret Garden? Whenever I see your flowers and yard it often makes me think of that book. It was a favorite of mine as a child. I would wonder through your fairy land for days and be content. Thank you for sharing it. Also I wanted to thank you for your compliment on my post about Elisa. The post that spurred that one was the one before. If you get a chance you might enjoy it.. As for that video. haha Elisa conned me and I fell right into her little game. It's so silly but it was fun. I forgot the camera was there many times as it was so small and far away I couldn't see it. Which is why I could act like a goon and not worry about it. Now I guess she is going to ply me with vodka and make me interview people at the mall sometime. That girl will be the death of me. :)

  14. Another beautiful post and your garden is divine. We adore the birds too and our photographs of weaver birds making nests when we were in South Africa are very special to us.
    Always an absolute pleasure to visit you Desiree and thank you for the visual feast.
    Carol XX

    ps my word verification has come up as 'anest' how amazing is that?

  15. wow!! what an assortment of birds!! all so colorful. what a great idea to put those orange halves on sticks like that!!
    your gardens....are awesome! it would be so hard for me to come inside...so many beautiful plants & flowers! i love to come here...and wander down the paths...and even the view, although caught in the clouds...is breath taking! thanks desiree!

  16. Such gorgeous pictures. I absolutely love the close-ups with the birds. Those colors are amazing!

  17. ohh....woooowwww.....your garden is amazing. I have never seen so many beautiful birds. I could sit around all day long and just look at the birds. Thanks for sharing.

  18. Your pictures are always such a treat to the eye. I enjoyed my stroll very much. The clivia garden is so pretty, and that flower on the bromliad is amazing!!
    P.S. Carol left me a comment that she double-dog dares you to participate in the mini-skirt contest. Just thought I'd pass that along. I sent my pictures in, and now, it's your turn! heehee

  19. I think I might grab an umbrella and a warm jacket and have a cup of tea outside anyway. What true wonders to view. How beautiful your garden.

    Everything looks ready to pop into bloom. I like the closeup of the pigeon. The others as well, but that one has such color. I admire that you and your husband have this in common. Beautiful post.

  20. You sure spoil the birds :D You bribe them and semi-domesticate them and they come and sing and make your garden beautiful. Speaking of which, I wonder if you keep any usual domestic animals or birds. I'd love to have a pet duck :)

  21. Such beautiful birds! Thank you (and your husband) for sharing them with us.

  22. It's so nice that the birds are so accepting of your presence at their dinner table. Your husband's pictures are wonderful. The foliage all looks so lush and green.

  23. It's still Winter yet your garden looks so lush! In Winter, mine just looks bare! It's beautiful to see the birds. They are so colourful and constantly entertaining!

  24. My friend, I am sorry I'm late . Please don't me too cross with me. I'm having a little break at the mo, but I'm so glad I popped over. Your garden is truly amazing, with everything looking so lush at the moment. The Photos of the various birds are quite delightful with stunning photos as always. I so enjoyed the tour. now then, get your photo in to Carol - this little Pleb won't take no for an answer!!

  25. Snuggled up in my gown and slippers, I enjoyed the walk around your garden so much I've come back again. The bird photo's are lovely.

  26. Oh WOW!! Are you sure those aren't pictures from a Disneyland Resort garden??? You certainly have a green thumb!! Wow!!! My my, I'm so impressed!!

  27. You live in paradise! There are so many different birds and flowers - I'd be sitting quietly at the table, watching, all day.

  28. I love it when you post about the birds that come to visit you. You have so many different kinds and they are beautiful. I print these off as well as Linda's pictures and take them to my Aunt Katie. She enjoys them so much and share them with friends and family often. She will be 103 next month. Thanks again for another great post and have a great rest of the week.

  29. What a lovely post and the birds that visit your garden are so colorful. Your posts to me are a peaceful stop on a busy day. Love them!
    Have a great day!!

  30. I think that birds are the closest thing we have to angels here on earth. I was in heaven looking at your photo's. Just so gorgeous. I cannot even imagine living is a place that is so beautiful! But...then that's Africa!! :)

  31. This looks like what I imagine paradise would look like. Stunning.

  32. Oh I so agree with life 101. By the way he has a wonderful book out. I just got mine and have been reading it.
    thank you for your comment today. I think you will like my interview with Phil )well most of it) he is a bigger clown than I am. Big hugs sent your way.

  33. Desiree - I love gardens and animals and people who love gardens and animals. I came to thank you for choosing to follow my blog. I welcome you as a friend and I thank you for your support!

  34. I finally have it all figured out. You live in the Garden of Eden! I'm sure of it! Lovely flora and fauna and stunningly gorgeous birds. It just HAS to be the Garden of Eden!

  35. What dear little birds and what finely detailed markings they have! Your post is a wonderful tour of the garden, ..I like your garden beds, so tropical looking and lush.

    What a neat camera your hubbie has got, a delightful winter hobby to watch the birds. They're getting hungry where we are and we have a new bird bath just outside the kitchen window and it's fun to watch them.

    I appreciate so much all your friendly visits to my own blog, Desiree.
    I have been busy running the 'Flea Market Gardening' Facebook page and enjoying it very much!

  36. Absolutely fabulous pics of the birds and the garden looks lovely in the rain all washed and clean. Mine is looking sad after the winter rain and no one to look after it while we were away, I'm starting to do a little each day hoping it will come good in Spring.

  37. absolutely wonderful!

    Both flora and the birds are breathtaking. Some of your plants live here only as houseplants and we don't have most of your bird species.

    Do you ever lose any plants to frosts or droughts? Or is yours a permanent paradise?

  38. FRIKO:
    We don't get frost here, but we do occasionally suffer from droughts. Our summers are naturally very hot and dry (we have a Mediterranean climate), so the gardens that are not shaded by trees and protected with mulch, do take a knock, unless watered well and regularly. We get our rainfall in winter, but this has been a drier than average year and we are likely to have water restrictions imposed come summer. We have 8 rainwater tanks and so are able to self sustain, if need be, to keep our garden alive. In general, my garden is green all year round.

  39. simply beautifully captured shots...lovely garden with so much of vegetation and colourful birds to give company...life will never feel boring there!

  40. so beautiful Desiree...thank you so much for your compassionate comments on my post this morning.
    blessings upon you.

  41. Your posts whisk me away to a peaceful, serenity unknown till now. B

  42. If I were a bird I would make your home my permanent residence. Heck, I'm not a bird and I would love to live in your garden.

    However, I think you are hedging a bit when you briefly mention the care and cleaning of this eden. It looks like a heck of a lot of work to me.........how on earth do you keep up with that, the dogs, the visits to the fabulous places all around you and on and on and on.

    You have blessed my evening by allowing me to stay in your garden for a while. If you find some weird blond gal sleeping among the clivias just ignore her as it is probably only me......kt

  43. The only time we get to see plants and birds like that are when we visit the aviary at our zoo. Your garden is a wonderland! Thank you for sharing these amazing photos...and you should know that you are now one of our favorite resources for nature study in the homeschool. Your efforts not only reward us with beauty and an expression of God's abundance but also support the development of a child biologist/nature lover ;)

  44. Lovely bird closeups. They are lucky you have such generosity and the will to feed them such delicious birdie treats. Our wild birds don't need any extra foods, they just snatch it from our domestic geese and ducks and fly into the barn if they want a bit of goat grain. Yesterday I caught a Bluejay, unawares, in my potting shed eating the chicken's corn.

  45. I just wanted to stop by and say HI!
    I am still sticking to my 1 hour a day limit on computer time, so I am not currently making any blog posts.

    I love visiting your garden through your posts and I can only imagine if we ever ended up with birds the size of those big ones in our yard- my kids would be trying to grab them to make them pets.

  46. Desiree, I would be lost weeding your garden, uncertain which were the plants and which were the weeds. Everything looks so exotic to me. I can see why you like having tea in the garden. What a lovely place to sit and watch all the fantastic and beautiful birds.

  47. It's truly delightful to be in your garden. The plants look tropical but the birds are so plenty it looks like in a natural zoo! E even love how the watering bottle is attached to where they will step on, very creative. The automatic camera is really very useful in your area, turning out awesome photos like that one with a bird leaving. It's nice to have a chair under a tree, have coffee and a book.


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