This has been a summer with a little less adventure, and more experimentation. We have been working on our garden since we bought this house nearly five years ago, and I have made a lot of planting mistakes. Our neighbor has a very large black walnut tree, and it bears a good deal of fruit in the fall. The neighborhood squirrels love it. As do we. But, I recently learned that many plants and flowers do not survive when planted within 50-75 feet of a black walnut tree. There's a natural compound called juglone that the black walnut tree produces. There are many plants, shrubs, and other trees that are sensitive to this compound and struggle to survive. This at least solves some of the mystery as to why so many of my plantings never return after one summer. Who knew? Well, not me, obviously. But now I do, and I intend to do some research and find the right plants for that garden spot for next year. Maybe I'll even do some seed sowing this fall. Not something I've ever considered before.
So, a bit of online research, pouring over gardening books and magazines, and a lot of YouTube videos have kept me occupied many nights this summer. And I'm looking forward to putting to use what I have learned for next spring.
I noticed them last evening. Once the extreme heatwave had passed, brought on in part by a quick moving storm, the temperature dropped and the sky cleared. I went out to survey the backyard garden habitat, looked up, and there they were. Swarms of green darner dragonflies, swirling overhead. Back and forth over the backyard. Skimming the treetops, then swooping down lower over the garden patches, and birdbaths. No doubt feasting on the bugs brought out by the summer rain.
Earlier this summer one of these beauties surprised me as I was watering one of the raised bed flower gardens. I nearly watered the dragonfly itself, it was blending in so well. But the glistening of its wings caught my eye, and I stopped short. I greeted it, and asked it to "just wait there". Quick grabbed my phone and camera to take a few photos. It was resting, and seemed in no hurry to move on. Once I had taken a few photos I went back to watering the thirsty blooms, checking back periodically to see if it was still there. It hung around awhile. But, eventually, it moved on. Yesterday, I think it returned. With friends. Today, under cloudy, but cooler skies, they are back again. Swirling in and out of view. Rather calming to watch.
A couple years back, after our first summer in this house, we were outside working in the yard, and looked up to see thousands of green darners flying overhead. They were deep into fall migration, and we were lucky enough to witness it. I've been hoping for another opportunity ever since. Maybe their recent visits are a good sign.
I haven't been out in the parks and on the trails as much as I'd like this summer. I've had other responsibilities, and have dedicated a good portion of my time to cultivating our yard into a lively wildlife habitat. I'm going to take the dragonfly sightings as a sign that we are having some success.
A Return To Door County - Day 4
My time in Door County was coming to an end. In search of coffee and something simple for breakfast, I made a few stops: first at Scaturo's, a nearby restaurant and bakery, for a fresh-baked chocolate croissant. Followed by a quick stop at two different coffee shops in downtown Sturgeon Bay - Pinky Promise Coffee, and Lawlss Coffee Roasting. They were within a block of each other, so I had to sneak a peek at each. Both have character, and great coffee.
Caffeine in hand, it was time to depart Door County, but I had one final exploration to make before heading back to Milwaukee. Crossroads at Big Creek, in Sturgeon Bay. This 200-acre Nature Preserve, Learning Center, and Heritage Village caught my eye when researching the area last fall. I didn't have a chance to visit then, so I wasn't leaving this time without checking it out.
This last bit of exploration of my summer Door County trip was a great way to end my adventure. A bit of history, a bit of nature, a relaxing walk. There is much more to the Crossroads at Big Creek. More to explore another time. If you're interested, take a look at the map of the campus. There's much to do here all year through. In the meantime, I was homeward bound. Until next time...
A Return To Door County - Day 3
A Return To Door County - Day 2
A short photo gallery of the many garden displays at The Garden Door.
A brief photo gallery of a magnificent sunset over Ellison Bay, from Ellison Bluff County Park.
A short gallery of images from The Ridges Sanctuary.
I enjoyed all the spots I made it to on my first day back to Door County. But I'd have to say The Ridges Sanctuary boardwalk trail was my favorite. It's definitely a place I want to return to. Put it on your list, you won't regret it. Stay tuned for Day 2...
All photos in this feature by: Kimberly Mackowski / TheParkNextDoor
I'm not sure what to make of it this year. We did have an unusual, very scattered weather pattern this spring. Now, a week past May 10, the migration numbers have increased again. Last night nearly two million crossed over Milwaukee County. But I'll be damned if any of them stopped off in my yard. Perhaps they are late this year, and are opting to continue onward, skipping our bird-friendly backyard diner, and heading straight to nesting territories up north. Or the winds caused them to veer further west, and head north from there. The central and western part of Wisconsin has seen very high migration numbers in recent days, as seen in Birdcast.info readings from May 10 shown here.
A nature lover, bird watcher, wildlife fan, amateur photographer, humane gardener, traveler, and singer of songs. I've been keeping closer to home these days, and truly discovering the beauty that lies in TheParkNextDoor.