Double Dose: Zinnia ‘Zahara Double Fire’

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Flower Buddies

Bee Balm ‘Grand Parade’ and Veronica ‘Eveline’:

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Up Close and Personal: Rudbeckia ‘Cherokee Sunset’

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Finally Some White Stuff

So far winter has delivered brutal cold, but not much snow. On Sunday and Monday an Alberta Clipper swung through Wisconsin and finally gave us the first real snowfall of the season.

Instantly there were birds flocking to the feeders, and a half-dozen squirrels showed up like an eager construction crew. They plowed snout-first through the snow looking for any buried seeds and nuts.

The snow may not last for very long. It’s supposed to be 40 degrees (F) with possible rain by the end of the week.

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Garbage Fiends

I’ve been trying to figure out what critter crawls into our city garbage cart at night and tears through all the bags. This has been going on for months. The cart is 4 feet tall with a heavy lid on top. I’m tall and I have long arms, but if drop something into the bottom of that cart, the only way I can retrieve it is to tip the whole thing over and crawl inside. I can’t believe a racoon could get out again once he crawled in.

I put a heavy, flat rock on top of the cart during the summer months, and that stopped the critter. But twice I forgot to remove the rock before opening the lid, and both times the rock fell to the ground and chipped one of the decorative pavers below—not cool. I tried bungee cords, but an end came loose on me and the hook missed my eye by a mere inch, so that was the end of trying that method. I finally settled on wiring the top shut with some very flexible wire. It works but it’s really not fun standing out there in 20-degree-below-zero wind chills trying to untwist the wires just so I can toss something in the cart.

I thought I may have discovered the guilty party when a few weeks ago a giant possum started visiting the yard every night, but I just didn’t think he looked smart enough to pull off such a stunt. He’s so big and slow—or maybe he just wants me to believe that.

On Thursday night we had a wicked temperature swing from 48(F) in the morning to 11 by late evening. The wind was whipping something fierce, so I assumed that was what was setting off the motion detector lights outside over and over. But when I finally looked through the window I saw the biggest raccoon I have ever seen in my life picking up peanuts from under the feeders. Now THAT beast could probably get in and out of the garbage cart.

The weird thing is that there was another critter with him. I only caught a glimpse of its glowing eyes and then the motion light turned off again. I waved and jumped up and down from inside the house to try to get the light to come on again, but no luck. Finally the wind howled and the light popped on once again. Wait, what? Not more than 2 feet away from that rummaging raccoon was Willis, our neighbor’s cat (seen here in better days—he’s since lost an eye—maybe he was trying to bind his garbage cart shut with a bungee cord, too):

Why is Willis following around a raccoon more than twice his size? Are they in a gang? Is the possum in the gang too? Maybe the possum lowers the raccoon into the garbage cart with his tail while Willis stands watch.

I really need to set up a camera on that side of our house.

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Up Close and Personal: Daylily ‘Creepy Crawler’

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Up Close and Personal: Marigold ‘Durango Red’

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A Multitude of Mourning Doves and a House Sparrow to Rule Them All

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A Bevy of Blooms: Petunia ‘Easy Wave Red Velour’

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It’s Coming Back! Part Two

More coping with winter by poring over photographs from last summer’s garden!

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