Thursday, April 30, 2020

Plants and Birds at Ivy Creek Nature Center in the Spring

When moving into our house from out of town, we had no idea that a nature center was just a few miles down the road! Over the last 10 years we have watched Ivy Creek Nature Center add programs and develop its property (in a good way). Over the years they have restored a massive barn that is used for educational programs while also preserving the history of the property. They also have added a monster bird feeding station which entices so much wildlife. They have been broading the native plant area and now have a Butterfly Garden. Plants have begun to fill in and mature, giving a pretty show throughout the growing season.

Annual plant sale normally attracts tons of buyers
Various local groups meet year round in the Education Center and the annual native plant sale is housed in the barn. Unfortunately, the coronavirus has put a halt to meetings and lectures. The plant sale hosted by Jefferson Chapter of the Native Plant Society has been postponed to the Fall due to the coronavirus.

Sweet male bluebird on top of a feeding pole
Last week we strolled around the bird feeding area and native plant beds. It was so nice to sit on a bench and watch the numerous birds. Cardinals, White-throated Sparrows, a few woodpecker species, bluebirds and other birds flew in and out. Squirrels and rabbits were also hopping around trying to get dropped food.

As you walk past the bird feeding station toward the Education Center, pathways are loaded with established native spring ephemerals, trees, and shrubs. If you continue to follow the path toward the open field to the right of the barn, you will find the more recently planted Butterfly Garden. Most plants are uncommon as native plants are not as widely sold by most nurseries but over the last several years there has been a mind change to plant natives to revive and attract wildlife. More nurseries are offering native plants and a relatively new nursery has opened in our neck of the woods, Hummingbird Hill Native Plant Nursery. It's located 20 miles from downtown Charlottesville in Free Union.

I feel the need to acquire some Golden Ragwort!
We usually walk the trails at Ivy Creek but it was my birthday and I wanted to take a quick drive over to monitor the Spring bloom of the plants. I actually found it quite relaxing to just sit and watch the birds and research the native plants using the provided identification guide. I realized it's a great spot for someone with a disability that can't hike or walk a long distances. One day I'm going to take a picnic as there are limitless great spots.

Go visit and consider making a donation online as funds must be diminishing now due to the stoppage of most programs.

~Rebecca




Saturday, April 18, 2020

Historic Garden Week in Virginia - 2020 Coronavirus edition - Visit the Gardens ONLINE!

2015 tour in Richmond at Tuckahoe Plantation
If you have followed my writing over the years, you will know that I blog about the amazing annual garden tour that takes place throughout the state of Virginia. This week long tour is organized by the Garden Club of Virginia, an organization that is celebrating their centennial this year!

2012 Garden Week, a lovely home in Ashland
I always pre-select the city that I will visit based on the detailed description in the Historic Garden Week of Virginia tour book. You can still dowload them online and you might be able to snag one in your area if you are lucky to find a distribution location up and running. It's a Spring publication that describes historic and private gardens that are scheduled to be on the tour.

Flower cart 2014 Garden Week in Lexington
Due to the coronavirus the week long tour has been cancelled but I just received notice that the event organizers will be hosting week long Facebook and Instagram video presentations beginning today, April 18, 2020 through April 25, 2020. They will periodically post videos on their sites throughout the day. Some history, flower arranging, gardens, and a little preview of gardens to come during the hopefully - back on again 2021 tour.


It's a very popular event and people travel even from outside our state to celebrate Spring in Virginia. A lot of planning goes into preparing homes and gardens for the thousands of visitors. It's quite sad the event has been cancelled but it's nice to know we can catch a glimpse online. You may be able to see posts on Instagram even if you don't have an account. Click on the links above and give it a try.

I've reposted a few of my favorite photos from past tours. Enjoy!

~Rebecca

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Keeping safe at the Doctors Office and Grocery Store during COV-19 coronavirus outbreak

Little birdhouse among the Pink Dogwoods and Redbud
Top of my list for places to NOT GO to during the coronavirus outbreak is to the doctor's office. For a month now I've been fighting a sinus generated ear infection. I threw everything plus the kitchen sink at it and nothing has cured my blocked up ears. I found some interesting remedies online and tried most of them. Typically a netty pot does help clear my sinus similar to using a saline nose spray. My mother swears by saline in the Spring to keep an often dry nose healthy and allergens cleared out. Sinus pain or even a light nose bleed can be a symptom of a dry sinus.

Pink dogwood's are in bloom on Forsythia Hill
So yesterday I reluctantly called my doctors office, which I describe as my country doctor because it's located in the woods back in a rural community nearby to my house just outside of Charlottesville. I've been drastically limiting the places I go because of my autoimmune disease. I had not been to my general doctor in 4 years, so a prescription could not just be called in. I was impressed to find that my doctor's office has set up a tent outside for those not wanting to enter the building and also for people with contagious symptoms. I felt really awkward making the nurse practitioner come outside but she made it clear that it was not a problem and that it was nice to get some fresh air.

Fluffy pillows of Leatherleaf Viburnum are blooming!
I'm now on an antibiotic to hopefully clear up my ears which are causing dizziness and hearing loss so it's not something I can continue to mess around with. Often I can bring on a dizzy spell by looking up and backwards and this exercise immediately stops the vertigo sensation. It also has stopped my dizziness from the imbalance caused by my plugged up ears.

Our Mockingbird is setting up his territory.
I also wanted to try minimizing my contact in the grocery store by trying the free Kroger Pickup service. I wasn't as satisfied with this as I was with my doctor's office experience. There was a 6 day wait to even be able to pick up after my order was placed and there was only one time slot which was from 6 - 7 pm. This was rather late in the day for me and sounded like a really busy time to go to Kroger. I decided to give it a whirl regardless. As I was driving to pick up my order Kroger called to tell me it would not be ready until at least 7 - 8:30 pm if at all! I rescheduled for the next morning. I received another call that night at 7:30 to say my order was ready. I again arranged to pick it up the next morning. Pick up was no problem but 7 items out of 25 were not available. I expected some items to be out of stock but I felt like this was excessive. A foreboding of what's to come? Lucky to get anything? Time will tell. 

The pink moon, named because creeping phlox is blooming.
My next strategy will be to try Harris Teeter on 29 North at an off time as I hope they will not be as busy as Kroger. I also will wear my homemade mask that has a protective non-woven lining! So far I've made 4 of them and hope to not make any more! I'm not crafty.

Minimizing exposure is all I can do. Nothing is perfect in life but I will continue to make my way as safely as possible. Staying home enjoying plants, birds, and even taking my first moon shot with my new zoom lens camera.

~Rebecca
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