January 18th, 2018
Just a friendly reminder..... the Great Backyard Bird Count is only a month away! For those of you who may not have heard, the GBBC is an annual event that takes place all over North America. Started in 1998 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society, the Great Backyard Bird Count is kind of a 'bird census' so to speak. The GBBC gives citizen scientists an opportunity to contribute real live data that aids professional scientists and researchers in monitoring the populations and well being of many different types of bird species around the continent.
It's super easy to participate. Simply sign up and count birds for at least 15 minutes on at least one of the four days on which the GBBC is on going. You may count for as long as you wish and on as many of the four days of the event as you wish. The fifeteen minute on one day commitment is just a minumum! You can also count birds from anywhere you want - your apartment balconey, backyard garden, local park or nature trail or your large farm are all great places to count birds. There is no minimum age to participate. This is a great family friendly activity for young, middle-aged and old alike to do together.
Sound like fun? Be sure to mark your calenders! This year the Great Backyard Bird Count will be held on February 16th - 19th, 2018. I will be participating hopefully on all four days of the GBBC. For more information, click here or on the image above. Happy Birding!
By, Jessi Wasell
January 3rd, 2018
Happy New Year to all of you and welcome back to the blog here at Wasell Gardens!
This past year (2017) our Christmas season culminated with our first White Christmas since the time I was probably five or six years old. It started snowing on Christmas Eve and it kept falling until the next morning. We got about 3 inches or so - it was just beautiful to see our gardens covered with a blanket of powdered sugar snow.
Some of ouar garden plants, covered in snow!
Snowfall on the orchard and on our container garden.
Straw is keeping our strawberries warm in their pots under the snow!
The snow was still falling when I took this picture of our front flowerbed.
I set out an extra special treat for our feathered friends on Christmas Day - a suet cake with nuts and seeds to help see them through the cold weather and to share a bit of Christmas joy! I set it in a spot where I felt it could be safe from the starlings and squirrels - and so far it has been. I think our little junco, chickadee and jay friends are still enjoying their festive gift.....
Our suet feeder when I put it out on Christmas Day....
The weather changed very quickly in a week's time and by New Year's Eve, we were enjoying beautifully mild and sunny weather in which I went outside without a coat! It was a lovely way to close out 2017.
Anyway, with 2017 behind us, I wanted to share a couple of my favorite verses in the Bible that encourage us to look forward to the new things God wants to do in our lives - especially as we turn the page on a new year.....
The Bible says in Isaiah 43:18 NIV, "Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past."
The next verse also says, "See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland." - Isaiah 43:19 NIV
I think its important to start with a clean slate - not just every year, but every day. This month, I wrote a devotional that goes along these lines. If you'd like to read more, click here - I hope and pray it is a blessing to you.
Speaking of a clean slate, I'm wondering if any of you are already making plans for this year's garden? I'm just starting to think about it..... One of the flowers I really hope to grow again this year are the cosmos. They're such lovely flowers that grow in bursting bouquets and cascades of blooms. I was thinking about last year's cosmos the other day when I was working with a new photo editing app (Prisma) to apply artistic features to my botanical photography. I took these photos this past fall as I was doing some flower pressing of our seashell cosmos.
This was a cool effect - the cosmos in the original photo were pink and magenta.
These are the same cosmos, with a different filter applied.
I thought it would be fun to share a couple different versions of these photos with the different effects - especially for all of you who are already looking forward to spring!
This was originally a magenta cosmos flower - I love the red and aqua together using this effect.
Another beautiful example of an artistic effect I applied to one more of my cosmos photos -
This one really looks like a painting!
I hope you enjoyed reading a little bit of this and that from the latest happenings here at Wasell Gardens. Happy New Year! I pray you and yours have a very blessed 2018.
By, Jessi Wasell
December 19th, 2017
Hello everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Thanks for taking time to stop by and see what's happening here at Wasell Gardens. With Christmas less than a week away, I wanted to share with you all one of my favorite activities this time of year - wreath making! With the abundance of natural material available to us right here on our own acreage, its a delight to make festive decor to adorn our front door and gates.
I start the process of wreath making by gathering my supplies. Recycled metal-plastic-coated wreath frames I've saved from purchased wreaths from years past, as well as embellishments, also salvaged from the previous years decor.
Our recycled wreath frames...
Next, its time to head out to the back of our property with a wheelbarrow and pruners in tow to gather evergreen boughs of all shapes and sizes, to be used in wreath making. Since my sister's dairy goats also love to eat evergreen branches, I always cut a bit extra to share some holiday cheer with our barnyard friends.
A wheelbarrow load of evergreen boughs....
And now for the design and construction of our wreaths..... I start by layering different types of evergreen branches and tucking them inside our frames. Its amazing how much plant material these frames can hold - making wonderfully full and festive wreaths.
Wreath in progress....
The basic wreath is finished - now we just need the decorations....
After I'm satisfied with the overall look of the wreath's greenery, I move on to the embellishments. Bells, bows, berries and flocked pine cones round out the look of our wreaths. I attach the decorations to the wreath frame using floral wire. And just like that, our wreaths are done and ready for displaying!
Our large wreath, ready to display....
Jingle bells and berries embellish this pretty little wreath....
Flocked pine cones and berries adorn our other small wreath.
My favorite thing about making homemade wreaths is experiencing the wonderful evergreen fragrance that permeates the air while I work. Long after I've finished this project and washed the sticky sap from my hands, my jacket, gloves and hands still smell strongly of spicy evergreen boughs. There's nothing like the scent of evergreen to get me in the Christmas spirit.... well, that and some freshly baked Christmas cookies!
Speaking of Christmas spirit, I also wanted to share with you a beautiful scripture that reminds me of the reason we celebrate this holiday at all. Because Jesus came to earth as a Baby to be the Savior of the World, we've been celebrating Christmas for centuries upon centuries. When I look at our Christmas wreaths, their circular shape reminds me of eternity - and how much I want to spend my forever with Jesus. The evergreen boughs remind me of God's faithfulness - He never fails to come through for me in any circumstance - He's ever-present - always there. And in this Christmas season, I'll dwell on this verse....
For to us a Child is born,
to us a Son is given,
and the government will be on His shoulders.
And He will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
- Isaiah 9:6 NIV
Merry Christmas to one and all - have a wonderful holiday with your loved ones!
By, Jessi Wasell
November 9th, 2017
Its hard to believe its already November! To me, it feels like the year has flown by..... it will be Thanksgiving before you know it. Seems like I'm not the only one who thinks it was summer just yesterday - our carnations and some of our roses are still blooming as well! Even though our first light snow and probably at least a dozen frosty nights have already past, our garden is still full of life and color.
This year was the first time I had ever grown carnations. I grew them from seed and planted them in our front corner flowerbed and in four large planters for a container garden on our patio.
One of our lovely pink carnations - this one was fringed with melting snow on the day I took this picture.
Our carnations in full bloom - in November....
These perennial flowers have turned out to be hardier than I expected - blooming through frost and snow - with hundreds of buds still waiting to open. With lacy fringed petals and soft texture, carnations look delicate. But in reality, they are some of the hardiest flowers I've ever grown. One of my favorite things about carnations are their spicy fragrance - smelling of florals and mulling spices all at once.....
A trio of open carnation blooms.....
One of our lovely reddish colored carnations....
The carnations aren't the only ones still in bloom. I was surprised to find a bright crimson rose in the garden the other day - its soft petals bejeweled with droplets of melted snowflakes. I couldn't resist a few snap shots and even tried a partial monochrome artistic setting on my Dad's Sony Alpha SLT-A65 for an unusual take on this beautiful view.
Beautiful red rose glistening with water droplets from melted snowflakes.....
The same rose with a partial monochrome effect applied to the image at the time of the shot....
In addition to floral life in our garden, our feeders are alive with bird activity this time of year. Anna's Hummingbirds, Dark-eyed Juncos, Black-capped and Chestnut-backed Chickadees and Stellar's Jays are regular diners at our buffet. Last night I stumbled upon a visiting Mourning Dove - unfortunately I scared it off before I realized it was there! Here are just a few snapshots of our fall/winter visitors.....
A very fluffy Dark-eyed Junco sitting in one of our climbing roses.
Another Dark-eyed Junco sitting in our elderberry bush....
Dark-eyed Juncos at one of our feeders, hanging from our Wisteria's trellis.....
A Stellar's Jay checking to see if the coast is clear!
A Stellar's Jay visiting one of our hopper feeders.
This Stellar's Jay was enjoying cleaning up spilled seed below the feeders.
Before I close, I wanted to share with you a special passage of scripture that has been on my heart lately, as well as a stunning look at some of the scenery we enjoy daily here at Wasell Gardens......
Flame-orange sunrise over Wasell Gardens.
Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
- 1 Peter 1:8-9 NIV
A different camera setting brought out some of the cooler lavender tones in this sunrise, though in reality it looked like the first picture.
This amazing sunrise I witnessed the other morning gave me so much joy. Afterward I reflected on the joy that Jesus gives us when He saves us. Just like this sunrise, as Christians, we should be alive with the pulsing beauty of His radiant joy every day.
I hope you all have a wonderful day! God bless you!
By, Jessi Wasell
October 20th, 2017
As promised, I wanted to take a little bit of time to recap the summer and share some of my favorite moments of this past season. This time, its all about the roses!
Our white rose bejeweled with droplets of water....
This year was one of the most beautiful flowering years for many of our roses. Each one was both delightful to look at and amazing to smell and I was able to capture the beauty with my camera lens. And since many of our roses bloom into October, I thought it appropriate to share some of my favorite photos of our roses from this year.
One of the most lovely of all our roses this year was my sister's orange Westerland Climber rose. I've never seen this rose have so many blooms at once and its still flowering. This year, it has looked like a gorgeous living bouquet, with a heavenly fragrance to match.
Westerland Climber rose bloom....
Dewdrops on our blooming Westerland Climber rose.
My Mom's fairy rose also had a fabulous blooming year, with cascading, frilly pink blossoms weighting down its slender green stems. It was hard for me to decide the angle at which to shoot this particular rose bush, because the blossoms were everywhere and I hated to miss even one of its intricate variations in color and ruffle.
Lovely delicate blooms on the Fairy Rose.
More fluffy, small blooms on the Fairy Rose
The church rose was also loaded with blooms, and with a slightly more 'dusty' color than previous years. I always enjoy seeing what color this rose will turn out to be from year to year. If you've followed my blog for any length of time, you'll remember the years it was mottled maroon and magenta, hot magenta and this year, magenta with a leaning toward dusty mauve. I'm not quite sure why this rose changes color from year to year. Possibly it is the soil or weather conditions.
Our lovely Church Rose....
In addition to our existing collection of roses in the garden, this year we added a variety of new rose bushes. Among them was a rose I've waited a long time for, a lovely golden yellow beauty that we found at our local garden center after years of searching! It was wonderful to finally have a yellow rose back in the garden after so long a time without one.
Freshly watered yellow rose....
I tried some partial monochrome photography on this beautiful rose bud....
In addition to the yellow rose, we also added two more hot pink roses, a pink and white, a gorgeous hot reddish rose and a lavender rose (another of my favorites).
Our lacy lavender rose....
As if all of this beauty wasn't enough to satisfy the soul, the Lord let us enjoy watching the hummingbirds take daily baths in the sprinkler, often perching on the rose stems to wait for the next rotation of our rain curtain sprinkler! These little jewels are such a joy to watch. They add so much life and happiness to the garden.
A hummingbird getting a sprinkler bath while perched in one of our Queen Elizabeth Roses....
I hope you all have enjoyed a look at our summer rose garden as much as I enjoyed sharing it! Thanks for stopping by.
By, Jessi Wasell
September 20th, 2017
Hello everyone! Its been a beautiful and busy summer here at Wasell Gardens. As summer comes to a close and the autumn season is upon us, I'm going to take a little more time to get back to blogging. This year in our garden, we mostly grew flowers and a small vegetable patch of corn and pumpkins - as well as a container garden of strawberries, peppers and tomatoes. Because of the cooler, drier weather and a few other factors, parts of our garden didn't really 'take off' until this last month. Over the next few blog posts, I'll recap some of my favorite summer moments, but today I wanted to tell you about two very special visitors that graced neighborhood the other day.
If you've followed our blog here at Wasell Gardens for some time, you probably know that fall is woodpecker time for us. Its during this season when we see them more than any other time of year. I think its partly the neighbors apple trees that draw them in - but most of all, I know its the Lord Who sends them to our yard for us to enjoy. The other morning, my Mom and my sister drew my attention to look out the window just as they saw a brightly colored woodpecker fly to a nearby utility pole. Sure enough, it was a male Pileated Woodpecker! His brightly colored red crest, dapper red mustache and distinctly glossy plumage gave him away.
The male Pileated Woodpecker....
We watched as the male Pileated propped himself up on the side of the pole with his powerful tail and with amazing dexterity, moved upward in a circular motion around the pole. This woodpecker called repeatedly from his perch and scanned the woodland across the street with his eyes, as if he was looking for someone.
As Mr. Pileated was making his ascent, I snuck out the front door with my Dad's professional camera, with a telephoto lens attached. Using the vechiles in our driveway as cover, I quietly made my way toward the woodpecker, eventually stopping about 20 feet from him. I watched as the male Pileated flew into one of the neighbor's apple trees and began helping himself to their bountiful supply of apples. After a few minutes, the male Pileated flew back to the utility pole and began scaling it and calling out as before. When he reached the top, he continued calling. A few seconds later, we heard another Pileated calling from the woodland across the street. I lingered with my camera hoping that his mate wasn't far behind! I wasn't disappointed!
This shot is not the best photo of the male Pileated, but its the only one I have of him calling out for his mate.
A moment later, a female Pileated swooped in to join the male on the utility pole. Although I didn't catch her arrival on the camera, I was able to take several subsequent shots of the two woodpeckers together.
The moment of the female Pileated Woodpecker's arrival....
We could tell that the second Pileated was a female because of her slighly duller plumage as well as her black mustache and black forehead.
In this photo, you can see the female Pileated Woodpecker's black forehead and mustache...
As we watched the pair of Pileated's, they called back and forth to one another and alternately fanned and flattened their bright red crests - communicating with body language only they could understand.
The male Pileated Woodpecker (left) and female (right) -
Notice that his red crest was flattened and her's raised at the moment I took this photo.
After the happy reunion at the utility pole, the woodpeckers flew off - the male first, with the female close behind.....
It was beautiful to watch how this little bird couple stayed in constant communication with one another as they went about their day - foraging for insects and feasting on apples. The depth of their care for one another was obvious and heart warming to see. I'm thankful the Lord let us see these beautiful Pileated Woodpeckers. I hope they'll be back regularly throughout the fall season.
- Jessi Wasell
April 24th, 2017
See what's blooming this spring here at Wasell Gardens!
Pink and white Triumph Tulips - Del Piero
Bright pink Triumph Tulips - Involve
Grape Hyacinth - Muscari Armeniacum
Purple Triumph Tulips - Blue Beauty
Light pink Triumph Tulips - Early Glory
Triumph Involve and Del Piero make a stunning combo...
Leaf buds on our apple trees!
Our Flowernig Plum was gorgeous this year.....
Our perennial Candytuft - loaded with blooms!
March 13th, 2017
Hello everyone! The start of the New Year here at Wasell Gardens has been busy and with spring almost here, we're just getting started. As you may have seen on our Twitter account, our tulips and hyacinth are coming up and enjoying all of this beautiful late winter/early spring rain we've been experiencing. Lots of other things will soon be coming up in the garden as its almost time for spring planting!
On the birding side of things, last month I participated in the Great Backyard Bird Count - February 17 - 20, 2017. I've enjoyed taking part in this annual citizen science project for the last couple of years. This year was particularly special to me because I postively identified a Hutton's Vireo for the first time! Its always fun when you get to add another bird to your lifelist. After this sighting I had the opportunity to share my story with Bird Studies Canada - a partner with the Audubon Society and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the GBBC for a chance to win a Bird Studies Canada membership. I wrote and entered my story entitled 'Vireo' and was honored to be notified that they had chosen my entry to receive an honorable mention! Such an unexpected blessing it was.... I'm so thankful :) The winning story, as well as the honorable mentions, including my own were published on the Bird Studies Canada website. If you'd like to read about my Great Backyard Bird Count experience, simply click here to be directed to my story for Bird Studies Canada.
The Hutton's Vireo wasn't my only lifer in the past month. Just this last Friday, my Mom, my sister and I spotted a Brown Creeper for the first time in the woods just up the road from our house. This common bird of the Pacific Northwest can be very tame and friendly, though because of their tiny size and camoflauge plumage that looks much like bark, they can be hard to see in the dim light of the woodland.
On another joyous note, our first Rufous Hummingbird of the season arrived on March 7th - about 8 days later than last year! I suspect that their unusually early arrival last year was due to the warming weather. This year has been the coldest start to the new year in our area since 1988 - which is probably why the Rufous Hummingbirds are showing up later this year. It was a joy to see our first Rufous male of the season and to hear his loud wing beats at the feeder - the experience never gets old and I look forward to it every year! With that development, we've installed more hummingbird feeders around our farm so that there is room at the table for everyone.
With spring almost here, I'm reminded to be grateful for all the beautiful blessings that come with this new season. As the new shoots spring up and the birds sing their spring songs, I hope you'll join me in singing praise to the Lord, Who gives us all of these things.
"I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and My blessing on your descendants. They will spring up like grass in a meadow, like poplar trees by flowing streams."
- Isaiah 44:3-4 NIV
By, Jessi Wasell
November 29th, 2016
Hello everyone - hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are enjoying your holiday season. There's lots of new things to enjoy for the month of December here at Wasell Gardens - so please feel free to take a look around. I'll be taking time away from the website for the rest of the holiday season so just wanted to say Merry Christmas to you all and Happy New Year!
"And she gave birth to her firstborn, a Son. She wrapped Him in cloths and placed Him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them."
- Luke 2:7 NIV
By, Jessi Wasell
October 28th, 2016
November is almost here and with Thanksgiving less than a month away, the theme of November is a celebration of Thanksgiving! One of our family's, especially my sister's, favorite recipes for Thanksgiving Day dessert is Mixed Berry Pie. So for the month of November, I wanted to share our recipe with you...you can find it by clicking here. This year we're making these special pies with homegrown berries straight from our very own berry patch!
Yum - Mixed Berry Pie with vanilla ice cream!
You can learn how to make these adorable turkey cookies on the November kids page!
October 20th, 2016
Yesterday was dahlia digging day! Our first frost has come and gone and after some rainy weather we finally had a dry day for me to get out and pull out our tubers. The first order of business was to cut away all the dead leaves and stems. I knew our dahlias were ready to dig out when the first frost wilted the plants and they began turning a dark green color and shriveling up. If you're planning on digging out your dahlias this year, here's what they should look like before you take the pruner and shovel to them....
As you can see here, the leaves of the dahlias turned dark colored and yucky, which is the perfect time to cut them down and dig them out.
Digging out the dahlia bulb. I got closer to the stem with my shovel once I knew I wouldn't be slicing a tuber.
Here's the tuber after I pulled it from the ground and shook off some of the soil. I think this one was from our Pink Dinnerplate Dahlia....
Threading the yarn with a needle through a label - this one's for a Wild Child Dahlia tuber.
All of our dahlia tags ready for use!
Two of our Addison June Dahlia tubers labeled and ready for storage!
I loved the brilliant crimson of this Dinnerplate Dahlia....
Addison June Dahlia....
Yellow Dinnerplate Dahlia....
September 28th, 2016
The first day of Autumn has come and gone and even though the weather is still warm and sunny, its really starting to feel like fall around here! We've had much going on here at Wasell Gardens - so I have much to share! In mid-September we had a wonderful harvest of spaghetti squash. If you follow us on Twitter, you probably saw our harvest, but if not, here it is below:
Our Spaghetti Squash harvest....
Our biggest cucumber....
One day's harvest of raspberries....
Our new corner garden....
September 19th, 2016
If you follow us on Twitter, you know that late this summer I tried my hand at making refrigerator pickles using cucumbers grown in our garden. I posted a couple of pictures showing the process with a promise to share my recipe later if the pickles turned out as we had hoped! While I liked our first batch of pickles, there was room for improvement, so I tried again. Our second batch of pickles turned out much more to our taste, so I thought I'd share the recipe with you all. Even though fall is upon us and the vegetable growing season is drawing to a close, if your cucumbers are still pumping out the cuc's - as ours are, you might enjoy making a batch or two of pickles! Being a newbie to making refrigerator pickles, I used a Food Network recipe by Ted Allen, you know, the guy who hosts Chopped.
Anyway, I mostly followed his directions for making the brine and the spices with a couple of exceptions....I used apple cider vinegar instead of white vinegar per my Dad's request and I used dried dill weed as opposed to adding fresh sprigs. The results have been deliciously crunchy, flavorful dill pickles! I made cucumber spears, rounds (like Bread and Butter Pickles) and slicers. For the amount of cucumbers I had, I needed to double the recipe for spices and brine.
Our pickle slicers and rounds - in the brine!
Our pickle spears....
August 24th, 2016
Its 4:45 am... I'm barely awake (really I am :) as I try to rub the sleepiness out of my eyes. I'm thinking on snoozing for just a bit longer when suddenly, my sister comes to my door - her voice full of excitement. She says, "Jess, you've got to get up! There's a Canadian Geese laying down in the backyard!" "What?! No way, you've got to be kidding me!" I exclaim as I jump out of bed, sleepiness forgotten at the word 'goose'. "No, serious, come look," Candi responds. Sure enough, I look out and see a shadowy form lying still on the ground. You'd never know it was a goose until it moves its head, revealing its brilliant white face patches in the light of the porch light. My Mom said she saw the little figure in the yard and wondered at it. Candi tells me she turned a flashlight on the sleeping goose after she saw the dark bundle move....she thought it was a cat at first in the darkness of the early morning. But upon shining the flashlight out our back window, she saw the goose lift its head, disturbed by the rays of light directed at it.
Even though Canada Geese are common residents in our area, we don't see them for most of the year, except during migration, when they often fly overhead and sometimes even drop down for a visit. The flight of the geese, either north or south, is usually one of the first signals of the changing of the seasons that I see. This is the first goose that has stopped over in our yard this year - and we'd never had one spend the night. What's even more remarkable about this sighting is that I just published September's In Scope a few days ago, which is all about the Canada Goose! I didn't have any pictures to share at the time - so I posted it with my drawing and figured I'd get some pictures later when the opportunity presented itself. I didn't know I'd have an opportunity so soon! Truly it was the Lord, sending that goose here, just when I needed it.... He never fails, it happens every time. I think its one of the ways Jesus tells me He loves me - by giving me up-close encounters with awesome birds, usually right in my own backyard. I can't even recall praying specifically about my lack of Canada Goose pictures - but the Lord knew my heart and how delighted we'd all be to see one.
Anyway, now that I was aware of this peacefully snoozing gift in our backyard, the only thing to do was to wait for dawn so that I could get some good pictures. We told my Dad about it when He left for work. I pray the goose doesn't leave when Dad starts up His truck. Its in the direct path of my Dad's headlights, but the goose stays put. We wait....and watch.
About at about 5:30 am we start to see a slight lightening of the sky. A slivery glow washes over the waking world. The goose lifts her head and looks around. A swallow dives right over the top of her head, she ducks but doesn't move. Soon dawn breaks and I'm finally able to get my first photos of the goose.
What are you looking at? :)
Here the goose is still roosting, but she seems to be looking right at us!
I have to turn the flash off so I don't disturb the goose. Its not completely light yet. But in the stillness of the breaking day, our little goose friend begins to rouse - she begins grazing at the long grasses that encircle her. My sister and I are certain by now that they're aren't any other geese around - at least not in our immediate vicinity. This goose must've gotten separated from her group and decided to rest here for the night, we speculate. As the sky grows ever brighter, I attempt to adjust my camera to ready myself for the next shot...which is the precise moment when our goose decides to get up and stretch her wings! I stay with my current camera setting and focus the telephoto lens back in on our subject lest I miss another wing-flapping moment. I pray she stretches more so I can get a good shot of her with wings outstretched. A few minutes later, I get that shot.
The Canada Goose - flapping her wings. We called it a 'her' - there's really no way to tell with Canada Geese...
The Canada Goose begins to call in soft honking noises - obviously trying to make contact with her flock. I pray she's able to reunite with her fellow geese. She begins to walk around our backyard, never straying far from our back window. Occasionally, she'll turn herself completely around in a circle - spinning slowly a few times. Inwardly I wonder if she's calibrating her internal, instinctive compass to the direction she must continue to travel. She calls again - thrice repeated. Then she begins to talk about and graze, fueling her body for her journey.
Canada Goose grazing....
Its around 6 o'clock now and our little goose looks restless. She's eager to rejoin her flock, if only she knew where they were. She listens. I steady my camera and snap a few more pictures, knowing by her body language that her departure might be soon. Suddenly her face lights up with recognition - she honks and even quacks a little - lifting her large body off the ground with strong, swooping wing beats. Recognizing her flock approaching or hearing their calls nearby, she lifts off, flying quickly out of our sight. My sister and I run to the front window for a last look, but she's already gone.
Right before take off - she's honking in this photo.
I take a moment to scan through the photos of her departure. 'That was incredible,' I breathe. I've never been that close to a goose before. 'That was incredible,' my sister replies. We smile, laugh and share a fist bump. I thank my sister for waking me from my drowsy state to see such a beautiful bird. I thank the Lord for His kindness in letting us see this beautiful creature. In my heart, I'm reminded of one of my favorite scriptures, Hebrews 11:6 NIV,
"But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him."
I believe Lord - thank You for such a beautiful reward today! p.s. You can send birds my way anytime :)
If you'd like more information on the Canada Goose, check out September's In Scope by clicking here.
By, Jessi Wasell
August 4th, 2016
The last time I posted here we had just enjoyed our first dahlia flower of the season. We were awaiting many more blossoms which are now bursting with vibrant color! These lovely flowers have turned out to be so gorgeous, we've even been able to use them in bouquets to give as gifts. For all of you with whom we were unable to share a bouquet, I wanted to share the joy of these beautiful flowers through pictures.
This is a beautiful Grand Prix Dahlia. I love its color, especially its flaming orange tips.
Addison June Dahlia
Crimson Red Dinnerplate Dahlia
Dinnerplate Dahlia in Pink
July 21st, 2016
Summer is a wonderful season. In the vegetable garden, summer is the season when we really begin to enjoy the fruits of our labor. For weeks now, I've been processing and freezing loads of kale and broccoli raab - and eating it fresh too of course :) Our family's favorite way to have kale is in our mashed potatoes. The flavor of the kale changes after it has been frozen. Its has a bit of a tart and pungent flavor when fresh - but when frozen its flavor is sweet and mellow. My Dad prefers kale the sweet and mellow way, so we freeze a lot of it before use. If you follow us on twitter, you've seen some of the large harvests of kale and broccoli raab from our garden. If you haven't yet seen it, here's one of our latest harvests of broccoli raab.
Our peas and green beans are blooming like crazy and our squash, corn and cucumbers are also growing nicely. I'm expecting to see peas and beans growing very, very soon. Our potato mound is growing profusely - keeping up with continual covering of the plants with more dirt has been on the garden to-do list every couple of days! Even though we had a bit of a late start to our garden this year, I'm really happy and thankful to the Lord for how everything is growing so well.
Another summer joy this year is our dahlia garden! This spring, I planted a dahlia garden in front of our house, where a brick paver patio used to be. Since it was already devoid of grass, my Mom and I thought it would make the perfect garden patch for my Dad's favorite flowers - dahlias! Its turned out to be a beautiful spot. We had our first dahlia flower of the season bloom just the other day.
Dahlia - Arabian Night
Vanilla Strawberry Hydrangea....
July 1st, 2016
Hello everyone! Its been really busy here at Wasell Gardens - lots of things to do inside and out - hence the reason I haven't blogged lately. With all the beautiful changes taken place and new additions to our gardens to talk about, probably the most noticeable change to you, our readers, is our brand new website! Yes, amongst all the outdoor busy-ness I've been working on a new look for Wasell Gardens via my fledgling, soon to be launched web design company, Genesis Web Design. I hope you all enjoy the changes I've made. My goal of creating uplifting, Jesus-centered articles, blogs, devotionals, kids pages and more remains the same - only more and better. For those of you wishing to fully experience the new website, feel free to take a look around and come back to learn more about the developments out in the garden.
Speaking of the garden - there are sooo many new and exciting things to tell but first I wanted to catch you all up on what's happening with all the plants I started this spring. You may remember that I started lots of beautiful flowers under the protection of my make-shift greenhouse of our glass patio table covered in visqueen. Cosmos, Chinese forget-me-nots, Four O'Clocks, English Daisies, Nasturtiums and Marigolds made up the fun menagerie of baby plants, that made their way to their respective gardens, containers and handing baskets over the course of the spring.
Super cute - our nasturtiums growing in our galvanized bucket planter.
Now that summer is here, everything I planted is beginning to bloom - and we're thoroughly enjoying the results of our work! As I mentioned in a past post, the Four O'Clocks, Seashell Cosmos, English Daisies and Chinese Forget-me-nots were planted together in our flower garden next to the rose bed....
Here it is with three of the four types of flowers in full bloom - I took these pictures last night.....
We're just now starting to see the first Four O'Clock flowers but everything else in this bed is blooming like crazy, as you can see. For this garden I was going for an English Country look with a nod to neat and tidy using uniform rows. With a dash of order and a whole lot of whimsy, I created this - and only the Lord could exceed my expectations to make it look as beautiful as it does today! I'm so thankful for the opportunity to participate in the making of such beauty - it feels as if our Aweome Creator God let me have a little fun in His workshop by giving me the privilege of designing our gardens. A very special thank you to my Mom and sister for helping me make this garden as lovely and gorgeous as it is today - xoxoxoxo :)
One of our cosmos, stretching toward the sky....
The 'Magic Carpet' - Portulaca we planted this spring is also full of flowers. One of the most interesting things about these flowers is the fact that they open late morning and close in the late afternoon every day. Thus I have a very short window to photograph these lovely blooms while they're open! I've been missing that window for about a week but finally took these pictures today.
A beautiful bloom on our Magic Carpet - Portulaca plants...
The Magic Carpet and some of its many brightly colored flowers.
Also on the long list of things to mention are our vegetable gardens! We planted two this year - one is about 20ft by 30ft and the other about 40ft. by 60ft. Here's a short run down of everything we've planted....
Our green bean plants, looking good!
Italian Broccoli Raab
Raspberries (which I already had - we just moved them to their permanent home :)
Honeyburst Melon (which is like a honeydew)
Bush Sugar Baby Watermelon
Yukon Gold & California White Potatoes
Big Pumpkins (they can grow up to 200lbs)
Our 20X30ft garden we're calling our 'upper garden' so I will refer to it by that name from now on. The other is the 'lower garden' - just based on where they sit on the land. In the upper garden we're nearing harvest time for our kale and broccoli raab - all other plants are also growing by leaps and bounds.
This is our Broccoli Raab....its grown even more since taking this pic. We have florets now!
In both gardens we had some bunny activity, so I ended up replanting our purple cabbage. Yes, Peter Rabbit, Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail were the culprits! No matter how cute they are (and they are cute) we realized we'd need to prevent them from entering the gardens. We solved the bunny problem for the upper garden with some small square fence, chicken wire and marigolds! Marigolds are great for repelling pests such as bunnies and thankfully my Mom had just read about it on the HGTV website right before we realized we had a bunny problem. If you'd like to know more about marigolds, I've written a new article all about them In The Garden this month. In the meantime, we're working on the bunny proofing process for the lower garden as well.
My Dad and I made some bamboo teepees on which our peas are growing. A simple combination of bamboo stalks and zip ties did the trick. Below is a picture of our peas growing on their teepees.
Our peas growing at the base of our teepees - eventually they will wrap themselves around the bamboo reeds and grow upward.
Special thanks goes to my Dad for helping me put together these vegetable gardens. From planning to implementing the design for our vegetable gardens and showing me how to use the tiller for the first time - thanks Dad for everything!
Last but certainly not least is the addition of three new trees - two shade trees and a lovely European Pear tree. Our shade trees now reside in our front yard. One is a Flowering Plum tree with dark purple foliage. Its very pretty and planted in our front flowerbed. Here's an up-close shot of some of the leaves....
A branch of the Flowering Plum....
Our other new shade tree is a Purple European Beech - with wonderfully glossy purple/green leaves and a growing habit much like a poplar tree. Just stunning - here's an up-close of the beech tree foliage.
The leaves of the European Purple Beech...
Well, there's so much more to say, but its time for the evening watering, so I'll close. Much more news and updates to come! Thanks so much for stopping by.
By, Jessi Wasell
May 16th, 2016
Good evening everyone! Just as I was wrapping up work for the day I had the joy of a visit from a beautiful male Black-headed Grosbeak! Its a wonderful sight to behold them every spring in our garden. We usually have a few grosbeak sightings especially in the month of May. As I mentioned in my last post, I have been hearing their lovely song each morning and evening but had yet to see one this spring. That first grosbeak sighting of the season is always very special and this one was certainly no different. I did get a couple of pics. This male grosbeak landed on the sprinkler head in our front yard and stayed just long enough for me to snap a few shots. The image is slightly fuzzy, but at least I have something to share....
I love the bright orange of this beautiful male Black-headed Grosbeak.
Here's just one more....
Black-headed Grosbeak male...
One of the most interesting things about the Black-headed Grosbeak is that they are among the only birds who can feed on Monarch butterflies ~ an insect that is poisonous to most other birds....I thought it very fitting to see this lovely bird on the very night that I published my butterfly study for this month's Just for Kids! If you'd like to learn more about the Black-headed Grosbeak, you can read my archived In Scope article about this species by clicking here.
Hope you all enjoy! Have a great night.
By, Jessi Wasell
May 10th, 2016
One of the best things about spring is the arrival of our migratory birds. Spring migration is an event I look forward to each and every year. The arrival of spring migrants is so wonderful, like saying hello to old friends. I love to keep an eye out for new arrivals daily - Rufous Hummingbirds, Violet-Green, Tree and Barn Swallows, Black-headed Grosbeaks, Western Tanagers and so many more.
Just yesterday morning at about 7 a.m. I was out weeding one of our flowerbeds and was treated to the melodic song of the Black-headed Grosbeak for the first time this season. It was a delight to hear and made my morning to think that our grosbeak friends have returned at last! Even though spring migration isn't just a one day event - there is a special day to celebrate our migratory birds...Today is World Migratory Bird Day!
Yesterday, my Mom got some really good pictures of a male Violet-Green Swallow for me to share with you. The Violet-Green Swallow is just one of our migratory birds that spend the spring and summer in our area. My Mom was tending to some of my sister's doelings (young girl goats) when one of these beautiful swallows perched beside her on the fence. Thank you to my Mom for sharing these wonderful photos....
This little swallow sat near my Mom for some time....
This is my favorite shot that my Mom took - here the Violet-Green Swallow is in mid flight was he launched from his perch on the fence.
Migration time (spring or fall) is also full of opportunities to see birds we may not get to see otherwise. Often times, during their travels, some birds get slightly off course, sometimes ending up outside their normal range. The other day, I had the privilege of spotting a Western Kingbird perched on the fence in our front yard. His dusty yellow underside and dark tail caught my eye - as well as his flycatching behavior as he dipped and dived after insects almost like a swallow. The Western Kingbird is not a common bird in our area, but rather an uncommon visitor sometimes seen during migration. I was able to get a couple of pictures, one of which I've shared below, but this beautiful bird was a little too shy to allow me any closer for a better shot.....
The Western Kingbird....
Thankfully, I had my Dad's Sony Alpha SLT-A65 (a very nice professional camera that I love :) - making for a nice clear image that I could zoom in on once I got it on the computer. Here's the same image of the Western Kingbird, just closer up....
A close up of the Western Kingbird...
I was so excited to see the Western Kingbird since I've only seen it once before in my life - many years ago now. I thank the Lord for letting me see it that day. It just goes to show that you never know what migratory bird might so up in your yard this season. Keep your eyes and ears open and your camera at the ready!
Happy World Migratory Bird Day everyone - I hope you have a wonderful day.
By, Jessi Wasell
April 19th, 2016
I mentioned in one of my March tweets that the Violet-Green Swallows and Tree Swallows were here and already making themselves at home in our nestboxes here at Wasell Gardens. I have since been able to get some pictures of one of the pairs that has taken up residence here. I hope you will enjoy them!
A Violet Green Swallow sitting atop their nest box.
This little Violet Green Swallow is the other half of the pair inhabiting the nest box above.
This is my only successful attempt at snapping a photo of a swallow in air the other day. Swallows fly so fast that it was hard to release the shutter at the right time while the bird was still within the view of my lens!
I hope you all have a great week!
By, Jessi Wasell
April 15th, 2016
Pileated Woodpecker female at our suet feeder...
Just wanted to share a little update on the Pileated Woodpecker I mentioned in my last post. This woodpecker has been visiting our yard everyday for a few days now. I was able to identify her as a female Pileated because her forehead is black whereas a male Pileated's forehead would be red. I think she was drawn in by our suet feeder...as you can see in the above picture, she's enjoying her special treat! Her visits are very frequent, up to three times a day so far. Makes us wonder if she has babies already? Anyway, she's loving to visit and we love having her! Here's one more picture....
The Pileated Woodpecker female having a rest on a hawthorne tree branch near our suet feeder...
Have a wonderful rest of your Friday and happy weekend to you all :)
By, Jessi Wasell
April 13th, 2016
There's been a garden variety of happenings lately here at Wasell Gardens. With all the beautiful sunny weather we've been experiencing, I've been spending much more time outdoors than indoors in recent days. But today the weather is a little bit chillier. A very cold wind reaching all within its grasp out of doors means that I'm spending a little bit of time warming up near the pellet stove and updating you all on the happenings in our garden.
Yesterday we had a very special visitor in one of our flowerbeds - a Pileated Woodpecker! We were arriving home from a short errand in the early evening when my Mom saw the beautiful Pileated Woodpecker in the flowerbed near our driveway....
My Mom stopped the truck just beyond our driveway while my sister and I pulled out our phones and started taking pictures. Our lovely unexpected visitor stayed for a few minutes, pecking in the garden soil, probably searching for insects. Then it flew up on one of our posts nearby and continued on its way - flying toward our backyard. I'm pretty certain this is one of a pair that claims our neighborhood as their territory. I never get tired of seeing these beautiful woodpeckers when they visit our yard. They are a delight - a special surprise to both to see and hear. The picture below is a bit fuzzy - due to the fact I had to zoom in so far, but at least I have some evidence of this amazing encounter to share with you all!
The Pileated Woodpecker...
Yesterday was also a time to plant more flowers in this same flowerbed. As you can see above, our Ranunculus and CandyTuft are now sharing this flowerbed flanking our driveway. We also direct sowed some Portulaca seeds, also called 'Magic Carpet' in this same flowerbed in the area where the Pileated Woodpecker was found. Magic Carpet is one of our favorite annuals to plant. They cover whatever flowerbed in which they grow to create a literal 'carpet' of flowers. Our newest addition to this garden, however, is Phlox subulata - a beautiful flowering evergreen perennial, perfect for borders and ground cover. We chose a periwinkle, dusty light blue variety with purple centers. The blooms on this plant are prolific and smell amazing - much like jasmine blossoms.
Here's an upclose look at the Phlox blossoms....
This is what our flowerbed looks like with the addition of the phlox...
Next up in garden news this month is an update on our baby sprouts....they're growing up so fast! Our Cosmos, Chinese Forget-me-nots, Four O-Clocks and English Daisies (also called Bellis) have made their way out to the garden as of last week. They're still young and it will be a little while before we enjoy our first blooms - but they are doing quite well, spreading they're roots down deep in the dark brown earth. The most amazing thing to me is how resilient, rugged and tough our little plants are - and how they thrive in the good soil of our flower patch. Here's a few snapshots of some of our sprouts at this stage....
The Cosmos..... The Four O'Clocks...
Chinese Forget-me-nots..... English Daisies (Bellis).....
In addition to all that's going on out in the garden, we've also continued to start plants from seed in small pots to transplant into the garden later in the season. Currently growing in our little makeshift 'greenhouse' (our patio table covered in visqueen plastic) are Lavender plants and gypsophilia as well as more Four O'Clocks and Chinese Forget-me-nots.
We hope you are enjoying all the beauty of gardening this spring. Thanks for taking the time to check in! Have a wonderful day and Happy Gardening!
By, Jessi Wasell
March 25th, 2016
Today is Good Friday. I don't think I've ever woken up to a more beautiful Good Friday than the one I was awakened to this morning. The sky is blue and warm sunshine is drenching everything with golden light. I'm grateful for this day, and filled with thankfulness as I think about Jesus' sacrifice on the cross for us. He is the Reason we can find joy in everyday - He is my Reason for living.
One of the things about Him that gives me the most joy is seeing His Handiwork in His creation - especially in the flowers and birds He's made. One of my new favorites this year is our lovely Ranunculus - of which we have three colors, purple, pink and orange. These little flowers remind me of miniature paper roses - their petals are so perfectly and delicately formed.
As the beauty of spring blossoms all around us this season, let us remember to appreciate this awesome life of ours and thank the One Who gave it. I hope you all have a wonderful Easter with your loved ones.
By, Jessi Wasell
March 24th, 2016
Hope you all had a wonderful Palm Sunday last weekend and are looking forward to Easter weekend. Tomorrow is Good Friday, the day when we remember when Jesus was crucifiied. For many people, this week is a time of quiet reflection on Jesus' sacrifice for us leading up to the celebration of Jesus' resurrection on Easter Sunday. I love this time of year - I love to think about how Jesus died on the cross for us and rose again so that we can have eternal life with Him.
This month here at Wasell Gardens, one of the ways we're celebrating Easter is to share some new pages with all of you. Most are entirely new, but for this month's devotional, I'm resharing a post I wrote a few years back. I hope that this devotional, and every page on this website, blesses you and makes you think just how much Jesus loves you, because He really, really does!
'But He was piered for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed.'
- Isaiah 53:5 NIV
Happy Easter everyone! God bless you.
By, Jessi Wasell
March 1st, 2016
Spring is almost here! And in our area, it feels almost as though its already arrived. We've already had some nice warm sunny days that seem 'almost' like spring, despite a chilly wind that blows steadily this time of year. Yes, flowers are beginning to bloom and the roses are growing pretty tender green leaves...our part of the world is starting to wake up from winter slumber. But the most exciting development in our garden has been the arrival of our first Rufous Hummingbird male! I saw him just a few days ago, zipping into our yard for a sip of nectar and leaving almost as quickly as he came! The sharp buzz of his wings was as unmistakable as the bright ruby red of his gorget and rufous brown body.
I haven't yet been able to photograph him but when I do have an opportunity, I'll gladly share it with you. In the meantime, here's another photo of one of our female Rufous' ....if you look closely you can even see her 'landing gear' (her feet) out!
Hope you all have a wonderful day!
By, Jessi Wasell
February 20th, 2016
This morning it was so sunny and beautiful, I decided to go out for a little photo shoot of the birds in the garden. Little did I know I would be in for a quite a surprise - I saw our first Rufous Hummingbird female of the year! She stayed for some time, preening in the hawthorne tree, sipping sugar water from our feeder and chasing off an Anna's female! I was able to get a nice picture of her below....
Hope you all have a wonderful weekend. Happy Birding!
By, Jessi Wasell
February 12th, 2016
The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) starts today! Hope you all will sign up and join us sometime this weekend (February 12 - 15th, 2016) to count birds and report your findings. This is a super simple citizen science project by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The best part is, no matter what your age or where you live, you can participate in the GBBC! For more information, visit gbbc.birdcount.org .
On another note, Sunday is Valentine's Day....so here's a sweet photo valentine to share with your love bird this weekend!
I snapped this photo of a House Finch pair a couple of days ago while I was out for some good bird watching and photographing time. I was actually trying to get pictures of a Kestrel (which I didn't end up getting) but instead I witnessed the sweetest sight...a male House Finch feeding a female! Needless to say, searching for the kestrel was forgotten and though this isn't the best picture if we're talking about photography skills, its the only one I was able to get to capture of these two love birds sharing a bite of food.
Lastly, there's lots of new content to view here at Wasell Gardens this month. Hope you will enjoy all the new articles and have a wonderful weekend. Happy Bird Counting and Happy Valentine's Day everyone!
February 7th, 2016
The month of February is National Bird Feeding Month. And this time of year, our feeders are busy with birdlife of many kinds. This morning we had a special visitor to the suet feeder - a Red-Breasted Nuthatch. I was able to get a few good shots of this lovely bird.
If you'd like to learn more about the Red-breasted Nuthatch, take a look at this past edition of In Scope, all about this beautiful bird!
Hope you have a wonderful day!
By, Jessi Wasell
January 21st, 2016
Hello everyone! Hope you all are having a great week. Just wanted to share a couple of Anna's Hummingbird photos I got this morning. Its been a very rainy day here at Wasell Gardens. The nearby creek has overflowed its banks and there are puddles everywhere! But since this weather just happens to be the kind that every hummer loves, the Anna's were out in force today. As I write, I'm enjoying watching yet another little female Anna's at our feeder.
This chubby little male Anna's thinks he's quite the stuff. As I took these photos, he was fluffing the feathers on his chest out with pride and showing of his stunning magenta gorget.
I only got one good photo of the little female Anna's that's been visiting all day. She's so sweet and demur.... I love how the water was beading up and rolling off her back in this photo. I took these photos from inside the house, hence the splashes of water everywhere all over the window!
Enjoy the rest of your day!
By, Jessi Wasell
January 13th, 2016
At long last, I'm finally back to doing what I love most...gardening, birding and writing about our Amazing God and His Creation. If you've never visited Wasell Gardens before, a big hello and welcome to you. If you had been one of our regular visitors in the past and have been wondering where we've been all these months - welcome back - its so wonderful to be here with you!
Since it's the New Year, one of my goals for 2016 is to get Wasell Gardens back up and running again. In 2015, life was simply too busy for me to keep up with Wasell Gardens. But I must confess that I have greatly missed emersing myself in gardening and birding research and Bible studies to bring you my very best in the way of articles, blog posts, devotionals and children's curriculum. For that reason, I'm starting to write again in the hopes that you all will enjoy the website even better than before!
There are plenty of new articles to read and activities to do here at Wasell Gardens, so I hope you'll stay awhile and take a look around. Also, I am currently working on the Archives page - so you will eventually be able to view your favorite past issues of all the articles here at Wasell Gardens.
Before we close, I wanted to share with you a scripture, Isaiah 43:19 AMP, which says,
"Behold I am doing a new thing! Now it springs forth; do you not perceive and know it and will you not give heed to it? I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert."
I love this verse - it reminds me that God always wants to do something new and wonderful in our lives, we just have to open our hearts to Him and let Him.
Hope you all have a very Happy New Year!
By, Jessi Wasell