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Sunday, May 31, 2020

Discovering a Rare Sight: Nest of Turkey Vultures (Buzzards

A rare sighting according to my 83-year-old father, who said this is the first time that he has seen a “buzzard’s” nest. Him using the word buzzard to describe the black redheaded bald bird brought up lots of discussion and research. The best I can conclude is that it is a Turkey Vulture. Or if you prefer to call it what most southerner have called it for years, a buzzard, go for it.

We found the nest in a big brush pile on our farm (Located in Southern Arkansas). The mother flew out of it when we drove by, which triggered the hunt.

Although the big white speckled eggs were easy to spot, they were not easy to get close to. This is where a zoom lens comes in handy.

Turkey Vultures typically lay two eggs, which are incubated for 32 to 45 days.

The babies are cover in a white fur at hatching. They will remain in the nest for around two months.

 Hopefully the mother will let us get a peek occasionally as they grow! I know they will puke on you if you make them mad, so we will have to be quick. lol

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Exploring a Tropical Backyard Garden in Arkansas: A Spring Garden Tour

I thought I would do a quick spring tour of the garden. Most of the plants are well ahead of their normal, thanks to the warm temperatures and increased rain fall we have had here is southwest Arkansas the last couple of weeks. 

The banana trees are already around the 8 foot mark. I wrapped them for the first time this past winter and am happy with the results. I even have little bananas on two of the trees. Unfortunately, they are Musa basjoo and the bananas are tiny and not very tasty. Actually, from what I hear, it is rare for  Musa basjoo to fruit.

The first canna to bloom this year is this tropical beauty. I can not remember the name, but it is not supposed to be hardy below zone 10. This is their third year in the garden and they are multiplying like crazy.

The hibiscus are still full of blooms and the plants are putting on new growth. They started blooming in January in the greenhouse.

Bromelaids are one of my favorite plants for providing a tropical look to the garden. They all turn green in the winter, but show off their colors when the sun starts to hit them in the spring.

New to the garden this spring are these two beauties. They are supposed to be the Inferno cannas, but look nothing like the company's photos I ordered them from. Oh well, they are still pretty!

Most of the orchids are in bloom or at least budding. My sweet aunt gave me 13 orchids that she had at her home and was tired of caring for. I can not wait to see the colors of their booms.

Finally found a nursery in Michigan that grows sun coleuses. They are starting to grow
after just sitting there for a month! So many beautiful colors!

The Salvia Black and Blue is loaded with blooms. It is a hummingbird and butterfly magnet.

The Broad Leaf Dusty Miller is finally settling in and growing after being moved to a different spot a couple of weeks ago. I found this one on a weekend trip to Biloxi, Mississippi two years ago. 

I have been experimenting with bougainvillea. Some have been in the ground for a couple of years and some I winter indoors. The ones wintered in the greenhouse are looking beautiful. The ones left in the ground are just starting to put on leaves.

There is still lots of growing and filling in that will happen over the next month, but I am already enjoying my little tropical paradise!

2021 Garden Tour   here

Happy Gardening! 

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Discovering the Beauty of the Bridges of Madison County, Iowa

The Bridges of Madison County trail was the perfect side trip on my sister's and my vacation. Actually, it turned out to be one of the highlights.

Madison County is the Covered Bridge Capital of Iowa, with the largest group of covered bridges in one area. The beautiful bridges were popularized by Robert James Waller in the book, The Bridges of Madison County.  Clint Eastwood’s movie version of the book made the little town of Winterset a desired destination. 

Our first stop was the Imes Bridge. It was built in 1870 and is the oldest of the remaining covered bridges.  Originally located over the Middle River, the length is 81 feet.

Ten miles from the Imes bridge, we stopped at the Holliwell Bridge. A popular one for its feature in The Bridges of Madison County movie. It was Built in 1880 and is 122 feet long.

The Cutler-Donahoe was the third bridge on our route. The location is in the city park. Featuring a pitched roof, it was constructed in 1870 and is 79 feet in length.

We almost skipped this one because someone told us it was gone but decided to take a look anyway. Cedar bridge was almost completely destroyed by arson on April 15th, 2017, but there are plans to restore it.

The Hogback Bridge was the next to the last bridge that we visited. It was built in 1884 and measures 97 feet in length. Traveling through a lot of corn fields is required to reach this one.  

Located on the back wall of the bridge is a notepad for leaving where you are from and a note if you so wish. We enjoyed reading where everyone was from and how far they had traveled. There was even one from Japan!

Our final stop and the most popular of the bridges, the Roseman Bridge. Built in 1883 and at 107 feet in length, it was one of the main locations for the movie and novel. The Roseman remains in the original location of its construction.

It is also known as the “haunted” bridge. Supposedly, two officers thought they had trapped an escaped prisoner inside the bridge, but he rose through the roof and disappeared.

Headed back to the main highway, we came upon this sign. I really wasn't too concerned until we topped the first tall hill and was looking at one that was even taller and without much slope. I refused to drive up it! My sister was laughing at me the entire time that I was trying to turn around at the top of the hill we were on...

She called me chicken! I called myself being logical! I was thinking.... what if we get half way up and have to back down, what if we meet a big tractor, what if.... 😅

The tour of the bridges turned out to be much more fun and entertaining than we expected! Be sure your car is full of gas and you have a printed map in hand before heading out on the tour. Have fun!

Google Map of bridges


Winterset is 36 miles southwest of Des Moines, Iowa and 100 miles north of Kansas City, Kansas

Happy Travels!