Splishing and a Splashing Grackle in St. Lucia

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Grackle in the morning light.

Ready for a bath?

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Grackle splashing in the bird bath.

Birds take baths the world over and have the same fun doing it. Here in St. Lucia the grackle cools off. The photos were taken with a Nikon P510, f4.5  1/250 sec. ISO 320.

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Raining bath water.

Not bad for an entry level camera? Enlarge the photos to show the quality of the camera in getting clear, crisp images. I left the big camera and expensive lenses at home and traveled with the small, lightweight P510.

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Grackle having a cool bath.

The bird bath was right outside the room where I was staying. I was outside on the veranda playing bird paparazzi. Poor girl got no privacy.

Grackle splashing up a storm.

Grackle splashing up a storm.

Look at her go, water was flying. What a beautiful morning in the Caribbean.

Grackle contemplating a bath.

Grackle contemplating a bath.

Garden Walk Buffalo Gardens – Allentown #4

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Allentown is Buffalo’s oldest preservation district with some of the most unique architecture in our area. The oldest house was built in 1840. Homes range from cottage to Queen Anne to Italianate.

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The central corridor is a mix of artsy shops, galleries and bars. The quirky Bohemian quality is very evident throughout the Allen Street District.

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The homes are built close together with very small front yards, yet have loads of color with perennial gardens and containers galore.

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There is very little room for grass yards and many gardens are gated or fenced.

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Colorfully painted doors are common, just as are lively storefronts on Allen Street.

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 Roof lines are dramatic with mansard roofs and cupolas.

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Many gateways are both welcoming and decorative.

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Gates divide spaces so as to appear larger and create rooms.

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Paths have arches, pergolas and arbors.

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Picket fences are common also.

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Make sure to stop in at Garden Walk Garden Talk tomorrow, for more of Allentown gardens. The paths through the gardens are featured in the post entitled, Garden Walk Buffalo Gardens – Allentown #4 1/2.

Garden on the Escarpment

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This is a property I designed in Lewiston.  Springtime is especially lovely. Enjoy the tour, the flowers bloom mostly in pink. See more of this property on Garden Walk Garden Talk on Tuesday.

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Rhododendron is king in Spring. The first image is at the driveway entrance and above, the rear of the residence.

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The clematis was newly planted the year before. It is filling in nicely.

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Japanese maple are in many locations on this property and do quite well.

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The side garden above was designed for wedding photos to be taken.  The wedding was the following year, so the plantings had time to fill in.

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Island beds are throughout the huge front yard. The new spruce are planted as a screen. They will get beds as they develop.

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Moss – The Good, Bad and Ugly

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Moss, you either love it or you hate it. You might be making up a blender concoction to grow your own, or you might be mixing up a mossicide to eradicate it from your north facing shingles.

It is beautiful inside. Many interior display items are made enhanced with moss.

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  An Old Mossed Terra-Cotta Pot, Veranda March 2010

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Traditional Home September 2010

From a coffee table moss filled urn to…

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Traditional Home September 2010

an entry table sphere.

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I am partial to it in its natural woodland, streamside setting, and I have a lot of respect for it. Because, when you think how moss has no roots, seeds, or vascular system, it has to work really hard to build up itself into a formidable infrastructure.

It will send out millions of spores to start new growth of only a couple of inches and only a small number actually succeed. The spores face huge odds to take hold of bare rock and reproduce. There are different varieties of moss and they are very specific to their growing habitats. Also, they are specific to those that use or inhabit it.

Moss is an incredible microflora, and seen under a microscope, looks like a little forest itself, made up of stalks and leaves.

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Moss Under a Microscope from InspectAPedia.com

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Moss looks great in a bonsai display. It is perfectly scaled to make a pleasing miniature landscape, but…

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The Bad (or at least somewhat worrisome)

Some scientists are a bit worried about the collection of moss from the forest floor and the effect it will have from an ecological impact perspective.

Gatherers stuff hundred year old moss pelts into burlap sacks because it is sought by nurseries, florists and craft stores. Some have determined that moss, a renewable resource, may recover at a rate of about one percent a year. Considering that it may have taken one hundred years to make a wooly pelt at the base of a tree, that is a very slow and negligable recovery.

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Maples and Oaks Swaddled in Moss, the Lush Wooly Pelts at the Base of the Trees(Sorry this photo is not clearer of the moss, it was taken for the lighting through the trees.)

And the moss on the forest floor is home to many small creatures such as mites, springtails and microscopic rotifers. There is even a seabird, a marbled murrelet, which nests on moss mats.

You might think twice now when adding it to your next bonsai.

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Veranda, August 2010

I have found that moss growing on my pavers does regrow rather rapidly, but in forest circumstance, the findings seem to be very different. I have harvested moss from my backyard like they show above and below, to be used to enhance a tablescape or planter.

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THE UGLY ( NO DENYING THIS ONE)

Moss retains several times its weight in water. On the forest floor this is great, serving as a humidifier, but on your roof that is a different story.

The moss itself does not cause roof damage, but speeds along shingle decomposition because of the moisture it retains. And by retaining water, the roof can not dry out.

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Also as you can see above, seeking cool, damp and shaded locations, the moss will start to lift and curl shingles as it continues to grow unimpeaded.

So, moss can be viewed as beautiful, necessary, overlooked, bothersome and unwanted. We have had a contradictory relationship with it for a very long time. It has been here much longer than us, and as a primitive plant, it is only partly understood in its relationship to the forest ecology.