Archive for the ‘Weather’ Category

Hummingbird Siting

I saw my first hummingbird of the season this morning.  Spring must really be here (although it’s pretty cold out there — 48 degrees F.)  I just looked back and saw that for the past 2 years my first siting was on May 19.  This is a very reliable little bird.


2017 Hummingbird Patrol

The hummingbirds seem to be about a week earlier than last year, which isn’t surprising given the mild winter and early spring we’ve had.  When the first ones are sighted in southern Minnesota we usually get the feeder out.  It shouldn’t be long now.

2017 hummingbird map

2017 Hummingbird Migration Map

All Hail the Garden

We had a sudden storm last night. I’m mean, sudden.  Within a 15 minute period we went from 80° and sunny to this:  

 Yes those are ice balls.  After the storm the temp was still a balmy 75° and steam was wafting from the deck.  The lower right photo was taken 2 hours later when the hail was still hanging around and the temps had dropped to 59°.  All those lovely pink petals were on the tree before the storm.

This morning we have the aftermath to deal with.


The upper deck (right picture) was “protected” by a huge awning that was lowered during the storm to form a sort of lean-to.  All that got in under the tent.  All the mulch beds are covered with broken leaves.  The good news is that it’s sunny and warm, and once all the mess dries up it should be fairly easy to blow it into a pile.

Tropical Tradition

I look forward to this time of year because my azalea is usually promising to provide another spring in January. This year it started early and was in full glory around Christmas, and is now losing blossoms although there’s still quite a nice crop of buds that haven’t opened yet. It was -10°F when I awoke this morning, and this beautiful reminder if lovelier days greeted me.  I potted it up this past summer and it’s getting bigger.  After the blooms have all been spent, I’m going to try pruning it. I’ve never tried it before, but it really needs shaping.

Outside we’re having a typical Minnesota January with subzero temps, but we haven’t had typical snowfall.  Even plants hardy to this zone (4-5) benefit from that covering of snow to protect them from the bitter cold.


I’m definitely not ready for this

I got this email from my garden center today:


I’m sure this is the earliest I’ve had to cover my pots. It’s only been 52° for a high today. I sure hope we get some more warm spells before the cold is here to stay. Yikes.

Deck Delight

Sometimes you just have to sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor.  The deck is sealed and everything’s back in its place.  I snapped these yesterday.  Last night we had a deluge of rain that’s continuing this morning at a less torrid pace.  Everything’s water-logged, but the water on the deck is standing in lovely beads and puddles above the sealant.  I do love the redwood — it brightens up our boring white siding so cheerfully.
Sealed Decks

We noticed a lot while doing the deck; things you don’t see when walking on it day-to-day.  I renewed my appreciation for the power of the sun.  Our beautiful life-giving sun is also relentless in its damaging affects.  The upper deck is covered all summer by a large awning almost the full area of the deck.  In addition, surrounding trees provide many hours of mottled shade.  The lower deck is fully exposed most of the day, with some late afternoon shade over some areas.  It’s in far worse condition that its upstairs brother.  The wood is more grooved, has many more splits, and it drinks up the sealant like it’s dying in the desert.

Deck Dilemmas

We have a beautiful 2-level real redwood deck.  It’s about 27 years old now, but we love that redwood.  The main reason it’s lasted so long is the diligent care Steve has given it.  He researched thoroughly and found the gentlest cleaner that does the job, and a wonderful clear tinted oil preservative that keeps it protected and shows the beauty of the wood.  The decks face west-southwest and get sun damage as well as the usual elemental impact.  He treats the horizontal surfaces every two years, the verticals every 4.  Even with all the love, it’s showing it’s age (don’t we all).  I’m not sure how much longer we’ll endure before we go the faux wood route.

The sealer we use requires 3 full days of dry weather before application.  Most summers that means we have to wait until the more intense part of the summer, but it’s no problem.  We clean the deck and wait 3 days, and on the fourth day it gets sealed.  If both the upper and lower decks don’t get done in a day, the job gets finished the next day.

This year has been a real challenge.  We’ve been watching the weather forecasts diligently and haven’t been able to get the thing done.  The bar has already been lowered to staining on the third day rather than the fourth, but still there wasn’t a 3 day dry spell.  It’s now getting late enough in the season we have temperature constraints to consider.  The sealant requires a minimum temp which we’ve been dipping below overnight.

Today is a Sunday.  The last rain we had was Friday morning, but rain is predicted for tomorrow, so it’s deck day.  And of course, it’s all got to be done today.  He uses a “Stain Stick”, a gizmo that has a reservoir of stain and a wide pad that can easily do the width of a board.  I stain between the boards with a foam brush, either before or after he gets the flat surface.

Gotta get this done!

Gotta get this done!

The difference between the sealed and unsealed is pretty dramatic:


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