Paula's Patch: A Minnesota Garden

Come wander in; my gate is always open! Gardening / Birding

Lots of Veggies August 7, 2014

We have been harvesting several things in recent weeks from our yard pots — cherry tomatoes, flat leaf parsley, sage, and soon basil (it’s a little slow growing in our shaded yard!).  We also belong to a CSA farm and have lots of colorful items in our boxes each week — summer squash, zucchini, cucumbers, potatoes, beets, tomatoes, peppers, snap peas, and lots of greens.

I never tire of using these fresh veggies in all kinds of dishes that are perfect lunches or al fresco suppers.

Go to Paula’s Garden Patch News to check out what American Meadows has been harvesting in their gardens. Yum!

What have you been harvesting and enjoying this time of year?



Tips for Helping Birds Avoid Deadly Collisions July 23, 2014

bird-sitting-in-window-clipart |

Earlier this spring, we lost a female grosbeak to a deadly collision with one of our garage windows. 😦 I quickly put decals in the windows to avoid this mishap in the future. Did you know hundreds of birds die each year due to collisions with windows? A particular concern is in urban areas with tall glass buildings.

Here are a few tips for helping our feathered friends avoid deadly collisions with your windows:

  • Place window decals 2-4 in apart
  • Install external screens on windows
  • Close blinds and curtains when possible
  • Keep feeders 30 ft from windows
  • Move houseplants away from windows

For a humorous video by The Audubon Society, visit this issue of my newsletter: Tuesday, Jul. 22, 2014 – Paula’s Garden Patch News


Paula’s Garden Patch News June 10, 2014

Filed under: Birding,Gardening — Paula B @ 9:27 AM
Tags: ,

Latest issue is online. Read Paula’s Garden Patch News.


It’s Snowing?! October 25, 2012

Oh my, it’s snowing here today…  😦

(click to enlarge — better view of snowflakes)

snow on october 25 2012 | | paula bonelli

snow in october,

I know it won’t last, but still. The winds are blustery and it’s a gray day. Just makes me feel like staying in bed.


Owls Exposed October 19, 2012

I think owls are some of the most interesting and wonderful creatures. Each one has a such a cute, unique face . Like my quest to get a good look at a Pileated Woodpecker, so it is with Owls.

I’ve seen only a few from a distance, leaving me with a longing to observe them more closely. That’s easier said than done. Even if they are active during the day, they are really hard to spot. They are colored in such a way that they look just like tree bark, blending into their surroundings perfectly.

My desire to see more grew when we shared a campsite with 2 Barred Owls. At first the sound frightened me because I didn’t know what it was. Each evening at dusk, the pair caterwauled loudly for about 30 minutes. There we were, just about the only ones in a dark campground, hearing these 2 chat back and forth. Downright creepy!

Barred Owl, ed schneider, allaboutbirds | | paula bonelli

Barred Owl, Ed Schneider via

Last year (2011) there was an increase in sightings of Snowy Owls south of their winter range. We’re not talking about isolated sightings either. There was a significant movement of this species into the lower 48 from coast-to-coast. Ornithologists believe it was the mild winter conditions that brought them to forage for food in areas where they are not usually seen.

Snowy Owl, michael sagatova, allaboutbirds | | paula bonelli

Snowy Owl, Michael Sagatova via

Snowies survive winters by dining mainly on rodents. Their primary food source is lemmings. It is believed that this food source was less available forcing them farther south than usual. With the milder winters in the northern climates and little snow cover, rodents were easy to come by. Snowies were seen in great numbers in Wisconsin and Michigan from early fall through November 30, 2011. Most owls are nocturnal, but owls such as the Snowy Owl, Northern Hawk Owl, Burrowing Owl, Great Gray Owl, and Short-Eared Owl are diurnal and are awake during the day.

I use eBird to record my observations of birds in my area and beyond. It is a joint effort by Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Audubon to learn more about the habits of many species of birds. It also helps them record and track rare sightings and migratory paths. It takes just a few moments to register (free) and record your observations.

Facts about Owls 

Barn Owl, brianlsullivan, allaboutbirds | | paula bonell

Barn Owl, Brian L Sullivan via

Did you know —

  • all owls are not nocturnal?
  • owls have forward-facing eyes that are unable to move; they turn their entire head to see in a different direction.
  • they cannot turn their heads 360 degrees around; instead they swivel their head around 270 degrees to visualize their surroundings?
  • that there are approximately 205 species of owls?
  • that the tufts on top of owl’s heads are not “ears”? Their ears are located on the facial disk behind the eyes and are covered by feathers.
  • that owls create many different vocalizations besides the familiar hoot? Just like other birds, they have different sounds in different situations. The hoot is usually a territorial sound, while other sounds include screeches, hisses and screams. Enter the creepy factor when heard in the dark!

What kinds of owls live in your yard or area?


A Vine for My Pergola October 17, 2012

OK – not really for my pergola, because it’s still on my wishlist. Hint, hint DH! BUT…if I did have one, this is the vine I would choose –Red Wall™ Virginia Creeper.

We’ve already discovered how popular our berry-bearing shrubs are with all kinds of birds. This vine would provide even more berries (bluish-black) for birds like thrushes, vireos, chickadees, robins, cardinals, warblers, and cedar waxwings. The branches would also provide cover and nesting sites. This said pergola would be right outside my back door over our small deck. Wouldn’t that be the perfect, up-close spot to watch birds nesting?

red wall virginia creeper | proven winners | | paula bonelli

red wall virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia)

This fast-growing vine survives in Zones 3-9 and grows 20 feet or more tall. Covered with glossy green foliage during the summer, its fall leaves turn a brilliant, fire-engine red as the seasons change, as show in the picture above. Simply wonderful.

This vine makes my wishlist! For more information on the Red Wall™ Virginia Creeper vine, go to: Proven Winners


Let Mother Nature Have Her Way April 17, 2012

irises | paulas garden patch | paula bonelli

I’ve always approached my garden with an attitude of “what will be, will be”. I don’t make great efforts to water, spend hours tidying up beds, or prune (much to my husband’s chagrin!). It’s funny because indoors I’m pretty organized — “everything has a place and everything’s in its place”. But in my garden I’m much more relaxed. I let my plants coexist messily with each other and, for the most part, let them fall prey to Mother Nature’s hand. Now, I’m not always happy with what she dishes out — 70 degrees one day and 40 the next — but it sure makes for an interesting garden each year. I don’t think there are two years alike.

It helps greatly to have perennials that are native to my area; they require much less fussing, upkeep and are mostly tolerant of our summer weather. I get to see my garden fresh and new each year — see what decided to naturalize and where, wonder how a columbine from the side yard found its way to the back bed (birds, I think), and see how unexpectedly large that shrub grew that I put in last Fall. I’m content with the joy of simply digging in the dirt, figuring things out by trial and error, and learning from fellow gardeners everywhere.

It’s a good thing I started gardening this way from the start, because as I age, I’m noticing that I’m much less limber than I used to be, have less energy and ache more. It’s more fun now, and physically practical, to take 10-15 minutes to pinch back, weed or move pots during a morning coffee break or when dinner is in the oven instead of marathon weekend days that totally wipe me out.

Like my gardening habits, many things in my life have slowed down since becoming an empty-nester. I kind of like it that way. I’ve grown to enjoy the pace; to take notice of things I missed in my early years of being a busy mother. So, if your garden beds don’t look nice, redefine nice! 😀

What garden tasks do you enjoy in short sprints of time? I always enjoy hearing your thoughts.


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