Blue Jay – Cyanocitta cristata


Blue Jays have a warning call that makes any other birds call. JaY! JaY! JAY!!!


Scientists haven’t figured out the jay’s migration habits yet. Sometimes they fly south, sometime not. Some migrate yearly, some never do.



Jays love peanuts, sunflower seeds and LOVES acorns. Jays will bury seeds for later and not remember where, they hid them, thus contributing to the oak population. Go, Go, Blue Jays!!


King of the mount…. ahem…  King of the Spruce!


Jays have been known to imitate the calls of hawks. Possibly to either call them out or to scare other bird species.
© Ilex Farrell

Arrowhead Plant – Syngonium podophyllum Nephthytis

I got these two Arrowhead plants from work about 3 years ago. They love their location in the South window, however they hang high and don’t get a full dose of good ‘ol sol. They don’t mind less light either.

These are relatives of the Philodendron, another easy plant to grow. They like moist soils, but don’t over-soak them. They like a light 10-10-10 fertilizer.


Pruning is a bit tricky. You don’t want to cut all the way down to the split or you will nip the tip of the new leaf off. As you look at the stem that branches off, you will notice there is a bulge in the stem, this is where the next leaf is curled up in it’s stem.


A still rolled up leaf.

These guys can get spider mites. These don’t get moved outside during the summer, so they’ve been insect free.


The plant will start to shoot ‘runners’ (l o n g branches) after a few years. If you like them, keep them. I’ve got one that is about 15 feet long. I just want to see how long it will actually get! To keep the plant bushy, these should be pruned off. If you do this during the summer months, place the piece, now known as a ‘cutting’, into water and it should soon root, then plant it in a light mix.


This is the start of a runner. See the thick ends of the leaf stem at the main branch? Don’t cut below this.


After it grows out, the brown dried-up stem can be cut, do not peel it!

© Ilex – Midwestern Plants

Winter Blooming Flowers 1-26-2015

It’s been over 3 months since I pulled off a ‘Blooming Flowers’ post! I can’t wait until spring. I think the earliest I’ve seen flowers was early March, 2012. What a wacky year. Things were so early. We can only hope.

Click HERE to see what was blooming last year!


Schlumbergera truncata – Thanksgiving cactus


Saintpaulias – African Violet


Gymnocalycium mihanovichii – Moon cactus


Schlumbergera truncata – Thanksgiving cactus


Justicia brandegeana – Shrimp plant


Primula polyantha – Primrose

I love these little guys. So cute… And really cheap at $2 a piece.

Phriday Photo Phavorites – Part Six

Happy Friday! Time to enjoy some favorites!

To go back in time to One, Two, Three, Four or Five click respectively =-)


Wood borer trails. Want to know more?


Breck enjoying a cool dip in the lake!




Clematis virginiana – Old man beard


Miss Autumn Hummingbird


Tomatillo in it’s wrapper. See more!



Lake Michigan

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Red Bellied Woodpecker – Melanerpes carolinus

Red-bellied Woodpecker’s can stick out their tongues almost 2 inches past the end of their beaks. The tip is barbed and their spit is sticky, which makes it easier to snatch prey from deep crevices. Males generally have longer tongues than females, possibly allowing a breeding pair to forage in slightly different nooks to maximize their use of available food.


This is a female. I’ve not seen a male. Males head is fully red on the back.



Thanks for the peanut suet!!



House Finch – Haemorhous mexicanus


Mrs. left / Mr. right – Winter color

I almost wrote this post about purple finches! Glad I looked into these guys a bit more, they really look alike.


The red color of the male house finch develops from pigments in the food consumed during his molt period (birds can’t make bright red or yellow colors directly). The more pigment in the food, the redder the male. Lack of pigment can cause orange or yellowish males. Females generally prefer to mate with the reddest male.


House finches are monogamous birds. To catch the eye of his ladylove, males soar to great heights, and then gracefully, flutter to a perch, while singing as loud as they can. This is known as butterfly flight.


House finches feed their nestlings exclusively plant foods, a rare thing in the bird world. Many birds that are vegetarians as adults still find animal foods to augment their fast-growing young’s diet with protein.


Hello? Ilex? I’d like some hulled sunflower seeds next time, thaaaaanks!


Wow! I AM cute!

© Ilex Farrell

Four cute puppies from Cyprus need new homes

Midwestern Plant Girl:

Puppies, anyone?

Originally posted on on the road with Animalcouriers:

Amanda recently contacted us for help in finding forever homes for four abandoned puppies she rescued last year in Cyprus and has been looking after ever since. It’s estimated that these lovely ‘Heinz 57′ youngsters were born in early August, so they’re now about five months old. Help with the cost of transporting them to new homes is available.

Amanda tells us:

“On a hot Cyprus September afternoon, six hungry and thirsty puppies were found abandoned in a cardboard box by the side of a dusty track. Two puppies found happy new homes here in Cyprus to start their second-chance lives, but four are still looking for their forever families.

These two boys and two girls are completely unspoiled, enjoy meeting new people and dogs, are used to being tormented by our many household cats, and are happy to be alive! They are up to date on vaccinations, are microchipped…

View original 35 more words

When Good Dogs Go Bad….

Yesterday, we had the a doggy play date with the dog down the street. His dad likes to bring him down here so he can smoke his stinky cigars and get some time away from his 4 chitlins and wife.

Oreo really likes Valentino or Tino for short. They have played since Tino was a puppy and he is nearing 1 1/2 years now. They really like to get their inner rough house on, often rolling around, biting and growling at each other.

Tino’s dad has decided not to neuter him, not because he wants Tino to be a dad, but because his dad thinks it changes the personality of the dog. I don’t not agree fully. I agree that it make a dog a bit more passive, that is all.

Our boys are both neutered. I’ve always neutered my dogs. It was never a question to do it or not, I just did it.

Breck is the elder dog at seven, with Oreo at four. Breck is the dominant dog, although he rules the house in a calm, controlled manner. Breck rarely raises his voice at Oreo, a low growl is all he needs to say, ‘Quit it!!”

Breck isn’t much of a rough houser. He likes to run around, however no chewing-up necks and such. The three of them were playing chase in the yard when Breck stopped and Tino grabbed onto his head. I happened to step outside the moment he got ahold of his head. I knew something wasn’t right and started full bore running at them. Ran right out of my shoes! Breck started to squeal the moment I arrived. I grabbed Tino’s collar as my husband and Tino’s dad arrived. Tino had Breck tight and wasn’t letting go. I held Breck while Tino’s jaw was pried off my boy’s head.


These photos were taken the next morning. Too traumatized to take photos that night! We took him to the emergency vet. They were able to (super) glue his ear closed, opposed to stitching it.


Super glued ear.


His other puncture wound.

My Bro & his girlfriend came over for late Christmas tonight. Here’s the funny shirt I got! What timing, Right?!?!

I personally think Tino, in his pubescent hormone rage, decided to go after the dominant dog to challenge him. Yes, Tino is a pit bull. They do NOT have locking jaws, however, they do have very strong jaws. I’m not an animal expert, however I’d lay a strong bet on this theory.

© Ilex Farrell

Phriday Photo Phavorites – Part Phive

It’s another glorious Friday! Time to enjoy some favorites!

To go back in time to One, Two,Three or Four click respectively =-)


This is a view through the kaleidoscope at the Nicholas Conservancy and Gardens – Rockford, Illinois


Cooper’s Hawk – Accipiter cooperiiwpid-20140406_105227_richtonehdr.jpg


Yellow Lady’s-slipper –  Cypripedium parviflorum, found at Matthiessen State Park

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Both of these falls are at Matthiessen State Park.


This was a bad Friday. I was hungry!


Japanese Painted Fern – Athyrium


Aquilegia vulgaris “Ruby Port” – Ruby Port Double Columbine

hh camp

This is us at our favorite campground, in our favorite spot!


Sycamore Tree – Platanus occidentalis