Garden Photo of the Day

Birds and Blooms

By Alexandra Dittrich

Diane LaSauce has created a welcoming environment for feathery friends.

"Hi GPOD readers, I wanted to share a photo of the three week old Eastern Bluebirds' first bath. They are from the second clutch this year. Rather amusing, they seemed surprised following all the splashing…and one Red Belly woodpecker brought her offspring to the feeder too. Notice those talons…better to climb! I adore feeding my custom food mix to the wild birds that visit. (See my recipe on my blog).  And of course lilies (Casa Blanca) are outstanding this month, as are the hostas and phlox (Davidii). With a heat index in the triple digits now, I am happy to see any blooms here in central Virginia. Check out my garden blog at for tips, recipes, and endless photographs…Happy Summer!"

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  1. user-7007498 07/22/2016

    Diane: The photos of the birds are just awesome. I can't get enough. There is nothing more fun than watching birds in the garden. I have a fountain that resembles a millstone, so the surface is very flat, and the water bubbles up in the middle to spill over the stone. This is the birds favorite spot. They bath where the water bubbles up, and stand on the stone in the very shallow water to drink.

    I also love the tall phlox, and David is one of my favorites. It is just starting to bloom here in Harrisburg. Isn't the heat crazy. We have been 3 weeks without rain, and temps in the 90's. The garden is beginning to show some stress.

    Thanks for sharing your beautiful photos.

    1. diane_lasauce 07/22/2016

      Thank you Kevin. Yes, wild birds add such a lovely, often amusing element to my gardens. I feed them just outside my kitchen window, and have an all day view of their relationships. Since I no longer have four-leggers inside, wild birds bring year long companionship. See my custom bird food recipe on my garden blog:

  2. wGardens 07/22/2016

    Wonderful, Diane. Watching the birds is such a pleasure for me as well, so these photos are a treat for me too. Your lilies are lovely as is the Phlox. I like your owl statue~ a nice accent!

    1. diane_lasauce 07/22/2016

      Thank you Margaret, that wee owl statue came from my mother's garden. After fifteen year in my gardens, I found the perfect spot this spring.

      I must admit that I prefer white in my gardens and abhor pink with exception to Muhly grass, which takes center stage every fall. White and blue are so cooling and the Davidii phlox laugh at mildew. Now this is a phlox every southern garden should have.

  3. User avater
    meander_michaele 07/22/2016

    Delightful pictures, Diane. I felt like crawling right inside the one with the young bluebirds backdropped by the tree trunks. It is such a wonderful photo capture...oh, those adorably alert little faces. My stand of 'Casa Blanca' lilies took a terrible beating from some heavy rains just as their buds were opening. I cut some stalks and enjoyed the progression of blooms indoors but didn't have the pleasure of admiring their tall stateliness in the garden. Yours look so pristine and unbattered in their statuesque glory.

    1. diane_lasauce 07/22/2016

      Hi M. I wondered if the lilies would stand the recent wild wind and beating rainstorms. This is the first time for them in my gardens...Although the blooms are wonderful, the leaves look pale. When I planted them in April, I added bulb food to the hole, and wonder what else I should be doing...any suggestions GPOD readers?
      And yes, those chubby BB chick faces are precious, as they grow so fast. This was indeed a lucky shot...I cracked the window a smidge.

      1. NCYarden 07/22/2016

        Definitely a fortunate shot. Last year I happen to be outside around dusk as the young bluebirds were testing their wings, and so a good portion of them were hopping along the ground and low branches through the garden, which as you can imagine was adorable. So I ran inside to grab the good camera in hopes of getting some choice pics. Nope, not one. The parents dive bombed me so drastically I had to succumb and retreat, (despite my pleas that I was the one who gave them the nice house, continuous food, and landscaping). Just watched from a distance, and simply put the images to memory.

        1. diane_lasauce 07/22/2016

          NC, I had a good chuckle from your reply. We photographers and bird lovers must confess to some pretty funny antics in order to capture photographs! Any missed shots are lovely memory fodder. I often have my camera set on its tripod base and frequently shoot through the glass and solar film. The BB shot on the fence was lucky, as I gently cracked my casement window and snapped away...thus clear detail...wish they all could be that way. D.

  4. user-3565112 07/22/2016

    Diane, Congratulations on your 2nd. clutch of bluebirds this season. I read your March 2013 post Wed. night & the determination, effort & research you put into your Swallowtail Cottage sanctuary is impressive. This year it looks like it paid off big time. Thank you for the beautiful photos of the birds & garden this morning. I urge everyone to check out your blog. It is packed with beautiful photos & prose covering a wide range of topics. Good luck , Joe

    1. diane_lasauce 07/22/2016

      Thank you Joe, you are my biggest fan and I greatly appreciate your appreciation. Blogging can be a lonely place without feedback.

  5. NCYarden 07/22/2016

    Attracting birds to the garden is one of the greatest compliments to our spaces. Endless moments of entertaining viewing. And definitely love the bluebirds...I am on my third clutch this record for the garden. It's so fun to watch the little ones fledge. The lilies are gorgeous.
    Yes, the heat is unbearable at this time, but I refuse to let it keep me indoors. I'm sure you feel the same. Try to stay're garden is definitely very cool! Thanks for sharing.

    1. diane_lasauce 07/22/2016

      Thank you NC. I must admit I prefer the AC this time of year to the garden. I tiptoe out early to water the nectar flowers, and snap a few images to share. Congratulations on your third BB clutch. I hope the resident adult pair forgo their third clutch as the spring was so very hard on them and now the heat is oppressive. The adult male (who is feeding the three chicks) is beginning to fumble and stumble. I hope that they do more bathing! Cheers!

  6. thevioletfern 07/22/2016

    LOVE. The furry, fluttery, and feathered friends are what truly brings a garden to life. I will be visiting your blog.

    1. diane_lasauce 07/22/2016

      Thank you Kathy. I welcome you to my blog. Many topics are covered in the draw-down menus. Photography is my passion and I am delighted to share images of my pastoral surroundings just outside Charlottesville, VA. I look forward to your comments. Cheers!

  7. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 07/22/2016

    Excited to see you on this blog, too, Diane. I am so jealous of your bluebirds. Although in an old, very wooded neighborhood, dissected by ravines, it is far too urban for bluebirds and a large variety of birds. Still, I get plenty of pleasure from the common Robins, Cardinals, Wrens and Goldfinches.
    Your lilies and phlox are beautiful. I've added more and more lilies at the behest of my wife. Thankfully she whet my appetite for something I thought I didn't care for. I see an enormous variation in leaf color: some are normally a very pale green. I don't know how pale yours are. I have one variety that is burning a bit in the heat, but most are laughing it off and blooming their gorgeous, fragrant heads off. Definitely a plant that just gets better and better as the years go on!

    1. diane_lasauce 07/22/2016

      Your wisdom is greatly appreciated, Tim. As a newbie to the Casa Blanca, I tend to wring my hands when two of the fifteen yellowed and slowed. All stems are upright and loaded with sensuous blooms, and I hope indeed that they improve with age. Not crazy about the scent, yet what a bang of display! I grew another variety this spring called Apricot Fudge. The jury is still out on that one, as it had mutated blooms and appeared to be in pain.
      Happy Summer!

      1. User avater
        Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 07/22/2016

        Good luck with the lilies. Hopefully yours are just having growing pains, but we all know that plants are unpredictable and some of our mild climate differences can make drastic differences. Below is a photo I posted in a comment a week or two ago, in case you didn't see. This Golden Splendor lily was a bargain bag I bought mid-July three summers ago. They barely sprouted, looked unhealthy and did not bloom the first year. This photo, taken a few weeks ago, shows that the third year is a charm!

        1. diane_lasauce 07/22/2016

          WOW! Are the Golden Splendors above your head??? Now they were a bargain! I am impressed...thanks for sharing again!
          Do tell, do you feed your bulbs? I did when I planted mine, yet not sure if a top coat ever really gets down to the bulbs once established...and any Bulb Tone attracts more four leggers than I want rooting around my beds...its the bone meal...

          1. User avater
            Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 07/22/2016

            Topped out at about 9 feet tall. No feeding. This one just went crazy. There seem to be two variations from the same package: gigantic and shorter.

          2. diane_lasauce 07/22/2016

            Tim, steroids run deep in your soils...LOL! This lily must be the talk of your neighborhood! Has it ever been featured in your local paper or news? WOW!!!

      2. User avater
        meander_michaele 07/22/2016

        Hi, Diane. I can't remember how many years ago I planted my Casa Blanca bulbs but I'm sure I didn't start out with any more than five. Even though they are bent over and battered, I just went out and did a stem count...there are at least 40, they are good multipliers. They desperately need dividing and maybe, come late fall, I will remember this gpod thread and be shamed or inspired to finally follow through on that task. I don't think I've ever gotten around to fertilizing them so they are good sports about neglect.

        1. diane_lasauce 07/22/2016

          Great news M! Thanks for sharing that bit of wisdom and experience. Now I will wait for them to multiply and move offspring across the yard and fill in where the early Foxtail Lilies came and went too fast! I love plants/bulbs that thrive on neglect! Yay!

  8. user-4691082 07/22/2016

    Diane, we feed birds too, but have never tried to get them to breed. Bluebirds came to our feeder this winter/ spring. We put out freeze dried worms- great! When the weather warmed up, they were nowhere to be seen...your periennials are beautiful! I have to go out and buy a new hose today. I had bought one of those expanding hoses because they are so light, but they just don't last.? Wish I had read reviews first. Thanks so much for posting!

    1. diane_lasauce 07/22/2016

      Hi Rhonda! I became a bluebird monitor five years ago, mentored by three local naturalists...and the book The Bluebird Monitors Guide. One very hot summer, I even placed an eight foot umbrella over the BB house and ran a fan during the hottest part of the day, with the side of the box cracked! Yes, I go the extra mile for my bluebirds! And, FYI, I never feed those dried mealworms, as they all come from China! I order my mealworms live from and feel much better about the source.
      My favorite hose is from Flexzilla, and if you can find them at
      if your local stores don't stock.
      And no, I do not receive any perks from any source that I suggest.
      GPOD is a place of learning and sharing, right?

  9. sheila_schultz 07/22/2016

    I'm guessing your gardens are listed on the 'Best Eats in VA' bird hotline, Diane, with a 4**** rating! Your flowers are gorgeous, as always, but those fluffy babes are the best! Thanks for this wonderful GPOD treat on my return from Alaska... I'm missing those 60's and low 70's! Stay cool everyone!

    1. diane_lasauce 07/22/2016

      LOL Sheila. I think you are very I feed seventeen types of wild birds here throughout the seasons. The one clever squirrel gets the marble sized custom ball with loads of cayenne...I want IT to go!
      I adore the BB and spoil them rotten with pricey live mealworms during the first spring nesting. This time of year the birds very much enjoy dry currants. Have you seen my Bird food Recipe on my blog? The link is amongst the comments posted today. Thanks!

  10. User avater
    LindaonWhidbey 07/22/2016

    Diane, love your bluebird photos. We had them at our house in WI and it was always fun to see them lined up for their first flight. Your flowers are as beautiful as always and anytime that you'd like to send a little heat our way, it would be much appreciated here on Whidbey which is only 57degrees this morning.

    1. diane_lasauce 07/22/2016

      Linda, can you see me blowing 94F heat your way this moment? And for an extra bonus, I am sending the humidity too. I think I should consider gardening in your area. Cheers!

  11. greengenes 07/22/2016

    This is a wonderful example why gardening is so worth doing! Birds and bloom is a great title for this day! Great to see birds enjoying life which we have had a part of. They are so fun to watch! Great pictures Diane! Thanks for sharing!

    1. diane_lasauce 07/22/2016

      Thank you Jeanne. I hope you are enjoying birds in your gardens. Wild birds never fail to entertain and educate. They teach me "pecking order" first hand. ;-)

  12. schatzi 07/22/2016

    Diane, you are a wonder! Gorgeous garden, great blog and bird mentor too! Did I forget to mention superb photographer? You have mentioned the possibility of a move - I don't see how you could bear to leave this beautiful space. Love the birds, the lilies, phlox, you in the East are so lucky to have bluebirds and cardinals. I guess we can always find something to complain about - most of the country has too much heat and not enough rain, and our spring into summer has been mostly cool and wet. Very slow ripening for tomatoes and other heat loving veggies. But I do appreciate Mother Nature watering for me. Keep up the good work. Your place is amazing.

    1. diane_lasauce 07/22/2016

      Shirley your kind words convince me that I should continue on here with this needy box (house) and gardens! I would miss a number of plants yet every time I head out to mow during the summer months, I see the greener grass on the other side of the fence...and fantasize about another smaller garden in the PNW or Ireland.
      I greatly appreciate your words of support! Thank you! Diane

  13. Cenepk10 07/23/2016

    So sweet & pretty garden ! I have tons of birds too. No feeders, tho. I left the old tops on the echinacea for the finches- read that somewhere & they actually do eat them. Came out the door & they flew off the tops this morning- And babies living in my hanging basket on the porch of some very small brown birds. They are sweet & noisy when my cat & dog & myself are around. My favorite- mockingbird in the spring- singing praises for morning & oh ! the whipperwill. He's relentless calling for a mate, I reckon. Enjoyed your lovely post !

    1. diane_lasauce 07/24/2016

      Thank you C10. I have a manic mockingbird here and I do wish it would find another garden...they can be very predatory towards the Eastern Bluebirds.
      Did you know that Thomas Jefferson had a pet Mockingbird named Dick? It is reputed to have gone to important meetings with Jefferson...

  14. perenniallycrazy 07/23/2016

    Pretty sweet!

    1. diane_lasauce 07/24/2016

      Thanks PC.

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