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October 27,2014- Winter Prep...

When the leaves start falling, it is a signal for the RainyDayGarden crew to go into prep mode for Winter. We have to make sure we have plenty of bird seed, put away all the grills (four by the last count), and tend to all of the plants so that the garden is ready when the first New England storm rolls in.

While deer are not a problem for city gardens, they can be a significant headache for many of suburban gardeners. To discourage deer from devouring their plantings, we have been recommending environmentally friendly repellents from Bobbex. Made from a combination of ingredients that blends the scents of putrescent eggs, garlic, fish, clove oil, and vinegar (among other things), Bobbex products work by mimicking predator scents, and are classed as a fear repellent. They also tastes awful, so deer have at least two reasons to avoid it. Bobbex can be applied in almost any... [more] - RDG Winter Prep


October 24,2014- Summery Summary...

Summer ended about a month ago. The weather was so pleasant this year in New England that we didn't notice it the season changing until the autumnal colors started to appear. This was one of the most comfortable Boston Summers we have had in recent memory. It was also a great year for the RainyDayGarden. Almost all of the plants made it through the harsh Winter, a few additions were introduced to the gang, and there was hardly any weeding or maintenance work to do...much to the delight of the RainyDayInterns :-)

However, as Fall is definitely upon us, we thought it was time to post a summary of how things went in the RainyDayGarden this Summer. Here is a recap of some of the more notable events in the... [more] - RDG Summer Summary


October 21,2014- Fall Garden Cleanup...

Can the battery-powered WORX AIR blower handle the Fall cleanup duties around the RainyDayGarden? That was the big question we have been waiting all Summer to find out. The short answer to our WORX AIR question is "Yes!"

The WORX Air is lightweight (less than 4lbs), cordless (rechageable Li-Ion battery), and powerful (air speed:120mph, air flow: 80cfm). The WORX Air comes with the... [more] - Fall Cleanup


Septermber 1,2014- WORX Garden Tools...

We introduced RainyDayGarden readers to WORX when we looked at the JawSaw (FirstLook, FirstUse, Maintenance) a few years back. Every so often, someone asks us about WORX's other items. This month, we are goint to take a closer look at two WORX garden tools which we think are especially suited to urban garderners: the WORX Air Multi-purpose Blower/Sweeper/Cleaner and the WORX GT 2.0 Grass Trimmer/Edger and Mini-mower. We will also be giving them a FirstUse workout as part of our annual RainyDayGarden Fall Cleanup.

Unlike our suburban counterparts, we urban gardeners have less need of heavy-duty versions blowers, trimmers, and mowers. Tools that are portable, have multiple duties, and do not require a lot of storage room are more suitable for our smaller gardens and yards. The WORX Air is a multi-purpose blower created to make small garden and workshop cleanups a... [more] -WORX Garden Tools FirstLook


July 31,2014- BirdCam Pro InTheWild...

The BirdCam and BirdCam Pros from Wingscapes are weather-proof wildlife cameras/videocams. Both cameras have been set up in various sections of the RainyDayGarden for almost a year. Some readers have asked how these wildlife cams have fared and what we managed to capture with them.

Of all the BirdCams setups, the one which yielded the most interesting shots was at the 2nd-story window feeder. This is because we could vary the bird feed we put out (and thus change who visited it) and easily make adjustments to the BirdCam (because it was inside). Also with this particular setup, we can hear the birds at the feeder and so have an idea when "interesting" things might have been captured :-) The one requirement with the 2nd-story installation is... [more] - BirdCam and BirdCam Pro InTheWild


June 23,2014- RDG Spring Summary...

Now that Summer has officially started, we want to do a quick look back at how Spring went in the RainyDayGarden.

April: Because of the long Winter, the plants got going a bit later this year, and we have photographic proof. The photo on the left taken on April 12th of last year. The on the right was taken on April 15 of this year. Side-by-side, it is easy to see that things this year were a few weeks behind last year. Oh yeah, it also snowed on the 16th :-)

When the April plants finally got going, their blooms were a welcome sight. We are not sure if it was because of the delay, but the plants all seemed to bloom at the same time. We also noticed fewer... [more] - RDG Spring Summary


May 16,2014- Lynx Edicions :HBW...

In this age of the internet, digital books, and iPads, Lynx Edicions has forged a successful paper path. They are able to do that by being the world's go-to source for wildlife guides and references, one of which is the Handbook of The Birds of The World (HBW) series. HBW is the first work ever to examine in detail—verbally and visually—all the living species of birds in the world. It is also the first to attempt to portray every member of an entire Class in the Animal Kingdom. Fantastic!

The HBW collection is a 16-volume authoritative text (over 13,000 pages, more than 10,000 maps, and clocking in at 15 million words) with precise illustrations and photographs (1,000 or so plates, over 20,000 bird figures). HBW is the combined work of 277 pre-eminent specialists and 33 illustrators from 40 countries. The photographs are the original contributions of... [more]- Lynx Edicions: Handbook of The Birds Of The World


May 12,2014- Urban Safari: The Fens...

The Fens in the Back Bay is one of the gems of the Emerald Necklace and a treasure of Boston. It is also the latest expedition in our Urban Safari series. Frederick Law Olmsted, landscape architect of New York City's Central Park, transformed a stagnant saltwater marsh in the Back Bay into an urban oasis to the benefit of residents, wildlife and people, over a hundred years ago. We have passed by the Fens countless times on our way into the city, but have never really stopped to enjoy it the way it was envisioned by Olmsted... deliberately, leisurely, and on foot. Last week, we did just that.

We set up "camp" close to the Muddy River section of the Back Bay Fens, where you will find the Emerald Necklace Visitor Center. From the Visitor Center, the Museum of Fine Arts and Isabella Steward Gardner Museum are just a few minutes walk away. The spot is a nice starting point because there is plenty of on-street parking, especially if you arrives before 10AM (when the MFA opens). Biking and walking paths wind throughout the Fens. Red Sox fans, out of town or otherwise, may be interested to know that... [more]- Urban Safari: The Fens


May 5,2014- Urban Safari: Heron Hunting...

Urban safaris are something we started doing when we joined the Franklin Park Zoo a few years ago. Since then, we have had many "adventures," some of them in Boston, others in cities around the country. This year, we got off to an amazing start with a Bald Eagle on Jamaica Pond and many Snowy Owls on Plum Island in January, and more eagles on the Merrimac River in February. The outings slowed a bit in March and April, but now that Spring has finally arrived, it was time to venture out again.

Outfitted with our highly portable Nikkor 18-300mm VR zoom lens, a sturdy tripod, and a tip that a Great Blue Heron has been spotted at the Arnold Arboretum, we went on a "hunt" for the bird this past weekend. The outing was a rousing success. We got both photos and videos of the large avian at various locations in the Arboretum performing a variety of... [more]- Urban Safari: Heron Hunting


March 31,2014- Potting Bench Assembly...

With the Nor'easter over and Spring on its way, the RainyDayGarden folks thought they would celebrate by putting together the Gardener's Supply Company potting bench that had been in pieces in the front office. The assembly directions looked simple enough:

  • Attach drawer handles (2)
  • Attach leg panels (2)
  • Attach bottom shelf (1)

Most folks should have no problems putting this table together, but as we did put one together, we thought we would pass along some tips to make the process as foolproof as possible.

There are a few things to check before starting: make sure all the screws (12 long ones, 4 short ones) are accounted for; and gather the needed tools. In the bag which held the screws, we found two hex keys (same size) and a small phillips head screwdriver. The hex key is for the long screws and the phillips head driver is for the short screws. If you have an electric screwdriver, we would recommend using it for the short screws as... [more]- Potting Bench Assembly


March 21,2014- Potting Bench FirstLook...

Yesterday was the Spring Equinox, so it was only fitting that we opened the big box from Gardener's Supply Company which has been sitting in the front office. We are always eager to get the RainyDayGarden going every Spring. This year's winter felt especially long. We were not sure if it was because of the long stretches of below-freezing days or the above average amount of snow. Either way, we decided that the best way to get us out of our Winter funk was to thing up some DIY projects for the RainyDayGarden.

One project we had been ruminating on was building a potting bench to use outside. We wanted something functional, low maintenance, and that would last for years. In looking around for ideas we happened upon this bench on the Gardener's site. The size and style were exactly what we were looking for. After some deliberation we decided that instead of building a copy of the... [more]- Potting Bench FirstLook


February 12,2014- Eagle Festival...

A Bald Eagle in Boston. Snowy owls on Plum Island. While it is the Year of the Horse according to the Chinese calendar it has been the Year of the Birds for us. Last Saturday, we had the opportunity to attend the Merrimack River Eagle Festival in Newburyport. The annual event celebrates the seasonal return of bald eagles to the Merrimack River area. It was an opportunity to observe bald eagles in their habitat and learn more about these majestic creatures.

The organizers for the Eagle Festival had marked out viewing spots along the river. Folks may go to the sites at their own pace, but the way to go is to sign up for the "eagle tour." The tour was free and lasted an hour and a half. The two naturalists on the bus (Candace and Jim in our case) helped spot the... [more]- Merrimack River Eagle Festival


January 13,2014- MOS: Our Global Kitchen

Food is the one thing that everyone on this planet relates to. It cuts across time, culture, and geographic/social/political boundaries. "Food" means different things to different people, but where the food we eat comes from is often nowhere near where we eat it. The Museum of Science's latest exhibit, Our Global Kitchen: Food, Nature, Culture, explores how a complex and intricate food system brings what we eat from the fields to our dinner tables.

Developed by the American Museum of Natural History, Our Global Kitchen is all about food: how it evolved, how it is grown, how it is consumed, etc. It is a fascinating exhibit, very well put together, with lot of interactive stuff for everyone to, well, interact with. The exhibit has sections exploring our relationships with food: growing, transporting, cooking, eating, celebrating. Trends are illustrated, issues are raised, questions are... [more]- MOS: Our Global Kitchen


January 10,2014- Snowy Owls on Plum Island...

Now that a Bald Eagle in Boston is no longer news, how about seeing a Snowy Owls on Plum Island? A Snowy Owl sighting is somewhat more likely than glimpsing a Bald Eagle in the city, but it still requires some effort. Our friends Candy and Andy invited us to join them on a trek out to Plum Island to see the Snowy Owls, which have come south in search of some, uh, snacks.

The day was brisk, but we were well-layered and prepared for the cold/wind. Still, with the temperatures in the low teens, the hand-warmers that Candy passed out saved the day! We managed to spot three of the birds at different locations, but... [more]- Snowy Eagle on Plum Island


January 6,2014- Bird Cottages Update...

When we first hung the set of bird cottages out in the RainyDayGarden, a few readers had inquired whether we were concern regarding their ability to withstand the elements. The reason for the questions was because there were some comments posted on Gardener's Supply Company's site regarding the item's quality. We read them and had considered sealing the cottages with polyurethane before putting them outside. Instead, we left them as is and decided to see how they would fare. After having left them out in all kinds of weather, we thought it was time to share our observations (in reverse chronological order).

Winter: December 2013/ January 2014

We have had three snow storms in December and we just got another foot of the white stuff last week. The first one was a dusting, but the second and third storms dropped over 12" of the white stuff. They were good opportunities for some photos of snow covered... [more]- Bird Cottages Update


January 3,2014- Bald Eagle sighting...

A Bald Eagle in Boston? The prospect seemed rather unlikely. After all, this is not Idaho. So when our intrepid copyeditor came back to the office after her morning walk around Jamaica Pond claiming that she had seen a "Bald Eagle," we were like, "Riiiight." However, Carolyn does know her common finches from her yellow nuthatches, so we decided to pack up some equipment and head to the Pond the next morning to see whether she has been spiking her morning cup of joe again or what.

As it turns out, Carolyn was right! There IS a Bald Eagle hanging out at Jamaica Pond, and it is a beauty. We spotted it surveying the area from the upright tree on the Pond's teeny tiny island. It was quite an... [more]- Bald Eagle At Jamaica Pond


January 3,2014- Bald Eagle sighting...

A Bald Eagle in Boston? The prospect seemed rather unlikely. After all, this is not Idaho. So when our intrepid copyeditor came back to the office after her morning walk around Jamaica Pond claiming that she had seen a "Bald Eagle," we were like, "Riiiight." However, Carolyn does know her common finches from her yellow nuthatches, so we decided to pack up some equipment and head to the Pond the next morning to see whether she has been spiking her morning cup of joe again or what.

As it turns out, Carolyn was right! There IS a Bald Eagle hanging out at Jamaica Pond, and it is a beauty. We spotted it surveying the area from the upright tree on the Pond's teeny tiny island. It was quite an... [more]- Bald Eagle At Jamaica Pond




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