Thursday Things

1. Behold, the saddest tulip garden of all time.



As I assume you all spend your days waiting with bated breath for my latest gardening update, I’m happy (?) to fill you in on the latest goings-on with my bathtub. “Pathetic” is the word I’d use to sum up the situation.

Out of the 55 bulbs I planted last November, exactly three (3) sprouted: a 5 percent success rate. Out of the three that sprouted, exactly one (1) actually grew into a tulip: a 1 percent “success” rate.

Why the quotation marks, you ask? Because this tulip, despite producing a flower, did not even come close to producing the flower I expected it to produce. I ordered four varieties of tulips: one white, one pink, one purple and white, and one pink and white. Do you, dear reader, see any of those colors in my solitary, lonely tulip?


Sigh x2.

On top of that, the flower lasted exactly six (6) days, thanks to this BS “spring” of ours, where apparently even suggesting that it should be in the 60s amounts to blasphemy as far as the atmosphere is concerned. This entire experiment has been an enormous bust, which was disappointing at first but at this point is so ridiculous it’s just laughable. Needless to say, I don’t expect to plant bulbs again any time soon – at least not before I have a real garden with real ground to put them in.

2. Having been cursed with a crushing sense of loyalty to just about anything with which I aligned myself at any point, I found myself back in Kenosha this weekend, doing something I swore I would never do again: working at the Wisconsin Marathon.


This was my fifth Wisconsin Marathon, but it was the first one (for me) that wasn’t freezing cold and/or terribly windy. I felt bad for the runners, because it certainly wasn’t friendly weather for running a half marathon or marathon (especially a marathon), but it was nice to wear shorts and short sleeves instead of four layers for a change.

3. My biggest concern about working the Wisconsin Marathon this year was that it took place on Global Big Day, the…uh, big day…in birding. The point of Global Big Day is to count as many birds as you can throughout the course of the day, so obviously having to spend a fair part of my day working a race did not help in my pursuit to count ALL OF THE BIRDS.

I did take a couple bird watching breaks throughout the race and was pleasantly surprised by everything I saw! For one thing, the lake (and air over the lake) was absolutely crawling with Caspian Terns, which were new to me. As I walked along the water in the afternoon, I saw little birds flitting around the trees, which I eventually identified as Palm Warblers: also new to me. I saw a male Myrtle’s Yellow-Rumped Warbler, too. I saw a bunch of females at the Morton Arboretum in October, but I had never seen a male before, so that was kind of new.

I was dead tired when I finally got home around 6:30 Saturday evening, but it was Global Big Day, darn it, and even though I had to sacrifice my hopes and dreams of spending the entire day at Montrose bird watching, I was not going to sacrifice my opportunity to go bird watching at the bird-full park where I saw several migrants in April! So I drug myself to the park, sans SLR (a decision I would regret almost immediately), and OMG. Best decision of my day.

Things started off on a good note when I saw another new-to-me thrush, the Swainson’s Thrush, the taller, skinnier cousin of the Hermit Thrush I saw in April. I then saw a non-House Sparrow, which is always a reason to celebrate, and also saw three more Palm Warblers.

BUT THEN. I was in the process of desperately trying to confirm if the birds in an evergreen tree were Grey Catbirds when another bird in a neighboring tree came to my attention. It was BRIGHT orange, and I instantly knew what it was: A BALTIMORE ORIOLE.

I CAN. NOT. emphasize enough how big of a deal this was for me. Every spring, my mom and grandma have an unofficial competition to see who can get the first Ruby-throated Hummingbird, first Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and/or first Baltimore Oriole to visit. The hummingbirds are a guarantee. They show up at the feeders every year and hang around all summer. The Rose-breasted Grosbeaks are maybe not guarantees, but they’re like 95 percent sure to show up at least once in May. The orioles usually show up, but are much more hit or miss than the grosbeaks. They’re not Indigo Bunting-rare, but they’re close. Since you can’t really count on orioles showing up at my parents’ house (or my grandma’s house), I can’t remember the last time I saw one. I’m nearly certain I haven’t seen one since 2012, possibly even longer. I have most definitely never seen one in Chicago before, and on Saturday, I didn’t just see one: I saw THREE!

This is the first migration season I’ve been through since I began regularly tracking what birds I see, and it is blowing my mind how many species I’ve seen in the past month. It’s amazing to witness and seriously so much fun to go outside and never know who you’ll encounter. I actually had a hard time running on Monday because I kept seeing so many birds I wanted to ID! Spring migration season hasn’t even ended yet and I’m already looking forward to late August/early September when it starts all over again 🙂

What annual flowers should I plant this year? After this bulb debacle, I’m in the market for something that’s going to flourish and am happy to take any and all recommendations. I think I’m going flower shopping this weekend, so I’m all ears!

4 thoughts on “Thursday Things

  1. Oh gosh. That is a sad little tulip. LOL, how is it not even the right colors?! What is going on in that soil?! Ha. I am glad you are laughing about it!
    Thank you for volunteering! I appreciate it!
    I am glad you still got to bird watch! And see the Baltimore Oriole. I wonder what else you are going to see this month!

    • I looked through the catalog of the supplier I bought the bulb from, and I think they sent me the wrong bulb, because it looked similar to another tulip they sold. My order and the packaging all lined up with what I ordered, so somewhere in their process things must’ve gotten mixed up (even though this tulip’s item number and name were nowhere near any of the names or item numbers of the tulips I actually ordered…). I don’t know if it was just this one bulb or if I got all wrong ones (since the other ones never grew into flowers *eyeroll emoji*). I’m sure I could complain and get a refund, but I’ve given up on caring about this whole situation so much that I don’t even care about the money I threw away on the bulbs anymore.

      Yesterday I saw a Chestnut-sided Warbler! That was a brand new one to me and very exciting! I also saw a robin sitting on a nest, which was super cool!

  2. I’ve had the most success with petunias and vinca, purchased in 6-packs from Lowe’s. Keep in mind that gardening in the Phoenix area is like gardening in the Mirrorverse, so what works well here might not succeed in Illinois.

    • Ha, yes, I would imagine growing conditions are FAR different in Phoenix than in Chicago! I don’t know if I’d even have the ambition to try to garden in Phoenix – it seems like it’d require a lot more work on your part to keep plants alive than it takes on my part, since the weather usually does the bulk of the heavy lifting for me when it comes to watering and temperature control. But thanks for the suggestions nevertheless! I’ve done petunias before, but I’ve never tried vinca – maybe this year!

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