An Abundance of Wildlife


a deer in my backyard

          I am so thrilled to be back in Virginia where I can see wildlife every day.  As I mentioned in my last post, our neighborhood is surrounded by a storm water management area, so there are lots of grassy and wooded areas.  There is a lake for water runoff and a couple of creeks that drain through the area.  All this supports several wildlife species.  Here is a series of photos of the wildlife I have been able to catch with my camera.

a rabbit munching in the backyard

geese in a grassy area near the lake

squirrel on my deck

a toad in a flowerpot on my deck

a beetle on my front porch

     I have not been able to catch the fox that lives in the area, but I hear it regularly.  When I was living in the desert, I really missed songbirds.  Only during migration times would I hear them.  But here in Virginia their melodies fill the air.  I have not been able to photograph the woodpeckers (I've seen two different kinds), or the owls (I've never been able to find then), but I hear them almost daily in the woods behind the house.  I'll end the post with a photo I thought was unique.  As I was photographing the geese you saw above, a deer walked out of the woods and wandered right through the flock.  The geese did not seemed bothered at all.  As soon as the deer heard my camera click and saw the flash, it dashed away.

deer walking through flock of geese

Local Flora


wild grape

     Our neighborhood is surrounded by a storm water management area (commonly called a floodplain area) where there are certain tracts of land that structures cannot be built on.  Because of this the neighborhood has some grassy and wooded areas where native plants and trees grow wild.

     There is an abundance of wild flora in the area, some I recognize, some I don't.  Here is a sampling of what's growing.

     There are several species of wild grape in Virginia, most of which are similar and difficult to tell apart.  The most common are Fox grape, Summer grape, and Riverbank grape.  Wild grapes are woody vines that can grow along the ground or climb over 30 feet tall on other vegetation.  There is lots of this growing in the wooded areas covering other bushes and tree trunks.  Some species have leaves that are divided into 3 to 5 lobes.  The leaves are toothed along the edge and taper to a point.  The vines use tendrils to grab onto other plants.  Small, green flowers bloom May to July.  The purplish-black fruit ripens August to October.


     Pokeweed (or pokeberry, pokebush, poke sallet) is a bushy, non-woody perennial that can grow from 3 to 10 feet tall and resemble a small tree.  It has lance-shaped leaves.  The small, white flowers appear on long racemes
from May until frost and form purple-black berries.  About the time the berries start to ripen, the stem turns from green to red.  Although all parts of the plant are supposedly toxic, very young shoots and leaves are sometimes cooked and eaten as greens.  Young shoots and leaves are less toxic and cooking reduces the toxicity further.  The juice from the berries was once used for ink and dye.  I've seen only a few of these in this area.

wild raspberry

     There are a couple of large stands of wild raspberry at the edge of the woods.  This shrub with soft, woody stems can produce canes up to 5 feet tall.  The canes are usually upright, but can trail along the ground, spreading by roots produced where the canes meet the ground.  The stems have thorns, and three leaflets emerge from each bud along the stem.  The leaves are oval and have toothed edges.  The shrub produces small, five-petal white flowers.  The most common berries produced are red and black, but there are yellow and purple varieties.  Raspberry tea from the roots and leaves have been used for a wide variety of ailments.  In this photo you can see some wild grape growing over the raspberry bush.  There is so much more growing in the woods that I am not familiar with that I will have to do some research to satisfy my curiosity.

A Gift of Flowering Plants


     My son brought me some leftover flowering plants from the greenhouse he manages for the town of Vienna where we live.

     So I went through more boxes that were stacked in the garage and found most of the rest of my pots.

     I spent the morning yesterday potting the plants.  He brought me foxgloves, gomphrena, snapdragons, and shasta daisies.  All are supposedly deer resistant.

     I lined them up on the front porch.  Hopefully they won't be eaten.  I may move them to the deck in the back eventually because I'm not sure they are getting full sun because of the cherry trees in front.

     There is an old concrete urn in front of the garage wall that I planted with a begonia from the garden center, and I put one of the snapdragons behind it.  Other than that, there is not any other gardening going on here at the moment.  But I'm amazed at the abundance of wildlife here in the neighborhood, and I hope to share that in another post.

Container Flowers


     So much of the yard is in shade at this house we are renting.  But the two-level deck gets full sun. 

     So this week I went through more unpacked moving boxes and found some of my planters.

     I bought some potting soil and annuals, filled the planters and put them around the deck railing.  Now the deck is bright with color.  These are photos of the flowers I bought.



     A few of the neighbors have stopped by to introduce themselves and welcome us to the neighborhood.  Our neighbors that live next door brought a lovely potted dahlia for us when they stopped by.