Tag Archives: Birds

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Gardening and Nature

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Amazing the transformation that happens in spring! not just in nature, but in our own consciousness. After decades of gardening, an understanding naturally engulfs us from the practice of caring for our landscape plants and spending time outside.   As gardeners, we hold in our hands the health of everything around us. The health of the soil that feeds our plants.  The health of the insects that, by the millions, work indefatigable to make a living on our plot of land. The web starts there.  But we have to understand our ecosystem.  I have visited beautiful gardens that are dead.  Not a living insect or bird can survive in a land laden with pesticides and fertilizers. As I wrote in my post “Why Organic?” synthetic substances in the soil break the web of life. In our search for perfection we sometimes forget the delicate balance of the natural world around us. So, as the new gardening season begins, lets agree to be more conscientious of the world that surrounds us and weigh our actions against the impact we may have on the wild creatures that share our habitat.

Happy Spring!

“Plants are not optional on this planet.  With a few exceptions, neither we, nor anything else can live without them.  We invariably take plants and the benefits they provide for granted”   Douglas W. Tallamy

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Garden Reflections

What a wonderful feeling to be in the garden from morning to night!  It is true, I can easily ‘pot around’ the garden all day… but not necessarily “work” all day.  There is a lot of reflection, the observing of nature at work and the changing of the landscape day by day.  There are breaks for snacks, planning and just finding a cozy spot to take in some sun.  Oh, I don’t mind saying it, I love to stay home and just enjoy my wild space out back.  Old friends come around again,  Yesterday, the House Wren arrived from his winter home. Straight to my back porch to the trellis were their bird house hung last year and they raised their brood.

House wren and her brood

House wren and her brood

Could it really be the same bird?  He knew exactly were to perch. There it sat singing loudly for his mate to come and join him!  And then there is this squirrel that lost half of its tail last year, -to Misha, my neighbors semi feral cat- I saw  it this morning digging around the garden for its forgotten acorns.  The hummingbirds always arrive the first week of May.  Last year, I was a bit late setting out the feeder and one hovered right in front of the french glass door for a good 30 seconds… right in front of me! it was magical, we stared at each other and it was as if it was saying:  Helloooo, were is my syrup?

So besides all the chores, the garden cleaning and planting, the mulching and composting, the rewards are in the sense of creating a small habitat outside your door that is both healthy and inviting and in a sustainable way, harbors life for so many other creatures.  Many we don’t even see or know are there. That is my reward.  Every creature and plant a prayer of hope.  Happy gardening friends!

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.” 
― Rachel CarsonSilent Spring

Planning for Spring

First Day of Spring… Really?

First Day of Spring… Really?

 

And planning  is all we can do at this point considering what is going on out side! I was expecting a balmy day. Huge contrast to the last two years when I wrote about out great weather in early march.

As a continuation of my last post: Anticipating Spring, I realized there are more garden chores to add to the list.  After spending just one day doing much needed pruning on my shrub borders, I noted that the extreme freeze-thaw cycle we experienced caused many plants to heave out of the ground.  It is advisable to tend to them as soon as you can. Tamp them back in and add a bit of good garden soil around the roots to anchor and strengthen their hold. It was also a good opportunity to fix some of the protective netting that shelter some plants or areas from deer browsing and retying the stakes of young trees that had come loose.

Lets not forget our birds! Best time to clean and repair bird houses is now. I go over the inside of the box as well with a bar of soap.  A light coating prevents wasps from attaching their hives in the inside of the bird house. As long as there is a coating of snow in the ground I continue to feed the birds stopping when the ground is clear to encourage them to forage.  They do tend to get “hooked” on the feeders! If you are interested on learning more about birds, go to my favorite site at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, were the experts really know their stuff!

It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.  ~Charles Dickens,Great Expectations

Related Reading:

Feeding Birds

Nest Boxes

Why Natives?

As a gardener, I feel a sense of responsibility every time a new plant is introduced to my garden.  The ease with which we can now transport exotic species of plants from far away places, makes it more important than ever that we take care to be more mindful of not introducing invasive or alien plant species into our habitat.

Rudbeckia hirta, Black-eyed Susan.

A couple of weeks ago, I attended an event sponsored by the Pittsburgh Botanical Gardens. The speaker for the event was Dr. Douglas W. Tallamy author of one of my favorite books, “Bringing Nature Home”.  I read this book several years ago and I find myself referencing its pages quite often.  Dr Tallamy stresses the importance of incorporating natives into our landscape.  Natives trees, shrub and perennials provide habitat, food and shelter for a staggering variety of living organisms.  From the insects that start the cycle of their lives in our trees and shrubs, to the birds and small mammals that feed on them and all the larger predators and herbivores that depend on them for their survival.   Most insect herbivores can only eat those species with which they share an evolutionary history.  They simply do not recognize aliens as a source of sustenance.  Why is that important in a home garden?  Research has proven that if insect herbivores do not survive on alien species, in turn, bird species would also suffer from a reduction of the insect biomass.  It has been demonstrated that in a habitat where  native plant species are prevalent, birds and small insectivore mammals are present in greater numbers.   So if you care about our birds, you should also care about those plants that help sustain them.  I enjoy the entire experience of gardening and that does not just entail plants but rather the entire community or biological biomass created in any space large of small.

Garden for life and you will be rewarded with a rich ecological paradise in your own backyard!

“Nothing exists for itself alone, but only in relation to other forms of life”