Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Wildlife in the Garden

Some days I just have to stay home and confine my nature activities to chores around the house. Despite my best efforts to have violets and speedwells and ground ivy replace my lawn, there's still enough grass in amongst those dear weeds that I do have to mow it now and then. Another chore was planting a very healthy looking Ninebark shrub that I purchased from Fiddlehead Creek Farm, a Washington County nursery devoted to New York native plants. It's not easy to find flowering plants that will flourish in my shady yard, but Ninebark, a native spirea with gracefully arching branches and tufts of pretty white flowers, should do very well. And also provide food for wildlife: pollen and nectar for insects while in bloom, and fruits for the birds later. Here's what its flowers should look like next spring. Like puffs of apple blossoms.

I have to be careful not to plant any flowers that will clash with Oswego Tea, a wild-haired, blazing red native mint that demands to be the center of attention when it blooms. And it will bloom through most of the summer, starting now. Just in time to celebrate the 4th of July with its explosive flowerheads. This plant is a favorite of hummingbirds.

The all-time favorite of hummingbirds, though, is the Trumpet Creeper. This native vine is spectacularly showy, but it's one that needs a firm hand to keep it from working its way under the house siding and into the window frames.

We have a Trumpet Creeper providing shade for the south side of our front porch, and two days ago my husband was trying to chop it back a bit when a robin flew out, loudly yelling in protest. A peek into the shady interior of the leaves revealed the cause of the bird's distress.

My husband, too, was distressed, worrying that he had driven the robin away for good. But soon the mama bird returned and settled back down on those eggs.

And she's still there. Papa seems to be perched in a nearby maple tree, because we hear him hollering at us if we get too close to his family. So we try to keep a wide berth. I used my zoom to get this rear-view photo. Just imagine the ruckus awaiting us when the babies hatch and the feeding begins. I can't wait.


chinnb said...

Be patient, and you will soon be foster "grandparents"!

Allan Stellar said...

I hope the robins remain safe...

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Thanks for your good wishes, chinnb and Allan. We're doing what we can to keep "our" robins happy and safe.