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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Surprises in the Fall Garden

I've been trying hard to work in the garden for about an hour or so everyday.   Anymore, and I will pay for it the next day by my hands being sore, feet being awful, or my hip hurting...It is hard to rein oneself in.  Most of my work is to cut back some of my perennials.  While most of my neighbors cut everything down, I don't.  I leave my grasses and many of my perennials stalks, particularly rudebeckia (black eyed Susan) and echinacea (coneflower) as their seeds are relished by the birds and the seed heads, or what it left of them, provide interest in in the winter months.  My garden, even in the dead of winter, teams with all manner of birds....although I think I will ask for a heated bird bath for Christmas as since I had to cover my goldfish pond with a net to prevent any more of my fish becoming raccoon relish, the small birds are not able to drink there anymore.

Most people think that gardens this time of year are done, and not worth looking at.  I try to plan my beds for year round interest.  But, I always find surprises when I go to haul garden ornaments away to the shed for the winter, or work at pulling up Japanese honeysuckle and Bradford pear seedlings.  This oak seedling is only about 4" tall....but the leaf is just dumbfoundingly beautiful. I'm pretty sure it is a black oak, but it may be a burr oak....

This red maple seedling is also pretty spectacular for a plant so small.  I think I may move the oak seedling....but I probably will pull this one up.  Red maples have a tendency to suffer once they get to about 12 feet tall here...they exhaust the readily available nutrients and are not as good at getting the rest of the trace minerals out of my alkaline and heavily clay soil.  The soil is rich, but the plants have to be adapted to it.  Unfortunately, red maples are planted heavily here as a landscape tree....everyone wants the red color, and it isn't the best choice for this soil type.  A better choice might be a sugar maple...but those aren't found so much in the nurseries here.


I was startled to find this little nest in my lilac bush which is at the end of the deck.  I guess it just goes to show how little we used our deck this summer...most of the time it was just too hot, and since it faces south, the sun broils you no matter what the general temperature is.


The nest is tiny and made rather loosely of the previous season's daylily leaves.  For that reason, I suspect it is a Carolina wren nest.  House wrens tend to be "pocket nesters" looking for nooks and crannies to build their nests...whereas the Carolina will often build nests in tree branches...but I might be wrong.  Another odd habit of the wren is that the male  builds several nests and the female chooses which one she prefers.


About 100 feet away, outside the fenced in area, I found yet another small nest in my Trident maple.  Again, I think this is a wren nest, as hummingbirds build much more tidy and compact nests.  I have both wrens and hummers in my garden....but I think the hummingbirds prefer nesting in the mature spruce on the edge of the property.  The wrens run along my fence, but I am never really sure where they nest.  I'll just have to wait until Mark sees this and he can tell us what kind of nests these are.

2 comments:

Gerrie said...

What a lovely post. An hour a day is doable most days, isn't it. I love the photos. It is so good to just spend time seeing.

Lisa Broberg Quintana said...

Thanks, Gerrie. I'm always thrilled with what I am able to see...everywhere!