Garden Clippings for June 20, 2020
Construction has halted. Our plans to level off the topsoil hill and sow grass seed in the backyard are on hold until fall when the Cliff Swallows go south.
I called them Cliff Swallows but my sister-in-law, Rozanne, who knows birds better than anyone, correctly called them Bank Swallows or Sand Martins. They appeared almost overnight about a month ago, and quickly dug holes in the side of our topsoil hill. Active little creatures they are, providing Cheryl and I with better entertainment than any Netflix show or news clip from south of the border.
Since moving to an established neighbourhood at the edge of town, we’ve seen more birds than we’ve ever seen at our home on the farm. Cheryl and I can’t take credit for making a bird friendly environment, at least not yet. But all I need to do is look next door to see how to create an oasis where birds flock to.
The folks next door clearly understand that in order to attract birds, they need to supply food, water and shelter. Their yard is not a manicured lawn with neatly trimmed bushes, but rather an informal mix of everything. Everything.
Tall trees are anchors in our neighbour’s yard, dominated by Spruce and Pine, but also dotted with fruit trees, Locust, Maples, Cedars and countless smaller trees, both native and non-native. They have recently planted two Serviceberry shrubs, famous for attracting Cedar Waxwings.
Tall evergreens are a good source for food, while providing ample places for shelter. The back forty of the neighbour’s yard is like a meadow, allowed to grow in tall grass and whatever wildflowers happen to appear. A small heap of brush near the centre of the meadow is another haven for birds, as well as bunnies, chipmunks and probably snakes.
It is in mid-summer that the neighbour’s garden is most active with birds. Long lasting summer blooming perennials such as Echinacea, Shasta Daisy, Coneflower and Gaillardia are in their glory, attracting umpteen birds, butterflies and hummingbirds. In fall, when flowers are spent, their seeds are a dependable food source.
As if the neighbour’s trees, shrubs and flowers are not enough, a few bright orange Oriole feeders are hung to guarantee constant visits from the area’s prettiest bird. A few simple bird houses are placed on fenceposts and tall tree stumps.
In late fall, the neighbours will pull out their bird feeders which are kept in the garage all summer. A platform feeder on a single metal pole feeds the Blue Jays, a traditional barn style feeder takes care of the smaller birds, while a Finch feeder keeps the colourful Finch happy all winter long.
For our part, we’ve already put in a bubbling rock as a source of water. Our water feature does not disappoint. Water trickles down a granite boulder, giving birds a place to bathe and giving us soothing sounds to drown out road noise. We’ve placed the bubbling rock near the patio where we can enjoy the riot of activity from both inside and out.
For next week’s Garden Clippings we will explore how to build a simple backyard water feature.