“Gardening often provides the closest encounters we ever have with wild creatures. It is a solace and a distraction in bad times, and a shared joy in good ones.”
When you establish a wildlife garden, it is important to be aware that at some point in the spring, summer or fall you will have a wildlife nursery in your garden; birds, frogs, toads, bees, butterflies, dragonflies, mice, voles and rabbits…well you get the idea!
And there must be an acceptance of these critters nesting in your garden. Watching the babies grow and adults nurturing their young, is such a rare treat, that we are thankful for each garden season. We welcome the native critters, and the summer visitors, providing what they need to make a home.
Things like: cover for shelter or camouflage; plant debris for nesting, and to harbor insects for the birds; seedheads left standing for food; native plants with nectar, pollen, berries; water feature like our pond to create a habitat for frogs, toads and some insects; and not using chemicals are some of the things to consider as a wildlife gardener. We do not rake leaves out of beds or cut back many many plants in winter. It is a balance we have learned about what must be cut and what should be left standing.
What has been most amazing in past year’s, in the wildlife garden, has been the ongoing bird nursery. We have wrens, finches, sparrows, bluebirds (young bluebird picture below) and robins nesting in trees, bushes and boxes in both the front and back gardens. And nearby are a plethora of many other birds nesting…blackbirds, catbirds, cedar waxwings, cardinals, orioles, hummingbirds and many more.
Lots of expectant fathers can be spotted hanging out in the waiting room of the garden as mommas lay the eggs and keep them warm.
And before long there is a flurry of activity as parents are flying to and fro with insects and worms all day long. It is amazing to watch these birds continuing the feeding even in torrential rains. Because we do not use chemicals in the garden, we have an almost unending supply of insects available for the baby birds.
And throughout the garden season, many baby birds can be found seeking shelter in the garden just after fledging (top of the post). The babes take refuge in dense bushes or vegetation waiting for their parents to feed them. I can recognize a new fledgling, not only by their baby feathers and almost no tail, but by their little chipping plea as they cry for parents to feed them. Baby birds are so sweet and it is such a delight to watch them grow.
And it is not just birds who seem to have overtaken the garden for nesting. This year we have had 4 different nests of rabbits in both the front and back garden.
Baby bunnies will eat anything and everything as they have not established a taste for specific plants yet. But once they are a bit older, they move out into the garden or surrounding wild area. They come back to visit, and to eat the clover we keep in our lawn. When we stopped using chemicals on the lawn, the clover took over and has kept the rabbits happy and away from the veg garden. Well most of them. We still have to cover our veg garden from those few naughty rabbits who sneak in and eat the veggies.
There also are young foxes out hunting, that were born nearby, and some will jump the fence looking for voles, mice, squirrels and rabbits (watch out baby bunny). We also found another predator in our garden this year, a long-tailed weasel. I have yet to get a picture of it as it is so fast. He has been seen on the patio among the grow bags, and out in the garden near the veg gardens as that is where lots of voles can be found.
We do welcome all in our garden, even predators, as they keep nature in balance. We had less of a vole problem this year due to the weasel….and I hope to learn more about the weasels as they continue to live in our garden.
We used to be overrun by deer, but after 2 very harsh winters many did not survive. This year fawns were once again seen in the meadow. And there are a few orphan fawns out and about finding food in our winter garden.
We do worry about the critters during harsh winters, like we are experiencing this year. But we know there is plenty of food for them throughout the wild areas and woods. And it is illegal to feed wild deer here in New York State due to the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease. Whether we like it or not, nature has its way of selecting the fittest to survive, and controlling populations.
If I have learned anything from nature, it is that before planting a wildlife garden we must realize there will be joys, sorrows and responsibilities that come with the wildlife. And for me as I embrace the wildlife, I am seeing the lessons they bring, and learning how to coexist with them in harmony.
Do you garden for wildlife? Do you find critters making a home in your garden? What do you do to welcome them and make them feel at home?
A Thanksgiving Vase
As promised, I placed the dried hydrangeas, from another vase, into a special basket. I bought this for my parents in Arizona, and I got it back when my mom downsized and moved into an apartment.
I cut some dried grass foliage and seedheads to add to the hydrangeas.
And I added some pomegranates and mini pumpkins to the arrangement. Another simple vase for our table, lasting from fall through winter.
I am joining [email protected]Rambling in the Garden for her wonderful In A Vase on Monday meme. The pictures shared here were created with my iPod Touch camera and two free apps, Pixlr and Prisma.
I am posting poetry, almost weekly on Sundays, on my other blog, Living From Happiness. You can read my latest poem here.
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